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Mobile Technology News, January 26, 2014

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

  • Maryland Mall Shooting: Police Disable Devices In Gunman's bag

    COLUMBIA, Maryland (AP) — A man carrying a shotgun opened fire at a busy shopping mall in suburban Baltimore on Saturday, killing two employees of a skate shop and then himself as panicked shoppers ran for cover, police said. Five others were injured.

    Police were still trying to determine the motive of the gunman who killed a man and a woman, both in their 20s, at a skate shop called Zumiez on the upper level of the mall in Columbia, a suburb of both Baltimore and Washington.

    Witnesses described hearing gunshots and screams as shoppers ducked into nearby stores and hid behind locked doors. Many found cover in stockrooms and barricaded themselves until the arrival of police, who searched store to store. By late afternoon, the mall had been cleared of shoppers and employees.

    Howard County Police Chief William J. McMahon said at a news conference that authorities had difficulty identifying the gunman because of concerns he was carrying explosives and were proceeding with an “abundance of caution.” By late Saturday, police said they had tentatively identified the gunman but declined to release his name while they followed up on leads.

    A news release Saturday night said that police found and disabled “two crude devices that appeared to be an attempt at making explosives using fireworks.” Police were searching the mall with dogs overnight, which is standard procedure, and the mall was to remain closed Sunday.

    Someone called the police emergency dispatcher at around 11:15 a.m. to report a shooting at the mall. Police responded to the scene within 2 minutes and found three people dead — including the apparent gunman near a gun and ammunition — either inside or outside the shop, which sells skateboards, clothing and accessories. McMahon said police were confident there was a single gunman.

    The mall is at the center of the town and it typically opens at 10 a.m. on Saturdays. It was busy with shoppers and employees when the shots rang out.

    Police identified the victims as 21-year-old Brianna Benlolo and 25-year-old Tyler Johnson. Both worked at Zumiez.

    Benlolo’s grandfather, John Feins, said in a telephone interview from Florida that his granddaughter had a 2-year-old son and that the job at Zumiez was her first since she went back to work after her son’s birth.

    “She was all excited because she was the manager there,” he said.

    He said he had spoken with his daughter, Brianna’s mother, earlier in the day, but didn’t know who the gunman was or whether the person knew his granddaughter.

    “It’s senseless. It’s totally, totally senseless,” he said.

    He described his daughter’s family as a military family that had moved frequently and had been in Colorado before moving to Maryland about two years ago. He said his granddaughter was on good terms with her son’s father, and they shared custody.

    “I mean what can you say? You go to work and make a dollar and you got some idiot coming in and blowing people away,” he said.

    Zumiez CEO Rick Brooks released a statement that the company is making counseling available for employees in the area.

    “The Zumiez team is a tight knit community and all of our hearts go out to Brianna and Tyler’s families,” he wrote.

    Howard County General Hospital said it had treated and released five patients. One patient had a gunshot wound, while at least three other patients sustained other injuries.

    Joan Harding was shopping with her husband, David, for a tiara for their granddaughter’s 18th birthday. She said she heard something heavy falling, followed by gunshots and people running.

    “My husband said, ‘Get down!’ and the girl that worked in the store said, ‘Get in the back,'” Harding said. That is where they hid until police searched the mall and signaled it was safe to leave.

    McMahon said it wasn’t clear whether the gunman and victims knew each other. He said officers did not fire any shots when they arrived at the scene. The police news release said it appears the gunman died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

    Tonya Broughton was with a friend getting facials for a “girls’ morning out,” she said. “The only thing I heard was all the people running and screaming and saying ‘There’s a shooter! There’s a shooter!'” she said.

    Wearing a gel face mask, she and her friend hid in a Victoria’s Secret store.

    ___

    Associated Press writers Jessica Gresko and Martin Di Caro in Washington contributed to this report.

  • Briefly: SoundHound adds Grammy's feature, new Staccal 2 calendar app
    Music search app Sound Hound has announced its addition of Grammy Awards content, featuring real-time awards show information as well as details regarding Sunday night’s performers and award nominees. During the show, users watching the show broadcast live on TV can use SoundHound to obtain the names of the artists performing, as they perform. Additionally, SoundHound will provide real-time updates of award winners, and the latest tweets from the official ‘#grammys’ hashtag.

        



  • Tennis coaching gets a smart racquet
    Hi-tech tennis in the palm of your hand
  • Microsoft Surface: It's on a roll (and why it exists)
    Microsoft saw revenue and unit shipments double for its first branded PC when it announced earnings this week. Surface is here to stay, apparently.
  • Alligator Crittercams Offer Unprecedented Look Into Reptiles' Lives (VIDEO)
    Alligators have a reputation of being gnarly, ferocious beasts that bear an all-too-similar resemblance to their dinosaur relatives. It’s an understandable assumption — American alligators can be up to 15 feet long and weigh 1,000 pounds — and because they’re apex predators, will eat just about anything, according to National Geographic.

    But research by the the University of Florida and National Geographic’s Crittercam program has shifted assumptions about their eating habits. The groups outfitted 15 adult gators in coastal Florida with the “Crittercams” — essentially wildlife cameras that are attached to the animals themselves — and they’ve provided unprecedented footage of gator behavior both above and underwater.

    The cameras showed the reptiles hunting most often at night, with the best foraging success between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. and when submerged underwater, according to the Los Angeles Times. Additionally, footage showed gators feasting on smaller prey like turtles and crayfish, rather than bigger mammals that they’re assumed to eat. This is the first time this behavior has been documented in wild American alligators and will help scientists better understand their behavior, explained ScienceDaily. The results of the study were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

    As shown in the video, installing the cameras was no easy feat. The researchers had to catch the alligators, hold them down and keep their jaws shut as they fastened the cameras onto the gators to fit like a backpack. The contraptions release themselves after set times, which enables scientists to track down the cameras with a radio signal and not burden the gators with Crittercams for life.

    American alligators live throughout the southeastern United States from Florida to North Carolina, and occupy primarily freshwater habitats, like swampy areas, rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. Previously on the brink of extinction, these semi-aquatic reptiles have recovered and are now listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

  • Courtney Love Wins Twitter Defamation Case
    LOS ANGELES (AP) — A jury says Courtney Love did not defame one of her former lawyers in a 2010 Twitter post.

    Friday’s verdict comes after an eight-day trial that centered on Love’s statements against San Diego-based lawyer Rhonda Holmes. Love hired Holmes to pursue a case against the estate of her late husband, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. The case was never filed and Holmes said Love fired her.

    The singer’s tweet suggested that Holmes had been “bought off.”

    Attorneys for Love maintained that the Hole singer meant for the post to be a private message and few people saw it.

    Holmes’ lawyers sought $8 million in damages.

    Love attended and testified at the trial but was not present when the verdict was read.

    ___

    Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP .

  • Social Media: Has Your Addiction Gone Too Far?
    Twitter. Facebook. Tumblr. Instagram. In the past few years, social media has absolutely blown up, creating countless opportunities for people to communicate, without actually meeting face-to-face. Though it certainly has its benefits — Skyping with loved ones, connected with long lost friends — social media has rapidly taken over many people’s social lives, impacting their self-esteem, social skills and emotional health.

    Facebook is among one of the most addicting (and therefore concerning) social networks. Nearly a quarter of Facebook users check their accounts five times or more per day. Furthermore, in a study conducted by IDC for Facebook, 25 percent of smartphone owners ages 18-44 say they can’t recall the last time their smartphone wasn’t next to them. This addiction to social media and technology is definitely very concerning for society as a whole; how will we be able to effectively communicate in person with another while we are glued to our smartphone screens the whole time? If you consider yourself a self-proclaimed social media addict, or simply want to spend less time using social networks, here are some simple tips to break your addiction:

    1. Admit you have a problem. Though this might sound a little AA, admitting you have a problem will help you forgive yourself for it and realize that you need a change.

    2. List out all the reasons why you go on social media excessively in the first place. Are you bored? Do you not like the people you are surrounded by? Aim to fulfill these underlying needs in other ways; if you’re bored, take your dog for a walk, call an old friend or pick up a book from the library. Your news feed will still be there when you get back!

    3. Balance your social media life with offline interactions. Getting off your computer or smartphone and hanging out with friends or family will not only strike a balance between offline and online interactions, but will also be an instant mood booster!

    4. That being said, put a limit on the amount of time spent using social media. If you need to study for a big test tomorrow and keep getting distracted by Facebook, you can even use a program such as this one to limit how much time you spend on the website. After your preset time limit is filled, you’re done for the day!

  • Michaels Arts Supply Store Warns Of Possible Data Breach

    By Jim Finkle
    BOSTON, Jan 25 (Reuters) – Michaels Companies Inc, the biggest U.S. arts and crafts retailer, said it is investigating a possible security breach on its payment card network and advised customers to check their financial statements for fraudulent activity.
    If confirmed, it would mark the second known data breach since 2011 at Michaels, which is preparing to sell shares in an initial public offering.
    “We are concerned there may have been a data security attack on Michaels that may have affected our customers’ payment card information,” Michaels Chief Executive Chuck Rubin said in a statement on Saturday. “We are taking aggressive action to determine the nature and scope of the issue.”
    The warning comes in the wake of a massive data breach at Target Corp over the holiday shopping season, and suggests that hackers may be attacking U.S. retailers in a spree the extent of which is yet to be fully understood.
    Target last month said hackers had stolen some 40 million payment card records and accessed 70 million customers’ records. Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus has also disclosed a data breach that compromised data from about 1.1 million cards.
    The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation last week warned retailers to expect more attacks and said the agency has reviewed 20 incidents over the past year that were similar to the recent breaches.
    Michaels said federal investigators and an outside forensics firm were investigating to determine if there had been a breach. The company said it decided to warn the public and launch a probe into the matter after hearing that there had been an increase in fraud involving cards of customers who had shopped at its stores.
    It was not immediately clear how many cards might have been affected, when an attack might have occurred, or whether the systems were currently compromised. A Michaels representative declined to elaborate on the statement.
    U.S. Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan told Reuters his agency was investigating the matter.

    PLANNING TO GO PUBLIC
    Michaels, whose major investors are Blackstone Group LP and Bain Capital LP, last year filed documents with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission to go public. The company resubmitted its IPO documents late last month following a restructuring.
    In a high-profile 2011 attack, hackers replaced some 84 PIN pads on payment-card terminals at a small number of Michaels stores, resulting in the theft of about 94,000 payment card numbers, according to Department of Justice attorneys who eventually prosecuted two men charged in that case. ()
    Last year the Irving, Texas-based retailer settled a class-action consumer lawsuit related to the matter, without admitting to any wrongdoing.
    Michaels disclosed the 2011 attack in an S-1 registration statement that it filed with the Securities and Exchange in March of last year.
    “This is devastating for them because this is the second time in a row,” said Gartner security analyst Avivah Litan. “The public and the credit card companies are going to slap their wrist twice as hard because they’ll say they haven’t learned their lesson and that they can’t be trusted.”
    But that criticism might be tempered somewhat, given that other retailers have been breached, Litan said.
    The FBI has warned retailers about cyber criminals using “memory-parsing” software, also known as “RAM scrapers.” When a customer swipes a payment card at checkout, the computer grabs data from the magnetic strip and transfers it to the retailer’s payment processing provider. While the data is encrypted during the process, RAM scrapers extract the information from the computer’s live memory, where it briefly appears in plain text.
    RAM scraping technology has been around for a long time, but its use has increased in recent years and cyber criminals have added features to make it more difficult for victims to detect the malicious software on their networks.
    “They have gotten much more sophisticated,” said Daniel Clemens, chief executive of the cyber security firm Packet Ninjas, whose firm investigates credit card breaches at retailers. “We are in a cycle where the incidence of these attacks will just continue to grow.”

  • Rich Businessman Compares Treatment Of The Rich To The Holocaust
    Venture capitalist Thomas Perkins wrote a letter to the editors at the Wall Street Journal, comparing the plight of the rich to the Holocaust, called “Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?”… and the WSJ published it.

    “I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich,'” Perkins writes. Thomas Perkins, one of the founders of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, was comparing taxes on the super rich to the slaughter of millions in the Holocaust.

    “From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent,” Perkins continues. “There is outraged public reaction to the Google buses carrying technology workers from the city to the peninsula high-tech companies which employ them. We have outrage over the rising real-estate prices which these ‘techno geeks’ can pay.”

    Perkins ends his rant with: “This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?”

    Obviously, there has been backlash to the letter. “It certainly proves you can get rich without being very thoughtful, perceptive, or intelligent,” Slate’s Matt Yglesias writes. More people took to Twitter to express their outrage:

    Serious rich-dude bubble to see “treatment” of rich by progressives as parallel to Nazi treatment of Jews… http://t.co/wATqtmPxQe

    — Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) January 25, 2014

    Late to this wild letter to @WSJ. Do people really think like this!? Letters: Progressive Kristallnacht Coming? http://t.co/mviFzonaL5

    — Matthew Campbell (@MattCampbel) January 25, 2014

    Venture capitalist warns that Occupy, etc. will lead to “progressive Kristallnacht,” gets that printed in the @WSJ: http://t.co/Xw9S0zUYgc

    — Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) January 25, 2014

    Rich idiot warns of looking “progressive Kristallnacht”: http://t.co/Ik228BONLq

    — Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) January 25, 2014

    The Wall Street Journal did not immediately respond to The Huffington Post’s request for comment.

  • Enterprise Software: Simplicity Drives Customer Benefit
    I recently spoke with Stan Swete, chief technology officer at Workday, about simplification of enterprise software to drive increased adoption and customer benefit. With 30 years of industry experience, Swete is helping to drive Workday’s modern approach in a familiar space by simplifying the delivery of enterprise software applications so that they deliver more value for customers. This vets out to a system that is easier to use, upgrade, and support than existing applications. In a technology world where the only constant is change, Workday remains focused on providing an architecture that can keep it’s hundreds of thousands of customers current on the same release and deliver frequent and continuous updates without being cost prohibitive. Here Swete shares his strategies for simplifying enterprise software.

    2014-01-25-StanSwete01.jpg
    Stan Swete, CTO Workday

    6 ways to make enterprise software easier for customers:

    Simplify usability by adopting a consumer mindset: Workday’s simple but never simplistic approach to enterprise apps stems from a focus on what consumer internet companies are doing instead of what other enterprise apps are doing. Using the consumer internet as a model for user experience has enabled them to see things from the eye of the customer and simplify what they are doing. Simplicity is important on many levels, but with regards to the user interface, Swete recommends that enterprise software companies make apps as simple as possible from the user and vendor perspective. According to a recent TechRepublic survey, only 27% of IT leaders are very happy with their current enterprise software. How are they missing the mark 73% of the time? The key is to develop simple and easy to use solutions that just works.

    Simplify the structure of apps to optimize seamless upgrades: Typical enterprise applications are defined in terms of thousands or tens of thousands of tables. Swete tells us that Workday has a fixed set of tables that number fewer than 20. This completely different approach reduces complexity making change easier. When the company drives a lot of new feature changes, the schema they use in their systems does not have to change, facilitating more frequent updates while being cost effective.

    Swete says that to build simple, less complex enterprise software apps that move and evolve over time means frequent, continuous updates and keeping customers current which requires an infrastructure that supports that. This requires a complete re-architecture, using technology to make it as simple as possible and reducing the moving parts to keep things moving forward.

    Migrate to cloud with a simple architecture that’s adaptable: “I don’t think you can be on a really complex architecture, and migrate complex implementations to the cloud and have them be capable of being changed over time,” says Swete. Cloud expert, David Linthicum, says that “People have a tendency not to think about architecture, but the fact is cloud computing does not replace enterprise architecture.”

    According to Swete, in order to simplify the architecture enterprises will need to do some specific things. Workday has taken the relational database completely out of the design of their apps which they think leads to the simplified schema they need to be able to move forward. They have also gone to a completely definitional development of their apps; they don’t define logic through coding but by filling out forms to create metadata that provides the logic. In addition to the architecture, businesses need to ask if they can adapt the software to meet their needs in a simple way. The question of migrating to cloud is in the results. According to Swete, “If your architecture can allow you to keep customers current on a release and deliver frequent updates without being cost prohibitive, then you have the right architecture for the cloud.”

    Mobile first user experience: Mobile is super-important to the enterprise application industry. Workday is increasingly widening the footprint of the functionality that is available on mobile with every update. “When companies shift to mobile the bar raises again with regards to user interface where the focus need to be on getting to the point,” says Swete. He says their best UI designers are the mobile designers and with a lot of mobile-first design happening, they find that a lot of mobile designs feed back into the web browser. Swete believes that a lot can be learned from this idea of simplicity when it comes to mobile design where fields are taken off of screens, clutter is reduced and more white space is added, resulting in a more presentable solution.

    Workday takes the attitude of treating mobile as a modern requirement of apps and feels that when you buy the app you should get mobile access; it should not be sold as an add-on product or platform. Sure it’s nice to offer something for free but there is more here than meets the eye. When you offer mobile as an add-on, you are back to adding complexity and undermining the ability to continuously move forward rapidly. When mobile is offered for free there is no need to buy a product or platform that will need to be installed and integrated.

    Centralized services with intuitive, self-service UI: Despite the fact that we are in a bad economy there is still a squeeze for talent in the tech industry. Swete says it’s the toughest hiring environment he has seen in 30 years. The fact that the competition is tougher and more companies are going for same type of resources is causing companies to refocus on what strategic HR means. For Workday this meant listening to requests from customers to be able to use HCM apps to more directly engage the workforce. This led to the development of a unified view that provides one place to go to get all the information, including a talent profile that aids companies in recruiting internal talent to help combat the external talent shortage. They also added an engagement piece which widened the usage of the system to allow employees to configure their own information, so they can publish information about themselves that they can share out and find others with common interests. “We want systems that can heighten engagement – an important element for retention and recruiting.”

    Insightful reporting: You should be able to get information out of your systems without hiring a data scientist. Swete recognizes that as Big Data becomes more relevant, data scientists will be in greater demand at large enterprises, but it is his goal that at Workday you won’t ever need to wait for the data scientist to show up to get more information out of your apps. “With all the data that is available today companies ought to be able to get insight out of these transaction systems without the need of data scientists,” says Swete. At Workday we have people taking deeper looks at the data, which should be an important part of any modern business. Through Big Data analytics, Workday is adding to the sophistication of the data and giving it a place in the cloud and equipping customers with a tool to do things with the data without having to be a data scientist.

    You can watch the full interview with Stan Swete here. Please join me and Michael Krigsman every Friday at 3PM EST as we host CXOTalk – connecting with thought leaders and innovative executives who are pushing the boundaries within their companies and their fields

  • The Rapid Spread of Misinformation Online

    Blaming Twitter for misinformation is easy, but ignores the social and political context. How can we understand such large volumes of data that move so quickly?

    Any online information is part of a larger and more complex ecology, with many interconnected factors. It’s therefore very difficult to fully map the processes involved in the rapid spread of misinformation or to identify where this information originates. Moreover, we should endeavor to look beyond the specific medium and consider the political-cultural setting in which misinformation spreads and is interpreted.

    During the UK riots in the summer of 2011, for example, a rumor spread on Twitter that a children’s hospital had been attacked by looters. The story fit with people’s preconceptions of who the rioters were and what they might be capable of, and it caught the public imagination. But interestingly, it was the Twitter community that swiftly debunked the rumor, killing it off well ahead of official confirmation from the hospital and media.

    Misinformation of a different kind occurred in the United States during the December 2012 Newtown shootings and the April 2013 Boston bombings. In the Newtown case, online and mainstream media misidentified a Facebook page as that of the shooter. After the Boston bombings, social media users engaged in online detective work, examining images taken at the scene and wrongfully claiming that a missing student was one of the bombers. But in this case, mainstream media outlets also played a part in perpetuating and validating the misinformation by publishing images of the wrong suspects.

    In another recent example, again at the intersection between social and mainstream media, hoaxes emerged during the Turkish protests that began with the response to redeveloping Taksim Square. Twitter ‘provocateurs’ were condemned as responsible for spreading misinformation, including a photograph of crowds at the Eurasia Marathon, which was presented as ‘a march from the Bosporus Bridge to Taksim.’ But blaming Twitter ignores the context; the country’s mainstream news media had been slow to respond to the protests, creating a vacuum in which misinformation easily spread, especially when referenced by foreign media outlets.

    It can also be difficult to establish what ‘fake’ actually means. One popular image shared during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 showed soldiers standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery, braving the approaching storm. Unlike the pictures of the marathon on Bosporus Bridge, the framing of the image did not place radically different meaning on its subject, but it also didn’t show what people thought they were looking at. The image had been taken during an earlier storm and was undoubtedly ‘real’, but had no relevance to Hurricane Sandy.

    It’s now common practice for news organizations to source images online, so we must get better at understanding how these images can be verified. Storyful, which describes itself as “the first news agency of the social media age,” is developing invaluable guidelines and techniques that can help with this essential verification process. An appreciation of the ways in which media influence each other, as well as broader cultural and social issues, may help us understand the content of such images.

    It’s also imperative to highlight the volume and rapid dissemination of online misinformation. When you are dealing with social media, you are dealing with big data. It’s simply not possible to read the one billion tweets produced every two and a half days. In order to properly understand this data, we need to make use of computer-assisted processing and combine this with human evaluation to put information into context.

    Finally, we should remember that every case of misinformation is unique and should be considered independently, paying attention to the complexities of the ecosystem it circulates within. In terms of interpreting misinformation, human evaluation will remain essential to put information into context, and context is ultimately what this is all about.

    This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and The World Economic Forum to mark the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2014 (in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, Jan. 22-25). The Forum’s Network of Global Agenda Councils consists of more than 80 select groups of experts, each focused on key topics in the global arena, that collectively serve as an advisory board to the Forum and other interested parties, such as governments and international organizations. Read all the posts in this series forecasting global trends for 2014 here.

  • Iowa GOP Apologizes After Posting Controversial Photo About Racists
    The chairman of the Iowa GOP has apologized after a controversial photo about racists was posted to the group’s Facebook page.

    The photo contained a flow chart titled “IS SOMEONE A RACIST?” The flow chart implied anyone a person didn’t like who is white is a racist, and all other people aren’t racist. (You can see the image at The Daily Beast.)

    Iowa GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker called the post “in bad taste and inappropriate.”

    “We apologize to those whom were offended, have removed the post and are ensuring it does not happen again,” he wrote on the group’s Facebook page.

    Republicans from the Hawkeye State have had other troubles recently.

    GOP Senate candidate Mark Jacobs made headlines in December when he said “you have to connect with women on an emotional level.” The Washington Post reports the state’s governor, Republican Terry Branstad, is leading a push to take control of the Iowa party back from those whose views are more in line with the former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

    See Spiker’s apology for the Iowa GOP’s “racist” post below:

  • Nollywood, Piracy and the Millennial Crisis

    Dammy Krane, an emerging superstar in the Nigerian music scene, was born in 1993. This was the same year that the then military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, annulled what many still believe was Nigeria’s freest and fairest elections yet. The country was thrown into chaos as a result, President Babangida “stepped aside,” and we ended up with General Sani Abacha as head of state. He went on to lead Nigeria for five of its darkest years before passing away.

    About the same time, the new movie industry in Nigeria was born. In 1992, a businessman, Kenneth Nnebue, who imported loads of videocassettes but couldn’t sell them, since CDs were becoming the vogue, decided to shoot a movie on those empty videocassettes and sell them as home videos. The movie Living in Bondage, shot in the Igbo language, took the entire country by storm regardless of tribe, and it inspired other businessmen and filmmakers to make their own movies. Nollywood was born.

    The movie industry took on a life of its own, and by its 10th anniversary, it was already being called the third largest movie industry in the world (based on the number of movies produced). Today it is ranked second only behind India’s Bollywood, and is the number one movie market in the world for movies made in the English language — which makes it bigger than even Bollywood and Hollywood. With annual revenues of about $600 million, it’s impossible not to be impressed with the industry born just two decades ago with no structure in place.

    Sometime around the late 90s, Nigerian music also started to experience a rebirth. Cable and satellite television became popular in the country and television stations that played music videos across Africa emerged. Most videos that made the cut at the time were South African, as Nigerians paid little or no attention to quality. But the more people saw the South African videos, the more people realized the need to step up and do better. And step up they did. Today, no party anywhere on the continent is complete without a good number of Nigerian songs.

    Nollywood is huge and the Nigerian music industry is the pacesetter in Africa. But something continues to hold them back: intellectual property protection. Major record labels and film studios are still not convinced enough to come (back) into the country, as piracy is still rife and distribution is a major problem.

    Pirates control entertainment in Nigeria, where the situation has evolved from them being faceless figures to unofficial distributors for these artists. It’s an interesting formula. Albums and movies are produced and taken to the pirates, in exchange for a large payout and the relinquishing of the artists’ rights over their works. It seemed like a wise financial move at the start, seeing as artists initially struggled to sell units worth anything close to $5,000, while the deals with the pirates had some of them cutting checks for between $40,000 and $150,000. But it isn’t sustainable.

    Dammy Krane might have had a different story if he had grown up two decades ago, without the option of exploring his passion for entertainment — or if he had grown up in a future where piracy had undermined the business model of the entertainment industry. He, like many others in film, directing, production, styling, IT and the many extensions to the industry, is happily employed today simply because that option now exists. There are many like him who know how important the entertainment industry is, both personally and to the Nigerian economy — which is why the distribution problems must be fixed.

    One of the broad themes of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2014 is the “millennial crisis,” and this is definitely a crisis that needs to be tackled. Distribution, or the lack of it, is arguably the single most important piece of the puzzle still missing in a sector that has grown beyond Nigeria into the entire continent. There is a need to make sure that we begin to find solutions before things get even more troublesome. Unemployment is already one of the biggest problems facing Africa, with militancy and terrorism on the rise. What better way is there to engage the minds of young people in Lagos and Kano and Port Harcourt, cities that already have thriving entertainment scenes?

    There is no doubt that this problem needs a long-term and sustainable fix, but what we must begin to do in the short term is show a commitment to start to fix it. At 21, Nollywood is now an adult and there isn’t a better time to show that it can stand on its own and be that powerful force that it should be. It can be done. We must act now.

    This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and The World Economic Forum to mark the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2014 (in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, Jan. 22-25). The Forum’s Global Shapers community is a network of city-based hubs developed and led by young people who are exceptional in their potential, their achievement and their drive to make a contribution to their communities. Read all the posts in the series here.

  • Mars One Candidates Debate Giving Up Everything To Move To Red Planet (VIDEO)
    Do you have what it takes to pack your bags and leave everyone on Earth behind?

    A group of potential Red Planet residents recently opened up about their fears and hopes for moving to Mars on HuffPost Live — just check out the highlights above and full segment below.

    These candidates are among the 1,058 elite shortlisted from a pool of 200,000 applicants to take part in the Mars One initiative, which is an effort to send colonists on a one-way trip to the Red Planet.

    “I’ve been having conversations obviously with my friends and family and loved ones and I don’t think it’s a very easy process,” Mars One candidate Sue Ann Pien says in the video. Yet, she’s still determined to become one of the first-ever human Martians.

    Mars One will continue to sift through applicants, planning to establish the first human settlement on Mars in 2024.

  • Supersymmetric Particles May Lurk In Universe, Physicist Says

    LONDON — Squarks, selectrons and neutralinos may be lurking in the universe, say physicists who suggest supersymmetry — the idea that every known particle has a yet-to-be-discovered sister particle — is not dead, despite the lack of evidence found in its favor.

    The world’s most powerful atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), has yet to find evidence of the existence of such sparticles (supersymmetric particles), though perhaps physicists are not interpreting the data in the right way, said particle theorist Ben Allanach of Cambridge University.

    Speaking here at the Royal Society conference “Before, behind and beyond the discovery of the Higgs Boson” on Tuesday (Jan. 21), Allanach proposed that the LHC might detect the elusive supersymmetric particles once it is up and running again next year with much higher energies. [Sparticles to Neutrinos: The Coolest Little Particles in the Universe]

    The underground accelerator at the CERN laboratory, located near Geneva, is currently switched off until early 2015 for a technical upgrade, which will allow it to smash protons together at the machine’s near-maximum energy of 14 teraelectronvolts (TeV).

    The first run of the LHC at 7 TeV culminated with the successful detection of what is widely believed to be the Higgs boson, a particle thought to explain how other particles get their mass. The discovery completed the Standard Model of particle physics and earned the two scientists who worked on the theory the Nobel Prize.

    But the collider has so far failed to produce any evidence of supersymmetry. Also known as SUSY, it is one of the leading theories physicists have put forward as an extension of the Standard Model of physics.

    Such an extension is needed to explain the remaining mysteries in the universe that the Standard Model does not account for, such as the nature of dark matter, the invisible stuff that is thought to make up most of the matter in the universe. So far, it has not been possible to observe it directly.

    Mysterious heavy ‘partners’

    According to the supersymmetry theory, the early universe was filled with very heavy supersymmetric particles — exact copies of the particles that exist today, only much heavier. Over time, these particles disappeared, decaying into dark-matter particles and so-called ordinary particles, such as quarks and leptons.

    “Supersymmetric particles are not around today, [except for] perhaps in dark matter,” Allanach said. So the only way to find these elusive heavy supersymmetric “partners” to the ones in today’s universe is by producing them in the lab, via proton collisions at very high energies. When protons collide with each other at near the speed of light, as they do inside the LHC, they can produce new, exotic particles alongside known particles. [Images: Dark Matter Throughout the Universe]

    If sparticles exist, they are expected to appear as jets of hadrons — composite particles made of quarks — streaming out of proton-proton collisions. The momentum of these jets would not be balanced.

    This missing momentum would be a signal of a supersymmetric neutralino particle, a hypothetical particle that is the leading candidate for dark matter. The neutralino “acts like a thief, stealing away momentum without leaving any trace in the detector,” said Allanach.

    Data loopholes

    So far, neither the neutralino nor any other supersymmetric particle has been found. But Allanach said that to net them, researchers need to account for a loophole in the way they read the collision data.

    This loophole is the existence of so-called multiple solutions, or several ways to interpret the results of proton-proton collisions. “We’ve found out how to find these multiple solutions, and it is now possible to check on a case-by-case basis whether your interpretation is safe or not,” Allanach said.

    “For instance, one fixes the model details, and thinks the masses and interaction strengths of the supersymmetric particles are set,” he said. “But the multiple solutions have different masses and interaction strengths for the supersymmetric particles, meaning that they would look different in the detector.”

    For example, a researcher may be looking for particles with a certain mass. But there could be another solution — one where the particles would have a slightly different mass, and they would then decay in slightly different ways.

    In that case, “the pattern of the collision in the LHC could actually be different,” said Allanach.

    His team has already applied the multiple-solutions method to check the data from the LHC’s first run that lasted from 2010 to 2013, but still hasn’t been able to find any evidence of supersymmetry.

    Even so, Allanach remains hopeful. “With much more energy, the LHC will be able to produce heavier supersymmetric particles, so hopefully, we’ll discover them then,” he said. “The real job will be to take the data apart, look at the measurements, try and work out precisely what’s going on, not to misinterpret anything.”

    Giving up?

    Physicist Paris Sphicas of the University of Athens, who works at CERN, said there are so many parameters in the supersymmetry theory (SUSY) to explore that “it can never be declared dead.”

    “We really think that the LHC will see the evidence; we just need more energy,” Sphicas told LiveScience. “But SUSY remains a well-motivated, much-anticipated, although-yet-unseen extension to the Standard Model.”

    Renowned CERN physicist John Ellis agrees with Allanach and Sphicas.

    “I think that the physics case for supersymmetry has, if anything, improved with the LHC’s first run, in the sense that, for example, supersymmetry predicted that the Higgs [boson particle] should weigh less than 130 gigaelectronvolts, and it does,” Ellis said.

    “Of course, we haven’t seen any direct signs of supersymmetric particles, which is disappointing, but it’s not tragic,” Ellis added. “The LHC will shortly almost double its energy — we’re expecting eventually to get maybe a thousand times more collisions than have been recorded so far. So we should wait and see what happens at least with the next run of the LHC.”

    And if the LHC’s next run does fail to reveal any sparticles, there is still no reason to give up on looking for them, he said. In that case, new colliders with even higher energies should be built, for collisions at energies as high as 100 TeV.

    “I’m not giving up on supersymmetry,” Ellis told LiveScience. “Individual physicists have to make their own choices, but I am not giving up.”

    Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook& Google+. Original article on LiveScience. Follow the author on Twitter @SciTech_Cat.

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

  • The Role of Connectivity in Reshaping the World

    For many of us, the idea of leaving home without our mobile phone or tablet, or having no access to the Internet or to our e-mail, for any great length of time, is unthinkable. In today’s tech-driven world, the latest electronic gadgetry — be it a tablet, smartphone, games console or even wearable devices — are our constant companions and the new objects of desire for tech-savvy consumers.

    These are part of fundamental shifts in consumer behavior, which also, I believe, have huge implications for us in the business world. The reason for this is that besides the expensive price tags, all of these devices have another feature in common. They allrely on connectivity in order for users to make full use of them. Welcome to the ‘Connected World,’ where we are connected to everyone and everything.

    The Digital Enterprise

    There is more power vested with the individual, thanks to the widespread availability of mobile devices and instant access to data, information and knowledge at our fingertips. This era is characterized by real ‘people power’; no matter where we are in the world, we can connect with others, share our thoughts and circulate information. Consumers have more power than ever to intervene, influence and impact transactions and events in real time.

    These consumer shifts are now driving massive changes in the enterprise both in terms of the services delivered and organization’s own ‘modus operandi.’ The business leaders of tomorrow, who will govern, steer and make policy are all growing up in this Digital Age, and already speak its language fluently. The next generation of Enterprises will be characterized by geographically distributed workforces that have the ability to create a culture of innovation and openness. Co-innovation is at the core of the ecosystems in which they operate.

    The future will be one in which truly connected, digital enterprises have the ability to connect with customers, suppliers, partners and stakeholders via multiple channels, from digital signage to mobile platforms or by harnessing the power of social media. At the same time, we are on the frontier of big advancements in areas such as M2M (machine to machine) communications, which are delivering solutions to solve real business challenges – from remote diagnostics and preventative maintenance in the automotive industry to improving supply chain management in manufacturing.

    Companies today ignore digital connectivity at their own peril. If the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas, 140 characters on Twitter has the power to dent a brand the other side of the world as a Telecom service provider discovered after ignoring a consumer complaint. But it’s not always negative; social media for example, can be a powerful force for positive change. We have real life stories of this amongst our own organization, for example where a colleague’s four-year-old child used Facebook chat to alert medical authorities during a medical emergency at home.

    Connectivity is Key

    As such, there has never been a greater need for seamless connectivity. This is a world in which high-speed Internet access should be available to us all, wherever we are, regardless of demographics, occupation or geography. Seamless connectivity is the foundation on which real technological advancements will be built and for some time, telecommunication service providers have been laying the foundations for the transition to the connected world.

    However there is still more work to do in order to fully realize the potential that the Digital Age has to offer. To support this change, the telecommunications industry needs to adapt and innovate and close cooperation is required. Ultimately, the infrastructure needs to be in place to meet the demands of the next generation network, the anticipated explosion in mobile data use and to avoid the capacity crunch. Continued investment will be needed to support a wider spectrum of mobile services.

    We need to remove regulatory constraints so that we can develop infrastructures that are based on open standards, providing maximum benefit for consumers at minimum cost to the operators. Global Interoperability, of course, is vital to enable connectivity amongst new systems, apps and services and targeted regulation will also boost innovation and help to create healthy competition. The full cooperation of regulators is imperative in markets where services and products are marketed in neighboring geographies. Network sharing is a further enabler for connectivity and one that has been widely used by operators for some time. In the recent wake of technological advancements, anti-trust issues and less binding agreements are being considered, in order to overcome the complexities at a financial, technical and regulatory level.

    Given the vast amounts of data pouring across networks, in today’s connected world, we also need to achieve the right balance between data sharing, privacy and security. This is of particular importance in the telecommunications industry, where customer data is shared and can be used for cross-selling and will have further significance given the rise of services such as M2M, mobile money and mobile banking.

    Across the entire technology value chain, ‘Connectivity is King’ and this will be the building blocks upon which a truly connected, digital world will be created. The possibilities are limitless: from fully automated cars, to ‘smart homes’ and virtual offices. It points to faster more dynamic ways of doing business and will be the catalyst for advancements that will impact all our lives from home to leisure and work. Ultimately, connectivity has the power to reshape our world.

    This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and The World Economic Forum to mark the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2014 (in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, Jan. 22-25). The Forum’s Strategic Partner community comprises a select group of leading global companies representing diverse regions and industries that have been selected for their alignment with the Forum’s commitment to improving the state of the world. Read all the posts in the series here.

  • Here's All You Need To Know About The State Of The Union Address
    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama reports to Congress and the nation Tuesday on the State of the Union, an annual rite in official Washington that for one night squeezes the three branches of government underneath the same roof for the speech. Some questions and answers about the State of the Union.

    ___ Q: Why is the president giving the speech?

    A: The Constitution requires that the president “from time to time give the Congress information on the State of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

    ___

    Q: Which president delivered the first address?

    A: George Washington delivered the first regular “annual message” before a joint session of Congress, in New York, on Jan. 8, 1790.

    ___

    Q: Does the State of the Union have to be a speech?

    A: No. Thomas Jefferson, the third president, changed the custom with his first annual message on Dec. 8, 1801, by sending written copies to both houses of Congress to be read by clerks in the House and Senate. Jefferson wanted to simplify what he believed to be an aristocratic imitation of the British monarch’s speech from the throne, which he thought was unsuitable to a republic. The practice of sending Congress written copies of the speech continued for more than a century.

    ___

    Q: Who resumed delivering the annual message in person?

    A: Woodrow Wilson, on April 8, 1913. Wilson also is widely credited with transforming the speech from a report on the activities of the executive branch into a blueprint for the president’s legislative program for the coming congressional session and year.

    ___

    Q: When did the annual message become known as the “State of the Union” address?

    A: Franklin D. Roosevelt applied the constitutional phrase “State of the Union” to both the message and the event. It became the popular terminology from then on.

    ___

    Q: How has the speech been affected by advances in communications technology?

    A: Calvin Coolidge delivered the first speech broadcast on radio, in 1923. Harry Truman’s address in 1947 was the first broadcast on television. George W. Bush’s 2002 speech was the first made available as a live webcast on the White House website. Lyndon B. Johnson recognized the importance of the national audience when, in 1965, he shifted the hour of the speech from its traditional midafternoon start time to 9:00 p.m. to attract the largest number of TV viewers.

    Obama used social media to help power his two presidential campaigns, and he’ll do the same to promote his State of the Union address. Besides tweets on Twitter and photos on Instagram, Obama devotes an entire page on the White House website to the State of the Union address. People can also go to the website to watch an “enhanced” broadcast of the speech, complete with data, graphs and charts from the White House explaining the policies Obama will be talking about.

    ___

    Q: Has the speech ever been postponed?

    A: Yes. Ronald Reagan’s speech in 1986 was postponed after the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle on Jan. 28 of that year.

    ___

    Q: Is there a State of the Union speech every year?

    A: There has not been. Each of the past five presidents — Reagan in 1981, George H.W. Bush in 1989, Bill Clinton in 1993, George W. Bush in 2001 and Barack Obama in 2009 — chose not to give an official State of the Union speech the year they were first inaugurated. That speech would have followed their inaugural addresses. In 2009, the White House characterized the speech Obama gave shortly after he took office that year as just an address to a joint session of Congress.

    ___

    Q: Has the speech always been delivered in person since Wilson resumed the practice?

    A: Since World War II, some presidents have skipped the in-person appearance. Truman sent his final message in print, a practice followed by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1961 and Jimmy Carter in 1981. In 1956, when Eisenhower was recovering from a heart attack he prepared a seven-minute, filmed summary of the message from his retreat in Key West, Fla., that was broadcast nationwide. Richard Nixon sent a printed message to Congress in 1973; his staff said an oral message would have come too soon after his second inaugural address.

    ___

    Q: Have any presidents not delivered any type of State of the Union message?

    A: Two, actually. William Henry Harrison, who died 32 days after his inauguration in 1841, and James A. Garfield, who was assassinated in 1881 after 199 days in office.

    ___

    Q: Who are the people sitting with the first lady?

    A: The White House invites them because they have done something that helps illustrate themes in the president’s speech. Reagan established the tradition of inviting special guests in 1982, and every president since has continued it. Obama’s guests last year highlighted the issues of gun control, education, immigration, jobs and the economy, health care and voting rights, all subjects mentioned in the address.

    ___

    Q: Wasn’t there something unusual about one of Clinton’s speeches?

    A: Clinton’s address in 1999 marked the first time that a president addressed a Congress that was considering the possibility of removing him from office. Opening statements by the defense team in Clinton’s impeachment trial for his affair with Monica Lewinsky were delivered hours before Clinton’s address.

    ___

    Source: Congressional Research Service.

    ___

    Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

    ___

    Online:

    State of the Union: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sotu

  • Internet Cat Video Film Festival Hits Los Angeles With 85 'Meow-vies'
    The fur will be flying in Los Angeles on Jan. 25 thanks to the Internet Cat Video Film Festival.

    The touring festival features 85 cat videos carefully combed and curated by cat video lovers like William Braden, who has earned fame in this arcane community for a series of shorts focused around his own cat, Henri.

    “For the last year and a half, I’ve been able to do this full time,” he told The Huffington Post.

    He’s as shocked as anyone.

    “I’m going to do this as long as I can,” Braden said.

    Braden estimates as many as 15,000 cat videos were viewed before being narrowed down to the selection showcased in Los Angeles. Coming up with a final list was enough to make anyone dog tired.

    “We face the same problem as the Oscars,” he said. “We want to show videos that are popular, but also showcase the diamonds in the rough.”

    Braden’s work is just beginning. He and others are reviewing more cat videos to be shown in Minnesota this summer with the best in show winning the coveted “Golden Kitty Award.”

    Meanwhile, take a look at some of the cat video classics being shown with Braden’s comments on why they made the cut.

  • Review of Just Mobile AluPen Twist – The All-In-One Stylus & Pen

    Steve Jobs famously said with the launch of the iPhone and later with the iPad that a stylus was not needed for these devices because by nature, humans are born with 10 styluses: Fingers & thumbs.  While in principle it is one I agree with isn’t without its limitations.  There are times that a […]

    The post Review of Just Mobile AluPen Twist – The All-In-One Stylus & Pen appeared first on AlliOSNews.

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