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.

Medical Robots Born of Disruptive Innovation

Do you trust a robot to diagnose your ailments? You may not have a choice as medicine moves closer to embracing technology as part of the standard practice of medicine.

But don’t despair. A medical robot could save your life. You can thank disruptive innovation and the development of medical robots, like IBM’s Watson, to find a diagnosis your family physician may miss.

If Watson sounds familiar, you may remember it is the same computer that went on Jeopardy and beat two previous winners. But Watson’s real mission is designed to help medical professionals with complex diagnosis that take in more data than can be managed in a single test or case. Watson parses the kind of mystery that surrounds oncologists’ every day and points point out clinical nuances that health professionals might miss on their own.

Just as physicians study and learn as they practice medicine over the years, so it is with cognitive computers performing such human-seeming tasks as parsing different diagnosis. Watson can interact in sympathetic ways and deduce important contextual information from huge amounts of data.

Watson has the ability to consider optional approaches to a problem, and even doubt the results. It will make a diagnosis, then recommend several possible treatments and offer possibilities.

In addition to medical diagnosis, robotic surgery has grown exponentially as physicians have discovered the advantages of micro-sized robotic instruments that can reduce the size of an incision. Thus a surgical robot, such as the da Vinci system, enhances and highly increases your surgeon’s degree of capabilities.

But what about the family doctor you know and trust? He will still be there for you. Think of medical robots as partners in his practice.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Dan Fredinburg's Loved Ones Launch Campaign Dedicated To 'Living Life As An Adventure'

It’s nearly impossible to find two people involved in a physical fight at Burning Man. When Dan Fredinburg stumbled upon just that, he responded the way only Dan Fredinburg would.

“He walked right into the middle of it and started dancing with both people,” Fredinburg’s friend, Max Stossel, told The Huffington Post Monday. “The two very angry men were confused at first. But eventually everyone was laughing and no longer fighting.”

Fredinburg’s free-spirited attitude carried him through a life rich with adventure, one tragically cut short Saturday by an avalanche on Mount Everest after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal. It was Fredinburg’s second attempt to summit the highest peak on earth, having survived a similar disaster nearly a year ago.

As news of Fredinburg’s death spread, tributes poured in from across the globe. Friends, loved ones and acquaintances shared memories and tributes to the 33-year-old, who ran a privacy team at Google, a climate change nonprofit called Save the Ice and a combination cafe and social impact startup incubator. They hailed him as a warrior poet, a bright burning star, a Viking philanthropist, a swashbuckler of the finest order, a silent force for justice, a hero.

Fredinburg at Burning Man.

“He had this incredible hacker mind, always finding innovative ways to solve problems,” Stossel said. “He used that mind to bring more love into the world, more adventure into the world, and create those kinds of experiences for the people he cared about.”

Now, the people he cared about want to ensure Fredinburg’s legacy continues well beyond his untimely death. On Monday, a group of his closest friends launched LiveDan, a campaign and website dedicated to the principles that guided Fredinburg’s life.

“To Live Dan is to live life as an adventure,” Fredinburg’s close friend, Mike North, a co-creator, told HuffPost. “To not be afraid to go out and pursue dreams and crazy ideas. To get yourself out there in the world and do it. Dan was doing so much, and with no hesitation.”

For now, LiveDan works as a simple tool: Visitors to the site can “pledge to live fearlessly” by sharing plans for their own upcoming adventures. Users are also encouraged to donate to Save the Ice and two Nepalese orphanages that Fredinburg was fundraising for with his Everest climb. A Crowdrise campaign launched in his memory over the weekend has raised nearly $50,000 for the orphanages.

Fredinburg and his girlfriend, Ashley Arenson.

North said he expects the campaign will evolve into something larger, but he’s not sure yet what that will be. “We are doing it exactly how Dan would do it,” he said. “We don’t know exactly where it’s going or what it’s going to be, but instead of sitting around and thinking about it and planning it, we just decided to do it. It’s going to live a life of its own.”

Ashley Arenson, Fredinburg’s girlfriend of nearly two years, told HuffPost via email that being around Fredinburg made it feel like anything was possible. “Living Dan is living life as you are, who you are, and who you want to be,” she said. “Sometimes that means taking the more difficult, less traveled roads. Dan took the untraveled roads.”

In addition to his two Everest expeditions, Fredinburg had climbed to the summits of Mount Kilimanjaro and Carstensz Pyramid. To help raise money for Save the Ice, he organized a sailing trip through the Maldives for nearly two dozen of his friends earlier this year, tracing one of the original routes taken by the Swedish Vikings and talking to local residents about climate change.

North said Fredinburg’s sense of leadership and fearlessness extended to his travels. “There was one point where it was pouring rain so much that the captain couldn’t see out the front of the boat,” North recalled. “So Dan went out to the front of the boat with a squeegee. He just stood out there in the storm for a while, squeegeeing so the captain could see.”

Fredinburg (front) and his friends on an adventure trip he organized.

Such endurance and determination characterized everything Fredinburg did, especially when it came to planning for an Everest climb. Before his first attempt last year, he walked for 20 straight hours in an effort to mentally prepare himself for the journey, North said. “He walked the whole Bay Area, all the way up to Marin and back down,” he said. “His feet were covered in blisters.”

Although Fredinburg’s first attempt to summit the mountain ended in an avalanche, North said giving up was never an option. “It was never a question that he wouldn’t do it,” he said. “He was set on going back. He wanted this more than anything. It was his dream.”

North added that he has managed to find some solace in the idea that Fredinburg died doing what he loved. “For him, that was the thrill of life — pushing things right up to their limits and being there. Being aware and capable and able to handle it,” he said. “I know that’s where he wanted to be. He wanted to be on the edge.”

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

The Coming Problem of Our iPhones Being More Intelligent Than We Are

Ray Kurzweil made a startling prediction in 1999 that appears to be coming true: that by 2023 a $1,000 laptop would have the computing power and storage capacity of a human brain. He also predicted that Moore’s law, which postulates that the processing capability of a computer doubles every 18 months, would apply for 60 years — until 2025 — giving way then to new paradigms of technological change.

Kurzweil, a renowned futurist and the director of engineering at Google, now says that the hardware needed to emulate the human brain may be ready even sooner than he predicted — in around 2020 — using technologies such as graphics processing units (GPUs), which are ideal for brain-software algorithms. He predicts that the complete brain software will take a little longer: until about 2029.

The implications of all this are mind-boggling. Within seven years — about when the iPhone 11 is likely to be released — the smartphones in our pockets will be as computationally intelligent as we are. It doesn’t stop there, though. These devices will continue to advance, exponentially, until they exceed the combined intelligence of the human race. Already our computers have a big advantage over us: They are connected via the Internet and share information with each other billions of times more quickly than we can. It is hard to even imagine what becomes possible with these advances and what the implications are.

Doubts about the longevity of Moore’s law and the practicability of these advances are understandable. After all, there are limits to how much transistors can be shrunk: Nothing can be smaller than an atom. Even short of this physical limit, there will be many other technological hurdles. Intel acknowledges these limits but suggests that Moore’s law can keep going for another five to 10 years. So the silicon-based computer chips in our laptops will likely sputter their way to match the power of a human brain.

Kurzweil says Moore’s law isn’t the be-all and end-all of computing, and that the advances will continue regardless of what Intel can do with silicon. Moore’s law itself was just one of five paradigms in computing: electromechanical, relay, vacuum tube, discrete transistor, and integrated circuits. In his 2001 essay “The Law of Accelerating Returns,” Kurzweil explains that technology has been advancing exponentially since the advent of evolution on Earth, and that computing power has been rising exponentially, from the mechanical calculating devices used in the 1890 U.S. Census to the machines that cracked the Nazi enigma code to the CBS vacuum-tube computer to the transistor-based machines used in the first space launches to the integrated-circuit-based personal computer.

With exponentially advancing technologies, things move very slowly at first and then advance dramatically. Each new technology advances along an S-curve — an exponential beginning, flattening out as the technology reaches its limits. As one technology ends, the next paradigm takes over. That is what has been happening, and why there will be new computing paradigms after Moore’s law.

Already there are significant advances on the horizon, such as the GPU, which uses parallel computing to create massive increases in performance, not only for graphics but for neural networks, which constitute the architecture of the human brain. There are 3D chips in development that can pack circuits in layers. IBM and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are developing cognitive-computing chips. New materials, such as gallium arsenide, carbon nanotubes, and graphene, are showing huge promise as replacements for silicon. And then there is the most interesting — and scary — technology of all: quantum computing.

Instead of encoding information as either a 0 or a 1, as today’s computers do, quantum computers will use quantum bits, or qubits, whose states encode an entire range of possibilities by capitalizing on the quantum phenomena of superposition and entanglement. Computations that would take today’s computers thousands of years will occur in minutes on these.

Add artificial intelligence to the advances in hardware and you begin to realize why luminaries such as Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates are worried about the creation of a “super intelligence.” Musk fears that “we are summoning the demon.” Hawking says it “could spell the end of the human race.” And Gates wrote, “I don’t understand why some people are not concerned.”

Kurzweil tells me he is not worried. He believes we will create a benevolent intelligence and use it to enhance ourselves. He sees technology as a double-edged sword, just like fire, which has kept us warm but has also burned down our villages. He believes that technology will enable us to address the problems that have long plagued human civilization — such as disease, hunger, energy, education, and clean water — and that we can use it for good.

These advances in technology are a near-certainty. The question is whether humanity will rise to the occasion and use them in a beneficial way. We can either build a Star Trek future, in which our civilization rises to new heights, or descend into a Mad Max world. It is up to us.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

What Is Image-based Social Media Doing to the Lives of Teens?

I hated having photos taken of myself as a teenager; my family photo albums albums are devoid of pictures of me from the age of 10 to 15. And this awkwardness seems fairly universal — when someone digs out an old class photo from school and posts it on Facebook, it is so often greeted with universal groans of embarrassment. Our teen identity changes rapidly and we typically go through stages when we don’t feel comfortable in our own skin. We are self-conscious at the time, and when we look back, it is as often with horror as well as with pleasure.

But today, the challenge of accepting your teen self is made that much harder because managing the way you appear online, your so-called “social media profile,” is a full-time job. While I would go around to a friend’s house to chat or perhaps use the home phone to natter about nonsense for hours after school, the rise of social media has changed the dynamic of teen interaction. And communication through social networks is largely based on image and appearance. Your profile is a photo, your content videos and your language reduced to acronyms. OMG. Lol. WOM.

Research shows that large numbers of women are spending three hours or more a day on these platforms, but perhaps the most worrying statistic is that three-quarters of Gen Y/Millenial women edit photos of themselves before posting them. Selfies have come a whole industry, one that has exploded recently thanks to the advent of the selfie stick. And it’s not just the process of taking and editing the photo that counts; it’s the period after posting, waiting for the response of one’s friends to it. If no one ‘likes’ it, teen law dictates it will be taken down and replaced by another. Everything has to pass the scrutiny of friends. Thigh gap too small? There’s an app for slimming. Skin too dark? Download an app to whiten it. There is no perceived flaw that cannot be righted by a filter or photo editing app. Rumor has it that Kim Kardashian has an editor for all her Instagram uploads, with an annual salary of $100,000!

If you thought that was bad, the launch of Twitter’s new live streaming app, Periscope, has taken self-absorption to the next level. It enables users to live stream video of their lives moment-by-moment to everyone and anyone. I saw one example where an innocent-looking student filmed herself waking up, to which a guy had posted “show us your tits.” Every and any moment of people’s lives are offered up for comment, and the default privacy settings mean that almost anyone can view the content.

This narcissistic movement exposes already vulnerable teens to even greater pressures to be perfect. It has also given bullying a nasty sting. Commenting from behind a screen is often easier than saying something mean to someone’s face, leading to cyberbullying. One trend is delving into the archives of someone’s photos and reposting one less than glamorous kiddie pic to deliberately humiliate the friend. The other even darker trick is to threaten a friend or girlfriend to post unflattering photos if they don’t submit to their wishes.

Some attempts have been made to campaigning for natural beauty and body images. The website herself.com proudly displays nude women, comfortable in their skin, for it is that skin that has clothed them and protected them throughout their trials and tribulations. The no makeup selfies for cancer were also a powerful statement for a while, b‎ut sadly, they didn’t change habits. One friend’s daughter told me she puts makeup on not to go out or see a boyfriend, but to do her daily selfie.

The question is this: What will be the cumulative effect of all this self-scrutiny on this highly-connected generation? A recent study has shown that phones have a dopamine effect, creating highs but lows, with the typical addictive downside of intense withdrawal symptoms. Also, many worry that so much of teen interaction is now online. They can find out details about friends without ever asking them. First dates are now ditched for online chats. Heaven forbid that the guy sees what you ‘really’ look like before a perfector app does its job. How will this impact of their future interpersonal skills? Are they at risk of losing their innate human ability to read social cues and handle conflict?

It is also understandable why image has become reality. Girls see flawless images online and are seeking offline options. A boob job or lip plumping is now a birthday request for an 18-year-old. Waist too chunky in real life? There’s a belt that sucks it all in. Bum too flabby? Try a pumping party that gives the Nicky Minaj effect with dubious injections. The Internet is awash with new social media crazes. Last week, it was sucking on a shot glass to bruise your lips and give yourself a ‘Kardashian-style super-pout.’

Some of the answers must lie with the providers. Instagram and Facebook need to set best practices by encouraging images of real, unedited life on social platforms. Brands, celebrities and opinion-formers have a moral responsibility to show the truth — that NO ONE has unblemished skin and that cellulite happens to everyone (even sex symbols!).

It is high time for Adonis’s mask to fall and for all to be freed to be what they want and let their true personalities shine through the artifice. It is time for everyone to have permission to be their own kind of beautiful.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Realizing Our Sustainable Energy Future: Making the Participatory Grid a Reality

Chances are you’ve recently come across a story heralding solar panels, wind turbines, or energy storage as the solution to preparing our power grid for a low-carbon future. Each of these technologies will move us toward this goal, and we must utilize every opportunity at our disposal to get there.

Soon, millions of people will be living in cities that are maintained by renewables and will be charging batteries to both balance those renewables and power activities throughout our everyday lives — including our daily commute. It’s crucial that we start preparing our grid now for what lies ahead, while also fixing some of today’s biggest issues. Finding a truly sustainable solution means looking beyond just one potential “magic bullet” answer to considering the energy landscape from a bird’s eye view.

Understanding the Grid and Why It Needs to Change

The grid is constantly being subjected to spikes in energy usage and is structured to accommodate our worst-case maximum demands. This is typically during the hottest days of summer when air conditioners cities-wide go on full blast and energy consumption is at its max. Summer brownouts and blackouts are a significant risk during these high levels of consumption that can push many grids to their limit or beyond.

Often, renewables such as solar are at their highest output during these times, but this generation isn’t guaranteed due to what is called “intermittency,” whereby generation drops unexpectedly. When this happens, traditional generation would be required to ramp up to compensate and maintain quality of supply. The problem: Carbon-based power plants cannot ramp up quickly enough to cover the shortfall. An extreme example of this is when a renewable generator goes from 100 percent output to 0 percent output in a matter of minutes, but large-scale generators can only change load by a small percentage per hour. This leaves a difficult gap to fill.

Traditionally, utilities have turned to “peaker plants” to supplement supply at a premium cost since they spend large parts of the year, or even multiple years, in idle. This is a poorly utilized asset that utilities, business owners, tenants, rate payers and consumers are paying for. Chemical battery storage has been seen as the savior to the intermittency problem and an alternative to peaking generators. Battery costs have continued to fall and will no doubt be a critical part of the future smart grid. However, we need to consider a range of other mechanisms that may allow us to speed the transition and reduce costs even further.

The Energy You Don’t Use

The cheapest energy is the energy you don’t use in the first place. Taking a look around a modern office, we see one of the biggest impacts and contributors to modern energy savings — LEDs. LEDs in our lighting and computer monitors have made a sizable impact on efficiency. The next step is to implement the next level of savings by finding faults, installing efficient appliances and a range of other measures.

It is interesting that despite our efforts to reduce waste, improve efficiency and introduce more renewables to the grid, the need for energy storage persists.

Energy Storage by Many Means

Energy storage has become a hot topic usually mentioned in conjunction with renewables. While batteries are the most discussed type of building-level storage, they are expensive and might not be the right fit for every building or region.

Chilled and hot water thermal storage tanks, compressed air storage, and ice banks represent viable and affordable alternatives to battery power. These can be installed for significantly less than a battery, cost less per kWh and can easily have more than double the lifespan. Consider that 1,000 liters of water can store around 10kWh of energy at practically no cost, whereas a battery of similar size can cost more than $10,000 once fully installed.

By storing energy in the medium which it is used, such as ice for cooling, these systems offer better round-trip efficiency — a measure of the amount of energy lost between charge and discharge — than battery storage, which is around 75 percent. However, before buildings start implementing storage, they should be aware of the storage they already have.

Let Your Building Do the Work

It may be surprising, but the building itself can be treated as a storage device. When efficiently utilized, a building’s infrastructure — all bricks, concrete, steel and wood — can serve as a resource. A building’s mass can trap cooling and heating, keeping a building comfortable during interruptions to renewable output.

Intelligent energy management systems can help with this by making automatic adjustments to operations based on a building’s characteristics and other real-time conditions so buildings run at optimal efficiency. These systems take into account typical energy usage patterns and other variables such as signals from the utility, weather forecasts and occupant comfort to make adjustments to heating and cooling operations that generate huge savings. By using artificial intelligence, the software is able to map out a path to savings that would otherwise not be possible.

This technology is more than just a logic-based, pre-determined-response set up. It is able to understand the situation the building and grid are facing and make changes that are beneficial 10-15 moves into the future instead of making changes for instant gratification that could void a future opportunity.

Integrating For a Sustainable Future

It’s this type of intelligence that needs to be in place before adding other systems to a building and the grid to ensure that all platforms work in harmony with each other. Buildings that can control lighting, HVAC and storage through a unified system will benefit the overall grid by making sure that technologies aren’t working against each other.

What is happening within the building is a microcosm of what should also be happening within the entire grid. Every building will need to work together in the future. What’s efficient for one building in the moment might not be best for the grid in the long-term. With a connected system in place, buildings will be able to see the complete energy landscape in its entirety and make decisions that will benefit itself as well as the greater good of the grid.

Looking to the Future

According to IHS Automotive, worldwide production of EVs will increase by 67 percent this year. The charging of these vehicles adds yet another variable to how energy loads should be shaped within buildings. If everyone plans on charging their cars during the work day, this could cause an even higher peak demand. If we all charge in the morning, it could add a new peak to our grid. We need to plan for this eventuality.

Our energy future is poised to become unprecedentedly complex with this widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), further integration of renewable energy sources and more. Having intelligent software in place that can serve as a central point for all energy decisions within a building will make adaption to future changes easier. EVs will become just another variable. The same principle applies to renewable energy. By looking at weather patterns, it knows when solar will be producing less and can make adjustments before the drop-off in generation happens.

This complex symphony conducted by artificially intelligent systems will usher in a new era of smart cites. These self-sufficient, grid-responsive networks created within buildings, between buildings and in collaboration with the utility they work with, will ensure consistent energy usage, stable demand, a thriving electric grid, and most importantly, an attainable, sustainable future.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

A New Generation of Change-Makers

Young people are currently living in a world of infinite wonder. With the rapid advancement and proliferation of technology across all sectors of life, from health to productivity, there seems to be no limit to this endless evolution. As the confines of the human mind continue to be tested and stretched into infinity, we seem to have found comfort in our ability to confront and overcome obstacles we face as a species. In this new era of hope and progress, we have found ourselves facing a new and novel challenge that we have not yet experienced: climate change. The question then becomes, how do we fix this?

The past conversations surrounding climate change have been focused too much on whether it is anthropogenic or natural. While the evidence is clear on its human origin, the reality is that our climate is changing and that we need to act in response to these shifting conditions. Even my own state of Nebraska is not exempt from the impacts of climate change. A report published in 2014 by the University of Nebraska shared that the state experienced an overall warming of about 1 degree Fahrenheit since 1895, and the projected temperature changes will range from an increase of 4-5 degrees or 8-9 degrees, depending on the emission scenarios, by the last quarter of the 21st century. Changes in precipitation from climate change will “impact runoff and groundwater recharge, affect the types of crops that can be grown, influence water pollution, alter the occurrence of flooding and drought, and determine the type and health of ecosystems.” We are also warned that “changes in the observed frequency and intensity of extreme events are of serious concern today and for the future because of the economic, social and environmental costs associated with responding to, recovering from, and preparing for these extreme events in the near and longer term.”

Here in Nebraska, both the young and older generations are working to promote sustainability in diverse ways. The City of Lincoln has recently received a $600,000 federal grant, through the Nebraska Department of Roads, to start a bike sharing program. This program began as an initiative led by University of Nebraska-Lincoln student, Reed Broderson, before it was handed over to the City. To the northeast corner of the state, the City of Tilden recently received a $3.6 million grant from USDA Rural Development for its water and waste water systems, which will introduce the installation of water meters. These water meters will help users monitor their usage in order to save and conserve. Despite its strong dedication to sustainability, Nebraska has a long way to go. For instance, while Nebraska has the 4th largest wind resources in the country, it does not rank in the top 20 for wind energy production. Nonetheless, Nebraska was expected to triple its wind energy potential in 2015, so slowly but surely, the state will improve.

As a global collective, young people are placed in a peculiar and difficult position. Young people have both special concerns and responsibilities as it relates to the longevity of this planet, one that is currently being tested by climate change. Like all previous generations, they are going to be tasked with the monumental challenge of overcoming the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution, as well as the current and continuing industrial and land use trends. Climate change is no longer a myth or conspiracy, but a cruel reality which we must now face. My generation and future generations will have to live longer with the consequences of current patterns and be subject to their impacts. Nonetheless, we must never forsake our potential to improve and change the world, and we can do this by first changing ourselves and our habits.

From my experience, the keys to solving sustainability issues are accountability and ownership. While the depth of the current problem was caused by previous generations, it does not mean that my generation and those of the future are completely free of blame. This new era of instant gratification has led to high consumption patterns, fueled by desire to get the latest brand products or technology. That being said, young people have a two-front battle. They must first work collectively to fix problems of the past, as well as of their own habits. Only by starting early can the youth population create a culture of conscientiousness and respect for the earth. We need a new generation of everyday change-makers, and we need them now.

This blog post is part of the ‘It’s Our Earth (Day)‘ blog series, curated by the editors of HuffPost Generation Change in recognition of Earth Day 2015. We’ve invited young environmental bloggers to share how climate issues are affecting their lives and futures, and why it’s so important for youth to take climate action. To see all the other posts in the series, click here.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Time Warner Cable Open To Merger Talks With Charter

By Liana B. Baker

April 27 (Reuters) – Time Warner Cable Inc is open to merger discussions with Charter Communications Inc following a failed $45 billion bid by Comcast Corp, according to people familiar with the matter.

Friendly negotiations between the two companies would be in sharp contrast to their acrimonious exchanges in 2013 and early 2014 that ended with Time Warner Cable rejecting unsolicited approaches by Charter and instead finding a white knight in Comcast.

While Charter has yet to make a formal offer, Time Warner Cable believes its smaller peer may be willing to make a bid that is more attractive compared with its takeover attempt two years ago, the people said.

Time Warner Cable also views Charter’s stock as a more valuable currency than it did last year given its stock performance since then, the people said. Time Warner Cable also is open to deals with companies other than Charter, the people added.

The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Time Warner Cable declined to comment, while Charter representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment. (Reporting by Liana B. Baker in New York; Editing by Ken Wills)

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Taming Africa's deadly transport chaos

The start-ups taming Africa’s deadly transport chaos

How To Make Free Calls To And From Nepal

After the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday, tech companies are waiving fees on calls to and from the country in hopes of helping people get in touch with loved ones.

Skype has made all calls to and from Nepal completely free. (While calls between two Skype users are always free, normally there are fees when using Skype to call a landline or mobile phone.)

“Since no one knows the full extent of the devastation, we want to help provide people with alternative methods of communication to reach friends and family in the region during this difficult time,” the Microsoft-owned video and voice telecommunications provider said in a statement Monday.

Viber, an app that provides discounted international calls, has made all calls to Nepal free. Sprint and T-Mobile are both waiving fees to call or text Nepal. And Google, whose executive Dan Fredinburg died after the earthquake triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, reduced the cost of calls through Google Voice from 19 cents a minute to 1 cent.

“We chose 1 cent, instead of making calls free, to prevent spammers from abusing our systems and possibly adding more load to the already stretched Nepalese telephone network,” Google said in a blog post Sunday.

Hundreds of people have been reported as missing on a Red Cross site set up to help victims and their families track each other down. As of Monday afternoon, the death toll associated with the magnitude-7.8 quake had topped 4,200.

The tech companies’ offers come as people outside Nepal are desperately trying to reach family members there. Bigyan Bhandari, 28, a Nepalese man living in South Korea, told the Associated Press that he was only able to contact his family after dozens of failed attempts.

“I miss my family members … too much,” he said through tears.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

The Future of Music Making?

Since the dawn of mankind there has been music. Sounds were celebrated during gatherings for their ability to set a specific mood. Drums were most likely the first instruments. Somewhere down the line, strings were plucked and strummed. But since the discovery of sound recording, and especially since its digitalization, concerts have become increasingly more monotonous: it is increasingly rare that musicians can get on the stage and deliver what the legend, or the recording, promises. Many professional performers insist that musicality and digitalization are in direct contradiction. A new discovery, the “LinnStrument,” might change that.

Instruments are constantly being discovered

Tinkerers have a history of discovering new instruments to suit their various needs: the Belgian clarinetist Adolphe Sax felt there needed to be deeper but nevertheless melodious woodwinds. So he created the saxophone in 1840.

Since the sound produced by a guitar is too soft for an orchestra, the now musically independent electric guitar was developed in the 1920s

Rhythm devices like the Rhythmicon have been making it easier for solo entertainers to bring their audience on tour since the 1930s.

The rock ‘n’ roll revolution once again made music a very physical experience: electric guitars ruled — and they were supported by bass and drums.

Digitalization changed music

Digitalization changed music and how it is performed. Electronic music, like ambient, new age and electronica, produced with sound machines has been around for a while. However, in the 1970s, it was nothing more than niche music. Philistines dismissed the melancholic tones, like those from Tangerine Dream, as “pothead music.”

The niche also remained small because only professional musicians who were both technically and musically adept were in a position to convert the complex technology into harmonies. Only with the discovery of the PC was the playing field suddenly opened up to everyone. Unknown Hamburg tinkerers set the standards. The consequence: just a few mouse clicks and the right software could make anyone sound pretty good.

This manipulation of reality didn’t just change entertainment. Concerts also lost their excitement as fewer people were willing to spend years practicing in order to produce a certain sound. And why should they when everything you could imagine, and then some, can be found tucked away in some corner of the Internet. And once you’re on the stage, you just need to play it.

Digitalization vs. musicality?

This whole situation got on the nerves of a certain Roger Linn. He couldn’t get rid of the “ghosts” he himself had played. He became world-renowned in the 1980s for his Linn Drum Machine, a drum computer that worked with so-called samples, basically sound recordings from various drums. These little tone samples could be programmed and reproduced. The sound of an entire generation was influenced. Think of George Michael’s 1980s major hit “I Want Your Sex.”

Thanks to the Linn Drum Machine everyone had the most precise drummer with them on the stage or in the recording studio. But that was it. The stored sounds were great, but stage performances increasingly less so. Apparently Roger Linn was exasperated with the whole phenomenon.

LinnStrument — the future?

For a while now, rumblings in the music industry about the grayed technical genius and his latest device, the LinnStrument, have been getting louder.

The LinnStrument is actually “only” a controller that is attached to a computer to forward commands. Just as you would click on a keyboard to enter letters, the LinnStrument transmits commands for sounds and their modulation. Every imaginable sound is possible, be it solo or polyphonic. Why not recreate a Beatles class with a bunch of cellos?

Whereas before it was only possible to adjust sounds with on and off switches, computers now apparently make everything possible. Simply put, the musician is guided by a grid-like diagram. The x-axis is the pitch and the y-axis determines the kind of sound/sounds.

If you’ve stored all the right sounds, everything becomes possible. Like a cowboy on a Hawaiian beach with his pedal steel guitar. Or a breathy saxophone.

Virtuosity and musicality in harmony with the Digital Age?

These videos performed by the master himself show that not everything is going to sound good without a certain level of musicality. Maybe it’s too premature, but one might be able to say that music, musicality, music creation and digitalization appear to have finally found a way to work together.

Roger Linn explained in detail his LinnStrument at the annual Moogfest, a kind of Woodstock for sound tinkerers and electronic fans in Asheville, North Carolina.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

8 Infuriating Problems With The Apple Watch

Apple trumpets its new Watch as its “most personal device yet.” And sometimes, when things get personal, they get a little messy, too.

The smartwatch is finally in consumers’ hands — though only for 20 percent of the souls who ordered one — but some people are already having issues with it. A few of those are user-generated, like when a tech reporter demoing the device accidentally ordered an Xbox One via the Amazon app; however, a number of reports indicate that the Apple Watch has other baked-in flaws. For a luxury device that costs anywhere from $349 to $17,000, that’s not exactly comforting.

Of course, it’s also not surprising for a new product to have problems. In 2010, Apple’s iPhone 4 launch was tarnished by a design glitch that interfered with phone call reception, forcing Apple to give out free rubber cases to solve the issue. The ordeal became known as “antennagate.” Years later, the Internet got all bent out of shape when it was discovered that some iPhone 6 devices could physically change shape under certain conditions.

While the Apple Watch appears more or less to work as intended, it’s by no means perfect. Here are some of the bigger problems users have noticed so far:

1. People don’t understand how to buy it.

CNET reports that customers are totally confused about when they’ll receive their Apple Watch, or even how to order it to begin with. (You pretty much have to do it online, unless you can make it to a handful of luxury shops that stock them.)

2. Setup is complicated.

A basic setup guide from The Verge is called “How to set up the Apple Watch in 16 steps.” The first paragraph warns the reader that the how-to “isn’t 100 percent comprehensive.” Get ready for a long afternoon of tinkering.

3. The sides can get scratched up.

First things first: The front of the screen appears to be incredibly durable. Consumer Reports gave it a righteous stabbing and found it impervious to damage.

Don’t try this at home. (Source)

That said, users with the stainless steel Apple Watch are finding that the sides get scuffed up, according to Raymond Wong at Mashable, who also notes that a similar material was used in the scratch-prone iPod Classic and iPod Touch devices.

As bad as the old iPods could look after getting banged around for a while, there’s a chance that the Apple Watch will wear even worse with age: You probably didn’t walk around with your iPod Classic on your wrist as a fashion statement, exposing it to every tabletop edge or doorjamb you walked past. The Apple Watch is constantly exposed, by comparison.

4. It shatters when dropped.

Even though the Watch’s face is relatively scratch-resistant, this could still happen:

Splat. (Source)

A video from TechRax shows the Watch’s screen shattering after a face-first fall onto a sidewalk. Granted, the purpose of the video was to “drop test” the device, but the result makes us want to exercise caution when adjusting the band. (Do it on your bed or over carpeting, perhaps.)

On the upside, the device is by definition supposed to be strapped onto your wrist. As a lifelong watch-wearer, I can personally attest — Scout’s honor — that I’ve never had one magically unclasp and crash onto the concrete. So the chances of your Apple Watch face shattering are probably slim.

5. It kills your iPhone’s battery life.

Noticed my iPhone’s battery was abnormally low, especially for barely having used it today. So now we know why. pic.twitter.com/9sJuPrpH0Q

— Ryan Block (@ryan) April 26, 2015

Because the Apple Watch constantly talks to your iPhone, it can have a significant effect on battery performance. Some say the Watch seems to have improved their iPhone’s battery life, presumably because the Watch allows them to use the phone less frequently; but more are complaining that it hurts their iPhone’s battery life significantly.

6. It won’t charge.

Other users say the Apple Watch won’t charge when they plug it in. There are workarounds for this, but they’re not what you want to deal with right after unwrapping a shiny new toy.

7. The app experience leaves something to be desired.

While there are a lot of Apple Watch-compatible apps available, “there’s a surprising amount of junk,” the Wall Street Journal notes. Plus, most of the Watch apps are adapted from iPhone apps, and they can be uncomfortable to view on the Watch’s tiny screen.

8. It just plain freaks people out.

Some people have complained that the Apple Watch’s app screen looks like an object with “an irregular pattern of holes,” sort of resembling a beehive. Focusing on it makes them feel queasy or fearful. This is known as trypophobia, and it may have to do with a part of your brain misidentifying the hole clusters as a “poisonous animal,” according to the Association for Psychological Science. Yikes.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Apple returns more cash to investors

Technology giant Apple reports profits of $13.6bn for the first three months of 2015, and details plans to return more money to investors.

Facebook Is Matching Every Dollar Donated To Nepal Earthquake Relief Through Its Site

Facebook is helping users connect with loved ones affected by the earthquake in Nepal and stretch their donation dollars.

The social networking site announced on Monday that it will match every dollar contributed through its donation widget to the International Medical Corps (IMC), up to $2 million. As of Monday afternoon, more than 4,000 people were killed in the magnitude-7.8 earthquake and IMC is working to bring lifesaving medication and other supplies to people in need.

To prevent waterborne illnesses and other communicable diseases, the aid organization is also distributing hygiene kits and water purification tablets.

Facebook said 100 percent of donations made through its fundraising feature will go directly to the International Medical Corps. The social networking site also said it will donate its matching funds to a number of local relief organizations.

Facebook is also capitalizing on its worldwide reach to help users notify one another of their whereabouts in the affected region.

Inspired by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the “Safety Check” app identifies users based on their location and alerts them if they are in an affected area. Users can then notify their Facebook friends if they are in a secure location.

“During times of crisis, we have seen people turn to Facebook to learn about what’s happening, share their experiences and support one another,” Facebook said in a statement. “By offering tools to help people donate to support those in the affected areas and check on loved ones, we’re hopeful that together we can promote safety and help urgent resources reach those who need them.”

The button below indicates how much has been raised on Crowdrise’s “Nepal Earthquake Relief” page. Click to visit the site and donate.

Fundraising Websites – Crowdrise

Like Us On Facebook
Follow Us On Twitter

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Apple breaks records for fiscal Q2 with strong iPhone, Mac sales

Unexpected strength in Mac sales along with the previously-predicted strong staying power of the iPhone 6 line has helped Apple see record-breaking performance for a fiscal second quarter this year. The company sold more than 61.17 million iPhones, about 80 percent of the number sold during the holiday quarter, which is usually followed by a drop of about 40 percent. Macs sold 4.56 million units, another record for a fiscal Q2 and up 10 percent year-over-year.

The Powerful Letter Dan Fredinburg Carried With Him On Mount Everest

“We’ll also know that you’ve already lived the equivalent of at least 100 lifetimes.”

Those were the last words Max Stossel wrote to his friend, Dan Fredinburg.

Fredinburg died in an avalanche while climbing Mount Everest after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal Saturday. Stossel’s words were written in one of a handful of letters that Fredinburg, a Google employee and avid adventurer, carried with him from family and friends, wishing him luck on his journey and telling him how much they love him.

His girlfriend, Ashley Arenson, had asked those close to Fredinburg to write letters that he could open at different check points and levels along the way. Stossel is not sure which ones he would have opened when. “It’s totally possible, because it’s Dan, that he might have read all of them immediately,” he told The Huffington Post Monday.

Stossel shared the letter he wrote in a heartbreaking Facebook post Sunday:

Dan, (dan dan dan)

You must be really high up for this written echo (echo echo). Everyone you know and love is eventually going to die (die die die). When we do, we leave behind our stories. Those stories are told and passed on, impacting the lives of others until they are stories (stories stories stories). Your story has already greatl

Show more