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.
Facebook Messenger has 500m users
Social networking giant Facebook said its new messaging service now has more than 500 million users – more than doubling since April.
CBSN: An Interactive Streaming News Network
It’s day one of the new world order. CBS News has created an online live/on-demand 15-hour-per-day news service targeting consumers who prefer to consume video news on connected devices: cbsn.cbsnews.com.
“CBSN is an important example of how CBS is able to leverage the unique strengths, talent and competitive advantages of its businesses to create exciting, highly competitive new services that meet evolving audience preferences for content consumption,” said Leslie Moonves, President and CEO, CBS Corporation in the corporate press release. “There’s a tremendous opportunity on these platforms for a true round-the-clock newscast. We’re confident this service will appeal to both traditional news consumers and a whole new set of viewers.”
TV Kind Of Everywhere-ish
CBSN will be available on CBSNews.com and its mobile website, key connected TV devices including Amazon Fire TV, Roku players and Roku TV, and others, as well as the newly launched CBS News app for Windows 8/8.1 and Windows Phone 8/8.1. CBSN will also be available on the CBS News apps for Android and other leading platforms before the end of the year.
“CBSN demonstrates our continued advancement in the digital space, as we extend to new platforms and a wider audience,” said Jim Lanzone, President and CEO, CBS Interactive. “We are developing original content exclusively for online, connected platforms in a true interactive format that viewers can control, allowing them to lean back or lean in to the segments and stories that interest them.”
Yes, It Really Has Ads
The first thing I saw on CBSN was a black screen with a lower third that read, “We’ll be right back.” This was followed by a 30-second ad for Microsoft’s Cloud. Then, I saw a newsreader behind an anchor desk reading a story about something that did not feel like breaking or important news. I saw a link to an item about the upcoming Star Wars movie in a big column of stories on the left side of the screen, so I double-clicked it. Bad idea: I was rewarded with two competing stories and had to close my browser window. I tried again and was additionally rewarded with the same unskippable 30-second commercial for Microsoft’s Cloud. I saw the short piece about Star Wars – not really news, ugh! Then, wait for it… an additional play of the Microsoft Cloud spot… all 30 seconds of it.
Even so… I’m Excited and You Should Be Too!
It’s day one, and I’m just having a little fun with my friends at CBS News. Everyone should take note of today’s date. It’s an important day in history for Television the platform (not the art form).
“CBSN gives audiences a new window on our original reporting – we’ll make it possible to see CBS News anytime, anywhere,” said David Rhodes, President, CBS News. “We are making an important investment in quality news coverage on any device.”
All the production glitches and on-screen typos and technical issues will be taken care of soon enough. What will continue to evolve is a world-class news service for a connected world. There are several compelling ways to consume news online. Text has a place, as do graphics and audio, but video content has the power to inform, enlighten and entertain in a particularly emotionally satisfying way.
Congratulations to Leslie Moonves and his team at CBS for their serious investment in the evolution of televised news.
Alibaba hits $2bn 'Singles' Day' sales
China’s online retail giant Alibaba has sold $2bn (£1.2bn) in goods in the first hour of China’s annual “Singles’ Day” shopping event.
Ukraine's green tech start-ups bloom
How energy tech start-ups are challenging the status quo in Ukraine
How E-Cigarettes Are Helping Scientists Understand Smoking Addiction
By Kate Kelland
LONDON (Reuters) – British scientists say they have found the best way yet to analyze the effects of smoking on the brain — by taking functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans of people while they puff on e-cigarettes.
In a small pilot study, the researchers used electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, to mimic the behavioral aspects of smoking tobacco cigarettes, and say future studies could help scientists understand why smoking is so addictive.
E-cigarettes use battery-powered cartridges to produce a nicotine-laced vapor to inhale — hence the new term “vaping”.
Their use has rocketed in recent years, but there is fierce debate about the risks and benefits. Some public health experts say they could help millions quit tobacco cigarettes, while others argue they could “normalize” the habit and lure children into smoking.
While that argument rages, tobacco kills some 6 million people a year, and the World Health Organization estimates that could rise beyond 8 million by 2030.
Matt Wall, an imaging scientist at Imperial College London who led the study using e-cigarettes, said he was not aiming to pass judgment on their rights or wrongs, but to use them to dig deeper into smoking addiction.
The fact that other forms of nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches or gum, have had only limited success in getting hardened smokers to quit suggests they are hooked on more than just nicotine, he noted.
“There’s something unique about the drug (nicotine) and the delivery system — the smoking — combined which makes it really, really addictive,” he told Reuters.
And by analyzing the brains of people “smoking” or “vaping” e-cigarettes, scientists can study the brain effects of what he called the “the behavioral and sensory repertoire of smoking”.
Until now, it was impossible to monitor these effects with conventional cigarettes due to the difficulty of having people smoke in the confined space of an MRI scanner.
But because e-cigarettes produce water vapor and do not burn, Wall’s team could record brain activity with each drag.
Wall said the study was not large enough to draw any firm conclusions yet, although it did show interesting activity in brain areas linked to reward and addiction, and in areas involved in perception of taste and smell.
“E-cigarettes … provide a very good simulation of traditional smoking (and) we have shown that using e-cigarettes with fMRI is an excellent paradigm for direct evaluation of the effects of smoking on human neurophysiology,” he said.
The plan now is to conduct larger studies using “vapers”.
Wall’s findings were due to be presented on Tuesday at the Global Addiction Conference in Rio de Janeiro.
(Editing by Kevin Liffey)
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler: 'We Must Take The Time' To Get Net Neutrality Rules Done Correctly
WASHINGTON, Nov 10 (Reuters) – U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on Monday welcomed President Barack Obama’s comments on his work on new Internet traffic, or “net neutrality,” rules, saying the agency “must take the time” to set the rules once and for all.
Obama on Monday pressured the FCC to toughen its planned Internet traffic rules, saying higher-fee “fast lanes” should be banned and Internet providers should be overseen similarly to public utilities.
Wheeler reiterated that he, too, opposed Internet fast lanes or traffic prioritization deals that may harm consumers.
“The more deeply we examined the issues around the various legal options, the more it has become plain that there is more work to do,” he said in a statement.
“The reclassification and hybrid approaches before us raise substantive legal questions. … We must take the time to get the job done correctly, once and for all, in order to successfully protect consumers and innovators online.” (Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Doina Chiacu)
VIDEO: The man who hears colour
How an antenna attached to his skull helps one man overcome colour blindness
Sales of iPhone 6 appear to reverse Android gains in enterprise
Even though the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were only available for two weeks at the end of the most recent quarter, the latest iPhones appear to have reversed some gains by the Android platform in enterprise buying, reports Good Technology. The business software company says that Apple’s share of the corporate mobile device market is up to 69 percent, two percentage points higher than in the previous quarter. The Android platform, which had gained four percentage points (in part at BlackBerry’s expense) in the June quarter saw a drop of one percent in the September quarter. Remarkably, the iPh
There Is No Such Thing as Free WiFi: Understanding the Business of the Internet
As someone who has been in the technology space for some time, I’ve always thought about how ironic the term “free WiFi” is and how we really don’t understand that it’s not really free. Don’t get me wrong: WiFi at places like Starbucks, Panera Bread, hotels and the airport is fantastic, and I could not run my business without it. But not understanding the business behind it allows people to make the wrong assumptions or be misled about why we have it and what it takes to keep it. So let’s look at a key point you should know.
Someone is paying for the access. Either the company itself is paying for the access and offering it to you as an incentive, or, in most cases, it is sponsored by a provider in a partnership (e.g., Google or Starbucks). So understanding that someone is covering the cost is important. It is not free!
So if we understand that it’s not free, the next question is “Well, how are we paying for it?” since there is not an upfront cost. Here are some of the ways we pay:
Our presence: If we stay in a venue because of the WiFi, we may have meetings there, and that means more people (potential customers).
Our purchases: When we go somewhere that offers WiFi and we stay there, we’ll make purchases. (Some places make it a requirement.)
Our eyeballs: The ads they present and the sites we visit have value to help them promote products. (Our behavior is valuable.)
Now, why did I go through this exercise? Well, because when you have the wrong perception about something, it can lead you to make wrong decisions.
Even with all the reasons I listed above, “free” WiFi is great for individuals and small businesses that would not thrive without the option. Where there is Internet access, there are always costs associated with it, but we will always come out on top in terms of value because of competition. It forces companies to connect with us and come up with new ways to give us value.
Now imagine if competition and innovation were limited because people did not understand that it costs money to give Internet access and let people believe that hard regulations would be better to protect the “free” Internet. Whom do you think that regulation will affect? All the people who benefit from “free” WiFi, for whom the benefits outweigh the “costs.”
So when people talk to you about regulating the Internet, ask them what will they do to make sure “free” WiFi continues to flourish?
You can ask them because now you know the costs and know that it’s not really free and you should be glad it’s not. Because competition, innovation and the current state of the Internet help pay for it so you don’t have to.
Hacking the Law: Apps That Protect Legal Rights
Twenty years ago, I cut my teeth as a young legal aid lawyer representing tenant associations in tenement buildings in Harlem and Washington Heights in New York City. Landlords, sometimes intentionally, sometimes because of poor building plumbing and insulation, would too often deny tenants essential rights, like heat and hot water. Tenants would feel this acutely during the winter months, when a cold spell could cause ice to form in sinks and 100-year-old drafty windows would fail to keep out the winter chill. My clients would sleep under mounds of blankets, often in their winter coats. It would get so bad that they would take great risks to try to get warm, heating their homes by leaving gas ovens running with the oven door open. They would have to head out into the cold in the morning without a hot shower, and their children would go to school after a sponge bath with water heated on stoves or in ovens.
Getting the landlord to comply with the law was hard enough. Documenting that the landlord was not complying with the law was even harder. Because certain temperatures would trigger the landlord’s obligation to provide heat during particular months, tenants had to prove that temperatures had dipped below the law’s limit. And tenants had to keep meticulous records, tracking the dates and specific times when the landlord was obligated to provide heat and yet failed to do so. The tenants then had to submit these records to a court to prove that a landlord had failed to comply with the law. Failing to follow strict rules regarding the submission of evidence could get the tenant’s case bounced out of court, and the tenant would be back at square one.
A new app might just change all of this. Heat Seek NYC will help tenants document when the landlord is obligated to provide heat and when he or she is failing to do so. It will collect data about landlord violations, help tenants document those violations and then assist them in proving their case in court. It will also help responsible landlords who wish to comply with the law identify problems with the delivery of heat so that they can provide their tenants with this essential service.
Heat Seek NYC is part of a new trend. Individuals and organizations are creating web-based and mobile applications that can help protect and further legal rights. In early August 2014, the American Bar Association co-sponsored, with Suffolk University Law School, a technology competition entitled “Hackcess to Justice.” First prize in the legal hackathon went to PaperHealth, an app that creates living wills and healthcare proxies. An app called disastr, which provides news and legal information related to natural disasters, came in second. Third place went to an app called Due Processr, an interactive tool for residents in Massachusetts to determine their eligibility for free legal services and calculate state prison sentences.
Recently, a team from Albany Law School, together with students and faculty from the University at Albany and the Empire Justice Center, a non-profit legal services provider, teamed up to create a web-based application to aid homeowners in New York State who have fallen behind on their mortgage. This application helps homeowners get assistance both navigating negotiations with their mortgage lender as well as defending themselves in the foreclosure process. The app has a mobile version so that homeowners can access it on their smart phones while they’re in court, getting up-to-the-minute guidance and help as they face foreclosure.
What these apps can do is improve the access of low- and moderate-income individuals and families to critical legal assistance when they need it most: i.e., when they are being denied heat, are facing foreclosure or are facing a natural or man-made disaster.
Too many low- and moderate-income individuals and families face their legal problems without the assistance of a lawyer. For the poor, free legal aid is available to only a small minority of those eligible for such services because of limited funding to the legal programs that serve these communities. For those ineligible for such services because their income is too high, they are denied access to legal assistance simply because they cannot afford a lawyer.
While no app can substitute for the representation of a zealous and skilled lawyer, apps like Heat Seek NYC and the foreclosure guide help to close the “justice gap”: the millions of low- and moderate-income Americans who do not have access to a lawyer to address their legal problems. As described in greater detail here, by harnessing the power of the internet and mobile apps, those interested in promoting access to justice can ensure everyone can learn about and protect their legal rights, regardless of their ability to pay. All they need is a smart phone.
Kids Attempt To Use Film Cameras, Have No Idea What's Going On
Who’s ready for an “old-time selfie”?
In the latest Kids React episode, comedy duo The Fine Bros. present a group of kids with point-and-shoot cameras. Overall, the kids are not too impressed with the clunky gadget, the film they have to load into it or the photo-development process.
At first the kids think the old-school gadgets are interesting — “I’ve always wanted to see film!” one kid exclaims — but things take a turn when they realize they can’t immediately view the photos they’ve taken.
“First you pay for the camera, then you pay for the for the film, then you get them developed, then you get your pictures?” another of the participants cries out in frustration.
Hey, he’s got a point.
Navigating Relationships in a Digital World
This article originally appeared on TheChalkboardMag.com
People, we have an information problem.
Every week, I field text messages and calls from friends and clients in a state of panic with their fingers on the trigger (née the send button).
Why is he doing that?
Why is she acting like that?
Does he like me?
Is she ready for a relationship?
Is he using me for sex?
Does she still love me?
Each time, I find myself repeating the same four words over and over again: You need more information. And with each repetition, I laugh, because that seems like an insane thing to be advertising in these times.
In the so-called Information/Digital/Computer Age, we have no problem acquiring vast amounts of information on our devices. One would think that the last thing we need is more of it. We are masters at digesting thoughts in 140-character sentences, stalking an ex lover, keeping up with the Ebola outbreak, scoring a Soul Cycle bike, finding a city’s best ramen, uncovering a naked celebrity body, predicting where ISIS will strike next and knowing that that girl Petra from high school, whom we haven’t seen in a decade, had a 6-pound 8-ounce baby named Falcon.
We. Are. Pros. Seriously, our thumbs are killing it.
And, they are also killing our ability to acquire a vast amount of information via humans. I’m referring to those beings that talk to you, touch you, look you in the eye, laugh at you, ignore you, hurt you, make love to you. You know the living breathing things that you come into contact with in lines, at restaurants, on planes, at work, in your home and in your bed?
We want to understand the other, but we forget a rather obvious thing. We forget that we are animals living in an unnatural habitat. If we were in the proverbial wild, the kind of wild where we didn’t have little tracking devices that acted as extensions of our own internal rhythms, things would be seriously different. Yes, our behavior would be wildly different. We suffer from electronic amnesia and it’s that amnesia that perpetuates this unnatural habitat.
You want to know if the lion is hungry? It will kill. You want to know if the lion is tired? It will sleep. You want to know if the lion is threatened? It will attack. You want to know if it’s mating season? It will mount. This extraordinary creature will show you how it feels and what it wants and all you need to do is open your eyes and see. Guess what? Same thing goes for our concrete jungle.
Our analog bodies are living in an increasingly digital world and if we want to understand another being, we need to resurrect the dying art of observation. We need to see how human beings move through the part of our environment that is not built on the binary code. We need to literally and figuratively sit on our hands. We need to put down our devices, do nothing and quit looking for unaffected answers in artificial places.
When fellow humans make us feel perplexed, insecure or unsafe, we go right to our phones and computers to figure out why. Screw postal, we go digital. We comb Instagram or Facebook for answers and send text messages or emails to elicit responses and reactions. We try to hit a bull’s eye, but that is almost impossible to do if we are letting our egos pull the trigger. It usually backfires, and then, well, we just want to recoil.
See, the ego hates rejection and nothingness. ‘No response is a response’ is the number one cause of ego death in the texting generation. Our ego wants to be pursued and desired. Our ego wants to be the one that gets him or her to commit. It wants to be liked and given double thumbs up, in real life and on the Internet. Our ego is not a place of discernment. It wants what it wants without real consideration of what the other human being is showing us. It can completely get in the way of our heart really seeing and feeling another person.
You want to know if he likes you? He will pursue you. You want to know if you are her priority? She won’t book things three weeks out. You want to know if he only wants sex? He won’t spend quality time with you outside of the bedroom. You want to know if she loves you? She will communicate it to you in her own way every day.
Sit back. Open your eyes. Increase your awareness. Observe.
Once you’ve collected some genuine data, you can always try something more advanced and evolved. You can put down your electronic weapon, look that creature in the eye with zero fear and open up that mouth of yours. The ability to use language to communicate is one of the many things that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. And, I’m going to have faith that electronic amnesia doesn’t force that into extinction too.
70 Best Apps For Families
The Parents team tapped moms, dads, and kids to test tons of apps and find the ones that are most intuitive to use, best priced, and super helpful. These are our favorites to help with everything from staying organized to keeping your kids occupied. They’re app-solutely essential!
This Is What It's Like To Fly Above Manhattan
George Plimpton once wrote, “From above, the city looks empty: so little moves that is discernible. All the descriptive adjectives about New York — ‘teeming,’ ‘bustling,’ ‘cacophonous,’ and so forth — are pertinent only at the street level. From above they simply do not apply.” And that’s why photos of New York from the air are so captivating.
Rob Marshall is a vice president and pilot for New York On Air, a company specializing in aerial photography and cinematography. He has been flying helicopters for three decades — and you can tell. There’s no shake when Marshall lifts the helicopter from the company’s helipad in New Jersey. From there, the helicopter speeds across the Meadowlands and Liberty Park, the Manhattan skyline rushing into focus.
“Okay, let’s open those doors!” Marshall yells to two photographers in the back, as the helicopter hovers 20 or so yards above the Hudson River. Marshall then lifts the helicopter high above the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges on the East River. The photographers, attached to harnesses, lean out of the sides of the helicopter and begin to shoot.
Marshall knows all the good places. He circles the top of the Empire State Building.
And the top of 432 Park Avenue — now New York’s tallest residential building.
He flies directly over the silver crown of the Chrysler Building.
At one point, one of the photographers, William Anderson, lets his feet dangle from the chopper.
North and south, the city stretches on for miles, and the only real discernible movements are the rivers of yellow cabs cutting through the steep canyons of Midtown.
And at times, the city appears so intricately designed, made up of so many harsh right angles, that it looks almost like a microchip.
Flying with New York on Air is an experience that’s both exhilarating and peaceful — and one that, thanks to Instagram, more and more viewers and photographers are getting to have.
At the beginning of this year, New York On Air had about 400 Instagram followers. Now, it has over 280,000. The company is taking advantage of its popular Instagram feed in a number of ways. It has started offering “instaflights,” in which photographers, both amateur and experienced, pay to go up in the helicopter and take photos of the city. The flights, also known as “photo experience flights,” cost $300 – $500 each. They offer a unique opportunity to photographers, as well as great publicity for New York On Air when participants post photos from their rides on Instagram and other photo-sharing sites.
But the flights can also end up being a kind of “paid audition,” said Vin Farrell, a New York On Air board member and photo contributor, as well as global chief content officer at the ad agency Havas. If your photos are good enough, New York On Air might just ask you to be a contributor.
While no contributors have been recruited directly through “instaflights” yet, the company has used the photo-sharing service to vet photographers. In the past year, over 20 Instagram photographers have been selected as New York On Air contributors.
“We basically share copyright with those contributors,” explained Farrell. If contributors end up selling any of their photos or videos, he said, the company gets part of the profits. The company also licenses out its aerial photos and videos for movies, TV shows, commercials and more. (Clients have included ESPN, Time, Fox Sports, Edelman, and the Governor’s Ball Music Festival.)
Farrell says Instagram has been a wonderful tool to help grow the company, but more importantly, to share the thrill of riding in a helicopter above Manhattan.
“It’s fucking sick,” he said. “It’s legitimately a thrill of a lifetime. It satisfies the thrill-seeking mentality. You have the opportunity to see the world through a perspective that few people get to see.”
“There’s an artistic component,” Farrell added. “The challenge to get an angle no one else has done yet.”
The company has even used Instagram to hire new employees. Three of New York On Air’s employees — an operations manager, a sales representative, and a marketing assistant — were all hired after responding to job listings posted on the photo-sharing site.
Additionally, some prominent professional photographers and artists have discovered the company through Instagram. Artist Daniel Ashram, National Geographic photographer Jimmy Chin, and former New York Times photojournalist Vincent LaForet have all signed agreements with New York On Air.
Here are aerial photos taken from New York On Air flights by LaForet, Chin and others:
Very special 4me to fly w @nyonair @13thwitness @vinfarrell over Twin Towers of Light on 13th anniversary of 9-11. Goosebumps and unforgettable view. #neverforget
A photo posted by Vincent Laforet (@vincentlaforet) on Sep 9, 2014 at 8:08pm PDT
@jimmy_chin hanging ✨ book your contributor flight today! http://flights.nyonair.com #NYonAir #instaflight
A photo posted by nyonair (@nyonair) on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:03pm PST
✨ Book your spot on a contributor instaflight today! The team is waiting for you! #NYonAir http://flights.nyonair.com | Song is Spider-Man by Michael Buble
A video posted by nyonair (@nyonair) on Nov 11, 2014 at 10:29am PST
✨ Welcome to NY! By Taylor Swift | #NYonAir #instaflight http://flights.nyonair.com
A video posted by nyonair (@nyonair) on Nov 11, 2014 at 8:41pm PST
1000 feet up over the Hudson River! Great shot of @thewilliamanderson behind the scenes by @leniepanini ✨ #NYonAir www.nyonair.com
A photo posted by nyonair (@nyonair) on Oct 10, 2014 at 5:50am PDT
A video posted by @letsgomathias on Oct 10, 2014 at 7:00am PDT
The Drop | @nyonair
A photo posted by vinfarrell (@vinfarrell) on Nov 11, 2014 at 4:16am PST
Reader's Digest Will Now Pay You For Your Clever Tweets
Reader’s Digest will now pay you for your clever, 140-character musings — $25 to be exact.
After the magazine printed a tweet from comedian Dan Wilbur without his permission, this past September, the stand-up wrote Reader’s Digest a lengthy email, chastising the publication for neither notifying him that the tweet was to be used, nor compensating him for his work.
“The LEAST you could do is give a shoutout to any of the writers you used via your Twitter account,” Wilbur wrote. “The NEXT-TO-LEAST you could do is tell me you’re using a joke, send me a check for $25, and ask how I’d like to be credited. The MOST you could do is call my mom and tell her you think I ‘really got something good going with this comedy thing!’ (I’d take this over the others if you’re able to do it.)”
Wilbur wasn’t expecting to get a response, but, three days later, Reader’s Digest wrote an apology, claiming that his email had “spawned a pretty heavy meeting that included editors, rights department, research department, lawyers, and a spilled cup of Starbucks.”
Shortly thereafter, a check for $25 arrived in the mail:
Post by Dan Wilbur.
The magazine confirmed the photo with The Huffington Post in an email on Monday, adding that it will in fact begin paying writers for their tweets.
“Reader’s Digest has a long tradition of curating and paying for anecdotes and jokes,” Reader’s Digest public relations manager Paulette Cohen said. “Dan Wilbur’s letter prompted us to begin classifying tweets in that same category, so we will now pay writers for tweets that we reprint in the magazine, as well as retweet them. We hope even more writers and comedians will send us their jokes in the future.”
For those of you who want to see what the Reader’s Digest joke was, it’s this totally topical gem: pic.twitter.com/iPy0XCTHv0
— Dan Wilbur (@DanWilbur) November 7, 2014
Snapdeal — the Flourishing Company America Passed On — Offers a Lesson About Immigration Reform
After graduating from Wharton in 2007, Kunal Bahl wanted to become an entrepreneur. He couldn’t get a visa, so he had to return home to India. He started Snapdeal in February 2010 with the ambition of building India’s Groupon. Then he saw an even greater opportunity — to turn Snapdeal into India’s Amazon.com. Snapdeal already has more than 25 million customers and sells goods from 50,000 merchants. With the $625 million that Japan’s Softbank has just invested in it, it is surely on its way.
The sad part for America is that instead of creating jobs here — where he really wanted to be — Bahl created thousands of jobs in India. Bahl is no longer looking to U.S. companies as his model. His new goal is to build the Indian version of Alibaba, the innovative Chinese ecommerce marketplace, which enjoys market capitalization of $275 billion. As Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, is doing, Bahl is pondering which Silicon Valley companies to acquire. Over drinks at the INK India conference in Mumbai last weekend, Bahl and I discussed the pros and cons of Snapdeal’s acquiring Groupon, which has market capitalization of around $5 billion. We agreed that there were better Silicon Valley companies to acquire — and that he should think bigger.
Gone are the days when the United States was the only land of opportunity and when entrepreneurs dreamed of being acquired by a Silicon Valley company. The bigger opportunities now lie in countries such as India, China, and Brazil, and their entrepreneurs are becoming confident that they can take on Silicon Valley. The world’s best and brightest students once came to study in the United States with the expectation of starting their careers and settling here. Now, upon graduation, they buy one-way tickets home.
The immigration gridlock has already hurt U.S. competitiveness and will worsen the damage if our political leaders don’t soon reach a compromise. The good news is that with the Republican Senate victory, immigration reform may finally have a chance.
Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t the Republicans who have been the barrier to skilled immigration, it is the Democrats — because they demanded all or nothing, without compromise. Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.), chairman of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, confirmed this to me in an online debate. He insisted that his party would not agree to increase the numbers of visas for skilled workers unless the Republicans agreed to legalize the more than 10 million immigrants who are in the country without documentation. To make matters worse, the Democrats insisted on a path to citizenship for the undocumented, and this turned the legislation into a poison pill that the Republicans simply would not swallow.
What the president needs to do now is to end the stalemate. He needs to support smaller pieces of legislation on matters in which the parties are in agreement. He shouldn’t poison the waters further with tactical executive orders that put Band-Aids on the immigration mess; he should carve immigration up into pieces that are debated on their individual merits. Agreement is possible.
Both sides realize the importance of having more technology companies, so legislation such as the Startup Visa Act should be a no-brainer. It will allow entrepreneurs such as Kunal Bahl to start their companies in the United States and create local jobs. There is as well broad support for providing permanent-resident visas to science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates. And then there is the issue of H1B visas for experienced engineers, doctors, and scientists. If abuse of the system can be curbed, there will be broad support for expanding the numbers of visas. The Startup Visa alone could create as many as 1.6 million jobs and boost the nation’s annual gross domestic product by 1.6 percent within 10 years, according to the Kauffman Foundation’s estimate. Providing permanent resident visas to the more than one million people who are stuck in immigration limbo will allow them to buy houses and invest in their communities. Increasing the numbers of H1Bs will help to alleviate the shortage of doctors in some parts of the United States and allow Silicon Valley to hire the talent it desperately needs.
The most contentious debates are over the plight of the undocumented, low-skilled workers. The Republicans and Democrats have both, in the past, supported the DREAM Act — which provides basic human rights to the millions of undocumented children who live in the shadows of U.S. society. If presented with stand-alone legislation, the majority of our political leaders would surely support this. As well, both sides agree that it is impractical to deport 10 million undocumented immigrants. Compromises are possible, for example, with a new visa class that allows these people to stay in the United States legally, pay taxes, and return home when they need to. The issue of citizenship could be deferred for a few years until the wounds of the immigration battles have healed and Americans can reach for consensus on what is right and what is wrong. The immediate outcome for America and Americans in general will be very beneficial.
It’s time for the political quagmire and stalemate to give way to compromise and good governance. Immigration reform surely cannot wait. President Obama should turn his party’s Senate defeat into a victory for America.
Vivek Wadhwa is a fellow at Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University, director of research at Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke, and distinguished fellow at Singularity University. His past appointments include Harvard Law School, University of California Berkeley, and Emory University.
The Netherlands Gets The World's First Solar-Powered Bike Lane
This story was originally published by City Lab and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
It’s tough to make cycling any greener, but the Dutch have done just that with a bike lane that powers street lights and even houses.
What’s being billed as the world’s first solar-powered bike path will officially open on November 12 in Krommenie, a town northwest of Amsterdam. Riders will be able to hop on at one end and then, after a few seconds of pedaling, dismount at the other. Being a pilot project, the lane is only 230 feet long (though it’ll stretch to 328 feet when finished).
The so-called SolaRoad is the result of a collaboration among the private sector, government, and academia. Here’s a brief description of how it works:
The pilot road of just a hundred metres consists of concrete modules each of 2.5 by 3.5 metres. Solar cells are fitted in one travelling direction underneath a tempered glass top layer which is approximately 1-cm thick. There are no solar cells on the other side of the road and this is used to test various top layers. In time, the solar power from the road will be used for practical applications in street lighting, traffic systems, electric cars (which drive on the surface) and households.
Visually, the SolaRoad kind of looks like the glassy cooking element on an electric stove. It’s outfitted with a friction-granting surface, though, so riders won’t careen around on it like pinballs:
The green pathway has its drawbacks. Because it can’t be angled toward the sun, it’s less efficient than solar panels. And it’s hugely expensive at an expected cost of $3.7 million. But as the technology advances these problems might diminish, allowing for some wild new uses to take center stage, reports the BBC:
Dr. Sten de Wit from SolaRoad, the consortium behind the project, envisages that solar roads could eventually be used to power the electric vehicles that use them.
“Electric vehicles are on the rise, but are not really a substitute until the electricity they use is generated in a sustainable way. Roads can generate power right where it is needed,” de Wit explains in a publication for the contract research organisation TNO.
“Sensors gathering information about traffic circulation can help improve traffic management, or even allow automatic vehicle guidance,” de Wit added.
Rejoice! Instagram Now Lets You Edit Captions
Instagram announced on Monday that you can now edit photo captions after you’ve posted them. Many of us need only one word to summarize our feelings about this: FINALLY.
This is huge news for the app’s 200 million active users. Until this update, you had to delete a photo and re-upload it if you made a spelling error or changed your mind about your word choice for a caption. That was really annoying.
Now all you have to do to edit your caption is go to the menu under your image and select “Edit,” like so:
Facebook, which owns Instagram, introduced comment and status editing in 2013. When you edit a comment or status on Facebook, however, your edit history is visible and people can see exactly what you’ve changed. That’s not the case with the new Instagram feature.
One other big difference between Facebook and Instagram: The former allows you to edit comments you leave on other people’s posts, while Instagram still apparently does not.
'Masque Attack' vulnerabilty could install malicious iOS apps
A serious vulnerability in iOS, dubbed “Masque Attack,” could result in malicious apps being installed, says security research firm FireEye. The flaw is said to have been discovered in July, and stems from iOS not enforcing matching certificates for apps with the same bundle identifier. This means that a person could theoretically be lured into installing an app that replaces and/or mimics an original — even borrowing that app’s local data — and accidentally give up personal information, or even root access privileges.
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