Mobile Technology News, May 6, 2014
As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.
- Rakesh Agrawal's Epic Twitter Meltdown Leads To War Of Words With PayPal
Talk about burned bridges.
Rakesh “Rocky” Agrawal was an executive at PayPal until Friday, when he fired off a series of insulting tweets, including one that called a fellow PayPal exec a “piece of shit.”
Agrawal quickly deleted the tweets and blamed a new phone, but nothing’s ever truly deleted from the Internet. The posts were saved in a number of places, and you can take a look at some of them on the Valleywag website.
PayPal took to Twitter over the weekend to announce that Agrawal was gone. Then, Agrawal posted an image of a resignation email showing he had quit the e-commerce company before the Twitter war began.
In another deleted tweet, Agrawal apologized to PayPal boss David Marcus.
On Monday, Marcus made it clear he wasn’t in the mood for an apology.
“When you attack and insult my team, you attack, and insult me and the rest of PayPal. I think the world of the people you’ve insulted. They are some of the best people I’ve worked with in my career, and I will not tolerate your mad rants any longer,” Marcus wrote on the PayPal website.
If it ended there, this would be just another Twitter-gone-wrong story, maybe a cautionary tale like the “Cisco fatty” and others who’ve learned the hard way that social media posts can come back to bite you hard.
But in this case, the story was just beginning.
The incident led to an escalating war of words between Agrawal and his former employer, a series of digs at some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley and a possible new company started by Agrawal that’s apparently hiring right now… but don’t bother sending in a resume.
It seems Agrawal is hiring people who follow scavenger-hunt-like clues on Twitter.
Employee 1 pic.twitter.com/x8L0rdsxAm
— Rakesh Agrawal (@rakeshlobster) May 4, 2014
He’s flaunting the fact that he’s defying some Silicon Valley conventions, saying “None of my brilliant team would have been hired by google or FB” and “Everyone on my team (except Sophie) is 40 or older.”
In his latest blog post, Marcus seems to suggest that what Agrawal really needs is help.
“Now…if you’re a close friend of Rocky’s and you’re out there, I’d strongly suggest getting to him sooner rather than later, as his behavior is extremely worrisome,” Marcus said.
People seem to be getting to Agrawal all right — but not because they’re worried. It’s because they want jobs.
And that leads us to ask…
- Report: Apple to hold 'upgrade event' in stores later this week
Those iPhone owners who have older models that are overdue or upgrade-eligible for a newer phone may find a reason to move up during an “enormous” event being held later this week at Apple retail stores, according to reports. The promotion, apparently not connected to Apple’s ongoing trade-in program, will be detailed in a report to store management and workers tomorrow. Specifics have not yet been revealed, but eligible owners will be emailed about the promotion.
- Tesco to launch own-brand smartphone
Supermarket giant plans to launch an own-brand smartphone by the end of the year, chief executive Philip Clarke tells the BBC.
- Amazon launches shopping via Twitter
Online retailer Amazon announces a partnership with Twitter that allows users to add products to their shopping carts by tweeting a special hashtag.
- eWeather HD for iOS Update Brings Improved Animations & Speeds
eWeather HD for iOS has been updated with new animated effects, huge improvements to the weather maps and better performance. eWeather HD puts everything you need to know to prepare for a summer season – in the palm of your hand. It combines ten day and hourly weather forecasts from multiple [...]
The post eWeather HD for iOS Update Brings Improved Animations & Speeds appeared first on AlliOSNews.
- Apple-Samsung foreman: 'consumer' is loser in patent case
With the trial now over in the second Apple-Samsung patent case, jurors have begun talking to the media about the case — particularly foreman Thomas Dunham, a retired IBM supervisor. Commenting on the verdict, he said that “ultimately, the consumer is the loser in all this” and that he’d like to see the two tech giants “find a way to settle.” After revising figures owing to what Dunham called a “clerical error” earlier in the day, the jury left the total awards to Samsung and Apple intact.
- AOL, Yahoo, YouTube Each Take Unique Road to Video
It used to be, video was one thing — video. But as the worlds of television and Web hurtle toward their now seemingly inevitable convergence, a number of the web’s largest players are staking unique claims in the future of video.
This week content creators, distributors, ad sales executives and gathered in New York to rally the troops and unleash new deals, programs, and audience measurement options for the emerging web video community.
Oh, and don’t forget drinking. There was a lot of that too.
Yaho event on Monday night was both literally and figuratively in a big tent pitched on the grounds of Lincoln Center. The backdrop of quality arts served Yahoo well, as Marisa Mayer opened the event — leading the packed house through a hour plus long journey into Yahoo Originals and programming.
The presentation was data-driven, and Yahoo under the leadership of Mayer is listening to where the data is driving them. Mobile Video consumption grew a staggering 38 percent — year over year, and 35 percent of all primetime viewing is now via DVRs — excluding sports. Simply put, users are shifting their behavior to ‘on demand’ and self-programed content consumption. “Consumers Are Now Programmers” proclaimed Yahoo in big bold letters.
“We are in a time of rapid and dramatic change in how people view content online,” said Kathy Savitt, Yahoo’s CMO and the leader of their video effort. “Our goal is to not only enable the future but also to help invent it. Yahoo is focused on connecting artists, storytellers, great content producers and brands with the audiences they want — at scale, across devices, every single day.
Yahoo announced new series, and content partnerships that are sure to make some waves. But the big news was an exclusive, live partnership with Live Nation. Already the largest producer of live music worldwide, Live Nation’s CEO Michael Rapino explained: “Sixty million people attended our 23,000 Live Nation concerts last year. “he Live Nation Channel on Yahoo will become a great, new destination for music fans.” The plan is for a live concert, every night — 365 days a year. For music fans, this is a Big Deal. If Live Nation brings its “A-list” stars to this channel, it could be a new powerful home for live music fans at Yahoo.
Yahoo’s focus on big name partners, live music, and the power of their Tumblr sharing social eco-system give them a unique foothold in video.
The next night — at a completely different venue — AOLon Premiered it’s “NewFront” take on video.
Attendees were ferried across the East River via water taxi to a warehouse in Brooklyn, to the Massive Duggal Greenhouse. AOL (AOL -0.14 percent) CEO Tim Armstrong announced 16 original shows featuring big-name talent like James Franco, Steve Buscemi and Olympian skier Bode Miller.
Ran Harnero, president of video at AOL, made it clear there were five key elements: creation, curation, programming, distribution, and monetization. AOL is doubling down on original production — using their content partnerships to drive audience, and their originals to drive brand value and tune in. It’s a smart way to leverage their assets, and Armstrong went out of his way to embrace the three founders of 5min, the video startup that AOL purchased in 2010. The three founders, who’ve stayed on — have morphed the innovated 5min into the now growing and powerful AOLon.
On the original production side, James Franco will star in “Making a Scene with James Franco,” transgender musician Laura Jane Grace is producing and hosting “So Much More,” Kevin Nealon and Portia de Rossi’s “Laugh Lessons” is about funny kids, Mike Epps’ “That’s Racist” explores cultural stereotypes to find out how they began and why they linger, Nicole Richie will return with a new season of her show “Candidly Nicole.” AOL is partnering with Israeli producers and US producer/director Morgan Spurlock for “Connected,” a long-form series of first-person POV mini-docs that could help but remind me of the early days of MTV UNfiltered.
“In 2009, we were… the new kid on the block,” Armstrong said. “Now we feel we are at the forefront of video.”
Last but not least of the “Big Three” tentpole night presentations was Google Brandcast, the Newfront presentation for YouTube’s content at Madison Square Garden.
This was the 3rd year for a YouTube NewFront, and after some rethinking last year, it seems like they strode on stage with a vision, confidence, and a plan to deliver on serious promise to both advertisers and audiences. Just three months on the job as the new CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki clearly is bringing her background at Google. Until taking the helm at YouTube, Wojcicki lead Google’s ad products including AdWords and AdSense, Analytics and DoubleClick. Bringing in an astounding 87 percent of the company’s $50 billion revenue in 2012.
“The internet gives us the opportunity to redefine the video experience,” Wojcicki said. Last year, YouTube shifted from branded content to “native” — originals produced by actual YouTubers. This year, they rolled out Google Preferred, allowing advertisers to buy the top 5 percent of YouTube channels, along with Neilsen and Comscore measurement and something that advertisers have long had in broadcast TV — audience guarantees. There were no “mainstream” publishers on stage this year, instead YouTube featured Bethany Mota, Soul Pancake, Vice and DanceOn.
YouTube’s Robert Kyncl made it clear — Google wants its advertisers to know how hard they’re working to make them happy… bringing Pharrell Williams on stage to rock the house to his hit tune, “Happy.”
Yahoo, AOL, YouTube — all driving hard to have a major impact on television (the space formerly known as web video). In each case, they made a compelling case that they were on a good track. And giving the drive toward connected TVs, mobile viewing, and the demand from advertisers to reach new web audiences, the simple fact is it’s not a zero sum game. They’ve each got a plant and a strategy that could work, and should result in more choices and more quality for audiences.
- Whether You're Building a Robot or a Book, Science + Creativity = Magic
No question about it. My husband and I are opposites. He’s a software engineer and I’m a writer. When people glance at my computer screen, they’re confronted by a maze of thorny paragraphs, while his is a jungle of coded symbols.
Then there’s the grand divide in our daily habits. When it’s my turn to cook, I hastily start throwing food into pans and only then realize I’m out of three crucial ingredients. Dan does up weekly menus that include what to do with leftovers, and even prints out spreadsheets for meals with more than two courses. I do stand-up comedy for fun, but he relaxes by mixing martinis and binge watching apocalyptic zombie shows.
Yet, the longer we’re married, the more I realize that we are, in fact, more similar than different in how we work. Dan writes software, then tests and refines it, fixing bugs along the way. Sometimes he’ll think of a way to make it work better and will rewrite entire sections. Then he’ll test the code again before putting it up for review by his colleagues, who will no doubt see problem areas and get him to refine it even more.
Like Dan, as I write a draft of a book, I trim overgrown sentences, plant new words, or compost entire chapters when the book isn’t moving along at a satisfying pace, the chronology of the plot is error-ridden, or the characters lie flat on the page instead of living and breathing in the reader’s head. Each of us is likely to solve problems at odd times; when our brains are supposedly relaxing, we’re apt to jump up and scribble down new ideas magically generated when different parts of our minds go free range creative. (After writing these two paragraphs, Dan pointed out that it makes him sound like he’s in pest control and I’m a gardener, but don’t most gardeners worry about pest control, too?)
Currently, Dan is a software engineer at Rethink Robotics in Boston, home of Baxter, a big red robot designed to work in factories alongside humans. He’s writing code to help Baxter perform certain tasks efficiently, like picking things up from assembly lines and packaging them. Dan is part of a team of people determined to figure out the best ways for humans and robots to interact effectively.
Meanwhile, I’ve just launched a new novel, Beach Plum Island. I probably wrote five entire drafts of this novel before teaming up with my editor, copy editor, publicist, and marketing experts at Penguin Random House to polish the book and help it reach the right audience.
Will Baxter make it? Will my novel? Dan is optimistic, and so am I, that our creations will successfully find their places in the world. If we weren’t optimists, we couldn’t possibly be creative, because we’d quit before we started. It takes a certain kind of foolhardy courage to believe that you can make something new, whether it’s a robot or a book. It’s that kind of risk taking and persistence that makes you put in the 10,000 hours that Malcolm Gladwell is famous for calculating as the amount of time it takes to become proficient at something.
But that’s part of the fun. As cyber illusionist Marco Tempest, who recently engaged Baxter as his magician’s assistant, said in a recent TED Talk: “I combine magic and science to create illusions.”
Like Tempest, Dan and I don’t just rely on creativity to do what we do. We also depend on science and technology: hypotheses, experimenting, problem solving, testing, reviewing by committees of peers, and lots of revisions along the way. That magic a robot performs on stage or on the factory floor, or those illusions a novel delivers to a reader, come about through a complex mix of problem solving, risk taking, drive, and teamwork. Novelists and engineers, like Tempest the magician, are cyber illusionists in pursuit of art.
- Helmet treats tough depression cases
A helmet that delivers electro-magnetic impulses to the brain shows promise in treating those with depression, researchers in Denmark say.
- VIDEO: Teen creates world of 'little folk'
What started as a simple project to sharpen his photo editing skills has turned into an online sensation for 15-year old Zev Hoover from Massachusetts.
- Microsoft's 'Halo' Show May Be Coming To Showtime
Xbox Entertainment Studios is reportedly in talks to bring its “Halo” series to Showtime.
Variety reports that Xbox Entertainment Studios and Showtime are “deep in negotiations” to develop the show for television rather than as exclusive interactive Xbox content. With the deal, each new episode of the live-action drama — executive produced by Steven Spielberg — would premiere on the network and then be available for Xbox’s 48 million subscribers.
The initial plan was to make “Halo,” as well as a slate of other Microsoft titles, into television shows with an interactive element to solidify the console as an entertainment resource. If reports of negotiations are true, it’s unclear what the switch to TV would mean for any interactive plans for the show.
However, as The Verge notes, Ridley Scott is the executive producer for another upcoming “Halo” digital feature for Microsoft. It’s possible the company will place its hopes for interactive Xbox content on this project instead, according to the outlet.
A partnership with Showtime could end up being mutually beneficial, though. Forbes explains the network currently has a lot of clout thanks to hits like “Dexter,” “Weeds” and “Homeland.” However, with two of the three shows not returning, a title with a built-in fan base like “Halo” could be a way to fill the gaps left behind.
Microsoft’s original programs will begin rolling out June 13 with the interactive live broadcast of the Bonnaroo music festival, the Verge notes.
- Who's Looking Out for Consumers in the Sharing Economy?
The only thing surprising about Airbnb’s ugly confrontation with New York’s attorney general is that it took six years to get to this point. Despite operating in one of the most notoriously regulated fields, Airbnb has demonstrated an ability to expand at a mind-boggling scale. The star of the sharing economy has rapidly grown into the fifth largest hotel chain in the world.
This leads to the question, how is a company like Airbnb capable of managing the regulatory intricacies of offering listings in 33,000 cities? The disappointing answer is that they are not able to. Instead, they pass the legal headaches onto their hosts through the terms of service. This strategy has paid off handsomely for the company, but now some of its users are having to pay the cost in eviction, fines and lawsuits because they didn’t realize they were breaking the law.
It’s not just Airbnb, these tactics are used by other sharing economy companies to achieve rapid growth without having to fully deal with the consequences. Uber, for example, sees itself solely as a technology platform to connect you with independent contractors. If something goes wrong, it’s not Uber’s fault or responsibility.
However, as the industry matures, business practices are now coming under far greater scrutiny.
At the core of the philosophy behind the sharing economy is a belief that access is more valuable than ownership. In a few short years, this concept has proven to be powerful enough to change our deep-seeded consumption behaviors. This trade off, however, has led to the loss of traditional consumer protections that came with well-established businesses.
For an industry that claims to be built on trust, the companies that make up the sharing economy have adeptly avoided addressing these issues directly. When regulators have tried to bring up legitimate questions about safety and standards these companies have been quick to paint themselves as innovators under attack by special interests. In some cases this is true, in others it’s just a distraction from a reasonable complaint.
In a way, the sharing economy provides its own alternative to traditional legal protections through reputation and ranking systems. The premise is that since we are constantly able to review the performance of each other, the bad actors will naturally get weeded out. In practice however, these systems can be opaque, their credibility varies and the enforcement is uneven. There are certainly advantages to real-time feedback that can benefit consumers, but first we need to recognize the void that these systems are actually filling.
One of the most powerful forces in getting a company in the sharing economy to improve its behavior has proven to be competition. These sharing economy companies are usually backed with large amounts of venture capital, which the companies then throw at their customers/app users through promotions or steep discounts, often in an unsustainable manner. Many of these markets are not yet consolidated. And because there are no clear winners yet, services continue to improve and promotions continue to be quite enticing. Unfortunately, this is bound to come to an end at some point.
If, say, Uber were to triumph over Lyft in the battle to control urban transportation, we would be stuck with their “surge pricing morality.” We would be at the whim of Uber’s management, forced to accept whatever changes or rate hikes they introduce, with little recourse. Since we didn’t care enough to preserve the taxi industry that Uber had decimated, we would be left with few functional alternatives.
While some common-sense regulation could be helpful, we can’t rely on our legislators alone. The complexities of technology-enabled micro-entrepreneurship are many. Just as well, we’d be ill-advised to continue believing that self-regulation will automatically resolve these problems. We will need efforts in both areas; but we also, as consumers, need to pressure these companies to act ethically and in our interest, to the greatest extent possible. The tools of trust and reputation can work both ways.
It is possible for us to encourage the responsible development of this promising industry while still having the world at our fingertips.
This article originally appeared on The Wall Street Journal – The Accelerators. Check out my upcoming book, Identified: How They Are Getting To Know Everything About Us
- 5 Simple Ways To Improve Your SEO Today
You don’t have to know everything about SEO to start reaping the benefits of it.
There are some small but important search engine optimization changes you can make right away. Here are 5 simple things you can do today to improve your SEO.
1. Sign up with Webmaster Tools
On-site optimization (making sure all the technical details of your site are how they should be for both search engines and searchers) can be complicated. Luckily, both Google and Bing offer a suite of webmaster tools to make it simpler.
You’ll get information about your site’s health and speed, any crawl errors Google finds and lots more. Here’s a great guide from KISSMetrics to make the most of your Webmaster Tools account.
2. Set up Google Authorship
If you write online, make sure you get credit for your content with Google by setting up Google Authorship.
Authorship results are more likely to catch the eye of a searcher, as seen in this heat map.
And authorship is also a significant driver in whether or not someone will click. A study performed by search marketing firm Catalyst found that clicks improved 150% with Google Authorship.
3. Consider your keywords
You don’t have to do a full dive into keyword research and optimization. It’s enough to begin with some empathetic thinking. Get into the mind of a searcher and create a list of words you think people might use to find you online.
You can also do a little sleuthing in your website analytics to help you out. It used to be really easy to figure out which keywords were bringing visitors to your site by using Google Analytics, but that’s not the case anymore thanks to Google encrypting keywords.
However, you can still use analytics to figure out which content on your site is getting the most visitors and then make the connection to the main keywords you use in those pieces of content.
Combine the main words searchers will use with the keywords your analytics tell you are already bringing visitors to your site into one big list. Those are your keywords, which you’ll want to be well represented on your site. Without overdoing it, use them as often as they make sense to guide users and represent your content. Wordtracker has a great list resource of all the spots on your site keywords should be present.
Here’s a nice keyword-focused checklist from Salesforce to get you started:
If you blog on WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin is a low-maintenance way to get focused on keywords.
4. Create astounding content
Once your site is in order and you’ve got an idea of your keywords, you’re ready to create the kind of content that improves your SEO by bringing you social shares and quality inbound links.
But not just any content will do. Content marketing has exploded in popularity so quickly that it’s harder now to stand out. These statistics from Content Marketing Institute show the trend clearly.
Only the most useful, most complete, most astounding, most well researched, most emotionally engaging, most “Holy smokes!” content will make it through the content marketing deluge.
Here are some great guidelines and tips from Marcus Sheridan on creating exactly that kind of content.
Remember: “Content” doesn’t always means “words.” It can also mean free tools, beautiful visualizations, how-to videos and much, much more.
Truly standout content attracts links naturally (this is sometimes called “link earning”), so you might be doing SEO already — without even knowing it.
5. Make it easy to share
Astounding content is generally worthy of a Facebook share or a tweet. And social signals from Facebook and Twitter now correlate very strongly with good rankings in Google’s index.
That means it’s definitely worthwhile to make your great content as easy to share as possible. Focus on highly visible share buttons (websites that include social sharing buttons generate 7 times more mentions than those that don’t!), optimized meta descriptions.
Beyond the basics, you can go further by maximizing your use of images, which we’ve found are a huge factor in helping content spread socially.
The text you use when you share to social networks can play a big role, too. Performing some A/B testing like so on your social media “headlines” can improve your viral performance.
One more thing: Great SEO reading
To learn even more about SEO, here are some in-depth resources:
- Nike Fuel Is Dead: Are Fitness Tracking Wristbands a Fad?
Nike recently discontinued Nike Fuel bands and fired a bunch of related staff. President and CEO Mark Parker said:
“I think we will be part of wearables going forward. It’ll be integrated into other products that we create, and then we’ll look at expanding our partnerships to create more reach for the Nike Fuel and Fuel system that we have … and the best way to do that, we think, is through the best partnerships that we can find.”
Does this mean that Nike is out of the fitness-tracking wristband business, or does it mean that it Nike is going to concentrate on software and apps and let others (like Apple) figure out the hardware? Or, does it mean that fitness-tracking wristbands were a fad and it’s over?
Nike may stand for excellence in sports and fitness, but Nike Fuel certainly did not stand for excellence in fitness-tracking technology. Nike Fuel’s unique combination of hardware and software was an experiment in fitness tracking, social fitness and self-assembling athletic competition. Sadly, Fuel points were an arbitrary metric that helped you accomplish nothing. The software was simple to use, but forced you to tap or click way too many things to create an emotionally satisfying experience. To be as polite as possible, Fuel is probably where it deserves to be right now.
That said, it might be helpful and instructive to examine some of the component parts of the fitness-tracking wristband/wearables trend because… in its current form, fitness-tracking wristbands may well be a fad.
Function and Features
I’ve been using a Jawbone UP (now an UP24) for almost a year. During that time, I have lost over 55 pounds by walking, eating a balanced healthy diet and getting enough sleep. I have quantified a good portion of this journey using the UP app. The data tracked includes: steps per day, estimated calories burned (resting and active), sleep (deep and light) and calories consumed (which I don’t track with the UP app — I use MyFitnessPal for calorie counting).
Through an aesthetically pleasing — but overly clunky — UI, the UP app tells me what I need to know about my daily activity. Sadly, this information is only available via my mobile device (Android, in my case), so I must manually enter the information into an Excel spreadsheet to make it actionable. Not for the faint of heart.
The problem with every fitness-tracking wristband and every associated app is that they only track what they track, and they are mostly incompatible with the other tools you need to create a complete actionable plan. (For hands-on reviews of practically every popular fitness-tracking wristband, please visit www.smartphonediet.info.)
More importantly, once you are trained to know how much exercise you need to do each day and what portion sizes you are allowed to eat to maintain or reduce your body weight, there’s not much to quantify… is there?
Of course there is! While Fitbit, Jawbone UP, Withings Pulse, Polar Loop, Misfit Shine and other $100 to $200 non-specialized, fitness-tracking wristbands all have very similar features, they all help you understand how you spend your day. The bands use an accelerometer to track your movement and an algorithm takes a best guess at what those movements mean. This is where the process breaks down… it’s early days and these types of fitness-tracking wristbands are technologically undifferentiated and the software leaves you wanting.
There are, of course, many specialized fitness-tracking wristbands like the GPS enabled watches for runners by Garmin, Timex and Casio. Specialized wristbands with advanced features don’t really fall into the general consumer “fitness-tracking wristband” category. Yes, they track and quantify much of the same activities, but they do it at a semi-professional or professional level. And, most have far too many features to be used to simply track steps.
Social fitness is a common component of every fitness-tracking wristband system. The UP app lets me assemble a team of friends. I have 25 team members. About half of my team has not used the app for months. When I asked some of them (via Facebook or email or text or actually in person) why, the answers fell into three categories:
- It broke.
- I used it for a while, but I didn’t lose any weight.
- I don’t have the discipline to use it right, so I just stopped.
Then there’s another smaller group that doesn’t use it every day, but may use it on the weekend or for a few days during the week. Finally, there are a few (like me) who are fully committed to the program.
If I were to graph the curves, they would look eerily similar to other fad graphs such as the EST Therapy fad in the ’70s, the aerobics craze of the ’80s, Beanie Babies in the ’90s, iPods in the ’00s, etc.
The difference here is that fitness-tracking wristbands are not the final form factor. Apple has a patent for headphones that will take your temperature and measure your heart rate; there are all kinds of sensors and wearable computing tools just around the corner. The iWatch is coming soon, as are several “next generation” wristbands that promise greater benefits and ease of use.
Are fitness-tracking wristbands a fad? Probably, but the quantified self movement (of which fitness-tracking wristbands are only one small part) is going to be here for a good long while. So get ready… this is just the beginning.
- Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower 2014 To Peak Early Tuesday Morning (LIVESTREAM VIDEO)
Celebrating Cinco de Mayo tonight? Keep the tequila flowing, because you’ve got a reason to stay up late — you just might spot some shooting stars!
The 2014 Eta Aquarid meteor shower is expected to peak overnight from May 5 to 6. It is one of two showers that occur every year as Earth passes through debris left behind by Halley’s Comet. The other such shower, called Orionids, occurs in mid-October.
“What makes this shower somewhat special is that the meteors stem from the most famous comet in all of history, Comet Halley,” Bob Berman, a popular American astronomer affiliated with the SLOOH Observatory, said in a written statement. “As Halley goes around the Sun in its 76-year orbit, pieces of it, little chunks of ice, slough off the comet and we intersect that every year around this time, in early May. And we happen to hit this material just about head on producing one of the fastest displays of meteors of the year.”
The prime time for viewing begins at midnight and lasts until dawn (your local time), with peak rates from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m., according to NASA.
Skywatchers in the southern hemisphere will be treated to the best view, with astronomers predicting up to 60 meteors per hour. Skywatchers in the northern hemisphere can expect around 30 meteors per hour.
While cloudy weather may obstruct the view in the northern U.S., SLOOH is scheduled to broadcast live coverage of the meteor shower from North America starting at 9 p.m. EDT. Just check it out in the video above.
- Pediatrics immunization app shows partnership between private and academic institutions
Kohl’s and the Medical University of South Carolina Children’s hospital have collaborated to create an app which allows parents to track their child’s’ healthcare records.
- The 3 Manager Dog Breeds
When it comes to managing your team are you a Sheepdog, Golden Retriever or a Greyhound?
By Elaine Wherry (Co-founder & CXO, Meebo)
I know the names of more dogs than people in my neighborhood. Being a dog lover, I started identifying managers with three dog breeds years ago: the Sheepdog, Golden Retriever, and Greyhound. Like the three dogs, we tend to manage our teams by protecting, pleasing and doing. However, when taken to extremes, our good intentions and natural instincts can lead us astray. Here’s a synopsis of the three manager dog breeds and what to watch out for.
Sheepdog (the “Protector”)
Sheepdog managers are protective by nature. They love hierarchy, honor and developing foolproof plans. Once the sheepdog is on your side, you won’t find anyone more loyal or dependable. However, the desire to protect and defend the team leads to a few pesky habits:
- Says no a lot. The Sheepdog says no, no, no until convinced there’s no risk to saying yes. After a while, people figure out how to get things done without the Sheepdog’s approval and this lack of respect for boundaries makes the Sheepdog furious!
- Hates change. The Sheepdog’s role is to make sure everything goes as planned. After all, change brings unpredictability and potential failure! As a result, people avoid difficult conversations with the Sheepdog until the change is certain. Now the Sheepdog is the last to know everything! Grrrr…
- Implements unnecessary rules and procedures. If you want to work with the team, you have to run it by the Sheepdog first. This leads to email lists, approval forms, weekly task meetings and other forms of bureaucracy. The Sheepdog might know what’s going on but everyone else is clueless. The Sheepdog is okay with that.
- Avoids working with other teams. The Sheepdog prefers to stand its ground and fend off intruders. If you want to collaborate with the Sheepdog, you have to convince the Sheepdog that the current non-collaborative plan is ineffective. Proactively reaching out just to see if there might be ways to help each other is crazy.
Golden Retriever (the “Pleaser”)
The Goldie wants one thing: to please, please, please. Goldies love being involved and keeping team morale high. Goldies are great at developing team cohesion, seeing the best in others and taking everyone’s opinions into account. You probably have the best team tees and inside jokes if you work for a Goldie. However, the Goldie is surprised when their desire to please everyone somehow makes people unhappy!
- Can’t make tough calls. The Goldie just wants to say yes. This leads to flip-flopping, delayed decision-making and postponing unpopular work to keep everyone happy. The Goldie wonders, “Isn’t there a plan that makes everyone happy all the time? Maybe the team should just vote? Maybe the issue should be escalated? Guys, I don’t know — what do you think we should do?”
- Cliquish. The Goldie love to play and tend to combine work with fun: one-on-ones over foosball, happy hour post-mortems and coffee meeting planning sessions. As a result, Goldie’s tend to gravitate towards people with the same social habits as their own. But if you don’t like playing Goldie ball, watch out!
- Can’t give hard feedback. Everything is super wonderful according to the Goldie. Team members might have to read between the lines for real feedback, “Everything is great. If I were to change one tiny thing, I might consider taking a look at this small issue that you probably didn’t even do intentionally and I didn’t even notice at first. Actually, it’s really okay and I’ll let you know if it becomes a real problem.” The Goldie is shocked when their team members say they aren’t getting individual coaching!
- Unintentionally throws people under the bus. When a Goldie needs to finally deliver tough feedback, it’s easier to say, “Listen, I think you’re amazing. Of course, I love what you’re doing. But the exec team wants me to pass along this hard feedback. I know this is tough and I’m really, really sorry!” Whoops! Now the Goldie has introduced politics!
Greyhound (the “Doer”)
The Greyhound loves learning, problem solving and questioning the impossible. They were promoted because of their exceptional domain expertise, but now they believe that the team just can’t get it done without them. However, the converse is true. The team could do anything if the Greyhound Manager would just focus on managing the team and would resist the urge to jump into the team’s tasks!
- Hates delegating. The Greyhound doesn’t realize that you inspire the team by doing the manager job well — not by proving that you could do your team’s job better.
- But that’s not my way! The Greyhound is accustomed to being the thought-leader. When someone proposes a new execution plan, the Greyhound can’t help but show some skepticism, “Well… we can try it your way first but just so you know, this is how I would personally do it!”
- Runs to the emergency. The Greyhound needs little excuse to drop all manager duties and dive into the day-to-day — especially an emergency! However, they fail to recognize that one fire is frequently followed by another fire. As a result, the Greyhound gets embroiled in emergencies and the team loses its leader when they need one the most.
- Goes stir crazy. Sometimes a manager doesn’t have any formal tasks to do except respond to emails, be available to the team, and think. To the poor Greyhound, that sounds like, “You want me to sit at this desk all day and do absolutely nothing? Worst thing ever!”
- Poor time management. If the Greyhound’s day is filled with meetings, email, and helping team members, it’s only at night that they get “real work” done. The Greyhound will burn out or drop important issues if they continue to work two full-time roles. How can folks be upset with them when it’s clear the Greyhound is trying so hard! No one else tries as hard as a Greyhound!
Which breed of manager are you?
- Amazon Now Lets You Add To Your Cart By Tweeting
NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon wants to make shopping online as easy as a tweet.
The online retailer is introducing a service that lets Twitter users add Amazon.com products to their carts without leaving the social media site.
The service comes as Amazon seeks to make social media a bigger source for sales. Twitter also has been seeking new revenue streams beyond advertising services like promoted tweets.
Under the program, users must link their Amazon.com account with their Twitter account. Then they need to add the hashtag #AmazonCart when replying to a tweet that has an Amazon product link. The product will then be automatically added to their shopping cart.
Twitter users will get a reply tweet from @MyAmazon as well as an email from Amazon when the item is successfully added to their cart.
The service is for U.S. customers only, although U.K. users have a similar service with the hashtag #AmazonBasket.
“This is an example of the constant innovation both Amazon and Twitter are using to push social shopping forward, but I don’t think it’s going to be a huge needle mover for either company,” said CRT Capital analyst Neil Doshi. “More and more people are showing items they’ve bought on Twitter, so it might be a way for followers to buy something more quickly.”
Shares in Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. rose $1.63 to $309.64 in afternoon trading. Shares in Twitter Inc., which is based in San Francisco, rose 9 cents to $39.11.
- Student Texts 'Goodbye Mama' In Final Message Right Before Tornado Strikes
A 22-year-old college student sent a final text to his mom moments before an April 27 tornado struck his house, KNWA reports.
Jeffrey Hunter was hiding in a bathroom in Vilonia, Ark. with his father and stepmother when the fatal twister hit. The father and stepmother were injured, but survived, while Hunter ultimately perished.
Hunter was a student at the University of Central Arkansas and worked at a general store 14 miles away from campus in Vilonia.
Wood was 20 miles from Hunter in Beebe, Ark. and could only communicate with her son through text as an EF-4 tornado headed towards him.
— Josh Berry (@_joshberry) May 2, 2014
After the storm, Hunter was found lying unconscious on the ground amid the rubble.
“I kept saying are you okay? Are you okay? Let me know. Let me know. No answer,” Wood told KNWA.
Funeral services were held for Hunter on Saturday.
“You’ve earned your wings my gentle son we will be together again. Everyone’s heart hurts but I believe the healing will begin,” Wood posted on Facebook Sunday, according to the New York Daily News.
Wood told KNWA that Hunter’s final text is something she’ll cherish: “That was the most precious thing a son could do for a mother.”