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.
Happy Holidays Everyone!
I want to take a moment to wish all of the readers and followers of ClintonFitch.com a very happy holidays. Today I will be celebrating Christmas with my family which undoubtedly will involved a bit of new technology for some of my family. It will also be a time of food and fun as we get together. It also means that I will be taking a few days off to spend with friends & family but I will be back posting updates on Monday. If you get a new Windows PC, Tablet or Phone, be sure to check out my
The post Happy Holidays Everyone! appeared first on Clinton Fitch.
Sony comedy The Interview opens
The Sony Pictures comedy The Interview opens in some US cinemas and online, after a major cyber-attack and row over its release.
Keeping your Christmas gadgets safe
Basic steps to keeping your Christmas gadgets safe
North Korea's Cyberattack Capabilities
LONDON (AP) — North Korea’s microscopic corner of the Internet has had a rough couple of days, suffering seven outages in 48 hours, according to one Web traffic monitor.
The mysterious problems have some talking of a retaliatory cyberattack by the United States, which holds Pyongyang responsible for last month’s spectacular hack of Sony Pictures. American officials have fueled speculation with vague denials, but security experts say North Korea’s Internet infrastructure is so skeletal that even amateurs — or a simple glitch — could have brought it clattering down. “A large city block in London or New York would have more IP (Internet Protocol) addresses than North Korea,” said Ofer Gayer, a security researcher at Redwood Shores, California-based Incapsula Inc.
Even on a good day, Web watchers see less Internet traffic from North Korea than from the Falkland Islands, a North Atlantic archipelago of fewer than 3,000 people, said Gayer. Media companies like Sony easily dwarf the communist country’s web presence.
He said that if the network was targeted by a kind of distributed denial-of-service — or DDoS — attack, the list of suspects is endless.
“Any kid that knows how to run a small-sized DDoS amplification attack can do it from his home.”
For many, the uncertainty over the outage — and lingering doubts over who hacked Sony — illustrates how little we can really know about attacks in the Information Age.
“This whole incident is a perfect illustration of how technology is equalizing capability,” Bruce Schneier, a respected security expert, said in a blog post. “In both the original attack against Sony, and this attack against North Korea, we can’t tell the difference between a couple of hackers and a government.”
Here’s what is known:
FOR TWO DAYS, NORTH KOREA STRUGGLED TO STAY ONLINE
After spending a significant chunk of Monday offline, North Korea’s Internet had two short outages Tuesday morning, according to Jim Cowie, the chief scientist at Dyn Research, an Internet performance company.
Cowie characterized the outages as a “return to instability,” and said they were the same type of outages that caused the original disruption.
Hiccups continued until Wednesday. Internet monitor BGPmon says it has detected a total of seven interruptions, with the last hour-long outage reported between 6:30 and 7:45 GMT.
IT DOESN’T TAKE MUCH TO KNOCK NORTH KOREA OFF THE WEB
North Korea has a tiny online footprint, thousands of millions of times smaller than that of the United States or even archrival South Korea. Gayer, the Incapsula researcher, pegged the country’s total bandwidth at 2.5 gigabits per second, a minuscule amount of traffic which could easily be overwhelmed by a denial-of-service attack. Only last week, a London teenager pleaded guilty to a cyberattack against an anti-spam group which clocked in at 300 gigabits per second.
SPECULATION IS RAMPANT
U.S. officials have refused to be drawn over the online mischief, feeding speculation that American retribution may be to blame for North Korea’s Internet problems.
“Ask the North Koreans if their Internet wasn’t working,” said U.S. State Department representative Marie Harf in response to questions about the outages on Tuesday. “I would check with them.”
The attack doesn’t fit the pattern of an American cyber-strike, said Dan Holden of Arbor Networks, which works to block denial-of-service attacks. He said online activists may be to blame, and social media chatter provides some support for the claim.
One prominent account linked to Anonymous, the amorphous collective of self-appointed cyber-vigilantes, briefly claimed credit for knocking North Korea offline before it was itself was yanked from the Internet by Twitter. Rival claims — from obscure groups carrying names like “Lizard Squad” or “Gator League” — were even harder to assess.
THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE
North Korea’s Internet has gone dark before. In March 2013 the nation experienced connectivity problems for the better part of a day and a half.
The North Korean government blamed the United States for the problems, but their cause has never been publicly confirmed.
Eileen Sullivan in Washington contributed to this report.
Say Hello to the World's First Smart Suitcase
Technological advances continue to amaze me on a daily basis. From the latest and greatest apps that help you navigate streets while avoiding traffic and speed traps to the constant evolution of the ways people can connect via the next social media platform, there always seems to be something interesting popping up that catches my eye.
But a carry-on suitcase that you can lock, weigh and track all from an app on your smartphone? Mind blowing! Personally, I never thought there would be technological advances on a product that is designed specifically to carry my underwear from one destination to the next.
Well the guys over at Bluesmart proved me wrong and are making their revolutionary product a purchasable reality in 2015. They have already crowd sourced over 1.3 Million dollars, from just under 9,000 donors, shattering their original goal of 50,000 dollars to mass-produce the “Smart Suitcase.”
The Bluesmart team has also been making their presence known all over the globe, showing off their prototype at trade shows from San Francisco to Hong Kong and have been featured as the next big thing in many technology blogs and online publications.
From a design perspective, the suitcase is perfectly made for the global road warrior, those who spend much of their daily life in and out of airports.
The Bluesmart is made with a hard plastic shell, retractable handle, wheels that turn every which way, and most importantly, it is perfectly sized to make sure your bag stays with you on the plane instead of being recklessly tossed under the plane by baggage workers who sometimes just don’t care about your fragile sticker.
By far one of the coolest features of the Bluesmart is the ability to charge almost all of your devices from tablets to smartphones. There is a built in battery that is able to fully charge your devices six times over. I can personally recall many times that I wasn’t able to find a charging station at the airport. Even worse, having to fight my way past other weary travelers all desperately trying to suck the sweet energy juices from the outlet to charge dying smartphones while yapping away on important business calls. The Bluesmart changes all of that with its own USB outlet that is hooked up to an impressively powerful battery.
Let’s backtrack a little bit to before one even arrives to the airport. As you are finished stuffing all of your clothes and souvenirs into your suitcase while praying to the travel gods that you are not going to be over the weight limit, you simply pull up the handle of the Bluesmart and check the weight on the app.
You are also able to digitally lock and track your suitcase using your smartphone. If by chance you become separated from your suitcase, the automatic lock mechanism can be configured to kick in making it impossible for others to access your goods. Also, you can see where your suitcase may have strayed off to using the maps feature on the app. The suitcase also comes with a key for backup as well. This feature makes it TSA friendly as they can still access your suitcase just in case you do in fact decide to check your bag.
The team over at Bluesmart is working on a few other technological features and enhancements to add to the app and the way you use your suitcase. They claim using the Bluesmart will be like having your own personal travel assistant seeing as you will be able to track your trips and view your travel patterns.
This is definitely a product I am excited about purchasing in 2015.
For more information on the release and additional features or information of the Bluesmart please go here.
A Brand New World In Which Men Ruled
In the history of American higher education, it is hard to top the luck and timing of the Stanford class of 1994, whose members arrived on campus barely aware of what an email was, and yet grew up to help teach the rest of the planet to shop, send money, find love and navigate an ever-expanding online universe.
Best Tweets: What Women Said On Twitter This Week
Christmas has finally arrived and the women of Twitter are very excited. Instead of putting out cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, Abbi Crutchfield is changing it up a bit this year: “Believing in Christmas magic as an adult means you can stay up late for Santa by bar-hopping.” Sounds about right to us.
It’s safe to say Santa won’t be bar-hopping, just house-hopping. Which got Twitter user Susan Burke thinking “I bet Mrs. Claus really hates that song Santa Baby.” At least Mrs. Claus won’t have Charlene deGuzman to worry about, given her clever romance-avoidance technique: “*eats the mistletoe.*”
For more great tweets from women, scroll through the list below. Then visit our Funniest Tweets From Women page for our past collections.
Just ate the most interesting salad. It had gingerbread cupcake in it! No lettuce or anything, just cake & icing.
— alyssa kramer (@kramediggles) December 22, 2014
I bet Mrs. Claus really hates that song Santa Baby.
— Susan Burke (@ThatSusanBurke) December 24, 2014
I will stay awake for as long as it takes me to find something to watch on Netflix, then I will fall asleep two seconds after pressing play
— Caro (@socarolinesays) December 23, 2014
I’m in Walmart on xmas eve. Do with that what you will. (Hopefully “that” involves saving me”.
— Amanda Seales (@amandaseales) December 24, 2014
Believing in Christmas magic as an adult means you can stay up late for Santa by bar-hopping.
— Abbi Crutchfield (@curlycomedy) December 23, 2014
I always have to shower after I park my car, because I can’t stop ridin’ dirty.
— Jess! (@ImJESSPlayin) December 23, 2014
Can’t decide if I should cancel the date I have this Friday on Christmas Eve, Christmas or the day of. Don’t want to seem rude!
— Lauren Greenberg (@LaurenGreenberg) December 24, 2014
i guess i kind of get jesus cause every year we throw him a birthday party and he’s like no thanks to showing up
— lauren ashley bishop (@sbellelauren) December 21, 2014
Be vigilante this holiday season for disease runs rampant; three friends have already caught “feelings” and the symptoms are disgusting.
— Adrienne Airhart (@craydrienne) December 24, 2014
Pretty sure the deepest circle of hell is a mall on Christmas Eve.
— Ellie Hall (@ellievhall) December 24, 2014
Maybe we aren’t as smart as past generations, but we’re like way cuter in pics.
— Bookish (@BookisherBunny) December 23, 2014
It’s an epic battle during the holidays between being lonely but still not being able to stand most people.
— heather* (@heatherlou_) December 23, 2014
2015 is less than two weeks away and we still don’t have USB ports in our arms to charge our phones with
— Kate Beckman (@Kate_Beckman) December 21, 2014
Guys guys guys. What if Jdate had a jingle called “All I Want for Christmas is a-” oh wait am I allowed to make this joke?
— erin mallory long (@erinmallorylong) December 24, 2014
IHTM: I Went On A Made-For-TV Holiday Movie Binge And Learned ‘Career Women’ Die Alone
— Emma Gray (@emmaladyrose) December 24, 2014
I almost just accidentally watched your end of the year social media video, that was a close one.
— Molly (@MollySneed) December 22, 2014
when u realize it’s 3 days till christmas pic.twitter.com/sJJ3cagRyw
— Typical Girl (@ReIatabIeFemale) December 22, 2014
our dads are all at Walgreens buying our presents right now
— Mary Charlene (@IamEnidColeslaw) December 24, 2014
treat yourself with the same tenderness, benefit of the doubt, and understanding that you did with your worst ex
— Mallory Ortberg (@mallelis) December 21, 2014
These holiday endorphins are really getting to me. I am closing way too many emails with Love for people I’m not really there with yet
— Michelle Markowitz (@michmarkowitz) December 23, 2014
Calls ghost busters to get rid of the Christmas spirit
— Just Jane (@jdforshort) December 22, 2014
*eats the mistletoe*
— Charlene deGuzman (@charstarlene) December 24, 2014
When you run out of Christmas wrapping paper pic.twitter.com/IdPIiki6vU
— Kardashian Reactions (@KardashianReact) December 22, 2014
Every Jewish male comedy writer should just wish he were as witty as Nicki Minaj
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) December 17, 2014
This guy at speed dating asked if I have any weird tattoos I was like lol not if you love The Golden Girls.
— Jess [ham] (@thejessbess) December 15, 2014
Please have more chill than 2014 did.
— Mackenzie Kruvant (@mkruvant) December 22, 2014
‘Twas the night before Christmas and I was sexting my TC…
— CinderellaHips (@latte_drama) December 22, 2014
My mom asked why I was putting hummus on pumpkin bread and I snapped at her for always questioning my choices. #HomeForTheHolidays
— Amanda Duberman (@AmandaDuberman) December 23, 2014
As soon as fb gives us the option to post stickers in statuses, all of my posts will be limited to cats kneading dough and typing on laptops
— Rebecca Darling (@RococoVintage) December 22, 2014
Season 2 of Serial: Who the f hacked Sony?
— olivia wilde (@oliviawilde) December 22, 2014
Walmart’s new name is “The Stuff Library” based on how many times I’ve used things and then returned them when I was done.
— Ali Spagnola (@alispagnola) December 22, 2014
Devon Coley Charged After Allegedly Posting Threat Against NYPD
NEW YORK (AP) — Police have increased security at some stationhouses and made at least four arrests over threats made since the deadly shootings of two officers last weekend, and the mayor vowed Wednesday to protect officers.
Emergency Services Unit officers were providing additional protection at two Brooklyn precincts, where they were stationed starting Tuesday. Police said Wednesday they were remaining vigilant while investigating the origin of the threats, which they didn’t detail. Meanwhile, an 18-year-old was facing charges of making a terroristic threat after authorities said he put up a menacing photo and message online on Saturday hours after the afternoon ambush of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos by a gunman who had signaled his plans on social media.
Teenager Devon Coley posted a photo on his Facebook page Saturday night of a gunman shooting at a patrol car, symbols showing a gun pointed at an officer’s head and a caption with his local precinct’s number and “next,” according to a court complaint.
His lawyer, Daniel Ades, said Wednesday that the state terroristic-threats law was being misapplied.
“Nobody’s condoning threats against police,” he said, but “even if this is proven, it doesn’t amount to a crime.” He noted that the law requires a “reasonable expectation or fear” that a threat meant to influence government or intimidate the public is about to be carried out.
Prosecutors sought $250,000 bail for Coley, who was already facing unrelated gun possession and other charges, the New York Post reported. Court records show a judge released him without bail on the threats charge.
Officials said they had assessed hundreds of online postings and calls to emergency lines, initiating about 40 threat probes, with about half of those being closed or referred to other agencies.
The police department said one 52-year-old man had been arrested after walking into a Manhattan stationhouse and saying: “If I punch you in the face, how much time will I get?” and refusing to leave.
In addition, two Staten Island residents were arrested in separate incidents on Tuesday. A 16-year-old was arrested on a charge of making a terrorist threat and a 46-year-old man was charged with making a false report.
Mayor Bill de Blasio denounced the various threats Wednesday and said the city “will protect the men and women who protect us.”
“New York City stands with our police officers in this time of tragedy, as we do every day, and our city will not be intimidated by those spouting hateful, violent messages,” he said in a statement.
In Colorado, a 33-year-old military veteran was arrested Monday for posting online threats calling for the killing of current and former police officers under the name “Vets Hunting Cops.”
And in Northern California, presidents of the three biggest Northern California police unions warned that recent anti-police sentiments are threatening officers’ safety. Recent demonstrations against police brutality have devolved into tasteless vilification of officers, including chants calling for dead police officers, the union heads said in a letter posted online Tuesday.
Too Busy to Write Your Annual Family Newsletter? Here's a Better Idea.
A few years ago, I joined a group of engineers at a hack-fest and afterwards, they invited me to join them for a three day start-up accelerator course. The invitation saved me $5,000. The biggest “take away” idea I learned from the course was this: that when you give a gift to someone else, the most important thing is NOT the price tag, that is, how much you spent on that person. The most important thing is number of happy memories it links to in their mind.
Everyone in the room agreed on this one. When you give a gift that connects us to pleasant MEMORIES from the past, this is the gift that will be talked about the most and valued the most.
So who won this year’s BEST prize award? The answer may surprise you, and it begins with a story from my childhood.
When I was young, we didn’t have copy machines. We had Smith and Corona and IBM typewriters. We had carbon paper, and mimeograph machines. In the 1960′s, when the first Xerox machines hit the market, each copy came out WET. Each one had to be dried separately, like laundry on a clothes line!
To keep our far flung family connected, my mother would take out five sheets of onion skin paper, put a sheet of blue carbon paper between each one, and then roll the five-layered newsletter into the typewriter. Using only one page, she would share the most memorable news from the year with us. We referred to our mother as the Great Communicator. As children growing up, we always believed that the most favored one was the one who got the first or second copy. After that, the words became more difficult to read on the 4th and 5th copies.
This was the generation that I grew up in. We wrote an annual newsletter, and sent it via the latest technology: mail, email, and various social media to family and friends.
Now, Facebook has come up with an algorithm that will instantly win the hearts and minds of those who dare to click on the post that shows up on their page that includes the picture of one of their friends and as in my case reads: Alexia’s Year
I boldly clicked on one titled: Colleen’s Year. I happily scrolled through a series of 10 images of Colleen enjoying life with family and friends. The BEST surprise was waiting at the end. I clicked a short message that mentioned my name. And suddenly, to my surprise, a series of 10 images and captions, posted by me over the year on FB, was presented with a question at the end.
The question? Do you want to edit the captions? When ready, click POST.
I scrolled through the photos and read the captions several more times. The choice was perfect. Sure I could have added another favorite photo or two, or edited the captions, however, these were the words that came from ME and expressed the joy, happiness, or pleasure I felt at that moment in time!
The perfect gift? The gift that keeps reminding you that despite life’s ups and downs, there were so many joyful, happy, loving moments in your life that: “Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus!”
ALEXIA PARKS is a Virtual Mentor with the United Nations, author, and one of Newsweek’s “50 People Who Matter Most On The Internet.” She is also CEO and founder of the 10 TRAITS Academy. It is the only leadership training program in the world based on the New Science of the Female Brain.
Facebook To Face Lawsuit Over Scanning Users' Messages
By Nate Raymond
(Reuters) – Facebook Inc must face a class action lawsuit accusing it of violating its users’ privacy by scanning the content of messages they send to other users for advertising purposes, a U.S. judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California, on Tuesday dismissed some state-law claims against the social media company but largely denied Facebook’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit.
Facebook had argued that the alleged scanning of its users’ messages was covered by an exception under the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act for interceptions by service providers occurring in the ordinary course of business.
But Hamilton said Facebook had “not offered a sufficient explanation of how the challenged practice falls within the ordinary course of its business.”
Neither Facebook nor a lawyer for the plaintiffs responded to a request for comment Wednesday.
The lawsuit, filed in 2013, alleged that Facebook scanned the content of private messages sent between users for links to websites and would then count any links in a tally of “likes” of the pages.
Those “likes” were then used to compile user profiles, which were then used for delivering targeted advertising to its users, the lawsuit said.
The complaint alleged that the scanning of the private messages violated the federal and California state law.
According to Tuesday’s ruling, Facebook ceased the practice at issue in October 2012. But the company said it still does some analysis of messages to protect against viruses and spam, the ruling said.
The lawsuit was filed by Facebook user Matthew Campbell and seeks class action status on behalf of U.S. users who sent or received private messages that included website addresses in their content.
The case is Campbell v. Facebook Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 13-5996.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
Quantum Physics Just Got A Tiny Bit Easier To Understand, As Two Oddities Merge Into One
No one is about to claim that quantum physics is now easy to understand, but maybe it’s not quite as devilishly complicated as we thought.
New research suggests that two of the quantum world’s most mysterious features–the uncertainty principle and wave-particle duality–are simply two sides of a single coin.
“The connection between uncertainty and wave-particle duality comes out very naturally when you consider them as questions about what information you can gain about a system,” Dr. Stephanie Wehner, an associate professor at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and one of the scientists behind the research, said in a written statement. “Our result highlights the power of thinking about physics from the perspective of information.”
Wave-particle duality is the idea that elementary particles can exhibit wave-like behavior–for example, as seen in the classic double-slit experiment. The uncertainty principle holds that it’s impossible to know both the position and momentum of a particle at the same time.
The proposed unification of the two features may bring new advances in cryptography, Dr. Patrick Coles, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing in Canada and one of Wehner’s collaborators, told The Huffington Post in an email. For example, he said, it could point the way to provide “perfectly secure” online credit card transactions.
In addition, the advance promises to make it easier for physics students to make sense of a field that is notoriously difficult to understand. Instead of having to learn two separate phenomena, Coles said, “they can just learn the uncertainty principle and then deduce the competition between wave and particle behavior as a consequence of the uncertainty principle.”
But perhaps most significant is that the unification may change the way scientists see the physical world–as happened when 19th Century scientists discovered that electricity and magnetism aren’t distinct forces but just different manifestations of a single force we now call electromagnetism.
“Although our work is not at that level of impact, our work does affect how physicists view the structure of quantum theory,” Coles said in the email. “Most physicists believe that quantum theory applies to every object around us, including ourselves. Even though it is weird to think of the particles inside us sometimes behaving like waves, that is the strange truth.”
Coles said the key to the new research was to use mathematics to translate the language of wave and particle behavior into the language of uncertainty. He offered the following analogy:
“When we came across the literature on wave-particle duality, it was like trying to read hieroglyphics. The big breakthrough that we made was to discover a Rosetta Stone, or construct a Rosetta Stone, that allowed us to translate these hieroglyphics into our native tongue… it was especially fun because no one had ever translated these hieroglyphics before.”
What do other physicists make of the research?
Dr. Robert W. Spekkens, a physicist on the faculty at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada, called it “a very nice result” and “significant,” adding that “the more we understand the connections between different quantum phenomena, the better our chances of making sense of the foundations of quantum theory.”
A paper describing the research was published Dec. 19 in the journal Nature Communications.
This is the best critical care medical app available for iPhone
A look at the best critical care medical available for iPhone
The post This is the best critical care medical app available for iPhone appeared first on iMedicalApps.
Hey Cabbies, Apps Are Cheap!
I threatened in a recent post to write more about how the Sharing Economy and the social sector could, in some fashion, enhance each other. But ever since, the more I’ve read and thought about it, the more frustrated I’ve felt that this mutual enhancement is to be discovered.
All the recent Uber crap just seemed to underlie an ineluctable point: Behind every prosperous sharing economy company, sits a smart capitalist maximizing profits. If part of the sharing economy speaks to the human need to share and part of the sharing economy speaks to the human desire to save money and maximize convenience, the people who own the companies are utilizing the first part to fuel the second part, and deriving immense profit therefrom. And whatever you may think of capitalism as an organizing principle, it is most emphatically not sharing. This is what Marxists would call a “contradiction.”
While we’re at it, remember all that stuff about the ‘means of production’? Think about Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Task Rabbit, Next Door, even the revered Etsy and compare them to traditional companies. The owner of a factory owns the building and machines. Even more so, he controls all the work processes that connect supply to demand. Likewise, the owner of a financial services firm owns the computers and terminals and, on some level, the connections through which the intellectual capital of the firm can reach customers.
What does a sharing economy company own? An application that allows people to pool their labor and assets conveniently and economically. And a brand built on that application. Uber, for example, disintermediates traditional cab companies by inserting itself as the intermediary.
So here is a very interesting idea in a Nation article by Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert called, “Socialize Uber; It’s easier than you think.” What I particularly like is the notion of the ‘second user advantage.’
Now think about what the capitalist managers at Uber are doing with their cut of the company’s money. They are fighting regulators and hiring lobbyists in order to bring down the incumbent taxi-medallion business. They are also spending money on advertising, in order to get customers interested in using a ride-sharing service. These are both expensive projects, and they open the door for competitors. Newer ride-share ventures can piggyback on Uber’s success and take advantage of these new terms, with Uber having already spent all that initial money. This is called ‘the second-mover advantage,’ and it explains why Uber is such a vicious company.
What has Uber’s ascent taught us? I would say we have learned: (1) People will climb into cars driven by just about anybody not holding a knife between his teeth if…(2) you can get a car when you need it at a reasonable price.
Lyft tries hard to sell the warmer, fuzzier part of the Sharing scene. The pink mustache. The first bump. The sit next to the driver and talk about Lyfe. But Lyft doesn’t come close to Uber’s ubiquity and seems to be somewhat more expensive.
Uber’s bad press made me think more about my own car hiring predilections. The fact is that when I use cabs (infrequently) I want to get from Place A to Place B safely and for the lowest possible cost. The bottom line is that I perceive Uber to be faster and cheaper than Lyft and I know that both are faster and cheaper than calling a traditional cab. I can’t rationalize protecting cabbies’ livelihoods (i.e. medallion owners’ profits) as a major consideration, and while there was a brief moment when I loved Lyft’s mustache and driver-bonding, that has passed. So has Uber captured my trade, regardless of whether I’m holding my nose?
Per Konczal and Covert, not necessarily. Let’s disintermediate Uber! Apps are easy. Even the taxi companies have apps now. What’s tough is the rigor of setting up a working workers’ collective. But the incentive is there. All the drivers are unhappy, it seems. The cabbies are seeing their secure livelihoods vanish. The Uber and Lyft drivers feel squeezed by their companies’ quest for profits. Sure, there are some happy part-time drivers who relish the flexibility and for whom the income is at least somewhat discretionary, but for any driver who is, say, supporting a family on his or her take-home, it doesn’t matter whether it’s Uber, Lyft, or Yellow — it’s a tough slog to make it work economically. They have become “landless peasants” to use Leo Mirani’s apt phrase from his recent piece in Quartz.
But they are landless peasants who own their cars! (The cabbies usually own cars too, though not their cabs). A workers’ collective, that didn’t have to build investors’ and owners’ equity, should be able to compete economically. And that slice of the Sharing Economy that actually values sharing (as long as it gets its rides on time and at a decent price!) could stop holding its nose.
As Konczal and Covert say, “… a transition to workers’ owning their firms is necessary, economically smart, and one way for workers to gain power in the digital age. Because you know what worker-run firms do? Share.”
Or per Tony Greenham, head of finance and business at the New Economics Foundation (as quoted in this excellent article in the Guardian)…
What I would be impressed by is the ‘sharing economy’ companies trying to get social justice. The whole concept of sharing isn’t very compatible with the accumulation of private capital, after all what’s irreversible is the technological element. But maybe some of these platforms would be more socially responsible if they were owned by the users, rather than venture capitalists in Silicon Valley.
In June, cabbies all over Europe struck and blocked traffic in opposition to Uber. By so doing they handed Uber massive publicity, annoyed the public (a.k.a. their customers) and appeared themselves to be self-servingly impervious to the reasons Uber has succeeded. As workers, they were essentially defending their bosses’ right to profit. They’d be better served creating their own alternative.
(Photo tagged for noncommercial reuse by Luke MacGregor/Reuters.)
'The Interview' Gets VOD Release Via YouTube, Google Play
A day after Sony authorized screenings of “The Interview” in a limited number of theaters, the studio announced that the film will also be available via on-demand services.
As first reported by CNN’s Brian Stelter and later confirmed by Sony, viewers are able to rent or buy the film from YouTube Movies, Google Play, Microsoft’s Xbox Video and via SeeTheInterview.com. (The cost is $5.99 to rent, and $14.99 to purchase).
“Last Wednesday, Sony began contacting a number of companies, including Google, to ask if we’d be able to make their movie, ‘The Interview,’ available online,” David Drummond, SVP Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer at Google, wrote in a statement. “We’d had a similar thought and were eager to help — though given everything that’s happened, the security implications were very much at the front of our minds.
“Of course it was tempting to hope that something else would happen to ensure this movie saw the light of day,” he continued. “But after discussing all the issues, Sony and Google agreed that we could not sit on the sidelines and allow a handful of people to determine the limits of free speech in another country (however silly the content might be).”
Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton also released a statement about the streaming debut:
We never stopped pursuing as wide a release as possible for ‘The Interview.’ It was essential for our studio to release this movie, especially given the assault upon our business and our employees by those who wanted to stop free speech. We chose the path of digital distribution first so as to reach as many people as possible on opening day, and we continue to seek other partners and platforms to further expand the release.
I want to thank Google and Microsoft for helping make this a reality. This release represents our commitment to our filmmakers and free speech. While we couldn’t have predicted the road this movie traveled to get to this moment, I’m proud our fight was not for nothing and that cyber criminals were not able to silence us. No doubt the issues we have confronted these last few weeks will not end with this release, but we are gratified to have stood together and confident in our future. I want to thank everyone at Sony Pictures for their dedication and perseverance through what has been an extraordinary and difficult time.
Sony’s decision to stream the film was also praised by President Barack Obama.
“The president welcomes the news that people will be able to decide for themselves whether or not to see this film, and appreciates Sony’s work on this effort over the past few weeks,” White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said in a statement. “As the president made clear on Friday, we do not live in a country where a foreign dictator can start imposing censorship here in the United States. With today’s announcements, people can now make their own choices about the film, and that’s how it should be.”
In addition to the on-demand release, Sony will debut “The Interview” in select theaters on Christmas Day. (Here’s a list of all the theaters showing “The Interview.”) According to Variety, Sony is also in discussions with Netflix about possibly streaming “The Interview” to subscribers within the next few days.
As noted by SeeTheInterview.com, watching the film online is currently limited to only viewers in the United States.
Last week, it was unclear if people would ever see “The Interview.” Following terror threats made by hackers against theaters that planned to show the film, major chains like AMC Entertainment, Regal Entertainment, Cinemark, Cineplex Entertainment and Carmike Cinemas pulled “The Interview” from schedules. Sony then dropped the film from its release schedule.
Soon after, Sony was criticized by members of the Hollywood community and President Obama, who called the cancellation “a mistake.” On Tuesday, Sony flipped its decision and announced that the film would make it to select theaters on Christmas Day, its previously scheduled release date. Independent movie theaters around the country amended their schedules to add showtimes.
Before the Wednesday VOD announcement, there were other rumors about an online release. On Sunday, it was reported that Sony would release “The Interview” via Crackle, the streaming video service the company owns, but that speculation proved untrue. BitTorrent also said it would allow Sony to release the film via its platform.
Co-directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, “The Interview” focuses on what happens when the C.I.A. enlists an entertainment journalist (James Franco) and his producer (Rogen) to assassinate Kim Jong Un (Randall Park). You will now be able to watch the comedy as Rogen and Franco probably always intended: at home with a joint. Just don’t do it alone.
I need to say that a comedy is best viewed in a theater full of people, so if you can, I’d watch it like that. Or call some friends over.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) December 24, 2014
Understanding Modern Art Is Really This Easy
Say it with us:
A photo posted by @thelightweights on Dec 12, 2014 at 8:57pm PST
And this has been your holiday PSA from HuffPost Arts&Culture. Long live modern (and post-modern, and post-post-modern) art.
Using Your Phone Is Changing Your Brain
By: Bahar Gholipour
Published: 12/24/2014 09:13 AM EST on LiveScience
All that texting is changing your brain.
A new study shows that the delicate, repetitive finger movements that people use on their smartphone’s touch screen result in a change in the brain’s sensory-processing area.
The findings suggest that a common, daily activity such as smartphone use could teach scientists about the details of brain plasticity, which is the ability of the neuronal networks to conform to changes in the body or the environment.
“Smartphones offer us an opportunity to understand how normal life shapes the brains of ordinary people,” said study co-author Arko Ghosh, a neuroscientist at University of Zurich in Switzerland.
The body’s entire surface is mapped out in a part of the brain called the somatosensory cortex, which receives signals from sensory receptors on the skin and other organs. So, for example, if you touch something with your fingertip, or if you bite your tongue, the region of the cortex that corresponds with those places in the body would receive the signal.
But these areas can adapt and become more sensitive when a particular part of the body is used frequently. For instance, violinists show greater activity in the somatosensory cortex in response to touch on the little fingertip, compared with people who don’t use their little fingers as much. [4 Unusual Ways Music Can Tune Up the Brain]
In the new study, researchers set out to examine whether people who frequently use their fingers to work with smartphones undergo a change in the somatosensory cortex. They used electroencephalography (EEG) to measure the brain’s electrical activity in response to touch on the thumb, index and middle fingertips. Of the 37 participants in the study, 26 used touch screen smartphones and 11 used old-fashioned cellphones.
The results showed that the people who used the touch screens had greater activity in brain areas associated with the fingertips, compared with those using cellphones.
Interestingly, the researchers said, this change in the processing of sensory information was closely related to how intensely and how frequently people used their fingers, particularly their thumb tip.
“Remarkably, the thumb tip was sensitive to the day-to-day fluctuations in phone use: the shorter the time elapsed from an episode of intense phone use, the larger the cortical potential associated with it,” the researchers wrote in their study, published today (Dec. 23) in the journal Current Biology.
The findings suggest that “repetitive movements on the smooth touch screen reshaped sensory processing from the hand and that the thumb representation was updated daily, depending on its use,” the researchers said.
In other words, the brain may be continually shaped by people’s use of personal digital technology, they said.
Email Bahar Gholipour or follow her @alterwired. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Originally published on Live Science.
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Your Favorite Childhood Christmas Presents Have Gotten A Whole Lot Cooler Since 1994
Remember what was on your Christmas list in 1994? Here’s a few hints: In the same year, O.J. Simpson was acquitted, “Forrest Gump” was a smash hit at the box office and — guess what? — the Internet was born.
It was a big year, especially for Tech. Your list likely had some SNES games and plenty of computer gear to make sure you were the coolest kid on America Online. But a lot’s changed since then.
Let’s take a quick trip down Tech’s memory lane and check out the hottest tech gifts of 1994 vs. the most-wanted gadgets from today.
1. PlayStation vs. PlayStation 4
1994 marked the Japanese release of the original Sony PlayStation. The console that altered the landscape of the entire gaming industry boasted 32-bit graphics and was hailed for embracing 3D gaming. Twenty years later, people are clamoring for its descendent, the PlayStation 4, which offers features fans of the original could scarcely dream of.
2. Sega Saturn vs. Nintendo Wii U
Sega Saturn was released in Japan in 1994 and went on to largely be a flop, getting bested by the PlayStation and the Nintendo 64. This year, the Wii U is lagging in sales behind competitors Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One. Nintendo will need to rely on the sales of new games like Mario Kart 8 and Super Super Smash Bros. U to avoid a fate similar to Sega.
3. Donkey Kong Country vs. Apple iTunes Gift Card
Donkey Kong Country was a popular choice on just about all Super Nintendo owners’ Christmas lists in 1994. The game is still a classic, but these days the casual gamer might prefer stocking up on smartphone games with an iTunes gift card.
4. IBM Simon vs. iPhone 6
The IBM Simon is commonly recognized as the first-ever “smartphone.” Retailing for $1,100, it featured a touchscreen and apps, including a calculator and even a calendar. In the 20 years since Simon, smartphones have obviously gotten a lot smarter, but they’ve gotten a lot smaller too. Simon weighed a full 1.2 pounds, compared to the iPhone 6′s featherlight 4.55 ounces.
5. Power Macintosh 6100 vs. iMac
1994 was the year Apple released the first of its Power Macintosh models, featuring a processor speed of 60 MHz. A top-of-the-line iMac today boasts a processor speed of more than 3 GHz, many times faster than its 20-year-old predecessor.
6. IBM Thinkpad vs. iPad Air 2
The IBM Thinkpad may have once been at the forefront of computing you can take with you. But the device now seems anything but portable when compared to the iPad Air 2. The Thinkpad weighed in at about 3 pounds, while the iPad weighs less than a pound.
7. AOL Dial-up vs. Amazon Prime
An AOL subscription used to be a golden ticket to hour after hour spent surfing the Information Superhighway. Today, broadband Internet is nearly a given, and a subscription to streaming service Amazon Prime makes it all the more worthwhile.
8. Doom II vs. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Doom II was one of the first first-person shooter video games ever when it came out in 1994. The genre has endured, and 20 years later, the latest installment of war simulation, Call of Duty, is highly sought after this holiday season for bringing a similar — and ever more realistic — brand of shoot-em-up.
9. Iomega Zip Disk vs. 2 Terabyte External Hard Drive
The Iomega Zip Disk may have made life a lot easier for those trapped in the world of the floppy disk, but to anyone today the data storage method is laughable. The Zip Disk held just 100 MB of data, barely a fraction of what external hard drives can hold today.
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