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Mobile Technology News, November 7, 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.

  • Windows Phone Makes Small Gains In US Market

    Windows Phone saw a small increase in market share in the United States for the quarter that ended in September 2014.  The data, from comScore, indicates that Windows Phone saw a .2% increase in market penetration over the previous quarter which ended in June 2014.  That means that the platform has a 3.6% market share and stands a solid third overall. The update also points out the massive gap between Windows Phone when compared to iOS and Android.  Those two platforms accounted for an astonishing 93.8% of the market with Android leading at 52.1%.  Windows Phone and Android were the

    The post Windows Phone Makes Small Gains In US Market appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • VIDEO: Potter versus 3D printer
    Traditional potter Geoff Kenward goes head to head with 3D printer Mark Bloomfield, making their cases for their respective techniques.
  • Recycling Ivory Coast's mobile waste
    How Ivory Coast is tackling its old phone problem
  • Ebola robots on White House agenda
    Deploying robots to help medics tackle the outbreak
  • VIDEO: Using robots to fight Ebola
    Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts is looking to repurpose a robot named Baxter to help with the fight against Ebola.
  • The New Privacy Frontier: Creating a Better Mobile Experience
    The discussion over data privacy is not new and the natural tension between the objectives of consumers and businesses as it relates to consumer privacy has only gotten more complicated in our rapidly changing world.

    Mobility adds another layer of complexity to this puzzle. In this new frontier, context becomes an important touchstone for creating a secure mobile environment, or a term that is emerging called “context-aware privacy.” By providing context, there are steps both consumers and businesses can take to help bridge the gap in this new frontier.

    First, lets discuss the consumer. Looking at privacy through the lens of the consumer, they are confused, concerned and not feeling as if they are in the driver’s seat. Moreover, the underlying security frameworks are constantly under attack. Major security breaches are commonplace and seemingly an everyday occurrence. Ultimately, consumer confidence is low, and the line between what is real and what is hype is muddled and indistinct.

    Consumers now must be conscious about what location and other activity information they are sharing purposefully or inadvertently. For instance, what consumers want to share with their bank is vastly different than what they want to share with their favorite online retailer.

    In this new frontier, consumers will see immediate benefits by constantly asking themselves questions such as:

    • Who am I interacting with and from what device?
    • What value will I get from ‘sharing’ information? Is it really necessary?
    • What is my provider doing to protect me and do I trust them, their intent and execution?

    On the other side of the equation, businesses are constantly trying to stay ahead of the rapidly changing competitive landscapes and to innovate across not one or two, but on many devices.

    In this new frontier, businesses need to provide context for their consumers. In order to do so, businesses must continue to try and understand who their consumers are, what problems they are facing and drive solutions to best meet their current and future needs.

    Here are some steps businesses can take in this new frontier:

    • Learn their consumers’ hot buttons and what will resonate with them and motivate them to take action.
    • Find out how their consumers prefer to learn about new solutions and work hard to leverage those avenues and forums for their benefit.
    • Find out how their consumers share information and experiences with their personal community and if appropriate, participate in that community with the goal of educating and generating new adopters of applications.
    • Finally, test, test, test fearlessly. Figure out what works, what doesn’t and then execute.

    In the end, businesses can create great, personalized mobile experiences for their consumers by never forgetting the old adage, “the customer is king.”

    Providing context-driven privacy will help bridge the natural tension between the objectives and concerns of consumers and businesses. In turn, businesses will find continuous opportunities to interact with and provide value to their consumers in new and creative ways, wherever they are, on their preferred device.

    About the Author: Kate Bolseth is chief executive officer of Jingit LLC with deep experience in leading global operations across professional services, customer support, maintenance, logistics, and product strategy and development. Jingit is the first real-time, events-based payments and engagement platform that plays at the intersection of the $1.2-trillion payments and the $400-billion advertising industries and connects the dots between the two before, during and after a transaction. Hear Kate speak on the topic of privacy issues in a mobile environment at MobCon on Nov. 14. Register at www.MobCon.com.

  • Uber Expands Nonprofit Option, Provides Cheaper Rides To More Chinese Users
    Uber is connecting more people through affordable transportation — and is OK with not making any money in the process.

    The ride-sharing app, which allows users to request drivers with a tap to their smartphones’ touch screens, launched a nonprofit version to its services in China back in August called People’s Uber. Unlike the app’s other more luxurious options — such as UberBlack, which provides users with a high-end sedan to ride in, or UberLux, which sends riders the “finest cars with prices to match” — People’s Uber sends users any available vehicle once they request it, regardless of the model, and only charges for operating costs (such as gas) without making a profit for the company, according to Entrepreneur.com.

    Last month, the transportation technology company expanded People’s Uber beyond Beijing to six other Chinese cities: Hangzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

    Entrepreneur.com points out that People’s Uber opens the door for users lower on the socioeconomic ladder who can’t (or at least prefer not to) pay for the more luxurious service options.

    As TechCrunch noted, the nonprofit option may not be a completely selfless move by Uber. While the more affordable option won’t initially make the company money, Uber presumably hopes that building brand awareness and expanding its customer base will lead to more users for their profitable services down the road.

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  • US retailer lost 53m emails in hack
    US retail giant Home Depot says hackers stole 53 million email addresses earlier this year, in addition to millions of payment-card details.
  • Smartest Toilet Seat Ever Will Make Your Bathroom Smell Better
    The key to making your bathroom smell better? Turns out it only takes two D batteries and a “smart” toilet seat.

    Those who frequently purchase bathroom air fresheners might find their new fix with the introduction of Kohler’s Purefresh toilet seat. The new, roughly $120 seat releases a deodorizing air spritz each time the toilet is used, with the help of a fan and some fancy technology.

    kohler

    According to Kohler, that “fancy technology” involves “a deodorizing system that utilizes a carbon filter to neutralize odorous air.”

    Once the bathroom user sits down, the toilet seat fans out air over one of the three scent packs — Garden Waterfall, Avocado Spa and Soft and Fresh Laundry. Avocados and laundry smells might trick you into thinking you’re in a different part of the house, but we have a feeling the scents all smell better than a typical bathroom.

    With voice-activated coffee makers, audio speakers that will do as you command and an app that can keep house plants alive for you, it looks like we’ll be living luxuriously in no time.

    kohler

  • What Separates Internet Advocates?
    In a week of political showdowns, it seems appropriate to reflect on the faceoff in the Internet advocacy world. On the morning of June 10, 1964, Senator Robert C. Byrd ended a 14 hour, 13 minute address. The arguments over the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had given Americans the example of the modern filibuster. Meaningful national policy is hardly made with ease, nor without due acrimony. In 1986, Ronald Reagan signed the forward-leaning Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1996, legalizing millions of immigrants in the process — after the Act had failed in conference committee just the year before, in 1985. We fight over the big issues. A truth emerges. Compromise follows the big arguments. Internet policy worked this way once upon a time.

    In 1996, Congress codified principles for the then-nascient Internet in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, codifying several important ideas, including its recognition that after six decades, the Internet could not be regulated by the principles of the Telecommunications Act of 1934, which was intended for a national monopoly telephone service; that universal service would be an evolving concept, and that the evolution of the new Internet would take immense private capital to spread from coast to coast, and continue its evolution through innovation and investment. Today’s conversation about the Internet and how to regulate it has new challenges, a mighty helping of acrimony, and a new kind of populist zeal separating advocates and scholars in a way that only the 140 -character social media world can bring to life.

    The modern Internet has challenges. But the most important ones aren’t at the center of the national conversation. Two decades into the Internet experiment, the infrastructure of today has sprouted through a trillion dollars in private capital. We’ve spread wire line and wireless Internet to meet exploding demand from coast to coast. Fiber experiments in the heartland have changed the conversation about fast and super-fast Internet even further.

    Rural broadband remains a challenge in the most hard to connect areas. (That’s called our 5 percent problem). But Internet infrastructure is not the big challenge of the day.

    The Internet’s most troubling problems have little to do with speed or availability. Its that 15 percent of Americans remain disconnected by choice. There is a 10 percent gap in Internet use by race. Only 2-3 percent of silicon valley tech jobs at companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon are inhabited by African Americans and Latinos.

    Internet wealth is also too concentrated in a few urban places. Those least likely to be American Internet users tend to be poor, and less educated rural and urban dwellers. The non-users also tend to be older, and black or Latino. Rust belt cities and rural towns are behind in incubating digital startups to participate in the creation of new jobs where they are most needed. Inner cities are playing catch up, yet again.

    The most troubling issue facing the Internet is the dire stratification of digital wealth — we billions of users and sharers, feeding a millionaire and billionaire economy of a concentrated, too homogenous group of entrepreneurs. It’s the new reality of the Uber and Airbnb economy — firms valued at more than $10 billion each, but small on jobs, while delivering record shareholder value, with little need for the kind of capital investments, nor number of employees of the businesses of yesteryear.

    This stratification is the issue of the Internet age. And it can be fixed.

    Closing the new digital divide — not just creating a new generation of Internet users, but inspiring diverse generations of makers and entrepreneurs, creating and innovating in dispersed SILICON EVERYWHERE communities from California, through the heartland, and to the east and south — will determine whether the digital economy harkens a new feudalism, or lives up to its potential as the democratizer of capital and opportunity.

    But today’s arguments about the Internet don’t seem to focus on this issue. What advocates have been caught up in, is the question of regulation of the relationships between the largest of Internet businesses. Should Netflix be allowed to negotiate for a direct connection to a network? Should a network be allowed to partner with a novel health care startup to create a super-fast telehealth offering? These questions have inspired exhausting digital reams of argument, advocacy, and more curse words than ever filed in official FCC documents.

    But what about our 15 percent problem? What about the digital divide? What about digital equity? And what will any new rules from the FCC mean for them? These issues seem too far away from the debate, and too unimportant to some advocates.

    Acrimony and argument is expected in Washington. It is part of the process. But as the FCC looks to the future of Internet regulation, and Congress may be again pushed into the spotlight to update an Act that seems to have outlived its effectiveness, what will separate the voices on this matter will be the attention paid to the following:

    What policies, have, and will actually help to address our real Internet problem, grow an innovative Internet for the future, and advance the goal of digital equity?

    Jason Llorenz is an attorney and professor. He teaches at the Rutgers University School of Communication & Information. Follow on twitter: @llorenzesq

  • Abandoned Puppy Left For Dead Now Recovering — And Enjoying A Bit Of Viral Fame
    Can a hashtag save a dog’s life? The love behind it can certainly help, shelter officials say.

    On Oct. 30, staff at the South Suburban Humane Society in Chicago Heights, Illinois, were heartbroken when a good Samaritan dropped off a 3-month-old puppy he’d found abandoned inside a milk crate near his house. The puppy was near death, and his prognosis was not good, according to a shelter Facebook post.

    (Story continues below)
    phoenix 1

    phoenix 2

    Veterinarians proceeded to provide fluids for the malnourished puppy, whom they named Phoenix, and ran tests that confirmed he had a severe blockage in his abdomen and intestines. Though the dog was far from an ideal candidate for major surgery, Phoenix would surely die without it.

    In the week since Phoenix came into the shelter and received treatment, his health has slowly begun to improve — a recovery shelter officials can only describe as “miraculous.” Facebook and Twitter users were smitten by the pup and rallied in support of him, posting encouraging messages with the hashtag #LoveForPhoenix.

    Rhea (formerly Aubriel) sends her love. Fight hard, Phoenix! #loveforPhoenix pic.twitter.com/DccllwYIbQ

    — Lisa Erdmier (@LisaErds) November 2, 2014

    Shelter CEO Emily Klehm told NBC she thinks all the positivity truly played a role in the pup’s recovery.

    “I really do believe it was the wave of love that people started sending his way,” she said. “There are hundreds of Phoenix’s unfortunately all across the city that are in need.”

    phoenix 3

    abandoned puppy

    phoenix 4

    Phoenix was released from the hospital Tuesday. The shelter is now seeking a foster-to-adopt home near the hospital where the puppy will require followup visits. Interested individuals can contact Klehm at emily@southsuburbanhumane.org. The shelter is also accepting donations to support the services it provides for other pets like Phoenix.

    Clearly, Phoenix is taking his newfound fame in stride:

  • Enhancing Lives and Breaking Down Barriers
    2014-11-06-NC2007_HenryTirriCropped.jpg
    By Henry Tirri
    Henry Tirri is the EVP Technology Advisor to the CEO of Nokia.

    I strongly believe that technology offers tremendous opportunity to tap into new information and new discoveries that can enhance our lives, whether by improving health outcomes, or surpassing communication barriers worldwide.  

    But in order to achieve these advances in technology, Silicon Valley — and the world — needs to continue to foster an environment centered on open innovation. It’s in that spirit of knowledge flow and collaboration that we chose to sponsor the $2.25 million Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE, a global competition in partnership with XPRIZE that welcomes entrepreneurs and developers interested in improving healthcare. The finalists in last year’s Competition #1 presented game-changing devices, sensors and chips to both detect disease pathogens and to facilitate the integration of health records into medical systems for swifter action.

    Questions surrounding health continue to be top of mind for the global community. The recent Ebola outbreak, for example, created a renewed sense of urgency to capture health data that can help track the outbreak and potentially contain the disease. Coming off last year’s Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE success — and with the pressing health issues troubling society today — we are eager to see what this year’s finalists have to offer, and look forward to announcing the winners on November 10.

    Last month, we announced the 11 teams that made it to the final stage to compete for the $2.25 million. While this is a competition, we envision the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE more as an opportunity. It’s a global platform for those who have innovative ideas and solutions to speak up and potentially enhance the standard of living on a global scale. This open setting promotes collaboration and idea generation where individuals can both inspire and be inspired.

    Part of what attracts young talent to Silicon Valley and the technology industry is the notion that risk-taking and creative thinking are encouraged and valued within the community. We are proud that this comes to life during the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE, and that creative thinkers are pushed to their limits as they break through boundaries and envision the next frontier.

    Perhaps most importantly, the impact of these ideas and inventions expands far beyond healthcare. The competition provides a stage for those who know their ideas have the capability to change the world.

    Visit XPRIZE at xprize.org, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, and get our Newsletter to stay informed.

  • Home Depot: Hackers Stole 53 Million Email Addresses

    NEW YORK (AP) — The Home Depot Inc. says hackers stole 53 million email addresses in addition to the payment card data it previously disclosed. It says the hackers accessed its network from a third-party vendor.

    The Atlanta retailer disclosed in September one of the largest data breaches, affecting 56 million debit and credit cards between April and September.

    Home Depot said Thursday it’s warning its customers to be on the lookout for phishing scams.

  • Producing a Gay Web Series: Dos and Don'ts
    I used to say, “Every actor should produce his own Web series.” I don’t say that anymore, as it now seems almost every actor in Los Angeles is!

    But if you’re an actor or writer with a gay story, the Web is the best place to tell it. There’s no censorship, other than YouTube’s general rules against nudity. No network will tell you to water the characters down or make it more palatable for straight audiences.

    2014-11-06-2.64dogs.jpg

    When I created Old Dogs & New Tricks three years ago, I’d never produced a Web show before. I had no idea what to expect. Despite a very steep learning curve, it’s been the most rewarding creative experience I have had. It’s completely changed my life and given me a “profile” in this town that I never had before.

    It is exhausting but so worth it. In my three years of writing/acting/producing/show-running ODNT, I feel as though I’ve earned a master’s degree in show business. You will never work so hard, but you will never learn as much. You’ll also have newfound respect for writers, producers, editors and actors.

    Here’s a list of dos and don’ts for producing your gay Web series.

    • DO have a good, strong idea for a series. Make it something you can see only on the Web. If it could be on TV, try to sell it there. (Our show is about four sexually active, middle-aged gay men. Try pitching that to a network!)
    • DO solve as many problems on the page before you schedule that shoot. Get the script as tight as possible before you even think about shooting. Combine scenes, eliminate fluff, consolidate supporting roles. Have a table read so you can hear the script aloud.
    • DO keep the story moving in your script. Eliminate needless entrances and exits, and begin a scene right before the characters begin saying what they need to say in the scene. You don’t have a minute to spare. (My rule of thumb is: If its neither funny nor advancing the plot, cut it.)
    • DO hire the best crew members you can find. (When I first moved to L.A., I purposely did a lot of student- and master-thesis films at USC. I figured that maybe someday one of these kids would be in a position to hire me. Well, it hasn’t worked out quite like that, but I had a stable of talented filmmaking friends to select from when the time came.)
    • DO your homework when casting. Web series are short. You don’t have time for subtlety. Hire actors who can “fill in the blanks.” And talent isn’t the only requirement. Are they also social-media-savvy? Are they hardworking, able to roll with punches? And if you’re doing a gay series, ensure they don’t have any “issues” about the subject matter. (For example, a supporting actor decided after our first season that he wouldn’t do overt gay material in the second season, despite having read both seasons before committing. Needless to say, that actor is not around for our third season!)
    • DO make a creative crowd-funding campaign (unless you’re a trust-fund baby!). Find ways to stand out from the crowd. Offer interesting, fun perks to your donors.
    • DO network with other Web-TV professionals. The Web industry is one of the most supportive in all of show business. Don’t be competitive. There is room for all of us.
    • DO your research. Find and watch as many Web series as you can. And not just the good ones. You learn just as much, if not more, by watching the ones that don’t quite work.
    • DO search Facebook for groups that might be interested in your show. If, for example, your show is about a gay schoolteacher, join like-minded groups on Facebook, and then share your show with them. There is a Facebook group for even the most obscure interests. (But establish contact before posting on their page!)
    • DO look for free ways to publicize your show. Look for “ad trades.” (We have a banner ad for the gay dating site Daddyhunt on our home page, and they have ours on theirs.) Be creative.
    • DO engage your audience. That’s one of the biggest differences about a Web series. You have to communicate with and cultivate your viewers. You will find that some of them are so into your show that they will become a part of your “team.”
    • DO be flexible. If you’re working with good actors, chances are they will get other jobs that occasionally conflict. Roll with it. If you aren’t paying them, you can’t expect them to say no to other work! (I’m proud that my cast is in such demand — it means they are good and attracting new viewers with each “outside” project they do.)
    • DO find a good IT person. Trust me, there will be times when you’ll need one!
    • DO try to cast “name actors.” Soap-opera actors in particular have very loyal fan followings. Cast a daytime star and you’ll be amazed!
    • DON’T post links on others’ Facebook pages without permission! (When we were raising funds for our third season, the producer of another Web show — someone I’d never had an exchange with — posted a link to his IndieGoGo campaign as a comment to my post about our campaign. Very bad form — looks desperate, too.)
    • DON’T offer so many goodies in your fundraising campaign that you end up in the hole when production has wrapped. Make good on your promises at the end of production!
    • DON’T be shy. You’ll need to pitch your show to potential investors. You’ll have to appear on as many radio talk shows as you can. Get used to selling yourself as well as your show, because it will never stop.
    • DON’T try to create a show to sell to a network, land a production deal or snag a new agent. Tell the story that’s in your heart. Again, if your story can be on TV, then go there.
    • DON’T wait till you have a pilot in the can before you start hyping. Create a Facebook page and Twitter account for the show. Start hyping your show before it’s even shot.
    • DON’T take everyone’s advice. Find one or two people whose opinions you value, and ask them for feedback on your script. But don’t feel obliged to accept all suggestions. This is your story, and should have your voice!
    • DON’T listen to people who say “a Web series doesn’t have to be as good as a TV show.” It’s your choice. Do you want to sink to the lowest common denominator, or would you rather hear folks say your show looks too good for the Web?
    • DON’T talk to a celebrity’s agent or manager, if you can avoid it. When agents don’t see dollar signs in their eyes, they will brush you off. However, if you can somehow reach the actor you want directly, chances are they will at least be interested, if not say yes! (Facebook and Twitter are a great tool for this!)
    • DON’T cut corners with the sound department. Most will watch a good show with good sound and less-than-perfect visuals. Not so when its the other way around. Strive to sound as good as you look!
    • DON’T submit to everything. Be selective, do your homework, then associate only with organizations as professional as you are! (Don’t bother with that East Coast-based Web-TV “award” that is decided arbitrarily by one person, not by a panel of judges. Avoid festivals that insist you not submit to other fests within so many days or miles of their festival.)
    • DON’T be ignorant. Observe your team in action, and learn as many new skills as you can. You may have to step into other production roles occasionally, and you’ll want to feel confident.
    • DON’T get an attitude. No matter how successful your show becomes, never start acting like a star. It’s still a Web series, considered by many in Hollywood to be the lowest form of entertainment. Find satisfaction in being a minor cult figure.

    So what are you waiting for? Get on that script! And send me a message if you have any questions! Good luck!

    Leon Acord’s Web series, Old Dogs & New Tricks, begins its third season Wednesday, Nov. 12, at odnt.tv.

  • Amazon's Latest Effort To Get You Shopping Is This Speaker
    Amazon wants to make it as easy as possible for you to buy every single thing it sells, from diapers to groceries to streaming movies.

    The company’s latest effort to get you shopping comes in the form of a voice-controlled wireless speaker, called Echo, that’s always listening for you to utter the phrase “Alexa.” When you do, the speaker perks up and awaits for your question or command. The company quietly announced Echo on Thursday.

    Echo costs $199, but it’s $99 for members of Amazon Prime, the company’s free-shipping loyalty program. But it’s not even for sale yet — you have to request an invitation. Kinley Pearsall, an Amazon spokesperson, wrote in an email that the company will start sending invitations and shipping the speaker “in the coming weeks.”

    Think of Echo, which connects to your wireless network at home, as similar to personal assistants like Google Now and Siri. In the promotional video, Amazon shows Echo responding to questions — from multiple members of the family — like “how tall is Mt. Everest” and “how do you spell cantaloupe” as well as commands like “play rock music” and “add wrapping paper to the shopping list.”

    When you ask Echo to add something to your shopping list, it shows up on the companion smartphone app, according to Pearsall. You can then search for it on Amazon or the web and buy it there, of course, though Pearsall noted that you can also use it as checklist when you’re at the grocery store.

    The Echo app will be available on smartphones and tablets running Android and Amazon’s Fire OS at launch, and for Apple’s iOS soon, according to Pearsall.

    Echo is equipped with seven microphones so it can hear you from any direction, and has noise cancellation so it can pick up your voice even when the speaker is playing music.

    The speaker is connected to Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s cloud service. Echo gets answers to question from the company’s own database as well as Wikipedia, AccuWeather and other third parties, Pearsall said. Amazon says on its website that Echo gets to know you and your speech patterns, so the more you use it, the better it works.

    Pearsall wrote in an email that the phrase “Alexa” is a nod to the ancient library of Alexandria.

    Some smartphones have similar hands-free technology that’s always listening for a certain phrase. Some handsets that run on Google’s Android operating system are activated by “Ok, Google,” while the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system enables iPhones that are plugged in to respond to “Hey Siri.”

    According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Echo, which was codenamed Doppler or Project D, has been in development for at least four years.

    Echo is just the latest gadget from the world’s largest online retailer. Already this year Amazon has unveiled a streaming media box, a phone, a streaming media stick, a new Kindle eReader and a new lineup of tablets. The company is also testing Dash, a wand that allows you to scan items around the house to add them to your shopping list, in some areas of California and Brooklyn.

    The Fire Phone, the company’s first smartphone, has largely been a failure for the company. Just weeks after it went on sale, the company cut the price by $200.

    “We … heard it from customers that they expected more value,” Dave Limp, senior vice president of devices at Amazon, said of the Fire Phone’s price in an interview in September. “We had had a plan to reduce the price. To be perfectly honest about it, it was going to happen a little later.”

    Amazon said during a call with investors last month that it took a roughtly $170 million charge related to the phone.

  • Americans Twice As Likely To Express Religion In Person Than Online: Report
    Americans use social media and the Internet for nearly everything, including their faith, and a newly released Pew Research Center report reveals just how many are sharing their religious beliefs online.

    According to Pew’s report, conducted May 30 to June 30 of this year, and 20 percent of U.S. adults reported sharing their religious faith on social networking websites or apps (such as Facebook and Twitter) in the past week. Twice as many respondents said they shared their faith in a real-life setting — suggesting an inclination many still feel to express faith one-on-one versus over the web.

    Greg Smith, the Associate Director of Research on the study, told HuffPost by email that the researchers did not define in the survey what “sharing” could entail, but said be believed it would be interpreted broadly, beyond evangelizing or proselytizing.

    “It could include a wide range of interactions, such as offering a prayer or blessing, quoting from scripture or describing a religious experience, to mention only a few possibilities,” Smith said.

    White evangelicals were the most likely to report sharing their religious beliefs offline. Fifty-nine percent reported doing so, compared to 18 percent of people who are “unaffiliated” and 34 percent of white mainline Protestants.

    Those who do turn to the Internet to share their faith are in good company with some of the most prominent American religious leaders. White evangelicals might look to Saddleback Church founder Rick Warren or President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission Russell Moore, whose Twitter accounts respectively boast 1.5 million and 52,000 followers. Tens of thousands of Americans also follow Christian and Catholic leaders such T.D. Jakes, Jim Wallis, Rachel Held Evans, and Fr. James Martin, to name a few.

    Catholics, American and otherwise, need look no further than Pope Francis, whose 4.6 million Twitter followers are treated to a dose of spiritual wisdom almost daily.

    With so much faith circling social media, 46 percent of respondents said that they had seen others share their faith online, a rate that remained fairly consistent along denominational lines. The religiously “unaffiliated” were most likely to report seeing faith shared online, at 50 percent, while just seven percent said they did their own faith-sharing on the web. White evangelicals and black Protestants were the most likely to report sharing their religious beliefs online, at 34 percent and 30 percent.

    Younger adults were considerably more likely to witness faith-sharing on social media. Sixty-one percent of 18- to 29-year-olds reported seeing faith-sharing online compared to 22 percent of people 65 and older. The groups flipped when asked whether they watched religious television or listened to religious radio, likely as a result of differing technology habits among the generations.

  • Save, Scale, Secure: Why Small Businesses Should Take to the Cloud

    The internet has changed all aspects of our lives. From how we bank, get around, or communicate with friends, or even — as I hear — date. From a business perspective, however, it has radically altered the ways in which businesses communicate with consumers. But did you know it has also changed the very ways in which business owners run businesses? There’re a slew of applications — both mobile and on desktops — which can be used to simplify task, account, and HR management, which often prove to be time-consuming.

    The facts are simple. In the dark old days before the internet came along, like buying a CD, you had to buy software (usually with a license), install it, and then only run it on your computer. Once you had your software, it pretty much was yours to use as you saw fit, but more importantly, manage.

    Under the cloud model, however, business software is run online by a third-party provider, and you access it through your internet browser. With the cloud, there’s never a need to actually ‘own’ any software.

    While, this may seem to be dangerous, it’s actually a positive. Rather than buying a product, thus making it your responsibility to service and manage, you’re renting a service which is your provider’s responsibility to make sure it works. Just like when you rent a car, you rightly expect to be able to jump in and drive off, safe in the knowledge that your car will work. The same is true of cloud services. When you sign up, you get to use the software without worrying about installing it, maintaining it, downloading updates or keeping it secure.

    As a business owner myself, I however, find the greatest benefit of the cloud to be financial. In much the same way in renting versus buying a car, there’s no massive upfront cost when signing on with a cloud-based service provider. Of course you pay a monthly fee, but you can scale your use of the product as per your business demands.

    This means that when taking on more staff you can switch on new license immediately. This also means that unlike with physical business software, which your stuck with once you’ve bought it, you can switch license off if they’re no longer necessary.

    An additional saving found in using cloud computing is the fact that you will never have to “upgrade” your software again. A good cloud service provider — who will always want to retain your business — will ensure that their service is always on the cutting edge of the latest innovations. The cost to upgrade the product is theirs, not yours.

    To put it in accounting terms, using cloud computing, the spend on technology will no longer be a capital expense, but rather an operational one.

    Though there are many positives, as outlined above, one cannot talk about the cloud without addressing the security concerns many have about it. These concerns are valid, but they can be mitigated.

    A reliable cloud service provider ensures that it stays up to date with today’s ever-evolving industry standards and regulations. At the very least, look for a provider that uses 512-bit SSL encryption, which is the same kind of encryption used in online banking. If, when you ask a provider about this, they can’t answer, look elsewhere. The cloud provider you’re looking for should be running periodical backups (at the least on a daily basis). This means that should something go wrong, they will be able to recover your information.

    A top-level cloud service provider’s servers run in state-of-the-art data centers with power-redundancy, hardware mirroring, and multiple internet connections.

    And finally, the best cloud providers never access your data without your clear, explicit permission. So yes, if you can find the service provider who can answer all your security concerns about the cloud, the benefits far outweigh the risks.

    Few — if any — businesses can escape technological advancements. But just as the fax machine made way for email, and email made way for instant messaging services, technological advancements are a key driver of commercial competitiveness. Today, we’ve entered the era of the cloud. Not making use of it means that you’re not only continuing to saddle your business with unnecessary costs, but also failing to grab the competitive advantage the cloud offers your business.

  • WhatsApp Now Tells You When Someone Has Read Your Message
    Just a month after Facebook officially acquired WhatsApp, the messaging app is adding one of Facebook Messenger’s most annoying features: read receipts.

    WhatsApp, which boasts over 600 million monthly active users, has been slowly rolling out the system overseas during the last few months. But it’s now finally caught the wider attention of the media and people who use the app, after the company updated its FAQ page to explain the new feature.

    Previously, messages in WhatsApp had a single check next to them when they were sent from a person’s phone, and a double check when they successfully arrived at a recipient’s phone. This didn’t mean, however, that the recipient had actually read the message — something WhatsApp even clarified on its official Twitter back in 2012. But now, those double checks will turn blue once the message has been opened.

    Some WhatsApp users started seeing this feature as early as September, and German news site Deutsche Welle reported on the update in June.

    whatsapp small iphone
    Blue checks signify the message has been read

    The blue checks are apparently getting rolled out more widely now, but not everyone has them yet. When I texted an Android user from my iPhone, the blue checks appeared for her, but not for me.

    android whatsapp small
    Blue checks did not appear from iPhone to Android

    The new feature made its way onto WhatsApp on my iPhone even though I didn’t download an update. Other reports said it has appeared on the Android version as well.

    WhatsApp has yet to release an official statement on the change, but it did add a section to its FAQ explaining the new service.
    whatsapp blue checks

    WhatsApp users can also now swipe left on iOS or tap and hold on Android to see what time a message was sent, received and read.

    whatsapp message info
    Swipe or click on a message to see when it was read

    Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a way to turn off the feature. WhatsApp did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    This change didn’t come as a welcome surprise to every user, drawing frustration from some that they’ll now have to admit when they are ignoring messages.

    Before the rollout, WhatsApp users could find out whether or not contacts had at least opened WhatsApp by checking out the “Last Seen Timestamp” below their name. However, that setting could be removed. This new one cannot.

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    Artie the robot sings live in the BBC World studio.
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