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Mobile Technology News, October 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.

  • 30 Plus Apps that Will Help you Grow your Business and Leverage Technology
    In our working building marketing clouds we use an ever-changing suite of apps and products.

    Here are 30 of our favorites with a functional description of each.

    Sendy is a self hosted email newsletter application that lets you send trackable emails via Amazon Simple Email Service (SES). This makes it possible for you to send authenticated bulk emails at an insanely low price without sacrificing deliverability.

    Caveats: setup requires a developer to set up on your server, has a one time cost of $59.99, your business has to create its’ own templates (these are not built in). But, it’s a great service, will save your business money and reporting functionality is more than adequate.


    Trello is a stellar “cloud” based project or CRM application: free and paid versions – enables virtual teams of people to easily collaborate on any size of project. The learning curve is about 20-30 mins, they have great tutorials and Dropbox and/or standalone images are easily shared.


    Yoast the Best SEO plugin ever for WordPress: a bit geeky on some of the settings but powerful plugin and must use for all WordPress installs.


    We love WishPond’s applications and their customer service is excellent: create great contests on Facebook, build great landing pages and integrate email campaigns and more. Their dashboard user interface is powerful but not too geeky and pricing is high value/low cost.


    For any Small Business that wants to understand where and how visitors are engaging with your web site CrazyEgg provides “head map” visualization improving your lead tracking and analysis.


    Mixpanel is one of the best “real time” analysis tools (cloud based) that lets you ask real questions about how visitors are engaging with your business. Robust functionally including smartphone analytics.


    If your using Gmail to run your business email correspondence then Rapportive is a must use application for any busy biz exec. Giving you rich contact information right inside of Gmail.


    KissMetrics connects people with your analytics: it’s a powerful tool for understanding who your customers are and what they are doing. It’s a bit more pricey than the other nine apps/services with $150. per 500K “event’s per month and going up in price from there.


    Any WordPress install on a self-hosted site should use JetPack - it’s powerful, comprehensive and has 30-50 build in features that extend the awesomeness of WordPress; it’s free too.


    Canva is a great way to create anything graphically (cloud based of course) – powerful yet really easy to use. It’s free and has a list of tens of thousands of templates available.


    Save time using Name Chk to know if your brand name or vanity URL is available across all key platforms.


    Rival IQ is a great way to stay on top of what your competitors are doing across social networks.


    BuzzSumo shows you the most shared links and key influencers for any topic or website. Ideal for content strategy, outreach and competitive research. It’s a great free tool for analyzing content engagement.


    The Think Map tool by Visual Thesaurus is one of the best tools for sourcing words and ideas. At under $25. per year, it’s a great value.


    Bottlenose builds a real-time cognitive map of every topic, much like the human brain. It’s a powerful tool for brands big and small that want to unearth trends driving your business or market.


    We’ve been using IFTTT to automate mundane tasks for several years and it’s functionality is improved on an almost weekly basis. It’s a cool productivity tool.


    Every busy exec should take a break and read content published via Medium - it’s a five star example of what great content can be. (we snuck it in)


    Newsie is a very cool way to stay in touch with what’s happening with your GMail, Facebook or LinkedIn contacts. It’s relationship curated.


    Zemanta is a great publishing and advertising platform. It’s part of the new breed of emerging publishing platforms.


    Echo transforms websites, mobile apps and ads into real-time experiences that boost traffic and engagement.


    RebelMouse is a cool platform for selecting and publishing content and it looks like it’s morphing to a standalone social platform.


    Riffle has great real time analytics, interests and engagement insight for Twitter.


    MailCharts moves competitive intelligence into email analysis in a unique and powerful way.


    Send In Blue lets you manage marketing campaigns, transactional emails and SMS messages within one platform.


    Guides enables creating actionable, helpful and interactive content to connect directly to your readers.


    Three Cents has really moved polling forward and on any smartphone: powerful, easy to use and it scales well.


    Unfollowers lets you understand who is not connecting with you, or unfollowed, unearth target profiles and schedule Tweets & supports Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


    Social Oomph is an all in one general purpose yet powerful tool that automates a great deal of the tactical social media marketing processes.


    SpyFu gives you actionable information and intelligence about where and how competitors are advertising: media spend, keywords and ads.


    AdBeat enables you to uncover competitor’s online strategy; more advertising focused as opposed to PPC & Keywords like SpyFu.


    Ispionage is somewhat similar to SpyFu as well, providing access to and insight about a competitors organic keyword ranking and PPC keywords use for ad spend.


    SiteAlerts is another great competitive analysis tools that lets you understand what direct competitors are doing: web site updates, social media activity and more.


    PipelinerCRM is a highly targeted CRM Service just for sales professionals. If your in sales this is a great way to understand who is in your pipeline with an informative visual “at a glance” functionality.


    Smartphone Summary for Frazzled Execs

    E.F. Schumaker, the distinguished British Economist wrote the best seller, Small is Beautiful in the 70′s – it’s as applicable today as it was then, especially for smaller more nimble businesses.

    Your greatest strength is your ability to reinvent your business using technology as a competitive driver.

    Related Posts on Strategic and Tactical Marketing

    “How to Redefine Your Marketing Strategy in a Tech Drenched World”

    “How Content Heroes and Heroines are Made Not Born”

    “What I Learned About Social Media from Andy Warhol”

    “How to Generate More Revenue and Lower Costs with the Cloud”

    “Why Every Marketing Campaign Lives or Dies on this Foundation”

    “Four Critical Marketing Strategies to Stand out in Today’s Noisy World”

    “Why so Many Web Sites are Lipstick on a Pig”

    “How to Win Your Darwinian Digital Battles”

    “The Ten Second Race to Content Nirvana”

  • Crowdpac Helps Small Donors Find A Perfect Match In Politics
    WASHINGTON — Combining a unique data set with a nonpartisan outlook, a new organization called Crowdpac hopes to break out of the pack of political campaign innovators with a feature that helps ordinary people find and contribute to candidates who share their views.

    Crowdpac, an online and open campaign fundraising hub, resembles the progressive fundraising platform ActBlue in that it allows anyone to start a fundraising page to donate to their chosen candidates. Instead of being focused on one political party or persuasion, Crowdpac uses a data-driven formula developed by Stanford University professor Adam Bonica that draws from sources that include campaign contributions and public statements that place political candidates on the traditional liberal-conservative spectrum on a variety of issues.

    Crowdpac’s new feature, launched Tuesday, enables users to group candidates they support into their own slate for others to donate to. The new feature will allow donors to give a lump sum to the entire slate, rather than choosing individual candidates. The process essentially provides anyone with the ability to form a joint fundraising committee, a common vehicle used by political parties to direct contributions to their favored candidates.

    Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard law professor, campaign finance reform advocate and head of the pro-reform super PAC Mayday PAC, is one of a few big names planning to create a Crowdpac slate. Lessig, whose slate will feature the four remaining candidates Mayday has endorsed, is joined by California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and the Women’s Campaign Fund in starting their own slates.

    Crowdpac is spearheaded by Bonica and Steve Hilton, a former aide to British Prime Minister David Cameron. Hilton told The Huffington Post that he had long had the idea for Crowdpac, but it didn’t take off until he taught at Stanford and was introduced to Bonica’s data and formulas determining political ideology.

    Crowdpac data combines campaign contributions made to and by a candidate, public speeches from the floor of a legislature or to a Facebook or Twitter profile, bill sponsorship and voting records. Its formula can determine an accurate ideological placement for that candidate. The Crowdpac formula is unlike others because it adds to voting records with behind-the-scenes ideological markers in campaign finance records.

    “Voting records are not the most informative in trying to find out where a politician lies,” Hilton said. Not only do they exclude non-incumbents, but legislative votes are often highly orchestrated affairs designed to create a political narrative for elected officials running the show.

    “Everyone is aware — highly aware — of the scrutiny that voting records have,” Hilton said. “They pay great attention to present them in a way that’s helpful.”

    That is not the case with campaign contributions, which are “much harder to manipulate,” according to Hilton. It provides a voter with a sense of where the politician stands “when no one is really watching.”

    This kind of ideological sorting and pairing for users may seem like it would further balkanize American politics, but that is not Hilton’s intent. He said he sees Crowdpac and its new features as a way for people, especially those not already politically active, to easily navigate the political process in a way that takes them to candidates who do not fall easily into ideological or party labels.

    “There’s a growing group of people who don’t feel well served by the narrow party system,” Hilton said.

    This is “not well reflected in the basic Republican-Democratic divide,” according to Hilton. Crowdpac would create a “better marketplace … that would enable people to better find candidates that match their point of view.”

    Take, for example, the libertarian Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.). Amash ranks as maximally conservative on nearly every issue, but maximally liberal on intelligence and surveillance issues. Or look to Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), an anti-war, anti-abortion, anti-Wall Street conservative lawmaker who defies contemporary classification. According to Crowdpac, Jones ranks close to the middle on many issues, save for gender equality, where he is very conservative.

    These classifications provide a more nuanced view of each political candidate that could match views held by many members of the American public, according to Hilton. He said he hopes this helps leads donations according to donors’ interests — not those dictated from the parties or the big donors who fund them.

    “There are lots of great organizations who are campaigning for transparency and reform of the system and we’re very much in touch with those people,” Hilton said. “We’re not making a judgment on any of those longer-term aims, but here is something practical that we can do today to dilute the power of the big donors and boost the power of small donors.”

  • J.K. Rowling's Twitter Riddle Might Having Something To Do With 'Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them'
    Calling all muggles, wizards and witches alike: Author J.K. Rowling has posed a riddle on Twitter and so far, neither brainpower nor magic has been able to crack it.

    The adventure started innocently enough, with the “Harry Potter” author tweeting about how busy she’s been lately:

    Very busy at the moment working on a novel, tweaking a screenplay and being involved in @lumos campaigns. Back when I’ve finished something!

    — J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) October 5, 2014

    She followed that up with a response to a fan:

    .@peruseproject See, now I’m tempted to post a riddle or an anagram. Must resist temptation… must work…

    — J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) October 5, 2014

    It took roughly 14 hours, but it looks like Rowling ultimately gave in to that temptation:

    Cry, foe! Run amok! Fa awry! My wand won’t tolerate this nonsense.

    — J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) October 6, 2014

    And just for good measure, she added:

    Something to ponder while I’m away X

    — J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) October 6, 2014

    So is the big mystery about Rowling’s screenplay, presumably for the upcoming film “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them,” or does it have something to do with her upcoming novel?

    Reddit users soon discovered that the words “Newt Scamander” and “New York” are both hidden inside the tweet. Newt Scamander is the main character in “Fantastic Beasts,” and the film will be set in New York 70 years before the time of Harry Potter.

    The rest of it, however, remains anyone’s guess (and that’s assuming the “Newt Scamander” and “New York” parts aren’t a red herring).

    If you have a guess of your own — or if you think you’ve solved the riddle — be sure to post it in the comments.

    (h/t Time)

  • Briefly: 1Password 5.1, Cycloramic both updated for iPhone 6
    A new version of password manager 1Password has been released for the iPhone and iPad, offering support for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in the form of 3x higher resolution images and improved icons. The update also improves Touch ID support to be more reliable, and simplifies the app’s security settings. A new option has been added to disable third-party keyboards inside the 1Password app (since theoretically such keyboard could transmit keystrokes), and users can now create tags to help sort data. The app itself is free, but a “pro” in-app purchase to unlock additional features costs $10.

  • Samsung forecasts 60% fall in profit
    Samsung Electronics forecasts a 60% fall in third-quarter operating profit, missing estimates, because of slowing smartphone sales.
  • From Alien to Fifa: The art of noise
    From Alien: Isolation to Fifa 15, the magic of video game sound effects
  • VIDEO: 'Is that a barista in your pocket?'
    BBC News’s Dougal Shaw checks out a smartphone-enabled coffee tap, designed for both business and home use.
  • Health tech start-ups face long race to launch
    Health tech start-ups face a slower road to market
  • A Buddhist Monk's Advice On Overcoming Tech Addiction
    “iPads are great,” laughed the Venerable Pomnyum Sunim, a Korean Buddhist monk and global humanitarian leader. But he added an important caveat: They’re only great if you can use them without becoming too attached or fixated. And as many of us know, this isn’t always an easy thing to do.

    Asked his advice on how to mindfully interact with technology, Pomnyun explained that technology itself is neither bad nor good.

    “There’s no value judgment,” Pomnyun said in a discussion with Huffington Post editors last week. “The bad thing is if you’re obsessed over it every day.”

    Technology use becomes a habit, or even an addiction, when we need to check our devices every few minutes because we are curious to see what we might have missed, explained Pomnyun.

    “It is good for us to be free from habit or addiction, because you become a slave to the object or technology,” he said. “It’s good to take a step back to examine yourself. Test yourself, and see how you react — from a third person — when you go without technology for a whole weekend. If you’re always curious and trying to hold yourself off, then you know that you’re addicted.”

    Here’s another experiment Pomnyun recommends: For one day, try not bringing any cash or credit cards with you and see how you feel.

    If we become aware of our behavior, Pomnyun stressed, we can keep from being addicted to any habit. This kind of self-awareness is essential to finding peace of mind.

    “Addiction is something natural that happens to the brain when we do something repeatedly,” said Pomnyun. “That cognitive habit — and the whole scheme of cognitive habits — is called karma. That karma becomes your master. So it’s that karma, or group of habits, that is leading you. So it’s very important to practice freeing yourself from that karma.”


  • Fostering an Early Love of STEM Through The Power of Storytelling

    It’s no secret that the U.S. is at a crossroads when it comes to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The U.S. is losing its lead in both research and development and creation of new science and engineering graduates. According to the National Math and Science Initiative, in 2008, 31 percent of U.S. bachelor degrees were issued in science and engineering fields, compared with 61 percent in Japan and 51 percent in China. To create more scientists and engineers, it is essential to create an early love for science and there is no better way to encourage that love than to capture that early curiosity with play.

    Yet many of the toys and apps that our kids are playing with do nothing to encourage an early love of science. Whether our kids are building virtual cake pops or crushing candy on a tablet or smashing cars together, we are missing an opportunity to answer their questions about the science and engineering in the world around them.

    According to research conducted by PBS, at the age of 2, children’s language skills are developing rapidly and much of that development is driven by not only on their reading and writing skills but also on their curiosity. Combining these developmental milestones with the power of storytelling creates the perfect platform for fostering an early love of STEM. But as parents, we wondered where are those stories?

    As former theme park engineers, we helped major companies tell amazing stories to people all over the world. If we said the names Elsa and Anna, or Lightning and Mater, most parents would immediately recognize the power that stories have to capture the hearts and minds of kids. So why aren’t we using those amazing stories to answer kids’ questions about the science and engineering they encounter everyday?

    In our search, we did find there are actually a few products out there that use storytelling to encourage a love of learning about STEM. They all seem to offer something a little different, so parents can choose what makes the most sense for them. Probably the most popular late-comer is Goldiblox, a storybook and building block style board game targeted to girls. It works to solve a need for attracting girls to Mechanical Engineering via a relatable character. Snap Circuits is a popular building kit that teaches children about Electrical Engineering topics. It doesn’t have storytelling, but one could see how powerful adding a book series could make this even more engaging and relatable. One growing popular mix of both Mechanical and Electrical Engineering is Roominate. Roominate is a house-building story-telling mechanism targeted towards girls. All of the above are targeted towards elementary school children. There is also our connected plush toy called TROBO, which reads stories on iPads across all STEM topics (not just Engineering) to children as early as 2-years-old. All of these are bridging the gap between what has traditionally been seen as a hard-to-reach area of advanced education to an exciting area of early childhood education.

    The importance that products like these have is that they plant early seeds. Many children choose what they want to do when they grow up, based on some events that happened in early childhood. Jeremy wanted to be a theme park engineer due to his childhood exposure to Disney. Laurie, Chris’s wife is a doctor and wanted be one her entire life, because she helped take care of her ailing grandmother at a very early age. On the other hand, Chris did not know what he wanted to be. Many children don’t have mentors who can show them the potential futures they have available. Toys make it possible to make early impressions on children, even when they don’t have mentors. Storytelling toys are even better at this, because they create emotion and ignite imagination. Once those two things are triggered, learning becomes fun, and more importantly, it can influence one for a lifetime.

  • 24 Video Games You Can Say Yes to After School
    By Jeff Haynes, Common Sense Media Video Game Editor

    Summer’s over, and school’s back in session. Time to pull the plug on your kids’ video games, right? Not so fast, Mom and Dad. To the great relief of kids everywhere, it turns out video games and school are not incompatible. New studies on the effects that playing games has on kids indicate positive benefits for learning, thinking, social-emotional skills building, and, yes, even school performance.

    Games provide new ways to engage with various subjects, whether it’s learning about math through an air-traffic-control simulator or practicing musical timing with a dance app. So, the next time you see your kid playing a strategy or music game, know that he or she may actually be learning history or working on physical fitness. Below, we have recommendations of apps and games to support every subject on your elementary, junior high or high school student’s schedule.


    Elementary School: Math Blaster Online, 7+
    Do your little ones need help with equations? Math Blaster Online gives them plenty of practice as they join the Blaster Academy to save the universe using their math skills. It also lets your kids team up with other players to solve problems together in a safe, socially positive online environment.

    Middle School: Monkey Tales: The Valley of the Jackal, 10+
    The Valley of the Jackal is part of the math-focused Monkey Tales series, which tasks players with taking on a villain named Huros Stultas in his plan to resurrect the ancient Egyptian god Wepwawet. Using logic, strategy and math skills, players defeat booby traps, fight mummies and explore underground temples in an attempt to save the world. The game gauges how well your child does with its puzzles and it ramps up the difficulty accordingly, so there’s always a challenge for players to test what they’ve learned.

    High School: Sector 33 App, 12+
    Sector 33 gives kids an idea of how math works in the real world, as they take on the role of an air traffic controller, directing flights to San Francisco International Airport. Players must not only gauge distance, time and the rate of speed of each plane, they also have to balance flight plans, delays, and other complications.


    Elementary School: Lifeboat to Mars, 8+
    Young scientists can experiment with creating a brand-new ecosystem on Mars to help support terrestrial life on Earth. Players can choose to work on microbes or on animal and plant missions to accomplish the task of terraforming the red planet. Even cooler, once they’ve finished a few missions, players can design their own missions for other players to try.

    Middle School: Spore, 11+
    Can you design and develop the perfect creature? Spore lets you develop a species from its microscopic origins to an intelligent, social alien life form that can venture into space and interact with other sentient life forms. This is a great way for your young scientist to explore the methods and ideas behind biology.

    High School: Solar System for iPad, 13+
    Bring stargazing to life for teens with this far-out collection of astronomy facts, photos and animations. The app focuses on our solar system in particular, with information about the sun, planets, moons, asteroid belts and more. Kids can learn about gravity, patterns (such as rotations around the sun) and each planet and moon, including facts about diameter, mass, volume, gravity and atmosphere.

    Language Arts

    Elementary School: My Reading Tutor, 5+
    My Reading Tutor builds on the basics of early reading skills to help strengthen kids’ literacy. Phonics, letter sounds and more are presented in a fun, engaging manner, and kids can even record their voices as they read stories. Parents can track their children’s progress in the reading tasks to see how well they’re doing and what they need help on.

    Middle School: Duolingo App, 12+
    Whether your kids need help with a foreign language class or are simply interested in learning a new language, Duolingo can help. In a friendly environment, the app provides practice in basic words, phrases and sentence structure in six languages. Players can test what they’ve learned against the computer or other players in competitive games or help translate Web pages for other users around the world.

    High School: Shakespeare in Bits: A Midsummer’s Night Dream, 13+
    Shakespeare is a staple of high school English, but the old English text is challenging. Shakespeare in Bits helps make the Bard more accessible, with animated characters acting out the plays and multiple ways to understand confusing or obscure words.

    History/Social Studies

    Elementary School: Oregon Trail, 9+
    Oregon Trail has been teaching and entertaining kids for more than 40 years. The game continues to innovate through digital versions that provide realistic story lines and context. Players take on the role of a wagon leader directing settlers from Missouri to Oregon in 1800s America while dealing with issues such as disease, food, and weather.

    Middle School: Sid Meier’s Civilization V, 11+
    With a total of 43 playable civilizations from around the world, Civilization V is an ideal supplement to history class. Players lead a civilization from the Stone Age to the future with a range of political, scientific, or military goals, learning how cultural, ideological and geographical factors can change a world’s geopolitical landscape.

    High School: Tropico 4, 15+
    Political analysts frequently talk about unstable or corrupt countries that spring up around the world, but how many times do you get the chance to run your own? Tropico 4 makes you president of your own island and lets you choose factions to appease according to your political goals. A parody of political simulations, Tropico 4 will make teens laugh — and teach them at the same time.


    Elementary School: Just Dance: Disney Party, 5+
    You don’t have to be a fan of Disney classics such as “It’s a Small World” to love Just Dance: Disney Party. Players imitate characters on-screen that are dancing to hit songs from Disney movies and TV shows. The completely contagious game teaches how movement and music work together in a fun, social environment.

    Middle School: GarageBand, 10+
    GarageBand has exactly what fledgling musicians need to take their music to the next level. Kids can record vocals and instruments and mix tracks to create — and share — new songs while learning essential audio-engineering and composition skills. It’s like having a professional recording studio in the palm of your hand.

    High School: The Beatles: Rock Band, 14+
    The Beatles created classic, timeless music, and this Rock Band will take teens on a magical mystery tour of their entire career. Similar to the other Rock Band games, you can sing and play drums, bass, or guitar on 45 remastered Beatles tracks.


    Elementary School: Art Academy, 8+
    Art Academy is more than a video game — it’s a fun art tutorial. The game walks you through the basics of drawing, shading, and other skills so you can apply them to real-life creations.

    Middle School: Scribble Press App, 10+
    With more than 500 writing and drawing tools and 50 pre-made story templates, Scribble Press lets kids write and illustrate their own tales. This is kid-led learning at its creative best, as kids choose which type of writing or storytelling they want to try — for example, greeting cards or full books — as well as whether they prefer private sharing or online or print publishing.

    High School: Scoot & Doodle, 13+
    If you’re looking for a way for kids to collaborate on artwork or projects, Scoot & Doodle is the solution. Teens can gather up to nine Google+ friends to work on a single shared artwork, communicate their ideas via video and voice chat, and share the final products via social media channels.


    Elementary School: Zumba Kids, 6+
    Want to get your little ones’ blood flowing? Zumba Kids takes kid-friendly songs from pop artists and lets them perform 30 routines in a wide variety of dance genres. Plus, they get to imitate the kids dancing on-screen, who provide lots of positive reinforcement through each song.

    Middle School: Wii Fit U, 10+
    Wii Fit U turns getting physically fit into a game. In between the many mini-games and activities, kids will learn that moving their bodies can be fun and yield meaningful results. Wii Fit U comes with a pedometer to help track your steps taken, calories burned, and distance traveled so you can make fitness progress even away from the game.

    High School: Dance Central 3, 13+
    The most advanced dance game on the market, Dance Central 3 tracks every bit of your body, making you a better dancer as you perform routines for more than 60 popular songs. This game includes a new story mode for dancers to move through, as well as a dance tournament for up to eight players and even a fitness mode that acts as a serious workout for dedicated players.

    Social Skills

    Elementary School: Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster, 6+
    Parents who want to make sure their kids learn about friendship, generosity and other positive life skills should look no further than Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster. An interactive experience wherein players engage with characters from the show, the game teaches as it lets kids play active roles in stories and participate in entertaining games.

    Middle School: Thomas Was Alone, 10+
    Thomas Was Alone is a unique puzzle game. It doesn’t focus on graphics, complex control schemes or tense gameplay; instead, the two-dimensional game tells a story about friendship and human relationships. With humor, well-paced storytelling, and an emphasis on diversity and trusting others, Thomas Was Alone will stay in players’ minds long after they’ve finished it.

    High School: Papers, Please, 15+
    Papers, Please manages to meld social and historical commentary with an exercise in making ethical decisions and navigating their consequences, forcing you to think during every portion of the game. Players take on the role of an immigration inspector in a communist nation, approving or rejecting applicants seeking to enter the country. As political events change throughout the story, players will need to handle situations such as terrorist attacks, asylum seekers and the undocumented while also dealing with the effects of their choices.

    About Common Sense Media
    Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our kids are growing up in a culture that profoundly impacts their physical, social, and emotional well-being. We provide families with the advice and media reviews they need in order to make the best choices for their children. Through our education programs and policy efforts, Common Sense Media empowers parents, educators, and young people to become knowledgeable and responsible digital citizens. For more information, go to:www.commonsense.org.

  • Use Your Phone as a Piggy Bank: The 10 Best Personal Finance Apps

    By Matt Hussey

    The app economy has turned the humble phone into a personal travel advisor, DJ, photo editor, news reader, stock trader and movie maker. The announcement that Apple will at last fit its smartphones with NFC, and therefore allow the iPhone to be used as a means to pay for goods and services, will mean our phones are likely to become our financial advisor as well.

    Juniper research has predicted that in little over three years, $180 billion worth of goods and services will be paid for using NFC, which means managing our finances will become more vital than ever. Thankfully, developers from the fintech world have been building apps that can restrict spending, save money, or allow you to keep abreast of multiple accounts with minimum fuss.

    But how do you sift through the 27 million results that appear on Google when you go looking for the right one? Below are the only ten apps that you will ever need to manage your money from your mobile.

    For the business traveler

    1. Expensify

    Keeping track of business expenses on top of personal finances is a tall order, especially when you’re working on the go and keeping track of multiple bank accounts. Expensify‘s free app eliminates a lot of that pain by letting you track what you spend in real time.

    Whenever you buy something online or in a physical store, Expensify can input that data for you.

    The app uses eReceipts to mine your connected credit card, automatically drag out anything it thinks is an expense and generate an a digital receipt that it will then log inside the app. These eReceipts are even acceptable to use for your tax return. If you’re in store and receive a paper receipt, simply take a photo and SmartScan will drag out merchant name, transaction date and amount and keep it on file. It’s pretty accurate with some receipts, although you may struggle with ones that have been stuffed in your wallet and have lost some of the ink.

    You only get ten free scanned receipts each month before you need to upgrade, but the time saved from logging your travel expenses by sifting through piles of paper receipts yourself, or dumping them on your personal assistant’s desk, makes it worthwhile. Expensify can be exported to and integrate with QuickBooks, Xero, NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce and FinancialForce. The app, available on iOs and Android worldwide, also allows you to keep a tab on more intangible expenses like petrol by keeping track of your mileage, and it will convert any transactions you make while abroad into your domestic currency. There are corporate packages for small businesses if you don’t want to stump up the cost for making the accounts department easier.

    2. Budgt

    Expensify is a big beast of an app that can overwhelm those who are new to submitting expenses and tax returns without the aid of an accountant. Budgt on the other hand (available on iOS only for $1.99), presents itself as a simpler, easier way to stay on top of your cash flow.

    The app focuses on providing a budget on your expenses on a day-to-day basis, rather than a retrospective look at what you may have spent over the course of a month or more. Input is all done manually: you put in how much money you have, be it an expense account or personal, and then Budgt will calculate how much you are able spend. As you make purchases you have to add them to the app so it can monitor your bank balance, but the calendar feature allows you to go back and add costs when it’s slipped your mind.

    With each expense you add, this minimal app lets you you tag it with a category of your choosing, or one from a standard list like food, bills, etc. This tagging system creates a more detailed, visual breakdown of where your money is going via a series of color coded charts. This way, it’s easy to distinguish between your personal and professional spending habits.


    For the budgeter

    3. Level Money

    If you’re looking to roll back your wayward spending, Level Money‘s award winning app can help you keep track of your daily cash flow. It acts like a GPS of your spending. The free app (currently only available in the US) works out how much you can save based on your spending history as a percentage.

    The app works by dividing your finances into just four main categories: income, bills, save, and spendable, which each category displayed in a series comprehensible graphics. It also makes projections on your spending based upon how you currently spend.

    So, on the first day of each month, Level Money “fills up” with your estimated income and subtracts your recurring bills and a savings rate. The app is connected to all of your credit, debit and banking accounts, so every time you make a transaction it adjusts the money meter accordingly. Any remaining money is what you have to spend.

    The majority of US banks have all jumped on board, but those deals aren’t available to Android or iOS users in Europe or elsewhere. “What we wanted wasn’t a budget, but the digital equivalent of opening up your wallet and seeing how much you have left,” Jake Fuentes, 27, Level’s co-founder told the New York Times. While the app doesn’t allow you to tap in cash transactions, it’s one of the least labour intensive apps to make staying in the black, easier.

    4. Mint

    The likes of Wired, CNET and Digital Trends have all voted Mint as one of the best financial management apps out today, perhaps because the developers have made it free to download on both iOS and Android worldwide.

    Setup is incredibly easy. Within two minutes of adding a bank account, the app will have cached a month’s worth of your recent transactions and recommend features to best manage your cash. There’s a desktop version that has more features available, but the smartphone app offers more than enough to keep a tighter grip on your spending.

    Mint opens to its dashboard (called Overview), where it displays every element of the app without the need to scroll. While it’s probably the most basic looking of the apps on this list, its features certainly make up for it: it lets you create an emergency fund, save for a vacation, put away money for a down payment on a house and much more. Each of these extra features comes with a built-in calculator to help establish a plan to reach your personal goals. It can also give you access to your credit score, along with advice on how to improve it.

    While it probably won’t win any awards for design, Mint’s beauty comes with its utility and the 89,000 glowing reviews for the app on Google Play.
    For the online spender

    5. Slice

    Slice’s sole purpose is to help those who spend the bulk of their cash online keep track of it. Available for free on iOS, Android and even Windows, Slice‘s magic relies in mining your email inbox for received receipts and shipment details. If your online vendor sends a confirmation email for every purchase along with a shipment tracking, Slice is highly likely to find that information and extract it into the app automatically.


    Once it has pulled in data from your online orders, the app will visually display updates on a map so you’re always queued in to the status of your shipment, no matter where you are. It also sends you push notifications when your packages are being shipped, and has built-in price tracking software that will notify you when an item has been reduced in price. It even allows you to claim price adjustments directly from within the app, working like an one-stop online spending guru.

    Once Slice – which works with Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, iCloud and other mailboxes – has been it’s been up and running for a while, it begins to offer insights into what you buy, where you buy it and for how much. Business Insider described it as one of the top ten productivity apps you shouldn’t be without. With the recent addition of the Slice & Dice feature that gives you an overview of what you’re buying and from where, perhaps you’ll agree too.

    6. MoneyWiz

    Most of us tend to buy things across multiple platforms and devices, which is where MoneyWiz comes in to save the day. it will soothe your financial headaches by organizing your fragmented spending information in one place.

    The app can be installed on across Apple devices and on Android, and all versions of MoneyWiz sync with each other using the aptly named Sync Everything feature. Once you’ve added your data, the Reports screen allows you to view your transaction history or data, including net worth, average spending, projected income and more. MoneyWiz supports importing files in either the OFX or QIF formats, which are used in accounting applications such as Quicken, so you don’t have to start from scratch if you’ve already been using money management software elsewhere.

    MoneyWiz also supports auto-pay for scheduled transactions, so you never have to worry about entering that information in manually. At $4.99 it’s the most expensive app in this list.  But what you get for your money is 24/7 customer support, more than 300 features and, as Macworld says, the “top choice in the Mac personal finance field.”

    For the social spender

    7. Square Cash

    Square, the company famous for creating a minimalist payment system for small businesses, has branched out into friendship groups. The peer-to-peer payment service lets you utilize your email account and contact book to seamlessly send money to one another.

    You can send up to $2,500 a week in several transactions or all at once. Afterwards, you can confirm or reject the required transfer, and move the cash from your inbox to you bank account within one or two business days. Square Cash can let you request money from up to 25 different people. So if you’ve had a big night out and picked up the tab for a lot of people, you no longer need to mentally keep tabs on who has paid and when. Currently a US-only service for cards carrying the Visa or MasterCard logo, it won’t let you purchase things from merchants offline or on but will let you make settling bills between friends a lot simpler.

    Square doesn’t charge for transfers, which some analysts are saying is costing the company 25 cents for every transaction. But that’s no concern of yours. Walt Mossberg called the app “the quickest, simplest method [he's] seen for sending money from one person to another.”

    Last month, the team added extra functionality that allows users to send cash via text messages, so it’s clear the company isn’t done finding ways to make small financial transactions more convenient.

    8. Payfriendz

    While Square Cash targets the US market, Payfriendz, launched by a term split between London and Berlin, wants to create a fast way for paying friends across Europe. The free iOS and Android app lets you send money to friends via their mobile phone number. You simply give it access to your contacts book, add credit from your account to the app and away you go!

    How does it set itself apart? Payfriendz wants to make financial transactions social by including a messaging feature as a key part of the user experience. With a design falling somewhere between Whatsapp and iOS messenger, it’s a familiar interface often becomes the focus point for discussions about the night before (“Did you Payfriendz me for that Uber last night?”)

    Like Square Cash, PayFriendz doesn’t charge a transaction fee to send money. Perhaps its killer feature is it allows you to send foreign currency too, saving you a headache in trying to convert how much you owe someone in euros, pounds or dollars. There’s a minuscule 1 per cent fee for cross-currency transactions, which is tiny when compared to how much a high street bank would charge to move cash between two accounts in different countries.


    For the saver

    9. SavedPlus

    Saving money is easier if you’re unaware you’re doing it, which is the premise behind SavedPlus‘ app. The company believes that this savings approach works because it capitalizes on a psychological phenomenon called the endowment effect, in which you place greater value on something you already own than you would be willing to pay for it.

    Whenever you spend money on one of your registered cards, it triggers an automatic transfer of funds to your savings account. Each transfer to your savings is set as a specified percentage of each given payment, deciding upon in advance by you. So if you buy an item for $20 and set your saving percentage at 5 per cent, the app will automatically move $1 to your savings account.

    While the app is free in the US on iOS and Android (which gives you get 90 days of free use once you’ve added your first account), 5 percent of what you save (up to $5) is automatically deducted from your savings by SavedPlus after your 90-day trial. Don’t let that scare you off: according to the app makers, their user base on average saves $350 per month, which rounds up to $4,200 a year. Alternatively, the percentage saving can be used to donate to charity directly from within the app.

    10. Dollarbird

    Dollarbird, a “smart calendar app for its finances”, is exactly what it says it is: Eencased in a colorful, calendar-based design, the app allows you to track your expenses and income akin to other apps. However, where the free app on iOS and Android pulls away from others out there is by offering recurring transactions, and a five-year projection of where your saving will take you.

    To use you have to manually input what you buy, but because it doesn’t connect with your accounts, it has an added element of privacy that other apps don’t have. Upon launch, you’ll be asked to enter your opening balance – for example, how much you have in your current/checking account – which is the figure that all future transactions will be subtracted from or added to.

    To add transactions you swipe down in the main calendar view and you’ll be presented with a standard row of categories – ‘Groceries’, ‘Household’, ‘Travel’, ‘Household’ and more. The app keeps a rolling number at the bottom of a monthly calendar view that allows you to see how much cash you have left. It also breaks things down to a daily level so you’re not having to make additional calculations of your daily spend. The Pro Version, available for $4.99, unlocks multiple calendars so you can keep credit card, cash and savings accounts separate. Plus, it can be synced between an unlimited amount of devices and people, so it’s a great way of monitoring a friend or member of the family’s spending habits.

    Forget the life hacks and advice columns, put our money on one (or two) of these apps for an organized, easy way to keep track of your finances. Which app will you try first?

  • Should You Watch the New ABC Series 'Selfie'?

    I saw the commercials for the new ABC series Selfie and thought, “Hmmm, I wonder where they’re going with this.”

    Selfie stars Karen Gillan, Scottish actress and former star of my favorite TV show of all time, Doctor Who, and the always dependable John Cho, who played Sulu in the Star Trek reboot movie series directed by J.J. Abrams.

    (OK, I think that sentence just set a record for the most nerd media references in history.)

    The writers of Selfie have done a remarkable job of capturing the kind of person that our current social-media-obsessed-culture has created — someone who is nearly incapable of interacting with… um, what are they called again?… oh right, other people.

    Selfie is a very clear homage and updated version of the classic movie My Fair Lady, which starred Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle (Gillan’s character is named Eliza Dooley) and Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins (Cho’s character is named Henry Higgs).

    The writers wisely changed the storyline in this modern version to where Eliza asks Henry for help in improving her character.

    Because it would not have gone over well if a modern-day Higgins placed a bet that he could teach Eliza to speak “proper” English and thereby make her presentable to the upper class.

    On a side note, I was always deeply annoyed by the ending of the original My Fair Lady, because when Eliza comes back to Henry with his slippers, I was like, “WHAT?! She let that jerk WIN?!”


    So in Selfie, our modern Eliza approaches our modern Henry – who, fascinatingly, is a MARKETING GURU and an expert in REBRANDING (get it?) – and asks for his help in rebranding her from someone who doesn’t know how to relate with… um, what are those again?… oh yeah, other people – to someone who could have, oh I don’t know, actual friends.

    Recently I was speaking at a large convention when I saw a fellow speaker who I hadn’t seen in years, who was also speaking at the event.

    We gave each other a warm hug and I asked him what he was up to.

    He then proceeded — and I swear I’m not making this up — to text on his smart phone and answer me without ever looking up from his phone.

    I thought he must be joking.

    But after about two minutes of this, I realized that he was actually not going to look at me and be present while we were speaking to one another.

    I politely took my leave and left him to his phone.

    According to a recent Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Study, the average 18- to 24-year-old checks their phone an average of 53 times a day, while 13 percent admitted to checking their phone more than 100 times a day.

    I’m about to admit something I’ve never admitted in public before, for fear of being shamed by people who are far cooler than me.

    OK, here it is…

    I do not own a smartphone.


    I said it.

    It’s true.

    I own one of those flip phones. You know, the ones that have numbers on them?

    I know, so 2007.

    But you know what?

    I thank God every day that I don’t own a smartphone.

    Otherwise, I fear that I might actually start paying attention to the stupid thing.

    Words can’t express how happy I am that I am not constantly glued to my phone.

    That same Deloitte study showed that more than 65 percent of respondents admitted to checking their phones within 15 minutes of waking up.

    Want to know the first thing I check in the morning?

    My shopping cart. Because it shows how much money I made while I was sleeping.

    And I know what you’re going to say…

    “But Noah, what about all those cool apps that show you how to tie your socks and where to get the best sushi?”

    First of all, you can’t tie your socks.

    Second, I don’t like sushi.

    Third, I like people.

    I like talking with people.

    And I like how people respond when they see that I am actually paying attention to what they’re saying, rather than constantly being distracted by my phone.

    So if this sounds terribly unhip to you, I’ll be the first to raise my hand and agree with you.

    I am the definition of unhip.

    But I’m pretty happy with the results too (#1 Amazon best-seller, Top 10 All-Time Nightingale-Conant Program, Dream Lifestyle Business working from home, etc. etc.)

    Bottom line:

    I liked the pilot for the show Selfie.

    It was cleverly written and well-acted.

    I liked how they made Eliza both pathetic and sympathetic. (That’s not easy to pull off.)

    And I like John Cho and look forward to what he’s going to do with this not-as-easy-as-it-looks role.

    Will Selfie last?

    Probably not.

    Better enjoy it while you can.

    Noah’s Note: Next time you’re talking with someone, try putting your phone down. You might find a whole new world open up right before your eyes.


    I believe in you!

    If you like today’s article, please comment and share if you want more content like this…

    2013-12-16-1NoahStJohn.jpgNoah St. John is famous for inventing Afformations and helping busy entrepreneurs to accelerate income, boost self-confidence, and make success automatic.

    His sought-after advice has been called the “secret sauce” for creating breakthrough performance.

    Get Noah’s new video training series How to Boost Income and Self-Confidence Using Power Habits ® FREE at www.PowerHabitsAcademy.com .

    Inventor of Afformations; founder of Power Habits®PowerHabitsAcademy.com

  • Alleged iPhone 6 prototype goes up for auction on eBay, tops $100,000
    A seller on eBay is auctioning what is claimed to be a functioning, 64GB iPhone 6 prototype. The person says that they were accidentally sent the device when renewing their contract with Verizon. The unit is running test software, rather than iOS 8, and lacks FCC markings or even a model number. Another point of interest is the Lightning port, which is surrounded by a red lip not present on finished iPhones.

  • Robert Morris University Becomes First To Recognize Video Games As Varsity Sport
    CHICAGO (AP) — As a teenager, holed up in his bedroom, illuminated by the glow of his laptop, Youngbin Chung became addicted to video games. Ten-hours-a-day addicted.

    His grades tanked. His parents fretted.

    A few years later, the 20-year-old from the San Francisco area leads a team of headset-wearing players into virtual battle in a darkened room at a small private university in Chicago. He’s studying computer networking there on a nearly $15,000 a year athletic scholarship — for playing League of Legends, the video game that once jeopardized his high school diploma.

    “I never thought in my life I’m going to get a scholarship playing a game,” said Chung, one of 35 students attending Robert Morris University on the school’s first-in-the-nation video game scholarship.

    Once regarded as anti-social slackers or nerds in a basement, gamers have become megastars in what are now called esports. In professional leagues, they compete for millions of dollars in prizes and pull in six-figure incomes for vanquishing their enemies in what have become huge spectator events packing tens of thousands into sports stadiums around the world.

    Games have evolved from the days of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong into something much more complex. They demand hyper mental acuity and involve multiple players communicating with each other in teams, plotting strategy, predicting opponents’ moves and reacting in milliseconds.

    Robert Morris, a not-for-profit university with about 3,000 students, believes those are not so different from the skills one uses on a football field or a basketball court and that spending money to recruit these students, too, will enrich campus life and add to its ranks of high-achieving graduates.

    “It’s coming; it’s coming big time,” Associate Athletic Director Kurt Melcher said of the esports trend and what he’s sure is its looming recognition by a bigger chunk of the collegiate sports world.

    Hundreds of other colleges and universities have esports clubs, but Robert Morris is the first to recognize it as a varsity sport under its athletic department. The scholarships, which cover up to half off tuition and half off room and board (worth a total of $19,000 in a typical three-quarter academic year) are for a single game, League of Legends, in which teams of five on five use keyboards and mouses to control mythical fighters battling it out in a science fiction-like setting.

    The first practices started last month in a $100,000 classroom outfitted with an expansive video screen, computers and an array of eye-dazzling gaming paraphernalia.

    The space is dimly lit and window blinds are drawn to keep glare off monitors. In the darkness, dozens of students wearing microphone headsets flit fingers and thumbs over the controls with blistering intensity and concentration. Death comes in a multitude of forms and is often sudden. Accordingly, the hum of game chatter is punctuated by the occasional whooping cry of victory or anguished sigh of defeat.

    The Robert Morris Eagles will play teams in two leagues that include the likes of Harvard and MIT with hopes of making it to the League of Legends North American Collegiate Championship, where the members of the first-place team take home $30,000 each in scholarships.

    Melcher dreamed up the scholarship idea while searching online for the video games he used to play.

    Some soccer players were bemused, but he said there was no real pushback from the university, which already has scholarships for everything from bowling to dressing as the mascot.

    Some 27 million people play League of Legends each day, according to developer Riot Games Inc.

    This year’s professional championship is Oct. 19 in Seoul at the stadium South Korea built to host the 2002 soccer World Cup. The 45,000 seats are expected to sell out. The top team will take home $1 million.

    The traditional sports world is still trying to figure out what to make of the phenomenon.

    ESPN has dabbled in esports coverage, but network President John Skipper recently declared it a non-sport.

    “It’s not a sport,” he said at a conference in New York. “It’s a competition, right? I mean, chess is a competition, and checkers is a competition. … I’m mostly interested in doing real sports.”

    Still, he added, “You can’t really ignore it.”

  • This Photo Series That Shows Adorable Kids As Latino Heroes Is Challenging All The Stereotypes
    When mom Marisol Correa went shopping at a Halloween store with her kids recently, she said she was saddened, but not altogether surprised, to see that many of the costumes were essentially racist stereotypes.

    It’s this lack of positive representation that photographer Eunique Jones Gibson is seeking to address with her project, “Por Ellos, Sí Podemos.” Gibson photographed 31 Latino kids ages 2 to 14 for an empowering series that pays tribute both to the trailblazers who broke ground for the community and to the kids who will one day pick up the reins.

    Three of Correa’s kids took part in the project. The eldest, 7-year-old Alyssa, was cast as broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien. Correa told The Huffington Post the little girl was transfixed when she saw the picture and learned the story of the woman was representing.

    “She looks just like me!” she said Alyssa exclaimed, pointing toward the curls in her hair that matched O’Brien’s.

    soledad obrien por ellos si podemos
    Alyssa Correa as Soledad O’Brien

    Gibson introduced the project on her blog Sept. 15 to coincide with the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs until Oct. 15.

    “Por Ellos, Sí Podemos” was inspired by the success of Gibson’s original “Because Of Them, We Can” photo series, which featured children as black history figures that might not receive their due attention in Hollywood and in classrooms.

    “[There's an] absence of positive images that really uplift the culture and people within the black community… I wanted to continue it because I wanted all children to have positive examples of faces that they could look toward, that they could relate to every day,” Gibson told HuffPost of deciding to extend the scope of her original mission with “Por Ellos, Sí Podemos.”

    “They’re being inundated by these messages that our children do not deserve to hear day after day after day,” she said. “So how can we refute that and create a message that counters that and provides a positive outlook for the children that are receiving these things on a day to day basis?”

    Gibson’s photo series has proved effective in combatting the negativity, both online and in real life. She says that teachers have even contacted her about using the photos as a way to discuss Hispanic Heritage Month in their classrooms.

    It is a movement and my full-time mission at this point. As long as there are trailblazers past and present to highlight, stereotypes to refute and children to inspire, you can count on seeing these images,” Gibson told Mashable.

    Check out the kids — dressed as Oscar de la Renta, Eva Longoria, Carlos Santana and more — in the series below.

    H/T Mashable

  • You Can Now Video Chat Your Dog Thanks To This Brilliant Teen's Invention
    At age 12, Brooke Martin of Spokane, Washington came up with a new way to stay in touch with her golden retriever. Now-14-year-old Brooke, armed with her resulting invention, iCPooch, just competed against some of the most renowned entrepreneurs in today’s tech world — and won.

    Last Thursday, Brooke was named the victor of GeekWire’s first-ever “Inventions We Love” challenge for iCPooch, an automated dog-treat dispensing device and app that lets owners two-way video chat with their pets via any Android, Apple or Kindle device.

    The app automatically connects your two devices, so your pet doesn’t have to “pick up the phone.” iCPooch also lets you automatically deliver a treat to your furry buddy through a device similar to a Pez dispenser.

    As one of five finalists in the competition, Brooke presented her invention onstage at the 2014 GeekWire Summit. Brooke’s savvy idea and impressive stage presence won over the Summit attendees, who voted via Twitter. As her prize, she’ll be featured on a GeekWire radio show and podcast.

    [h/t GeekWire]

    Follow HuffPost Teen on Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pheed |

    CORRECTION: The article previously stated that T-Mobile CEO John Legere was a contestant in the GeekWire “Inventions We Love” challenge. He was a speaker at the GeekWire summit, but not a participant in the challenge.

  • Atheists Tweet More Often Than Muslims, Jews And Christians: Study
    (RNS) What does a map of the U.S. religious landscape look like in 140 characters?

    A new study of Twitter finds that self-identified religious users are more likely to tweet to members of their own faith than to members of a different one. The study examined people whose Twitter profiles identified them as Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and atheist.

    And while adherents of all six groups studied tweet frequently, atheists — among the smallest populations in the U.S. — are the most prolific.

    “On average, we can say the atheists have more friends, more followers, and they tweet more,” said Lu Chen, a doctoral candidate at the Kno.e.sis Center at Wright State University who co-authored the study with Ingmar Weber of the Qatar Computing Research Institute and Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn of Rutgers University-Camden. They will present their findings in November at the sixth annual International Conference on Social Informatics.

    The study is also remarkable for its size — researchers combed through more than 96 million tweets of over 250,000 Twitter users. They also studied the users’ friends — the people they follow on Twitter — and the users’ own followers. Subjects were Twitter users who self-identified as religious or atheist in their profiles, and only those who said they lived in the U.S.; researchers compared them to a “baseline” group of Twitter users who expressed no religious identification.

    Other findings show:

    * Of the five specifically religious groups studied, Muslims are the most active on Twitter based on the average number of tweets, and Muslims and Jews have the most friends and followers compared with other religions.
    * For Christians, the most used “discriminative” words — those that distinguish them from other religious users — include “Jesus,” “Christ” and “Bible,” while the most discriminative words for atheists had to do with science — “evolution,” “science” and “evidence” among them.
    * While Pope Francis may have a lot of Twitter followers — 4.54 million — other faith-related celebrities popular among those studied include the Dalai Lama, Rick Warren, Tim Tebow and Richard Dawkins. But the bigger the religious celebrity, the more likely he or she was to have a high number of followers outside his or her own faith group.

    The study also found that while self-identified religious Twitter users talk about topics specific to the faith they adhere to (Christians talk about Jesus, atheists talk about science), all the studied faith groups had similar concerns. A tag cloud of the most commonly tweeted words across all the studied groups were “love,” “life,” “work” and “happy.”

    “Human beings are not that different no matter who you believe in,” said Chen. “People still care a lot about our daily lives; that is quite similar. Love, good life, we care about the world, we care about other people. It is the same.”

    Okulicz-Kozaryn, co-author of the study, said he thinks it shows Twitter is an important tool to religious groups and will become even more important in the future.

    “Social media like Twitter are taking up more and more communication,” he said in an email. “People talk to each other less and use social media more and hence that kind of communication matters more.”

    Twitter’s value to religious groups may not lie in recruiting new members, he continued, but in providing a platform for religious expression.

    “It’s not like groups tweet, ‘Hey join us,’” he said. “It is having your voice heard, making people interested, etcetera, and through that some recruitment will happen.”

  • These Stories Will Help You Understand Why It Can Be Hard To Be A Woman In Science
    Are sexist comments keeping women from pursuing careers in science and technology?

    When we posed that question to users on the Whisper app, the responses flooded in. As a follow-up, here are the stories our own readers shared with us (scroll down). We’ve shortened some a bit and highlighted the most cringe-worthy passages, but otherwise we’ve left them just as they were–including some graphic language.

    If you make it to #11 at the bottom of the page, you’ll see one anecdote that gives us a glimmer of hope.

    1. Smart, but not smart enough to be a biologist…

    In both grammar and high school I was told by other girls that no one will ever like me because “You’re too nerdy and like ‘gross stuff’.” In an all girls high school, other students would tell me that I’m smart, but not smart enough to be a biologist.

    2. Too pretty to be a physicist.

    People constantly told me “oh it’s so great that you’re going into physics, we need more women in science” like the only value I brought to the field would be increasing the number of women, regardless of how good my work was. I was at a swing dance, and when I was talking to another dancer we started asking each other about majors. When I told him I was a physics major his immediate response was “you’re too pretty to be a physicist.” At a STEM focused school with over 80% male students, I felt like I was constantly being sexualized by my peers. I felt like the programs made to get more women into the school ignored the fact that once women get into STEM, they’re often mistreated.

    If STEM fields had a reputation for being safe for female professionals, they wouldn’t have such a problem. I think they need to change from the inside, by eliminating sexist attitudes among professors and employers, rather than going out and asking women to change and accept mistreatment to be a “woman in science.” Once the school got us interested with their outreach programs, they seemed to forget about what other needs women might have such as not being sexualized in class, sexual assault reporting services, and respect for their work.

    3. Of course she likes reproductive science. It’s her “maternal nature.”

    Try being a female and declaring that you study reproductive physiology and do research on sperm. Try it. I dare you. I am most interested in embryology, but avoid telling that to other students because they instantly explain away my scientific interest as my maternal nature. I NEVER wear pink to the lab or anything that might remind everyone that I am in fact a blonde female. Male colleagues assume that I can’t operate laboratory machinery and usually don’t bother to teach me because “they’ll just do it themselves.”

    4. Will never be able to keep up with the math and science courses.

    When I was in undergrad, my advisor told me that I should change my major because I was never going to keep up with the math and science courses required for graduation. I graduated with honors. That same professor told me, when I was choosing a graduate school, that since I got accepted to a program, that meant that all of my classmates would get in to that school also. The only other students who applied at the same school were male.

    5. Not smart enough for engineering.

    In high school my guidance counsellors (both male and female) said that I wasn’t smart enough to get into engineering and that even if I did I wouldn’t be able to complete the program and get a good job or one that pays well. They encouraged me to go to college for an engineering technician program instead because it was easier and there were more girls there. When the boys in my class, whose marks were far worse than mine, told the teachers that they wanted to be engineers they were congratulated on picking such a good field and told that they would do really well. I just started my first year of engineering at one of Canada’s best engineering universities, no thanks to any of the guidance counsellors or careers teachers at my high school. P.s. None of the boys who applied to my university for engineering even got in.

    6. Women don’t belong in physics.

    When I was working on my Biology B.S., I had a misogynistic physics professor. He stated, in class, that women do not belong in the physics field, whether as students or physicists (the lecture was about 50/50). And then, he tried to purposely fail a number of female students by ‘accidently’ misplacing our exams and claiming we never took them. I went over his head, and talked to the head of department, and our exams were magically found… Guess who got fired at the end of that semester?

    7. The only women in technical fields are “butch dykes.”

    I’m a college student in computer science. During my first technical internship, a coworker swiped through my phone and asked if I had any nudes in it, I had only talked to this man twice. My supervisor swept a coil of VGA cables out of a cabinet shelf and on to the floor for me to pick up in front of him. Another coworker told me that the only women he’d seen in technical fields were ‘butch dykes.’ A coworker asked if I had a boyfriend, and when I said yes he said that’s all that college girls care about. I lost count of the number of times I was winked at by men twice my age while walking down the halls. …

    My first day in this major, during orientation, a professor looked to another and chuckled that I must be a ‘smart girl’ to be in computer science. Another computer science student once sincerely asked me if I needed help plugging my laptop cable in to the outlet. The Women in Computing Club is openly mocked by all but one of my male computer science friends. Speaking of male compsci friends, I cannot keep any very long, since after a while they take my complete disinterest toward them as a sign of attraction and attempt to make a move. Female friends are almost impossible to make, since I work with primarily male engineers and my classrooms are almost all male. Last week during lecture, I looked up in a class of fifty and realized there were only two other women in the room. I was the only girl in my Calculus II class. … It’s the little things.

    8. Nurses aren’t scientists.

    I’m a nurse. At the time of this incident, I had a master of science degree. I worked in a medical science lab, where I had written grants, contributed to papers, and advised others on experimental design. I helped write the job description for “research scientist,” so I knew that I qualified, but when I asked my (male physician) boss for the promotion, he said, “No. Nurses aren’t scientists. Nurses are supposed to be nice.” I pointed out to him that I met the job description, I got the promotion.

    9. She should “gain 50 pounds” if she wants to be taken seriously.

    I had an unpaid internship working for a small field research company. I worked at my boss’s house caring for 50+ turtles, newts, and salamanders. One day he and his wife cornered me to give me “career advice…” That I should “either gain 50 pounds or become a butch dyke lesbian,” if I ever wanted to be taken seriously in the environmental field. I stopped showing up soon after and switched to environmental education, a more female-dominated field.

    10. It’s hilarious that she likes robots and programming.

    Ever since I was little I was interested in robotics, computers, and programming. I grew up coloring on old punch cards and playing at typing on DOS and watching my grandfather build computers from scratch, or else watching robot wars on tv and designing bots specifically to better the ones I saw… With my crayons. By age 8, I was beating teenagers at competitive robot programming demos that allowed audience participation. But as I started trying to reach out to groups, it’s a bit weird to have maybe one other girl in the group (who, more often than not, sort of side-eyes you as bad as the guys, if not worse… Which, looking back now, was probably them wondering if they’d lose their place as the ‘token girl’). And to say it was disheartening is an understatement.

    And now? The first words out of anyone’s mouth to me are shock and surprise, then jokes about being a girl interested in robots and old computers and programming apps (like I haven’t already heard them all a thousand times)… Followed immediately by talking down to me, despite my knowing literally every term they throw at me. Even and especially obscure ones. Nothing I say or do is ever good enough to get past the condescending tone. I’m lucky I also love and have a passion for art and martial arts. At least here I can kick the ass of or out-audition anyone who tries to cold shoulder or talk down to me.

    11. She can accomplish anything and should never doubt herself.

    Historically, it has been said that science is “a man’s field.” (I wonder what would happen if the people saying this would do some simple research and discover women like Madam Curie and Hedy Lamarr.) My mother even said after my college graduation, (upon where I received my Bachelor of Science in Geology with a Minor Degree in Geographic Information Systems and a Specialization in Hydrology) that instead of a diploma, the President of the University should have handed me a plastic figure of male genitalia, “because then at least I would receive the same wages, respect, and a chance for a job as my male colleagues.” To brighten this story, however, I would like to point out that the faculty of the Geology department at my Alma Mater, nearly all of whom are male, lifted the spirits and encouraged ALL of their students, regardless of gender or background. Whenever I was feeling unsure about my future or my intellect, these professors would raise my spirits and make me feel as if I could accomplish anything. They constantly reminded me to never doubt myself, because many of science’s great discoveries were made by people who were shunned in the eyes of society.

    What do YOU think? Are sexist comments keeping women out of science? Share your own experience using #MySTEMStory.

Related posts:

  1. Mobile Technology News, October 6, 2014
  2. Mobile Technology News, October 5, 2014
  3. Mobile Technology News, October 4, 2014
  4. Mobile Technology News, October 2, 2014
  5. Mobile Technology News, October 1, 2014
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