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Mobile Technology News, May 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.

  • Review of Layrs – Simple Yet Sophisticated Photo Layering App for iPhone

    Photo editing on iPhone and iPad’s has continued to grow in depth of ability and easy of use.  Nowhere is that more exemplified as it is in Layrs for iPhone.  Layrs brings a simple, easy-to-use interface with dozens of filters that you can layer onto your photos.  While not as sophisticated as […]

    The post Review of Layrs – Simple Yet Sophisticated Photo Layering App for iPhone appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Delays to travel caused by IT fault
    Passengers continue to face disruption at several UK airports and sea ports following an IT glitch which led to lengthy queues at immigration desks.
  • The FCC's Flimsy Defense of Fake Net Neutrality
    FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wants you to calm down.

    A firestorm of public outrage flared up after his latest plans to permit a pay-to-play Internet leaked. The Federal Communications Commission lit up with angry phone calls, irate emails, and a lot (I mean a lot) of bad press.

    In a speech on Wednesday at the big “Cable Show” in Los Angeles, Wheeler had this to say to his former industry colleagues: “Reports that we are gutting the open Internet rules are incorrect. I am here to say wait a minute. Put away the party hats.”

    And in a blog post on the FCC website, Wheeler claimed that the many critics of his plan are “misinformed.”

    Does that mean that it’s time for Net Neutrality fans to put down their pitchforks?

    Hell, no. It’s time to get even louder.

    He Still Doesn’t Get It

    Try as he might to convince people that he’s on the right course, Wheeler doesn’t seem to grasp one basic problem: Encouraging online discrimination in the name of the open Internet is unacceptable.

    Yet that’s exactly what his plan would do: allow Internet service providers to charge new fees to content companies for preferential treatment.

    People aren’t passing around petitions and drawing hilariously accurate cartoons because they’re confused about his proposal. They understand all too well that his plan would create a payola Internet with fast lanes for the few that can pay the price.

    The chairman claims he has no choice and that a January court ruling against the FCC pointed only one path forward — to a world where online discrimination is de rigueur. He says he’s making the best out of the FCC’s remaining authority in this realm.

    But that’s where his defense falls apart. The court said the FCC must allow discrimination — unless it reverses a 2002 decision and moves to reclassify broadband providers as common carriers under the law.

    If the chairman truly wants to do right by the Internet and avoid losing another costly court battle, reclassifying broadband is the only viable option.

    Don’t Trust, Reclassify

    To be fair, it appears Wheeler really does think that splitting the Internet into fast and slow lanes is a bad thing. And he’s adamant that he’ll act to stop these bad practices. But under the legal approach he’s clinging to, he can’t actually do it. The court was clear: Unless you reclassify, you can’t stop blocking or discrimination.

    If Wheeler doesn’t reclassify and continues down the wrong path, either the rules will be struck down when the FCC acts or, more likely, they’ll never be enforced. And under the convoluted approach he’s proposed, future FCC chairs who think differently than Wheeler does will be under zero obligation to take action.

    Wheeler still insists that “all options are on the table.” He’s said he might move to reclassify broadband services if the FCC’s third bite at the Net Neutrality apple doesn’t work. But Title II of the Communications Act isn’t something he can just hold in his back pocket to use at a later date. It’s the law Congress intended to apply to these vital services so that users would be free to communicate without unjust discrimination.

    The chairman’s blog post made the odd claim that “the debate over our legal authority … has so far produced nothing of permanence for the Internet.”

    Whose fault is that? It’s the FCC that refuses to accept the best answer even after all its legal gymnastics to avoid reclassifying have been laughed out of court.

    Reclassification is the approach on the strongest legal footing. Reclassifying broadband is also the only approach that puts the needs of Internet users first. Innovators need the certainty that comes with common carriage, not Wheeler’s “just trust me” approach to stopping harmful behavior by AT&T, Comcast or Verizon.

    I believe Wheeler thinks he’s doing the right thing. But the future of the Internet can’t be left to one man’s supposedly good intentions.

    You know what they say about roads paved with those: way more pitchforks than party hats.

  • Survey: Half of US smartphone buyers would consider big-screen iPhone
    A new study by Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty suggests that if Apple were to produce a five-inch iPhone model, it could move as many as 15 million additional units per year in the US, mostly from customers that would switch to Android. In a note to investors, Huberty told her clients that nearly half of the survey respondents — 47 percent — would choose an iPhone over other smartphone brands if it came in a larger size, suggesting that a major factor in US Android phone sales is simply a matter of screen size.

  • Disney's New Roller Coaster Revealed In POV Video Of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride
    Walt Disney World’s newest roller coaster is opening in the Magic Kingdom later this spring, but you can ride it right now in this first-person POV video released by the company on Wednesday.

    The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train features new audio animatronic characters that use computer graphics to give them a full range of facial expressions.

    A video released by the company on Tuesday shows the effect up close.

    The new coaster is being billed as a family ride with a height requirement of just 38 inches, or just a tad higher than the 35-inch requirement for the Barnstormer, the park’s “kiddie” coaster.

    Disney hasn’t announced an opening date for the Mine Train yet, but it won’t be the only new ride in the Orlando area this summer. Universal Studios is preparing to expand “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” to include a recreation of Diagon Alley as well as rides based on Gringotts Bank and the Hogwarts Express.

    Looks like it’s a good time to be a fan of theme parks.

  • AT&T Approaches DirecTV About Possible Acquisition: Report
    April 30 (Reuters) – AT&T Inc has approached DirecTV about a possible acquisition of the satellite TV company, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the situation.
    A deal would likely be worth at least $40 billion, DirecTV’s current market capitalization, the newspaper said.
    A combination of AT&T and DirecTV would create a pay television giant close in size to where Comcast Corp will be if it completes its pending acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc, the Journal said. (http://r.reuters.com/qad98v)
    Representatives for AT&T were not immediately available for comment outside of regular U.S. business hours.
    DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer said the company does not comment on speculation.
    Comcast Corp this week agreed to a three-way deal with Charter Communications Inc as part of Comcast’s efforts to win regulatory approvals for its proposed $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable. (Reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bangalore; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)
  • Building a Conversational Agent From the Ground Up, Part I
    Having recently completed Dualism, my latest technothriller, I thought to complement it with an online conversational avatar of one of the book’s protagonists, enabling fans to discuss the book’s plot with a simulated character drawn from its pages.

    The character I chose to emulate was Dualism‘s resident artificial intelligence, a quantum neural network who styles himself “Nietzsche.” In effect, I wanted to create a real-world AI that would impersonate a fictional one. The question was: how to go about it?

    What Wouldn’t Work
    So, there’s actually something of a history of treating computers and conversation as a sort of elaborate parlor game. It started back in 1966, with MIT professor Joseph Weizenbaum’s ELIZA program. No friend of AI, Weizenbaum set out to see how far he could get without it. The result was a triumph of minimalism: a program that employed no grammar, no lexicon, no semantics — in short, no thought and no language — and still managed to fool some of the people all of the time.

    The genius was in the set up: ELIZA’s best-known, most successful charade was its portrayal of “DOCTOR,” a practitioner of Rogerian psychotherapy (of which Weizenbaum was evidently no friend either). In that guise, ELIZA had two things going for it:

    • First, as in all analysis, the “patients” (the humans with whom “DOCTOR” interacts) did most of the talking, and that about their favorite topic, themselves — so no wonder they found the conversations fascinating.
    • Second, the mode of nondirective psychotherapy practiced by Carl Rogers and his followers is particularly easy to parody, consisting as it does of stock responses and slightly modified reiterations of what the patient has said.

    Capitalizing on these features of the “conversation,” ELIZA employed a technique called “string-matching” to generate what little in the way of response was required of it. While actual implementations could become arbitrarily elaborate, the logic behind them remained rudimentary enough: simply scan the input strings for the occurrence of keywords (e.g., “MOTHER”), and use it to trigger canned, but canny-seeming responses (e.g., “TELL ME MORE ABOUT YOUR FAMILY.”).

    Well, that was maybe good enough for the sixties. The wonder is that even now, fifty years hence, the same “chatbot” techniques are still being taken by some as exemplifying the state of the art in computational linguistics, and tend to dominate the entrants in each year’s Loebner Prize competition, the annual chatbot bake-off. There’s got to be something better by now, but —

    What’s the alternative?

    A Garden of Technologies

    The fact of the matter is that, in the nearly five decades since ELIZA’s debut, significant progress has been made toward true conversational agents. String-matching has long since been abandoned in favor of full sentence parsing. Moreover, unlike ELIZA, modern-day NLP systems actually try to follow the conversation via techniques of discourse analysis and management (DAM). Even more radical, some of those systems employ knowledge representation and reasoning (KR&R) technologies to give them some idea of what they’re talking about!

    We’ll discuss each of these in turn, creating a blueprint, a mental model, of our ideal artificial conversationalist. And in this, there is no better place to start than with the technology that has become almost synonymous with natural language processing as a whole: parsing.

    Parsing: Can’t See The Forest For The Trees
    The word “parsing” comes from the Latin for “part,” and refers to the process by which a sentence is taken apart into its constituent “parts of speech” (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.) and then reassembled into a “parse tree” — a structure manifesting the syntactic relationships among those components, with a node for the sentence as a whole at the root, and branches for noun- and verb-phrases leading down to the terminal leaf-nodes containing the literal words.

    Nowadays, as evinced by the (rather one-sided) contretemps between Noam Chomsky and Google’s Peter Norvig, there’s something of a debate over which is better for cranking out these parse trees: a symbolic, or a sub-symbolic (i.e., statistical or machine learning), approach.

    So, since it behooves anyone with an interest in the future of computational linguistics to take a stand on this issue, here’s mine: I don’t care! Just give me a decent parse, please, and don’t tell me how you got it. I don’t want to know.

    The trouble is: giving me a decent parse is exactly what both of these approaches have trouble doing. There turns out to be a fly in the ointment, forever preventing a purely syntactic analysis from ever yielding a single definitive interpretation. A fly called “ambiguity.”

    Consider, for example (while we’re talking about flies), the seemingly altogether unambiguous statement, “Time flies like an arrow.” Perfectly obvious, no? After all, it’s just as assertion about how some entity (“time”) performs some action (“flies”) in some manner (“like an arrow”).

    Not so fast. Lacking knowledge of the real world, an artificial intelligence might not be able to rule out the possibility that, just as there are “horse flies” and “fruit flies,” there might well be “time flies,” and that these strange insects might be very fond of archery equipment. In which case, “Time flies like an arrow” results in a whole different parse-tree, with a whole different meaning — “time flies” now becoming the subject, “like” the action, and “an arrow” its object.

    We’re not done yet: In addition to being a noun and (possibly) an adjective, “time” in English is also a verb, meaning “to measure the speed of something with a timing device.” So, “Time flies!” could be a command to measure the speed of flies with a stopwatch, and the whole sentence “Time flies like an arrow!” might be read as an answer to the burning question: “What’s the best way to time flies?” (“Time them the way you would time an arrow” or maybe even “Time them the way an arrow would time them.”)

    If you think this is bad, though, consider the sign seen hanging in a California town hall — to wit:

    Persons applying for marriage licenses wearing shorts or pedal pushers will be denied licenses.

    This humble — and, I submit, instantly comprehensible — advisory admits of no fewer than forty-three separate parses, including the ones where the marriage licenses are the ones wearing shorts, or the shorts are wearing marriage licenses, or the applicants are magically transformed into licenses in a state of denial (“…will be denied licenses”).

    The point in all of this is that, beyond some extremely low threshold of complexity, there is no such thing as a single parse tree for a given input. At best there is always a small for-est of alternative parses; at worst, a jungle.

    So, the real challenge for those who would create conversational agents does not end with finding a better parser. Rather, it goes on from there to consider, in hopes of mimicking, the effortlessness with which we humans hack our way through all this syntactic undergrowth, blithely discarding most variant interpretations as if they did not exist at all.

    Part of how we do this is by taking context and connectivity into account. The peripheral becomes central in the pursuit of a perfect parse, as next time we leave the individual sentence behind and enter the broader realm of discourse phenomena as a whole.

  • Ex-Nokia boss' pay-off rises to $33m
    Former Nokia chief executive, Stephen Elop, receives a bigger-than-expected pay-off, as the firm finalises the sale of it handset business to Microsoft.
  • Jury asks questions of court, gets rebuffed in Apple-Samsung trial
    On the first full day of deliberations in the second Apple-Samsung trial, jurors have asked for two different things: some office supplies to help them in their work, and for additional evidence — seemingly to help them decide motivations on the part of the CEOs of both Apple and Samsung. The former requests have been granted, but the latter requests were rebuffed by US District Court Judge Lucy Koh, who told the jury that they would have to work with what they already have.

  • What Mark Zuckerberg Means When He Says He Loves You
    When a social network loves its users very, very much, it helps them get some of their privacy back.

    Mark Zuckerberg tried to convey an image of a beneficent Facebook at the company’s f8 conference Wednesday, introducing an update that would let members claw back the personal information they share with third-party applications. Zuckerberg said that he’d been doing a lot of thinking on the eve of his 30th birthday, and had decided Facebook must “build a culture of loving the people we serve.” He added, “I hope you can see the seeds of this in what we’re building today.”

    There’s no doubt Facebook’s new login policy does a service to its members, who will now be able select what data from their profiles is available to an app, or even log in “anonymously,” not sharing information with the app at all.

    But a compassionate act of love? A sign of Facebook’s undying commitment to “put people first,” as Zuckerberg said was his priority? Not quite.

    Though framed as a privacy safeguard, the latest login options are just another way for Facebook to learn even more about its members’ activities online. If logging in with a Facebook identity appears trustworthy, Facebook’s users will be more inclined to tote Facebook with them to third-party services, which in turn will give Zuckerberg a more complete picture of what his users do around the Internet. The company wants people to take Facebook everywhere they go — Gilt Group, Paperless Post, One King’s Lane, Spotify — so it can learn what its members love and improve its ad-targeting abilities.

    Giving people more control over what personal information third-party services can access will “definitely benefit Facebook,” said Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst with eMarketer. “Any time you use Facebook to log into an app, Facebook can capture that information and use it for its own ad targeting.”

    As Zuckerberg noted Wednesday, many people currently hesitate to “Log In with Facebook” when signing into a service. They worry that letting an app access their Facebook account could mean mortifying purchases will appear in friends’ News Feeds (they might!), or spam messages will inundate their colleagues (also possible!). So instead, people opt for the hassle of creating a new username, or else rely on another one of their accounts, such as Gmail or Twitter.

    When this happens, Facebook loses out on the chance to add to its understanding of who we are and what we do. Bypassing the Facebook login means that Facebook might never discover your love for online dating apps or photo-editing tools — information that’s crucial for sweetening Facebook’s pitch to advertisers, and particularly key as the company makes a push for developers’ ad dollars.

    “If people log into apps through Facebook’s login, then Facebook knows more about the user. It knows more about the apps they use, how many apps they’re using and how often,” said Nate Elliott, an analyst with the research firm Forrester. “That gives Facebook the theoretical ability to better target apps to users and [the] theoretical ability to understand the apps that they’re using.”

    Developers lose the most in Facebook’s ostensibly compassionate shift toward more private logins: App creators will no longer get to help themselves to their users’ personal information, and will, in some cases, have to deal with unidentified individuals who try Facebook’s new “log in anonymously” option. Elliott said that when Zuckerberg announced the new policy, the audience at the f8 auditorium, which consisted mostly of developers, was silent.

    Zuckerberg’s alleged soul-searching should perhaps prompt users of his site to do the same. Can they trust a “loving” Facebook? And will it really be so different from the kind of Facebook they knew before?

    “Privacy is like a yo-yo for Faceook,” said Elliott. “Sometimes it’s near, and sometimes it’s far.”

  • Mesh network apps to the rescue
    New apps let you keep chatting even when communications are cut
  • Is There Life Beyond the iPhone?
    It’s impossible to believe but coming in September, like a bad sequel, will be the new iPhone 6 with all new features, updates and more reasons to disassociate from society and become a bigger introvert. This new phone is coming on the heels of last year’s new iPhone 5 and 5s which boasted less dropped calls and more sleek apps as well as new Safari which made websites easier to get into. But unfortunately with the new phone comes even more problems such as easy security breaches and network crashes.

    We live an age where technology doesn’t even get a 10-second delay, we just get used to one item and suddenly we’re faced with either keeping up or we’re behind on the times, there’s no room for a happy medium and it’s not cost effective plus it’s a total pain to transfer everything over.

    In the early days before iPods, iPads and iPhones, we had our version of technology except we didn’t need a computer or a wall outlet. We relied on batteries and CDs. If I really wanted to age myself I could probably go all the way back to cassette tapes and recorders. The difference between now and then is that we could leave all that stuff behind and be kids. We’re in such a rush today that we forget to slow down, put down the gadgets, and just breathe. Imagine if for one day, everyone put down their phones and everything and just took a step back. I’m sure we’d remember those days of being a kid.

    But the reality is we can’t leave the house without a phone’s that’s at least 50 percent percent charged and when it drains when we need it the most, it’s like someone switched off our oxygen and it’s a hundred Black Friday-like dash to find a plug to charge our devices before it completely shuts down.

    I admit I’m a total tech junkie but even I’m reaching my limits, going broke, replacing cracked screen and updates when my phone is rendered obsolete after only a year and let’s not forget when the warranty expires and doesn’t cover anything even relevant. When the new phone comes out, I think I’ll wait for the iPhone 7 because by the time I pay off the iPhone 5. There will be a whole new software to learn.

    But like anything, we have to go with it otherwise we’d never move forward in the times and we’d probably be still stuck in caveman times, it’s just a pain in the neck for our parents, who’ve just grasped that Twitter isn’t a disease and what specific text messaging terminology is appropriate and that using capital letters is the equivalent of screaming.

    Are you too depended on your device? Are you able to walk away without feeling a sense of panic you aren’t missing something?

  • This Average Joe Got The Ride Of His Life In A Thunderbirds' F-16
    Blair Bunting is not in any way qualified to fly an F-16. He’s even less qualified to fly with the Thunderbirds, an elite group of U.S. Air Force F-16 demonstration pilots.

    And yet, in a video posted Tuesday, Bunting is seen in the co-pilot’s seat of one of the Thunderbirds’ F-16s, alternately cycling between pure joy and pure terror as the jet loops through the sky, at one point accelerating up to 9 G’s.

    Bunting, a photographer by trade, was honored with the flight at the tail end of an assignment with the Thunderbirds. In a blog describing the experience, Bunting compared his excitement for the flight as “like a kid trying to sleep the night before a Christmas where Santa brings him an F-16.”

    Here’s how he describes doing 9 G’s:

    Firstly, in no way is it comfortable, not even close. I began to feel my face melting away as the skin in my cheeks pulled down to my mouth. The color from my vision was the next thing to fade away, first the reds, then the greens. Squeezing like hell, I did everything I could to get air into my lungs as the G-suit wrenched it out. With all the color of a 1950′s television set, the next thing I noticed was that waves were starting to develop in my vision and a vignette appeared. All the while I am listening to the pilot’s breathing and trying my hardest to match it.

    Despite the terror evident in that description, Bunting seems to have had an amazing time.

  • Why I'm Going on a Smartphone Cleanse This Month
    Summer is right around the corner, and cleanses are all the rage. But while others gear up for that juice cleanse they’ve been dreading all winter, I have something else in the works: A smartphone cleanse.

    The other day, I was talking to a friend about the awkwardness of elevators. Being stuck in a small space with strangers makes everyone uncomfortable, so smartphones are instantly yanked out of pockets and purses. The checking of email, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter commences, and it doesn’t end until those painful 45 seconds are over.

    That night, I got to thinking about the “smartphone in the elevator” concept more. How many other situations leave me leaning on my smartphone? Way too many. I rudely check my phone while I’m at dinner or drinks with friends, I use it to pass a few free minutes and I even whip it out at red lights while I’m walking home.

    Like most people of my generation, I feel the need to be connected 24/7. But texting, social media and incessantly checking my email give me the opposite of what I’m craving. I end up missing out on opportunities for actual connection because I’m glued to a screen. While my job and lifestyle make it impossible for me to ditch my smartphone altogether, as of today I’m embarking on a 31-day smartphone cleanse.

    Here are my three smartphone cleanse rules:

    1. No post-work smartphone use. Oftentimes, I use the one or two precious hours of downtime I have before going to sleep to mine my smartphone. What’s new on Facebook? Who’s fighting with who on Twitter? What BuzzFeed listicle did I miss? I’ve noticed a pattern with this habit, though: I don’t feel any happier or calmer. I’m usually left feeling lonely and sad, which doesn’t set a great tone for a good night’s sleep.

    Because the days of landlines are long gone — at least for 20-somethings stuffed into tiny New York apartments — the one exception to the “no post-work smartphone use” rule will be using my phone to call a friend or family member, which makes me feel truly connected to another person.

    2. No “I’m bored” smartphone use. Sometimes life gets really boring. Waiting for the subway is boring. Standing outside of a restaurant because a friend is running late is boring. Waiting in a long line is boring. But instead of opening every app on my smartphone every time boredom strikes, I’ll allow myself to do what people had to do before the age of smartphones: Patiently wait and observe my surroundings.

    3. No “I’m uncomfortable” smartphone use. My elevator rides may be getting a lot more awkward — and possibly better — this month, because my smartphone will be staying in my bag every time I find myself in an uncomfortable social situation. Scary thought, isn’t it?

    This certainly won’t be easy, and I’m not sure what the outcome of my 31-day smartphone cleanse will be. But in an effort to connect with others and myself in a more authentic way, I’m going to take a stab at it. At the end of the month, I’ll provide an update on what kind of impact this experiment had on my life — positive or negative, big or small.

  • Elizabeth Warren Blasts FCC Net Neutrality Plan: 'Just One More Way The Playing Field Is Tilted'
    Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) blasted the Federal Communication Commission’s recent proposal to let internet service providers charge for access to their customers, saying it would “gut” the principle of net neutrality.

    “We don’t know who is going to have the next big idea in this country, but we’re pretty sure they’re going to need to get online to do it,” Warren wrote on her Facebook page Wednesday. “Reports that the FCC may gut net neutrality are disturbing, and would be just one more way the playing field is tilted for the rich and powerful who have already made it.”

    Last week the FCC announced that it was essentially backing down on plans to force big internet providers to treat everybody alike in their access to internet users. Under the FCC’s new position, big data sources like Netflix could be forced to pay for access to customers of ISPs like Verizon.

    Warren’s voice is the latest to join a chorus of Democratic lawmakers like Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) who aren’t happy with the FCC proposal, which represents a reversal from President Barack Obama’s previous position on net neutrality. But her statement goes a bit further in tying the potential end of net neutrality to her trademark theme of an America rigged against the middle class and for big business.

    FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler claimed in a blog post last week that the critics of the FCC’s new stance were “misinformed.”

    Critics of the agency argue it could do far more to enforce net neutrality. One option would be to essentially treat internet companies as “common carriers” like telephone companies, reclassifying them under a different area of the agency’s powers. But a move like that could face a court challenge.

    “Our regulators already have all the tools they need to protect a free and open Internet — where a handful of companies cannot block or filter or charge access fees for what we do online,” Warren said in her statement, apparently hinting at that power. “They should stand up and use them.”

    CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated incorrectly that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler once served as the CEO of Comcast. Wheeler was president and CEO of the National Cable Television Association from 1979-84 and president and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association from 1992-2004.

  • Google spins off Docs, Sheets as separate iOS apps
    Google has launched two new iPhone/iPad apps, Google Docs and Google Sheets. The apps provide access to functions that were previously restricted to the web, or buried within Google Drive. Google notes that third related app, Google Slides, is “coming soon.” Android versions of the apps are also available.

  • Apple/GT sapphire plant begins shipping trial amounts to China
    The Arizona sapphire plant operated by Apple and GT Advanced Technologies started production last month in a 100-furnace trial, claims UBS analyst Stephen Chin. The material was allegedly shipped to one of Apple’s manufacturing partners in China. From there, it’s believed to have gone into the Touch ID sensors and camera lens covers for the iPhone 5s, which already use sapphire from other suppliers.

  • New Silk Road Selling Even More Illegal Drugs Than Old Silk Road
    Silk Road is back, and it’s busier than before.

    Six months after the FBI shut down the notorious black market website known as “the eBay for drugs,” a new version of Silk Road is offering even more illegal narcotics than its predecessor, according to a report released Wednesday by the Digital Citizens Alliance, a group that advocates against online crime.

    The report found nearly 14,000 listings for drugs on the new Silk Road, compared to 13,000 listings found on the site at the time it was shut down last fall.

    “What we see on Silk Road today is more drugs, increasing vendors and an even greater commitment by this community to keeping their ‘movement’ alive,” said Garth Bruen, a senior fellow for the Digital Citizens Alliance, in a statement.

    In October, the FBI shut down Silk Road and arrested its alleged mastermind, Ross William Ulbricht, a 29-year-old self-professed libertarian and San Francisco resident. Authorities alleged that Ulbricht ran the booming marketplace for illegal drugs, computer hacking tools and other illicit goods and services.

    A month later, a new site launched under the same name, offering a wide range of narcotics and prompting Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) to describe the government’s efforts to combat such illegal marketplaces as a game of “whack-a-mole.”

    The Digital Citizens Alliance says it spent months tracking illicit websites like Silk Road and their discussion boards. The group noticed “a certain level of paranoia” among users of these sites after the arrests of Ulbricht and several other people who have been charged with trafficking drugs and laundering money on Silk Road, according to the report.

    But “Silk Road 2.0” and some of its clones on the “Darknet” continue to thrive, listing various items like forged official documents, secret financial transactions, hacking services, anonymous mail drops and hard drugs, the report found.

    “The current state of the Darknet drug economy, despite the turmoil, is not all that different” today than it was before Ulbricht’s arrest, the report said.

    Ulbricht has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. His attorney, Joshua Dratel, filed a motion to dismiss the charges last month, arguing that his client simply hosted the forum where alleged drug trafficking and money laundering took place and did not actively participate.

  • Hulu Is Finally Offering Free Content On Mobile Devices
    Good news for TV fans who like to watch their shows online: Hulu has announced it will be offering select content for free on mobile devices starting this summer.

    At an event in New York City on Wednesday morning, Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins announced the streaming service will no longer only offer free content on desktops; select shows will be available on mobile devices as well. The Verge reports the rollout will initially launch on Android devices, followed by iOS.

    “With our re-imagining of mobile viewing, we want you, our viewers, to have more access to the content you love, right at your fingertips,” Hopkins wrote in a blog post.

    According to information provided to The Huffington Post, Hulu will be offering content from Fox, ABC, NBC and more. That means no more waiting until you get home from work to catch up on last night’s “Modern Family.”

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