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Mobile Technology News, May 14, 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.

  • This Guy Used 5 Seconds Of Video To Calculate How Fast The Amtrak Train Was Going
    According to multiple reports, investigators believe that Amtrak Regional Train 188 — the train that derailed in Philadelphia Tuesday night, killing at least seven people and injuring more than 200 — was speeding when it jumped the tracks. Just before it derailed, the train was rounding a curve where the speed limit was 50 mph. As it took that curve, Amtrak Regional 188 was traveling over 100 mph.

    The National Transportation Safety Board announced that information Wednesday. But Michael Noda, a Philadelphia transportation blogger, already knew it. Some time prior to the announcement, Noda had used surveillance video and basic arithmetic to show the train was going much, much faster than it should have been. The Huffington Post confirmed Noda’s methods in a phone interview, and replicated his arithmetic.

    Here’s how it works: On Noda’s site, Sic Transit Philadelphia, he analyzed video obtained by CNN of the train rounding a bend immediately before the crash. Looking at the time on the surveillance video, Noda counted 4.5 seconds between the first car coming into view and the last car passing out of the frame.

    Based on Noda’s identification of the train’s eight cars — an ACS-64 locomotive at the front, followed by seven Amfleet I passenger cars — he was able to calculate the length of the entire train. The combined length of a 67-foot ACS-64 and seven 85-foot Amfleet I cars is 662 feet. That means the train traveled 662 feet in 4.5 seconds.

    To calculate how fast the train was going in miles per hour, Noda converted feet per second to miles per hour. First, to convert seconds to an hour, he found the ratio of 4.5 seconds to the number of seconds in an hour. Since there are 3,600 seconds in an hour, a 4.5-second interval occurs 800 times in an hour.

    Then, to find out how many feet a train going at the same rate would travel in an hour, he multiplied the distance traveled in 4.5 seconds — 660 feet — by 800, the number of times that a 4.5-second interval occurs in an hour. This means that a train traveling at a rate of 660 feet every 4.5 seconds will travel 529,600 feet in an hour.

    Finally, Noda divided the total feet per hour — 529,600 — by the number of feet in a mile, which is 5,280. He found that the train was going just over 100 mph.

    Noda, who lives in Francisville, a North Philadelphia neighborhood not far from the site of the crash, started writing about public transportation when he moved to Philadelphia from suburban Ohio several years ago. Coming from a place without any public transit, Noda said, moving to Philadelphia was an “eye-opening experience.”

    Now Noda advocates for public transportation investment at the local level. He is on the advisory board of The 5th Square, a political action committee devoted to “smart policy for transportation, public space, land use, and better governance in Philadelphia,” according to its website.

    For Noda, though, transportation blogging is just a hobby. He makes his living playing professional poker. And Tuesday’s crash notwithstanding, Noda says the odds are still very much in support of train travel.

    “Rail is still incredibly safe on a statistical basis,” he said.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • Derailed Amtrak Train Lacked Latest U.S. Safety Controls
    (Adds comment from Association of American Railroads, investigators)
    By Patrick Rucker and Jarrett Renshaw
    WASHINGTON/PHILADELPHIA, May 13 (Reuters) – The commuter rail route where an Amtrak train left the track on Tuesday was not governed by an advanced safety technology meant to prevent high-speed derailments, investigators said on Wednesday.
    A system called “positive train control” (PTC) automatically slows or even halts trains that are moving too fast or heading into a danger zone. Under current law, the rail industry must adopt the technology by the end of this year.
    The investigation into the cause of Tuesday’s crash, in which seven people were killed, has only just begun but initial examination of the train’s data recorders determined the train was traveling 106 miles per hour (171 km per hour) in a 50-mph (80-kph) zone.
    It would have been impossible for a train to reach such speeds if PTC had been in place, officials said.
    “Based on what we know right now, we feel that had such a system been installed in this section of track, this accident would not have occurred,” said Robert Sumwalt, a board member of the National Transportation Safety Board.
    Amtrak has begun installing components of a PTC system but the network is not yet functioning, federal officials said.
    Amtrak officials did not respond to calls for comment.
    Federal rules require the national rail network to have an operating PTC system by the end of the year, though many lawmakers have endorsed rail industry appeals for more time to comply.
    In March, the Senate Commerce Committee voted to extend the deadline for implementing PTC until at least 2020. Both Republicans and Democrats supported the measure which will now go to the Senate floor.
    “This accident is exhibit A for ending the delays and getting positive train control in place,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat.
    The Association of American Railroads has said it wants PTC in place but blames logistical challenges like acquiring radio frequencies and placing transmitter towers for the delay.
    “This is not off-the-shelf technology; it has had to be developed from scratch,” said Ed Greenberg, spokesman for the trade group.
    Installing radio towers and other hardware at congested rail junctions, like the site of the Philadelphia accident, poses unique challenges, according to former and current officials.
    PTC control would go as far as overriding a train conductor who was exceeding posted speed limits, said Joseph Szabo, who stepped down in January as administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration.
    “If there is a red signal you can’t pass it, if there is a speed restriction, it will slow you down,” he said of the override system. (Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball, Andy Sullivan, Bill Trott and Timothy Gardner in Washington; Editing by Eric Beech and Lisa Shumaker)

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • WWF #EndangeredEmoji Uses Cuteness For A Cause To Protect The World's Wildlife
    An emoji tells a thousand words. But some of those cute little icons tell a story much bigger than our weekend plans or what we ate for lunch.

    The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is using a group of emojis for a fundraising campaign called #EndangeredEmoji to help endangered creatures and their homes. The campaign highlights 17 animal icons found on the current iOS and Android emojis keyboards that in the real world are, in fact, endangered species.

    Among these are the popular three wise monkeys which, according to WWF, are actually spider monkeys — as well as the giant panda, blue whale and lemur leaf frog.

    endangered emoji

    The campaign launched on Tuesday, with WWF tweeting out an image of all the 17 characters. Twitter users can take part in the initiative by simply retweeting the post. For every endangered emoji the participant then tweets, WWF will add 0.10 euros (about 11 cents) to a voluntary donation account.

    At the end of each month, the participant receives a tally of all the endangered emojis they used, and can either donate that total or an amount of their choosing.

    We’re using #EndangeredEmoji to save real animals from extinction. Please retweet to sign up and help. pic.twitter.com/hX1p1GEDZ9

    — WWF (@WWF) May 12, 2015

    WWF illustrates each of these animals on the campaign’s website, providing a short description of each species threats and why it is in trouble.

    To learn more about how #EndangeredEmoji works, watch the video above.

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    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • This Kid Has No Idea What A Pay Phone Is
    Remember the days when you had to dig for a dime to feed the pay phone?

    This kid sure doesn’t. He doesn’t even know what a pay phone is, so he definitely doesn’t remember when it only took a dime to feed one.

    Then again, pay phones are more comedy fodder than anything else these days:

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • The Sad Truth About What Happens To Your Old Gadgets
    Your iPhone isn’t biodegradable.

    Of course, you know that. But what you might not understand is the massive problem that electronic waste represents for our planet. A recent report from United Nations University in Japan declared that about 46 million tons of e-waste — discarded phones, computer screens, lamps, microwaves and so on — were produced in 2014 alone. That amount is only expected to rise in the coming years.

    Many of these devices have toxic components. A lot of them could be recycled — but aren’t. Instead, they’re shipped to developing countries — sometimes illegally — where they end up in landfills, waterways or public spaces.

    Since 2013, the jarring photographs of the BIT ROT Project have shined a light on the human price of electronic waste, showing civilians digging through potentially dangerous heaps or struggling to dispose the materials themselves.

    “If people would be more conscious about where their electronic trash would finish and in which way they are affecting others, poorest peoples’ lives, I think they would act more carefully,” photographer Valentino Bellini told The Huffington Post via email.

    Take a look at the selections below to see the reality for yourself. For more photographs and information, visit the BIT ROT Project.

    H/T Business Insider

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  • Walmart Launches New Shipping Service to Compete With Amazon

    NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will test a new unlimited shipping service for online shoppers this summer that will be priced below Amazon’s $99 per year Prime service.

    Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the shipping subscription service will cost customers $50 a year. Products will arrive in three days or less.

    Wal-Mart offers a grocery delivery and pickup service in five markets. But the unlimited shipping program marks a substantial commitment and underscores how serious the retailer is about accelerating the growth of its online business, which has seen a slowdown.

    The unlimited shipping service was first reported by The Information, a publication that covers the technology industry.

    Ravi Jariwala, a company spokesman, said the offering is in response to increasing demands from customers who are looking for predictable and affordable shipping. It’s also part of Wal-Mart’s overall strategy to test new ways to serve customers who are increasingly researching and buying on their PCs or mobile devices and are looking for convenience.

    Jariwala said the service will be available by invitation only for now and it will offer more than one million top-selling items, from toys to electronic gadgets. Wal-Mart’s online site sells more than seven million products.

    For now, he said the service would not offer features like free video and music streaming that Amazon provides. He said that customer feedback will direct how the program will evolve.


    Follow Anne D’Innocenzio at http://www.Twitter.com/adinnocenzio

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  • World's First 'Solar Road' Is Generating Even More Power Than Expected
    An experimental bike path that also functions as a giant solar cell has far exceeded expectations in the six months it’s been in use — and that has scientists eyeing roadways as possible sources of solar energy to power street lights, traffic systems, and electric cars.

    SolaRoad, as the first-of-its-kind path is known, opened in November 2014 in Krommenie, a village northwest of the Dutch city of Amsterdam. So far, it’s generated enough energy to power a one-person household for an entire year, the Associated Press reported.

    “We did not expect a yield as high as this so quickly,” Sten de Wit, a senior advisor at the Netherlands-based engineering firm TNO, which is part of the consortium that created the 70-meter-long path, said in a written statement. He added that the path had generated an excess of 3,000 kilowatt-hours.

    “If we translate this to an annual yield, we expect more than the 70 kWh per square meter per year, which we predicted as an upper limit in the laboratory stage,” he said.

    The concrete path is studded with ordinary silicon solar panels that are protected by a centimeter-thick layer of safety glass. The transparent, skid-resistant glass can support bicycles and vehicles as well as pedestrian traffic. Electricity generated by the panels is fed into the electricity grid.

    (Story continues below image.)
    solar road
    A close-up look at the solar panels and protective glass used in the SolaRoad.

    Since the path opened, it’s been used by more than 150,000 cyclists. Severe weather and temperature fluctuations have caused peeling of the coating on the solar panels’ protective glass, but repairs have been made and an improved top layer is in the works.

    A similar initiative to build solar energy-generating roads is underway in the U.S. Dubbed Solar Roadways, the Idaho-based project launched a successful Indiegogo campaign last year to fund the concept to replace roadways with solar panels. According to its website, Solar Roadways is still in its research and development phase.

    SolaRoad’s test phase is projected to last three years.

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  • When Does Your Google Search Become a Crime?

    Gilberto Valle typed many things into his Google search bar.

    Where to buy the world’s largest baking dish? How to properly tie a woman to a rotating life-size barbeque spit? “How to chloroform a girl“?

    The questions Valle asked were bizarre, disturbing, misogynist, and, to many of us, unthinkable. But Valle thought them. He typed them. And he hit the “enter” button.

    But in doing so, did he commit a crime?

    The New York Police Department officer, crowned the “Cannibal Cop” by New York papers, is the subject of the new documentary “Thought Crimes,” premiering this week on HBO. The film uses the lens of Valle’s incredible story to peer into the world of online fetish and fantasy. It is disturbing, interesting, and even funny. (Full disclosure: I have a brief appearance as a talking head in the film.)

    After his day job as a cop, Valle came home every night and lived a second life online as a member of the “Vore” community. Vore — short for “Carnivore” — describes a fetish too disturbing for mainstream fiction or pornography, yet common enough to have a community of like-minded wannabe woman-eaters on the darker pages of the web.

    Valle’s (now ex-)wife, to her horror, discovered his online life and turned his web activity — his Google searches, his online Vore identity, his graphic cannibal fantasy chats — over to the NYPD. Valle instantly went from employee to suspect. He was indicted on federal charges of, among other things, conspiracy to commit kidnapping. The charge was based on his search history and the volumes of online chats with other men about kidnapping, raping, tying up, and roasting women to death.

    And not just any women: real women. Real women Valle knew — his friends from school, and even his wife. He even abused his authority by looking up their names, street addresses, ages, and sizes in the NYPD’s database. (He was separately convicted of misusing police resources.)

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, the jury wasn’t sympathetic to Valle’s defense that his actions were nothing more than online role-playing. They voted to convict him. But the judge presiding over Valle’s trial granted the defense’s motion to set aside the jury verdict, holding Valle couldn’t be found guilty for conspiracy to kidnap.

    The judge, in a 100-plus page opinion, focused on the fact that over and over again Valle and his Vore contacts made plans to meet up to kidnap women — and the days for those plans came and went, time after time, with no real-world action. In short, the judge noted that fantasy alone cannot be a conspiracy.

    The judge’s ruling rightly highlights the problems with finding someone guilty of a “conspiracy” or an “attempt” to commit a crime when the evidence of a crime is nothing but words. It’s one thing to use a Google search as evidence of intent or knowledge, when an actual crime has resulted and there’s a real victim. But in the Cannibal Cop case, no women were hurt. No kidnapping plans were consummated. For Valle, the words were the crime. The online world was the conspiracy.

    Valle’s case is now before the federal appeals court, which is deciding whether to uphold the judge’s determination that Valle committed no crime. The court heard oral argument in the case yesterday, where one judge asked the prosecutor on the case:

    “You’d concede that trying to draw lines in this unbelievable collection of emails about what is fantasy and what’s not is a difficult if not surreal exercise, wouldn’t you?”

    The documentary’s director, Erin Lee Carr, has said she was prompted to make “Thought Crimes” because she wanted to wrestle with thorny questions about online anonymity, the meaning of our online search history, and the line between fantasy and action. She deserves credit for taking such a sensational story and teasing out the bigger questions about how we behave online, and what it all means.

    After all, you might be surprised to find out what you Googled last year, or five years ago. And while what you’ve typed into your search bar might not be as sensational as Valle’s queries, it’s not a bad idea to check outyour Google search history — and delete it as you like. (As a free speech attorney, my own history is a virtual smorgasbord of sociopathy, since nothing is NSFW.)

    Apparently, Valle himself was aware of how a review of his Google searches might read. Slate reporter Daniel Engber, whose constant and excellent coverage of the Valle trial first hooked Carr, reported that Valle had also read a Techdirt blog entitled “If You’re Kidnapping Someone, Maybe Don’t Search Google for Kidnapping.”

    But what if you do, and no crime is committed and no one is hurt? Simple: That search is fully protected by the First Amendment.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • Windows 10 Editions Announced

    Microsoft has announced on the Windows Blog the editions of Windows 10 that will be available later this year and unfortunately, it is as confusing as ever.  While Microsoft has made it clear that Windows 10 will be on every device – Phone, Tablet, PC and even Xbox – they have broken it down into multiple editions with different feature sets.  This is the same thing they have done since the Windows XP days and while I get it, it creates unnecessary confusion for consumers. The biggest news is probably the fact that Windows 10 on phones will be known

    The post Windows 10 Editions Announced appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • People Are Abusing A Facebook Tool Meant To Help People In Nepal
    Shortly after the devastating earthquake in Nepal last month, Facebook activated its Safety Check feature, which is intended to let people in disaster-affected areas alert their friends and family that they’re out of harm’s way. Facebook also turned the feature on this week after another strong quake shook the country.

    However, various media outlets reported Wednesday that people who aren’t anywhere near Nepal are using Safety Check to mark themselves “safe.” And social media users are not pleased that people are misusing the tool.

    Here’s what we saw Wednesday afternoon when we visited Facebook’s Safety Check page:

    facebook safety check

    The tool asks the visitor if he or she is in the area affected by the May 12 earthquake and gives them the option to click “Yes, let my friends know.” There isn’t an option for “No.” (Safety Check has been turned off for the April 25 quake.)

    The tool is supposed to be localized. If you’re in an area affected by a natural disaster, Facebook sends you an alert asking you if you’re safe. The tool determines where you are based on where you’re using the Internet and the city where you live or the last location where you were tagged. But since you can also visit the Safety Check page directly, people who live halfway around the world can use the tool, too.

    A representative for Facebook was not immediately available to comment.

    Here’s a sampling of how Twitter users are reacting to people in the U.S. and U.K. using the Safety Check feature to say they’re safe from the Nepal quakes:

    I find it totally sick that people are marking themselves ‘safe’ from the earthquake in Nepal. People are dead, it’s not something to mock.

    — L U C E (@_lucyflight) May 13, 2015

    most these people on Facebook marking themselves ‘safe’ from the earthquake probs dont even know where Nepal is

    — Mabel Bluebell (@MabelBluebell) May 13, 2015

    I feel like the people marking themselves as “safe” on Facebook right now are mocking the people of Nepal and the thousands of lives lost.

    — Sydney Randall (@ohhsydneymae) May 13, 2015

    Why are people marking themselves as safe in the affected areas of Nepal ?? Absolute imbeciles

    — Brooklyn (@brookeylee_) May 13, 2015

    More than 8,000 people died in the magnitude-7.8 earthquake in Nepal last month, and dozens were killed in the magnitude-7.3 quake Tuesday.

    Facebook launched Safety Check last October. Inspiration for the tool came from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement announcing the feature.

    nepal earthquake
    A Nepalese man injured in Tuesday’€™s earthquake brought from Charikot, Dolakha District, is carried on a stretcher at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, May 13, 2015. Thousands of fear-stricken people spent the night out in the open as a new earthquake killed dozens of people and spread more misery in Nepal, which is still struggling to recover from a devastating quake nearly three weeks ago.

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  • How to Share Your Personal Opinions on Facebook

    If you like Facebook, Like The Cooper Review on Facebook!

    This post originally appeared on The Cooper Review.

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  • CEO and AP Staffer Dead After Train Derailment
    The CEO of a tech company and an Associated Press staffer are among the seven confirmed dead after an Amtrak train traveling from Washington to New York City derailed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night.

    Rachel Jacobs, 39, a New York-based CEO of the Philadelphia company ApprenNet, was on board the Northeast Regional Train 188 and confirmed dead by her family Wednesday evening. Up until then, she had been reported missing by coworkers.

    Family confirms Rachel Jacobs was killed in the #Amtrak188 crash pic.twitter.com/uCclWFhCVl

    — Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) May 13, 2015

    Also on Wednesday, The Associated Press confirmed one of its video software architects, Jim Gaines, was killed in the crash:

    Jim Gaines, a 48-year-old father of two, had attended meetings in Washington. He was returning home to Plainsboro, New Jersey, when the train derailed Tuesday night. His death was confirmed by his wife, Jacqueline.

    U.S. Naval Academy midshipman Justin Zemser, 21, of Rockaway Beach, New York, was on his way home when he was killed in the derailment, his mother told NBC 4 New York.

    The USNA in Annapolis, Maryland, also confirmed his death.

    “The Naval Academy is deeply saddened to report that a midshipman was named as one of the passengers who lost their life in the Amtrak train,” USNA spokeswoman Jennifer Erickson said in a statement. “The midshipman was on leave and en route to their home of record when the accident occurred.”

    WUSA9 identified Abid Gilani, a Senior Vice President at Wells Fargo, as the derailment’s third confirmed death on Wednesday afternoon.

    The National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement that it is investigating the cause of the derailment and has a team at the scene of the accident.

    This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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  • Microsoft Updates Outlook for Android With Improved Email Composition Tools

    Microsoft has released a big update to Outlook for Android, bringing substantially improved email composition capability to the app.  The update, version 1.2.8 for those keeping score at home, also bring improved performance and other minor update to give a better user experience with the app.  The biggest edition though is the improved email composition where you can now attach files and send users your availability or create an invitation from the app while in email.  These updates will make the app far easier to use especially those who use corporate Exchange accounts. Outlook for Android – Free – Download

    The post Microsoft Updates Outlook for Android With Improved Email Composition Tools appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • How Spirituality On Instagram Is Turning The Mundane Into Something Sacred
    More than half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 use Instagram to share photos of everything from their family and friends to their travels and delicately-brewed Frappuccinos. These millennials are also using the popular platform to showcase their spirituality.

    Heidi Campbell, a scholar of new media and religion at Texas A&M University, told The Huffington Post that spirituality on Instagram need not be tied to a church, temple or even a specific religion. Given Instagram’s popularity internationally, the topic of religion often transcends traditional boundaries, making it possible to talk about faith with a global and religiously diverse community in a non-threatening way.

    People may not use a cross or a picture of Mecca, but they’ll use a beautiful sunset or an inspirational quote to catch others’ attentions, Campbell said. Digital culture is all about turning the mundane into something sacred.

    “Fundamentalists would say that it’s watered down religion, but for others, it’s a more friendly way to express their spirituality,” Campbell told HuffPost. “The Internet encourages people to take the mundane and make it sacred or spiritual.”

    Take, for instance, Casey Dana Olivera. After surviving a nearly fatal car accident, Olivera felt drawn to God and started asking bigger spiritual questions. The native New Yorker wanted to let people know about the great internal changes going on in her life, but she’d never really gone to church and didn’t think she’d be welcomed there. So one day, after praying, she turned to Instagram.

    The 21-year-old began posting short, inspirational videos. She says it started as a way to process her spiritual journey, to get feedback from other people and to feel like she wasn’t alone. “It’s easier to do it on a platform like Instagram,” Olivera told The Huffington Post. “It’s letting God teach you at your own pace, instead of at a church.”

    Her feed may be full of scenes from a typical millennial’s life, but throughout it all, she’s finding ways to tell all her fans, even those who aren’t Christian, about her faith journey. “I see God in little things, when I’m at Starbucks, or at the train station,” Olivera added. “People think you can only find God at church, but he’s right there when you’re in your bed.”

    As a whole, Instagrammers are highly adept at finding spirituality in everyday life. Tyler Knott Gregson, a Buddhist, types poetry onto found scraps of paper. The account @mormonsgetit uses tongue-in-cheek humor to spark conversations about the ins and outs of growing up in the LDS church. Christian couple Sam and Amanda Ciurdar find God in nature.

    Rachel Brathen, a 26-year-old Swede, began meditating as a teenager; she’s now one of the app’s most popular yogis. Although she doesn’t follow a specific religion, Brathen says she’s a deeply spiritual person. She turned to yoga as a way to heal her body and mind after a car accident. She says the posts that do the best are the ones that comfort people who are feeling inadequate with their lives or their bodies.

    “I feel close to this community because we’re all on the same path,” Brathen, author of Yoga Girl, told HuffPost. “People are supportive and they make friends, and feel like they’re not really alone, even though they’re thousands of miles apart.”

    Be a warrior. Not a worrier. #life #strength #yoga #inspiration

    A photo posted by Rachel Brathen (@yoga_girl) on Apr 25, 2015 at 12:17pm PDT

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  • Super Mario Fans, Prepare To Be Jealous Of This Awesome Kid
    A classic video game world is colliding with reality, and the results are adorable.

    In a video uploaded to YouTube in February, one user decided to explore a child’s imagination. Thanks to some added effects from the Super Mario universe like its classic coins and shells, a simple walk outside became a much cooler adventure.

    Just watch out for those Goombas, kid.

    H/T Tastefully Offensive

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  • Improving Millennials' Financial Literacy With Mobile Technology
    The global growth of handheld digital devices among younger people is transforming the way consumers are getting their information in general, and financial information in particular.

    On April 15, the 2015 Financial Literacy Summit, co-hosted by Visa Inc. and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, brought together senior international financial literacy experts to discuss how mobile technology can improve financial literacy for today’s young adults.

    “Millennials” refers to the demographic born between 1980 and 2000, representing the largest group of individuals using mobile banking applications. At 18 percent, millennials are also the biggest cohort partaking in Internet browsing, emailing, searching, social networking and news consumption on a smartphone or tablet. By comparison, only 5 percent of 35- to 54-year-olds and 3 percent of those 55 years and older are using mobile devices exclusively.

    Amando M. Tetangco Jr., the governor of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the central bank of the Philippines, told the audience that young Filipino adults are “struggling more than their older counterpart groups with regard to budgeting” and retirement planning, but he said he is still optimistic: “I believe there are certain characteristics of millenials that provide opportunities to build [their financial capabilities]. They have a desire for change.” Such change, he said, should be driven by data, and policy should be made personal and tied to technology solutions embraced by younger citizens.

    Tetangco’s thoughts were expanded by co-panelists Steven Ciobo, an Australian MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and to the Minister for Trade and Investment, and Georgette Jean-Louis, the executive board member of Banque de la Republique d’Haiti, who indicated that half of her country’s population is under age 21, facing “revenue inequality” and persistent differences in financial literacy that call for better and earlier financial education.

    That’s why handheld technology holds so much promise in the youth struggle for financial literacy, according to technology experts on another panel discussion during the Summit.

    “Eighty to 90 percent of U.S. teens have smart devices. That’s huge, but the important thing to understand is that these aren’t just things they use. They’re a way of life,” said Jason Young, the CEO and co-founder of MindBlown Labs, an Oakland, California-based app development company behind Thrive ‘n’ Shine, a personal finance game aimed at teens and young adults.

    Young pointed out that 97 percent of millennials play online games, “most of them on mobile devices.” He described such games as “a very easy way to communicate a new set of facts” and a way to potentially track and reshape real financial behavior. Young also suggested that financial literacy apps have another important advantage: eliminating the fear that so many feel about discussing financial issues. “There’s a stigma and shame to not knowing things. Games remove that.”

    Yet Jake Schwartz, the CEO and co-founder of General Assembly, a New York-based online education community training students in technology, business and design, suggested that financial literacy success will need to go beyond technology toward a better understanding of millennials and their unique financial challenges.

    “When it comes to [financial literacy], we really need to think about the context of this generation’s financial lives,” said Schwartz, who described millennials as an “entirely disillusioned, cynical, exploited group of people” after the recent recession. Many, he said, face “a massive pile of student debt [and] are struggling to find a way to earn their economic way through the world.”

    Such trust issues among millennials are driving the so-called “sharing economy,” revolutionizing industries from hospitality to lending, according to a recent Washington Post story. Schwartz said that meeting the unique money challenges and attitudes of this under-35 demographic represents “a massive opportunity” for technology-savvy financial services providers in the future.

    Even though financial literacy instruction may begin in the home or K-12 classrooms, the mobile usage numbers for millennials suggests a demand for cutting-edge apps that can teach, transact and manage all aspects of consumers’ financial lives.

    All panelists seemed to agree that the earlier financial literacy education can start, the better. Tetangco said the Philippines was experimenting with a new “kiddie savings program” in elementary school to help build savings and money management skills.

    In January, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released a first-time global financial literacy study that revealed that U.S. students ranked between eighth and 12th place among all 18 participating countries in overall literacy skills.

    Bottom line: Focusing on the way under-35 consumers use smartphones and tablets might provide a way for educators, financial services companies and policymakers to narrow the financial literacy gap.

    Jason Alderman directs Visa’s financial education programs. To follow Practical Money Skills on Twitter, visit www.twitter.com/PracticalMoney.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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    Mayors across the political spectrum are gathering in Washington, D.C. today to lobby for federal funding towards their cities’ roads, bridges and transit in the form of a long-term renewal of the federal transportation law.

    Speaking to HuffPost Live from D.C on Wednesday, Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait (R-Calif.) affirmed that Tuesday’s disastrous Amtrak train derailing between Philadelphia and Washington D.C., in which at least seven people died, should serve as a reminder of how vital funding the nation’s rail system is.

    “I have no idea what the cause of that crash was,” he told host Alyona Minkovski. “Certainly a tragedy makes us think about things like that. Everyone’s condolences go out to the families of the victims from that crash but this is just something that the mayors — we have to deal with this.”

    Mayors are responsible for handling “issues when there isn’t adequate investment in infrastructure,” and Tait, joined by Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley (D) and over “100 throughout the country” are hoping to get Congress’ attention once and for all.

    “Enough is enough,” Tait declared. “We need to have a long-term solution. The problem with infrastructure isn’t to be solved on a year to year basis.”

    Watch the clip above to see the full HuffPost Live conversation with Tait and Whaley.

    Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live’s morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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