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Mobile Technology News, June 24, 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.

  • Facebook Now Worth More Than Walmart On Stock Market
    BARBARA ORTUTAY, AP Technology Writer

    NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook is now bigger than Wal-Mart, at least when it comes to its value on the stock market.

    The world’s biggest online social network knocked the world’s largest retailer out of the top 10 list of the highest-valued companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index on Monday and the gap widened on Tuesday.

    While the switch is mostly symbolic — nothing specific happened this week to warrant it, and the difference between the two giants is not that big — it signals investors’ insatiable appetite for successful tech stocks. Apple, Microsoft and Google top the list of the highest-valued companies in the U.S., and Facebook looks to be on its way to joining them.

    A company’s market value is calculated by multiplying the number of shares of stock it has in circulation by the current price of one share.

    Facebook Inc. was valued at $238 billion at the close of trading Tuesday, according to FactSet. Its stock gained $3.14, or 3.7 percent, at $87.88.

    Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was valued at $234 billion. Its stock dipped 22 cents to $72.57.

    Facebook, which is based in Menlo Park, California, has been on a roll this past year, its shares up about 34 percent in the past year compared with just 8.2 percent for the S&P 500 index. Its quarterly results have consistently surpassed expectations.

    Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart, meanwhile, asked for investor patience after its most-recent earnings report showed a 7 percent profit decline due to the effects of the strong dollar and higher worker wages and spending on its online operations.

    Comparing the two companies’ financial results, though, shows just how much Wall Street is investing in growth and potential — Facebook — versus existing size and might — Wal-Mart. In the first three months of this year, Facebook’s total revenue of $3.54 billion amounted to just a little more than Wal-Mart’s total profit for its fiscal first quarter of $3.34 billion. But while Facebook saw revenue grow 42 percent in the same period, Wal-Mart’s declined slightly.

    That said, none of the nine companies that follow Apple in the top 10 come even close to the mighty iPhone and Mac maker, whose market capitalization is about $735 billion.

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  • Gmail Officially Lets You 'Unsend' Your Emails
    Our prayers have finally been answered.

    On Tuesday, Google announced an official “Undo Send” feature for all Gmail web accounts and the Inbox by Gmail app. The feature allows users to “take back” their emails within 30 seconds of sending them.

    To activate the function, simply click onto Settings > General, and check the “Enable Undo Send” function. Then, you can choose whether to leave the function on for 5, 10, 20 or 30 seconds.

    After you send an email, a thin yellow strip appears under the search bar in your inbox, announcing that you’ve sent your email and giving you the option to undo or view your message. If you choose to undo the message — within the given time frame of course — your screen will bounce back to the original message, leaving you to delete or edit the message as you wish.

    google undo send 2


    google undo send 3

    Previously, the feature was available only to Gmail users who decided to enable the Labs function — or, as Google says, “brave the Labs world.” It’s now a permanent Gmail function.

    The feature is available on most accounts that use Google Mail, but not yet all corporate accounts.

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  • Google Is Pulling Confederate Flag From Google Shopping And Ads
    By Mari Saito

    SAN FRANCISCO, June 23 (Reuters) – Google Inc joined Amazon.com Inc and eBay Inc on Tuesday in pulling Confederate flag merchandise from their shopping site, following brick and mortar retailers in reacting to last week’s racially motivated mass shooting at a historic black South Carolina church.

    Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Sears Holdings Corp on Monday banned sales of products bearing the image of the Confederate battle flag.

    The “Stars and Bars” has become a lightning rod for outrage over the killing of nine black men and women at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston last Wednesday. Accused gunman Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white man, is seen posing with the flag in photos posted on a website reported to be his.

    South Carolina lawmakers on Tuesday voted to open debate on removing the flag from the State House grounds, after state Governor Nikki Haley and others called for it to be taken down.

    “We have determined that the Confederate flag violates our ads policies, which don’t allow content that’s generally perceived as expressing hate toward a particular group,” a Google representative said in an emailed statement sent to Reuters.

    A Google search for Confederate flags pulled up several listings and sponsored ads promoting the flags. A similar search on Amazon’s website found tens of thousands of Confederate flags and merchandise such as T-shirts and knives bearing the flag’s image.

    Most of the flags and related products on Amazon, eBay and Google ranged in price from $5 to $50. Clicking on some of the Confederate flags and related items on Amazon’s website took users to an error page.

    “Is this a big sacrifice for retailers? No. But, symbolically, it’s a good step,” said David Satterfield, an executive vice president of G.F. Blunting and Co, a strategic communications firm in California.

    “A significant percentage of your consumer base is completely offended by what the flag stands for, and it doesn’t make sense carrying it,” he said.

    Separately, privately owned Valley Forge Flag, one of the most prominent U.S. flag manufacturers, said on Tuesday it will stop making and selling Confederate flags.

    In announcing its decision to pull Confederate flags on Tuesday, eBay said the banner had become a “contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism.” The website, which carries thousands of items bearing the flag, including clothing, will immediately ban new listings of merchandise and tell sellers of such merchandise that they have to stop.

    Ebay does not break out sales of individual items sold on its site, but sources said this involves a tiny amount of sales for the company.

    Analysts said it could take some time for online retailers like eBay to remove merchandise posted by third-party sellers, given the sheer volume of products listed. There are around 800 million listings globally on eBay.

    E-commerce website Etsy also said it would remove all flag-related merchandise from its marketplace, which lists handmade and artisanal products.

    Dollar Tree Inc, Family Dollar Stores Inc, Dollar General and Target Corp said they do not carry any Confederate flag-related merchandise.

    Juda Engelmayer, a senior vice president of 5W Public Relations in New York, said retailers’ decisions to pull the Confederate flag could face some pushback from a small group of consumers, and noted this could have been considered years ago.

    “This action is probably long overdue, but the retailers’ actions are probably going to be received positively,” he said. (Additional reporting by Nandita Bose and Nathan Layne in Chicago; Editing by David Gregorio, Alan Crosby, Leslie Adler, Jonathan Oatis and Phil Berlowitz)

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  • 'Batman: Arkham Knight' May Be Game Of The Year — But There's One Big Problem

    Batman attempts to deactivate an exploding collar on Catwoman in “Arkham Knight.”

    Months after GamerGate first set video game culture ablaze with unbelievable resistance to the idea of feminist perspectives in the gaming industry, we have a new title that features some of the most compelling female characters in pop culture. “Batman: Arkham Knight,” which came out Tuesday, spotlights Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Oracle and Harley Quinn in major roles. But while these women are often represented as strong, independent and able in other media, their featured roles here often tell a different story: They are damsels in distress.

    Many, many people will play this game, if previous entries are any indication. The last main title in the series, which has a couple of spinoffs, sold over 5 million copies. And that aside, “Arkham Knight” is actually an exceptional game taken on its own merits: It is devoted to a cohesive aesthetic and narrative in a way few other games are, the set pieces are compelling and it’s brimming with things to do. One moment you’ll be studying the microscopic details of a crime scene, and five minutes later you’re dodging drone fire in the middle of a populated city street. It all feels crunchy and good.

    “Arkham Knight” will likely earn accolades as one of the standout titles of the year — it already holds a 91 on Metacritic — and that is precisely why its sins should not be ignored.

    (Note: The text that follows contains some spoilers for the storyline in “Arkham Knight.”)

    poison ivy
    Poison Ivy appears in “Arkham Knight” with a barely-there shirt and a mossy crotch.

    It’s really no big secret that gaming and tech are male-dominated industries, even if consumers are split basically down the middle in terms of gender. Plenty of people will play “Arkham Knight” and probably ignore its oftentimes troubling presentation of women — perhaps that’s simply because the game is exciting, and as soon as you settle into a moment, something explodes and you’re off to something else.

    But others will play the game and feel offended. Or disgusted. Or threatened. Or simply unwelcome. Even if those people were outnumbered 100 to 1 in a population of 5 million customers, it would be worthwhile to examine why and do better next time. Because here’s the trouble with “Arkham Knight”: It is a great game tarnished by its dreadful depictions of certain characters and situations.

    arkham knight
    Poison Ivy is held hostage in “Arkham Knight.”

    The baseline problem with “Arkham Knight” is that instead of taking opportunities to depict strong women, the game makes them weak. For the most part, the female characters suck.

    When you first come upon Poison Ivy early in the story, she has a gun to her head. You rescue her, and then you lock her in the back of the Batmobile and drag her to police headquarters. Later in the game, Batman determines that Ivy can communicate with — literally — a big old tree that could counteract the effects of a chemical weapon that Scarecrow intends to detonate somewhere in Gotham City. So Batman hauls his way back to lockup and drags her back to the Batmobile like she’s a petulant child. Poison Ivy is basically a power-up for the player to collect, like a mushroom in “Super Mario.”

    She is barely wearing clothes throughout the entire ordeal.

    arkham knight
    “Arkham Knight” recreates a troubling scene from “The Killing Joke” in which Barbara Gordon is shot and paralyzed by the Joker.

    Catwoman, often portrayed as Batman’s equal, fares no better. Like Ivy, her storyline begins in custody. Her outfit is unzipped enough to show a massive slice of cleavage. Why? Because Catwoman is “sexy” and it’s apparently hard to portray sexiness without showing boob?

    The Riddler has strapped her to a chair, and Batman is called to rescue her. You arrive on the scene and find that there’s an entire ordeal required to free her: Riddler has fitted her with a choker that will explode unless you deactivate a number of locks. The gameplay sometimes has Batman and Catwoman working together — you can switch between them at points — but the pattern almost invariably requires Batman to complete some feat of cunning, force and reflexes while Catwoman bums around in a locked chamber. Her liberation is essentially a prize for you, the player.

    Things are absolutely worst for Oracle, a hero in a wheelchair who assists Batman remotely. To detail her storyline would reveal much about the largest plot points in “Arkham Knight,” but things do not go well for her. An incredibly problematic storyline from the comic books is retread in vivid detail: She is abducted and maimed and exists almost entirely in this context to stir angst in the featured male characters. Batman, Robin, Commissioner Gordon and Alfred fret over her like a baby missing from the crib.

    harley quinn
    Harley Quinn steps up.

    These are not failures from a gameplay perspective. But they are artistic missteps, awful quirks that will make this game — and perhaps all video games by extension — seem incredibly stupid to any critical thinker who may have thought to give “Arkham Knight” a try.

    This game does not exist in a vacuum. It arrives at a moment when women are still being shut out of the gaming and tech industries to the point where many are even looking for work elsewhere. It is bizarre that “Arkham Knight” both includes many women and diminishes them so plainly.

    All of that said, there are some important caveats. First: Harley Quinn — Joker’s deranged on-again, off-again girlfriend — is actually kind of cool this time around. Her character design in “Arkham City” (NSFW) was incredibly sexualized and seemingly intended purely for the male gaze. (For an interesting discussion of this very topic, listen to episode 58 of the lovely “Isometric” podcast.)

    Here, Harley Quinn’s decked out in a pretty serious tutu and barks orders at a bunch of armed dudes. She’s more covered than not. The whole thing struck me as fairly whimsical and a step in the right direction, even if it’s not a perfect representation.

    And no one can argue that the comic book source material is free from cheesecake. There are, in fact, many comics featuring these characters that are several orders of magnitude more sexist than “Arkham Knight.” Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn in particular are often exploited for sexy fluff, as this page from “Harley and Ivy #2” shows. It’s by the great Paul Dini and Bruce Timm:

    poison ivy

    But there’s a major difference between this comic and something like “Arkham Knight” — something that maybe isn’t so obvious. This Poison Ivy could be appealing to men and women alike. The entire miniseries is devoted to Harley and Ivy wreaking havoc on their own terms — it’s “sexy” more than “sexist.” They actively and successfully strike back against the forces that oppress them. They aren’t seeking the approval of men, and they certainly don’t need a player to rescue them.

    And not that we need an eye for an eye, but the two ladies also take a second to objectify some dudes in the third issue:

    harley and ivy

    It’s ostensibly fun for everyone. And that’s what we could use a little more of in these games.

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  • Facebook – The New Social Contract
    Four years fober*, and I still absent-mindedly type “www.facebook.com” into my address bar when opening my browser. Like any addict attempting to kick an addiction, there are a range of strategies and options to take — I chose cold turkey.

    From my mobile, with the touch of a button, I deleted my social connection with over 1.28 billion people.

    Deleting Facebook seemed to be a way to reclaim some sort of simplicity (as did turning off my phone for a two-week break). I made the decision at a time when life seemed too much — nothing worth going into here, just a story of teenage angst.

    I did turn my phone back on — although Facebook stayed in the black box. But why? I got a lot of unwanted answers from my peers:

    “She is attention seeking.”

    “She wants to be a alternative hipster.”

    “You know how she is a Marxist.”

    “She works in intelligence….”

    These statements also came with longwinded rumors about my family, mental state and relationship status. But what I found more questionable is why people cared. They had my number, my address and my email — multiple ways to contact me. Isn’t this what Facebook was for, social networking?

    Looking back this buzz made me more aware that what I had done was take a position, unknowingly, against my peers. And I liked it. I have since been forced to provide my confused peers with an answer — something more difficult than I thought. Here is my attempt:

    Facebook requests of you a lot more than just its terms and conditions, it asks you to change your perceptions of social constructs. Many absent-mindedly click “accept” and never think twice as to what they gave up.

    1. Simplicity

    Facebook seems to provide you with a clutter free platform, two colors — blue and white — and no coding or personalization requirements like ol’ Myspace; a quick way to keep in touch with friends (no more carrier pigeons); organize events (goodbye invitations); and even keep on top of world news (sorry Fairfax).

    [Click Like]

    But with this “simplicity” comes the downfall of information saturation, inescapable commitments and expectations. I was expected to reply when someone saw that I had “read” their message, to attend countless events when I only knew the host’s fourth cousin twice-removed — all because it was “simple” to contact me. This wasn’t making my life simple, it was complicating it. Gone were the days when I could think about how to respond to a message with care, or only attend events of my closest friends, without being subject to interrogation. Getting rid of Facebook was for me, simple.

    [Click Dislike]

    2. Engagement

    Facebook lets you engage in life, every second — from everywhere. It allows you to post travel photos from rural villages, instantly upload photos of you at dinner and see what all your friends are doing.

    [Click Like]

    It wasn’t unusual for me to post pictorial replies to friends in Europe of my dorm room filled with study notes. I even found myself guilty of accessing “Mooseheads Pub and Night Club Thursday” photos from Angkor Wat at sunrise. I never questioned whether this was the engagement I wanted. Did I really want to subscribe to going out to “be seen” or taking photos for the enjoyment and social capital it will provide me from posting it on Facebook? For me, this was not engagement, but rather the opposite.

    [Click Dislike]

    3. My Digital Footprint

    Facebook’s timeline is ingenious, it provides you in one sleek platform a historical archive of personal information — imagine if Foucault had Facebook or Michael Jackson, how much more would we know about them? With over 300 petabytes of data, this trove of information is instantly more valuable than the national library. This also allowed you to “stalk” others, getting a visual picture of their personal growth or who they “are.”

    [Click Like]

    I call this the “comparison trap,” competition ingrained into us from socialization — why wouldn’t we use this tool to see how many people are doing more, achieving better or looking “hotter”? I am not saying this doesn’t happen in day-to-day life, but we can’t see how many other people like it or comment on it. Nor do we get to actively seek it out so easily. For some this may be positive reinforcement, but those narcissists don’t need Facebook — just a mirror. For the rest of us, it may make us a little more driven to be better, but more likely it will make us feel worse. Interestingly, after two months off Facebook, I did not want to re-enter this virtual world because “people will think I am a loser, who didn’t have friends or go out for two months.” The chorus of “You’re So Vain” never rang so clearly.

    [Click Dislike]

    Since getting rid of Facebook, I have lost over 200 friends, missed over 14 parties, been on the outskirts of every ‘trending’ conversation, confused three boys in attempts to court me, and avoided the publication of countless embarrassing moments. What I realized is — did I want those friends, enjoy those parties, loose out on love or regret the protection to my privacy?

    The likely the answer is no. But I have also read over 42 penguin books, painted over 17 watercolours, watched over 1400 documentaries and even read the newspaper (twice) — for no one but myself.

    You can still access news online, watch Netflix, stumble upon One Direction and 5SOS gossip, get World Cup updates and download Cody Simpson’s new track or follow Taylor Swift without Facebook — yet you do all these things because you chose to, for you and no one else.

    Facebook changes the social constructions we live by, but unlike the options in this article — you can only.

    [Click Like]

    Smart move Zuckerberg.

    *‘Fober’ — Facebook Sober — a term used to describe those who migrate off Facebook, the transition period has been a likened to that of withdrawal from vices such as drug and alcohol.

    Written by Lauren Murphy. As the daughter of a computer troubleshooter, sister of a WOW-er and employee of a tech startup — I seem an unlike candidate of the ‘Facebook Free’ movement (self-coined). I can do simple coding, use torrents, own three mac products and pay for unlimited internet. Typical Gen-I, but with a glitch.

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  • WikiLeaks Says America's NSA Spied On French Presidents
    By James Regan and Mark John

    PARIS, June 23 (Reuters) – The United States National Security Agency spied on French presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, WikiLeaks said in a press statement published on Tuesday, citing top secret intelligence reports and technical documents.

    The revelations were first reported in French daily Liberation and on news website Mediapart, which said the NSA spied on the presidents during a period of at least 2006 until May 2012, the month Hollande took over from Sarkozy.

    WikiLeaks said the documents derived from directly targeted NSA surveillance of the communications of Hollande (2012-present), Sarkozy (2007-2012) and Chirac (1995-2007), as well as French cabinet ministers and the French ambassador to the U.S.

    According to the documents, Sarkozy is said to have considered restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks without U.S. involvement and Hollande feared a Greek euro zone exit back in 2012.

    These latest revelations regarding spying among allied Western countries come after it emerged that the NSA had spied on Germany and Germany’s own BND intelligence agency had cooperated with the NSA to spy on officials and companies elsewhere in Europe.

    “The French people have a right to know that their elected government is subject to hostile surveillance from a supposed ally,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in the statement, adding that more “important revelations” would soon follow.

    The documents include summaries of conversations between French government officials on the global financial crisis, the future of the European Union, the relationship between Hollande’s administration and Merkel’s government, French efforts to determine the make-up of the executive staff of the United Nations, and a dispute between the French and U.S. governments over U.S. spying on France.

    The documents also contained the cell phone numbers of numerous officials in the Elysee presidential palace including the direct cell phone of the president, WikiLeaks said.

    Last week, WikiLeaks published more than 60,000 diplomatic cables from Saudi Arabia and said on its website it would release half a million more in the coming weeks.


    Former NSA employee Edward Snowden created an uproar in Germany after he revealed that Washington had carried out large-scale electronic espionage in Germany and claimed the NSA had bugged Merkel’s phone.

    “While the German disclosures focused on the isolated fact that senior officials were targeted by U.S. intelligence, WikiLeaks’ publication today provides much greater insight into U.S. spying on its allies,” WikiLeaks said.

    This includes “the actual content of intelligence products deriving from the intercepts, showing how the U.S. spies on the phone calls of French leaders and ministers for political, economic and diplomatic intelligence.”

    WikiLeaks said NSA intercepts showed that French President Francois Hollande called a secret meeting of his cabinet about the potential consequences of a Greek exit from the euro zone as early as May 2012.

    It also said the Socialist Hollande, who at that point had been in power a few days, had been disappointed by a first meeting as president with conservative German Chancellor Angela Merkel and requested talks with leaders of the Social Democratic Party, her center-left junior coalition partner.

    “Hollande stressed that the meeting would be secret,” WikiLeaks quoted an NSA intercept from May 22, 2012 as saying of talks he requested with “appropriate ministers” in his cabinet to discuss possible fall-out on France’s economy and banks if Greece exited the euro zone.

    In another intercept dated June 10, 2011, Sarkozy is said to have considered restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks without U.S. involvement.

    An earlier one from 2008 has Sarkozy, widely considered in France to be pro-American, being critical of the U.S. government’s handling of the financial crisis.

    “The president blamed many of the current economic problems on mistakes made by the U.S. government, but believes that Washington is now heeding some of his advice,” it said.

    The French president’s office was not immediately reachable for comment.

    The French foreign ministry declined to comment on the WikiLeaks statement.

    The U.S. State Department also declined to comment.

    Hollande’s office said on Tuesday the president plans to meet with his defense committee on Wednesday to discuss the WikiLeaks statement.

    Michele Alliot-Marie, former defense and foreign affairs minister under Chirac and Sarkozy, told France’s iTele TV channel that France had long known that the U.S. had the technical means to try to intercept conversations.

    “We are not naive, the conversations that took place between the defense ministry and the president did not happen on the telephone,” she said. “That being said, it does raise the problem of the relationship of trust between allies.” (Additional reporting by Gregory Blachier, Julien Ponthus and John Irish; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

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  • Architect Turns Shopping Cart Into Shelter For Homeless People
    Now here’s a wheel-y good solution.

    While homelessness is on the decline in the U.S., a dearth in affordable housing and emergency shelter options often leaves those who are still without permanent shelter with no choice but to sleep on the streets. Recognizing the need to provide homeless people with some sort of protection, Buenos Aires architect Eduardo Lacroze fashioned a portable shelter built around a shopping cart and submitted his design to a competition seeking such solutions for people on the streets.

    shopping cart shelter

    Lacroze’s innovation won the American Institute of Architect’s Small Project Award Program, which sought discreet and efficient shelters for homeless people.

    The shopping cart is the core component of the shelter, which relies on its wheels to move, according to Real Estate Rama.

    When a homeless person is on-the-go, the shelter folds up into a square box that fits on top of the wheels, Fast Company reported.

    Expanding the mobile abode just requires a signature, and no specific trade skills.

    One side folds out into a flatbed and the entire structure is insulated and weatherproofed. The resident secures the shelter the top plank with a padlock and hasp, according to Real Estate Rama.

    It currently costs about $500 to build, but Lacroze hopes to bring those costs down with corporate sponsorships and donated materials.

    He sees it ultimately working within a communal program, where users can take advantage of the shelters when they need them.

    “The way we envision these eventually is to act like a bicycle [share] where you pick up and drop off as need be. But that would require some regulation,” Lacroze told Fast Company.

    Developing shelters out of everyday, unconventional materials has become something of a trend among creative do-gooders.

    Gregory Kloehn, a California-based artist, is one such innovator.

    For the past few years, Kloehn has been building small and colorful residences for homeless people out of gently-used garbage.

    “Our goal is to bring together imaginative people and discarded materials to make sturdy, innovative, mobile shelters for the homeless people,” Kloehn writes on the Homeless Homes Project website. “By sourcing our materials from illegal street dumping, commercial waste and excess household items, we strive to diminish money’s influence over the building process.”

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  • Girls and STEM: How We Can Up the Numbers
    We’ve come a long way since Miss Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, translated Luigi Menabrea’s memoir on Charles Babbage’s analytical engine in 1843, which led to the first algorithm to be processed by a machine, making Ada, the daughter of poet Lord Byron, and Anne Isabelle Milbanke, in effect, the first computer programmer.

    Still, the scarcity of women at the top ranks of Silicon Valley or the exclusion from the Boys Club of science and engineering prompts Charlene Drew Jarvis, a panel participant at the Smithstonian Institution’s National Museum of American History’s Innovation Echo: Tomorrow’s Brightest Days, to focus on encouraging female students to pursue STEM education and careers.

    Drew Jarvis, daughter of 2015 National Hall of Fame Inductee and blood bank pioneer Dr. Charles Drew, shares America needs STEM professionals and that there are plenty of places at the table for women who want to make a difference.

    How do we encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM? Drew Jarvis says,

    First, we need to message parents or guardians and teachers that old message of what’s permissible for girls to do should be avoided. If girls believe they can succeed, they’ll be more interested in pursuing subjects like math and science. Women’s contributions may have been undervalued because for years, we’ve heard the message that girls don’t do well in math. We ought to never say that again. Girls can do math, science, and technology as well as boys and should be encouraged to get involved in those fields.

    When girls do express interest in careers such as electrical engineering, we need to encourage their interest, adds Drew Jarvis. From childhood, girls need to learn to be assertive enough to express their interests and ask for help. “Find adults who believe your goals are doable and pursue mentors,” she advises. “Students can even ask a teacher, “I want to learn more about a career as an aeronautical engineer but I’m not seeing it in our chapters. Can you help me find extra information about that or point me towards someone who could help?”

    Programs like FabFems created by The National Girls Collaborative Project, present an information clearinghouse for women in STEM careers, along with a database of names and contact information for role models and women who would like to share education and STEM career advice. Girls Who Code works to encourage girls to pursue computer science and technology. Women@NASA posts videos and essays from female NASA employees that explain their career paths from STEM to NASA, as well as STEM education programs targeted towards girls and a mentoring program connecting NASA employees with middle school students through Skype or Google Chat. Engineer Girl educates girls on engineering through interviews, as well as background on different fields of engineering and required skills.

    Drew Jarvis shares Camp Invention presents week-long summer day camp experiences, offering 1,200 different programs throughout the US, which serve 100,000 students every year. “The camp encourages kids to explore creative problem solving, tinkering and building. As a first exposure to the STEM field, the program may pique interest and encourages participants to ask questions. We get lots of girls in the program which serves students in grades 1 through 6.”

    The educator, former scientific researcher, politician, and President of Southeastern University says we need to provide historical and current role models for girls in the STEM field, as well as provide access to numerous programs.

    For more information on the above programs:


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  • Google Scrambles To One-Up Apple Music
    Google announced Tuesday that it is adding a free, ad-supported radio feature to its Google Play Music service in the United States in a push to attract more subscribers.

    In a blog post, Google Play Music product manager Elias Roman announced that the new radio feature would offer curated playlists tailored to a variety of specific factors.

    The rolling out of this feature comes exactly one week before Apple Music’s June 30 launch. But here’s the difference between Google Play Music’s new radio feature and Apple’s Beats 1 Radio: Google Play Music actively targets listeners based on their music preferences, the device they’re using and the time of day they’re listening — rather than having listeners locate radio stations themselves, as they would on Beats 1 Radio.

    Google Play Music is “less about how people find music, and more about music finding people,” Roman told The Huffington Post.

    The customized playlists are also similar to Spotify’s Now start page, which suggests playlists depending on the time of day and adapts to fit the listener’s taste and mood.

    As of Tuesday afternoon, Google Play Music’s new radio feature was available only on the web, but it will be rolling out to Android and iOS later in the week.

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  • Hands On: Satechi Seven-Port Multi Charging Dock
    Whether at home or at work, there’s a lot of stuff that needs to be charged — and sadly there’s only so many outlets to charge them on. Even if the number of outlets isn’t a problem, who wants to always have to answer the question, “have you seen the iPad?” with the answer, “have you checked the bathroom?” The Satechi Seven-Port Multi Charging Dock is a seven-port charging hub that only takes up one outlet, keeps everything together in a single location, and makes an effort towards the Herculean task of making the rat’s nest of cables and devices look nice and neat.

  • Treading Carefully in the 21st Century: The V.P.N.

    Numerous reports have emerged in the past five years about a decline in petty violent crime such as muggings, pickpocketing, and even good, old-fashioned armed robbery while simultaneously witnessing a rise in cybercrime, or felonies committed over the Internet. As a result of the World Wide Web becoming the 21st century version of Central Park after midnight, increased security protocols have been invented and initiated. One of the most reliable and frequently used is the Virtual Private Network.

    A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a network technology that creates a secure network connection over a public network such as the Internet or a private network owned by a service provider. Large corporations, educational institutions, and government agencies use VPN technology to enable remote users to securely connect to a private network.

    To be granted access to this private network, the user must have authentication granted through the use of a unique personal ID and password. For additional security, an authentication token is frequently used for access to the private network via a personal identification number (or PIN) which is entered by the user. The PIN is a one-time generated code that changes according to a programmed frequency, usually in 30 second intervals.

    There are a number of VPN protocols in use that secure the transport of data traffic over a public network infrastructure. Each protocol varies slightly in the way that data is kept secure.

    VPN technology employs sophisticated encryption to ensure security and prevent any unintentional interception of data between private sites. All traffic over a VPN is encrypted using algorithms to secure data integrity and privacy. VPN architecture is governed by a strict set of rules and standards to ensure a private communication channel between sites. Corporate network administrators are responsible for deciding the scope of a VPN, implementing and deploying a VPN, and ongoing monitoring of network traffic across the network firewall. A VPN requires administrators to be continually aware of the overall architecture and scope of the VPN to ensure communications are kept private.

    A VPN is an inexpensive effective way of building a private network. The use of the Internet as the main communications channel between sites is a cost effective alternative to expensive leased private lines. These costs, to both corporations and individuals, include the network authentication hardware and software used to authenticate users and any additional mechanisms such as authentication tokens or other secure devices. The relative ease, speed, and flexibility of VPN provisioning in comparison to leased lines makes VPNs an ideal choice for businesses or individuals who require flexibility. For example, an individual can adjust the number of sites in the VPN according to changing requirements.

    There are several potential disadvantages with VPN use. The lack of Quality of Service (QoS) management over the Internet can cause packet loss and other performance issues. Adverse network conditions that occur outside of the private network is beyond the control of the VPN administrator. For this reason, many large corporations pay for the use of trusted VPNs that use a private network to guarantee QoS. Vendor interoperability is another potential disadvantage as VPN technologies from one vendor may not be compatible with VPN technologies from another vendor. Neither of these disadvantages has prevented the widespread acceptance and deployment of VPN technology.

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  • The Hottest Baby Names of 2015… So Far
    By now we’ve all heard about which baby names were most popular last year, but what about the names that are attracting the most heat now and into the future?

    Here is Nameberry’s behind-the-scenes look at our 100 hottest baby names of 2015, the secret popularity list of the names gaining the most in views on the site. Our methodology: We looked at the number of times every name in our database was viewed for the first half of this year vs. the same period last year and, controlling for overall traffic increases, which names jumped the highest.

    The hottest names of 2015 and beyond are a mix of fresh favorites and vintage choices enjoying new attention. Some of the names here are already-stylish: Everly and Owen, Ash to Zed.

    But there are a lot of surprising choices among the Hot 100. That said, if you name your baby the still-unusual Tove or Meilani, Leif or Leon today, don’t be surprised to find it a lot more popular tomorrow.

    Without further ado, here are Nameberry’s Top 100 baby names of 2015… so far:





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  • Amazon Bans Confederate Flag Merchandise: Reports
    Amazon is reportedly pulling the Confederate flag from its online store.

    The e-commerce giant said Tuesday that it plans to remove all flags and related merchandise, according to reports from Reuters and The Washington Post. The move comes nearly a week after the massacre of nine black parishioners by an alleged white supremacist in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

    Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Dylann Roof, the accused shooter, brandished Confederate flags in photos posted on his Facebook page and espoused violent, racist ideas in a manifesto posted online that he is believed to have written.

    Over the past week, protesters have marched in South Carolina demanding that the flag, which flies on the grounds of the state capitol, be removed. Gov. Nikki Haley (R) called on Monday for the flag to be removed.

    By Tuesday afternoon, sales of a 3×5 Confederate flag on Amazon had jumped nearly 4,600 percent, presumably in response to the controversy generated by the shooting and its aftermath. Sales of a similar flag rose nearly 3,300 percent.


    But by 3:30 p.m. EST, the URLs for both items led to an error page.


    At least one of the top-selling flags was listed by an independent seller on Amazon’s marketplace. The ban appears to affect Confederate flag items listed both by individual sellers and by Amazon itself.

    Amazon joined a growing group of retailers that plan to take Confederate flags off their shelves. On Monday, Walmart and Sears vowed to remove the banners and related items from their stores. Earlier on Tuesday, eBay banned Confederate flag paraphernalia from its website. So, too, did the online marketplace Etsy, known for its homemade crafts, which said it planned to remove all Confederate flag items from its site.

    “Etsy’s policies prohibit items or listings that promote, support or glorify hatred and these items fall squarely into that category,” spokeswoman Sara Cohen said in a statement emailed to The Huffington Post. “Due to the nature of our platform, it is possible that a prohibited item may appear for sale on the site before our enforcement teams have a chance to remove it.”

    She urged users on the site to report any items bearing the Confederate flag.

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  • Drone Racing From Drone's POV Is One Wild Ride
    You want to be a drone? You want to fly through tight spaces, dipping, darting and turning like crazy alongside other drones?

    Now you can be the drone — or like a teeny-tiny pilot in its cockpit — thanks to first-person-view (FPV) drone racing.

    In a video posted June 11, a race unfolds in a Melbourne, Australia, abandoned warehouse. It makes us a little dizzy but we’re not the best fliers on big aircraft either.

    To steer, operators wear goggles that give them the perspective of their camera-outfitted flying machines.

    And the competition is catching on. “Many of the drones are ‘blinged’ up with LED lights and accessories, making for a race of geeked-out, adrenaline-pumping goodness,” Mashable wrote.

    The multi-rotor gizmos can go faster than 60 kilometers per hour (about 37 miles per hour), and crashes are inevitable, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reports.

    “It’s like playing a video game,” competitor Darren French told the ABC. “It’s fast. The more you do it the more you want to fly.”

    Another racer, Chad Nowak, said to Gizmag, “FPV is such a different, immersive experience, everyone’s wanting to be that ‘Star Wars’ pod racer, going in between the hills.”

    Nowak is headed to the inaugural U.S. National Drone Racing Championships July 15-17 at the California State Fair.


    For a behind-the-scenes look at the burgeoning sport, check out Gizmag’s video:

    H/T Laughing Squid

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  • Revenge Porn Is More Than a Violation of Privacy It Is Digital Sexual Assault
    Naked photos and sexting are as much a part of sex for our generation as the missionary position was for our grandparents. Telling us not to do it is like preaching abstinence to teenagers. It’s grossly unrealistic and it doesn’t work. It is also beyond outdated and is just plain ignorant to how modern dating works.

    The narratives we’re listening to as revenge porn reaches mainstream news aren’t just about victim blaming, they’re about negotiating a new age of digital interactions and an ugly manifestation of how women are viewed and treated. We’re just looking at it through the brutally honest mirror of social media.

    Social media now, is like the town square in the dark ages. We haven’t yet figured out our laws to govern the way we treat each other. Back then, if suspected women weren’t burnt and boiled to death, their reputation was.


    Revenge porn now is the public shaming of women, onlookers are the townspeople and some throw stones.

    Sexual assault is legislated for in our societies. It is illegal and it is still largely committed by men to female victims. On the crudest level we think of this as the natural order of things because in the classic sense of rape, men are bigger and stronger and have a penis they can penetrate you with.

    But in the digital world, both men and women are equally capable of posting photos. Strength is a non issue, neither is the ability to penetrate. So if we look at revenge porn as sexual assault, why is it almost exclusively committed by men to women?

    It’s the control group feminists have never had. Remove the physical dominance and all you have left is the misogyny. Revenge porn is a manifestation of how men are taught to think of women and women are taught to behave.

    Without getting carried away, this is still a slim minority. If stats existed for the sheer volume of naked photos sent, the proportion of those that found their way onto social media or revenge porn sites would be miniscule.

    It is however, as horrific as it is criminal and the real issue of our times is we don’t know how to talk about it yet. We are still finding our feet in the negotiation of online harassment.

    The addage that this kind of shaming is a violation of privacy is true but it’s not the conversation we should be having. Revenge porn is digital sexual assault and should be approached with more accurate language.

    The issue is of consent and criminality.

    Sending a naked picture to a lover who then posts that picture to a public forum is like consenting to sex with one person once and getting a gang bang, over and over again.

    When outspoken feminists use language we associate with sexual assault when discussing revenge porn, it is considered novel because we haven’t yet caught up with ourselves.

    If news commentators discussed conventional sexual assault in the same way they discuss revenge porn, they just wouldn’t get away with it.

    Here in Australia, on a national radio program called Hack, Adam Creighton agreed with a caller’s analogy, that you shouldn’t take naked photos as a precaution, in the same way that you should make sure you lock your car. Victim blaming is still alive and well in cases of physical sexual assault but at least the concept is in the lexicon of politeness. He then called those women who send naked photos, stupid and bloody idiots.

    America is just as bad. Watch John Oliver make mince meat of this kind of coverage.

    The thing is, that in the sexually active world of a digital generation, not sharing naked photos is more like ditching the car altogether.

    Besides, women’s bodies are not cars. Having sex is not stupid.

    Revenge porn sites almost exclusively feature women. Because it works. Revenge porn does not stick to men because no one really cares. Your capacity to be shamed is about the distance between how you are represented and how society wants you to be. In the online world, this normative forcing is brutal and anonymous.

    Men are rarely shamed as a result of a consensual sex act. Women and their sexuality are shamed on a regular basis. We are all just as able to post revenge porn. The reason men have more power in this situation is because they have less to lose. Male consent is more respected and male sexuality is less examined.


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  • Chevy Corvette Z06, Cruz to be first 2016 with CarPlay; others coming
    CarPlay has been a long time coming to cars consumers can actually buy, but the infotainment and mobile app technology has finally started arriving to consumer showrooms. Though it has been promoted in forthcoming vehicles for well over a year, currently the Ferrari FF is the only vehicle at dealers now with Apple’s technology baked in. This month, however, that changes — as General Motors is now producing the Corvette Z06 and the 2016 Cruz.

  • How Hackable Are Cars?
    How hackable are cars?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.


    Answer by Jason Lancaster, Editor of AccurateAutoAdvice.com

    Like a lot of computer/software security discussions, there’s “the realm of possibility” and then there’s the real world.

    In the realm of possibility, most cars can be hacked because their operational systems (eg the engine computer) and the infotainment systems (eg the part where you can plug in your phone to listen to music) share the same physical wiring and network system. They’re not completely separated physically, so it’s feasible for a team of computer and software experts to exploit these systems.

    What’s more, most automotive systems use a relatively simple network protocol that can be (relatively) easy to “listen” to and possibly override. You can get a basic understanding here: CAN Hacking: Introductions

    But in the real world, the cost/effort involved in figuring out how to hack a car via the USB port in the console or Bluetooth connection seems to have little practical value. Here’s why:

    1. Every automaker has their own proprietary systems for reading and checking data, and they tend to change these systems periodically. You *might* be able to figure out how to spoof the reading on the speedometer on a 2012 Camry, but there’s no guarantee it will work on a 2013 or a 2011, and little chance the same method/code will work on an Accord or F150. Therefore, vehicle hacking is very time intensive, at least if you plan to do it at scale. It’s not like computers, where 80-90% of them use the same exact operating system.
    2. There’s error checking built into the engine and safety systems that would make it hard to – for example – “trick” the fuel injectors into running lean (and thus damaging the engine) because there are multiple data points collected at any given time. If you wanted to trick a vehicle into running lean and destroying itself, you’d have to spoof the signals from half a dozen sensors, and these spoofed signals would have to mesh with other signals in order to fully convince the engine computer that things were normal. It’s not an impossible problem of course, but it’s not an easy one.
    3. Connectors and various software ‘handshakes’ must be determined before you can exert any outside control. You can’t just hook up to the OBDII port and get started. You’ve got to figure out how to ‘connect’ with the system like the tools used by the technicians (which are proprietary and which change regularly).
    4. In most vehicles, there’s a mandatory wait time after connecting. Even if you have an official technician’s computer, you have to wait a few minutes before you can make changes, read signals, etc. This is an anti-theft precaution that would make hacking that much harder, as you’d have to guarantee yourself access to the target vehicle for an extended period (unless you find a way to bypass the wait time, of course, which is probably easier said than done).
    5. What’s the point? Hacking a car to make it easier to steal? There are tricks that don’t require hacking. Hacking a car to make the engine destroy itself? I can destroy any engine with a common chemical and access to your oil filler cap. Hacking a car to make it unsafe to the driver? All it takes to make your car seriously dangerous is a lug wrench, a pair of pliers, and/or a cordless Sawzall and 5 minutes. No keys or vehicle interior access required.

    Basically, hacking isn’t a practical way to accomplish any of the dangerous things security experts are worried about. There are easier ways to destroy engines, endanger drivers, and steal cars, most of which require far less planning, effort, and expertise.

    Hacking cars is a fun topic for a lot people, but I’ve never understood the concern expressed by various experts. If these people are really concerned about a hacker making vehicles unsafe, they should be warning the public about leaving their vehicle unattended. It doesn’t take much to sabotage a car. All it takes are common tools and a tiny bit of know-how.

    More questions on Quora:

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  • MacNN Deals: iPhone 5 on FreedomPop and two Bluetooth speakers
    After a brief technical-issue-related hiatus, MacNN Deals is back, and so is our daily look at three items you can pick up from the store pretty cheaply. For the first featured items to herald its return, we have selected deals involving an iPhone 5 and two Bluetooth speakers: one with classic looks, the other opting for a more unusual appearance.

  • Man builds giant computer at home
    For many tech companies the race is on to build ever smaller computer processors, but one British man has gone in the opposite direction.
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