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Mobile Technology News, August 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.

  • VIDEO: New Nook e-reader due for launch
    Samsung and Barnes & Noble are due to launch the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK in New York on Wednesday
  • AAPL closes at 52-week high, approaches all-time record
    Apple’s stock closed on Tuesday with a new 52-week high, and at one point in the day threatened to top its all-time highest stock price (based on straight split-adjustment). It officially closed at $100.53, not far from its all-time split-adjusted high of $100.72, though it hit $100.68 in intra-day trading. The company’s valuation also rose to a market cap of $602 billion.

  • Mongolia: A Land of Strong Women

    “My name is Nomin, and I am forty-two years old …” Nomin is the thirty-fifth woman our team has interviewed on a five-week journey across the Gobi Desert to research women’s and girls’ uses of digital technologies. When we enter her ger she sits stirring a cauldron of milk tea. She tells us that she is the mother of three, and that she splits her time between a summer camp outside of Dalanzadgad, the aimag center of Omnogovi Province, and an apartment in Ulaanbaatar, where her children attend school during the winter. As she speaks, her two daughters sit against the wall of the ger, playing games on their Smartphones; occasionally they stop to listen. Nomin is proud of her nomadic heritage. Even though she is college-educated and has access to urban comforts in the winter, she is happiest when she is working in the countryside, tending to her family’s livestock. During the summer her life is rich and productive.


    In Mongolia, women are the primary providers and caretakers, especially among rural herder populations. They are also statistically more educated and better off financially than their male counterparts, although gender equality poses an issue in a mostly-patriarchal culture. The women we meet are hospitable and generous: we learn the landscape of the Gobi in stories told over warm bowls of milk tea. Those stories inspire us to listen more closely, to follow an underlying thread of resilience. They remind us that we are on this journey because we fundamentally believe in the powerful combination of women and knowledge; and we know that Mongolia is a land of exceptionally strong women.

    This strength is something I have come to admire in our translator, Gundegmaa. Several months earlier, when, Lara, the team’s Canadian researcher, and I pieced together our research project we interviewed several potential female translators. In the end, we found Gundegmaa, or Gundii, through a lead in Canada. After an in-depth Skype interview, we knew that we would be hard-pressed to find another candidate with comparable English skills, and we offered her the job almost immediately.

    Now, I know how lucky we are to have Gundii’s combined compass of intellect and wisdom guiding us. Whenever we stop for an interview she talks to the women we meet, laughing and paving the way for our conversations. She navigates the language barrier, molding our questions appropriately and catering them to each interviewee. Gundii is more than a guide; she is a teacher. I wonder if this is because she understands first-hand what many of the women and girls we meet are facing, She, too, grew up in a small village three hundred kilometers outside of Ulaanbaatar where she dreamed of a brighter future. Under the guidance and encouragement of her father she worked hard and excelled in school, especially in English class. Eager to hone her English skills she moved to UB when she was sixteen to live in a small two-room apartment with her two older sisters. She studied late into the night, memorizing English vocab and practicing her grammar. At eighteen her hard work paid off, and she won a year-long Soros Scholarship to study English at the University of Montana. Gundii threw herself into seminars on political science and gender studies. After twelve months she returned to Mongolia determined to take her education further– to do something to empower and elevate women in her own country. She worked as the project leader on a youth project involving fifteen aimags and 15,000 adolescents. Together with the help of two prominent NGOs, Globe International and Mercy Corps, Gundii promoted digital activism across rural Mongolia by creating a 90-page guide to social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Now, her intention to promote positive change carries her across the desert; and when Nomin points to her eldest daughter and tells us that she hopes to one day work in nanotechnology Gundii’s eyes light up. They talk and later trade email addresses: one woman’s determination to succeed ignites and fuels another’s.

    The more we travel the more I see how women bind Mongolian society and families together. I see how women like Gundegmaa inspire other women to reach their full potential. And I see how that deep commitment to positive action is not only something valuable for Mongolians, but for women across the world. Mongolia’s digital landscape is developing at an accelerated pace. In response to a recent boom in mobile technologies and especially Smartphones, information access is changing the nature of nomadic society and arguably, traditional values and priorities. Social media has taken Mongolia by storm. Although Internet has yet to reach most areas of the Gobi Desert it is likely that the next few years will change that. Already, mobile feature phones have become the primary means of communication for nomadic pastoralists. Nomads no longer visit each other to share tea and chat about livestock; they call each other. With increased access to information there is a heightened need for information management. As technological tools reach Mongolians from diverse sectors and communities, it is clear that there will need to be some way of educating and training youth about the power and implications of the digital world. I cannot help thinking that women like Gundegmaa should lead that movement.

    After an hour inside Nomin’s ger it is time to move on. I stoop down and step over the threshold, into the sun. Before opening the car of the jeep I turn back for one last look inside the ger. Once again, Nomin’s daughters sit near the wall, tapping away and playing games on their Smartphones. Gundegmaa meets my gaze, “I hope that they will study abroad and achieve their dreams,” she says, “I hope that inspiration can be used to guide Mongolia’s future.” I look at her and nod. As Nomin stirs her cauldron of tea the steam rises.

  • On the Edge: A Tijuana Tech Tour
    It was raw and I had heard murmurings of innovation stirring south of the border. My interest was piqued when I was invited by Angel Ventures Mexico to participate in the Tijuana Tech Tour. Admittedly, I was skeptical about this emerging tech scene in a border town perhaps better known for discos, mezcal and strip clubs.

    Uber had just launched in Tijuana. An abandoned bus station on the Tijuana strip, Avenida Revolucion, had been converted into the Hub Stn, a co-working facility for tech companies. And one of the biggest drone companies, 3D Robotics, had set up shop to take advantage of the inexpensive labor and operating costs.

    I had to see for myself.

    My decision to travel to Tijuana with 19 other investors, leaders and entrepreneurs from Mexico and the United States on the #TJTechTour was met by my friends and family with bewilderment and concern.


    “Tijuana? Be careful!” was just one of the many comments posted on Facebook by a friend looking out for my safety.

    The biggest problem in Tijuana or “TJ” as it is often called is not violence or drugs — it is branding. Today, Tijuana represents a gateway to Latin America and a real opportunity for those who can see through its gritty image.

    The Mexican border town just south of San Diego has over two million inhabitants. The two cities represent a binational region with over 40 million people crossing the border each year. Their economies, cultures, people and environments are so intertwined, it’s more like one state: the “CaliBaja Mega-Region.”

    “Tijuana is just like the state of California, but a little dirtier and less expensive,” said Marcus Dantus, a Mexican entrepreneur and co-founder and CEO of Startup Mexico and Founder of Wayra Mexico who joined us on the trip.

    Jorge Astiazaran, the mayor of Tijuana, kicked off our three day Tech Tour at Hub Stn to an audience of civic leaders, investors, and entrepreneurs. We were there to carry on the conversation as technology transcends borders.

    Tijuana may never be the epicenter of software and technology innovation that Silicon Valley is, nor does it purport to be. Instead, it is positioning itself as the bridge between the United States and Latin America using technology as a platform to drive innovation in its manufacturing businesses and as a hub for entrepreneurship in the binational region.

    The border town has highly skilled engineering talent with an international mindset and is in close proximity to the United States, ideal for nearshoring. With manufacturing moving from China to Mexico, and American trade with Mexico having grown 30 percent since 2010, Tijuana has a real opportunity to drive innovation in manufacturing through technology.

    Case in point — the first stop on our Tech Tour was at the manufacturing facility for 3D Robotics, a state of the art drone business. The VC backed company is based in Berkeley, has engineering facilities in San Diego, and manufacturing in Tijuana — an increasingly common post-NAFTA model.

    Home to the Tijuana University of Technology, the city’s local engineering talent source has also spawned several tech accelerators and nearshoring companies that we visited including Sonata and MindHub. These companies work with both American and Mexican companies to provide engineering needs with skilled talent at a lower cost and close to home. For earlier stage companies, co-working facilities like the BitCenter and HubStn are popping up as affordable places for visionaries and engineers to build their dreams in Tijuana.

    And the bridge goes ways. American companies looking to enter markets in Latin America often seek market validation in Tijuana, given its binational culture, before moving into the rest of Latin America. While Uber already has a presence in Mexico City, the company just launched this past month in Tijuana.

    The international community also has its eyes on the region. In 2016, Tijuana and San Diego will host the World Forum for Foreign Direct Investment, which will be the forum’s first binational location.

    Our savvy local guides, also helping to lead the Tijuana Tech movement, were keen to introduce us to the fusion cuisine, art galleries and budding cultural scene emerging in Tijuana — all instrumental in reshaping the city’s brand. The Culinary Art School in Tijuana requires that its students spend time abroad to learn to appreciate and incorporate new flavors into their cuisine. The food was exquisite and stimulated conversations among our group and dreams of building new bridges.

    Just as Silicon Valley has Napa, the Baja Peninsula boasts its own Wine Country and Ruta del Vino (wine route) in the Valle de Guadalupe region — an hour and a half south of Tijuana near Ensenada. On Saturday, we wound along the unpaved roads through the beautiful valleys, visiting local wineries and stopping to dine at Finca Altozano, a rustic al fresco restaurant with an open kitchen that overlooks the vineyards. Javier Plascencia, the owner and chef, is a well-known Tijuana restaurateur known for his Baja Med cooking style and for revitalizing the culinary scene in the region.

    While there’s rich conversation and real energy around technology and change in Tijuana, the border town can’t do it all alone. There must be an ecosystem built to support it, throughout Mexico and with its neighbors. I’m hopeful that with the right investment and entrepreneurial mentality, new creative solutions will emerge to address some of the other issues in the region from banking to logistics and help to rebuild the region’s image.

  • VIDEO: Hacker conference – behind the scenes
    The man who can create traffic jams and other cyber-warriors
  • The man 'behind a million babies'
    The man who says he’s responsible for a million kids
  • My Twitter Impostor Got More Followers Than The Real Me
    JoBeth McDaniel was up for a “fairly large media job” when she noticed something alarming. When potential employers searched for her online, they found a Twitter account that was not her own, but a fake one run by an impersonator who used her name to tweet about smoking pot and eating pizza.

    Not only were the embarrassing dispatches going out using McDaniel’s likeness, but the impostor had also amassed more followers than McDaniel had on her legitimate account, meaning this faux digital identity was eclipsing who she really was. McDaniel joined HuffPost Live’s Nancy Redd on Tuesday to describe the unfortunate and perplexing experience of losing her grip on her online presence.

    Watch McDaniel share her story in the clip above, and click here to see the full HuffPost Live conversation about stolen Twitter identities.

    Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live’s new morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!

  • Latest Xcode 6 SDKs hint at possible iPhone 6 resolutions
    A PLIST file in the past two Xcode 6 beta SDKs may point at more possible resolutions for the iPhone 6. Specifically the file is connected to the iOS 8 homescreen, and refers to a 16:9 resolution of 414×736. Because the iPhone SDK handles hardware resolutions through point values, actual Retina resolutions should be two to three times greater. That suggests that 828×1472 and 1242×2208 are possibilities, both of which would have enough pixel density on 4.7- and 5.5-inch screens to maintain Retina status.

  • The Reasons The Ice Bucket Challenge Went Viral
    Take one part challenge, one part charity, sprinkle in some celebrity and cook on high with Facebook. Voilà: You have the Ice Bucket Challenge — the viral phenomenon that’s likely taking your Facebook feed by storm.

    The concept — which you know by now consists of people dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads and challenging others to do the same — has spurred millions of dollars in donations for the ALS Association, and is among the biggest viral hits in Facebook’s history: The company said on Monday that 2.4 million videos “related to the ice bucket challenge have been shared” on the social network, and more than 28 million people have posted, commented or liked a post relating to the challenge.

    “Marrying the Internet’s love of challenges with donation and charity is a stroke of genius,” Neetzan Zimmerman, a former editor at Gawker who’s widely considered an expert in viral phenomena, told The Huffington Post. “There’s no other way to say this — it’s absolutely pure brilliance.”

    Justin Timberlake completes the challenge.

    The nature of the Ice Bucket Challenge is, in itself, inherently spreadable — it’s easy to do, you’re being called out in a public forum, and there’s a chain letter-like “pass it on” nature in tagging other people.

    “People want to look good to others, so it’s hard to turn down a prosocial cause,” Jonah Berger, the author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. “ALS is a great cause, so when someone asks you directly to do this, it’s hard to turn them down without seeming like a bad person.”

    The Internet, after all, “revolves around” challenges, Zimmerman said, referring to the “cinnamon challenge,” where people would upload videos of themselves attempting to gulp down a spoonful of cinnamon, and planking, where people would lay down in ridiculous places for the sake of showing they completed the challenge.

    The Ice Bucket Challenge also has an element of hashtag activism, or slacktivism, said Zimmerman, who’s now the editor in chief of Whisper, an app that allows people to share secrets anonymously. You can do something from your computer — or from your yard — that makes you feel good, but doesn’t actually do anything. (In a versions of the challenge, you can get out of the donation if you douse yourself, which is something the campaign has been criticized for.)

    Who can forget Kony 2012 — and its hashtag #stopKony? — the short video about the African warlord that spread on Facebook and Twitter, but was also criticized for, among other reasons, not actually doing anything other than “raising awareness”? This was also a criticism of the LGBT marriage equality movement last year, when 3 million people changed their Facebook profile pics to equal signs.

    The Ice Bucket Challenge campaign has been great for the ALS Association, a nonprofit organization that does research and provides help for those with the debilitating neurological disorder, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The organization said Tuesday morning that it’s received $22.9 million since July 29 — up from $1.9 million over the same period last year. And the donations are coming not only from existing donors, but from nearly half a million new donors, the group said.

    Celebrities have latched on to the cause, which has undoubtedly hastened the spread. At this point, it’s almost difficult to find a celebrity who hasn’t had ice water dumped on his or her head. Gayle poured water on Oprah’s head. Jimmy Fallon and some celebrity friends did it. Kobe and LeBron have done it. Bieber’s done it — twice.

    “If you’re doing the same thing they’re doing, it’s as if you can stand in for them,” said Jennifer Cool, an anthropologist at USC who studies Internet culture and history. “You too can be in the shoes of Lady Gaga or Bill Gates.”

    And, of course, there’s the showing off factor. Facebook is, at its core, a place to show off and promote yourself, filled with incredible vacation photos, reminders to all that you’re in love and musings about challenges overcome (ideally while on vacation, like hiking in South America). You may have some friends who’ve seemed eager to show off their bikini or swim trunk bodies in their Ice Bucket Challenge videos.

    At this point, some celebrities seem to be trying to one-up each other. Bill Gates released a highly produced (yet charming) video of himself designing an intricate method of dumping water on himself. Hockey player Paul Bissonnette, for some reason, had a helicopter drop glacier water on him. And Tyler Perry’s video seems to have an element of “check out this ridiculous pool I’m standing in.”

    Celebrities also seem eager to name drop in their nominations. “I know where you live,” Oprah says to Steven Spielberg as she nominates him to take the challenge.

    Like all viral phenomenon, the Ice Bucket Challenge may fade away just as quickly as it blew up.

    “It’s practically on the way out,” said Zimmerman, who’s critical of the celebrities and billionaires “co opting” the challenge for possible PR purposes. “Someone pushes it over the edge then it spends two weeks, three weeks in the news cycle and then fades.”

  • Apple Stock Closes At New Record High
    Apple’s stock soared to a new record high on Tuesday, closing at $100.53.

    That’s the highest the stock has ever closed at, adjusting for a stock split that happened in June.


    The stock price climbed even higher in after-hours trading.

    The jump comes after Morgan Stanley analysts sent a note to investors on Tuesday saying Apple’s stock was undervalued and setting a new target price of $110.

    The tech giant completed a 7-for-1 stock split back in June — effectively dividing each Apple share into seven. Before the split, Apple stock closed at an all-time high of $702.10 in September 2012. Adjusting for the stock split, that’d be worth about $100.30 today, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    Investors are getting super excited about the expected launch of the iPhone 6 in September.

    Legendary investor Carl Icahn, who bought shares of Apple last October and boosted his stake in the company in January, boasted about the move on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon:

    About 1 yr ago we tweeted to our followers about our investment in $AAPL and that stock was “extremely undervalued” https://t.co/JUrfmWEHLx

    — Carl Icahn (@Carl_C_Icahn) August 19, 2014

    Believed $AAPL to be one of my “no-brainers”. Anyone that invested at that time would be up 53% (including dividends)

    — Carl Icahn (@Carl_C_Icahn) August 19, 2014

    Apple did not immediately respond to a request from The Huffington Post for comment.

  • Sam Smith Says Grindr, Tinder Are 'Ruining Romance'
    Newly out singer-songwriter Sam Smith may be single and looking to mingle, but don’t expect him to rely on technology when it comes to finding a boyfriend.

    The 22-year-old British crooner tells Metro that social apps like Tinder and Grindr are “ruining romance,” noting, “We’re losing the art of conversation and being able to go and speak to people.”

    The star says he hasn’t found lasting love just yet, noting, “There is one particular guy that I’ve been on a few dates with. I like him but who knows?”

    Still, he’s learned to look beyond the superficial when it comes to dating, adding, “From my experience the most beautiful people I’ve been on dates with are the dumbest, so why would I swipe people who are ‘unattractive’ when I could potentially fall in love with them? Stop Tinder and Grindr!”

    Earlier this year, Smith revealed that his acclaimed debut album, “In the Lonely Hour,” was inspired by “a guy that I fell in love with last year, and he didn’t love me back.”

    “I think I’m over it now, but I was in a very dark place,” he told The FADER. “I kept feeling lonely in the fact that I hadn’t felt love before. I’ve felt the bad things. And what’s a more powerful emotion: pain or happiness?”

  • 'Unhashtagable?'
    Hashtag activism draws on the logic that outrage or heightened audience reaction caused by iconic images can sway public opinion and eventually effect changes in policy, an argument that in its modern context has been documented since at least the Vietnam War era. With the advent of immediate and pervasive circulation through social media, the growing influence of images and short-form collective communication as persuasive media in policy decisions and social impact is undeniable.

    But if hashtag activism builds on and replicate this assumed association between moral outrage and social justice through images and short communication, does it further offer the possibility of a more informed and effective strategy for social impact?

    In other words, can hashtag activism lead to any kind of real change — or are atrocities the world over, in their essence, unhashtagable?

    Hashtags as Slacktivism

    There is a strong argument that much of hashtag activism is ineffective, or is merely passive action that substitutes for real change. Take the case of one of the one of the most recent and famous hashtag campaigns, #BringBackOurGirls. On April 14, 2014, 276 girls were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria’s Borno State. Outraged Nigerian activists and those affected directly called on the government to take action to both recover the girls and to combat the historic impunity of the alleged kidnappers, Boko Haram. Eight days after the kidnapping, Ibrahim Abdullahi, a lawyer living in Abuja, created the now infamous hashtag. The day after the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, took responsibility for the kidnapping in a video on May 5, Michelle Obama tweeted a picture of herself with a sign reading #BringBackOurGirls — and the day after that, the hashtag spawned 1 million tweets.

    It was nearly a month after the abduction itself that the news went viral on Twitter. With Michelle Obama’s May 6 tweet paving the way, political figures and celebrities came out in support of the hashtag and #BringBackOurGirls became an outlet for individuals to express their own outrage over the kidnapping. While capitalizing on the emotion of the #BringBackOurGirls movement, however, individual tweets began to shift the focus away from the actual girls, or even larger issues of violence, and onto the tweeters themselves. Model Irina Shayk’s apparently topless Instagram photograph where she holds a #BringBackOurGirls sign, for example, generated a mixed response. Some argued it was empowering while others slammed the picture for being culturally insensitive and inconsiderate to the actual issues at stake. In two tweets from the days after the media explosion around #BringBackOurGirls, Ugandan-American writer Teju Cole wrote that Boko Haram’s sustained and escalating violence was “horrifying and unhashtagable” — conveying his thoughts that the #BringBackOurGirls movement was an excuse for patronizing and sentimentalizing an issue that African and African-allied activists have been fighting for years.

    Along similar lines, ownership of the hashtag and the entire social media movement around the school kidnapping came into question. Organizations Girl Rising and Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls joined forces to organize a Google Hangout on May 6, which focused on the importance of “social media marches” to raise awareness and maintain visibility. Their call to action hinged on the belief that individuals can combat injustice by leveraging social media through a “common voice.” One recommended technique for asserting a “common voice” across social media was for individuals to change their profile pictures to an image of the words “Bring Back Our Girls” in white on a red background. This campaign, which disappeared as quickly as it started, was called out by some as a self-serving promotion aimed at hijacking the excitement around #BringBackOurGirls. Nigerian organizations called out Girl Rising’s drive for $10 donations for a #BringBackOurGirls emergency project as having no established relationship to the original, local campaign. Controversy about ownership of the campaign intensified when one of the director’s of Girl Rising’s 2013 film, Ramaa Mosely, seemed to take the credit for the creation of the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag and its subsequent movement in a series of interviews on USA news networks.

    Because of its brief yet intense popularity on Twitter, accusations of co-option and questions about the effectiveness of “raising awareness,” #BringBackOurGirls has been likened to the media campaign Kony 2012 (#StopKony). While both campaigns gained a tremendous amount of attention, they both failed at engaging sustained activism around their respective causes and at achieving actual success on the ground. Both campaigns were also criticized for encouraging a U.S. military agenda on the African continent when they provoked an international military response.

    In an article for Slate, Joshua Keating highlights that media campaigns like Kony 2012 and #BringBackOurGirls are popular because they cause a sense of moral outrage via an easily-identifiable villain while glossing over the complexities of the causes they represent. The kidnapped girls and Kony himself became iconic images, but the vast majority of the public consuming these images remains ignorant of the dynamics of the issues at stake, for example, that the girls’ abduction is part of a wider terror program that has seen thousands of people murdered in Nigeria by Boko Haram in the past four years. Against defenders of social media campaigns who claim them as “gateways” for raising deeper awareness for global injustice, Keating argues that more often than not these campaigns lead nowhere because they cannot sustain interest on a personal level:

    Viewers get interested when they hear about evil monsters like the Lord’s Resistance Army or Boko Haram who just need to be stopped. When they learn more about the issue and find out that, lo and behold, the world is a complicated place, that killing the monster won’t be so easy and that there are larger issues in play beyond the monster itself, they lose interest.

    The co-option of #BringBackOurGirls presents the further question of whether hashtag activism, through its saturation of both formal and social media networks, has the potential to harm the causes it sets out to champion in the first place. Web searches about the kidnapped girls reached their peak from the May 8-10, a total of two days after the hashtag went viral, and interest has dramatically declined since. Between May 2014 and the present, the story of the kidnapped girls evolved for a brief time into a celebrity cause. But a scan of media from May 29 to date indicates a sharp decline in media interest in #BringBackOurGirls, despite the Nigerian government admitting that they know where the girls are yet fear that it is too dangerous for them to retrieve the girls by force. Continued Boko Haram attacks and other on-going atrocities fail to remain hot issues in the crowded information environment of the mass media. Excitement and attention around #BringBackOurGirls has died down, but the girls are still not found. The world’s attention has moved on, despite the fact that nothing has changed vis a vis Boko Haram’s activities in Nigeria or the persistent systemic factors leading to the vulnerability of populations like the 276 girls.

    Hashtags as Tools for Activism

    There are ways in which hashtag activism can be a useful tool. When used with sensitivity and a clear understanding of its limited reach and impact, it can be a flexible medium for social networking and raising awareness within broader and more sustained advocacy and action.

    Localized, community-driven hashtags, such as #IfTheyGunnedMeDown and #RIPEricGarner, as well as the appropriation of #MyNYPD to cite examples of police misconduct and brutality, for example, have served as creative vehicles for sharing information, mobilizing opinion, focusing community anger on justice, and sustaining commentary over a defined period of time or over a set of shared goals. In these cases, the hashtags arose specifically from and in support of the African-American community, which is reeling from yet another round of sustained brutality, with four recent deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police across the U.S.

    The killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, has been met with citizen action on Twitter, driven first through Black Twitter, then more broadly, using the hashtags #Ferguson — through which news and information was gathered and disseminated on the unfolding police reaction and discussions around peaceful protest and the militarization of civilian law enforcement; #MikeBrown — which served as an act of protest and of empathy, to name the victim and remind us of him as a person inherently deserving of justice; and #IfTheyGunnedMeDown — which called out a prejudicial photograph of Mike Brown circulated after his killing and created a call to action around the power of visual culture and our larger perceptions of African-Americans.

    As of this writing, the crisis in Ferguson is still unfolding. What appears the case is that the heightened attention on social media, particularly on Twitter, has led to a deeper national discussion of police militarization and law enforcement’s treatment of young black men, though there is still a fight for media attention. Ultimately the question of whether these hashtag movements will have contributed to any effects on the ground or in long-term perception shifts remains open.

    So Which Is It?

    Is hashtag activism effective or not? To have comprehensive understanding of this kind of activism, a range of questions needs to be explored: What is the value of imagery in today’s social media networks where a glut of images exists? What is the role of social media in addressing injustice on a global scale? Whose participation is important, or determinative? What standards can we use to gauge the success of a social media hashtag campaign?

    Many social media commentators claim that the mere occurrence of heightened awareness in the perceiving and communicating audience is sufficient to count as “impact.” And in the cases where hashtags created a community-driven critique, as in #IfTheyGunnedMeDown or #MyNYPD, the very engagement toward collective identity and organized participation represents a shift that will have ripple effects in similar ways that media and policy critiques do. In contrast, #BringBackOurGirls (like KONY2012 before it), appears to be a classic example of facile and self-validating activism, where people have jumped on the bandwagon for a moment and then quickly lost interest.

    Ultimately, until the questions are answered around whose interests are served by hashtag activism and what it actually accomplishes for those directly affected, in both the short- and long-terms, most atrocities will indeed remain “unhashtagable.”

    This post was written with support from Regarding Humanity co-founder Linda Raftree, and Regarding Humanity research consultants Winter Schneider and Alex Lee.

  • Uber Hires Former Obama Adviser David Plouffe To Take On The 'Taxi Industry Cartel'
    David Plouffe, one of the key players in President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, is headed to on-demand car service Uber to help with the startup’s political strategy

    Plouffe, who was Obama’s 2008 campaign manager and later served as a senior adviser in the White House, will join the popular app-based service as a senior vice president of policy and strategy, CEO Travis Kalanick announced in a Tuesday statement.

    “Starting in late September, David will be managing all global policy and political activities, communications, and Uber branding efforts,” Kalanick said. “I will look to him as a strategic partner on all matters as Uber grows around the world.”

    In a statement accompanying Kalanick’s announcement, Plouffe welcomed the opportunity to take on the “taxi industry cartel” with the San Francisco-based company.

    “Uber has the chance to be a once in a decade if not a once in a generation company,” Plouffe said. “Of course, that poses a threat to some, and I’ve watched as the taxi industry cartel has tried to stand in the way of technology and big change. Ultimately, that approach is unwinnable. But I look forward to doing what I can right now to ensure drivers and riders are not denied their opportunity for choice in transportation due to those who want to maintain a monopoly and play the inside game to deny opportunity to those on the outside.”

    Uber, which is available in 170 cities across the world, has had its share of political battles since launching in 2009. In competing directly with traditional livery services, Uber has drawn the ire of taxi regulators who have attempted to shut the service down. And the company and other ride-sharing apps have repeatedly faced regulatory hurdles in cities where local officials have voted against such services.

    Earlier this month, the Republican National Committee took aim at those troubles by launching a petition in support of Uber in an apparent appeal to young, urban voters.

    “We must stand up for our free market principles, entrepreneurial spirit and economic freedom,” the petition read.

    As the New York Times notes, Uber has also hired former New York Taxi and Limousine Commission official Ashwini Chhabra to lead the company’s policy development and community engagement.

  • Every Robin Williams Movie You Can Stream On Netflix Right Now
    It’s been a week since the death of Robin Williams, and the world has been busy honoring the life and work of the beloved actor and comedian. His friends have been reminiscing about his kindness and hilarity, fans are paying their respects at memorial sites everywhere and tribute videos have been popping up all over the place.

    In between all of this, we’ve been revisiting his genius by rewatching his standup, TV shows and movies. Several of his films have made it to the Top Movies list on iTunes, and even better, nine of them are available to stream on Netflix.

    Here’s what you can catch on the streaming service right now:

    “Popeye” (1980)

    Sure, “Popeye” didn’t see a huge amount of critical success, but there’s no doubt that Williams gave an outstanding performance. He pulled off a spot-on, hilarious impersonation of the sailor — pipe and all.

    “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” (1989)
    the adventures of baron

    Who could help tell the tall tales of German aristocrat Baron Munchausen better than Williams? He played The King Of The Moon, and he was fantastic.

    “The Fisher King” (1991)
    the fisher king

    In “The Fisher King,” Williams plays a homeless guy on a mission to find the Holy Grail. Along the way, he forms an unlikely relationship with Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges), whose on-air radio commentary causes a caller to commit a mass murder. It led to Williams’ third Oscar nomination and is certainly worth a watch.

    “Hook” (1991)
    Robin Williams as Peter Pan, the boy (well, man) who can fly and never wants to grow up. Need we say more?

    “Jumanji” (1995)
    In “Jumanji,” Williams plays Alan Parrish, a man who had been trapped in the board game of the same name for 26 years. Alan’s adventures are hilarious, intense, a little dangerous and wonderful.

    “The Birdcage” (1996)
    the birdcage

    Who can forget Williams as Armand Goldman, a man attempting to pass as “normal” while living a happy life with his gay lover Albert (Nathan Lane)?

    “Get Bruce!” (1999)
    get bruce
    “Get Bruce” is a documentary that zooms in on the life of comedy writer Bruce Vilanch, so it only makes sense that Williams would have quite a bit to say about him.

    “Who Is Harry Nilsson?” (2006)

    This documentary closely examines the life of musician Harry Nilsson through interviews with famous faces like John Lennon, Randy Newman and Williams as they discuss how Nilsson’s work touched them.

    “World’s Greatest Dad” (2009)
    worlds greatest dad

    This one hits a little too close to home. Although “World’s Greatest Dad” is a comedy, the premise follows Lance, an aspiring writer who finds his son dead due to an “autoerotic asphyxiation” accident. He attempts to cover it up by composing a suicide note supposedly written by his son, which ends up bringing a great deal of attention to Lance’s writing.

    “The Big Wedding” (2013)
    the big wedding

    Williams isn’t the center of attention in “The Big Wedding,” which boasts names like Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton and more. But like the rest of his work, he makes everyone laugh with his performance as Father Moinighan.

  • Former Microsoft boss leaves firm
    Former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer announces he is stepping down from the board with immediate effect.
  • Bringing psychotherapy to the masses, ThriveOn

    A program that disseminates prevention and mental healthcare using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

    The post Bringing psychotherapy to the masses, ThriveOn appeared first on iMedicalApps.

  • Passport Officers Aren't Nearly As Good At Spotting Fake IDs As You Might Hope
    Anyone who flies even occasionally knows the drill: You present your boarding pass and photo ID to airport security, and the agent eyes your photo to make sure you are who you claim to be.

    Seems like a pretty reliable system right? Actually, a rather scary new study suggests that even specially trained officers are no better than the rest of us at spotting a fake ID — and that finding doesn’t augur too well for efforts to keep planes safe and prevent bad guys from crossing our borders.

    “At Heathrow Airport alone, millions of people attempt to enter the U.K. every year,” study co-author Dr. Rob Jenkins, a psychologist at the University of York in England, said in a written statement. “At this scale, an error rate of 15 percent would correspond to the admittance of several thousand travelers bearing fake passports.


    For the study, 49 staff members from the Australian Passport office and 38 university students were asked to complete face-matching tasks. In one task, people posing as passport applicants presented their IDs to the officers and students, who were asked to determine whether the ID matched the person standing in front of them. In a separate task, the officers and students looked at sets of photos and determined whether the photos were of the same person.

    Just how hard is it to make the correct determination? See for yourself: is the young man shown on the left (see below) the same as the man on the right? And what about the young woman?

    passport identification

    If you guessed that the photos showed different people in both cases, congratulations. You got it right.

    The passport officers in the study didn’t do so well despite the fact that they had been given special training in facial recognition. They performed at the same level as the untrained university students. The officers missed the “fake IDs” about 15 percent of the time, and in the photo matching task, they erred about 20 percent of the time.

    So what can be done to boost the chances that fraudulent documents will be spotted? The researchers said it might help to redesign the format of IDs to include multiple photos taken from different angles. Other possible solutions, they said, include incorporating computer technology into the security process, and making sure that only individuals with a natural aptitude for facial recognition get hired as officers.

    “We should be looking at the selection process and potentially employing tests such as the ones we conducted in the study to help us recruit people who are innately better at this process,” study co-author Dr. Mike Burton, a psychologist at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, said in the statement.

    The research was published online August 18 in the journal PLOS ONE.

  • Ex-CEO Steve Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board So He Can Yell About The L.A. Clippers Full-Time

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is stepping down from the company’s board, bringing to a close 34 years with the software giant.

    Ballmer says he plans to devote more time to his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers, civic contributions, teaching and study.

    Microsoft published Ballmer’s resignation letter on its website Tuesday along with a response from current CEO Satya Nadella thanking him and wishing him well.

    The 58-year-old says he plans to hold on to his Microsoft stock and will continue to offer feedback on products and strategy. With 333.3 million shares worth $15 billion, Ballmer’s 4 percent stake in the company makes him the largest individual holder of Microsoft shares. A few institutional investors hold slightly more.

    “I bleed Microsoft — have for 34 years and I always will,” Ballmer wrote. “I will be proud, and I will benefit through my share ownership. I promise to support and encourage boldness by management in my role as a shareholder in any way I can.”

    Ballmer stepped down as chief executive in February, and since then Microsoft shares have risen about 24 percent. He says his resignation from the board is timely as the company prepares for its next shareholder meeting set for sometime this fall.

    Nadella thanked Ballmer for his support during the transition period and used the opportunity to reiterate the company’s new focus on mobile devices and cloud computing. “Under your leadership, we created an incredible foundation that we continue to build on — and Microsoft will thrive in the mobile-first, cloud-first world,” Nadella said.

    Ballmer’s departure leaves the board with 10 members. It has no immediate plans to replace him. The company adds a new board member about once every year or so. The most recent addition was John Stanton, chairman of wireless technology investment fund Trilogy Equity Partners, in July.

    The Clippers got a taste of Ballmer’s infamous exuberance at the new owner’s first press conference on Monday. Fast-forward to minute 9:00 to hear Ballmer scream “hardcore” and “boom” repeatedly, give out his email address and generally just kill it as a hype man.



    Ballmer letter: http://bit.ly/YvzjH7

  • LG Display picked as main display supplier for iPhone 6
    Apple has picked LG Display as its primary supplier of display panels for the iPhone 6, according to supply chain sources cited by Feng.com. The firm is said to have beat out Samsung, Sharp, and Japan Display for the bulk of orders. Otherwise, however, it’s not specified what the balance will be. The implication is also that Sharp is indeed in the supply chain, despite a May report claiming it had been dropped in favor of Innolux due to quality control problems.

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