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Mobile Technology News, March 1, 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.

  • Briefly: imo.im to go solo; Best Buy offering free iPhone 5s
    To the surprise and disappointment of most of its users, chatting application imo.im has announced that it will discontinue support for third-party networks — including Facebook Chat, AIM, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ, Jabber and Steam — in order to focus on building out its own chat platform, beginning March 3. According to the service, its chat apps for Android, iOS, Amazon and the web have over 10 million users.


  • VIDEO: Bankruptcy for bitcoin exchange MtGox
    One of the world’s biggest Bitcoin exchanges, MtGox, has filed for bankruptcy.
  • Reddit To Donate 10 Percent Of Ad Revenue To Charity
    Reddit has decided to donate 10 percent of its ad revenue to charity in the only way the citizen website knows how: by letting the community decide exactly where the money will go.

    Reddit made the announcement on its blog on Friday, saying that revenue generated from both big and small ad campaigns will support the charity initiative. At the end of the year, Reddit will accept nominations for nonprofits from users. It will then hold an election to determine where the funds should be donated.

    “We want to show that advertising doesn’t just support the Reddit platform, it also directly supports the causes and goals of Reddit as a whole,” the website announced.

    The money collected will be distributed proportionally based on percentage of votes among the top 10 nonprofits.

    This initiative is just another feather in the cap of generous Reddit users who frequently use the platform to make the world a better place.

    Last April, after the Boston Marathon bombings, Redditors came forward to comfort people who were stranded in the area by sending hundreds of pizza pies. In 2012, users donated $80,000 to an orphanage in Kenya after a man was attacked while trying to protect the kids there. And last summer, after a homeless burn victim shared his story in an “Ask Me Anything,” users responded with an outpouring of support for the dad of two who was trying to get back on his feet.

    Yep, this upcoming project definitely gets our upvote.

  • Mystery Pain Explained: Your Screen Obsession Could Be Giving You 'Text Next'
    Texting is a literal pain in the neck.

    HuffPost’s Executive Lifestyle Editor Lori Leibovich has used computers and smartphones often over many years, and after visiting the doctor she found out her technology use was to blame for the perpetual pain she had been suffering.

    “I couldn’t ignore the shooting pains anymore in my neck, and there was numbness and tingling in my arm,” she said. “I’m getting an MRI next week to figure it out.”

    Leibovich told HuffPost Live’s Caitlyn Becker that she deduced the cause of the pain when she realized that it was triggered by the motion of swiping across her phone’s screen and using her thumb to scroll.

    Chiropractor Dean Fishman has seen that before. He recalled an appointment with a 17-year-old girl who was experiencing headaches and neck pain. As he was reviewing the x-rays, he noticed the patient was texting in the corner.

    “We put the pieces of the puzzle together and we found that the repetitive stresses of having her head in a forward, titled posture for long periods of time was the contributing factor,” he said.

    See the full HuffPost Live conversation about how technology hurts our bodies in the video below.

  • Should Transhumanists Have Children?
    Transhumanists are people who desire to use science and technology to improve the human being. While the international movement of transhumanism is rapidly growing and diversifying, its most important goal remains the same: overcoming human mortality. Many experts believe some sort of indefinite sentience for individual human beings, whether via age reversal or by mind uploading into computers, will be achieved around 2045. Such incredible advances will change the way the species views itself. Procreation, the foundation of human civilization, will be one activity that is dramatically affected.

    If all goes well, my wife and I will be bringing a baby girl into the world in a few days time. It will be our second child. I’m often asked whether it makes sense for transhumanists to have children. For a group of people who mostly doubt they will ever die, it’s a valid question. Doing away with death presents a historical quandary for the human race. For example, if you were to live indefinitely, would you have children within the first 250 years of your life? However, since many people probably wouldn’t be biological in 250 years time — people that far in the future will likely have become all-digital by uploading themselves into machines — the question itself is turned upside down. Such is the nature of the budding movement of transhumanism, which is on course to create a paradigm shift for civilization in the next half century.

    As a transhumanist, I choose to have offspring for many of the same reasons other people do. I want children because they’re amazing, thrilling, and beautiful to nurture and raise to their best potential. It completes the artist in me like no pen and paper ever could. Moreover, the love shared with one’s child is very comforting and precious. It bonds my family together, giving everyone involved — including my parents — profound meaning. Of course, being a father is incredibly fun, too.

    Having a child is also one way to achieve a sort of immortality; if I was to die, at least my genes (and hopefully some of my ideas) would be carried on. As a transhumanist, I don’t consider that an acceptable form of immortality, but I find some consolation in it, anyway.

    The question of whether transhumanists should have children is ultimately a personal and subjective one. In the near future, concepts of procreation will drastically change. Already, advanced in vitro fertilization techniques, prenatal testing, and genetic engineering are altering the way we approach the procreation process. In the next two decades, advances in cloning and ectogenesis — using an artificial environment to grow life outside of where it would normally be found — will further our perspectives and present many philosophical and moral challenges. Yet, all this innovative procreation science still remains within the confines of our biological human parameters. What happens when we leave our genes and DNA for a virtual existence in machines?

    “Mind uploading may be here in 30 years or so,” says Avinash Singh, a software engineer and co-founder of the India Future Society. “Once inside a computer, we may have brought the essence of our biology with us, but it won’t remain with us for long. We will quickly adapt and evolve in the virtual world, especially with the help of increasingly powerful artificial intelligences.”

    If we transcend our biology completely, does this mean we won’t have incentive to procreate? Will human beings living exclusively in computers really drop certain rituals that stem from millions of years of evolution? The likely answer is yes. Over time, we’ll probably program the desire for progeny out of ourselves. Procreation in the sense we know it — along with sex — will likely become obsolete. Indeed, even the concepts of male and female will probably disappear unless a reasonable purpose inside the digital frontier is found for either.

    Leaving behind our biological propensities and heritage has nothing to do with right or wrong, but rather whether it’s useful in a digital environment given our current evolutionary incentives. Such a computational-run world may at first seem alien, shallow, and devoid of compassion, but the nature of our digital selves will not know that. We’ll be far from human by that point.

    We can anthropomorphize our future digital selves all we want in hopes we’ll be able to maintain our humanity, but once permanently in a machine, our mammalian proclivity will quickly become as foreign to us as an infant’s perspective is to an elder’s perspective. After that, it won’t take long before evolution makes us virtually unrecognizable to our former selves. Our digital avatars will adapt and advance at evolutionary speeds never known before.

    Digital environments will likely become the playgrounds of personal egos and their wills, where self-centered domination of perspective and experience are paramount, as detailed in my philosophy TEF, which stands for Teleological Egocentric Functionalism. TEF was designed as a bridge from today’s Homo sapien to tomorrow’s digital avatar who wields the power of extraordinary machine intelligence. From there, it’s but a short leap to the Singularity.

    As a transhumanist, I look forward to the coming future and all its grand possibilities, including my existence in a machine. In the meantime, I’ll be grateful to welcome my daughter with much love and care into our biological world.

  • This Is Your State's Least Favorite Artists
    Earlier this week, Paul Lamere of The Echo Nest released a map showing the most distinctive artist in each state, meaning the unique artist that each state listened to more than any other state. After many outlets declared this map to show each state’s favorite artist, Lamere cleared the air by actually creating that map and explaining the difference between the two.

    Now, using the app that Lamere built to examine the differences between states and regions, we have the least favorite bands in each state, courtesy of Randal Cooper.

    Cooper put together three maps: the first limited to the top 50 artists on Spotify, the second limited to the top 100 and the third, top 200. Lamere also looked into the matter on his blog, Music Machinery, matching Cooper’s top 50 map, and is the featured image of this post.

    Check out Lamere and Cooper’s maps below and share your thoughts in the comments. (Perhaps Maine should change their state motto to “%#!@ R. Kelly” in the near future.)

    Top 50:
    hated bands 50

    Top 100:
    hated artists 100

    Top 200:
    hated artists 200

  • It Turns Out Google Doodles Are Kinda Sexist
    There are too many dudes in Google Doodles.

    Of the 445 people honored by special Google logos between 2010 and 3013, a stunning 82.7 percent were men, according to a new report from SPARK, an activist movement for girls and young women, using Google’s Doodle archive.

    By comparison, approximately half of Earth’s population is female, if you needed a reminder.

    At least Google is aware of the problem and claims to be doing something about it.

    “Women have been underrepresented in history in almost all fields: science, school curricula, business, politics — and, sadly, doodles — despite incredible contributions both directly and behind the scenes,” Ryan Germick, team lead for Google Doodles, told The Huffington Post. “We’ve been working to fix the imbalance in our doodles.

    “This year we’re hoping to have women and men equally represented,” Germick added. “So far this year we’ve done doodles for as many women as men, a big shift from figures below 20 percent in past years.”

    The lack of racial diversity in Google Doodles is stark, as well. According to SPARK, 73.9 percent of the Doodled were “unambiguously white.”

    Here’s a chart from SPARK breaking down the Doodled by gender and race. “Uncertain” refers to people for whom SPARK couldn’t readily identify a race. (Story continues after chart.)

    google doodle

    And the trends are heading in the wrong direction:

    google doodle

    As you can see, Doodles have only gotten more white and more male.

    The unconscious sexism apparent in Google Doodles echoes Silicon Valley’s brogamming culture. There’s a shocking lack of women in executive positions at tech companies, even by corporate America’s standards. The individual stories of women being marginalized in the tech industry are just too many to list: The time a tech incubator threw a “Hackers and Hookers”-themed party. The time two entrepreneurs pitched a “tit-staring” app at TechCrunch Disrupt. The time Samsung decided it needed scantily-clad women to sell refrigerators and washing machines. That just covers part of 2013.

    Nevertheless, Google has done a good job of making its collection of Doodles feel progressive and even iconoclastic. Last year, Google honored Cesar Chavez, instead of Jesus, on Easter Sunday, and weathered backlash from the religious right over it. During the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Google seemed to take a jab at Russia’s anti-gay legislation with a series of rainbow-colored Doodles.

    And to its credit, Google seems to have made an effort to pluck some less-well-known women from history for Doodling, including computer scientist Grace Hopper, singer Celia Cruz and women’s suffrage leader Jane Addams.

    Even if their gender and racial ratios were squared with the composition of the general population, Doodles are still a way for Google to somewhat disingenuously pass off the cultural authority of historical figures as its own, as Justin Moyer of The Washington Post argued last month.

    “We’d be appalled if McDonald’s used Martin Luther King Jr.’s image to sell hamburgers or if Coca-Cola put Mohandas Gandhi on a soda can,” he wrote. “So why is it any different when a tech behemoth uses [African American writer Zora Neale] Hurston to hawk searches?”

  • These Interns Probably Make More Than You
    It’s not news that employees at tech companies like Google and Facebook do pretty well for themselves, financially speaking. But what of the ambitious young men and women who slog away at internships there? Turns out they’re not making off too badly either.

    On Friday, the jobs site GlassDoor released a list of the 10 companies that pay their interns the most, making under-compensated office drones around the country seethe with jealousy. The site compiled its rankings by taking the amount the companies paid their underlings during a summer and averaging it out to a year-round salary. Of course, interns presumably aren’t privy to the same dental care, gym memberships and other perks of modern office life as their full-time superiors. But still…

    Topping the list was Palo Alto, Calif.-based Palantir Technologies, whose primary business is government contracts. Interns there make the equivalent of $84,144 a year, or $32,044 more than the median U.S. income as of last summer.

    Second was the cloud-computing company VMWare — also in Palo Alto — which dished out the equivalent of $83,592 a year. Farther down on the list were even more companies who make their homes in the Bay Area, and whose primary business is computing. In fact, every company in the top 10 was in the technology business in some way, including household names like Twitter, eBay and Apple.

    So if you want a glamorous internship that may do damage to your wallet (and psyche), New York is the place for you. But if you want to make some real money, learn to code and head to California.

    Check out the whole list below.

    interns salary

  • 'Free' Games Aren't Totally Free, And Europe Is Ticked About It
    The European Commission has invited Apple and Google to participate in a discussion of so-called “free-to-play” apps and the hidden costs they push on consumers.

    You might know some of the offending titles. Many games in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play marketplace — like the popular “Candy Crush Saga,” “Clash of Clans” or “Hay Day” — are free to download, but press players to make in-app purchases ranging from $0.99 to $99 or more.

    In-app purchasing options (even inexpensive ones) can be particularly troublesome in children’s games. Young players have been known to run up large charges on credit cards their parents have linked to their mobile devices.

    Europe is addressing these hidden in-game costs, which European Union Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding says diminish Europeans’ confidence in the app market and prevent the market from reaching its “enormous potential,” according to Wired U.K.

    The European Commission plans to tackle four main issues during the discussion:

    1. Games advertised as “free” should not mislead consumers about the true costs involved.
    2. Games should not be use “direct exhortations” that get children to make purchases.
    3. Purchases should never be part of an app’s default settings.
    4. Consumers should be able to contact developers via email about questionable purchases made in games and other apps.

    Twenty-three million parents joined a class-action lawsuit last year over how easy it can be for kids to make in-game purchases. In some instances, kids had racked up $3,000, $5,000, even $6,000, all in the short timeframe after a parent had entered the account password needed for a mobile download. Passwords keep accounts open for 15 minutes, potentially allowing kids to spend a bunch of money on in-app purchases without realizing.

    The lawsuit was dropped last month when Apple agreed to pay $32.5 million dollars to parents who reported excessive charges on their account. Apple still offers the 15-minute window after entering a password, but is now required to notify users that the window exists.

  • Clinton Documents Reveal Health Care Concerns
    WASHINGTON (AP) — Bill Clinton’s aides were concerned early in his presidency about his health care overhaul effort, led by his wife, that never passed and a need to soften the image of Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to documents released Friday. Mrs. Clinton now is a potential 2016 presidential contender.

    The National Archives released about 4,000 pages of previously confidential documents involving the former president’s administration, providing a glimpse into the struggles of his health care task force, led by the first lady, and other priorities such as the U.S. economy and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Hillary Clinton’s potential White House campaign has increased interest in Clinton Presidential Library documents from her husband’s administration during the 1990s and her own decades in public service. A former secretary of state and New York senator, Mrs. Clinton is the leading Democratic contender to succeed President Barack Obama, though she has not said whether she will run.

    Friday’s documents included memos related to the former president’s ill-fated health care reform proposal in 1993 and 1994, a plan that failed to win support in Congress and turned into a rallying cry for Republicans in the 1994 midterm elections. As first lady, Hillary Clinton chaired her husband’s health care task force, largely meeting in secret to develop a plan to provide universal health insurance coverage.

    White House aides expressed initial optimism about her ability to help craft and enact a major overhaul of U.S. health care.

    “The first lady’s months of meetings with the Congress has produced a significant amount of trust and confidence by the members in her ability to help produce a viable health reform legislative product with the president,” said an undated and unsigned document, which was cataloged with others from April 1993. The document urged quick action, warning that enthusiasm for health reform “will fade over time.”

    But the documents also showed the growing concerns among Clinton’s fellow Democrats in Congress. Lawmakers, it said, “going to their home districts for the August break are petrified about having difficult health care reform issues/questions thrown at them.”

    Administration officials also wanted to distance Hillary Clinton from a staff meeting on the touchy subject of making health care cost projections appear reasonable. Top aides wrote an April 1993 memo saying pessimistic cost-savings projections from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office were “petrifying an already scared Congress.”

    “CBO has the very real potential to sink an already leaking health reform ship,” said the memo, signed by Clinton aides Chris Jennings and Steve Ricchetti, the latter now a top aide to Vice President Joe Biden. A White House and congressional meeting meant to “align budget assumptions with CBO” would be “all staff,” the memo said, so “we do not believe it appropriate that Mrs. Clinton attend.”

    By September 1993, Mrs. Clinton acknowledged the obstacles in a Capitol Hill meeting with House and Senate Democratic leaders and committee chairs. “I think that, unfortunately, in the glare of the public political process, we may not have as much time as we need for that kind of thoughtful reflection and research,” the first lady said, citing “this period of challenge.”

    The meetings also showed that Mrs. Clinton was doubtful that a health care law with a universal mandate — requiring people to carry health insurance — would be approved. “That is politically and substantively a much harder sell than the one we’ve got — a much harder sell,” she told congressional Democrats in September 1993.

    In 2007, when she ran for president, Clinton made the “individual mandate” a centerpiece of her “American Health Choices Plan,” requiring health coverage while offering federal subsidies to help reduce the cost to purchasers.

    The health care overhaul signed into law by Obama in early 2010 carried a mandate that all Americans must obtain health insurance or pay a fine.

    The documents also include detailed media strategy memos written as aides tried to soften Mrs. Clinton’s image.

    Her press secretary, Lisa Caputo, encouraged the Clintons to capitalize on their 20th wedding anniversary as “a wonderful opportunity for Hillary” and also suggested she spend more time doing White House events celebrating first ladies of the past.

    Placing Clinton in a historical context “may help to round out her image and make what she is doing seem less extreme or different in the eyes of the media,” Caputo wrote in a lengthy August 1995 memo about courting better press coverage as the president looked toward re-election.

    Caputo also proposed the “wild idea” of having Clinton do a guest appearance on a popular sitcom of the day, “Home Improvement.”

    Other documents offered a glimpse into the juggling of priorities early in Clinton’s first term and administration concerns after Republicans took control of the House and Senate in the 1994 elections.

    A July 1993 memo shared among Clinton’s advisers sought guidance on how the administration should focus its attention on three major priorities: health care reform, the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement and an initiative aimed at “reinventing government.”

    “The president has repeatedly promised that health care will come after the economic package passes,” the memo from Clinton advisers Rahm Emanuel, Bob Boorstin, Mark Gearan and others said. “Surveys indicate that health care remains the second or third priority (behind job creation) for the vast majority of voters, but also that people fear reform is just another promise to be broken.”

    “Our core supporters are rapidly losing patience and could block passage by throwing their support to alternative plans,” the memo warned.

    Following the midterm losses, Clinton policy adviser William Galston wrote in January 1995, before the president’s State of the Union address, that the public had “not given up on the Clinton presidency.” But he warned the annual speech before Congress “may well be our last chance for a very long time to command the attention of the people as a whole. We cannot hold anything back.”

    The new documents offer only glimmers of Clinton’s internal national security deliberations. The most detailed material, contained in files from then-national security speechwriter Paul Orzulak, show top Clinton officials wrestling with how to deal with China’s emergence as a world financial power.

    Notes from an undated meeting with National Security Adviser Samuel “Sandy” Berger show Berger pushing for China’s membership in the World Trade Organization despite concerns about human rights abuses.

    A series of emails pertaining to the 9/11 Commission’s research into Clinton-era handling of al-Qaida attacks were all apparently withheld by Archives officials, citing national security and confidential restrictions. The only memo released was a single July 1998 email about whether to send a high-ranking diplomat to Minnesota with a presidential message to greet ailing Jordanian King Hussein. “Sounds like too much crepe hanging,” said a dismissive official.


    Associated Press writers Stephen Braun, Henry C. Jackson, Connie Cass in Washington and Jill Zeman Bleed in Little Rock, Ark., contributed to this report.

  • The Funniest Someecards Of The Week
    Damn, doesn’t it seem like February just began? But no, we’ve had 28 days of non-stop freezing cold weather, outrageous, morally repugnant anti-gay legislation, and unending speculation about Sunday’s Oscars. OVER IT.

    We are more than ready to start fresh with March. But first, let’s take one final look back at the last week of February with some snarky Someecards.

    Check out our favorites below and send, send away!

  • This Winter Paralympic Ad Will Make You Want To Win (VIDEO)
    Athletes in the Paralympic Winter Games struggle, hurt and persevere — to win.

    That’s the message of a powerful commercial from Samsung Mobile that highlights the feel-bad moments required to experience the feel-good ones. (The Paralympic Games run March 7-16 at the same Sochi, Russia, location as the Winter Olympics.)

    Sport doesn’t care about abilities or disabilities. Sport makes no distinctions,” Samsung’s YouTube description reads.

    Samsung used the same “Sport Doesn’t Care” theme in a 2012 short for the Paralympic Summer Games.

    The old adage “no pain, no gain” gets the full, brutal treatment in both.

    While the ads illustrate how much one can accomplish when faced with obstacles, they’re also a reminder that just taking part isn’t enough for these elite athletes.

    (h/t AdWeek)

  • The End of Business as Usual
    We can probably all agree that things are changing fast but there are certain signs that signal, as author Brian Solis has written, that 2014 is The End of Business as Usual.

    What are these signs? They are all around us from the collapse of big box retailers like Blockbuster Video to the growth of wearable technology from brands like Nike, Fitbit and Google.

    Opportunities for Brands:
    Solis has written a lot about how communication is evolving. For the first time in history, social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and more have turned civilians into publishers and given them a voice and the ability to grow an audience. Solis points out that these groups share one-to-one-to-many. That is, (people who have people) audiences with audiences or influencers have the ability to spread the word exponentially further now as audiences via these platforms amplify the content.

    This has also opened up opportunities for smart brands to: a.) have a voice. b.) connect with their customers one-on-one. c.) pull not push (more on this in a minute…)

    One of the best public examples of how brands can and should be connecting one-on-one with customers is Pete Shankman’s story of the greatest (customer service) story ever told, featuring Morton’s Steakhouse. (read full article here). Basically, Pete is an influencer with a significant audience and tweeted from an airplane how much he craved a Morton’s steak. Morton’s had their ear to the ground, rallied the troops and shuttled a hot steak to Pete as he landed. Well done Morton’s for using social media to listen and take action. I’m not sure how many thousands or millions of people have heard this story, but Pete is likely a (paying) customer for life.

    Another example is what happened to me last month when GM reached out and offered to send me a new Buick Regal to test drive.

    They found me through my show, Behind the Brand and I assume they did their research to determine that my content and channels of distribution (Mashable, HuffPo, Entrepreneur Magazine etc.) aligned with the kinds of people they hope will buy their cars.

    To be honest I was hoping they would send me one of the new sporty Cadaillacs — but I agreed to try out the Regal to give them my opinion. I was pleasantly surprised. Although I did see other Regals on the road with old guys wearing bright shirts and ball caps, presumably with golf clubs in the trunk, it was super smooth and luxurious.

    What’s the lesson here for brands? It is indeed the end of business as usual as Solis writes. How much does Ford (a direct competitor to GM) shell out to sponsor American Idol and twenty other shows? Millions and millions…and they do a phenomenal job on the grand scale as well as grass roots (thanks to my friend Scott Monty).

    But what if you don’t have the biggest budget on the block like Ford? What if you’re not as savvy or have an army of people and agencies at your beckon call to execute marketing strategy? What if all this “new media” stuff is new?

    A great place to start, whether you’re a big guy or little guy, is to find the influencers. When you know who you’d like to reach, then all you have to do is figure out where they hang out — and who the ring leader is…

    I’m a ring leader in my very small piece of the universe. Behind the Brand airs nationally to about 5MM people per month. What’s the cost of sending me a Buick Regal for a week? A month? A year? Now compare that to the average ad buy and you can see pretty quickly how this style of guerrilla marketing has huge potential.

    For the full interview with author Brian Solis check out the video below and let me know what you think.

  • 7 Cool Words That Were Stolen By The Tech Industry
    Recently, I was editing an article and ran across the word kindle. My cursor almost instinctively flew up to fix the obvious error; the word wasn’t misspelled, but everyone knows Kindle should be capitalized, right? Before I made the edit, I caught myself. For once, the word wasn’t referring to the wildly popular e-reader. It just meant “to light or set on fire” — what kindle used to mean just about every time it was used, before Amazon decided to break into the e-book business in 2007.

    Since 2007, I have seen the product name Kindle far more often than the word kindle. And that’s not the only useful, cool word we’ve seen corporatized and computerized beyond recognition. Twitter, yelp, yahoo — we used to use all of these assemblages of letters to convey something other than “that Internet company.” Some of these tech-appropriated words, like mouse, are still commonly used for their original definition, but have become so overpowered by their tech meanings that we have to clarify in conversation that we’re referring to a rodent, not a computer accessory. What an insult to all the mice out there who owned that word long before there was ever “a palm-sized, button-operated pointing device that can be used to move, select, activate, and change items on a computer screen.” And what about apple? People seem to eat enough apples that the original definition is still the first thing that pops to mind — unless you’re really into iPhones and Macbooks. But some words are not so fortunate — the companies or products they brand have become far more ubiquitous than the word itself. When this happens, we immediately think of the company whenever we hear the word, and the original meaning becomes totally overshadowed.

    I get why the tech industry has long harbored the impulse to repurpose words to brand startups and gadgets. The words are already comfortable to English speakers, and using a term that obliquely describes the actual product makes the name seem clever. For example, tinder refers to dry wood that’s used to start a fire; naming a dating app Tinder alludes subtly to the idea that the app makes it easy to spark something — a relationship, not a fire. It’s a neat little play on the word tinder that lends itself well to media headlines, à la “Tinder app sparks new way to seek romance.” Great name, guys. But to be honest, I miss the days when I could hear tinder and think of dry wood, not a dating app. Tech companies are acquiring and redefining some of the loveliest words in the language, and we’re in danger of losing touch with what those words even mean. So let’s take them back.

    Here are 7 fabulous words we need to reclaim from the tech world before it’s too late:

    Kindle: “to start (a fire); cause (a flame, blaze, etc.) to begin burning.”

    Twitter: “to utter a succession of small, tremulous sounds, as a bird.”

    Tinder: “dry material (such as wood or grass) that burns easily and can be used to start a fire.”

    Yelp: “to give a quick, sharp, shrill cry, as a dog or fox.”

    Yahoo: “a person who is very rude, loud, or stupid.”

    Adobe: “a type of brick made of a mixture of mud and straw that is dried by the sun.”

    Flicker: “to burn or glow in an unsteady way : to produce an unsteady light.”

  • Al Franken Points Out Comcast's History Of Breaking Merger Promises
    Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) told regulators this week that Comcast’s history of violating merger commitments “raises serious questions” about whether the company’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable will benefit consumers.

    The Federal Communications Commission is considering whether to approve Comcast’s $45 billion purchase of its smaller rival. The deal would unite the two biggest cable operators in the country and give Comcast greater control over broadcast, cable television and high-speed Internet networks.

    Comcast says the deal would not hurt consumers because the two companies do not compete in the same markets. But consumer groups say the merger would give Comcast too much power, stifling potential competition and eventually leading to higher prices.

    Before approving mergers, regulators must decide whether the deals are in the public’s benefit, and often extract promises from companies that they’ll take steps to benefit consumers, like extending high-speed Internet service to underserved communities or promising not to favor their services over those of competitors.

    But in a letter this week to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Franken said Comcast has “a history of breaching its legal obligations to consumers,” including pledges the company made to win regulatory approval for its 2011 merger with NBC Universal, the television and movie production company.

    As one example, Franken cited Comcast’s settlement with the FCC in 2012 after the company failed to aggressively market its $50-a-month standalone Internet service, a condition of the NBC Universal merger. The FCC imposed that condition to ensure the company did not force customers to buy bundled services if they only wanted high-speed Internet.

    Franken also alleged Comcast violated net neutrality rules the company was required to follow as part of the NBC Universal deal. Net neutrality rules are meant to prevent Internet providers like Comcast from discriminating against certain Internet content, like charging to stream some online services faster than others.

    In 2012, the consumer group Public Knowledge filed a petition with the FCC alleging Comcast violated those rules when the company introduced customer data caps and then said use of its online video service, Xfinity TV On Demand, would not count toward those caps.

    The FCC has not ruled on the consumer group’s petition. In January, a federal appeals court overturned net neutrality rules.

    Comcast later suspended data caps, but has resumed testing a tiered system that charges customers in some markets more for higher broadband use.

    “Recent history, including Comcast’s adherence to the legal obligations it owes the public, should be taken into account when deciding whether to permit further consolidation in the cable and broadband networks,” Franken wrote.

    In a statement, Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice said the company “is proud of our track-record on complying with the conditions from our past transactions including NBC Universal.”

    “We’ve gone above and beyond in compliance with most conditions, including our low-income broadband program, the amount of local news programming and investment in local stations, the amount of on-demand programming, especially children’s programming, and many more areas,” Fitzmaurice said.

    Indeed, Comcast has come through at times when it comes to its promises around major mergers. To win approval for the NBC Universal merger, Comcast pledged to offer broadband service for $10 a month and a laptop computer for less than $150 to eligible low-income families.

    Last fall, Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen announced the program, known as “Internet Essentials,” had connected more than 1 million low-income Americans to broadband Internet in their homes.

  • $7,000-per-month tech interns are making bank, says report
    Glassdoor releases a list of the highest-paying companies for interns and (surprise, surprise) most of them are tech companies.
  • Bitcoin Is Apparently A Rich, White, Male Disaster
    Here’s more proof that women make better investors than men: It’s quite likely that almost no women lost any Bitcoins in the great Mt. Gox meltdown of 2014.

    That’s because almost no women own Bitcoins at all, according to a new online survey of Bitcoin users by Simulacrum, the blog of Lui Smyth, a researcher at University College London. About 93 percent of the crypto-currency’s users are male, according to Smyth’s latest survey, which is still ongoing. This survey hasn’t yet hit a representative sample, but last year’s survey of 1,000 users came up with a 95-percent male demographic.

    The results suggest that Bitcoin has alienated women just as much as the two worlds it inhabits, finance and technology. This is good news for women, who have avoided a string of Bitcoin debacles, including the collapse of Mt. Gox, once the world’s biggest Bitcoin exchange, which recently admitted it had lost more than $400 million worth of Bitcoins, maybe forever, to theft. But it is probably not healthy for Bitcoin.

    The average Bitcoin user is “a 32.1 year old libertarian male,” according to the 2013 survey, with 44 percent of users describing themselves as “libertarian/anarcho-capitalist.” And libertarian/anarcho-capitalists tend to be white men, other studies have shown.

    Smyth’s findings gibe with anecdotal evidence from around the Interwebz, ThinkProgress noted on Thursday. Fred Ehrsam, the co-founder of Coinbase, a virtual-currency wallet company, told a New York Department of Financial Services panel in January that his user base had been “93 percent male” and young — a “typical early tech-adopter crowd,” he called it — six to eight months earlier, though he said it had gotten a little less male and young lately.

    The evidence also suggests these users are not only men, but also mostly white and wealthy, TP’s Annie-Rose Strasser wrote.

    “In order to buy the sometimes wildly expensive currency, Bitcoin users need to be wealthy. And they can afford to put their wealth into a currency that isn’t widely accepted or even recognized,” wrote Strasser. “Plus, they move easily through the financial and digital space — the process of ‘mining’ bitcoins demands it…. The sum total of these things — advanced knowledge of computer science, wealth — are also markings of the young, white male.”

    Even the rare woman Bitcoin enthusiast Arianna Simpson — who has displayed some anarcho-capitalist tendencies herself, warning of the risks of hyperinflation from the “irresponsible printing of money” by governments — described being physically groped, hit on and gawked at like “a unicorn” at a recent Bitcoin meetup where she was one of only two women in a sea of dudes.

    If Simpson’s experience is any guide, then Bitcoin might possibly be even more hostile to women than finance or technology, as unlikely as that sounds.

    “If women fail to take an active interest in Bitcoin now, when it is still in its infancy and its potential is largely untapped, we will have yet another sector in which the gender is underrepresented and trailing,” Simpson wrote.

    Of course, unless and until Bitcoin gets its act together, with more regulation and safeguards for customers, staying far away from Bitcoin might be the smart thing to do. Then again, maybe getting more women involved in Bitcoin is what Bitcoin needs to get its act together.

  • Comcast Admits It Doesn't 'Give A Fuck' In Perfect Parody Video
    Concerned about how Comcast’s potential purchase of Time Warner Cable may lead to even worse customer service, higher prices and general hellish frustration for disgruntled cable and Internet subscribers?

    Guess what? Comcast doesn’t give a fuck.

    In an absolutely pitch perfect video from Funny Or Die, a man representing Comcast let’s you know just how few fucks the company has to give. Shoddy reception? Too bad. No other options for cable in your area? Fantastic. Throttling your Netflix streams? They just don’t care.

    Check out the hilarious — and painfully true — video above.

  • The big themes of Mobile World Congress 2014
    This week saw the world’s largest mobile conference hit Barcelona. Computer Weekly takes a look at the big themes of Mobile World Congress 2014
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