Mobile Technology News, February 26, 2015
As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.
- Water Leaks Into Astronaut Terry Virts' Helmet During Spacewalk
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A spacewalking astronaut ended up with unwanted water in his helmet Wednesday after breezing through a cable and lube job outside the International Space Station.
The leak was scarily reminiscent of a near-drowning outside the orbiting complex nearly two years ago.
This time, the amount of water was relatively small – essentially a big blob of water floating inside Terry Virts’ helmet. In the summer of 2013, another spacewalking astronaut’s helmet actually flooded. He barely made it back inside.
Virts was never in any danger, Mission Control stressed, and he never reported any water during his 6 1/2 hours outside.
This was the second spacewalk in five days for NASA astronauts Virts and Butch Wilmore, who encountered no trouble while routing cables for future American crew capsules, due to arrive in a couple years.
Terry Virts performs a spacewalk outside the International Space Station on Wednesday.
Three spacewalks had been planned, with the next one Sunday, but its status was uncertain given Wednesday’s mishap. Managers will meet Friday, as planned, to discuss the situation.
Wednesday’s spacewalk had just ended and the two astronauts were inside the air lock, with the hatches closed, when the incident occurred. The air lock was being repressurized when Virts first noticed the water. He said he reported it about a minute later.
The absorbent pad inside the back of Virts’ helmet was damp, but not saturated, said Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, one of the station’s six crew members. The pad became standard procedure after the 2013 emergency.
Cristoforetti removed Virts’ helmet and wiped his face with a towel once he was out of the air lock and reunited with his colleagues. She noted that his neck was wet and cold.
The water – cold to the touch with a chemical taste – most likely came from the suit’s cooling system, the source of the leak in 2013. Mission Control described the amount of water as “minor,” at least compared with 2013.
Virts, a 47-year-old Air Force colonel, spent about half of Wednesday’s spacewalk lubricating screws, brackets and tracks on the end of the space station’s giant robot arm. The snares had gotten a bit creaky over the past year, increasing the motor current, and engineers hoped the grease would make operations smoother.
“We’re the cable guys. Now we’re the grease monkeys – or I am,” Virts radioed.
“Yep, you guys have a life after NASA,” replied Mission Control. “That’s good work.”
That’s when the spacewalk ended – and Virts noticed the water. A camera zoomed in on a big bubble floating near his left eye.
“Yeah, Terry, we can see it. Thanks for making it ripple,.” Mission Control said.
The same suit ended up with some water in the helmet during a Christmas Eve spacewalk in 2013, according to Mission Control. That also occurred while the air lock was being repressurized.
NASA spent months investigating the July 2013 close call experienced by Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, and zeroed in on clogged holes in the fan and pump assembly.
A corrosion problem with the same type of fan and pump assembly – believed unrelated to the original leak – had to be cleared before the latest spacewalks could get underway last weekend. The analysis held up the spacewalks by a day.
NASA considers this the most complicated cable job ever at the 16-year-old orbiting outpost.
So far, Virts and Wilmore have routed 364 feet of power and data cables, with another 400 feet to be strung outside the space station on the next spacewalk, whenever it happens.
NASA had hoped to complete this series of spacewalks before Wilmore returns to Earth in mid-March.
The extensive rewiring is needed before this year’s arrival of a pair of docking ports, designed to accommodate commercial crew capsules still in development. NASA expects the first port to arrive in June and the second in December.
SpaceX and Boeing are designing new capsules that should start ferrying station astronauts from Cape Canaveral in 2017. Manned flights have been on hold at the cape since NASA’s shuttles retired in 2011. SpaceX already is launching station cargo.
NASA has contracted out space station deliveries so it can concentrate on getting astronauts farther afield in the decades ahead, namely to Mars.
- A Free and Open Internet for All
On the eve of the Federal Communication Commission’s historic vote on net neutrality, I join with other Mayors and millions of other Americans to urge Commissioners to support an open Internet for everyone.
In order for San Francisco and other U.S. cities to continue to grow, thrive and succeed, everyone needs equal access to the Internet — access to the same high quality, fast speed data.
A combination of affordable technology and the birth of Internet innovations put the Internet into the hands of the people. And now, this high quality access has become a lifeline. It is an essential tool to communicate, look for a job, or learn about what your government is doing. A free Web also supports our economy and is helping our cities grow and create jobs.
San Francisco is a city of immigrants, and for many immigrants, the Internet provides a tool to connect to those possibly an entire world away. From Skype to WhatsApp and other video chat, technology reduces the distance for the lone immigrant, thousands of miles from home, to reach family every day. It’s how grandparents keep up with their grandchildren who are growing up in another time zone and in another country. And of course, it’s where millions of business meetings happen every day.
Net neutrality makes this all possible.
But now Internet freedom and transparency is in danger from a new kind of discrimination.
The years-long debate of net neutrality has come down to tomorrow’s vote. Approving Title II means that no Internet service provider can charge more to get you the same content at the same speed as any other competitor. Net neutrality will ensure that San Francisco’s diverse residents and businesses can stay connected to communication networks, online education tools and information resources without fear of speed bumps or — even worse — not being able to access information.
Developing a fair and open network creates space for startups and individuals from all walks of life to experiment as part of the new 21st Century economy. The Internet continues to evolve and innovators will continue innovating using the Internet to improve our lives for the better.
As the Mayor of San Francisco, I have been an early and vocal supporter of net neutrality, and I hope you will join me today in encouraging the FCC to approve Title II.
- Pointers: introducing Siri to your family
This week’s Pointers tip is short and sweet, and one of those head-slapping “of course!” moments. It’s a far simpler way of adding your family into Siri so that she (or he) will understand who you mean when you say “send a text to my wife” or “read me the last email from my father.” You can do this manually in Contacts (or the previous version, known as Address Book), but its a bit labor-intensive that way. Using this easier method, you can eliminate the dreaded “which John did you mean?” when you know more than one, and meant the one you’re related to.
- IDC: Apple, Samsung control 96.3 percent of entire smartphone market
Based on shipment data, analyst firm IDC has determined that Apple and Samsung have effectively gained full control of the smartphone market, splitting 96.3 percent of all smartphones shipped — up nearly a full percentage point from the same period last year. All Android phones combined account for 81.5 percent in 2014, a slight increase from 2013. The percentages flip, however, when talking about money rather than units — with Apple said to get 90 percent of the profits in the industry.
- VIDEO: Commutes made easier with maths
Using advanced maths to make your ride to work easier
- Drones Are More Than Killing Machines, but What Happens When They Become Intelligent
You will be forgiven if you missed the Drones for Good competition held recently in Dubai. Despite drone technology really taking off commercially in the last year or so (the potential puns are endless) they remain a relatively niche interest.
Drones — or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as they are increasingly known — have reached a mass-market tipping point. You can buy them on the high street for the price of a smartphone and, despite a large DIY Drone community, the out-of-the-box versions are pretty extraordinary, fitted with built-in cameras and “follow me” technology, where your drone will follow you as you walk, run, surf, or hang-glide. Their usefulness to professional filmmakers has led to the first New York Drone Film Festival to be held in March 2015.
Technologically speaking, drones’ abilities have all manner of real-world applications. Some of the highlights from the US$1m prize for the Drones for Good competition include a drone that delivers a life-ring to those in distress in the water. Swiss company Flyability took the international prize for Gimball, a drone whose innovative design allows it to collide into objects without becoming destabilized or hard-to-control, making it useful in rescue missions in difficult areas.
The winner of the national prize was a drone that demonstrates the many emerging uses for drones in conservation. In this case, the Wadi drone can help record and document the diversity of flora and fauna, providing a rapid way to assess changes to the environment.
More Civilian Uses Than Military
What does this all mean for how we think about drones in society? It wasn’t long ago that the word “drone” was synonymous with death, destruction, and surveillance. Can we expect us all to have our own personal, wearable drone, as the mini-drone Nixie promises? Of course the technology continues to advance within a military context, where drones — not the kind you can pick up, but large, full-scale aircraft — are serious business. There’s even a space drone, NASA’s Boeing X-37, which spent several years in automated orbit, while others are in development to help explore other planets.
There’s no escaping the fact that drones, like a lot of technology now in the mainstream, have trickled down from their military origins. There are graffiti drones, drone bands, Star Wars-style drone racing competitions using virtual reality interfaces, and even theatrical drone choreography, or beautiful drone sculptures in the sky.
A Legal Minefield
There are a few things about drones that are extremely exciting — and controversial. The autonomous capabilities of drones can be breathtaking — witnessing one just fly off at speed on its own, it feels extremely futuristic. But this is not strictly legal at present due to associated risks.
A pilot must always have “line of sight” of the drone and have the capacity to take control. Technically even the latest drones still require a flight path to be pre-programmed, so the drone isn’t really making autonomous decisions yet, although the new DJI Inspire is pretty close. Drone learning has to be the next step in their evolution.
Yet this prospect of artificial intelligence raises further concerns of control, if a drone could become intelligent enough to take off, fly and get up to all kinds of mischief, and locate a power source to re-charge, all without human intervention or oversight, then where does that leave humanity?
There are also concerns about personal privacy. If Google Glass raised privacy hackles, drones will cause far worse problems. There have already been a few occasions where drones have caused some trouble, such as the one that crashed onto the White House lawn, or the one that overshot into a runway at London Gatwick. The point at which a drone is involved in something very serious may be the point at which their status as a mainstream toy ends.
- Ménage à Trois of Social Media: 3 Super Tools to Improve Your Social Influence
Social media has come in like a flood and nearly washed away every trace of how communication used to be back in the day. You remember, actually dialing a number and waiting for someone to answer, only to leave a voice message for a return call. Or, how about using fully spelled out words, not emoticons, abbreviations, short messaging scripts, and the like to convey a message. Or, one of my favorites, when the number (#), hashtag, or pound sign (whatever they’re calling it these days) was actually used with NUMBERS!
Some are embracing our technological wave of communication, while others are having a tough time keeping up! I feel like a wrangler shouting through a mega-phone, “COM’ON PEOPLE, KEEP UP!” While I jest, social media is a powerful force in marketing your business brand, and when done right, can have a positive impact on your social influence. The problem I have found with using social media is the coordination between the many platforms: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, SnapChat, LinkedIn, and many countless others that just haven’t reach global recognition. Each of these platforms have a different functionality, and when aligned with objectives that match that functionality, can be very effective in reaching your specific audience.
Before we go any further in this article, I must qualify my expertise with social media. I do not consider myself an expert. In fact, like many of you reading this, I’m learning as I go along. Picking up new ways and trying to keep up with all the growth that is happening. Amazingly enough, I attribute my success in increasing my social relevance and influence with the use of the following three tools.
First, let me share a little secret: You don’t have to generate or create ALL the content you share on social media. In fact, the best-kept secret of social media is what I like to call, O.P.C (Other People’s Content) — yes, I just coined another phrase! I mean, let’s face it, we all aren’t graduates with English degrees or laureates of poetic societies. Most of us struggle to convey ideas in a way that is interesting and attracting. The whole idea of social media is sharing interesting topics with other people who are interested in that topic. That is how you create connection, which could lead to a great business (or personal) relationship. Another side secret: Lighten up! Don’t take it too serious. I believe the reason Millennials are killing it on social media is because they don’t take it too serious. Basically, they have fun — a good reminder to all the struggling Boomers out there (myself included).
So, without further ado, here are three of my favorite tools that create what I like to refer to as the social media ménage à trois
1) IFTTT: If, This, Then, That is a little coming to be known tool that I discovered a couple of years ago. I fell in love with it because of the algebraic expression it represented. But unlike Algebra, you get to decide the outcome, rather than trying to solve the problem for the answer. In this online social bookmarking tool, you create what are referred to as recipes. The elements in your recipes are content that you want shared across platforms. It helps to keep consistent flow of content and consistent context of content. This helps keep interested readers aligned with your objectives and doesn’t confuse your brand’s message.
2) Buffer: Buffer is a content aggregation tool. We go back to the O.P.C. concept. It offers up great content in different categories. You select what you want to distribute and what platforms to use. It’s very user-friendly and free with a fee version also available.
3) KLOUT: Although this is the last on my list, it is by far the most responsible for my increased visibility in social media. Klout gives you an opportunity to increase your Twitter following, as well as share great content. It measures your influence and appropriates a score. It helps me to see when I’m slacking off with sharing valuable content and helps me to get back on track to keep my audience engaged and interested.
Social media is so ME! It’s a big part of anyone who want to share their message with the world! So, all those fighting the power of social media… stop it! Give in, you’re fighting a losing battle. Tools like the ones I mention make it so much easier to swallow. Before you know it, you’ll be a social media pro, or not! At the very least, you’ll be running with the mustangs instead of trying to get the ol’ mule to move.
Kim Harris, Creator/Visionary – Stiletto Business Strategies for Women Business Owners and the #StilettoMovement is an entrepreneur who creates stages via live and virtual events for women entrepreneurs to share value. She is the recipient of the SBA’s Women in Business Champion of the Year Award a published author. Follow Kim on Twitter @MsKHarris or #StilettoWBO or #ItsSoMeTips for business strategies and social media tips. Visit http://www.facebook.com/StilettoWBO to learn, connect, and collaborate. Schedule a private VIP consult with Kim at http://bit.ly/VIPConsult
- UI Does Not Equal UX
There is a lot of discussion around UI and UX. Countless times we’ll see “UI/UX” written in job postings, mentioned in meetings, etc., as if they are interchangeable, or as if they are one and the same. But what does that even mean?
A UX designer friend of mine was telling me of a meeting they were in the other day.
Executive: “We need to address the UI/UX.”
UX Designer: “What do you mean? The underlying user flows, or the visual elements, or what exactly?”
Executive: “I mean the UI/UX, this button should be naturally on the left – where I would expect it to be.”
Of course, we will not go into the executive that says “I” too much here, as that is a whole other post… but people talking about UI and UX as if they are one and the same seems to now be a pretty standard situation.
Let’s clear up a common misunderstanding; UI does not equal UX. There… I said it. People may see UX as Interface Design but it is not that alone.
If you have a job listed as UI/UX, you need to ask yourself exactly what is it that you expect that person to do? While some designers may play both roles, especially in a very small company, it is worth remembering that each role requires different skills, and people that can do both well are very hard to find. I know several visionary experience designers who are exceptional at understanding their user base, but couldn’t put together a visual design to save their lives and, I know amazing UI designers that put together great interfaces, but have no clue how to conduct usability testing. And that is just fine. It is the reason why both roles exist and are not the same. A quick search on Indeed.com returned 6570 jobs for “UX designer” which included everything from User Experience Designer/Developer to Interaction Designer, UX Engineer, UX Architect and, of course, the favorite — UI/UX Designer. This can certainly be incredibly confusing for people new to UX design, or aspiring to be UX designers.
Is this role really responsible for both the UI and UX components of a solution? More importantly, can the same person actually do both well enough for a product to be successful? Especially given that each requires enough time and effort as to be a job within itself. To answer this, let’s take a look at what each role actually involves.
Experience Design: Incorporates the consideration of every aspect of a user’s interaction with an entity. It evokes all their senses triggering a perception of the entity’s meaning and value, as well as forging an emotional connection with it. UX can be used in the design of any medium — a service, a website, an application, an event etc. It encompasses many disciplines such as cognitive science, computer science, design, human factors and psychology. A UX designer also works with many other business functions such as marketing, communications, design, architecture and support to ensure that the experience is cohesive all the way through from start to finish.
UI Design: The goal of user interface design is to make a user’s interaction with an entity as simple and efficient as possible, aiding them to accomplish their goals. It combines visual design, interaction design and information architecture to present an experience to a user.
UI is very clearly an incredibly important part of UX design… It is not, therefore, synonymous with, but a key part of UX.
This being said, there are clearly skill sets that pertain to each discipline when you are recruiting for a UI designer and a UX designer, and both of these roles are equally as important to your success. Various companies use different descriptions and titles, but there are definitely some trends emerging in the types of skills these two roles require.
UI usually pertains to applications or web sites, but let’s expand on this to the experience of anything. UI could be called the “presentation layer”; the layer that the user sees and interacts with. This is also true with the “presentation layer” of how a workplace looks, how a restaurant looks, how a hotel looks. It is in the positioning, the alignment, the colors and the way it all makes you feel when you see it and use it.
The fundamentals of UX design typically used in software and product can also be taken into the physical world. For example, whether designing an application or a physical world experience, designers can consider Norman’s three levels of cognitive processing.
This is the immediate reaction we have to something. It is the reaction of our senses, for example, the things we see and hear before we have even had a significant level of interaction. Think back to when you last saw an app for the first time and immediately liked it, or walked into a restaurant and immediately felt good about it as it looked great and had a fantastic smell of deliciousness in the air. This immediate reaction to our sensory inputs is what makes us instantly decide what is good or bad. Think of the impact of this. As a designer you should always strive to make sure that your user has a positive reaction at this stage.
This is where usability and interaction play a role. It is about the functions that are being performed — what does the product or solution actually do? Is it easy for the user to complete the actions they need to? Are they comfortable performing these actions? Here, designers should focus on how easily a user is able to understand the functions, the usability and the physical feel of the solution.
This is a very powerful level of processing accessed through memory. It is the meaning the user associates to a product, solution or experience that makes them come back for more. Only by associating meaning can a user find true value in an experience.
A good experience designer should be able to think through and design the end-to-end experience for anything. This means utilizing a team which would include a specialist in the presentation layer for that particular experience, whether that is an interior designer or an Application Designer.
The way in which people emotionally connect with the experience will come from a variety of aspects, such as what they see and hear before, during and after their interaction. For example:
- Viewing marketing and online reviews presenting the experience before the user experiences it for themselves.
- How support or help is received in an error situation — be that an error on a website, or the wrong food being served in a restaurant.
- How easy it is to use — how easy is it to order your food, or purchase that product?
- How natural and comfortable it feels.
- … the list continues.
The key can be found in ensuring that the UX is designed end-to-end from a core understanding of the user through to design and delivery, whereas the UI is the presentation designed to expose the power of that design process underpinning the UX for the user. Combined, UI and UX are the two different aspects that literally define the success of your product.
- How Tinder Is Changing the Dating Game
I spent this past Valentine’s Day at a dark bar, with a “match” from Tinder, a one-sided conversation and a split bill. This floundering shot at romance didn’t leave me crying, “Chivalry is dead!” on a darkened street corner. I felt indifferent at best, shrugging the night off as a wasted outfit and a missed opportunity to tend to the unbaked sleeve of Valentine’s Day cookies in my freezer (which I’ve since taken care of).
Despite our generation’s blind acceptance of a different standard of dating, one can’t help but wonder what happened to courtliness and tradition. In a dating world in which one-word text messages warrant excitement and a “match” is made with the swipe of a finger, you can’t help but wonder… Are we to blame, or is it all Tinder’s fault?
The Market for Relationships
Let’s take a look at the dating world through the lens of behavioral economics. The market for relationships is best viewed as a barter economy in which the “double coincidence of wants” is the main problem. This means that one person in the transaction must have exactly what the other person wants, and vice versa.
Like a functional relationship, a successful barter economy can be quite difficult to cultivate. Imagine going to a gas station with a baseball bat and a deck of cards and waiting for the owner of the gas station to be in need of those exact items, finally willing to trade you for ten gallons of gas. Your chances of success are slim to none.
Now you can see why the dating game can be rather difficult. A girl may want a six-foot-two, dark haired investment banker who loves red wine and Wes Anderson films. A guy may be looking for a five-foot-five, blonde woman in advertising who loves craft beers and wants two kids. The odds of two people searching for those certain reciprocal qualities actually finding each other are also improbable, which leads us to spend a significant amount of time with imperfect matches.
Dating Gone Viral
Enter Tinder. The popular dating app took 2013 by storm, allowing users to swipe their way to love (or just lovin’). In economic terms, it has drastically reduced the costliness of searching for a potential partner.
The dating app illustrates a phenomenon that economists call “technological shock,” which is when an event produces a significant change within an economy. An example of this is the invention of birth control, which vastly reduced the cost of having sex. Prior to “the pill,” having sex meant a statistically significant possibility of producing a child, complete with long-term commitment and high expenses. The pill cut that price tag, making sex “cheaper,” so to speak.
Tinder has done the same. By allowing users to only pair with partners who they find physically attractive (or at least capable of writing a witty bio), the initial expenditures (time, fear of rejections, the cost of a drink) of dating are more likely to be applied to a partner that is a good “match,” reducing the risk of failure and, thus, the cost. With the number of swipes growing from five million per day in 2013 to one billion per day in 2014, we can safely assert that Tinder has diminished the once-high cost of dating.
The Safe Way to get Rejected
Tinder also lessens the emotional cost of dating. With men “swiping left” (saying “I’ll pass,”) on a potential suitor 53 percent of the time, and women swiping left 85 percent of the time, the rate of rejection is high. Out of the one billion daily swipes on Tinder, only 12 million matches are made — resulting in 988 million daily rejections.
The free app allows you to judge potential matches from the comfort of your smartphone, eliminating the costly guessing game of scheduling and preparing for a dinner date only to have it potentially fail, not to mention the heartache of experiencing face-to-face rejection. Although it’s not very romantic, it’s definitely efficient.
…So is Chivalry Actually Dead?
With dating apps becoming the norm, we’ve seen some significant changes in the dating scene over the past few years. Tinder allows users to benefit from an influx of potential partners at an extremely low cost, creating the illusion of endless dating options. This makes many feel that they have nothing to lose in dating a variety of people, which simultaneously diminishing the prevalence of committed, long-term relationships. There’s no need to settle down if you can find a new match after one swipe, right?
However, like the pill, the so-called “Tinder Effect” may have a long-term effect on relationships. With millennials already saying “I don’t” to marriage in favor of developing their careers or traveling the world, dating apps may exacerbate the already dwindling percentage of those open to marriage at a young age.
In fact, Pew Research recently reported that the number of Americans who will always be single and never marry is at a historic high, with less than half of adults over the age of 18 already married (it was 72 percent in 1960). Experts are concerned about how the increasing number of chronically single Americans will affect our economy, since married couples tend to have more income, more wealth and rear more well-adjusted and economically supported children.
So, what do you think of the “Tinder Effect”?
This post originally appeared on GenFKD in February of 2015. It was written by GenFKD Content Manager Kelsey Clark and GenFKD FSU Fellow Kevin Gomez.
- Spot-On Bon Jovi Parody Takes On Parents' Instagram Addictions
In our social media-crazed culture, people often feel like life isn’t actually happening if it’s not documented on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/etc. This is the theme of the newest parody video from What’s Up Moms, “Livin’ for the Share.”
Parodying Bon Jovi’s karaoke-ready hit “Livin’ on a Prayer,” the moms highlight their often comical determination when it comes to capturing the perfect vacation photo to share on social media. From dead batteries to bad lighting to an overload of selfies, it’s clear no obstacle is too big for parents set on documenting their family memories.
And, summing up what so many parents know to be true, the captions at the beginning of the video read, “for every perfect photo, there are 100 that didn’t make the cut.”
- Here Are The Best 3 Minutes Of YouTube History
A decade sure goes by fast when you’re watching viral videos.
It might also remind you of the countless hours you wasted checking out dog, cat and baby videos, but that’s another story.
- A Guide To All Of Frank Underwood's Backstabbing In 'House Of Cards'
When “House of Cards” returns on Friday for it’s third season there will be a new president in office, and as we know, he’s not a very good guy. Frank Underwood is the paragon of human (and one time, animal) manipulation and treachery. He’s ruthless, he’s calculated and he’ll stop at nothing, not even murder, to get what he wants.
After being snubbed for the Secretary of State nomination, Frank squirmed his way into the Vice Presidency and then behind the desk of the Oval Office. Before Season 3 of “House of Cards” premieres, here’s a look back at everyone Frank has backstabbed since day one, and the few who’ve succeeded to double-cross him:
Story by Erin Whitney
Infographic by Alissa Scheller for The Huffington Post.
“House of Cards” Season 3 premieres on Friday, Feb. 27 at 3:01 a.m. ET on Netflix.
- Gameloft Releases Age of Sparta for Windows Phone
It has been anticipated for a while now but Gameloft has finally release Age of Sparta for Windows Phone and Windows. The new game puts you in charge of the Greek army as you wage war against Xerxes and the Persians. Using the powers at your disposal and with the help of the Greek Gods, you rebuild your city to get resources and an army to mount your campaign. You can of course also align yourself with other players to form a bigger army and battle rivals. While the game concept is not unique, Age of Sparta does have some
- Kindness Matters — Even on the Internet
Six months ago, I wrote an essay about my son’s injury at Mt. Hood. I called it “Broken,” and you can read the original piece here. It was hard for me to write; I was going through some emotional times during the summer, and, as with any time a parent sees their child injured, his accident really shook me up. I needed to figure it out.
As with all my writing, I wrote it for me. I wasn’t out to impress anyone with his injury or our story. I didn’t intend to make my life seem harder/more painful/more dramatic or fill-in-the-blank with whatever word you would like. I was simply telling my story, my experience, and sharing how it made me feel. No judgement, no pity party, nothing but sharing my love for my son, and no evaluation or proclamation that our situation was more traumatic than any other.
My story was about healing, change, and adapting to the ‘new normal’ – something I was dealing with on several levels in my life. At the same time this happened, I was reading a blogpost by one of my favorite writer/bloggers, Katrina Kenison, who so eloquently pens the exquisite agony we feel as mothers adapting to different experiences with our children. It felt like the Universe was speaking to me, sending me ways to cope with my situation.
I ended my story with healing, with gratitude, and with thoughts of moving forward.
last week, my blog post was published on The Huffington Post, with the title “The Phone Call No Parent Wants To Get.” Provocative title, I agree — that’s what happens when stories get published online.
Within minutes, there were dozens of comments. Surprised, I clicked over. I didn’t think it was the kind of post that would garner much commentary at all. It was just a retelling of an experience of motherhood.
What I saw was full of hate.
I fully realize that the Universe deals out trauma much more intense than what we were experiencing. No one wants to see their child — or any other child — experience pain, fear, or injury. I know that some have more than their share of heartbreak, suffering, and agony. I would never presume to understand the pain of losing a child, or watching a child suffer through any trauma.
But that’s not what my essay was about.
It’s too bad that those people who clicked on my post were “infuriated”, as one reader expressed. It’s too bad that they felt they just wasted their time reading it, or that they somehow had to insert their ego/story/opinion into mine.
Why they would waste more of their time spewing hate and vitriolic comments to me is amazing.
Kindness matters, people. Read closely:
You absolutely have the right to say what you think, just like I do. But please, think about how you say it.
This essay wasn’t a piece about politics or religion. It wasn’t a controversial topic. This was a reflection, a memoir, a snapshot of time. It was my experience, not meant to be evaluated or judged against anyone else’s. What would be the point in that? How could one possibly believe that their pain is any greater than another, that their suffering is any stronger? We never know each other’s back story.
While the internet offers an amazing opportunity for people to communicate and connect, why not do so with kindness and seek to understand and be understood? Why hide behind anonymity, freely condemning people for their ideas? Would you yell at me like that in person? Would you hunt down a book author, and plaster your words all over their home?
I’m not impressed by your hate. I’m not even agitated enough to write back and engage in any sort of debate. It’s pointless. I’m even laughing at much of your poorly written, ignorant assumptions you make about me and my son. You have no idea. You don’t know me, you don’t know my story — and to engage with you would be to proclaim that I know yours. Your assumptions make you look like an ass, and give you no credibility. Who are you to judge me?
Life is hard. We all have different challenges. In no way would I equate my son’s accident as anything even close to what many parents deal with on a daily basis.
THAT’S NOT THE POINT.
We are all on this life journey together. We all have a voice. I use mine to communicate, to understand others, and to make the world a kinder place to live in. By spewing your commentary, it makes me wonder what else you do in life that pushes us all backwards in anger, instead of forwards in compassion.
Remember, kindness matters. Maybe I could learn from you — but not if you try to teach me with your hate.
- Facebook Adds New Feature For Suicide Prevention
Starting on Wednesday, Facebook is rolling out a new feature for suicide prevention.
The social media site is partnering with Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Save.org and Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention, a nonprofit operating out of the University of Washington’s School of Social Work, to give users more options when they see a friend post something that is concerning. It works on both desktop and mobile.
If a Facebook friend posts something that you feel indicates he or she could be thinking about self harm, you’ll be able to click the little arrow at the top right of the post and click “Report Post.” There, you’ll be given the options to contact the friend who made the post, contact another friend for support or contact a suicide helpline, the University of Washington reported on Wednesday.
After that, Facebook will look at the post. If Facebook feels like the post indicates distress, it will contact the person who posted it. That person will be greeted with the following pop ups when he or she next logs in:
Then they’ll see options to reach out to a friend or get tips and support.
If he person decides they’d like to talk to someone, they’ll be prompted to call a friend, send a friend a Facebook message or contact a suicide helpline. They can either call or message a suicide prevention expert. Facebook also provides videos that use true stories of people who have dealt with suicidal thoughts.
There’s also a section that recommends simple relaxation techniques like baking, drawing, going for a walk or visiting a library.
Facebook will even help someone find a self-care expert.
Facebook has had a way to report potentially suicidal content since 2011, but this is the first time this support will be built directly into posts. Until now, you had to seek out Facebook’s suicide prevention page and upload a screenshot or URL of the post.
The new reporting feature is currently available for 50 percent of Facebook users in the U.S. and will roll out to the rest of the country in the next few months, a spokesperson for Facebook told The Huffington Post in a phone interview on Wednesday.
“We have teams working around the world, 24/7, who review any report that comes in,” Rob Boyle, Facebook Product Manager and Nicole Staubli, Facebook Community Operations Safety Specialist, wrote in a post for Facebook Safety on Wednesday. “They prioritize the most serious reports, like self-injury, and send help and resources to those in distress.”
- Hillary Clinton Addresses Silicon Valley's Women in Tech
Former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives the keynote speech during Lead On: Watermark’s Silicon Valley Conference For Women on February 24, 2015 in Santa Clara, California. Photo by Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images.
Yesterday in Silicon Valley, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stood before an audience of 5000 women in the tech industry, eager to hear her perspective on advancing women’s leadership, advocating for themselves and other women in the workplace. The event, Lead On Conference for Women, was hosted by Watermark Institute, a community of executive women in the San Francisco Bay Area developing women leaders and advocating for the advancement of women in the workforce.
The tech industry, a notoriously male-dominated profession, is making some strides in advancing women’s leadership. Last month, Intel, the lead sponsor of the event, made a commitment to significantly increase hiring, retention and progression of women and underrepresented minorities in their workforce over the next five years, while measuring and reporting their progress annually. “We believe increasing diversity is a highly relevant issue for our industry and that it is time to do far more,” said Renee James, President of Intel Corporation.
While there have been some strides, there is still a significant gender gap in Silicon’s Valley’s tech industry. Companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo and LinkedIn lag tremendously when it comes to women’s leadership. While Facebook boasts Sheryl Sandberg as their COO, men hold 77 percent of the top-level leadership positions, with women at just 23 percent. At Google, the top-level leadership is 79 percent male and just 21 percent female. Two percent of this leadership is Latina, and one percent is black. Yahoo and LinkedIn also have a long way to go for gender parity. So do Intel, Cisco, Twitter and Pinterest.
“Building a diverse talent pool can’t just be a nice thing to do. It is a must do,” said Secretary Clinton. “When women’s participation is limited, our country’s prosperity is limited.”
Studies have shown that companies with women in leadership have better revenue, better profit and better growth. But the lack of workplace policies that honor the truth of women’s lives, like paid family leave and flex time, make it difficult for women to progress to higher levels of leadership. While some tech companies offer paid family leave, the time is typically not enough, and many women end up leaving their job so that they physically recover, bond with their new baby and normalize family life. Those women who do take paid family leave and later return to their job are often marginalized, or even demoted.
The United States is one of nine countries in the entire world without national paid family leave, and the only advanced country without it.
“We are going backward in a field that is supposed to be all about moving forward,” said Secretary Clinton, criticizing the gender gap in the tech industry.
Not only is there a leadership gender gap in the tech industry to stew about, the pay gap remains atrocious. One recent report on the gender pay gap in Silicon Valley found that a woman with a bachelor’s degree tends to make 60 percent less than a man with the same degree.
“If there is an issue you have been stewing about, go out and find a group of people to lead on with,” encouraged Secretary Clinton.
She advised women to stand up for other women and raise questions about how women are being treated. Quoting her friend Madeline Albright, Secretary Clinton said: “There is a special spot in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
“A helping hand or a kind word can make a big difference,” she said.
Tabby Biddle, M.S. Ed., is a women’s leadership mentor and coach, specializing in helping women find their voice. She is the author of the bestselling book, Find Your Voice: A Woman’s Call to Action. Learn more at tabbybiddle.com.
- Review of PCGS Photograde for Windows – Coin Grading Made Easier
Coin collecting has been something that humans have done almost since coinage was invented. Often referred to as the “Hobby of Kings” during the Renaissance, over the past two centuries has become more affordable and easier to do than ever. Those who collect coins seriously, Numismatics, today now have the benefit of technology and applications that even a few years ago was not available. When I started collecting back in the mid-80s, coin grading and cataloging all had to be done by hand. Now, it’s all done with apps but there is – and always will be – a human
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- Coding: The Next Superpower
I have told and retold stories describing my hackathon experience so many times to friends and family members that I have perfected every detail — so much so that it sounds like I am giving a soliloquy from Hamlet rather than casually telling a story. I now know exactly when to pause for dramatic effect (right before I tell my listener about the results being announced) and I know when to pause for subtle chuckles (right after I say how our team won the Hackathon Dance Battle.) However, if I had to sum up my hackathon experience without delivering a monologue-type speech, I would probably accurately capture it in these two sentences.
- It smells way too much like Axe cologne.
- You feel like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, (insert ambitious, excited, slightly crazy entrepreneur here) for a solid 36 hours.
These two thoughts might seem extremely bizarre and unrelated but bear with me.
Part 1: It smells way too much like Axe cologne.
Computer science is notoriously labeled as being a male-dominated field. In fact, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, women hold only 18 percent of all undergraduate computer and information science degrees. It’s a pretty disheartening statistic, but as one of the five girls in my AP Computer Science class of 45, I can unfortunately corroborate the fact that female representation in computer science is depressingly lacking.
I was therefore unsurprised (not to mention irritated) at the wave of Axe cologne that greeted me when I first entered the hackathon. After looking around for a couple minutes, I sadly confirmed my suspicions: I was a minority there by a long shot. I remember being so surprised that, for once, the line for the men’s bathroom was much longer than the line for the women’s. Only after checking the guest list did I realize how bad it was. There were twenty girls at the hackathon. Out of more than three hundred participants.
It doesn’t have to be this way, and with the up and coming organizations that aim to close the gender gap in computer science, such as GirlsWhoCode, it probably won’t in the future. But it should not be just up to these organizations to encourage girls to try out coding — a lot of responsibility lies with the girls themselves.
So if you are a girl reading this, I am talking to you. Once you read the second part of this article, you are going to realize what incredible events, experiences, and memories you are missing out on. You are going to realize that after learning even basic forms of coding, you can begin to build, design and create anything you want. This probably sounds extremely exaggerated, and you might not believe me right now. But coding is literally the closest thing you can get to a superpower in our mere mortal world.
And here’s why:
Part 2: You feel like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, (insert ambitious, excited, slightly crazy entrepreneur here) for a solid 36 hours.
There is something enticing about the hacker type of lifestyle. It’s alluring. It wasn’t so much the idea that you could come across a billion dollar idea at 2:00 a.m. (although that is a pretty big incentive). No, it was more the idea that in 24 hours you could make something, build something, design something that could change the world. Of course, this is not always true — my first hackathon app was an Android app that wakes sleepy train-goers up before reaching their stop. It didn’t exactly solve the American obesity problem or help early diagnoses of cancer. But, I still remember, at the end of the night, when the app was finished, my team and I stared at our little Android phone for a solid five minutes, just in awe. We had just made that, from scratch, in less than 15 hours, and it works.
It’s a magical feeling that is hard to describe. You feel a sense of pride and confidence combined with an insatiable hunger to make it better. You feel a marvelous sense of accomplishment in your own skills and knowledge. And of course, you feel a very tight, emotional bond with your teammates, because, honestly, it has been a good 22 hours and you haven’t gotten sick of them yet. Coding combines the left and right sides of brain because it harnesses your visual/art skills and couples it with your logic/thinking skills. At the end of the hackathon, you don’t feel as though you just did a giant research paper, but more like an artist finishing a masterpiece. There is no feeling like it.
At the end of my usual impassioned hackathon speeches, I usually get the same response: “That sounds so cool! I wish I knew how to code like you!”
That’s usually where the conversation ends, and the person I’m talking to brings up a new topic. And I think, that’swhere the problem lies. I always hear, “I wish I knew…” rather than “I want to learn NOW.” You can wish all you want, but in the end it is up to you to sit down and type in “learn how to code” in Google search. Learn how to design a basic website. Create an app on your phone. Make a video game. After all, the next hackathon is only a couple months away.
I hope to see you there.
- 4 Reasons to Put Your Phone Down (NOW!)
The technological innovations that have allowed us to be constantly connected to one another are brilliant. That being said, your smart phone should not be attached to you 100 percent of the time. Being in constant communication with everyone can be rather daunting and evidently stressful. The expectation to respond to someone within a very short period of time is inescapable in today’s world. Therefore, removing this technological connection every once in a while can be beneficial for your overall health and lower your stress levels.
If you feel like your phone has become an extension of your hand this is not necessarily a good thing. You should not feel like your phone is controlling you!
For those who need further convincing below is a list of just four reasons to put down your phone (NOW!).
1. You offend the people you are with when you are on your phone all the time.
It is no fun to try and have a conversation with someone who is constantly staring at their iPhone screen. Perhaps you are deeply interested in the conversation you are having — however this is not what you convey as you are seemingly preoccupied by your phone screen.
2. Looking up from your phone screen could help you connect with the real people around you!
Face-to-face contact is important in order to make real lasting connections. Yes, online dating sites can be successful. However, putting your phone down and engaging in the world around you might make you notice someone you never saw before.
Remember: Despite Siri’s sassy remarks to your forward loving advances, Siri does not having feelings for you — loving or otherwise. Do not take it personally that Siri does not love you back. You are not Joaquin Phoenix in the movie Her, and you should not want to be him. (Spoiler alert: He ends up heartbroken and a little depressed.)
Look up from your phone, engage with the people around you and you maybe be surprised at the connections you will make! Even if your not looking for love being constantly on your phone makes you seem unavailable to people around you. Making friends is much easier when you are not sucked into your smart phone.
3. You miss things when you’re constantly on the phone!
This one is easy to explain.
“Did you see that purple elephant?!?!?”
“No… What? Where is it?”
“Oh it is gone now. You must have missed it!”
“Shoot I was on my phone!”
4. When you become attached to your phone it becomes slightly addictive!
Addiction is bad! Too much of anything is never a good thing, and even though I try and remind myself of this as I eat ice cream, it can easily be applied to phone usage as well. As you become more and more attached to your phone, it becomes harder to be without it. Being unavailable sometimes is important, as it can open up time for you to think without constant interruption.
Toss that thing away and enjoy the real world around you. Trust me you’ll feel better!