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Mobile Technology News, November 27, 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.

  • Candy Crush maker chairman resigns
    The chairman of King Digital, the maker of the popular mobile game Candy Crush, Melvyn Morris, has resigned and is taking a break from the UK firm.
  • Why <i>Interstellar</i> Should Be Taken Seriously — Very Seriously
    A few of my closest friends are physicists. In fact, when I went to see Interstellar, I made sure one of them was at my side. My physicist pal and I loved the movie, and to us (especially the physicist) the physics of the story were merely a layman’s version of the real thing, but that was the right way to do it. A third member of our viewing party, a girl whose interests could be described as more spiritual than scientific (not that the two are mutually exclusive), utterly despised it. What I couldn’t figure out, despite her attempts to explain, was why. I kept coming back to the conclusion that it was because she didn’t understand it, but the reality is that plenty of people — very intelligent people — don’t fully understand the physics behind Interstellar, but its ratings would suggest that they don’t mind the confusion.

    The truth, though, is that she just wasn’t interested.

    Many people just aren’t interested in space.

    Too many.

    NASA accounts for only 0.58 percent of our annual budget, yet the average American believes we are spending too much on space exploration and research. Compare that with the only 37 percent of Americans who believe that our $1.2-trillion annual defense budget is too high.

    To those who have seen the movie, the condition of our planet during that film seems like a realistic preview of the disasters that climate change will bring, and spending more money on our military isn’t going to stop those disasters. In fact, a larger military is more likely to lead to the deadly wars described in the movie and add to the carbon buildup that is almost exclusively responsible for climate change. Climate change is here and will only get worse over our lifetime. Widespread natural disasters, famine, and probably wars will all soon be part of the reality of our survival on this planet unless we do something just as drastic as the Armageddon that we’ve caused.

    Is NASA going to save us by taking us all to a different planet? Not likely, though colonizing other planets actually isn’t entirely outside the realm of possibility, especially with Mars and Europa literally on the horizon. But what most people don’t realize about NASA is how many incredible inventions have emerged as mere byproducts of their space-faring missions — like microwaves and duct tape.

    After talking to a few people about the movie, it occurred to me that not only do many people not fully understand the physics of space travel, but they hold the physics portrayed in the movie to be closer to fantasy than to science. This is indubitably not the case. Interstellar is one of the most scientifically accurate science-fiction movies ever made. To those who doubt my authority, the producers of Interstellar hired a physicist from Cal Tech to check and double-check their physics throughout the movie.

    Interstellar is not just a movie but a warning, one that should be taken very seriously. The Dust Bowl-esque apocalypse that is portrayed in the movie puts climate change in a perspective that even its diehard deniers can understand, and the social statement of portraying NASA as a secret organization under a society that believes the Moon landing was faked highlights how foolish our public opinion on space spending is. We need to fund NASA more, not less. With $1.2 trillion for just one year, NASA could put colonies on the Moon, Mars, and Europa in our lifetimes, and we’d get to reap the benefits of every piece of technology that is yielded as a result.

    Better battery technology, solar technology, nuclear fusion, quantum-entangled communication and processing, artificial intelligence, cryogenic sleep, medical advancement, and many more breakthroughs we can’t even imagine — this is just a taste of what we could have in our lifetime if we funded NASA just a little bit more than we do today. The full $1.2 trillion is not even necessary. Ask most scientists and they’ll tell you that we are trapped by the paradox of our own economy. We have the intellectual and physical resources necessary to solve climate change, global hunger, and most disease and travel anywhere in the Solar System we want, but we don’t have the economic resources. The reason this is a paradox is that the economy is entirely man-made. In essence, we are needlessly restricting our own progress, but that is just the way our world works right now. So fund NASA! We are only now beginning to realize the trouble we are in when we should be desperately searching for solutions. Funding NASA will bring not only the necessary advancements that could save our planet but advancements that will improve the quality of life for everyone (again, like microwaves).

    The one shining light, despite the lack of public space funding, is SpaceX. Opinions on the merits of space exploration turning into a private industry are mixed, but the social benefits are still present. The company’s founder, Elon Musk, announced that SpaceX would be designing a fleet of low-orbit satellites to bring wi-fi to the entire planet. Take that promise as a taste of the real-world benefits of funding modern space travel beyond just saving our lives. Who wouldn’t want worldwide free wifi?!

    Fund NASA, invest in SpaceX, write your congressperson, and vote. Space travel isn’t just cool. It isn’t just something to do because we can. If Interstellar has anything to teach us, it’s that space travel can save our species. The truth is we might need saving very soon.

  • Europe to vote on Google break-up
    The European Parliament will later vote on whether Google’s search business should be separated from its other services.
  • VIDEO: Faces transformed with digital masks
    Turning faces into digital works of art
  • Adoption of iOS 8 rises to 60 percent after pause
    Apple’s iOS 8 adoption rate has returned to normal levels following a brief stagnation in the wake of the botched 8.0.1 update that was only very briefly available but caused havoc for the thousands who downloaded it, and temporarily made users hesitant to upgrade. In an update on iOS 8 distribution posted to its developer website, Apple said 60 percent of users registered with the iOS App Store are now running some version iOS 8 (up four percent from two weeks ago), with 35 percent running iOS 7 (down five percent from the same period).

  • Weekend Roundup: Can an 'Elderly and Haggard' Europe Defend a 'World of Rules' Against Russia?
    As Pope Francis slammed Europe as “elderly and haggard” in an address this week in Strasbourg, the speaker of the Polish parliament, Radek Sikorski, warned in the WorldPost that Europe’s starkest challenge is defending “a world of rules” against an aggressive Russia. Writing from the Vatican for our “Following Francis” series, Sébastien Maillard looks at the “holy ghostwriters” behind the pontiff’s tweets and encyclicals.

    WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports from Istanbul on yet another retrograde move in Turkey’s modern history taken by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who declared this week that men and women can’t be equal. Though Erdogan still considers the Kurdish Democratic Union Party a terrorist organization, Nazand Begikhani writes from Iraqi Kurdistan about how women from that party who have taken up arms to defend their fellow Kurds from the radically misogynist Islamic State are also advancing equal rights in their own society.

    This week, as the Israeli cabinet moved to define Israel as a “Jewish state,” the French parliament, like other European parliaments of late, is voting on whether to recognize a Palestinian state. Writing from Paris, Bernard-Henri Lévy argues passionately that such a move, intended to enhance peace, will perpetuate war.

    Once again, the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program have failed to reach an agreement. Muhammad Sahimi places the blame squarely on the “excessive demands” of the West and lists Iran’s “major concessions.” Writing from Abuja, Olaiya Phillips chronicles the threats to the Christian community in northern Nigeria from Boko Haram. Writing for HuffPost Maghreb, Rebecca Chaouch looks at the phenomenon of “Taqwacore” that combines punk music and Islamic piety.

    WorldPost China Correspondent Matt Sheehan reports that the crackdown in Hong Kong has finally come: the key leaders of the protest movement have been arrested and the demonstrations sites are being cleared. Writing from Singapore, Kishore Mahbubani argues that, despite predictions of doom by many in the West, Asia is on the brink of a “golden era.”

    As Ferguson, Missouri erupted again this week in racial violence, Howard Fineman writes that the world is questioning whether America can live up to its ideals. The Rev. Madison Shockley‘s experience tells him blacks always seem to end up on the losing end of racial conflicts.

    Geophysicist David Waltham takes a millennial look back to trace how oxygen-creating bacteria evolved to make Earth a livable environment, and wonders if humans can do the same. Finally, Robert Kuhn looks at the philosophical questions raised by the Christopher Nolan film Interstellar.


    EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Senior Advisor to the Berggruen Institute on Governance and the long-time editor of NPQ and the Global Viewpoint Network of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate/Tribune Media, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Senior Editor of the WorldPost. Alex Gardels is the Associate Editor of The WorldPost. Nicholas Sabloff is the Executive International Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s 11 international editions. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s Senior World Editor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

  • Happy Thinks-giving

    I have seen the future. And in it, people will not find pleasure and status by acquiring, using and displaying the latest electronic devices. Instead, the people who carry no electronic device will be those who command attention, respect and even envy.

    In the future, the wealthy will pay others to carry and tend to their technology. Artists and spirit-seekers will give up wearable computers to find inspiration. Lovers will unplug because ecstasy and devotion are far more impactful powered only with the electricity of eye-to-eye and skin-to-skin and soul-to-soul connection.

    You want future facts? Try these:

    • The Big Die-off – We are in the midst of the 6th great extinction. Hundreds of species have died out. Thousands more are endangered.
    • Urban Explosion66 percent of the world population will live in cities by 2050 – a mushrooming from 3.9 billion (2014) to 6.3 billion (2050)
    • Loss of Human Habitat – Climate change means the sea level is rising fast. This leads to more flooding for the coasts where many people live (39 percent of the US population). By 2100, depending on how much our ice caps melt, London could be submerged and many coastal areas where people live in Africa, Asia and the Pacific could be rendered uninhabitable.

    What does this mean? Here’s my take: In a crowded world where most people live in cities, where we escape from the physical crush of humanity only to jostle in busy digital habitats, true luxury will be defined as the opportunity to encounter our world only with our senses.

    We will crave sitting outside, unencumbered by earbuds or video, uncoupled from computer games, free from the digital design equivalent of potato chips, the eating of which only makes you want more.

    The fortunate will sit patiently under the stars and wait for one to fall.

    We will aspire to listen to the tide lap up the beach, to climb through a wood and feel our legs and lungs work and see the steam pour from our mouths and rise from our skin.

    People will pay top dollar to wake up first thing and go outside to watch the sunrise and pray.

    In the damp forest, questers will saunter and stop and celebrate the find of a large red-domed mushroom.

    Caffeine lovers will pay extra to drink coffee outdoors and stare at the java steam lifting skyward illuminated by the morning sun. Others will look on and be impressed. Imagine – to have the time to drink from a cup without a lid!

    The minions indentured to their own electronic convenience will yearn to revolt and shake off the shackles of being on-line all the time.

    The lack of possessions will be seen as liberation.

    And the idea of enough — not too little, not too much, awareness and appetite in balance — will seem like a melody of such enchantment and rarity that men will trade gold just to hear it for a few moments and women will offer their dearest gift, friendship, just to sing along.

    So, here’s an idea.

    This year, turn Thanksgiving into Thinks-giving.


    Yup. The whole day without digital engagement. No screens. No big balloon parades. No football.

    Just people. And nature. And reflection. And breathing in and out. Oh, singing and dancing, too. You can watch or participate. It just has to be happening in front of you, or around you, or in your imagination.

    My guess is this kind of inhabiting the future will not only be a shock, but will probably bug the hell out of anyone who tries it. You see, the noise of our lives echoes in our brain long after we power down our modern tools for connection.

    Still, it’s kind of tempting. An adventure. To give up your handheld to actually hold another’s hand. What would it be like? To go to the future and live like a king simply by turning everything off. Except your mind. And your heart. And your spirit.

    What might you learn?

    Cross-posted on Thinking Philanthropy.

  • Mail, Calendar and People App for Windows Updated

    Microsoft has released a sizable update to the Mail, Calendar and People app for Windows, bringing a whole host of improvements and update to each of the apps.  The update is available now in the Window Store now on your Windows 8.1 PC.  Mail by far received the biggest update, bringing such features as a Sweep feature to clean up your Outlook.com inbox and the ability to drag-and-drop messages into folders. Here is a complete rundown of all of the improvements in each of the apps: Mail • See all messages from your favorite people in one place. • See

    The post Mail, Calendar and People App for Windows Updated appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • Here's Everything Expiring From Netflix On Dec. 1
    The beginning of a new month might mean that a handful of new movies and TV shows are coming to Netflix, but sadly there are even more expiring on Dec. 1. While you’re digesting Thanksgiving feasts this weekend, drag the family to the TV and start watching these movies before they’re gone for good. Because if you don’t rewatch “Uptown Girls,” “Spice World” or “Dirty Dancing” while you can, we bet you’ll regret it.

    Expiring on Dec. 1:

    “‘night, Mother” (1986)
    “1941” (1979)
    “An Officer and a Gentleman” (1982)
    “The Apostle” (1997)
    “Assassination” (1987)
    “Audrey Rose” (1977)
    “The Believers” (1987)
    “Better than Chocolate” (1999)
    “The Big Hit” (1998)
    “The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings” (1976)
    “Blood & Chocolate” (2007)
    “Body Count” (1998)
    “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” (2008)
    “Bushwhacked” (1995)
    “Chaplin” (1992)
    “Cheech & Chong: Get Out of My Room” (1985)
    “The Choirboys” (1977)
    “The Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County” (1970)
    “Coffee and Cigarettes” (2003)
    “The Cold Light of Day” (1996)
    “The Colombian Connection” (2011)
    “The Constant Gardener” (2005)
    “Corpo Celeste” (2011)
    “Count Yorga, Vampire” (1970)
    “Cry-Baby” (1990)
    “D2: The Might Ducks” (1994)
    “Dirty Dancing” (1987)
    “Dirty Dancing: Havana Night” (2004)
    “Dororo” (2008)
    “Double Indemnity” (1944)
    “En la Cama” (2005)
    “Event Horizon” (1997)
    “Eye for an Eye” (1996)
    “Fairy Tale: A True Story” (1997)
    “First Knight” (1995)
    “Five Easy Pieces” (1970)
    “Flight of the Intruder” (1991)
    “Foreign Student” (1994)
    “Free Men” (2011)
    “Funny Lady” (1975)
    “The Ghost and Mrs Muir” (1947)
    “The Girl from Petrovka” (1974)
    “Going All the Way” (1997)
    “Going Berserk” (1983)
    “The Great Waldo Pepper” (1975)
    “Holiday Favorites: Vol. 1-5” (1952 – 1954)
    “House of Voices” (2004)
    “How to Frame a Figg” (1971)
    “I’m Not Rappaport” (1996)
    “Imagining Argentina” (2003)
    “Invaders from Mars” (1986)
    “Ishtar” (1987)
    “Joe Gould’s Secret” (2000)
    “Joe Kidd” (1972)
    “Johnny Mnemonic” (1995)
    “Killer at Large” (2008)
    “King of the Hill” (1993)
    “Lonely Hearts” (2006)
    “Loser” (2000)
    “Magic Trip” (2011)
    “Magicians” (2007)
    “The Man Who Cried” (2001)
    “Mission Impossible III” (2006)
    “Minnie and Moskowitz” (1971)
    “Monkey Shines” (1988)
    “Mr. Mom” (1983)
    “A Murder of Crows” (1999)
    “Night of the Creeps” (1986)
    “Opal Dream” (2006)
    “The Other Side of the Mountain” (1975)
    “The Other Side of the Mountain, Part 2” (1978)
    “Our City Dreams (2008)
    “Pandaemonium” (2000)
    “The Paper Chase” (1973)
    “Paper Soldiers” (2002)
    “Paradise Alley” (1978)
    “The Parole Officer” (2001)
    “The Pirates of Penzance” (1983)
    “Prairie Love” (2011)
    “The Presidio” (1988)
    “The Promise” (1979)
    “The Proposition” (1998)
    “Ram Dass: Fierce Grace” (2001)
    “Reds” (1981)
    “Restless City” (2011)
    “The Return of Count Yorga” (1971)
    “RoboCop 2” (1990)
    “School Ties” (1992)
    “The Sci-Fi Boys” (2006)
    “The Serpent and the Rainbow” (1988)
    “Set Up” (2011)”
    “Spice World” (1998)
    “Star Trek: Generations” (1994)
    “Steel Magnolias” (2012)
    “Summer Rental” (1985)
    “Swashbuckler” (1976)
    “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999)
    “They Might Be Giants” (1971)
    “The Untouchables” (1987)
    “Thursday” (1998)
    “Uptown Girls” (2003)
    “The Vampire Lovers” (1970)
    “Walker” (1987)
    “W.C. Fields and Me” (1976)
    “Year of the Horse: Neil Young & Crazy Horse Live” (1997)
    “Young Sherlock Holmes” (1985)

  • The Regeneration Generation: A Conversation With Bob Hariri, Vice-Chairman and Co-Founder of Human Longevity Inc.
    Bob Hariri, M.D., Ph.D., is the vice chairman of Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), a genomics and cell-therapy diagnostics and therapeutics company he co-founded in 2013 with Craig Venter and Peter Diamandis, which is focused on extending the healthy, high-performance human lifespan. Utilizing technological advancements in genomics, bioinformatics, computing and cell therapy, HLI plans to develop therapeutic solutions to some of the most complex yet actionable diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and dementia. A recipient of the Thomas Alva Edison Award in 2007 and 2011, the former CEO of Celgene Cellular Therapeutics, and one of the pioneers of the global cell-therapy industry, Bob recently sat down with me to discuss his current work on the frontiers of aging and cellular science.

    You’ve formed one of the most provocative and promising companies working in the cellular sciences. How did you get together with Craig Venter and Peter Diamandis of the X PRIZE?

    I am very fortunate to have two remarkable visionary friends in Craig and Peter. I have admired the work that Craig has done in the broad landscape of genomics and synthetic biology and have always been inspired by his pioneering approach as an entrepreneur. Peter is one of my closest friends, and I have marveled at how he has, virtually single-handedly, reinvented incentivized competition, catalyzing a new generation of cutting-edge businesses. The three of us realized that we shared many common passions, among which was a desire to impact human health and society by exploring aging as a targetable disease. All of us have ventured, failed and succeeded by seeking to answer scientific questions based in real-world experience and offering solutions. We all took paths that were challenged, in some cases ridiculed and rejected, by established scientific institutions. In part that’s because invention without relevance or context has less impact than true innovation. We all saw aging as an opportunity to innovate, not as an obstacle to human progress and prosperity.

    What is the mission for Human Longevity?

    Our mission is to extend the healthy lifespan by developing high-resolution diagnostics and stem-cell-based therapies. The tools we will develop are designed to attack the sources of premature death at the genomic and molecular level that are also linked and can be used to preserve and enhance cognitive function, physical capacity and overall vitality.

    Can you tell me what the day-in, day-out working relationship with Craig and Peter is like? How do you collaborate?

    For me, it is both a privilege and a humbling experience being part of a team with Craig and Peter. The raw genius of my two partners is staggering. What makes it all the more exciting is the depth and breadth of their interests, passions and personalities. We are very much alike. We are close friends, and we are optimists and hard workers. And all of us are more interested in getting things done than in taking credit for something. We work well together because we don’t see scientific failure or being wrong as setbacks but as teachable events. As a team, we are all very comfortable with risk and that makes the work environment at HLI the hottest show in town.

    Can stem cells prevent aging and even turn back the clock?

    We believe that stem cells that are functioning well can play an important role in extending health and improving physical and cognitive performance and cosmetic vitality. Our work in stem cells has shown that if you can identify and measure individual variation for specific markers of disease at particular ages, you can identify the factors that predict the variability in how cells change over the lifespan. Then, using the information derived by interrogation of the genomics, proteomics and metabolomics, we can tailor treatments to how individuals get sick and improve their health.

    You have an innovative business model that will tap the power of the world’s most comprehensive database on human genotypes and phenotypes. Can you tell me how this data will be applied?

    We are not simply a data company. Some press accounts claim that we are engaging in “big science” and will compete with other institutes that are creating their own sequencing centers.

    We recognize that most discoveries are the result of small groups taking completely novel approaches and sharing their findings. Instead, we are going to generate the most comprehensive and complete human genotype, microbiome, and phenotype database, identify the most creative people and give them the freedom to make their own affiliations.

    Will HLI commercialize therapy products for aging? What is the game plan for the years ahead?

    In order to develop the tools designed to attack the sources of premature death at the genomic and molecular level that are also linked and can be used to preserve and enhance cognitive function, physical capacity and overall vitality, we need data. So our goal over the next year is to accumulate the largest genomics data set. Our goal is to sequence over 1 million full human genomes, microbiomes, MRI body-image scans, metabolomes, etc. We will commercialize therapies for diseases that are associated with the biological and molecular breakdown associated with aging. And we will develop a preventive healthcare model that will take baseline measures of stem-cell function, monitor that in real time and correct any drift from optimal activity with stem-cell therapy.

    Do you plan to commercialize therapies outside the confines of the traditional drug-discovery and -development model?

    I have always said that placental stem cells were the platform for developing products and personalized medicine outside of the one-receptor/one-target/one-drug model.

    When I started Anthrogenesis (which became Celgene Cellular Therapeutics in 2003), I wanted to show that the placenta was not just the best source of stem and progenitor cells and biomaterials, but that the unique biology of the organ was the source of tremendous therapeutic potential. We’ve shown that placental cells and the extracellular-matrix scaffolding biomaterials can be produced in such quantities and consistency that doctors could use them the same way they prescribe small molecules or biologic agents. HLI will be able to program stem cells to both modulate and stimulate cell functions to treat disease and extend healthy aging.

    In what areas do you expect to make the first breakthroughs?

    I can’t predict what HLI will commercialize first. We will follow the science. That said, we believe that we’ve just scratched the surface of what the combination of digitized DNA and biological data and stem cells can do for the human condition.

    Longevity is a red-hot field in medicine, and many companies are jumping into the mix. How do you feel about Google’s Calico venture? Are they competition for you?

    We are thrilled and excited that a remarkable company like Google has invested so actively in biomedicine and see Calico as part of what will be a rapidly expanding enterprise of age management or wellness. I hope there are many more companies who participate in helping people live longer, healthier lives.

    Can you tell me about the partnership between HLI and Celgene? What do you hope to accomplish?

    HLI just signed an agreement with Celgene Cellular Therapeutics (CCT) to license, develop, and co-promote one of Celgene’s proprietary placental-cell population, PSC-100, in age-related clinical indications.

    We have the opportunity to explore a variety of applications for this unique cell population, including sarcopenia, a condition associated with aging characterized by degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass, quality, and strength. Celgene has also made an equity investment in HLI.

    If you had a crystal ball, what does the future hold for cellular therapies and aging? What do you think the field looks like 20 years from now?

    I believe stem-cell innovations will have a quantum impact on the kind of people we can be. Throughout our short history on this planet, our progress can be measured by our ability to thrive. By this, I don’t just mean the fact that we will live longer and live better or that, as a result, we will spend less on health care. Rather, I believe the technological and physical evolution of our species will increase the capacity to share, and to be more flexible, inventive and determined in the face of uncertainty.

    These citizens of this new way of life will be known as “the regeneration generation.”

    The regeneration generation will be able to tackle challenges and pursue endeavors consistent with the speed by which new paths are discovered and imagined. Living longer at a time when the supply of ideas and inventions increase more quickly will exponentially increase the opportunity to pursue many more possibilities.

  • Crush Cyber Monday With These 3 Tricks
    If you plan to go online on Cyber Monday to score some deals for your holiday shopping, you’re not alone. Last year, 131 million people shopped online during the Monday following Thanksgiving, according to USA Today, spending nearly $2.29 billion.

    For this year, we tested out some of the best online tools to make Cyber Monday a little less hectic for you. We also spoke to consumer expert Andrea Woroch to get some tips on how to optimize your online shopping.

    1. Prepare Sunday Night

    Do some research over the weekend before you go online on Monday. You can start your search with our partners at DealNews, a site that spends all year researching the best sales.

    Make a list of what you want in a draft in your email or as a Google Doc. Woroch recommends bookmarking pages and saving your payment information on sites you’ll know you’ll be using.

    gift card granny
    Visit a site like Gift Card Granny if you plan to spend a lot at one store for Cyber Monday.

    If you know you’ll be shopping at a certain site, one way to save money is to buy a discounted gift card ahead of time. Sites like Gift Card Granny sell people’s unwanted gift cards, and you can save anywhere from 3 to 70 percent.

    2. Download A Price Comparison Tool

    Even with a bunch of research into the best deals on Cyber Monday, you may still be spending too much. Make sure you’re truly getting the best price by downloading a price comparison browser extension. One of the best free ones out there is PriceBlink — not only because it browses the most number of trusted online merchants, but also because it combines many functions of other sites into one single tool.

    cyber monday priceblink
    PriceBlink automatically checks prices on an item you’re viewing.

    Whenever you are on a product page, a yellow bar will pop up and notify you if your item is listed for less on over 11,000 stores across the web. Where PriceBlink stands out from other price comparison extensions is that it also shows a chart of price trends, so you can see if it’s truly the right time to buy.

    priceblink savings
    PriceBlink lets you click directly to cheaper retailers and view price history.

    If you add an item to your Wish List (another button in the browser), PriceBlink will notify you if the item’s price drops in the future — something PoachIt.com, an app and browser extension, is also well-recognized for. PriceBlink also gives you coupon codes. It’s available for Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

    3. Look For Automatic Coupon Codes

    A lot of sites offer discount codes in the lead up to Cyber Monday. You can find some of them using PriceBlink, but other extensions are helpful in this department as well. Honey for Google Chrome or Coupons Helper for Firefox are two we recommend. Both browser extensions will automatically apply coupons to items in your cart.

    Woroch said her favorite coupon site is Coupon Sherpa because it allows you to search by store and product categories. While many sites have outdated codes that don’t work anymore, Coupon Sherpa is backed by a team that curates and categorizes sales, she said.

    coupon sherpa
    Coupon Sherpa offers in-store and online discount codes.

    If you’re going to be buying a lot and often, you might want to sign up for a service like Freeshipping.com. The subscription service is similar to Amazon Prime, and offers free shipping from retailers like Best Buy, Walmart and Sears and cash back for a monthly fee of $13.

    And if you need to meet a minimum order to get free shipping from a major retailer, Woroch suggests checking whether the company offers in-store pickup for free.

    Happy shopping!

  • Cheap iPhone Supposedly Getting The Ax From Apple
    Phil Schiller, Apple’s marketing chief, stood on stage at the company’s headquarters in California last year and introduced the iPhone 5C, the “cheap,” colorful plastic iPhone. “Everyone’s really excited about this,” he said.

    Actually, they weren’t.

    Starting at $99 on contract and $549 off contract in the U.S., the 5C was supposed to be Apple’s “budget” phone. It was meant to appeal to people in emerging markets like China and India.

    But it turned out people all over the world were much more excited about the pricier iPhone 5S, which outsold the 5C in some places by margins as high as 5 to 1 in the days after the launch, and 2 to 1 in the U.S. in the months after.

    Now, a new rumor says the 5C may be going the way of the dodo.

    MacRumors, citing a report in Taiwan’s Industrial and Commercial Times, reports that Apple may discontinue production of the iPhone 5C in the middle of next year.

    This is only a rumor. And it’s unclear, of course, if Apple will stop selling the phone at that time or at any point before it announces a new phone. Apple did not return a request for comment Wednesday.

    If the company does stop selling the 5C halfway through next year, it would be a departure from its typical strategy — Apple tends to stop selling the entry-level iPhone when a new phone is announced in the fall, not in the middle of the year. But Apple seems like it’s already scaling back the 5C — it didn’t update the phone in the fall, and the only version of the 5C available on Apple’s website is the 8-gigabyte model. In the U.S., it’s free with a two-year contract or $450 without.

    None of this is actually bad for Apple. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Apple’s flagship phones that came out in September, are breaking sales records. Neil Cybart, an Apple analyst who blogs at Above Avalon, estimates that the company will break another record this quarter and sell a whopping 68 million iPhones, a 33.3 percent increase over the same period last year.

    With the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple did the opposite of what it did last year — it actually raised the price of the iPhone. The 6 Plus starts at $299 on contract ($749 off contract) for a 16-gigabyte model. But many people have opted for the 64-gigabyte version of the phone, paying $399 ($849 off contract).

  • Keira Knightley Knows 'The Imitation Game' Has 'A Lot Of Inaccuracies'
    Few fact-based dramas escape criticism of historical inaccuracy, and “The Imitation Game” is no exception. Based on the life of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), the mathematician who broke the Nazi’s Enigma Code during World War II, effectively changing the course of the war, “The Imitation Game” has been under fire since June for its depiction of Turing’s homosexuality and his relationship with Joan Clarke. But Keira Knightley, who plays Clarke — Turing’s fiancée and fellow code-breaker — in the film, has had no shame in admitting to the various discrepancies between real life and the finished feature.

    “As far as her relationship with Alan, they were engaged. They were great, great friends. She was at the center of the breaking of the Enigma Code,” Knightley told HuffPost Entertainment during an interview in October. Yet the actress admitted flat out that things had to be changed for various reasons. “There are a lot of inaccuracies in the film as to life. What was actually said, and the reasons that they actually got engaged, I think are slightly different than the film,”

    Knightley, 29, said that the focus of “The Imitation Game” was the story behind cracking the code, not just the history of Clarke and Turing’s relationship. “If you’re making a film just about that period and just about the reasons he asked her to marry him,” Knightley said, “then I think you can really go into the truth of it. But unfortunately you’ve got two and a half hours and what you’re doing is trying to tell a bigger story, so you have to pick and choose. I think what we’re trying to get to is the essence of what it was. And at that time with Alan, to my knowledge, he didn’t have another affair, or an affair actually, with a man. His big friendship was with a woman and he did ask her to marry him.”

    imitation knightley

    The dramatic license extended to Clarke’s backstory as well. The film shows her arriving at Bletchley Park, the location of the British government’s code-breaking operation, after solving a crossword puzzle to pass Turing’s test. Instead, Clarke’s Oxford professor helped push her into the program (though the government did recruit people at the time using crossword puzzles).

    Another liberty is taken with Clarke’s parents, who are shown objecting to her work at Bletchley Park since the government school mostly employed men. “The whole thing with the family isn’t, to my knowledge, true,” Knightley said. “It was sort of put there to show what she was up against as far as society goes.”

    But that struggle was inherent in Clarke’s story already: “They ended up putting her in as a linguist even though she didn’t speak any other language in order to try and get her a bit more money,” Knightley said. “I think that’s fascinating because that’s still the center of the feminist movement today: a place at the table and equal pay. And we’re talking about the 1940s, and now it’s 2014 and obviously women’s rights are better, but not best.”

    And yet while many of the facts about Turing and Clarke were massaged for “The Imitation Game,” Knightley — who has made her fair share of historical dramas in the past, including “The Duchess” and “A Dangerous Method” — doesn’t really mind the variations. “In all of these stories, often truth in filmmaking, it’s not a documentary,” she said. “It is a drama, so ultimately you have to go for the drama.”

    Which is what “The Imitation Game” tries to accomplish, enlightening audiences on the story of the so-called father of theoretical computer science above all else. As Knightley said, the film emphasizes aspects of Turing’s life related to the breaking of the Enigma cipher as “the most extraordinary thing that he did.”

    “The Imitation Game” opens Nov. 28.

  • The Dybbuk Inside My iPhone
    Since I discovered the voice-enabled texting function on my iPhone, I have been texting like a teen, sending lengthy missives to my friends’ and associates’ cell phones at a prodigious rate and speed.

    As fellow texters can attest, the glitch in the system is Auto-Correct, a function I cannot seem to disable. Throw in my penchant for speaking quickly and constantly, with a higher-than-average usage of Yiddish, Hebrew and otherwise foreign phrases, and you get a one-woman factory of unintentionally hilarious or inane text messages.

    Gathering Auto-Correct fails has become a business of its own with sites like Damn You, Auto Correct serving as the Breaking News portal on the front line of this contemporary trend,.

    But between bouts of hysterical laughter or cringing embarrassment, I have noticed that my AutoCorrect does more than mangle the meaning of my words.

    It provides an often eerily psychic service, offering up insight, midrash, candor and submerged truth instead of my glib spoken words.

    Overriding my vocalizations, my personal AutoCorrect serves as a cyber-Ouija-board, spelling out that which I am trying to ignore, forcing me into a direct confrontation with reality.

    Once a sporadic phenomenon, my iPhone’s psychic powers have grown, along with its chutzpah. Shyly offering up its findings at the beginning, it is now fully empowered to zap me with whatever what it believes I need to confront in my life.

    For instance, earlier this week, when I texted a friend about a client who has been verbally abusive, his first name appeared as “enemy.” Staring at the word in its text box, I realized that the time had come to sever this business relationship.

    Further on the subject of work-related intervention, AutoCorrect changed my chirpy “I can do that,” to “I can’t do that,” when an unreasonable demand was recently placed on me.

    While I am inclined to be diplomatic, my iPhone steers me towards radical honesty. Though seeking to soothe a friend who had put on significant weight, the word “fabulous” appeared as “fat ass,” forcing me to reconsider whether I needed to lie.

    An insincere compliment for an unappetizing dinner was revealed as phony when “marvelous” became “mob violence.” And the exclamation “Oops!” appeared as “Boobs” when talking to a busty friend about what she should wear to a work event. When I saw the word, after shrieking with laughter, I realized I was trying to figure out how to tell her to avoid plunging necklines.

    While I am being evasive, my iPhone forces candor; texting my husband as to my whereabouts late one night, my claim that I was leaving the gym suddenly turned into a marriage-imperiling “leaving with him,” which was creepy, given that I had been schmoozing in the lobby of the JCC with a mutual friend for the previous hour. When I was trying to dissuade a relative from dropping by during the day by claiming that I was “not home,” the words “I’m home” wrote themselves instead.

    When I am troubled by something, my iPhone finds ways to let me know that IT knows: on a day I was very sad, the word “cold outside” turned into “suicide.” Another such time “coming home” became “me alone.”

    The standard Hebrew proclamation Mazel Tov, rendered upon the news of a difficult (but healthy) birth became “muscle tough,” which was entirely accurate from the mother’s point of view and the salutation Chag Sameach, which means Happy Holiday morphed into “hog some ass,” which is essentially what takes place on most Jewish holidays.

    Indeed, “Hog some ass” so appropriately captures the spirit of the day that it has become my standard tongue-in-cheek greeting on the eve of all holidays, Jewish or otherwise.

    I could go on and if I were speaking this post by voice-enabled text message, my psychic AutoCorrect would turn it into something else, I am sure.

    Or maybe it would leave this one thing alone, as I am finally reporting the truth.

    Though I’ve claimed that there is a Dybbuk inside my iPhone, I realize that nothing sinister or nefarious is going on.

    On the contrary, whatever force is possessing my iPhone appears to know me better than I know myself.

    It know that I need to extricate myself from an abusive client and decided to help me come to that decision by pointing out the truth about the business relationship.

    Thanks, iPhone. Or AutoCorrect.

    That is what a good friend would do.

  • Elonis v. US: Are 'We the People' Useful Idiots in the Digital Age?

    Back in the heyday of the old Soviet Union, a phrase evolved to describe gullible western intellectuals who came to visit Russia and failed to notice the human and other costs of building a communist utopia. The phrase was “useful idiots” and it applied to a good many people who should have known better…That’s you and me, folks, and it’s how the masters of the digital universe see us…They hear us whingeing about privacy, security, surveillance, etc., but notice that despite our complaints and suspicions, we appear to do nothing about it.– John Naughton, The Guardian

    “Who needs direct repression,” asked philosopher Slavoj Zizek, “when one can convince the chicken to walk freely into the slaughterhouse?”

    In an Orwellian age where war equals peace, surveillance equals safety, and tolerance equals intolerance of uncomfortable truths and politically incorrect ideas, “we the people” have gotten very good at walking freely into the slaughterhouse, all the while convincing ourselves that the prison walls enclosing us within the American police state are there for our protection.

    Call it doublespeak, call it hypocrisy, call it delusion, call it whatever you like, but the fact remains that while we claim to value freedom, privacy, individuality, equality, diversity, accountability, and government transparency, our actions and those of our government overseers contradict these much-vaunted principles at every turn.

    For instance, we disdain the jaded mindset of the Washington elite, and yet we continue to re-elect politicians who lie, cheat and steal. We chafe at taxpayer-funded pork barrel legislation, and yet we pay our taxes meekly and without raising a fuss of any kind. We object to the militarization of our local police forces and their increasingly battlefield mindset, and yet we do little more than shrug our shoulders over SWAT team raids and police shootings of unarmed citizens.

    And then there’s our love-hate affair with technology, which sees us bristling at the government’s efforts to monitor our Internet activities, listen in on our phone calls, read our emails, track our every movement, and punish us for what we say on social media, and yet we keep using these very same technologies all the while doing nothing about the government’s encroachments on our rights.

    So the government continues to betray our trust, invade our privacy, and abuse our rights, and we keep going back for more?

    Sure we do. After all, the alternative — taking a stand, raising a ruckus, demanding change, refusing to cooperate, engaging in civil disobedience — is a lot of work. What we fail to realize, however, is that by tacitly allowing these violations to continue, we not only empower the tyrant but we feed the monster. In this way, as I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, what starts off as small, occasional encroachments on our rights, justified in the name of greater safety, becomes routine, wide-ranging abuses so entrenched as to make reform all but impossible.

    First, the government lures us in with a scheme to make our lives better, our families safer, and our communities more secure, and then once we buy into it, they slam the trap closed. Doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about militarized police, private prisons, red light cameras, DNA databases, surveillance cameras, or zero tolerance policies — they all result in “we the people” being turned into enemy #1.

    In this way, the government campaign to spy on our phone calls, letters and emails was sold to the American people as a necessary tool in the war on terror. Instead of targeting terrorists, however, the government has turned us into potential terrorists, so that if we dare say the wrong thing in a phone call, letter, email or on the Internet, especially social media, we end up investigated, charged and possibly jailed.

    This criminalization of free speech, which is exactly what the government’s prosecution of those who say the “wrong” thing using an electronic medium amounts to, is at the heart of Elonis v. The United States, a case before the U.S. Supreme Court this term.

    If you happen to be one of the 1.31 billion individuals who use Facebook or one of the 255 million who tweet their personal and political views on Twitter, you might want to pay close attention, because the case has broad First Amendment implications for where the government can draw the line when it comes to expressive speech that is protected and permissible versus speech that could be interpreted as connoting a criminal intent.

    The case arose after Anthony Elonis, an aspiring rap artist, used personal material from his life as source material and inspiration for rap lyrics which he then shared on Facebook. For instance, shortly after Elonis’ wife left him and he was fired from his job, his lyrics included references to killing his ex-wife, shooting a classroom of kindergarten children, and blowing up an FBI agent who had opened an investigation into his postings. Despite the fact that Elonis routinely accompanied his Facebook posts with disclaimers that his lyrics were fictitious, he was charged with making unlawful threats and sentenced to 44 months in jail.

    Elonis is not the only Facebook user to be targeted for the content of his posts. Indeed, the common thread running through the growing number of cases like Elonis is the use of social media to voice frustration, grievances, and anger, sometimes using language that is overtly violent. These cyber “public squares” may be the only forum left for citizens to freely speak their minds and exercise their First Amendment rights.

    Unfortunately, the Internet has become a tool for the government to monitor, control and punish the populace for behavior and speech that may be controversial but are far from criminal. Indeed, the government, a master in the art of violence, intrusion, surveillance and criminalizing harmless activities, has repeatedly attempted to clamp down on First Amendment activity on the web and in social media under the various guises of fighting terrorism, discouraging cyberbullying, and combatting violence.

    We would do well to tread cautiously in how much authority we give the government to criminalize free speech activities and chill what has become a vital free speech forum. If free speech is not vigilantly protected, democracy is more likely to drift toward fear, repression, and violence. In such a scenario, we will find ourselves threatened with an even more pernicious injury than violence itself: the loss of liberty. In confronting these evils, more speech, not less, is the remedy.

  • The Real Reason Girls Don't Like to Code


    I recently sat down for a visit with friend who is running a program focused on STEM, and his insights into the boy/girl ratio were discouraging. “We offer coding camps and courses and work hard to get the word out to everyone. We send invitations to all of the girl-focused organizations. But last time, we only had one girl show up.  This time? None.”

    A study released by Google indicated that when girls aren’t familiar with technology, they view STEM as hard, difficult and boring. But here’s the thing: I honestly don’t believe that girls are turned off by STEM because it’s hard or simply because girls think they’re bad at math. Girls aren’t wimps or wilting flowers; they don’t shrink from challenges just because something isn’t a strength. When girls are inspired, when they believe the payoff is worth the risk, discomfort, fear or effort, they can be unrelenting in the pursuit of a goal. Self-doubt doesn’t stop a girl when she wants something bad enough.

    The problem isn’t that girls don’t think they can code; the problem is that they don’t want to code badly enough to get past any of their doubts or weaknesses. If you think about it, why shouldn’t girls be turned off? Think of what we see in movies, television — or in the news. The entertainment industry rarely portrays “tech” characters with anyone young girls easily identity with; far too often those characters are either bad boy bro-culture or awkward misfits — neither of which are stereotypes that inspire girls to imagine themselves enjoying a career spent coding. And if you read tech news at all, you know how often it is filled with stories of badly behaving executives, unequal pay for women, and limited opportunities for funding for women in tech. We, as a culture, really aren’t doing a very good job of selling tech to girls.

    If we are going to get more girls into STEM and have them like it, I firmly believe we need to change the “why” of these programs and events. Consider that have girls have flocked to Girl Scouts for over a century, in large part, because Girl Scouts play to girls’ natural strengths of leadership and social problem-solving.

    We need to stop telling an entire gender they need to embrace STEM because it’s good for their brain or if they don’t, boys will get all the good, high-paying jobs. It’s not working, and I’m kind of glad, because it means girls aren’t buying the logic that they need to do something just because boys do. We need to play to girls’ strengths and invite them to participate in projects that create solutions for social issues or problems that they care about — and then offer accessible tech which empowers girls to stop thinking about doing STEM and just use the technology, developing skills along the way as a means to an end. When STEM is simply a set of skills and tools to help solve problems we care about, it takes the scary out of tech.

    Besides, girls most definitely embrace tech — think of the evolution of selfies since the introduction of camera phones, of Instagram videos and photos with powerful storytelling in the unique framing and juxtaposition of images, and even the storyboarding on Pinterest — all predominantly female audiences using tech as the background for their creative expression.


    Our team at APPCityLife recently flew out to California as a technical sponsor for a local weekend challenge focused on solving congestion problems. When I asked one of the attendees, what motivated her and her companion to come to the event, she said, “We don’t either one of us know how to develop apps, so we just showed up hoping someone else here would like our idea enough to take it for their own project and run with it.”

    I should add that she told me this as she stood next to me moments after she and her team were named the winners. She stood there smiling at her other two team members, shaking her head in dismay. “We won. We won,” she said. She paused and then said again, “We won!”

    Imagine that.

    Imagine waking up early on a rainy Saturday morning to attend a local hackathon — and being willing to do that without any hope of participating in any meaningful way beyond attempting to convince someone else with the right skills to take your idea and run with it. But when she and her companion heard the announcement that our platform was available to attendees, they wanted to learn more. We initially developed our platform for our own needs of robust app development and management, but its user-friendly interface makes it more easily accessible for those without prior coding experience. The need for such a gateway platform in the civic space inspired us to begin opening it up to the public through events like that weekend’s hackathon.

    The couple attended our brief bootcamp and eventually teamed up with another attendee. For the rest of the weekend, the three worked under the mentoring of our team to build out their prototype mobile application and test the viability of the original ideas of a woman who believed her solution could improve the experience of riders while helping stimulate the local economy. She showed up with an idea and left with the understanding that she didn’t have to give her idea away to someone else with the right skills; she and her team could own it themselves and create their own solution.

    It has been one of my proudest moments in my company when we were able to celebrate the success of her team. It was something to realize we were able to offer a portal into this incredibly rich world of tech, and our team of mentors made that experience a positive, rewarding one.

    The response since the hackathon has been more than I expected. I was happy with an early win and validation, but I wasn’t expecting what followed. Invitations are starting to roll in for our team to bring our platform to civic and tech events across the U.S as well as Mexico City. We’ve entered very early conversations with a few educational institutions about launching gateway STEM programs. And we have already forged exciting new partnerships with inspiring groups like the Geek Girls Club of the YWCA of the City of New York, which, by the way, is also the oldest women’s organization in the U.S.. In fact, our team will host our first bootcamp of the year this coming January in the heart of New York City for high school girls who are actively exploring this rich, exciting world of STEM, whether by traditional means or something else in-between.

    The demand is high and growing rapidly. We’re a small startup, but we’ve already imagined great things that we simply got busy and made happen. I am committed to push forward with one of our more lofty goals — to empower those who have had little or no access or enough valid reasons to enter the world of STEM. I am hoping others will be inspired by our early wins — like when our civic bootcamp ended up with over 50 percent women in attendance — and that others will be inspired to support and join our efforts so we can begin to change the “why” for more girls and help shift the metrics just a bit more every time in the right direction. Together, I firmly believe that we erase the real and imagined barriers into tech by creating easier access to gateway platforms which lower the barrier of entry for so many groups who have believed themselves a poor fit for whatever reason within this world of STEM.

    That’s a pretty powerful “why”, don’t you think?

  • Why You Should Care That Tim Cook and Michael Sam Are Gay
    Have you heard the news that Apple CEO Tim Cook is gay? Are you thinking, “OK, was anybody asking?” or perhaps more pointedly, “Who gives a flying fuck?”? Then this blog post is for you!

    First, I have two guesses about who you are:

    1. You are not gay.
    2. You have not dealt with scores of people assuming that you, a straight person, are gay.

    How could I be so presumptuous? Actually, it’s easy:

    1. If you were gay, you would understand the importance of coming out.
    2. If you were straight but people were constantly assuming that you were gay, you would understand the importance of coming out.

    I’m being snarky, I know. It’s just that I get frustrated when I hear people criticize public figures for making announcements about their sexuality with sentiments akin to “I didn’t ask, and I don’t care.” There was a whole lot of this when Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted by the NFL, came out prior to draft day.

    To be fair, the media made a ridiculous spectacle out of this story. Even I got tired of hearing about whether he would get chosen by a team and what that might or might not reveal about the NFL, but that was the media’s doing, not Sam’s.

    Which brings me to the reason I get so frustrated with people who feel that Sam and Cook didn’t need to make announcements about their sexuality. You see, there’s this thing that happens to gay folks who don’t fit the general stereotypes (i.e., the shaved-headed butch for women, and the dramatic, gesture-prone hairstylist or interior designer with a propensity for lilting Ss for men.) The thing that happens is that people assume we’re straight. I know because it happens to me, and I am neither particularly butch nor girly.

    Which leads to my next question : If it happens to me, how often do you think it would’ve happened to a guy like Michael Sam? I can tell you how often: all the time. And each time it happened, Sam would’ve had to make a split-second decision to either correct the inaccuracy or keep quiet. My friend’s wife, who is a very feminine, Hilary Swank-looking lesbian, has to make this decision when her real-estate clients see the rock on her ring finger and assume that she has a husband at home. If she chooses to correct them, she might lose their business or face hostility, but if she chooses to keep quiet, things can get tricky.

    Tricky how, you might ask? Well, imagine that you are conversing with someone and the person assumes that you live in a box. You do not, in fact, live in a box. You live in a house, but you don’t correct the person because, well, there are lots of people who don’t look kindly on houses, and besides, you had this same conversation yesterday with someone else, and you just don’t feel like doing it today. The next thing you know, the person begins asking you questions about the box you supposedly live in: Where did you get it? How do you like it? How long have you lived there? Do you and the box want to have kids? (OK, that last one only makes sense if the box is a husband, which it is in this analogy.)

    So, while it may be true that you personally never asked whether Michael Sam was gay, the odds are that most people who looked at him would’ve assumed he was straight, which means that his options were to either come out or to live with droves of people presuming his heterosexuality. Can you imagine how many questions he’d have to answer about his box?


    When I came out to my mother many years ago, she struggled with the news for a time. She was afraid for me, afraid of what I might face if I lived openly. At one point she told me that I ought to keep the details of my “personal life” to myself. My sexuality was my business, nobody else’s, she said.

    In response, I asked her when was the last time she’d casually mentioned my father in a conversation. She did it all the time. “Nick and I went to the movies this weekend,” she might tell a co-worker on a Monday morning. Did she realize that she was talking about “her sexuality” every time she mentioned her husband? Of course not, because she was merely talking about her life, which is, like, a thing that people do, in case you hadn’t noticed.

    In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need labels — straight, gay, bi, queer, trans — at all. Instead, people would just be people, but that’s not reality. We live in a world where individuals size each other up and make assumptions. As long as this continues, coming out is going to remain a necessity, especially for public figures.

    If you yearn for the time where people announce that they are gay and no media outlet is interested in running the story because, yawn, who cares, guess what: You’re not alone. Plenty of gay people yearn for that time too. Michael Sam and Tim Cook probably yearn for that time. I know I do, but we aren’t there yet.

  • 4 Great Online Tools for Music Lovers
    Music is the cornerstone of human culture. No matter who you are or what you do, a great song can make you feel happy. A certain track can remind you of unforgettable experiences, like your first kiss, honeymoon, or the birth of your child.

    In this new age of technology, you don’t have to listen to the same tunes every day or wait for the radio station to play that hit song you adore. Instead, you can access what you like right now and explore the newest sounds by upcoming artists.

    Here are four online tools to keep you connected with the music you love:


    1. Flvto
    Ever wanted to convert your favorite music videos to any format of your choice? Well, you’re in luck. Flvto does just that! This online tool converts from YouTube to MP3. Simply paste the YouTube video link into the text box and press the “Convert to” button. This YouTube converter takes only 15 seconds. Then, enjoy your music in high-quality sound.

    This downloadable software also converts lengthy videos, including entire YouTube playlists with up to 99 songs. MP4, AVI, and MOV are additional format options, and it can convert from SoundCloud, Vimeo, Dailymotion, and other music sites.

    Flvto offers to save your converted songs to Dropbox or to send them to your email. The service is available to people all over the world in 20 different languages.


    2. 8tracks
    Ready to jam to something different today? 8tracks is a combo of Internet radio and social networking. It allows you to discover new music by searching through existing user-generated mixes. If you want to share your exceptional taste with others, you also can create your own personal mix.

    The music tool’s search ability is one of its core features. Every playlist comes with multiple tags. These tags are based on a mood, activity, music genre, or a combination of choices. By creating a unique combo of tags, you can find your perfect playlist. 8tracks will definitely help you explore beyond your current taste in music.


    3. Hype Machine
    Stay up-to-date on the hottest music trends. Instead of subscribing to multiple blogs, you can check out Hype Machine. This website brings together all the popular music in one streamlined fashion. It aggregates the recent songs from a selection of music blogs and then lists them on its main page.

    Hype Machine’s new app works the same way. In addition, the app gives you the option to stream the music. This is a great tool to monitor music trends and find new music.


    4. jog.fm
    Pump up your workout routine! Find the right music for your run, jog, or walk with jog.fm. This app detects your running pace and plays the best songs automatically. No more searching through terrible songs to find the perfect one. Use the app to play your music from your iTunes library.

    It also learns your favorite tunes. If you skip a song enough, it won’t be played anymore. Stop spending precious hours crafting the perfect playlists. Let jog.fm handle it for you.

    The search is over! Use these great online tools for all your music obsessions.

    Images courtesy of each company’s website.

  • Uber CEO Must Reveal Emails In Lawsuit, Judge Rules
    By Dan Levine
    OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) – Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick must disclose some of his emails to plaintiff lawyers in a lawsuit accusing the car service of misleading customers about how it shares gratuities with drivers, a U.S. judge said on Wednesday.
    An Uber customer filed a proposed class action lawsuit against the company earlier this year, saying an advertised 20 percent gratuity is “false, misleading, and likely to deceive members of the public” because Uber keeps a substantial portion of the money.
    Uber’s business practices have come under scrutiny, with some customers alleging privacy violations. Earlier this month a senior Uber executive caused an uproar when he told journalists that Uber should consider hiring researchers to examine and disclose activities of media critics.
    Kalanick apologized for the executive’s comments and the company hired an outside law firm to review its privacy policies.
    In the driver gratuity lawsuit, plaintiff attorneys argued that Kalanick and other executives should disclose emails that contain evidence about Uber’s tipping practices.
    The company said that would be overly burdensome because such policies are set by the general manager in each city, which operate as their own “individual business,” according to a court filing.
    At a hearing on Wednesday in an Oakland, California federal court, U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu said Uber is a new startup with relatively few employees.
    Driver gratuities is an issue that Kalanick and other top executives “are likely to be involved in,” Ryu said.
    The case is Caren Ehret vs. Uber Technologies Inc in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 14-0113.

    (Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Richard Chang)

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