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.
Florida Apartment Complex Threatens Tenants With $10,000 Fine For Bad Reviews Online
They might be the landlords from hell, but you’re not allowed to complain about them.
A Florida apartment complex is under fire after management forced new tenants to sign a “social media addendum” that threatened a fine of $10,000 if they gave the place a bad review online, Ars Technica reports. The addendum, which went viral Tuesday after the Windermere Cay complex in Winter Garden started handing it out, also forces tenants to sign away their rights to any photos, reviews or other material about the complex posted online:
“Applicant will refrain from directly or indirectly publishing or airing negative commentary regarding the Unit, Owner, property or the apartments,” the addendum reads. “This means that Applicant shall not post negative commentary or reviews on Yelp!, Apartment Ratings, Facebook, or any other website or Internet-based publication or blog.”
Before Tuesday, few people had reviewed Windermere Cay. By the end of the day, however, a lot of people had reviewed the place. Things are not going well for the apartment complex online.
On Yelp, reviews have been flooding in from people who are either disgusted by the contract or think the whole thing is a joke. Most of them said they weren’t tenants. One of Windermere’s five-star reviews, for instance, comes from “Adolf H.” who hailed the complex for having “my kind of management.”
Other reviews on that site and ApartmentRatings.com were similar:
Ars Technica spoke to one resident of the five-building complex, who wished to remain anonymous. He called the addendum “ridiculous” and said he asked management to remove it from his lease, but didn’t receive a response.
“If I took a photo of people in my apartment, they would own it,” the tenant said.
Windermere Cay’s property management team responded to Ars Technica by email, blaming the addendum on several false reviews:
“This addendum was put in place by a previous general partner for the community following a series of false reviews. The current general partner and property management do not support the continued use of this addendum and have voided it for all residents.”
Regardless, law experts have told multiple publications that the addendum wouldn’t hold up in court. Even so, it seems that trying to control tenants’ thoughts on your business is a lot harder than trying to make them happy in the first place.
Woman Says She Didn't Initially Reject Advances Of Colleague
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A woman suing a prestigious Silicon Valley venture capital firm in a high-profile case alleging gender bias testified Tuesday that she did not reject the initial romantic advances of a male colleague and even discussed having children with him.
Plaintiff Ellen Pao told jurors the colleague first approached her romantically during a trip to Germany after she had been struck by a cab. She was dazed from her injuries and couldn’t object to his advances, she said. “I got hit by a cab and then he tried to hit on me,” Pao said.
Under further questioning by Lynne Hermle, an attorney for defendant Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Pao said she and the co-worker eventually had an affair and she told him she loved him.
Pao claims in her lawsuit that she was denied a promotion at the firm because of gender bias and then fired after she complained.
Her lawsuit has spotlighted gender imbalance at elite Silicon Valley investment companies that are stacked with some of the nation’s most accomplished graduates — multiple degree holders from schools such as Stanford and Harvard who are competing aggressively to back the next Google or Amazon.
Women, however, are grossly underrepresented in the venture capital and technology sectors.
Pao addressed that issue under questioning by her attorney, saying her lawsuit was aimed in part at creating equal opportunities for women in the venture capital sector.
“I’ve tried many times to bring Kleiner Perkins to the right path,” she told jurors. “I think there should be equal opportunities for women and men to be venture capitalists.”
Pao was questioned for the first time by Hermle. Their exchanges were often tense, with Pao staring at the lawyer and pausing before responding yes or no.
Hermle also showed emails to the jury in which Pao and the co-worker exchanged compliments and banter.
In one email from 2006, after the affair began, Pao wrote that she was always looking out for the colleague — “never stopped, never will.”
In text messages that year, she said she didn’t think he was a bad person and she wasn’t mad at him for not being able to have a real relationship at the time.
Pao previously testified that she began the affair after the colleague said his wife had left him. She said she broke it off several months later when she learned that was a lie.
After she ended the affair, Pao testified, the colleague retaliated by shutting her out of emails and meetings.
When she raised the retaliation issue with management, a senior partner explained how he had met his wife at another company while he was married, and perhaps Pao could have the same outcome with her colleague, she testified.
The firm did nothing about the retaliation, she said.
Pao also told jurors that she had sought $10 million from the firm in exchange for voluntarily leaving, saying she believed the figure would prompt the firm to change its treatment of women.
Pao did not receive the money and continued working at the firm. Her lawsuit seeks $16 million in damages.
Pao said she made $400,000 a year, excluding bonuses, at Kleiner Perkins, and is making $170,000 a year, with a target bonus of $80,000, as interim CEO of Reddit, her current job.
Pao, 45, said Kleiner Perkins repeatedly dismissed her attempts to open a discussion about gender bias and instead hired an antagonistic investigator to look into her complaint.
Kleiner Perkins has denied wrongdoing and says Pao didn’t get along with her colleagues and performed poorly as a junior partner.
Pao was composed on the stand under questioning by her lawyer, even while discussing potentially emotional topics such as her firing.
She said Steve Hirschfeld, an investigator hired by Kleiner Perkins to look into her complaint, did not appear open to what she had to say.
“It felt antagonistic,” she said. “There were times I felt he was grilling me about answers I didn’t have.”
Hirschfeld eventually concluded that Pao had not been retaliated against and there was no gender discrimination at the firm.
Pao said she filed her lawsuit after running out of ways to try to get her concerns addressed within the company. But afterward, partners stopped coming to her office to talk, and she received a poor performance review that caused her to nearly vomit, she said.
She was told in October 2012 to pack up her belongings and leave the office, she said.
Are You Ready for Data Science?
Data science is all the rage. Almost every CMO I know wants a data scientist for their very own – they are the status symbol du jour for senior executives everywhere. But, building the right data science team for your organization is not as easy as picking the right data scientist. Data science starts by asking the right questions, and the first question to ask is: What is data science?
Some people believe that data science is just a sexy name that mathletes made up to get better-paying jobs. For the sake of this writing, let’s define data science as “the analysis of data using the scientific method with the primary goal of turning information into action.”
How do they do it? Data scientists use a variety of mathematical tools to help answer questions and uncover patterns that contribute to the results, but it’s not just math. It’s much, much more.
In order to turn information into action, you need a team that is proficient in the three foundational skills:
Domain Expertise – to define the problem space
Mathematics – for theoretical structure and problem
Computer Science – to provide the environment where data
Data science exists at the intersection of these three foundational skills; discounting or overweighting any of them will yield suboptimal results.
You know your business. In order to put data science to work, you are going to use 100 percent of your business knowledge, institutional memory and intuition to ask the right questions. Everyone wants to know how to increase sales – that’s question one. But domain experts can ask more specific questions that will yield measurable, actionable improvements, such as the following:
Can we improve productivity in XYZ Department by increasing the usability of ABC data sets?
Can increased access to scanner data, share of basket data, heuristic weather pattern data and parking lot density data increase our return on assets?
Can we use our product attributes data sets to improve competitiveness?
The more specific your questions are, the more likely you are to get actionable results.
There is a lot of math in data science. The mathematicians on your data science team will be world-class problem solvers. They will be experts in statistical modeling, signal processing, probability models, pattern recognition, predictive analytics and a bunch of subspecialties that you learned in college mathematics class but have long since forgotten.
Data science becomes magical when brilliant mathematical constructs are applied to big data sets (vast amounts of data too big for humans to deal with), yielding unexpected actionable insights. The best teams develop AI, pattern-matching and machine-learning tools that generate the building blocks for predictive models. Great mathematicians are a key component to any data science department, but they cannot and do not work alone.
Data science happens inside computer systems. It cannot exist anywhere else. Having the right architecture for your data science function is as important as having the right architecture for your physical work environment.
Is your current CTO/CIO knowledgeable about the technical requirements for your data science team? Big data requires special storage, special handling and special network capabilities. The tools are different, computer “horsepower” requirements are different – in fact, almost everything you need for your data science team will need to be purpose built, rented, borrowed or partnered with.
Data Science Readiness Assessments
How should you think about getting ready for data science? There is a short list of steps you should consider:
Formulate Questions: Get your key stakeholders together and formulate context-relevant questions and hypotheses to drive data scientific research. This is an important first step. It will set the stage for success.
Audit Data Assets: Assign a team or hire a consulting firm to audit your existing data sets and data-gathering systems. This will help with the creation of appropriate RFPs for potential partners, suppliers and potential acquisition targets.
Craft a Roadmap: Build a roadmap to get from where you are to having a working data science department by quantifying the best methods for identifying, obtaining and transforming data sets to make them suitable for the production of statistical evidence.
The Time Is Now!
Best-in-class companies realize the importance of analytics. The goal is a data-driven business strategy with an operating model that enables cross-functional collaboration, governance, metrics and change management. You’ll have to create methodologies to empower ongoing data scientific research. You will need to build or buy appropriate infrastructure, including analytics platforms, visualization tools and big data environments. You will find ways to manage data from 3rd-party partnerships, enforce data governance and develop best practices data munging and wrangling.
You will have the right resources:
Business Analysts for problem definition, solution design and analytics roadmaps
Research and Big Data Engineering for data science, experiment design and training
Model Development for data preparation, profiling and model building and validation
Operations for visualizations, QA, data management, maintenance and implementation
And then, you will be ready for data science.
We have a team ready to help you with your data science readiness assessment. Just shoot me an email, and I’ll be happy to work with you to help you achieve your business goals.
VIDEO: The glove that makes sound
The glove that makes sounds through touch
Age of Empires Castle Siege Gets Another Massive Update
It has been a couple of months since the last Age of Empires Castle Siege update but today Microsoft Studios made up for lost time. Today they have issued an update for the popular tower-defense style game for both Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1. The update, version 220.127.116.11 is available now in their respective Windows and Windows Phone Stores and both are a hefty update with a lot of new features and a boatload of bug fixes. Age of Empires Castle Siege – Free (In-App Purchases) – Download Now Age of Empires Castle Siege for Windows Phone – Free
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The Best Windows Experience on Microsoft Hardware – Why It Should Happen
I will preface this post with a disclaimer to start in an effort to ward off the flaming emails. The purpose of this post is not to suggest that Microsoft should get rid of their current ecosystem of partners. It is too fast and far to important to the company and the success of their solutions. All you have to do is look at the all new Dell XPS 13 laptop and read the raving reviews it is getting to understand just how important OEMs are in the mix for Microsoft. But equally, you can look at the Microsoft built
The post The Best Windows Experience on Microsoft Hardware – Why It Should Happen appeared first on Clinton Fitch.
HBO Just Made It Near Impossible To Not Watch 'Game Of Thrones'
“Game of Thrones” is about to take over the globe. HBO announced Tuesday that Season 5 will air simultaneously in more than 170 countries and territories, beginning with the U.S. premiere on April 12. That makes it nearly impossible not to watch “Game of Thrones” — unless you live North of the Wall.
HBO also recently announced its new standalone streaming service, HBO Now, which will be released in time for the “GoT” season premiere. The series has been the most-pirated show on TV for the last three years, so these moves may reflect HBO’s attempts to reduce illegal downloading.
The most recent trailer for Season 5 was released Monday, giving an extended look at all the dragons, sex and bloodshed to come. HBO also revealed the titles and descriptions of the season’s first three episodes. With more ways to watch “GoT” this year, hopefully we can count on HBO Go not crashing again.
Season 5 of “Game of Thrones” premieres April 12 at 9:00 p.m. ET on HBO.
Monty Oum: A Life Remembered
“Keep moving forward.”
This is a quote originally popularized by Walt Disney. However, the context meaning for us to not give up, and to try new things, is taking a new meaning among many mourning fans.
Monty Oum, the animation director at Texas-based production company, Rooster Teeth, and creator of American anime “RWBY,” passed away on Feb. 1 at the age of 33. A highly skilled animator and creative genius, he suffered a severe allergic reaction during a simple medical procedure and remained comatose before dying of his condition. A fund was raised for his family, drawing in $243,402 to pay for his medical expenses.
Monty Oum’s work has fared exceedingly well in many gaming and online communities. His first work, Haloid, a video combining characters from video games Halo and Metroid, is the highest viewed user-created video on YouTube. His web series, “RWBY” is the first US anime series to be exported to Japanese audiences. His fluid, complex fight and dance sequences found him jobs working on series like “Red vs. Blue” and “Afro Samurai” — an impressive feat for a high school dropout who taught himself all he knows.
Aside from his skilled work, Oum (rhymes with “home”) became popular in an industry that hardly breaks into the mainstream. His outlandish anime inspired outfits, his “Dance Dance Revolution” skills and his love for cosplay made him a superstar quicker than his employers at Rooster Teeth. And yet, despite his fame, Oum had always been a rather quiet and demure individual, preferring his work to do the talking for him.
And boy, did it talk loudly.
“RWBY,” his record-making anime web series, has quickly become a fan favorite with its animation, soundtrack and original concept. The series follows four girls being trained at an academy to fight monsters, while also dealing with underground crime and interpersonal drama.
Although “RWBY” is one of Rooster Teeth’s greatest assets, the fate of the series is yet to be determined. Oum had gone straight into production of season 3, however it is yet to be revealed how much has been completed or who will run the project now.
Oum’s tenure at Rooster Teeth had made a huge impact on the company; his addition to Red vs. Blue, a satire of Halo that has quickly evolved into “the M.A.S.H. of science fiction,” helped launch the series into a renaissance. He became a reference for his quips about efficiency and frequently “powering down” once production ended.
More importantly, his drive for perfection and getting the most out of animation sessions inspired many others to not quit until they had done things the best way possible.
While his death was greatly mourned by the company, his words of “keep moving forward” stuck. Rooster Teeth pulled through, returning to work and dedicating their most recent episode of their popular podcast to discussing Monty’s life, insisting “he wouldn’t have let them get away with missing two [podcasts] in a row”.
As encouragement, Meg Turney of The Know encouraged fans to continue to create, to honor Monty by living their lives the way he did. Fan art, tribute videos and even a memorial of rose petals by the offices have been made in honor of this young man’s life. As a consequence of his legacy, “Monty Oum” was a trending topic on Facebook, Google and Tumblr for a few days after his death.
Needless to say, Monty Oum will be missed.
His presence in the animation scene was a powerful one, and his impact at Rooster Teeth is long lasting. With the offices at Rooster Teeth returning to business and the fate of “RWBY” uncertain, the adjustment is going to be rough. But, if the 33 years he gave us were worth anything, they showed us what one person could accomplish in such a short time.
“I believe that the human spirit is indomitable,” Oum had stated on a blog entry in 2012. “If you endeavor to achieve, it will happen given enough resolve. It may not be immediate, and often your greater dreams are something you will not achieve within your own lifetime. The effort you put forth to anything transcends yourself, for there is no futility even in death.”
It’s safe to say that Monty, you’ve lived up to these words.
You will be greatly missed.
June 22, 1981 – February 1, 2015
Oum is survived by his wife Sheena, his father Mony, his brothers Woody, Sey, Chivy and Neat, and his sisters Thea and Theary, as well as a countless number of fans and friends. A tributevideo put together by his friends at Rooster Teeth can be viewed on YouTube.
No, Science Isn't 'A Boy Thing.' And These Genius Girls Prove It
Science isn’t just for one gender — just ask the girls in Microsoft’s new ad.
Despite their young ages, they all have impressive scientific accomplishments under their belts. But they also admit that society hasn’t created a world where their academic interest is easily accessible for students like them.
“[Girls] might really love science, but they might be … afraid people might think, ‘Oh, don’t boys do that? That’s a boy thing,’” one girl explained.
Microsoft’s ad — which was launched in honor of International Women’s Day on Sunday — addresses the gender gap when it comes to students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). According to the ad, seven out of 10 girls are interested in science, but only two out of 10 will pursue a career in a related field.
The Obama administration is trying to make science an accessible subject for every student. According to the White House, “President Obama knows that we simply cannot, as a nation, expect to maintain our run of ingenuity and innovation … if we do not broaden participation in STEM to all Americans, including women and girls and minorities.”
More brands are aiming to empower women through their messaging, experts claim. Last June, Verizon produced an ad similar to Microsoft’s focused on encouraging girls to pursue science-related careers. The video — which focused on society’s expectation that girls are to be pretty, but not curious about scientific pursuits — asked, “Isn’t it time we told her she’s pretty brilliant, too?”
To take action on pressing health issues, check out the Global Citizen’s widget below.
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One Man Geek Squad on Cybercrime
Marc Goodman is a one-man Geek Squad who began his law enforcement career as a beat cop in Los Angeles and became the departmental computer expert. With a nose for wrongdoing and digital aptitude, Marc has served as the FBI’s Futurist in Residence, Interpol advisor, lecturer and now author.
His book “Future Crimes” has just been published and is a must read for everyone from legal professionals to businesses, parents and individuals.
“Criminals embraced the online world long before the police ever contemplated it and they have outpaced authorities ever since,” writes Goodman.
Headlines are now starting to reveal the extent of nefarious usages of the Internet. Edward Snowden’s revelations about spying on citizens and world leaders at the National Security Agency or the Sony Pictures hack-a-thon, the theft of Google algorithms by Chinese interests and the penetration of the Pentagon’s Twitter and other accounts in 2015.
Most recently, the owner of the eBay for criminals, called Silk Road, was tried and convicted after a lengthy investigation. He was a Texas programmer who made $100 million in a handful of years calling himself Dread Pirate Roberts and running a site selling the services of hit men, terrorists, hacking software, weapons and drugs.
Goodman has compiled the scams, gangs and use of technology by criminals that’s hair raising: For instance, drones are delivering illicit drugs across borders and drones have flown over prison walls to deliver weapons to inmates wishing to escape.
Closer to home, the U.S. Bureau of Justice estimated that in 2012 about 16.6 million Americans had their identities stolen online. The only good news about this is that Goodman points out that much of this can be prevented and he lists useful tips as to how to keep criminals out of your digital life.
1. Never click on or open attachments from unknown sources.
2. Always update your software when it’s suggested because updates plug security holes in your system.
3. Vary your passwords and save them in a secure password manager site such as LastPass or KeePass.
4. Don’t browse the web in a public place like a coffee shop or airport, but subscribe to a private service like Private Internet Access that allows you to get online anywhere.
5. Tape over the little camera lens on the top of your laptop. Hackers can watch you this way and some have posted and sold compromising photos of actresses on line.
I would add a couple of others. Never put confidential information such as credit card numbers or document numbers in emails. And watch where you obtain cash. I have had my credit cards compromised and counterfeited twice after using ATMs in convenience stores. Only bona fide ATMs in banks should be used.
I also had my g-mail account hacked several years ago and my contacts were sent “Nigerian” letters asking for emergency funds. Fortunately, no one fell for it, but I had to change all my bank accounts at great inconvenience and my archives were lost forever.
Google never responded or helped or even apologized which is when I realized that we are all walking down dark digital alleys that are never policed and without so much as a 911 number to call for help.
The result is that crime pays better than ever now that criminal organizations leverage technology when the police do not. In Mexico, for instance, traffickers and gangsters have their own encrypted cellphone network. When one leader was caught in 2014, police found US$200 million cash in his Mexican mansion – more than twice Interpol’s worldwide budget or Mexico’s drug interdiction budget.
Goodman says that 600,000 Facebook accounts per day are hacked and burglars, for instance, search the website by postal code to find out who’s posted to their friends that they are on vacation somewhere.
“Vacation plans on Facebook or Twitter are like a `please rob me’ signal,” he said. “Some 78% of burglars get their leads from social media.”
Some of the scams are impressive. In 2012, a bank robber in Seattle posted on Craigslist that construction jobs were available and interested parties should show up the next morning at a certain intersection with their boots, tool kits, goggles and hard hats. The bank robber dressed that same way, robbed the bank and joined the throng to escape. When police arrived to arrest a robber wearing construction gear, there were dozens who that fit the description and he escaped.
Unfortunately, Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurs have been indifferent as to how their technologies can be applied. “Many of these…creating our technological future pay precious little attention to the public policy, legal, ethical and security risks that their creations pose to the rest of society,” he said.
For example, he wonders, what would happen if IBM’s incredible artificial intelligence machine, Watson, turned to a life of crime? Another incident involved the murder of a roommate by a man who asked Siri where he should bury his roommate? Siri rhymed off a list of possibilities such as dumps or swamps.
3D printing technology has been used to replicate handcuff keys in Germany, police badges and bullets.
“When it comes to technological threats to our security, the future has already arrived,” he writes in his conclusion. “Everything is connected and every one is vulnerable. But there are things we can do about it.”
Here's A Photo Of Derek Zoolander Using A Selfie Stick
Fresh off announcing that “Zoolander 2″ was coming out in less than a year, Ben Stiller’s Derek Zoolander hit the streets of Paris to use a selfie stick. If this onslaught keeps up, pretty soon, they’ll be reading our eugoogly.
Watch video of Stiller and “Zoolander” co-star Owen Wilson walking the runaway during Paris Fashion Week below.
Everything You Wanted To Know About HBO Now But Were Too Afraid To Ask
One of the most exciting bits of news to come out of Apple’s press event in San Francisco on Monday actually had to do with HBO.
HBO CEO Richard Plepler took the stage to announce that the company’s long-awaited standalone streaming service, HBO Now, will cost $14.99 per month and become available in April, ahead of the premiere of the fifth season of the hugely popular show “Game of Thrones.”
HBO Now will allow people in the U.S. for the first time to subscribe to HBO without paying for a TV subscription.
It’s part of a broader push by TV networks and even some TV providers to appeal to the growing number of so-called “cord cutters” — those people who watch TV online through services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon instead of paying for cable each month.
For now, the only way you’ll be able to sign up for the new service will be through an Apple TV, or by downloading an app to your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.
After you sign up, you’ll be able to watch not only on those Apple products, but also on other devices by visiting www.hbonow.com.
HBO has said it’s still in discussion with pay TV providers, so there’s a possibility that when the service launches you’ll also be able to buy HBO Now through the company you already pay for Internet service or TV.
Cox Communications and Cablevision are open to packaging the service for their broadband-only customers, the International Business Times reported last week.
In a statement, Cox Communications, the third-largest cable company in the U.S., said that it’s “talking to HBO to better understand the service they’ve announced, but our distribution agreements have not changed.”
But don’t expect all TV companies to jump at the opportunity. Many want to keep customers subscribing to HBO as an add-on to the so-called cable bundle.
Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, Cablevision, Dish and DirecTV all declined to comment about whether they were in talks with HBO or planned to offer subscriptions to HBO Now.
Apple will be the exclusive non-pay-TV launch partner for HBO Now for the first three months the service is available, according to HBO. Subscribers who sign up through Apple during April will get one month free. After the service’s first three months, it’s possible you’ll be able to sign up for — and watch the service — through other streaming devices, like those from Roku, Amazon and Google.
HBO says the service will be “similar to HBO Go” and will have more than 2,000 titles, including popular series such as “True Detective,” “Veep,” “Silicon Valley,” and, of course, “Game of Thrones,” as well as shows like “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” and “Real Time with Bill Maher.” It will also have HBO’s documentaries and comedy specials, and older titles like “Sex and The City,” “The Sopranos” and “The Wire.”
The service won’t offer live TV, but an HBO spokesperson said that programming will be scheduled to appear on HBO Now when it premieres on HBO, and live events will typically come to HBO Now within 24 hours.
So why the HBO and Apple partnership? Apple is really, really good at selling people digital things, like music, movies, games and apps. The iTunes Store has been around for more than a decade, and it’s the largest seller of music in the world. And Apple, unlike HBO, already has many credit cards on file — it probably has yours! (According to Re/Code’s Peter Kafka, Apple has 400 million credit cards.)
Also, a lot of people have Apple devices, so there’s a huge potential audience. The iPhone is the top-selling smartphone in the U.S., and millions of people have iPads and Apple TVs.
For Apple, it’s a great way to bring in additional revenue — Apple is most certainly taking a cut of the subscription fee, though neither Apple nor HBO would comment on the revenue breakdown.
Apple will also sell more Apple TVs — connected boxes used to stream video from the Internet to your TV — thanks to the partnership. The company said on Monday it would drop the price of the device from $99 to $69.
Of course, it was also a great marketing move for HBO to gin up publicity for its new service by announcing it at an Apple event, which is closely watched by the tech and media press.
A Brief History of Time, Before Apple Watch
Unlike other “A Brief History Of Time” stories I promise this one won’t include details of wormholes. I started following the wearables market a few years ago. In 2012 I had gained about 10 pounds due the abundant amount of pizza and chicken wings available in Buffalo, NY. Soon after I realized I needed to make a change. I knew I could simply tell my self to start eating better, but I also knew a physical step in the direction of a healthier lifestyle would increase my chances of shedding those pounds. So I put my money where my mouth was and I bought my first wearable: the Fitbit Tracker.
It was great. I gained access to information I never had before and began to use steps as a metric to gauge my days. I even used the food tracking part of the Fitbit app to monitor approximately how many calories I was consuming in a day. I loved my Fitbit then and I still have it now. I haven’t meet anything that could replace it yet. My phone does now have step data, however it’s just not as complete as the picture Fitbit currently gives me.
Then came the Google glass phase of my life. I had been tied to my smartphone since 2008 and wanted to finally be free. Google glass actually delivered on this front. The developers and designers of glass called this new wave: “Glanceable technology”. Software designed to get the user the information being delivered to them as fast and as efficiently as possible so the user could quickly resume what they were doing. This new wave of technology would force us to redefine all of our known metrics that currently focus on measuring time in app and user engagement. Unfortunately for Glass, Google underestimated how our primal brain uses faces throughout our daily lives and how unsettling putting a device on the face is to those looking at you. The camera on the front of the device didn’t help it’s case either.
Unlike how Google glass tested the wearable market with it’s own early prototype, Apple is about to do what it does best. Apple is best at using the user feedback from early versions of its competitors devices (in this case Android Wear watches, Google Glass, & Samsung Gear) to in its own time release a product that is 10x better than what the current market offers. They did this with the the Mac (RIP P.C.’s), the iPhone (RIP Palm), the iPad (RIP Netbooks), and are doing it again now with the Apple Watch.
I think the form factor of a watch will deliver on the objectives Google Glass promised but couldn’t deliver in its form factor. Google evidently thinks this as well. It recently shut down the glass explorer program and as also ramped up its focus on Android Wear.
What I have wanted most though since owning wearables is feedback. We have been collecting all this data on ourselves for some time now. What do we do with it all? There is an opportunity to now be coached based on the data. This is where I think Apple could deliver where other wearables have fallen short.
Another interesting point is that the Apple Watch will be a new user interface. The first one since iOS. Apple already has a strong developer base and as we all know this is key to launching a new platform successfully. Assuming Apple makes it easy to develop for Watch we could be off the to the races again. Mobile already has established apps in its ecosystem. With the new hardware form factor and a fresh UI, the Apple Watch could re-open the Wild West of tech startups and also force us to find new metrics on how we evaluate a successful app.
Why U.S. Energy Could Be the Next Big Data Engine
One of the worst kept secrets in the world of Big Data is this: it’s not just about getting and using information. It’s about being the one who can access the most…whether you want to use it or not. Some industries have bought into Big Data, but they are waiting to implement their plans. And some, like the energy industry, are just holding on for the right moment to leverage all the data they have collected. But why?
First, it’s important to understand that the vast majority of the information being collected by sensors on oil rigs around the world is not being utilized at all – by anyone. How big is this disparity? Reports put the number at less than one percent of the information gathered from 30,000 separate data points. Now think about all of that data is being collected, but less than one percent is being leveraged in any way.
Now break that down into one aspect of the industry. Data can be extracted and explored relative to every aspect of drilling, including the actual process, machine maintenance, human resource management, production and protection – just about anything. But almost no one is taking advantage of that information. The result? Drilling oil, one of the most important operations of our modern world, is operating nowhere near peak capacity or efficiency.
The company that chooses to take advantage of the opportunity not only gives their brand an immediate and substantial advantage in the market, it also lays the foundation for them to gain even more control and market share in the future.
Not only that, but data-driven analysis will also be a huge PR win. Considering how important oil is to everyday life in the modern world, the company that opts to extract it more efficiently and productively will earn the immediate appreciation of not just the consumers but all the middlemen as well. Yet more evidence of the untapped potential that resides in Big Data analysis.
David A. Steinberg is CEO of Zeta Interactive, one of America’s leading Big Data companies.
6 Ways to Deliver Your Best Blog
It’s 2015. Everything and everyone out there is competing for eyeballs. And when it comes to the Internet, consumers are certainly not lacking for material. If you’re a blogger, lord knows you’d probably love those fingers to run over that mouse, click on your post, and have those eyeballs stay awhile – oh, say, 500 words a while to rest past those initial 15 (if you’re lucky) seconds. So how do you make that happen? Here are 6 ways to deliver your best blog and stand out from the crowd.
Write from the heart. You thought the heart was only involved when it comes to making the homemade pasta sauce on your stove, or that when your mother told you to write from the heart it sounded cheesy. Well, it’s not. When you’ve got genuine passion and energy behind your subject, when you actually care, your words will have a greater chance of reaching their intended audience.
Be in the know. Nothing, and I mean nothing, takes the place of actual fact checking. Blog with authority. Know what you are talking about. Invest the time to research answers to your questions and back up ideas you are presenting. Double and triple check facts. Don’t become another Brian Williams (“I’ve told this lie so many times I now believe it!”) or James Frey (“I completely made up most of the horrors I said I lived through!”) Feel free to substitute both of the previous statements; Brian’s works just as well for James and vice versa.
Read your headline aloud. You want a catchy headline that makes sense for your subject and flows off the tongue with ease. Think of the headline as the mannequin in the sharp outfit in the store window that entices you to venture inside. Read it aloud to yourself. If the rhythm doesn’t sound right to your ears or trips you up, shorten your title.
Tag away. Quoting or referencing big companies or popular subjects and then tagging them can be helpful in bringing attention to your piece. The same goes when it comes to tagging businesses, people or entities in social media. Be strategic in who you mention or reach out to, but do it across every social media platform that you can. And when it comes to hashtags, choose 1-3 very carefully – less is more.
Be timely. If you have something to say about something or someone out there already making headlines, then get a move on it and blog about it. Don’t wait until you take in a matinee and walk the dog. Your ability to hashtag and trend up the wazoo will be far greater if you act now. If you have something important to say, but aren’t exactly sure how best to reach your intended audience, determine how best to frame it in a way that will be relevant and interesting. For instance, if you are blogging in the health and wellness sector, maybe you see what kind of things are already making news in food or fitness, and use that as a jumping off point. Same thing with politics – look at the latest gaffs by members of Congress, senatorial rulings (or lack thereof) or if it’s entertainment, look at the latest (or not so greatest) from celebrities or Hollywood. You can always find a way in. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. A good blogger reads and stays up to date on current events.
Anchor that SEO. SEO is Search Engine Optimization. It’s how you maximize traffic to your website or blog by ensuring that your site appears high on the list of results that a searching engine like Google or Bing returns. A search engine determines what your blog is about and how it can be helpful to a person who might need your content or be searching for it. Anchor text is that clickable hyperlink text within your blog post. Learn how to use SEO and anchor text to your advantage in order to direct more traffic to your blog post. Track your website’s performance with domain authority.
If you follow these 6 principles, you’ll become a better blogger and increase your chances of getting more of those eyeballs glued to what you have to say.
7 Ways Apple's New Software Could Change Medical Research For The Better
For many of us who have smartphones, tracking things like our steps, meals, sleep, medication, weight and menstruation has become second nature. And for researchers who rely on data like this to study everything from chronic disease to healthful lifestyles, all of that information has been going to waste for years, locked away in the proprietary data clouds of telecommunication companies.
But on March 9, Apple Senior Vice President of Operations Jeff Williams made waves in the scientific community with the announcement of his company’s new open source iPhone software, ResearchKit. The software gives developers a platform for apps that collect health data and create programs that help users improve their health. But in addition to benefiting iPhone users who simply want to make sense of all the health data they’re tracking, the new software gives researchers a platform to access the millions of bits of health data on users’ iPhones.
You’ve heard of people donating their bodies to science once they’re dead. ResearchKit can be viewed as a way to donate part of your life to science, too.
Research institutions like Stanford Medicine, UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Massachusetts General Hospital and University of Rochester signed up to create apps that feed discrete bits of your tracked health information into databases for specific research projects. One app, called the Parkinson mPower app, helps people with Parkinson’s Disease track their symptoms by asking users to play games and complete dexterity exercises. Another, called the GlucoSuccess app, draws information from the data a person tracks about their diet, exercise and medicine to see how all of these different factors influence blood sugar levels. While none of that data is shared without a user’s consent and people will have to opt-in to have their data contribute to scientific study, researchers hope that a large share of users will comply.
Following the news, many researchers who spoke to The Huffington Post could barely contain how thrilled they were about the new iPhone feature, calling it “revolutionary,” “groundbreaking” and a “new dawn” when it comes to scientific research.
But beyond providing new data sources for researchers, the program may be able to directly improve the personal health of its users. As the apps continue to evolve, the hope is that programmers will figure out a way to turn your own data into insights tailor-made for one’s life and health goals.
Of course, the research applications of the new software are not without some caveats. Apple iPhone users are nowhere near the majority of smartphone users around the world. That distinction goes to the Android phone, which is more affordable than the iPhone and dominates an estimated 80 percent of the global smartphone market. To make smartphone health data truly representative of the population, research institutes and developers will have to find a way to reach Android users as well.
“Apple brings in a particular demographic: the more educated and the more affluent,” said Dr. Ida Sim, of University of California, San Francisco. “[ResearchKit] is a good way to start doing research in those populations, but people who are of lower socioeconomic status and lower income tend to be on Android and other platforms, so we’ve got to be looking for approaches to complement the exciting work Apple is doing.”
Here are 7 ways the experts hope Apple’s new software will change medicine for the better.
1. Data is how scientific discoveries are made. More data means more discoveries that can help more people.
Most everything we know today comes from decades upon decades of data collection — through experiments or observational surveying — that build upon previous discoveries. And usually, the greater amount of data scientists can analyze for a certain study, the stronger those study’s findings are.
In 2012, an estimated 44.3 million people used an Apple iPhone, and last March, Apple sold its 500 millionth iPhone worldwide. If ResearchKit’s apps can entice even a tiny fraction of those users to enroll in a study, the strength of the data would dwarf anything that even the most robust scientific population studies have provided.
“In most medical studies, 10,000 is a large number, but if we can really hit our mark and have a million people download it, you can do much larger population studies than anything that has been done in the past,” said Dr. Alan Yeung, medical director at Stanford Cardiovascular Health and an architect of Stanford’s MyHeart Counts app, which is one of five apps that are part of the ResearchKit launch. “So even though we might be slightly restricted in the beginning, we have plans to reach everybody in the world if possible.”
2. iPhone users will be way more diverse than the kinds of people who typically participate in clinical trials and studies.
Clinical trials and population studies form the basis of our health knowledge, but the participants who enroll in those trials tend to be white, affluent and male. Though no one knows exactly why this happens, there are some limitations at play that could contribute to the lack of diversity: research subjects need flexible work and family schedules, the ability to navigate complex bureaucracy and easy transportation — luxuries unavailable to the working class, for example. What’s more, researchers are limited in the amount of money they can spend to find participants, and most stick close to their university or hospital for willing subjects.
While one barrier to entry will be owning an iPhone, the open source nature of the platform means other developers will be empowered to riff off other people’s apps and figure out ways to connect people on other kinds of smartphones. Indeed, that’s the hope, said Yeung.
“Other researchers can look at our app to see what is in there and quickly make copies of the code of a particular part, and then improve on it and put it on another platform,” said Yeung. “Other people might beat us to the Android app, and this will quickly self-replicate. That’s really our goal.”
What’s more, some communities of color are wary of medical trials for historical reasons, according to Sim, who is co-director of Biomedical Informatics at UCSF. Sim wasn’t involved with the ResearchKit launch, and UCSF doesn’t currently have a published app on the platform, but she praised ResearchKit for making study recruitment and enrollment “easy” and “friendly.” She has high hopes for the software and thinks it could change the way people view study enrollment.
“With the Apple design, enrollment seems to be easier and informed consent seems to be more friendly, which lowers the barrier to more people being wiling to sign up for research,” Sim said. “It changes the way it feels to sign up for a research study, and for that I hope we would bring in populations that haven’t enrolled in trials before.”
3. The health information will become a lot more accurate.
“Most studies about exercise and heart health are reported by the subject, using their own recall, which means most people will say, ‘I exercise every day for 20 minutes,’ but in reality they don’t,” explained Yeung. This data collection methodology — that is, asking people to remember the past — is prone to all kinds of errors and wishful thinking. Specifically, people tend to overestimate the amount of exercise they get on a regular basis, and underestimate the amount of food they eat.
“We really don’t even know how much exercise you need to alter your cardiovascular outcome and health,” he said. But because of the accelerometer in the iPhone, Apple Watch, or other tracking device that can hook up to these apps, that could soon change.
“Now we can record when [participants] were sitting around, walking, or being moderately active,” said Yeung. “This amount of data has never been available before, and if we multiply it by a million, let’s say, we’re talking about data in medical research that’s never been encountered before.”
4. People can contribute to the field of research that affects them most.
The five apps that launched with ResearchKit target people with asthma, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, diabetes and cancer, which means that iPhone users may be motivated to enroll and gain insight on the chronic disease that affect their lives. But beyond apps developed by academic institutions, this means patient organizations can get in on the research as well.
“I’ve worked with many patient groups that have burning questions that they want to answer,” said Sim. “And now there’s a technology where they can hire a software person so that they can ask these questions of themselves, so that we can all study and learn from each other.”
5. This will democratize scientific research.
Experts see at least two ways that ResearchKit will flatten those Ivory Towers of research. For one, the platform’s open source development will mean that research institutes will be able to more easily learn from one another and collaborate, instead of replicating and repeating each other’s steps out of a sense of competition.
ResearchKit could also have the effect of drawing the general public into a collaborative and open research community.
“There’s a new movement in academic research called participatory research, where patients are part of the groups that should be asking: ‘What questions are interesting? What should we test?’” said Sim. “The public could start seeing research as something that isn’t imposed on [them], but as an activity that we all do together so that we can learn together.”
6. The pipeline of research — from data collection to publicly published results to advice for individuals — will shorten substantially.
In traditional clinical trials and population studies, participants are paid for their efforts. So why give the data away for free? A satisfactory answer lies in how responsive programmers can make apps, according to University of Michigan Prof. Victor Strecher.
Strecher founded the Center for Health Communications Research, and his research centers around the quest to find purpose and meaning in life through health interventions. Neither Strecher nor his university were involved with the launch of ResearchKit. According to him, scientists and developers will only see the participants they need for research if the apps are sensitive en