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Mobile Technology News, March 7, 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.

  • Smart meters energy scheme 'at risk'
    Plans to install energy saving smart meters in every UK home and business by 2020 risk veering off track, an influential group of MPs warns.
  • Uber Quits Anchorage, Sued In Oregon
    (Adds details on Anchorage)
    By Steve Quinn and Shelby Sebens
    JUNEAU/PORTLAND, Ore., March 6 (Reuters) – Uber said it was halting operations in Anchorage on Friday until Alaska’s largest city can work out details enabling the ride-share company’s drivers to accept paying fares, as an Oregon city sued the firm over safety requirements.
    Uber drivers had been providing free rides since last fall after a Superior Court judge ruled that accepting payments would violate the city’s taxi ordinance, the Alaska Dispatch News reported.
    An Uber Anchorage operations manager said the company halted operations because the city’s efforts to draft rules for Uber drivers, such as insurance and background check requirements, have not come quick enough, despite months of negotiations.
    Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan said Uber’s decision “should not be attributed to inaction by the municipality as the process has been continuous and a path forward has been established by the Assembly.”
    Sullivan added that the Assembly members and city officials will meet with Uber on March 18 to try to work out an agreement.
    Uber has been fighting with cities across the country, contending it is not a taxi service and should not be required to adhere to existing taxicab regulations.
    The Oregon city of Eugene sued Uber in Lane County Circuit Court on Thursday, asking the court to stop Uber from operating until it meets what the city calls “minimum safety requirements,” said Laura Hammond, Eugene’s communication and policy analyst.
    The city and Uber have wrangled over which regulations the ride-sharing service should follow since it launched there in September. The city has also fined Uber $146,000, which Uber is appealing.
    At issue in Eugene are city regulations that include background checks conducted by local police, proof of insurance, and proof of a mechanical inspection that shows they can verify safety features, Hammond said.
    Uber contends it already conducts its own third-party background checks and provides commercial auto insurance coverage.
    Uber suspended operations in Portland in December, agreeing to give that city until April to come up with revised ride-sharing regulations. But Uber officials complain that Eugene has been more rigid, and that a city decision to add Uber to its for-hire code sets its services up for failure.
    “While jurisdictions across the country, including neighbors like Vancouver and Portland, work to craft regulations that ensure public safety and embrace ridesharing, Eugene city leaders decided to hide behind bureaucratic red tape,” said Brooke Steger, Uber General Manager for the Pacific Northwest. (Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Doina Chiacu)
  • Could mobiles defeat BBC tech show?
    The trials of shooting and editing a programme on mobile devices
  • MPs' concern at police mugshot files
    A parliamentary committee says police use of biometrics needs greater control, amid concern about images of innocent people being kept on file.
  • Yup, We Can't Believe These Were Taken On An iPhone Either
    You, dear readers, are probably familiar with an iPhone. You know, that apple device sitting painfully close to you right now, that you use as a way to communicate with friends, wake up to a Marimba each morning, respond to work emails ASAP and keep your social media followers full of #FOMO.

    You’re probably also aware of the fact that the shiny little iPhone of yours is all you need to create a stunning, original work of art.

    work

    A new apple campaign has yielded an online exhibition of digital photos all taken with the iPhone 6. The endeavor enlisted amateur photographers from 24 countries and 70 cities to send in their most impressive photography feats, captured with that humble pocket-size machine. The resulting images, from breathtaking nature-scapes to psychedelic optical illusions, will surely make you bow down to your mobile device. Your excuses to not express yourself on a daily basis are waning, and fast.

    See the most breathtaking examples of iPhone photography below and let us know your thoughts in the comments. Images from this post originally appeared on HuffPost Germany.

  • On a Mission to Introduce Culture to Children's Content
    Being a Persian woman, involved in the empowerment of women across the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa, March gives me a unique opportunity to write. This is the month of Women’s awareness with International Women’s Day on the 8th and Women’s History month throughout, as well as NoRooz, which translates literally to a “New Day”, and is the celebration of the New Year for so many millions of people across the landscape that my work takes me.

    In this piece, as I have done in others, I will celebrate an Iranian-American woman who has achieved much in a new land called Home. Look for other posts this month on women, Islam and the need to give voice to the voiceless.

    NoRooz is a holiday which dates back at least 3000 years. It translates literally to a “New Day” and is marked by the moment Winter turns to Spring – the Vernal Equinox.

    NoRooz is celebrated by millions of people living in countries as diverse as China and Turkey, and so many in between. For Persians, it is our strongest point of pride. It is the moment that brings us all together, from various religions and social beliefs to economic realities and ideological tendencies, we all see the moment that Winter turns to Spring, as the moment that we reclaim our common Persian heritage.

    Each year I, and so many like me, retell the stories of No Rooz gone-by to our children who stare wide eyed at a fantasy of an Iranian life they missed.

    In comes Shabnam Rezaei and her bi lingual, multi-cultural cartoon cohort, Babak.

    2015-03-07-1425688885-96305-babakNoRooz.jpg

    Babak is an 8 year old boy who celebrates his first NoRooz in the US, with his Persian family. He was given life in 2005 by Big Bad Boo, a company Shabnam co-founded, after 10 years in finance with Fortune 500 companies such as JP Morgan and Deloitte & Touche, to make cartoons exposing kids to various cultures and languages. As a Persian woman, Shabnam faced a stereotype, against which she would bump up increasingly more often after the 911 attacks. A secular, educated Persian woman, she found it odd that people would greet her achievements outside the home with surprise. Bolstered by the support of a tireless entrepreneur as a husband, Shabnam started Big Bad Boo Productions to create content that could help dispel the myths of so many ethnicities and nationalities that were lumped together and misunderstood. It’s safe to say, she has found a thriving niche.

    The reality of content today is that people find most of it at their own convenience, online. What has become known as Over the Top Television (OTT) has created a market where consumers can seek, and expect to find, niche content. The market for bilingual entertainment in particular is growing at a record pace. More than 33% of US households consider themselves bilingual, which translates to 26 million people. Rezaei estimates this to be a $12 Billion market opportunity. “Not only are families cutting cable and going to OTT platforms at an alarming rate, but more and more customers are finding they are able to get the content they are looking for, and that keeps them coming back for more”. Rezaei’s plan is to continue to capitalize on this market, and keep creating content that helps introduce the world’s children to each other, in various languages and cultural reflections that foster acceptance.

    After the success of Big Bad Boo Studios with its line-up of productions including Babak & Friends – A First Norooz, and its newest show Lila & Lola, Shabnam is expanding to an online kids channel for global children called Oznoz. A tech savvy executive, Shabnam uses the internet to corralle support and draw from a global talent pool. Lila & Lola’s logo was the subject of a Facebook poll among loyal fans and friends who want to see the shows succeed. Oznoz is similar to Netflix and made for bilingual children. With shows like Elmo’s World, Sesame Street, Babar, Bob The Builder, Musti and others translated into Persian, Chinese, French, Spanish, Japanese, Hindi and German, Oznoz is carving out a loyal following of parents who want less mindless TV in their children’s lives, but don’t mind the meaningful screen time to expand their horizons. Oznoz gives parents the control they need to stream what they like, choosing from a well curated selection of educational shows that teach so much more than languages – they prepare kids for adulthood in a globe replete with diverse people with rich cultures worthy of respect.

    2015-03-07-1425688937-6094777-BigBadBoo.jpg

    Shabnam’s work has been recognized broadly for her work, and recently won Vancouver’s 40 Under 40 Award as well as Canada’s Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

    Equipped with an in house Head of Research & Development, her daughter Aliana, Shabnam has created a digital platform for global children to get to know each other seamlessly, without the intrusion of stereotypes and news headlines that threaten to unravel the common bond children seem to form so naturally – the need to giggle in front of a screen. For me, in my household of 3 little Iranian-Americans, Babak and Friends was a heaven-sent around this time of year many years ago. It helped me demonstrate to them that other kids were experiencing the same uneasy introduction to NoRooz – its sights, smells, traditions and flavors – as they were, and that was ok. Since then, we nod to Babak each year, as we set our haft seen and begin the countdown to No Rooz; a New Day.

  • Weekend Roundup: Preparing to Be Disrupted
    This week, The WorldPost conference on “The Future of Work” took place at Lancaster House in London. Discussion around the theme “prepare to be disrupted” ranged from how the emergent sharing economy, along with 3D desktop manufacturing, would take work back into the home to worries that automation could eliminate as much as 47 percent of current jobs in the United States.

    Participants included Google’s Eric Schmidt, LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, economists Laura Tyson, Nouriel Roubini and Mohamed El-Erian, Steve Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson, Japanese robot creator Tomotaka Takahashi and Arianna Huffington among others. Jordan’s Queen Rania spoke about how social media is fostering small business startups in the Arab world and offering a different narrative than that of the fanatics. She also called for dropping the “I” from ISIS since “there’s nothing Islamic about them.”

    In The WorldPost, Ian Goldin of the Oxford Martin School writes that technological advance can lead to greater inequality or inclusive prosperity depending on how we govern ourselves. In an interview, futurist Jeremy Rifkin outlines the zero-marginal cost economy he sees coming. XPrize founder Peter Diamandis discusses his new book “Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World” and how exponential technologies such as 3D manufacturing and synthetic biology are transforming all of our lives for the better. This week’s series from Singularity University looks at Germany’s advanced robotic metal sculpting machines. WorldPost Associate Editor Peter Mellgard reports that, “artificial intelligence is breaking out of the box,” according to a panel of experts who recently gathered in New York at the Council on Foreign Relations.

    Amy Rosen writes that the skill most needed in the future is an entrepreneurial mindset to navigate the ever-changing innovation economy. Virgin Unite’s Jean Oelwang writes that businesses of the future are looking beyond the bottom line and are becoming people and purpose oriented. Reflecting from Tokyo on a recent visit by Thomas Piketty, Yuriko Koike explains “why Japan does not have America’s super-rich problem.”

    Speaking at the London conference, MIT’s Andrew McAfee argues that digital technology is “the best economic news in human history” but says that it poses many challenges to job creation in the future. David Gergen, the long-time presidential adviser now at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, proposes that the best way to adapt to tech disruption is “from the bottom up” instead of waiting for government policy. Other topics reported on from the conference included: how jobs are at risk because of advancing technologies, why women are winners when it comes to successful petitions, how the myths around meditation and business have been busted and why, according to Martha Lane Fox, co-founder of Lastminute.com, none of her peers in the House of Lords understands the Internet.

    As the National People’s Congress got underway in China this week, legal scholar He Jiahong writes from Beijing that establishing the rule of law in China must challenge “guanxi,” or personal connections, in business and politics. WorldPost China Correspondent Matt Sheehan gives us an inside look at dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s exhibit on Alcatraz island in San Francisco Bay. He also writes about an anti-pollution documentary that went viral in China.

    Writing from Moscow, Georgy Bovt says Russia is headed down a “dark path” after the murder of Boris Nemtsov. French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy says Nemtsov’s example will live long after his murder at the doorstep of the Kremlin. Writing from Athens, Kyriakos Mitskotakis looks at how European realities have deeply constrained the radical plans of the new Greek government.

    In this week’s “Forgotten Fact,” The WorldPost looks at Russia’s investigation of opposition leaders and why it does not bode well for the Nemtsov case.

    Mia Bloom discusses “how ISIS is using marriage as a trap” to lure young women from the West and elsewhere to join with its fighters in Syria and Iraq. WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports from Istanbul this week on the merciless humor of Middle East comics directed at ISIS. She also writes about NFL stars who have traveled to Turkey to teach women football. Writing from Berlin following Bibi’s visit to Washington, German parliamentarian Philipp Missfelder argues that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is right about Iran and that “no deal is better than a bad deal.”

    Finally, in light of the death of Turkey’s famed novelist Yaşar Kemal, an ethnic Kurd, Behlül Özkan writes that, “in this time of great darkness in the Middle East, the Kurdish movement has reason to be hopeful about the future.”

    WHO WE ARE

    EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Senior Advisor to the Berggruen Institute on Governance and the long-time editor of NPQ and the Global Viewpoint Network of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate/Tribune Media, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Senior Editor of the WorldPost. Alex Gardels and Peter Mellgard are the Associate Editors of The WorldPost. Katie Nelson is the National Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s editorial coverage. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s Senior World Editor. Charlotte Alfred and Nick Robins-Early are Associate World Editors.

    CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul; Matt Sheehan in Beijing.

    EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media) Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera), Dileep Padgaonkar (Times of India) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun).

    CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy), Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One). Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are Contributing Editors-At-Large.

    The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

    Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

    ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as the Advisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei Kudrin, Pascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo, Laura Tyson, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel Roubini, Nicolas Sarkozy, Eric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter Schwartz, Amartya Sen, Jeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry Summers, Wu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail, and Zheng Bijian.

    From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony Blair, Jacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar Issing, Mario Monti, Robert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.

    MISSION STATEMENT

    The WorldPost is a global media bridge that seeks to connect the world and connect the dots. Gathering together top editors and first person contributors from all corners of the planet, we aspire to be the one publication where the whole world meets.

    We not only deliver breaking news from the best sources with original reportage on the ground and user-generated content; we bring the best minds and most authoritative as well as fresh and new voices together to make sense of events from a global perspective looking around, not a national perspective looking out.

  • Who's Behind The Islamic State's Propaganda On Twitter?
    The Islamic State militant group has been extraordinarily successful at spreading its propaganda through social media networks.

    Now, a new study, released Thursday by the Brookings Institution think tank, seeks to provide the fullest picture to date of the group’s presence on Twitter.

    The report was commissioned by Google Ideas and authored by online extremism expert J. M. Berger and Jonathon Morgan of Ushahidi, an international nonprofit dedicated to open-source technology. By the authors’ estimate, there are around 46,000 Twitter accounts operated by supporters of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. The report studied 20,000 of these accounts between September and December 2014 to develop a portrait of the typical ISIS Twitter user.

    The study found that Islamic State supporters tweet more and have more followers than the average Twitter user. But the study warns that efforts to clamp down on extremists’ Twitter accounts could make it even more difficult to gather information about the group.

    Where are the ISIS supporters based?

    The study found that the group’s supporters on Twitter mostly claim to be based in Iraq or Syria, where the militant group has been capturing swaths of territory since 2013. The next most common location is Saudi Arabia.

    nimrud

    Several hundred of the accounts Berger and Morgan looked at had location data enabled, and were also clustered in Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia. In December 2014, the militant group ordered its followers to switch location data off, but the study found this command was “widely disregarded.”

    nimrud

    What languages do they speak?

    Around three-quarters of the Twitter users selected Arabic as the language for their accounts, while nearly one-fifth chose English and 6 percent chose French. The report notes that this “tracks to some extent with the distribution of Western foreign fighters, with an overemphasis on English that also likely reflects ISIS’s target audience in the United States for inciting and harassing propaganda.”

    How much do they tweet?

    Islamic State supporters are more active than other Twitter users. On average, they tweet 7.3 times a day. The study found that 62 percent of supporters had tweeted in the previous 30 days, compared to just 13 percent of all Twitter users. ISIS supporters had an average of 1,004 Twitter followers, much higher than the network’s overall average of 208 followers per user.

    Yet, as with the rest of Twitter, this activity is concentrated in a small group of users, whom the Islamic State calls the mujtahidun, or “industrious ones.”

    “Much of ISIS’s social media success can be attributed to a relatively small group of hyperactive users, numbering between 500 and 2,000 accounts, which tweet in concentrated bursts of high volume,” the authors write.

    nimrud

    This graph shows that the vast majority of ISIS supporters (18,425 accounts or 92 percent of the accounts examined in the study) tweet between zero and 50 times a day. By contrast, the 545 most ‘industrious’ accounts tweeted 150-200 times a day.

    This pattern is highly strategic. As the report notes: “Short, prolonged bursts of activity cause hashtags to trend, resulting in third-party aggregation and insertion of tweeted content into search results.”

    “To have that many accounts in a very disciplined way out there doing the same thing every day is a pretty powerful tool,” Berger told The New York Times.

    ISIS uses this “industrious” group of followers to amplify its official messages. Since Twitter stepped up efforts last summer to shut down accounts belonging to the group’s official representatives, those official accounts have tried to fly under the radar. The study found only 79 such accounts.

    nimrud

    How can they be stopped?

    Twitter’s crackdown, which last week prompted militant threats against the company’s employees, has disrupted the group’s social media activities, the report found. ISIS supporters quickly open new accounts, but are forced to rebuild their networks, diverting time away from propaganda and recruitment.

    Yet the report notes that shutting down ISIS-linked networks on social media also entails risks, including a loss of intelligence about the group and faster radicalization of its recruits.

    “ISIS social networks on Twitter are becoming even more insular than they were to begin with,” the report explains. “When we segregate members of ISIS social networks, we are, to some extent, also closing off potential exit ramps.”

    More from The WorldPost on the Islamic State group:

    Former Child Soldier: “Don’t Join ISIS”
    Despite Kobani’s Liberation From ISIS, Many Syrians See Little To Celebrate
    Jordan Has A Huge Foreign Fighter Problem
    15,000 Foreign Fighters Have Joined Extremist Groups In Iraq And Syria. Here’s Why They Went
    How ISIS Uses OIl To Fund Terror
    What’s Happening In Jordan Today Shows How The Arab World’s Strengths Are Also Its Weaknesses

  • VIDEO: Taking on the encryption dilemma
    Newsnight’s David Grossman meets “father of encryption” Phil Zimmerman to discuss matters of intimate privacy when using technology.
  • This 2-Minute Test Helps Parents Easily Figure Out If A Child Has A Concussion
    A quick and simple test can identify concussions in children as young as 5 with an astonishing rate of success, according to a new study. So why aren’t people talking about it more?

    The King-Devick test, as it’s called, was originally developed in the 1970s as a way to detect dyslexia. But a new study out of New York University’s Langone Concussion Center and published in the Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology has found convincing evidence that it can also detect when athletes of all ages suffer a concussion — and that it can do so even better than other commonly used tests.

    What’s most notable about the King-Devick test is its simplicity: It requires only a stopwatch (read: smartphone) and a few printed-out pieces of paper, and it can be administered by someone with no professional medical experience whatsoever in less than two minutes.

    Yes, that means moms and dads can do it themselves whenever they’re concerned about that last hit their child took on the field.

    The test requires children to read a series of numbers from left to right off of three different pieces of paper as fast as they can, while someone else times them for each one. Those times are then tallied together and compared to the time it took the child to complete the test earlier in the season.

    nyu
    Top left corner: The order in which numbers are supposed to be read. The other three patterns are the three separate tests.

    If a child takes longer than the baseline time by even a few seconds, there’s reason for concern. Researchers found that young athletes who were concussed took 5.2 seconds longer on average to finish the test compared to their baseline time. Meanwhile, young athletes who were not concussed actually finished 6.4 seconds faster, perhaps because childhood is a phase of such rapid brain development.

    Simple as it may sound, the test actually does a better job of detecting concussions (with a 92 percent success rate) than two better-known methods: a “timed tandem gait test” similar to a walk-the-line test (87 percent), and a cognitive test known as the Standardized Assessment of Concussion (68 percent).

    The researchers who conducted the study believe this is because the King-Devick test assesses eyesight. Roughly half of the brain’s circuits are dedicated to our ability to see, according to previous research cited in the study. So a test that emphasizes that part of our mind will offer hints as to the brain’s overall health.

    You can see how the test works at around 00:40 in this video.

    The test was taken by 89 NCAA athletes at NYU and Long Island University, and by 243 5-to-17-year-olds who played ice hockey and lacrosse.

    Our findings in children and collegiate athletes show how a simple vision test can aid in [the] diagnosis of concussion at all levels of sport,” Steve Galetta, one of the study’s authors and a professor of ophthalmology at NYU Langone, said in a release Thursday. “Adding the King-Devick test to the sideline assessment of student athletes following a head injury can eliminate the guesswork for coaches and parents when deciding whether or not a student should return to play.”

    As many as 3.9 million sports-related concussions occur every year in the United States, according to emergency-room data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and cited in the NYU Langone release. In fact, the tally could very well be even higher, given the number of concussions that are ignored or that don’t result in hospital visits.

    A spokesman for NYU Langone Medical Center emphasized that the authors of the study have no financial ties to the King-Devick testing company. “We’ve never even accepted as much as a cup of coffee from the entrepreneurs,” Laura Balcer, co-director of the NYU Langone Concussion Center and a professor of neurology, ophthalmology and population health at NYU Langone, told The Huffington Post over the phone.

    While the success rate of the King-Devick test is impressive, Balcer emphasized to HuffPost that if possible, parents should have their child perform all three of the above-mentioned concussion tests when he or she takes a hard hit.

    The reason could not be more clear. In tandem, the three tests can detect concussions at a rate that is truly hard to believe — 100 percent.

  • So This Is What A $30,000 Luxury Doghouse Looks Like
    While most people are trying to earn a decent living, save money and pay rent, others are off spoiling their pets with crazy perks. From luxury pet hotels in Paris to pet massages and royal portraits, we thought we’d seen it all — until Samsung debuted this $30,000 “Dream Doghouse,” one of the most extreme dog houses we’ve ever seen.

    Tasked with building “the dog kennel of the future,” for Crufts 2015, the world’s largest dog show, the Samsung UK team went above and beyond.

    The doghouse comes with a treadmill, hydro-pool, automated feeder and even designer wallpaper — making us humans pretty doggone jealous.

    H/T Mashable

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    **

    Are you an architect, designer or blogger and would like to get your work seen on HuffPost Home? Reach out to us at homesubmissions@huffingtonpost.com with the subject line “Project submission.” (All PR pitches sent to this address will be ignored.)

  • Woman Petitions Facebook To Remove The 'Feeling Fat' Status Update Option
    A group of activists have a message for Facebook: Fat is not a feeling.

    Facebook’s status update box allows users to select an emoticon associated with a certain feeling from a drop-down box. Alongside “happy,” “anxious” and “full,” users can select “fat.”

    facebook feeling fat

    Facebook screenshot, March 6 2015

    In late February, Catherine Weingarten, a playwriting MFA candidate at Ohio University, wrote a Change.org petition asking Facebook to remove “fat” from the list of options. The petition reads, in part:

    As someone who has struggled with and overcome disordered eating, I know what it’s like to “feel” fat. I have spent years of my life consumed with negative thoughts about my body, and far too many days starving myself in an effort to lose weight. But even worse than the skipped meals and the hours spent obsessing in front of the mirror was the fear of what others thought about me and my body.

    When Facebook users set their status to “feeling fat,” they are making fun of people who consider themselves to be overweight, which can include many people with eating disorders. That is not ok.

    Endangered Bodies, an organization that promotes body positivity, rallied around the campaign and asked Twitter users to speak up, using #FatIsNotAFeeling to explain why they want Facebook to change the “feeling fat” option. As of Friday afternoon, the petition had received over 13,000 signatures.

    Weingarten told The Daily Dot that Facebook’s “feeling fat” option is far from harmless.

    “It can trivialize people’s experiences, or encourage people to put out body-negative ideas and have other people validate that,” she said. “Fatness isn’t a feeling, it’s something on the outside; it’s an insult. A feeling should be something more internal.”

    Learn more about the petition here.

  • Kim Kardashian Named One Of Time Magazine's 30 Most Influential People On The Internet
    Just yesterday, news outlets including The New York Times deemed Kim Kardashian’s hair makeover newsworthy, and now she’s been named one of the 30 Most Influential People on the Internet, according to Time magazine.

    The 34-year-old reality star, who the magazine previously named the second most-influential fictional character of 2014 for her “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” avatar, influences the masses along with Taylor Swift, President Obama, Janet Mock, Beyoncé, J.K. Rowling, Jimmy Fallon and Caitlin McNeill, the woman who launched a debate surrounding “blue and black or white and gold.”

    What makes Kardashian so influential? According to Time:

    She may tout millions of fans in real life, but Kardashian, 34, truly stands out on Instagram. There, she has perfected the art of the selfie: some with famous friends, some in luxurious bathrooms, and all to the delight of her 27 million followers. Long a performer in a reality TV show produced and edited by others, Kardashian also deftly uses Twitter to define and defend her own narrative (“Her eyes were closed and I was feeling my look! Can I live?!?” she sniped after being criticized for cropping her daughter out of a selfie), and of course to promote her various business ventures.

    Anyone who writes Kardashian off as empty-headed may be underestimating her influence. She has developed a new kind of star with a deft understanding of how to package and leverage her brand. And Kim Kardashian knows that without the Internet, there would be no Kim Kardashian.

    In her Paper magazine interview (which was paired with a nude photo shoot in an attempt to break the Internet), Kardashian admitted that her cultural relevance would be greatly diminished without the help of social media. “I don’t think social media was that heavy when we started our show,” she said, “but I think we really evolved with social media.”

    Similarly, in an interview with Adweek, released Sunday, Kardashian said, “Social media plays a huge role in my life and my career. I came at the right time when people just started to get into reality shows. Social media works when you’re open, when you’re honest and people want to feel like they’re getting a little glimpse into your life. It’s not that I brand myself like I’m a celebrity. It’s just I’m living my life and sharing a part of my life with the world.”

    While her last statement is up for debate, it doesn’t really matter. Given that the Internet basically created Kim Kardashian (a statement Paris Hilton might dispute), it’s no wonder she’s mastered it.

    For the full list of the 30 Most Influential People on the Internet, head over to Time.

  • YouTuber Andrea Russett Gets Real With Her Future Self In Cute Video Letter
    YouTube’s #DearMe campaign has women posting video letters to their younger selves. Andrea Russett uploaded something similar, but she’s going a few years in the other direction.

    In a sort of video time capsule, the YouTuber talks to her future self about her favorite things, her current goals and her fear of not knowing the future.

    “I’m pretty freaked out by the fact that I have no idea what I’ll be doing in five years, 10 years, even a year from now,” she said in the video.

    She hopes her future self will listen to the same bands and finally learn how to park, but she also has some advice for herself years down the road: take your time to accomplish your goals and wait for the right guy.

    Looks like Future Andrea has someone pretty cool looking out for her.

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  • Expanding the Conversation on STEM
    Open a newspaper or turn on the TV today and you’ll be hard pressed to ignore the steady drumbeat of an improving economy. Unemployment rates are at pre-recession levels. Private sector jobs are growing at the fastest pace since 1997. The number of Americans without health insurance has fallen by nearly 30 percent. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts we added over 60,000 jobs last year alone, pushing our unemployment rate down to 5.5 percent.

    But this rosy picture is only half the story. Here’s the other half: In Massachusetts, the unemployment rate is over 60 percent higher for black residents than for white and 110 percent higher for Hispanics. Just as alarming, the poverty rate for black families in our state is 144 percent higher than for their white neighbors and 273 percent higher for Hispanics.

    These numbers reveal the ugly undercurrent to our economic recovery; we are leaving people behind.

    With this in mind, I joined the Latino STEM Alliance last month for a discussion about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. Around the table were business owners, vocational school educators, nursing professionals and other public officials who share my concern that we are building an economy that too many families in our country can’t access.

    Here’s the way I see it. Across the country innovation industries are reorienting our economy around sectors like health care, advanced manufacturing, IT, clean energy and robotics. Over the next ten years, jobs in STEM-related fields are expected to grow by over 17 percent compared with just nine percent growth in other fields. That means that if we want to set up our kids for success in a modern economy, we need to ensure they have access to the education, training and skills that those jobs require. That’s where STEM comes in.

    The problem, however, is that federal and state STEM efforts to date have failed to reach three notable groups: women, minorities and low-income communities. Today only 26 percent of all STEM jobs in our country are held by women; 13 percent is held by Hispanics and African-Americans combined.

    By 2020 there will be an estimated one million unfilled computer programming jobs. But in 2013 there were 11 states where not a single African-American student took the computer science AP test. The numbers weren’t much better for Hispanic or female students.

    This is a massive disconnect; a shortcoming that threatens to put these populations at an economic disadvantage for generations to come and keeps their potential on the sidelines at a time when our country needs it most.

    We need to dramatically expand our efforts around STEM. Down in Washington, I’ve introduced a piece of legislation called the STEM Gateways Act, which would help direct federal resources to state and local STEM initiatives that specifically target women, minorities and economically disadvantaged communities. As Congress debates several major updates to education policy in the weeks ahead, I will be working hard to push this key piece forward.

    Our failure to set up all students for success in an increasingly technology-driven economy is not just limiting their futures. It’s limiting our country’s future as well.

    From renewable energy to medical research to cybersecurity, there is no shortage of challenges facing us that can and will be addressed by the students sitting in our classrooms today. Each of those students, regardless of skin color, zip code or gender, should be given the chance to make an impact.

  • Nextgen Reader for Windows and Windows Phone – Both for $2.49

    Last month I reviewed the great Readly/RSS reader NextGen Reader which is my personal favorite reader available for both Windows and Windows Phone.  You can read that review here and in that review I point out that the app is a Universal app.  That means if you buy it for Windows or for Windows Phone, you get the counterpart as part of the license.  Normally this is $2.99 but this weekend you can pick up Nextgen Reader for both Windows and Windows Phone for only $2.49.   Do yourself a favor and get this great app if you read a lot

    The post Nextgen Reader for Windows and Windows Phone – Both for $2.49 appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • 3 Smartphone Apps to Live an "Examined" Life
    “The unexamined life is not worth living.” — Socrates

    Eat better, exercise more, save money. Those are the classic New Year’s resolutions that many people come up with in January, only to abandon them in February defeat. I wrote at the turn of the year about the strategic, actionable approach I use to articulate and accomplish my resolutions.

    My approach was based on resolve, public accountability, and PowerPoint. I had no way of easily tracking my progress. And then I unleashed the power of my iPhone. Since January, on my quest for self-improvement, I have been using three apps to eat better, exercise more, and save money.

    Using iPhone apps to track one’s activities is a hallmark of the “quantified self” movement. The movement aims to use self-tracking data to understand one’s self better and, where possible, make improvements. One could easily get carried away and track every little thing. I don’t have the time or patience for that. I was instead on the lookout for apps that record my activities with no effort on my part. Download the app, set it, and forget it. Self-improvement through passive data collection. Sign me up!

    #1 The Personal Capital App – Improving My Diet Through My Finances

    I recently had a work dinner with a colleague in which I ordered four desserts for the table. There were two of us. Needless to say, I have a sweet tooth. My mother likes to say that I would kick her while I was in the womb if she hadn’t eaten chocolate that day. My sweet tooth gets hangry.

    As an employee at Personal Capital, I spend a lot of time looking at my finances using our free financial tools. As I thought about New Year’s resolutions in January, I couldn’t ignore the pesky charges at the bakery or the ice cream shop by my house. Not only do I know that sugar is bad for me, but I also know that I’m spending money on this bad habit.

    I resolved to stop eating dessert until March. Anything that looked like dessert (other than fruit) was forbidden. Add to the cookies, ice cream, and cake all those “breakfast foods” like muffins, donuts, and pancakes. I wanted to see if I truly could pull out my sweet tooth.

    I knew that any trip to the bakery or the ice cream shop would be recorded in my financial history. I’d have to part with my hard-earned cash and confront the fact that I didn’t reach my goal every time I logged into the Personal Capital app. That was motivation enough, and I didn’t eat any of those foods.

    I didn’t completely knock out my sweet tooth. I still want dessert. But to my surprise, I didn’t want as much of it after the first 6 weeks. I don’t want to eat a whole cookie or a whole piece of cake. A small piece of chocolate or a scoop of ice cream is good enough.

    #2 The Health App – Laziness in the Cloud

    When I finally updated my iPhone’s software in December, I was most excited about the Health app. It came pre-installed with the new iOS operating system. This one app records how many steps I take and how many miles I run or walk. Or, on the flip side, it records my laziness.

    At any moment I can open the app and see my activity, or lack thereof, for the day. Each day I drive to work, sit at my desk, and then go home to my couch, a low number of steps is recorded in the Health app. Each day I go on a long run, walk to meet my friends for dinner, and forego the cab ride home, a higher number of steps is recorded. The rolling average quietly bullies me – like a silent drill sergeant.

    It’d be one thing if a day of laziness were acknowledged and then discarded – as has always been the case. What’s one day on the couch if no one knows? Well, now the cloud knows. If I am below my average of 10,000 steps and 4 miles of walking/running, that laziness is stored in the cloud – forever. It’s just enough to scare me into putting on my gym shorts and hitting the track. You’ll see me after work going on those runs in the park and taking those long walks home.

    #3 The Metromile App – Making Each Mile Count

    Looking at my financial statements on the Personal Capital app, I see the monthly charge for my car insurance. I paid a lot to that cute GEICO gecko since I bought my car. I recently decided to take the plunge and sign up for Metromile, a pay-by-the-mile car insurance company.

    Metromile gave me a little device to install in my car, so the company knows how many miles I drive. I’m billed a base monthly fee plus a few cents for every mile I drive. I ran the numbers every which way, and even with a long weekend road-trip or two, given the fact that I don’t drive to work everyday, I’m saving money with this new service. I expect the savings to be roughly $25 a month, and in some months, I think I’ll save up to $50.

    But the real joy of switching my car insurance is the Metromile iPhone app. It provides detailed analytics around the miles per gallon my car is getting, the fuel cost for the trips I’m taking, and the health of my vehicle. I can even use their GPS feature to know where I parked my car. The future has arrived!

    Live Your Well-Examined Life

    I’m saving money, eating better, and discovering insights about my driving patterns and daily physical activities. I am making each mile count. Every day seems to matter just a little bit more.

    How are you tracking your progress toward your goals? Make it easy on yourself by using passive data collection. Look at that data regularly, holding yourself accountable to the metrics. Then you’ll be living the Socratic dream – a well-examined life.

  • Fitbit for Windows Gets Minor Update With Big Sync Improvements

    The Fitbit for Windows Modern app has received a small but important update today that fixes a lot of sync issues users were facing with the fitness tracker software.  The update, version 1.5.17 (12619) for those keeping score at home, specifically addresses synchronization setup and improved tracker syncing.  The update is important as syncing with your Windows 8.1 PC or tablet is done via a USB dongle on Fitibits.  It works but it hasn’t been to this point 100% reliable.  That seems, based on my testing, to be resolved. Fitbit for Windows – Free – Download Now The update to

    The post Fitbit for Windows Gets Minor Update With Big Sync Improvements appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • Best Teen Tweets Of The Week! (3/6/15)
    Every week, we round up the best 140-character quips and insights from our esteemed blogging team — and other equally awesome teen tweeters. Scroll down to read the latest batch and share your own suggestions by following @HuffPostTeen!

    You know that great moment where you finally understand math? Yeah, it hasn’t hit me yet.

    — Dianne Nunag (@dvannex) March 3, 2015

    my only talent is being able to say the alphabet backwards

    — karli beaumont (@karlibeau_) March 1, 2015

    Just ate a half of sleeve of thin mints and I have no regrets

    — Corbin Little (@corbin_little) March 3, 2015

    why does my hair always look the best when i am alone in the middle of the night watching netflix

    — bea (@BeaMiller) March 2, 2015

    You got that James Dean daydream look in ur eyes I got that red-cheeked always embarrassed & nervous thing that prob makes you feel weird!

    — Sam Goodyear (@UnofficialSam) March 4, 2015

    I get excited when I see a police officer waiting for a speeder in a school zone…. and then it happens and I’m like JUSTICE IS SERVED.

    — Isabel Song (@IsabelSong) March 4, 2015

    I wrote a satirical essay about dogs but it’s just a ruff draft

    — eden friedman (@edenfriedmannn) March 6, 2015

    my apush teacher did not just compare the reaction to johnson’s plan for reconstruction to the dress.. that did not happen.

    — haIey brasiI (@haIeyyy) March 6, 2015

    my closet ranges from a 12 y/o girl to a mom with 3 kids

    — susan (@susanvlam) March 2, 2015

    Why do school when you can lay on the floor and listen to Into The Woods

    — Corey Fogelmanis (@coreyfogelmanis) March 4, 2015

    Being a senior has its ups and downs. Sometimes the hardest part of my day is putting in contacts, other times I fail three tests in a row

    — Donovan Jordan (@27Donoj) March 5, 2015

    #DearMe wear those sweatpants that make swishy noises with pride, gurrrl.

    — Julia Darling (@msjuliadarling) March 4, 2015

    All of my friends love my mom more than me lol

    — Deoni (@Deonii_) March 6, 2015

    Do some people see it as an hour delay while others see it as no school? #TheDress

    — Chandler Scott (@CJScott03) March 2, 2015

    Just beat a 7 year old in a staring competition get like me

    — Lauren Alexis✨ (@lauren_alexis15) March 2, 2015

    Dear School:
    I only had a bit of energy left after spending the day with you and used it to write instead of doing homework.
    Best regards.

    — Camryn Garrett (@dancingofpens) March 2, 2015

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