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Mobile Technology News, May 30, 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.

  • Silk Road drug site founder jailed
    Ross Ulbricht, the founder of online illegal drug marketplace the Silk Road, is sentenced to life in prison.
  • Man Replaces Pet Store Signs With What We're All Really Thinking
    If more ads were brutally honest like these, we’d all be better for it.

    The awesome Internet guy behind Pleated Jeans, Jeff Wysaski — and one of HuffPost’s Funniest Tumblr Bloggers — plays one of our new favorite games: He replaces normal products and signage with items that only folks like us who spend way too much time on the Internet understand and appreciate.

    In the latest antic featured on his Tumblr page, Obvious Plant, Wysaski replaces his local pet shop’s signs with new, knee-slappin’ descriptions.

    Looking to buy a turtle? Wysaski calls it a “Regular Boring Normal Turtle” that is “not teenaged, not mutant, not ninja.” Can you not see any fish in the shop’s tank? That’s because it’s inhabited by an “Invisible Jenny” that could use a few “tiny sweaters.”

    Look at some of Wysaski’s best below, and make sure to check out all of his work.

    — 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.

  • Here's How That One Weird Text Message Crashes Your iPhone (Probably)
    All it takes to crash an iPhone is one text message, because of a small set of Arabic characters that grow longer when you delete them. Probably.

    So says Tom Scott, a British engineer and TV personality known for his explanatory YouTube clips. He tackled the interesting bug in a video published Friday.

    In the video, Scott speculates the bug is triggered by a string of Arabic in the middle of the text message, and the iPhone’s confusion in trying to shorten it.

    When the phone receives a message, says Scott, it shortens it to a length suitable to be displayed as a notification. In English, this can be achieved by simply cutting off words and characters. In Arabic, however, characters sometimes shrink when they become part of a word. This means that when characters are deleted, the word can split into its more space-consuming characters and become physically longer, despite having fewer letters in it.

    This linguistic oddity can trip up an iPhone, which unexpectedly sees words grow in length as it attempts to shorten them. The phone’s response, Scott theorizes, is to either lock the Messages app, or to reset itself.

    To see these words in action, head over to Google Translate, plug in these words, and then delete them one character at a time. As you do so, pay close attention to the total length of the words themselves, which grow ever so slightly in size: انا ,ضا ,لا ,ثم. And while you’re at it, press delete on this string of nonsensical letters, which feature in the text message that started the whole mess to begin with: لُلُصّبُلُلصّبُررً

    Of course, Scott notes, this is all just a theory, and will remain so unless Apple decides to confirm or deny it. The company told The Huffington Post on Wednesday it is aware of the bug and it will be fixed in an upcoming software update. Until then, Apple has released a simple set of instructions to help iOS users who have been locked out of Messages.

    H/T Digg

    — 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.

  • Cup Final instant replay app tests
    Mobile operator EE and the BBC will test a mobile app at the FA Cup final which uses 4G Broadcast technology to offer instant replays to fans in the stadium.
  • Do Your Kids Need to Learn to Code? Yes! But Not for the Reasons You Think

    Grant Hosford

    Coding is having its 15 minutes of fame. Journalists regularly quote facts about the shortage of computer programmers in the U.S., entrepreneurs fund coding camps for low opportunity kids and even the President has given learning to code a thumbs up.

    For many parents and teachers this new focus on learning to code feels like an overhyped fad that will be replaced any day now by “learning particle physics” or “learning solar energy storage.” And does anyone really believe that turning a whole generation of kids into programmers would be a good outcome for society? What about artists, doctors, musicians and mechanics? What about chefs, writers, electricians and plumbers? Why exactly do kids need to learn to code?

    Why is coding so darn important!?

    The answer starts with the fact that, love it or hate it, we live in an increasingly digital world. Education is no longer about learning facts. Facts are at our fingertips at all times. Learning is now about quickly sourcing reliable information, creative problem solving, logical thinking, self-management and mental flexibility. The jobs of tomorrow demand this and I’m obsessed with preparing my three kids, ages 6, 8 and 13, for “real life.”

    So, when my daughter Naomi begged to take a LEGO robotics class at her elementary school two years ago I said yes because it sounded like a door to the future. She loved it and asked me to come check it out. I was surprised to find that in a class of 25 kids she was the only girl and the youngest student by two years. That week I researched options for teaching young kids about computer science and was even more surprised to find there were very few resources for young kids and no real concept of an “ABCs” of computer science.

    For more than 40 years computer science has been taught in roughly the same way. It’s been reserved primarily for gifted older kids and was introduced in a very dry way. Only a handful would stick with it and discover that making things on computers is fun, rewarding and easier than you might think. I became a little obsessed with the topic and researched two things: how young is too young to teach computer science? And, what are the benefits of studying it?

    Fortunately, there is great research from MIT and Tufts showing how kids as young as 4 years old can learn very sophisticated computer science concepts if you get the mouse, keyboard and syntax (meaning “how code is written”) out of the way (for example). In addition, related research shows that young kids who study computer science improve transferrable skills like sequencing, which has a direct positive correlation with improved reading comprehension.

    The more research I did, the more computer science looked like the perfect gateway to 21st century skills. The logical problem solving and algorithmic thinking at the core of computer science force kids to think about thinking – a process referred to as meta-cognition that has proven benefits related to self-monitoring and independent learning.

    But aren’t there many other ways to teach concepts like creative problem solving beyond computer science and programming? Yes, absolutely. However, as I’ve come to appreciate deeply, the study of computer science elegantly teaches ALL of the concepts I’ve outlined above and has the huge added benefit of transforming children from consumers of technology to creators of technology. This means that no matter what a child’s core skills are, an understanding of computer science allows them to leverage those skills beyond what they could achieve on their own.

    Imagine a ballerina who creates an app that “watches” her form with a smartphone camera and can provide feedback on a routine. Or the doctor who creates software to analyze patient data and finds a new correlation between regular exercise and immune system function. Or the stay at home parent who creates an app that helps organize neighborhood car pools for sporting events and after school activities.

    So, do I want my kids to learn about computer science and programming? Absolutely. We spend a few hours a week on different programs, including the game my company makes called The Foos. However, it’s much more important to me that they learn how to think and how to be lifelong learners. Ultimately these skills will give them a real advantage in a hyper competitive world… and they just might make something really cool along the way.

    This blog is part of our Smart Parents series in partnership with the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. For more information about the project, see Parents, Tell Your Story: How You Empower Student Learning as well as other blogs:

    Grant Hosford is CEO at codeSpark. Follow him on Twitter, @codesparkceo.

    — 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.

  • Emails Show How Quickly The Oklahoma SAE Scandal Unfolded
    The Greek letters had barely been off the former Sigma Alpha Epsilon house at the University of Oklahoma for 24 hours before people started asking if they could take over the property.

    In March, SAE national headquarters shut down its OU chapter after members were caught on video singing a racist song. A day later, OU President David Boren told SAE members they had two days to vacate the property, since it was owned by the university.

    Former brothers were still hauling their belongings out of the house when people started writing in to ask about using the building, according to 662 pages of emails The Huffington Post obtained through an open-records request. The university withheld an unspecified number of emails due to attorney-client privilege and federal student privacy laws.

    The house should be turned into a resource center for veterans, one person suggested. The Alpha Gamma Delta women’s fraternity could use the space for recruitment, one email said. The Air Force ROTC could use the space, another note proposed.

    The university told HuffPost it still hasn’t decided what to do with the former SAE house.

    The emails reveal how quickly the university and the national fraternity headquarters acted after learning about SAE members’ racist behavior, and how the OU community responded in the aftermath.

    oklahoma sae
    Marks are left above a door on the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house, where the Greek letters for ‘SAE’ used to hang.

    It all started on Saturday, March 7, when Assistant Director of Student Life Brandon Oldham received an anonymous email that included a copy of the video and the following message:

    …I’m sending you this video due to blatant racism. I came across this on snapchat. I dont think this kind of behavior should be tolerated at the University of Oklahoma. I believe there should be repercussions for this video.

    Oldham responded at 12:11 a.m. on Sunday, March 8, saying he would look into it Monday. He also forwarded the anonymous tip to Assistant Dean of Students Kristen Partridge.

    At 10:39 a.m., Partridge emailed other senior administrators asking them to watch a video that was “apparently posted to Snapchat,” and notifying them that she planned to look into the situation immediately. A few minutes earlier, she had sent another official an email saying she’d like to issue a suspension once they could determine the video did in fact show the OU chapter of SAE.

    Throughout the day on March 8, various students emailed administrators with a link to the video on YouTube. Reporters from The Oklahoma Daily, the student newspaper, sent multiple emails looking for answers about what was going on with SAE.

    Campus security told senior administrators around 7 p.m. that they were increasing patrols of the SAE house after noticing that “Yik Yak is going crazy” and “Twitter is blowing up” over the video.

    At 7:40 p.m., national SAE officials sent a notice to the OU chapter, giving the members 24 hours to respond:

    In addition to providing specific details on the video itself, please provide a detailed account of any associated event that took place either before or after this video occurred – including information pertaining to who was present from the chapter and guests, what social event protocols were in implemented, and how and what types of alcohol were present.

    Thirty minutes later, the university’s Interfraternity Council put SAE under investigation.

    Boren learned of the situation while he was hosting a dinner on Sunday night, the university said, and issued a brief statement on Twitter.

    “He made an immediate decision about the actions he would take subject to confirmation that OU students were involved and that OU SAE chapter members were on the video,” Corbin Wallace, special assistant to Boren, told HuffPost. “The immediate decision included closing the SAE chapter and throwing it off campus and expulsion to those who were most actively leading the chant on the bus.”

    By 10 p.m., SAE headquarters had contacted OU administrators to let them know the chapter had been suspended. As Partridge put it, in an email to colleagues, “They are suspending the chapter before OU can kick them off.”

    The national board, which is headquartered in Illinois, learned of the video around 6 p.m. Central Standard Time on March 8 — about the same time it was first uploaded to YouTube — and convened a meeting to address it three hours later, according to an email SAE national president Brad Cohen sent Boren on Tuesday, March 10. At 9:15 p.m., the board voted unanimously to close the OU chapter.

    In the email, Cohen explained that the national board had elected to expel the entire chapter because its members had declined to identify which individual students had been involved in the racist incident.

    oklahoma sae
    Graffiti was sprayed on the wall of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house after it was shuttered at the University of Oklahoma on March 11, 2015, in Norman, Oklahoma.

    As the week wore on, praise for Boren trickled in, with people noting how quickly the president had acted to shut down the fraternity, remove the former members from their house and make moves toward expelling two SAE brothers.

    Among those who sent their kudos to Boren: former Oklahoma governor and current American Bankers Association CEO Frank Keating, Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett, a 1964 registration volunteer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a local NAACP leader and OU alumni who described themselves as “former frat boys.”

    “I am embarrassed to say that I’m a fellow SAE brother,” one person wrote. “It is absolutely disgusting that a handful of guys can ruin it for the rest of them.”

    Later in the week, State Rep. James Lockhart (D-Heavener) sent a note to colleagues and Boren. He had learned that the fraternity had talked about suing OU and said that “SAE needs to shut up and take their medicine.” He called for a legislative resolution supporting Boren’s handling of the situation.

    But parents of some SAE members were upset, insisting their innocent sons were being punished.

    One mother wrote to the university administration on March 11:

    Your words, President Boren, have created an unsafe environment for any student that’s involved in Greek life at OU. Dorm doors have been pounded upon late at night, tires have been slashed, people spit upon, and some sororities and fraternities have been warned against wearing their letters. It’s become a witch hunt, and those students, being hunted, in most cases may be completely innocent of any wrongdoing.

    Another mom said on March 10:

    My son WAS NOT on the “offending” bus. Regardless, he along with 100 others are paying the price for one 9 second drunken chant sung by someone raised in Texas who was intoxicated.

    Some hate mail was apparently misdirected.

    The Beta Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity’s house mom received angry notes that were seemingly intended for the SAE house mom, who had been captured on a separate video saying “n***a” several times as hip-hop music played in the background.


    — 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.

  • 7 Steps To Get Targeted Leads From LinkedIn for Small Businesses
    According to Digital Marketing Stats, as of November 2014, there were 107 million LinkedIn users in the U.S. alone, and approximately 40 percent of those users check LinkedIn on a daily basis. Since the LinkedIn universe is so vast, as a business owner, you would be wise to utilize this social tool as a way to produce targeted leads. The seven tips listed below will reveal how you can use LinkedIn do just that:

    Link to Your Business’ Site And Add Contact Info:
    The first step to generating leads using LinkedIn involves adding a link to your business’ site. You can add up to three links to your profile, so take advantage of this and hyperlink your business’s website. In addition, make sure your contact information is displayed predominately on your profile. After all, if a potential client desires your product or service, you most certainly want them to have all your contact information.

    Post Regularly, Especially in the Morning:
    It is important to regularly post updates on your LinkedIn profile. Although posting at anytime during the day can be worthwhile, Lana Khavinson, the senior product marketing manager at LinkedIn, said that morning posts get the best engagement.

    Send Personalized Messages:
    LinkedIn Sponsored Inmail campaign is like email, but even better. This is a service offered by LinkedIn that is worthwhile, although not free. The Inmail tool allows you to target specific people in various organizations. After you construct a message to send out, the recipient is informed they have a message in their inbox. Therefore, there is no way that someone will miss your important message.

    Differentiate Your Profile:
    Be creative. To separate your LinkedIn profile from millions of others, you must make it stand out. You can accomplish this by adding photos or videos that will automatically play when users land on your profile.

    Don’t Be Afraid to Ask:
    Be sure to include a clear call to action. Explain what your business is about and how your product or service can make life easier for potential clients. Be sure to include this call to action predominately on your profile.

    Utilize Groups:
    Participation in groups is an oft-overlooked element to utilize on LinkedIn. However, statistics show that groups multiply your reach, increase your opportunity for new leads and improve your overall targeting success. Therefore, it is wise to join as many active groups as possible.

    Contribute to Popular Ongoing Discussions:
    Participate in LinkedIn discussions to broaden your reach. To achieve the most success, identify a discussion that is already popular and jump on board by commenting about this topic. To find out what the popular discussions are at any given time, go to your groups, and then scroll down to look for the discussions with the most comments and likes. This will indicate a popular, thriving topic.

    Marketing has changed vastly thanks to social media and various other technological advances. No longer do you as a business owner have to be limited by your physical location or your marketing budget. Today, thanks to tools like LinkedIn, you can garner your own leads and successfully grow your business.

    — 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.

  • How This Badass Yogi Is Teaching Women To Love Their Bodies
    On her Instagram page, 27-year-old Jessamyn Stanley describes herself as a “yoga enthusiast and fat femme.” She has over 500 photos of herself doing every type of yoga pose — she’s in downward dog, she’s in a forearm stand, she’s using a strap to deepen her dancer pose.

    But it’s clear that Stanley is so much more than just a “yoga enthusiast.” She’s also a yoga teacher, and the captions on her colorful photos are all about her love for her students as well as inspirational messages. Sometimes it’s okay to slow down, she tells her followers. It’s also okay not to know everything, but to learn and “celebrate the small victories.”

    A photo posted by Jessamyn (@mynameisjessamyn) on May 28, 2015 at 8:07pm PDT

    Stanley said she first discovered yoga through Bikram classes in 2011. Eventually the classes became too pricy, so she started practicing at home using online resources like Yoga Journal’s Pose Index, which is how she got comfortable with a Vinyasa flow practice.

    “I really think my transition to different types of yoga studios was eased by the fact that I had already established a strong home practice,” she told The Huffington Post. “It’s difficult for new yoga practitioners to venture out of their comfort zone — hell, it’s hard for long-term practitioners to venture out of their comfort zones!”

    A photo posted by Jessamyn (@mynameisjessamyn) on Apr 26, 2015 at 3:36pm PDT

    Four years later, Stanley has over 40,000 Instagram followers. In addition to teaching, she’s working hard to help women become comfortable in their own skin, no matter what shape or size they are.

    “Our society throws crazy shade at anyone whose body differs from the models featured in Western media. I always tell people (especially women) to stop sending negative energy into their bodies and thoughts,” she said. “That negative energy is responsible for all body unhappiness. The only person in control of your life experience is you. Find the space and love to believe in yourself if only for your own overall well-being.”

    A photo posted by Jessamyn (@mynameisjessamyn) on Dec 2, 2014 at 7:21am PST

    Although Stanley is based in Durham, North Carolina, she hopes to eventually teach classes all over the world.

    “I receive messages from people all over the world who are voraciously hungry for yoga teachers with whom they can relate, and I want to reach as many of these people as humanly possible,” she said.

    We’d take a class from her in a heartbeat.

    — 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.

  • When the Heck Did Learning to Code Become Cool?
    And why it sucks to be a beginner today…

    If you — like me — became a software engineer before the Internet was at scale, back in the good-old-days when AOL was spamming our physical mailboxes with CDs — you may not appreciate how drastically becoming a software developer has changed.

    Although the Internet has made our lives collectively easier, the dynamic of learning to program totally different from when I was starting out.

    When the heck did learning to code become cool?

    When I was teaching myself to program in high school, the attitude people had was “that’s just because Ken sucks at football” — not that I was some kind of glamorous rock star.

    With the prevalence of social media, and the epic rise of companies like Instagram and “tech celebrities” like Zuckerburg, it has never been cooler to be a software developer.

    How the world views developers in the ’90s and today:


    If you’re reading this, you may still not believe me when I say in certain circles it’s very cool to say you can code. If you don’t believe me, there are a bunch of talks on YouTube, where you can watch people brag about how awesome they are because they can code to an audience that actually is listening and impressed.

    While the image of developers has changed from some members of the general public — and I don’t have to feel embarrassed telling people I program computers for a living anymore — beginners that are looking to become software developers face a whole slew of problems that I never had to face.

    Problem #1: You need to learn HTML9 Responsive BoilerStrap JS (or whatever JS Framework is trending today on HackerNews).

    There’s a lot of hype out there about the next latest and greatest programming fad.

    A lot of progress is being made in the programming world, but in general there’s not a silver-bullet single technology someone can learn that will immediately cure all their problems.

    Beginners are often encouraged to start digging into solutions for problems they don’t understand yet.

    The hype can cause someone to try to learn about things like the Virtual DOM, or Shadow DOM, before they even understand what the regular DOM is. When beginners are starting out there isn’t a lot of talk about “learning to crawl before you learn to walk”, instead there is a lot more about the latest and greatest fad.

    As a seasoned web developer, I love playing with these new technologies as they come out, but I know that it’s important to use the right tool for the job. Beginners often feel like learning how to fit a square-peg through a round-hole is the fastest way to level up their coding skills.

    In the grand scheme of things learning the latest trend isn’t important. Nobody is really saying this explicitly to the community.

    Problem #2: Fundamentals aren’t sexy.

    Here’s a list of things that you probably will never see trend on HackerNews and seldom put in most job postings:

    Data Structures, Linked Lists, Trees, Depth First Search, Floyd’s Cycle Detection Algorithm.

    However it’s also a list of some stuff that comes up incredibly frequently on technical interviews.

    The disconnect between “UnderbackJS” or whatever is listed on job postings today leave beginners thinking they need to chase and catch up with the latest trend to get the job, not get a solid foundation in what really matters.

    The “Learn to Code Community” is very much an echo-chamber, that can confuse beginners. Unfortunately people with years of experience communicating with other seasoned developers don’t realize what they say will likely be taken out of context by beginners.

    As experienced developers, most of the time we care more about a solid foundation and analytical skills rather than experience with the specific tools of the trade. Having hired many solid engineers who learned the specific technologies on the job, knowing specific stuff is generally overrated.

    Problem #3: People (kind of) know what they are doing now.

    I wrote some seriously bad code on my first jobs as a web developer.

    Frameworks were just coming out and everyone had been developing in either PHP or CGI. This whole framework thing was relatively new, so I started on relatively equal footing as everyone else.

    I made every mistake in the book and my second job in web development had me asking questions like “what the heck is a unit test?”. Live and learn. The developer in me is a little bit afraid to know that a lot of the code I wrote long ago, when I was starting out, is still alive in the wild.

    But now, people have been writing web applications for many years, and have developed a lot of best practices. On the one hand this means that with code reviews and communicating about code people can get up to speed. It’s possible for people to learn what we as a community took a decade to figure-out in a short period of time in comparison.

    On the flip side it’s a bit overwhelming to try to fully grok some of the nuances that the community currently talks about. Things like:

    • Monoliths are great!
    • Microservices are where it’s at my friend!
    • Microservices are overrated. Monoliths are back in vogue!
    • Turbolinks?

    As a community we have 10-plus years of baggage we’re lugging around. It makes it easy for us to have context about how the world has been in the past. But hopefully the beginners of today will never have to muck-through a big shitty monolith similar to what I was building in 2008.

    Problem #4: People still have no idea what they’re doing (and that’s ok).

    When starting out, it’s normal to compare yourself to other people, but in general doing so is a bad idea.

    It’s hard to compare yourself with someone who has much more experience than you. This causes beginners often think to themselves:

    When am I going to learn everything I need to know? I still feel like there’s a lot out there that I need to learn.

    The answer of course is a hard one for them to fully appreciate. It’s nobody ever learns everything that they ever need to, and if that ever happens that you’re not learning something new every day, it’s time to look for a new and more challenging set of problems to tackle.


    Watching talks by Aaron Patterson where he dives into Ruby’s C source code, or using RubyVM::InstructionSequence to figure out what happens under the hood, or how journey implements routing in rails with finite automata instead of regexes still melts my face. Watching those talks is a good reminder of how clueless I am about the inner workings of a lot of things…

    Problem #5: Some of the most important lessons about programming you need to learn by messing things up big time.


    If you’ve never made a mistake that brought some mission-critical software component screech to a halt, you’ve never really been under the gun to fix things. If that’s the case there are still lessons to learn.

    Non-technical people walking to your desk to tell you about some problem you already know about, teaches you a lot. Especially if you are busy desperately trying it. Books can’t teach these kinds of lessons.

    Problem #6: Systems have gotten complex.

    Here’s an example of how things have gotten more complex with Ruby on Rails:

    In 2008: In order to have your site live on the Internet you needed to spin up a server yourself and configure all the components: apache and mongrel.

    But today:

    Today: git push heroku master. Boom. Good to go.

    While this sounds like things are easier than ever, side effects of the complexity of the systems that is abstracted away quickly come up.

    Take this example back in 2008:

    In 2008: To get image uploading working in a project, you needed around 5 lines of code in a model, which on a request would copy the multi-part form data into a file on the system’s hard-drive. This worked like charm, even on production if apache was setup properly.
    or today

    Today: It takes one line of code in your model, after integrating with something like carrierwave/paperclip, which does all the stuff you need to get file uploading working. This one line is kind of magic, but it gets the job done.

    Unless you’re on heroku  –  heroku is nice and scales horizontally easily for us, but this causes using the filesystem for image uploading to fail in this case.

    That means if you’re on heroku, you should probably use AWS as a storage layer. It’s pretty easy to setup AWS, all you need to do is click around the UI. When you sign up you need to enter a credit card and they’ll verify your phone number by calling you, but they won’t bill you for your first gigabyte. Promise.

    After you create a user group, and a policy and roles by clicking around 10 or so pages on the Amazon site, you can create a bucket and get your Amazon API credentials.

    Oh yeah. Your app is probably on GitHub as a public repo too. That means those API keys you don’t want to check-in. You should checkout the figaro gem. It’s a real great way to store things in your computer’s environment variables. What are environment variables you ask? Let me tell you…

    Each of the incremental steps in the right direction has made things a bit tricky to get a handle on. Rails is optimized for usability, not learnablilty, because building real apps in the real world is complicated. This is a great thing, but feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the stuff out there is just part of the learning process these days.

    In retrospect, when I was starting out, my biggest problem was that I had too much bravado and a lack of self-awareness about how much maturity actually mattered.

    Today, the opposite is true for people starting out. They often view people with years of experience like people who have mastered arcane black magic. They see senior developers similar to how I viewed my parent when I was 5 year old: adults with super-powers that I’d never get.

    But in other ways, the path to becoming a solid software engineer is the same. People starting out just need a little light illuminating the right path and keeping them on track.

    I’m lucky to be able to help people looking to enter the world of software engineering find the right path, and go from being super proud of solving problems like FizzBuzz to leveling up to solve traditional CS challenges like Depth First Search, Algorithms Reversing Linked Lists, and complicated Rails Apps, like this chess app, as a team.

    I’m a code mentor at theFirehoseProject, and it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience to take aspiring web developers under my wing, and to help beginners transition to a new career in web development.

    Even though the situation beginners face when breaking into the world of development is radically different than the situation I faced when I was learning, the process is the same: Don’t be afraid to break stuff.


    This post originally appeared on Medium.

    — 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.

  • Silk Road Creator Ross Ulbricht Sentenced To Life In Prison For Drug Plot
    NEW YORK, May 29 (Reuters) – The accused mastermind behind the underground website Silk Road was sentenced on Friday to life in prison for orchestrating a scheme that enabled more than $200 million of anonymous online drug sales using the digital currency bitcoin.

    Ross Ulbricht, 31, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan, three months after a federal jury found him guilty of charges including conspiracy to commit drug trafficking, money laundering and computer hacking.

    Forrest also ordered Ulbricht to forfeit $183.9 million.

    (Reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Andre Grenon)

    — 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.

  • Why Some People Hate Having Full Inboxes
    For some, it’s a spider. For others, it’s an unexpected run-in with an ex. But for me, discomfort is a dot with a number in it: 1,328 unread-message notifications? I just can’t fathom how anyone lives like that.

    How is it that some people remain calm as unread messages trickle into their inboxes and then roost there unattended, while others can’t sit still knowing that there are bolded-black emails and red-dotted Slack messages?

    — 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.

  • Vanity Credit Cards Are The Dodo Birds of Credit
    Back in the 1990s, vanity credit cards were all the rage. These cards, with their “personalized” look; color schemes denoting your financial status; or designs meant to showcase your love of team, alma mater, or Disney character, are still around and relatively popular today. How many of us have signed up for a new card and say “oooh,” checking the box for one of the vanity designs offered?

    A new era of credit cards is coming, though, and those vanity cards will soon die out like the Dodo bird. They’ll become a rarity, an unusual sighting, something to be photographed, before finally disappearing altogether. What’s this new era?

    All-in-one cards and services like Google Wallet, Apple Pay, and more are becoming popular options. Even PayPal is in on the act, with a sort of “pay anywhere” solution similar to those offered by the tech giants. Microsoft might be launching one too, if they can keep it from crashing. (Had to say it.)

    Other services, though, might even eclipse those from the big boys. Like Coin. Coin is a credit card-like device that allows you to load all of your other credit, debit, loyalty, etc. cards onto one card-like device and use it to use any of them from one card. So instead of carrying two credit cards, a debit card, five store loyalty cards, and an ID, you can instead carry Coin and your ID. And maybe some cash if you’re still that last century.

    Coin recently began shipping after a very successful crowd funding campaign and two years of hard development. It launched to over 350,000 people who’d signed up with enough funding donation to get one when they came out. Those deliveries are going on now. Other cards in this space include Plastc and Wocket.

    With services like Wallet, Pay and Coin, why would people continue to carry around a wallet stuffed with cards begging to be pilfered and misaligning their spine when they sit? Instead, just carry around a smart phone (which we already do) or a Coin and use some passwords and tap phrases (or any of a myriad of inventive security schemes) to pay for your stuff. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even, eventually, get to pay bills without writing checks. We all have that one holdout utility that doesn’t accept auto-draft. Sigh. Maybe they’ll take Apple Pay instead. At least you can finally get rid of that Disney Princess credit card you accidentally chose thinking it was the Darth Vader offer in the catalog. Stupid form. How was I supposed to know that F was a P?

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  • Meet The Woman In Charge Of Making The U.S. Health Department Smarter
    Susannah Fox, an expert on how the Internet affects Americans’ health, is now in charge of improving how the United States government uses technology to deliver and improve health care.

    On Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell named Susannah Fox, an entrepreneur-in-residence at at the Robert Johnson Wood Foundation, as the health department’s new chief technology officer. Fox is the first woman to hold the position.

    Fox plans to liberate more health data for the public good, nurture entrepreneurial spirit within the immense HHS bureaucracy and highlight how citizens are improving their own health and well-being — all themes that she’s been passionate about for years.

    “The most exciting innovation is not just access to information but access to each other,” Fox told me last June.

    Digital health care entrepreneurs, academics and patient advocates are thrilled that one of their own will be taking on the role pioneered by former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park and extended by Bryan Sivak, who departed from the HHS CTO role last month. So is Fox’s new boss.

    “As the CTO, Susannah will bring her commitment to promoting the effective and responsible use of technology throughout the health care sector to improve health outcomes and the patient experience around the country,” Burwell said in a statement.

    Fox has been an advocate for patients, caregivers and the thoughtful integration of technology into how we learn and deliver healing to one another. Her entrance into public service is good news for Americans and the HSS.

    In the video below, recorded last year, Fox talks with me about health care and the Internet:

    In this next video, also recorded last year, Fox talks with me about how the data generated by wearable computing devices like the Fitbit or Apple Watch will be relevant to patient health and clinical decisions:

    — 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.

  • Google Commits $20 Million To Make The World More Accessible For People With Disabilities
    The technology that enables people with disabilities to lead independent and fulfilling lives is rapidly improving, but not quite fast enough, according to Google.

    That’s why the global tech giant is investing $20 million in grants for nonprofits that are working on groundbreaking solutions.

    The company on Tuesday introduced the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities, a competition that invites innovators to pitch their ideas on how to make the world more accessible for people with disabilities. That could involve a system that helps people with mobility issues get from place-to-place more seamlessly, or developing an app that lists the closest accessible restrooms, according to the site.

    It will then choose the best concepts and help bring them to scale.

    A winning innovation could be something a simple as Liftware, a stabilizing handle that attaches to utensils so that people with hand tremors can eat with ease, according to the Google blog post.

    To start, Google has already committed to supporting two cutting edge nonprofits, the Enable Community and World Wide Hearing.

    Enable Community matches people who need prosthetics with volunteers who use 3-D printers to develop the artificial limbs for free. It’s getting a $600,000 grant to improve design, distribution and delivery.

    With a $500,000 grant, World Wide Hearing will work on developing a prototype for a low-cost tool kit — which uses smartphone technology — to test hearing loss, a process that typically requires pricey and cumbersome equipment.

    Google has also committed to investing in improving its own products and services to make them more accessible for people with disabilities.

    “Historically, people living with disabilities have relied on technologies that were often bulky, expensive, and limited to assisting with one or two specific tasks. But that’s beginning to change,” Jaqueline Fuller, director of Google.org, wrote in a blog post. “But we’ll all get there sooner if we make it a team effort.”

    CLARIFICATION: This post was updated to clarify the details of the Google challenge

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  • Improved Customer Experience With Strong Social Media Strategy
    Jeff Winton, of Sendero Consulting, shares a social media strategy that improves customer experience for a large utility client and believes it can improve customer experience for any business where negative feedback on a social channel has a direct impact to bottom lines.


    SDM: What can you tell us about your work at Sendero?

    JW: I’m part of a team at Sendero, a management consulting firm that focuses on strategy, business management, human performance and technology across multiple industries. We have a team of “athletes” that understand the fact that most business ideas and problems include an element of all four.”

    SDM: Do you have a favorite customer experience story at Sendero?

    JW: Yes, a large Southern utility company had a goal to become the trusted advisor of their customer. Our project was to develop a strategy for a simple premise: “This is where we want to be, so help us get there.” With a small consulting team, we started by creating a profile of their customers: How do they interact with customers? What works and what doesn’t work? What are the company’s strengths? What do their customers say they do well versus what they think they do well? How does that definition change depending on who you talk to? What are other utilities doing with their customers? What are non-utilities doing with theirs?

    We conducted focus groups across the customer base in Texas. We conducted stakeholder and customer interviews and round-table strategy sessions with representation from all levels of the company. We conducted external research, looked at businesses that are the best of breed when it comes to customer service to see what they do and how they enhance customer experience.

    SDM: What was the original problem?

    JW: This client had a customer base they didn’t often connect with and wanted to change that.

    SDM: Where were they with customer satisfaction at that time?

    JW: They conducted customer surveys on an annual basis and had direct interaction with customers to a large degree. They had an idea how their customers felt about them and how satisfied they were, but they knew that they needed to do more — something more robust.

    SDM: What did you learn in the focus groups?

    JW: Customers want to communicate with you in a manner of their choosing, not yours. Some customers get everything they need from TV and they don’t offer feedback. Some use social media exclusively. Others want to text you and receive info and others want to call you on the phone. The challenges of the omni-channel concept apply because customers have a multitude of tools they can use to get info and they expect you to be on the one they choose.

    SDM: What does that mean?

    JW: A lot of the biggest pain points are related to outages. Customers need to be able to tell you about it and they want to know when the issue will be resolved. They want to do that through the web, over the phone, using a mobile device, text message, etc. They want to see how it is affecting their area.

    SDM: Was this a challenge for your client – was it new information?

    JW: Yes it was a challenge. Customer interaction involves large amounts of information — a lot of data and there is a lot of process behind that data. It comes down to individual men and women in the field. How do you take that information and make it available to customers, while ensuring its integrity? In the field, these people are working around the clock and the systems are depending on the data that must be entered during their process. How do you get the data from the ops team to the customers about when their issue will be resolved? How do you present the data in a way that it is concise and understandable, and also accurate?

    SDM: What where the results?

    JW: We helped the company redesign its website – made it friendly for PCs, tablets and mobile devices. With our support, they implemented text messaging for outage reporting and information as well as service order information; redesigned the IVR that allows customers to report outages; implemented an online outage reporting solution and outage map that displays information about the outage event — location, number of customers affected, estimated time of restoration, etc.; implemented a live chat tool for specific groups of customers to utilize to communicate directly with their employees over the web. And other initiatives as well.

    SDM: How did your customer feel the impact?

    JW: In this case of customer experience, customers don’t have an alternative; if they live within the service area, their only option is to take service from the utility. So public perception of this company and whether or not they are getting positive feedback became even more important due to social media. Our client wanted to decrease the negatives. The negatives will never all go away, but at the minimum you can make customer experience better by becoming more transparent.

    SDM: What did you take away from this experience?

    JW: Customers use many tools for communication and it is critical that companies recognize this and respond to it. In addition, this space is changing rapidly. The challenge is keeping up with it. You have to, or you will be left behind. The number one thing I learned working in customer experience is how broad it is, how much broader it will be, how demanding it is to keep up with the technology, and how it follows the needs and wants of customer.

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  • U.S. Tried Stuxnet-Like Campaign Against North Korea's Nuclear Program: Report
    By Joseph Menn

    SAN FRANCISCO, May 29 (Reuters) – The United States tried to deploy a version of the Stuxnet computer virus to attack North Korea’s nuclear weapons program five years ago but ultimately failed, according to people familiar with the covert campaign.

    The operation began in tandem with the now-famous Stuxnet attack that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear program in 2009 and 2010 by destroying a thousand or more centrifuges that were enriching uranium. Reuters and others have reported that the Iran attack was a joint effort by U.S. and Israeli forces.

    According to one U.S. intelligence source, Stuxnet’s developers produced a related virus that would be activated when it encountered Korean-language settings on an infected machine.

    But U.S. agents could not access the core machines that ran Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, said another source, a former high-ranking intelligence official who was briefed on the program.

    The official said the National Security Agency-led campaign was stymied by North Korea’s utter secrecy, as well as the extreme isolation of its communications systems. A third source, also previously with U.S. intelligence, said he had heard about the failed cyber attack but did not know details.

    North Korea has some of the most isolated communications networks in the world. Just owning a computer requires police permission, and the open Internet is unknown except to a tiny elite. The country has one main conduit for Internet connections to the outside world, through China.

    In contrast, Iranians surfed the Net broadly and had interactions with companies from around the globe.

    A spokeswoman for the NSA declined to comment for this story. The spy agency has previously declined to comment on the Stuxnet attack against Iran.

    The United States has launched many cyber espionage campaigns, but North Korea is only the second country, after Iran, that the NSA is now known to have targeted with software designed to destroy equipment.

    Washington has long expressed concerns about Pyongyang’s nuclear program, which it says breaches international agreements. North Korea has been hit with sanctions because of its nuclear and missile tests, moves that Pyongyang sees as an attack on its sovereign right to defend itself.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said last week that Washington and Beijing were discussing imposing further sanctions on North Korea, which he said was “not even close” to taking steps to end its nuclear program.

    north korea rocket
    People watch a TV news program showing rockets launched by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, March 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)


    Experts in nuclear programs said there are similarities between North Korea and Iran’s operations, and the two countries continue to collaborate on military technology.

    Both countries use a system with P-2 centrifuges, obtained by Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, who is regarded as the father of Islamabad’s nuclear bomb, they said.

    Like Iran, North Korea probably directs its centrifuges with control software developed by Siemens AG that runs on Microsoft Corp’s Windows operating system, the experts said. Stuxnet took advantage of vulnerabilities in both the Siemens and Microsoft programs.

    Because of the overlap between North Korea and Iran’s nuclear programs, the NSA would not have had to tinker much with Stuxnet to make it capable of destroying centrifuges in North Korea, if it could be deployed there.

    Despite modest differences between the programs, “Stuxnet can deal with both of them. But you still need to get it in,” said Olli Heinonen, senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

    NSA Director Keith Alexander said North Korea’s strict limitations on Internet access and human travel make it one of a few nations “who can race out and do damage with relative impunity” since reprisals in cyberspace are so challenging.

    When asked about Stuxnet, Alexander said he could not comment on any offensive actions taken during his time at the spy agency.

    David Albright, founder of the Institute for Science and International Security and an authority on North Korea’s nuclear program, said U.S. cyber agents probably tried to get to North Korea by compromising technology suppliers from Iran, Pakistan or China.

    “There was likely an attempt” to sabotage the North Korean program with software, said Albright, who has frequently written and testified on the country’s nuclear ambitions.

    north korea rocket
    North Korean missiles are displayed during a military parade past Kim Il-Sung square marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean war armistice in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)


    The Stuxnet campaign against Iran, code-named Olympic Games, was discovered in 2010. It remains unclear how the virus was introduced to the Iranian nuclear facility in Natanz, which was not connected to the Internet.

    According to cybersecurity experts, Stuxnet was found inside industrial companies in Iran that were tied to the nuclear effort. As for how Stuxnet got there, a leading theory is that it was deposited by a sophisticated espionage program developed by a team closely allied to Stuxnet’s authors, dubbed the Equation Group by researchers at Kaspersky Lab.

    The U.S. effort got that far in North Korea as well. Though no versions of Stuxnet have been reported as being discovered in local computers, Kaspersky Lab analyst Costin Raiu said that a piece of software related to Stuxnet had turned up in North Korea.

    Kaspersky had previously reported that the software, digitally signed with one of the same stolen certificates that had been used to install Stuxnet, had been submitted to malware analysis site VirusTotal from an electronic address in China. But Raiu told Reuters his contacts had assured him that it originated in North Korea, where it infected a computer in March or April 2010.

    Some experts said that even if a Stuxnet attack against North Korea had succeeded, it might not have had that big an impact on its nuclear weapons program. Iran’s nuclear sites were well known, whereas North Korea probably has at least one other facility beyond the known Yongbyon nuclear complex, former officials and inspectors said.

    In addition, North Korea likely has plutonium, which does not require a cumbersome enrichment process depending on the cascading centrifuges that were a fat target for Stuxnet, they said.

    Jim Lewis, an advisor to the U.S. government on cybersecurity issues and a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said there are limitations to cyber offense.

    A cyber attack “is not something you can release and be sure of the results,” Lewis said. (Editing by Tiffany Wu)

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  • Google Maps Is Going Offline, Will Make Traveling That Much Easier
    Google Maps can take you anywhere. But frustrated travelers sometimes find themselves without Wi-Fi or data coverage, making it impossible to access their routes. Luckily, Google is trying to change that.

    The company announced on Thursday that the company will be making Google Maps search and navigation features available offline. According to a Google spokesperson, the feature will be available to Maps users later this year.

    “This was influenced by a number of scenarios where access to maps would be useful,” said the spokesperson in an email conversation with The Huffington Post. “Some examples might include when someone is in a coverage dead-spot in their town or city — for instance a parking garage. Or if someone is traveling to another country and they don’t have a local data plan.”

    While Maps can already take you all around the world from the seat of your chair, this could be the latest innovation to change the future of travel.

    “Our goal is to make traveling and exploring new places easier for people,” said the spokesperson. Access to Maps while offline will allow people to make last-minute decisions or search for places of interest on the spot without having to pre-plan the day.”

    cell phone

    For even more ways that Google is making travel easier, try some of these hacks:

    • Use the train icon in Google Maps to pull up current (and future!) train schedules for your trips.
    • If you click the “Save the Itinerary” button for a particular flight on Google Flights, the search engine will monitor the price for you and let you know when it changes.

    H/T The Verge

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  • Study finds Eye chart apps not valid substitutes for traditional Snellen chart

    Study shows almost every eye chart app isn’t a valid substitute for traditional Snellen chart.

    The post Study finds Eye chart apps not valid substitutes for traditional Snellen chart appeared first on iMedicalApps.

  • MacNN Deals: Protect yourself from losing your smartphone data
    Every day, alongside our regular Daily Deals post, we are showcasing a few of the sales available on our own MacNN Deals page. Today, we’re looking into ways to protect your precious data stored on your smartphone, including backing up your data, recovering it if things get accidentally deleted, and minimizing physical damage to the iPhone while also providing more photography options for the camera.

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