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Mobile Technology News, October 24, 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.

  • Microsoft Earnings A Mixed Bag for Windows Phone

    During the Microsoft earnings call yesterday, it became apparent that for Windows Phone, the earnings were a mixed bag.  However, if you dive in a little deeper it will start to  make sense what is going on with their earnings and why there is no need to jump on the panic button just yet as a Windows Phone user and fan. First, let’s take a look at the good news.  In the last quarter which ended in September, Microsoft globally sold 9.3 million Lumia devices.  This up over 5% from the same quarter last year and clearly indicates things are

    The post Microsoft Earnings A Mixed Bag for Windows Phone appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • AAPL hits all-time high, may close week at record levels
    Apple’s stock on Thursday hit a new all-time closing high, reaching $104.83 per share at the closing bell. While many are waiting to see if the company can close the week at that level or higher, others — including activist investor Carl Icahn and CEO Tim Cook — believe the stock remains undervalued. AAPL also set a new intra-day high of $105.05 during trading, and is up slightly from its close at this writing in after-hours trading. Stronger-than-expected iPhone numbers and the coming holiday season has helped fuel the rise.

  • VIDEO: Scientists create real hoverboard
    BBC Click looks at some of the week’s technology highlights.
  • VIDEO: The smartphone that answers back
    How one manufacturer is making its smartphone really stand out from the crowd.
  • HBO Going Rogue Could Get Us to Net Neutrality
    Recently, a couple of cable content providers have announced that they’re going rogue and are going to start providing content independently of cable companies. That’s good news for consumers who have, until now, been at the mercy of companies such as Comcast and Time Warner. It might also be good news for proponents of Net Neutrality, who have been waging an uphill battle for internet data and traffic equality.

    The rest of this post assumes that the reader is familiar with the finer points of Net Neutrality, if that’s not the case, you can read more about it here and here, but in a nutshell, it’s the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks equally. The other possible scenario being that ISPs would be allowed to slow down, or “throttle” data transfer from certain sites at their discretion. For example, an ISP could decide they didn’t want their customers visiting sites of a particular political party, movie actor, author, store, etc. and slow down speeds significantly resulting in the site taking too long to come up.

    That said, HBO announced last week that it will be offering its HBO Go service to viewers who don’t have a TV/cable subscription in 2015 — a stand-alone streaming service. HBO CEO Richard Plepler made the announcement recently saying:

    That is a large and growing opportunity that should no longer be left untapped. It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO. So, in 2015, we will launch a stand-alone, over-the-top, HBO service in the United States.

    This means that popular shows such as Game Of Thrones, the most pirated TV show in history, will be available to you regardless of your cable plan. HBO’s move makes sense. According to Entertainment Weekly:

    [HBO] officially condemns theft, yet also recognizes that Thrones is an enormous hit, that content leakage is tough to prevent and that the show’s popularity among pirates is inevitable (countries such as Australia, where viewers don’t receive new episodes via pay cable in a timely manner, tend to be among the biggest piracy territories).

    Michael Lombardo, HBO’s programming president also told Entertainment Weekly that the downloading was a “compliment of sorts,” adding, “the demand is there. And it certainly didn’t negatively impact the DVD sales. [Piracy is] something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network.”

    So why not offer a paid subscription service and minimize piracy? Netflix has more than 37 million subscribers in the US who watch and average of 90 minutes of programming every day; 47 percent of American households subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Instant or a combination thereof; nearly 50 percent have a TV connected to the internet; and 34 percent watch online videos every day. That’s a lot of potential customers. Netflix’s model of eight dollars per month has worked so far and frankly, with the exception of Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, the content isn’t that great.

    The day after HBO’s announcement, CBS announced their own “cord cutter” service. For $6 per month, you can live stream CBS programs, get next-day access to current shows on mobile devices, and access an archive of past shows and classics from the network.

    Up until now, the only way to get HBO, has been through a provider such as Comcast or Time Warner. The prices vary by region and it’s difficult to determine an overall or average cost across the country. If you want HBO from Comcast you’ll have to buy a bundle that includes other “premium channels” you probably don’t want.

    According to hbowatch.com, the price of an HBO subscription, averaged over seven providers, runs about $16/month. Feel free to correct me in the comment section below, but even at $10 per month a streaming service from HBO would be a bargain.

    Of the hundreds of channels available to me on my TV I probably only watch a half dozen, of which two are premium and the rest, I could care less. Looking at $60 per month, as opposed to the nearly $150 I spend now is certainly more attractive.

    As for the technology, most laptops and tablets are equipped with a micro USB port to play streaming video on most flat screens; Google Chromecast integrates with Netflix and YouTube so far; and gadgets such as the soon to be released Nexus Player and Apple’s AirPlay are going to make streaming content more accessible and easy to use.

    America lags behind many countries when it comes to the kind of world class network we should have. In terms of speed and access America trails Sweden, Estonia, Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, to name but a few. As for price? According to an article on HuffPost:

    Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider, claims it’s capable of providing 3Gbps broadband — but its fastest service currently on the market is $320 a month for 305Mbps. Verizon, meanwhile, has just announced its fastest FiOS ever, 500Mbps for $310 a month. Compare that to Hong Kong, where consumers can get 500Mbps for $25 a month, or Seoul, where the same speed is priced at $30 a month. Only Google Fiber’s broadband plan seems competitive with those of other tech-savvy nations: It offers 1Gbps for $70 a month, which is only outpaced by Japan’s proposed Nuro network with speeds of up to 2Gbps for $51 a month.

    Many countries view internet access as a utility and almost a necessity. In Sweden, for example, people pay about $30 per month for gigabit access as opposed to our ten megabits per second or less. Sweden, Japan, Hong Kong and many European destinations offer connections nearly 100 times faster at lower rates. In America, we’re arguing over Net Neutrality that could allow service providers Comcast, Time Warner and others to “throttle” internet speeds and charge content providers and customers more for “high speed lanes.” Movie watchers, music lovers, gamers, etc. would all be affected if Congress and the FCC allowed what are essentially monopolies to set their own speeds and prices. Want to play a game with your friends? More money. Want to watch a movie without having to watch that little hourglass every five minutes? More money. How about this article? Are you old enough to remember when a page with this much content and images could take 10-15 minutes to load? For those of you too young to have had this experience and the exercise in patience it required, here’s a video.

    In an interview for Vox.com with Ezra Klein, Susan Crawford, former Special Assistant to President Obama on Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, had this to say about how the internet is too important to be left to the private market:

    What happens is that we deregulated this entire sector about 10 years ago and the cable guys already had exclusive franchises across the country. They were able to very inexpensively upgrade those to pretty high-speed internet access connections. Meanwhile the telephone companies have totally withdrawn. They have copper line in the ground and it’s expensive for them to build and replace it with fiber. Because of both deregulation and sweeping consolidation in the cable industry we’ve ended up on this plateau where for about 80 percent of Americans their only choice for a high-capacity internet access connection is their local cable monopoly.

    It wasn’t that long ago (less than 20 years) that a cable bill was under $50 per month. The rates have risen faster than inflation and certainly faster than income.

    Last June, the Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision to allow a startup, Aereo, that was streaming live TV to computers, tablets, and smartphones using tiny antennae that grabbed over-the-air broadcasts. The traditional broadcasters sued Aereo out of existence, because they know that if the startup had actually succeeded, they would have a harder time hitting the cable companies with high retransmission fees — which add to cable bills and help keep the whole industry afloat.

    Chet Kanojia, Aereo’s founder and chief executive, called it a “massive setback” for consumers and “sends a chilling message to the technology industry.”

    What may hopefully end up happening here is that as more content providers like HBO and CBS go rogue and offer their own content to viewers they’ll have a say in what the backbone, i.e. Comcast and Time Warner, can do to that content and the speed at which it arrives to consumers.

    The average Joe doesn’t have much of a voice these days in what lawmakers are deciding. We can’t afford lobbyists to speak on our behalf. HBO, CBS, Showtime, Netflix, Amazon and the rest have more than enough money to lobby for Net Neutrality — it ultimately affects their bottom line. As strange as this may seem, this could end up being a rare case of what passes for Capitalism in this country actually working for average people.

    Read more at NowItCounts

  • Job centres to get digital makeover
    Computer workstations, electronic signature pads and free wi-fi are rolling out across UK job centres.
  • Are robots too cute for comfort?
    Why big-eyed droids are cause for concern
  • Silicon Valley's billion dollar failures
    Silicon valley’s billion dollar start-up failures
  • Why Journalists Should Fear Social Media
    Technology disrupted the media’s monopoly on journalism. The advent of smart phones and social networks reduced the barriers of entry, for digital journalists, to practically nothing.

    Journalist used to be a title reserved for professional writers. But now, any average Joe with a camera phone can capture and share a moment. Any aspiring blogger can publish a story and disseminate it to thousands over her Facebook newsfeed.

    Seemingly overnight, a shift of power occurred. Established media outlets relinquished their control over what content the public could consume. And the laypeople, once considered consumers, were now creating original content at a remarkable rate.

    Not surprisingly, content quickly saturated the Internet. As a result, it grew increasingly difficult for consumers to find context and authenticity among a maze of digital media.

    Today, the majority of content that we consume doesn’t even resemble journalism. Sometimes it’s an Instagram. Sometimes it’s a Tweet. Sometimes it’s an Elite Daily article telling us the 22 things that we don’t know, but ought to know, about string cheese.

    Regardless of its form, the content to which we cling serves a function similar to journalism. It garners our attention, if only for a moment, and informs us to varying degrees.

    The fact is, whether or not you consider BuzzFeed posts journalism (by traditional standards), we, as consumers, continue to digest them. In that regard, they’re directly affecting the things that we do consider journalism.

    Sure, BuzzFeed isn’t rendering the New York Times obsolete. But it is offering readers another (potentially less reliable) place to turn for answers. BuzzFeed is yet another challenger with which traditional journalists must now compete. “The entire point,” according to journalist Stijn Debrouwere, “is that journalism is not being disrupted by better journalism but by things that are hardly recognizable as journalism at all.”

    It’s no surprise that today, we navigate the digital landscape for hours on end before accepting that we’re lost. We compulsively refresh newsfeeds, desperate for news worth celebrating. We click refresh to feel refreshed, scrolling aimlessly until our bony fingers ache.

    Like Christopher Columbus and his motley crew, we travel the socially connected Web in search of answers, but seldom find quite what we’re looking for. Distracted by the black depth of digital content, we drift on, from site to site, neglecting to notice the ceaselessness of our odyssey.

    As Westerners, we customarily relate to our world in linear terms. We anticipate conclusions to voyages. We expect plots to evolve and protagonists to change.

    But when traversing the terrain of digital media, too much happens for one to remember, and so, in a way, nothing happens at all. Events intersect but don’t progress. People connect but don’t make contact.

    Digital media as we know it is proving incompatible with our linear worldview. Our online experience no longer resembles the finite story that drives our lives.

    And that’s okay. Our relationship with digital media is complicated and ever-changing. It’s balanced by contradictions pulling incessantly in opposite directions.

    From a cultural studies perspective, digital media is nothing short of a miracle. It’s opening exciting new windows through which to investigate human interaction. More than that, it’s informing, entertaining and uniting individuals across geographical boundaries. It’s providing a platform on which almost anybody can tell a story and reach their intended audience or beyond.

    However, now more than ever, there’s a new duty associated with journalism. Since digital media is abundant beyond measure, we share the responsibility, as journalists, to promote only the content that we deem worthy of our audience’s attention. It’s our job to produce compelling stories that matter. Otherwise, we’re just rotting our readers’ minds with fleeting facts about string cheese. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

  • Romancing The Screen: Why My Husband And I Write Our #Lovestory

    Some people fall in love at first sight. For me, it was first tweet. This wasn’t terribly surprising to my friends, who had been listening to tales of my internet flirtations since I was a pre-teen, but how my husband and I met continues to be something newcomers to our lives gawk over.

    “Wait, you can find love on Twitter?” they’d ask. “I thought that was just for reading news.”

    When I first saw Thomas, he was simply a tiny avatar on my screen. My mouse hovered over his gorgeous eyes, piercing through the pixels, causing my fingers to hesitate so I could linger another second longer. Most say eyes are the windows to the soul, though his Twitter stream is what really wooed me. He was insightful, witty and a little raw. Even though there was a computer screen and a few hundred miles between us, I felt like I got him, this virtual stranger. After retweeting his words to catch his digital eye, I Direct Messaged to ask if he wanted to meet for a drink the next time I was in his city, visiting my family (yes, turns out we grew up two towns away from each other).

    A month later, we started dating exclusively, sneaking mid-week Amtrak trips into our schedules, giggling at each other over the tops of our laptops when it was time to work and ending our short time together with slow dance parties for two in my studio apartment. But we often returned to Twitter to type more characters in our love story.

    @eFlirtExpert: Four years later and I still swoon a little when @URwingman pulls out my chair.

    In a world where technology is often how we disconnect with reality, Thomas pulls out his iPhone from his pocket and I from my purse, and we use tech to share experiences, saving memorable moments in our relationship scrapbook in the cloud. Checking into Foursquare from our Central Park picnic blanket or snapping an Instagram of our date at Fenway wasn’t the result of a habit, something that got in the way of our romance. Instead, this is part of our courtship, a shared experience that brought us closer together because of the emotion behind the seemingly meaningless action of tapping ‘Send.’

    This year, we wed with 4,000 paper Twitter birds flying overhead. An infographic save-the-date announced the timeline of our relationship, from our first kiss in Boston (@minibar) to our Christmas Eve engagement.

    On that snowy day in December when Thomas proposed, we celebrated with our families, called our closest friends and gushed to them over the phone, but stayed silent on social media for a few weeks. We wanted to make sure all the important people in our lives heard from us personally before finding out on Facebook, and it seemed a milestone worthy of a bigger internet proclamation. So we each wrote a blog post from our own perspectives about the engagement and posted at the same moment, reading each reply to our individual tales of love while we snuggled together, in love.

    Having others join in our #lovestory inspired us to invite them to continue to digitally share in our moments on our big day. As the lights twinkled above, guests were welcomed with personalized place cards that resembled Twitter bios, table numbers listed as hashtags from our courtship, like #skypedate. At most weddings today, couples encourage guests to unplug, but our nuptials were live-tweeted by our friends and family, streams of congratulations and photos of dance-floor Instagrams filling the iPad screens around the room, which served as the centerpieces in our magical Twitter forest.


    Many say that meeting through technology isn’t romantic, that social media all too often becomes a barrier in a relationship. But with small adjustments to your approach, the internet can become a magical and dreamy place for a relationship to unfold. For my husband and I, it’s where our #happilyeveredwards will always continue to exist.

  • Young People Use Gorgeous Instagram Pics To Show There's More To Haiti Than Poverty
    If you ask Paola Mathé, Instagram isn’t just for shameless selfies and pics of delicious foods — it’s a great way to change negative perceptions of a country, too.

    With over 8,600 followers, Mathé’s Instagram account is filled with images of pristine beaches, colorful street art and swaying palm trees set against blue skies — photos some wouldn’t associate with Haiti, the country Mathé grew up in and frequently visits.

    Mathé, who owns Fanm Djanm, a headwrap line, is among a number of young entrepreneurs and activists utilizing the power of social media to change how the world sees Haiti, Fusion reported. On Tuesday, HuffPost Live spoke with Mathé about her efforts to shine a light on a side of the Caribbean nation many Americans rarely see.

    “I have the opportunity and the voice to show what Haiti is also about,” Mathé said. “It’s not just about extreme poverty, which we’re also trying to fight and help — but at the same time, it’s a beautiful place.”

    (Story continues below)

    There’s just something about a colorful scenery… #livingcolorfully #Jacmel #haiti

    A photo posted by Paola Mathe (@findingpaola) on Sep 9, 2014 at 5:12pm PDT

    Sunday funday. #haiti

    A photo posted by Paola Mathe (@findingpaola) on Sep 9, 2014 at 2:58pm PDT

    According to BBC News, Haiti was a tourist hotspot in the 1970s. But throughout the past three decades, a handful of misfortunes caused major setbacks in the country’s progress. In 1983, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claimed Haitian entrants to the U.S. were at an increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, causing a “major blow” to the nation’s tourism industry, AVERT.org pointed out. The devastating 2010 earthquake that left more than 300,000 dead and the ongoing cholera outbreak resulting in its aftermath further damaged Haiti’s global appeal.

    A household survey taken in 2012 found that 59 percent of Haitians lived under the national poverty line.

    “I hope to see this country get back on its feet, because when I was a kid, Haiti used to be the most beautiful country in the whole Caribbean,” one Haitian who immigrated to Canada told BBC News in 2013. “Things deteriorated — just too bad. But Haiti would be the perfect place now for the tourist people to invest and come back, and [help] this nation get back [on] its feet.”

    Lucie Cincinatis is another small business owner in Haiti who spoke with HuffPost Live about her efforts to change the country’s reputation. She first visited the country as part of a program that allowed her to teach in Haitian schools, and — after finding creative inspiration in the local talent — gave up her life as a financial analyst in New York City to build locally sourced handbags in the Caribbean nation.

    “I met so many artists that were just so good at everything, but had no access to bigger markets,” she told the outlet. Now she works with some of those talented artists at her company, Jacmel & Co, and frequently posts photos of Haiti’s natural beauty — as well as her co-workers’ artwork — to more than 2,400 Instagram followers.

    She told Fusion that some of her friends from different countries are shocked to see her photos.

    (Story continues below)

    Don’t we want all our Mondays to look like that? #happymonday #monday #haiti #beauty #Caribbean #turquoise #travels

    A photo posted by Jacmel & Co (@jacmelandco) on Oct 10, 2014 at 5:22am PDT

    Thanks in part to people like Mathé and Cincinatis, Haiti’s outlook is changing for the better. In April, Caribbean News Digital reported Haiti experienced a 20 percent increase in tourist arrivals from the previous year, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

    “Haiti is the only truly emerging tourism destination in the region,” Marie Carmelle Jean-Marie, the country’s finance minister, told Fusion.

    Although tourism may be improving in Haiti, the country still faces chronic social and public health challenges. Only one third of 14-year-old students are in the appropriate grade for their age, the World Bank reported, and waterborne diseases remain a leading cause of infant and child mortality.

    Still, significant progress has been made since the 2010 earthquake, including a substantial growth in GDP, a drastic reduction in cholera cases and the opening of dozens of health centers across the county.

    To Mathé, it’s important to focus on how far Haiti has come in order to further improvements.

    I understand everything that is happening,” she told HuffPost Live. “Obviously, I know that there is a lot to be done. But what I’m asking for everyone is — we need to invest in the country, and to see the bright and positive side of it, and to strengthen that side, and then pull all of the negative stuff up with it.”

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  • Amazon Stock Tanks On Massive Loss, Disappointing Forecast

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc’s sales projections for the crucial holiday quarter disappointed, and third-quarter results missed Wall Street’s targets, sending the online retailer’s shares 9 percent lower.

    Some analysts fear that the U.S. holiday shopping season, the biggest quarter for most retailers, might turn out weaker than anticipated. The company projected on Thursday net sales of between $27.3 billion and $30.3 billion for the holiday quarter, lagging the $30.89 billion analysts had expected on average.

    After an unusually busy first half of the year that saw the online retailer spend on developing everything from mobile phones and Hollywood-style production to grocery deliveries, investors were ready to see it curtail its ambitions somewhat and start delivering sustainable profits.

    Instead, its third-quarter net loss widened to $437 million or 95 cents per share in the third quarter, from $41 million a 9 cents a year ago. That came in larger than forecasts for a loss of 74 cents a share.

    Revenue also fell short of expectations, from a company known for consistently chalking up robust top-line growth. Net sales rose to $20.58 billion, but that lagged forecasts for $20.84 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    Shares in the company slid more than 9 percent to $284 in extended trade.

    (Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman; Editing by Dave Gregorio and Cynthia Osterman)

  • Why Go Outside To See The Solar Eclipse When You Can Watch Our Live Blog Right Here
    Today the moon will “take a bite out of” the sun in a partial solar eclipse, the likes of which won’t recur in the U.S. until 2023.

    But maybe the weather is crummy where you are. Or maybe those warnings about going blind have you too worried to venture outside. In any case, you can sit right where you are and watch the eclipse unfold on our live blog.

    It runs through 7 p.m. EDT.


    Here to guide you are HuffPost Science editors David Freeman, Jacqueline Howard and Macrina Cooper-White. For the duration of our live blog, we’ll be joined by Dr. Federica Bianco, a physicist from New York University.

    We encourage you to leave comments here and tweet your photos of the eclipse with the hashtag #HuffPostEclipse. Or submit them directly to our “Partial Solar Eclipse” slideshow below.

    We’ll be collecting photos from all over, and yours may be featured!

    Caution: If you’re outside enjoying the eclipse, use eye protection.

  • Chainsaw Massacre Prank Goes Too Far
    As prank videos become more and more dangerous, someone is bound to get seriously hurt or worse.

    A terrifying and realistic “chainsaw massacre” prank, uploaded this past Wednesday, has already garnered over 26 million YouTube views. In it, a chainsaw-wielding psychopath drags a bloody, dismembered, corpse in a parking structure as unsuspecting passerbys scream and run from the carnage. Video from behind the scenes shows how the actor playing the victim was born with no legs and just one arm. With fake blood and realistic looking guts, it gives the genuine appearance of a frighteningly limbless body.

    Extreme, senseless, YouTube pranks like this are sweeping the Internet, with dozens of prank-related channels, boasting millions of subscribers. I confess to how entertaining these videos are, but with pranks becoming more and more dangerous someone is bound to get seriously hurt or worse.

    Actors in these videos have already been severely beaten, arrested and almost shot. In the “chainsaw massacre” prank someone could have easily been shot by a concealed carry permit holder, injured in the ensuing chaos or ended up dead from a heart attack.

    Earlier this month, actors in a ‘killer clown in the hood‘ prank video appeared to have a gun pulled out on them, and to be subsequently beaten by fearful bystanders. Thankful, no one was killed.

    Of course not all pranks are harmful. Residents of several California towns and Fishers, Indiana, have recently been gripped with hysteria over creepy clown sightings. These sightings, like virtually all others in the past, have proven, so far, to be fun and harmless pranks.

    Some pranks can even serve as incisive social experiments, cluing us into our biases, human behaviors, such as whether we would take action to stop public violence against women, or recognize a missing child. The ABC News show “What Would You Do?” does exactly that by thrusting people into real-life ethical scenarios to see how they would react. But the gratuitously violent and gory YouTube pranks likes “chainsaw massacre” only serve to terrify.

    These shocking pranks also pose a danger to unsuspecting victims. Doctors say that “in extreme circumstances, you can even be ‘scared to death,'” where “a terrible fright can result in a massive surge of adrenaline that stuns the heart so badly it stops beating.” Scientific America reported how the flight-or-fight response to extreme fear releases chemical toxins, which in large amounts can damage organs “such as the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys.”

    Thinking you are about to be eaten by a zombie (29.5 million views), axed to death (4.2 million views), tortured with a drill and chainsaw (4.2 million views), or bludgeoned by a homicidal clown (28.8 million views) (these types of prank videos are all over YouTube) could be extremely traumatizing, lead to injury, in extreme cases death, PTSD and other sorts of trauma, especially in cases where victims never find out it was a prank, and continue to live with that fear.

    There is a strong profit motive to make these videos. On a video with 20 million views, for example, the YouTubers estimated ad revenue could be anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000. With that kind of economic incentive people will continue producing these videos. And absent occasional instances of disorderly conduct or trespassing violations, these stunts are also generally legal.

    Despite the fact that these shock videos are arguably a violation of YouTube’s Community Guidelines since they contain “violent or gory content that’s primarily intended to be shocking, sensational or disrespectful,” YouTube also makes ad revenue on the videos, so they, too, have an incentive to keep them up.

    But, if enough people stopped watching the dangerous prank videos there would be less economic incentive to create them. If we spoke out against these extreme videos, and YouTube suspended them as legitimate Terms of Service violations, this reckless practice could be curbed.

    Let’s hope it doesn’t take a death for YouTube to start enforcing its guidelines and for people to stop watching these videos.

  • TestFlight beta-testing opens up to general community
    Following a soft rollout to internal testers a few weeks ago, Apple has fully opened its TestFlight beta-testing service. “You can now invite up to 1,000 testers to beta test your iOS apps by simply sending them an email invitation through iTunes Connect,” the company says on its developer portal. “Once they accept your invitation, testers can install your beta app on their iOS devices, get updated builds, and provide feedback, all within the TestFlight app.”

  • Chasing Shadows: <em>Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers</em> is Updated for 2014

    To be a Gabriel Knight fan, growing up, felt like being in possession of a secret language. People might sometimes share the same favorite books, but games? In the ’90s, to be a computer game fan was even more nerdy than a passion for reading books. And the comparison is apt because Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, released originally by Sierra On-Line in 1992, was as complex and rewarding in its own way as a book. Game designer and writer Jane Jensen has cited inspirations for her trench-coated anti-hero ranging from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman to Clive Barker, and a love of literature permeates throughout. (The protagonist owns a rare books store, and one of the pivotal moments of his destiny involves a magnificent library.)

    Now the topic of Gabriel Knight has been wrenched from 90s nostalgia to 2014 with the release of an updated edition of Sins of the Fathers from Jane Jensen’s studio Pinkerton Road, making the game available to a new generation of players. The 20th Anniversary Edition features all-new (and beautiful) graphics, an updated musical score, and even some additional puzzles. (And a new cut-scene so chilling it is reminiscent of a darker Sandman comic.)

    Set in New Orleans, Sins of the Fathers opens with Gabriel investigating a series of mysterious murders as inspiration for his new book. Gabriel lives under a cloud of financial ruin and failure, as did his male forbears, and his writing career is a running joke. He suffers from horrific nightmares. It is only as the game progresses that Gabriel will put the pieces together: his family is under a curse. He comes from a centuries-old line that is destined to fight evil, a Shattenjager (shadow hunter). And he discovers that the key to lifting this curse is connected with the “Voodoo Murders” taking place in present-day New Orleans.

    But Gabriel is hardly a hero. The game opens with his shop assistant Grace on the phone with a female caller: “I’m sorry, but Gabriel is a lout. Oops–I mean, he’s out.” Character development is the heart of this game–Gabriel’s struggle is not only with the curse, but within himself. And despite the game medium, his character develops in a trajectory that is rich with subtlety and subtext (and very funny lines). Beginning as a hilarious jerk, Gabriel faces so many challenges throughout the story that by the end his transformation makes sense–even as he remains, on some level, a hilarious jerk.

    There are layers to what makes Sins of the Fathers (and the series as a whole) so great. There’s the writing, which is of a literary quality and especially shines in the interactions between Gabriel and Grace. There is the atmosphere you can cut with a knife, attributable to the mesmerizing soundtrack by Robert Holmes. And there is the fact that this is one of those stories so rare in any medium: one from which you, along with the protagonist, emerge feeling in some way changed. As Gabriel’s once-friendly home city turns sinister, as he learns the secrets of his heritage and of the dark forces that he’s up against, the player goes through these experiences with him. By the time he returns home, he has been through the fire, and so have you.

  • Ebola.com Sells For More Than $200,000 — Including 19,000 Shares Of Cannabis Sativa Stock
    Two Las Vegas entrepreneurs attempting to sell the rights to Ebola.com succeeded in selling to the highest bidder — literally.

    Chris Hood and Jon Schultz paid $13,500 for the rights to Ebola.com back in 2008 and have just sold it to a company called Weed Growth Fund.

    The terms of sale call for Hood and Schultz to get $50,000 in cash and 19,192 shares of Cannabis Sativa, Inc., a company run by former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson that hopes to market legal cannabis products throughout the world.

    The stock is currently trading under the CBDS ticker symbol at $8.55 share, which means the value of the shares sold to Hood and Schultz is $164,091, DomainInvesting.com reports.

    Hood said he and Schultz have about 5,000 domain names in their portfolio, including Birdflu.com. He admits the Ebola.com sale got the most public attention, but wasn’t the most profitable.

    “We’ve had others like LasVegasRealEstate.com and PaydayLoans.com that sold for more,” he told HuffPost. “People don’t understand what we do. We don’t buy domain names hoping there’s a disaster.”

    As for the future of Ebola.com? It might go to pot, if recent comments made by Johnson on Fox Business are any indication.

    Johnson told host Stuart Varney that “we actually believe we have efficacy with regard to treating Ebola,” and said it could potentially be a cure.

    Johnson subsequently told the Albuquerque Journal, he was not claiming marijuana could cure the Ebola virus, but that more research should be done on whether cannabis compounds might be effective in fighting the disease that has killed nearly 4,500 people, mostly in West Africa.

    “If I were on a bed right now, and I was infected by Ebola, anything that might save my life I would take in a nanosecond,” Johnson told the Journal.

    Weed Growth Fund CEO Eric Miller said when the new Ebola.com website debuts in a few weeks, it will be a “go-to resource” on all aspects of the disease.

    In addition, his company will finance research on cannabis that he says “may or may not prove a connection between cannabis and Ebola prevention.”

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  • Paul Allen Commits $100 Million To Fighting Ebola
    SEATTLE, Oct 23 (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp co-founder Paul Allen said on Thursday he would increase his total donations to organizations tackling Ebola to more than $100 million, making him one of the biggest personal donors in the fight against the virus.
    The Seattle man, who co-founded what became the world’s biggest software company with Bill Gates in 1975, had already donated $9 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to fight Ebola in September.
    In a statement released on Thursday, Allen said he was committed to giving “at least $100 million” to the cause through various channels.
    That includes funding medical evacuation containment units for medics who become infected, to be used by the U.S. State Department, and funding the University of Massachusetts Medical School to train medics and provide supplies for relief efforts in Liberia.
    “The Ebola virus is unlike any health crisis we have ever experienced and needs a response unlike anything we have ever seen,” Allen said in his statement. (Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
  • This Is Why You Don't Tag National Parks With Your 'Art' And Post About It On Instagram
    Public service announcement: If you’re thinking of dipping your toes into the wild word of graffiti art, do not turn the country’s most treasured national parks into your experimental canvases. And if you are brazen enough to make such a bizarre misjudgment, do not, we repeat, do not, brag about said endeavors on social media.

    Let an Instagrammer by the name of @Creepytings be your guide.

    The New York-based woman, who Modern Hiker identified as Casey Nocket, is currently in hot water after journeying through ten of the most breathtaking sites of natural beauty in the country — including Yosemite, Crater Lake, Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Joshua Tree, Zion, Rocky Mountain and Bryce National Parks — and vandalizing them with acrylic paint.

    She then posted pictures of the indiscretions on Instagram and Tumblr — both accounts have since been removed — effectively sharing her illegal activities with the entire internet.

    In a particularly cringeworthy comment exchange, @Creepytings admits to using acrylic paint (not chalk) for her work.

    Another commenter responds with a scathing “:(“
    to which she replies “I know, I’m a bad person.” We can feel the remorse.

    A Yosemite-based investigator took to Reddit to reveal the person behind @Creepytings, creating a thread titled “Graffiti ‘artist’ with no regard for her actions leaves her ‘art’ on the Vernal Falls stock trail.” The National Park Service is currently investigating further into the rogue artist’s identity. “When bad stuff happens, it hurts us because of our personal and professional commitment to America’s story,” spokesman Jeffrey Olson told SF Gate.

    There you have it, people. Keep your amateur street art experiments away from national parks and no one will get hurt. Let us know your thoughts on this egregious creative misstep in the comments.

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