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Mobile Technology News, November 29, 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.

  • Uber Disciplines Manager Accused Of Tracking Reporter
    Uber has disciplined its lead NYC manager after he was accused of invading a customer’s privacy.

    “We have concluded our investigation and taken disciplinary actions,” Uber representative Natalia Montalvo said in a statement obtained Friday by The Huffington Post.

    Montalvo did not give specifics on what Josh Mohrer, Uber’s New York City general manager, did wrong or how he was punished. But the company acknowledge it started reviewing Mohrer’s actions 10 days ago after a BuzzFeed story revealed that Mohrer tracked tech reporter Johana Bhuiyan’s Uber travel data without her permission.

    “Access to and use of data is permitted only for legitimate business purposes,” said an Uber statement issued last week on the investigation. “Violations of this policy do result in disciplinary action, including the possibility of termination and legal action.”

    Mohrer will keep his job as general manager for New York City, but it was unclear if or how the “disciplinary actions” will affect his role, reported Slate, the first outlet to confirm Uber’s move.

    Mohrer improperly used Uber’s internal “God View” system to keep tabs on Bhuiyan when she was traveling to Uber’s New York headquarters to conduct an interview, BuzzFeed reported. “There you are,” Mohrer said to Bhuiyan when she arrived. “I was tracking you.”

    “God View” can be used to find the location of both of both Uber vehicles and customers, but as Uber’s privacy statement said, “only for legitimate business purposes.” Mohrer did not ask Bhuiyan’s permission to track her, BuzzFeed reported.

    BuzzFeed’s piece on “God View” prompted Uber to clarify its privacy policy and the company confirmed that it had hired an attorney from Hogan Lovells to help steer its privacy practices.

    The controversial company has been struggling to save face in recent weeks. In addition to the alleged “God View” privacy invasion, Uber Vice President Emil Michael suggested at a dinner that the company should dig up dirt on journalists critical of its business. Both Michael and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick later apologized for the statement.

    Uber — founded in 2009 and based in San Francisco — is reportedly in talks to raise $1 billion to put its total valuation in the range of $35 to 40 billion.

  • Websites creak on record Black Friday
    Retailers including John Lewis and Currys head for record online sales as frenzied shopping swamps websites.
  • 4 Cyber Monday Tips for the Smart Shopper
    2014-11-28-ID100293661.jpg

    Yes, it’s that time of year again. Online shoppers will spend countless hours in front of their computer screens to get the best Cyber Monday deals. If you don’t like waiting in long lines, this may be your only chance to get those holiday shopping discounts.

    It’s difficult to ignore the growth of this new retail holiday. Companies are increasingly creating marketing strategies to lure in more online customers. In 2013, Cyber Monday sales increased by 15.7% to a whopping $2.29 billion.

    Are you ready to grab great deals and not become an online impulsive buyer? Here are four tips to save you some cash and sanity:

    1. List Your Desired Purchases
    What do you really want to buy? Experts recommend not going grocery shopping when you are hungry. So, it’s safe to say not to go online shopping if you have no clue what you want to buy.

    You can even narrow down your categories: technology, clothing, cosmetics, or household goods. Once you have a list, you can hold yourself accountable when you’re searching for designer jeans, instead of a nice television for the family room.

    2. Focus on Coupon Websites
    Year-round extreme coupon folks swear by their coupon websites. Check out ChameleonJohn, RetailMeNot, and Hip2Save. These sites offer amazing savings in one central location. No more scouring through hundreds of web pages for every single item you want. You can conveniently browse through a wide selection of discounts.

    Remember to think about your budget while sifting through all the deals. Will the 10% savings on a certain item be worth it? Or could you find an alternative, less expensive brand? Don’t get overwhelmed by all the coupons. Do your due diligence before submitting your final order.

    3. Stay Connected on Social Media
    Companies like to offer special discounts through their social media accounts. Last year, iOS and Android accounted for more than 90% of online sales. If you are targeting particular stores, follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. For example, leading online retailer Newegg usually provides exclusive sales to its Facebook fans.

    In addition, it would be helpful to subscribe to the newsletters and text service of your favorite stores. You may get inundated with multiple messages, but it will help with finding the best savings. Plus, you can always unsubscribe later if you get too annoyed.

    4. Beware of Scams
    Don’t fall victim to online scams that can lead to identity theft and closed credit card accounts. Resist the temptation to “like” a Facebook page in order to receive a “free” iPhone 6. You won’t be receiving pricey tech items for pennies on the dollar.

    Don’t get stuck on copycat websites. They are easy to spot. The sites will have numerous misspellings and awkward page formatting. Also, watch out for spam emails claiming to be from UPS or FedEx. You won’t be receiving any “free” gifts from these shipping companies.

    Be a smart shopper on Cyber Monday. With a little preparation, you can get all your holiday shopping deals.

    Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • Syrian hack attack forces pop-ups
    A number of websites have been compromised to display a message from a group identifying itself as the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA).
  • The Quadrofoil Hopes To Be The Boat Of The Future
    If Teslas are the cars of the future, the Quadrofoil hopes to be the boat of the future.

    The electric personal watercraft looks like something James Bond would drive over Lake Como in a high-speed chase. Sleek and futuristic looking, the watercraft uses hydrofoil technology to “fly” above the surface of the water, making it virtually emission-free.

    Hydrofoil technology is not new, but according to Quadrofoil’s president and CEO, Marjan Rožman, “What is new on Quadrofoil are electric drive and patented steering technology that enable stability and agility at the same time.”

    As the boat reaches a speed of 6 knots (about 7 mph), its hydrofoil wings create lift and raise the boat out of the water, which, Rožman told The Huffington Post, enables it to be driven through most environmentally protected sanctuaries. Its nearly silent, all-electric motor also means there’s no oil or exhaust to muck up the marine ecosystem. The design’s hollow hull and composite, lightweight construction also makes the vessel “almost unsinkable,” as the website puts it.

    Rožman boasts that the state-of-the art, touchscreen steering wheel is the only control mechanism on board. It displays how much battery power is left, as well as the boat’s speed and range. The Quadrofoil can travel more than 60 miles on a single charge, according to designers.

    The smooth ride, however, comes at a cost. The boat comes with a $18,700 price tag, has virtually no onboard storage, and reaches a top speed of only 21 knots (about 24 mph). Rožman recognizes the challenges, but told HuffPost his goal is for “Quadrofoil to become a synonym for electrical personal watercrafts,” with future models offering more.

    Quadrofoils are due to ship out in March next year, and available for pre-ordering on Quadrofoil’s website.

  • As Bricks and Clicks Merge, Geeks Are Discovering Politics
    As with the first industrial revolution, the merger of Clicks and Bricks forces us to ask: Which laws need to be updated, which are just irrelevant, and which are barriers to entry created by special interests? Best placed to help our internet billionaires contribute to this important project are — politicians, civil servants, lobbyists and other political hangers-on, looking for lucrative work.

    America’s statutes, policies and regulations (Laws) are designed for a non-digital world — a world where a taxi was something you hailed on the street, not by clicking a smartphone app. The world of Bricks (i.e., the older traditional economy) and Clicks (i.e, the newer tech-fueled economy) are merging. With this merger, we are forced to examine our existing Laws (a point also made by Fareed Zakaria). As companies scramble to lobby the government for the most favorable results, political types and high powered lobbyists will be in great demand (e.g., David Plouffe — a key strategist behind President Obama’s two presidential wins — recently joined Uber).

    Originally, computers (e.g., the IBM 700/7000 series circa 1952 ) had little direct interaction with the world of Bricks. They were used for: artillery trajectory tables, payroll and accounting, and similar behind-the-scenes work. The machines took up entire rooms, and operated in batch mode(1).

    Moore’s law (computer processing power doubles every 18-36 months) has proved unrelenting. As processing costs decline exponentially and other technologies advance, the worlds of Bricks and Clicks are merging.

    Cabs have existed for centuries — London has had taxi service since 1654. And renting out a spare room has been happening for centuries. What has changed — and the impact is dramatic — is the decline in transaction costs and the resulting increase in market efficiency brought about by adding the world of Clicks to the world of Bricks. This has triggered the rise of the sharing economy, among many other manifestations.

    Innovations — such as, Uber’s uniting dynamic pricing, smartphones, GPS, stored billing information, a two way rating system (you rate the driver and the driver rates you) and much else — make the new economy a very efficient system for transacting business, thereby resulting in more business activity.

    But merging Clicks with Bricks creates friction with old Laws from the pre-Click world, which can be categorized as:

    1. Laws that remain necessary, in some form, in our digital era: For example, most cities have auto inspection and safety rules for vehicles, particularly for vehicles that carry paying passengers. The safety concerns are the same, whether the passenger is picked up by Lyft, Uber or a traditional car/taxi service. These Laws served a legitimate purpose prior to the merging of Clicks and Bricks, and that purpose remains applicable, even in the digital age.
    2. Laws that are obsolete in the digital era: As an example, in a different time, when horses were the major mode of urban transportation, all sorts of Laws were created specifically for an era of horse traffic. Most of these are now irrelevant, or have been repealed. But those remaining from that era must be re-examined (and eliminated or revised) if unnecessary or detrimental to new needs and goals.
    3. Laws that never had any good reason to exist, but were the result of special interests creating barriers to entry, as discussed in more detail below.

    As Adam Smith said:

    People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

    One way for businesses to conspire against the public is to have government create artificial barriers to entry, and thereby generate unearned profits for politically connected businesses.

    For example, the number of yellow taxis allowed on the streets of NYC at any one time is restricted to 13,437. No matter how great the demand, the capacity of the streets, the time of year, or the strength or weakness of the NYC economy — only 13,437 yellow cabs are allowed. The number 13,437 doesn’t reflect a perfect balance of the laws of supply and demand — demand for the privilege of driving a yellow cab far outstrips the supply. The current price for a medallion (i.e., the right to have a yellow taxi on the streets of NYC) — about $1 million — reflects this high demand.

    NYC medallion owners are a concentrated special interest group, with a financial interest in limiting the issuance of new medallions. The general public also has an interest in the taxi industry — more and better service — but for most people, this isn’t their highest priority. For medallion owners, however, the taxi medallion is of utmost importance since it represents their very livelihood. Medallion owners, therefore, can have an outsized influence on this one narrow issue. But the rise of Uber and similar services means we suddenly have new and powerful interests at the table, challenging old rules.

    This isn’t just about the taxi industry. This challenge will occur across the entire economy. One benefit of this merging of Bricks and Clicks is a “housecleaning” of our Laws. As significant new participants emerge, they’ll seek to remove government barriers that hinder their business models. However, these new competitors will behave as Adam Smith predicted, and attempt to create new barriers to trade benefitting their own interests. Arguably this process has already begun – newcomer Uber was recently accused of encouraging taxi regulations that would favor its business model, and make it more difficult for new entrants. Capitalism is innovative and efficient, but not always admirable.

    My one prediction: For both well-funded new competitors (trying to revise or create Laws that benefit their interests), and old form competitors (with tremendous incentives to protect their turf), civil servants, politicians, lobbyists and others of their ilk will be in high demand!

    (1) In this period computer programs were typed on punch cards and left to run overnight at a data center; by the way, punch cards were still in use as late as the mid-1980s).

    An earlier version of this blog appeared as:
    Strauss, Steven. “Regulation for Bricks, Clicks, and the Sharing Economy.” Aspen Journal of Ideas. Aspen Institute, Nov. 2014. Web.

    Steven Strauss is the John L. Weinberg/Goldman Sachs & Co. Visiting Professor at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and an Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

  • Sony makes experimental paper watch
    Sony has developed a watch made from e-paper as part of an initiative to experiment with the use of the material for fashion products.
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson Has Adorable Advice For First-Graders, And Here's What It Is
    What could be cuter than a conversation between Neil deGrasse Tyson and a first-grader?

    Earlier this month, the famed astrophysicist called on six-year-old Kaitlynn Goulette to ask him a question while he was delivering a lecture at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.

    When the young girl asked, “How can first-graders help the Earth,” Tyson didn’t tell her to recycle or invest in solar panels. Rather, he encouraged her to not lose her natural curiosity to explore the Earth that she so desperately wants to help. Check out the exchange in the YouTube video above.

    “He’s just told this little girl that she too can be a scientist,” YouTube user Tiffany Henry commented on the video. “I am feeling all the joy in the world right now.”

    There’s no question that children have an innate enthusiasm for science. Just watch first-and second-graders in this “Talk Nerdy To Me” episode below.

  • A Guide To Lumia Denim

    With the rollout of Lumia Denim expected to start literally in days, I thought it would be a good idea to post a guide of what you can expect in the next major release of the Lumia OS that runs on Windows Phone.   Lumia Denim is a firmware update that will eventually make its way to every Windows Phone running 8.1.  This update is sometimes referred to as Update 1 although it is unclear if Microsoft will actually call it that when the time comes to release it.  Regardless of the naming, Lumia Denim is a big update for Windows

    The post A Guide To Lumia Denim appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • Three pondering bid for O2 or EE, say reports
    As BT conducts sales talks with both O2 and EE, reports have emerged the owner of Three is also preparing a bid for one or other of the two networks
  • Emergency repairs for cracked phones
    A broken screen on a smartphone might not seem like one of the most pressing problems – but firms are now offering a very quick fix.
  • Interview: Fujitsu CTO Joseph Reger on human-centric innovation
    Joseph Reger, Fujitsu’s EMEIA CTO, discusses human-centric innovation and the need for responsible attitudes to technology
  • Airport raids tackle cyberthieves
    Cyberthieves who used stolen credit cards to buy airline tickets are targeted in raids at 80 airports.
  • Portsmouth Water starts migration from custom mainframe to IFS ERP
    Portsmouth Water has started switching over custom mainframe applications to IFS in a bid to improve data use and customer service
  • Graphene promise for body armour
    The “wonder material” graphene could be used to make bulletproof armour, new research suggests.
  • CGI secures communications between pilots and air traffic control
    Satellite communications firm Inmarsat has outsourced the provision of security IT and services to CGI
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