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.
Square, Sephora, Tickets.com, Disney app add support for Apple Pay
In addition to today’s announcement by Square that it will bring support for Apple Pay to its app and systems early next year, a number of other merchants have also unveiled Apple Pay support or are planning to soon. Venues that utilize Tickets.com as their online ticket provider, for example, have now adopted support for Apple’s iPhone 6-centric payment method, and some apps will soon be offering an Apple Pay option for online purchases.
School Official Apologizes For 'Good-Natured' Retweet About Mixed-Raced Couples
An assistant principal who has come under fire for a racially insensitive retweet says she has been put on administrative leave and that she does not harbor racial prejudices.
Earlier this week, students at Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Virginia, walked out of class to protest a retweet from the high school’s assistant principal, Amy Strickland. The retweet showed a picture of a group of black boys and white girls dressed for a high school prom, with the caption “Every white girl’s father’s worst nightmare.”
“I could have been any one of the boys in the picture,” student Michael LeMelle said to local outlet WAVY-TV earlier this week. “And I really don’t see myself, like I said earlier, as anyone’s worst nightmare.”
In a statement provided by her attorney to local ABC affiliate 13 News Now, Strickland responded to the controversy.
Strickland said that both of her daughters attended prom with African-American students, and that the retweet was an attempt at “good natured humor concerning mixed race couples attending a high school prom.”
“Because I have two daughters who in fact did attend proms with African American dates, I casually forwarded the ‘tweet’ last June to one of those daughters. The ‘retweet’ from last June has now resurfaced and become the object of intense media criticism and calls for my dismissal from Booker T. Washington on grounds of racism,” she said.
“Media reports suggesting that I am racially prejudiced are one thousand percent false, as my record and my many students, colleagues, friends, and family members who are African American can and, if necessary, will attest. I deeply apologize to anyone I have inadvertently offended,” she added.
The statement also notes that Strickland was previously named teacher of the year in a predominantly black school system.
According to a previous report from WAVY-TV, the tweet originated from the account @OrNahhTweets. It is not clear where the photo came from. Strickland’s statement says she sent the tweet months ago — before she started working at the high school.
Norfolk Public Schools spokeswoman Elizabeth Mather told The Huffington Post over email that she did not have any new information to share about the situation, noting that it was a “personnel matter.”
The local branch of the NAACP also chimed in on the controversy prior to Strickland’s statement. Norfolk Branch NAACP President Joe Dillard told WAVY-TV in a statement that the organization is launching its own investigation into the situation.
“We hold the administration accountable for their actions. We will not tolerate racism in this city and definitely not in the education system. Booker T. Washington High School is a fragile school; and the last thing we need in our community are students walking out of school in protest to racist administrators,” says the statement.
In an op-ed for the local outlet The Virginian-Pilot, columnist Kerry Dougherty criticized Strickland for the tweet, but said that she probably did not have prejudiced intentions.
“I believe her, just as I believe it was an unwitting mistake to retweet that picture. Strickland is certainly not the first person to regret a retweet,” she wrote. “Instead of drumming a dedicated educator out of her job over a 6-month-old posting on social media, Norfolk school officials – and students – should accept Strickland’s apology and seize the opportunity to discuss the pitfalls and pluses of Twitter and Facebook.”
How Facebook Is Shaping Who Will Win the Next Election
Here’s an obvious, yet poorly understood fact: A single social network could have a major influence on who gets to control our government in the future.
This isn’t an accusation of corporate conspiracy or a condemnation of a technology company’s power grab — this is just a reality born out of the fact that Facebook has become ubiquitous in our daily lives. Facebook is where most of us now go to see what issues our friends are discussing. It’s become a window into understanding what the people closest to us care about. As a result, the design, policies, and algorithms chosen by the company are having a major impact on how elections are run and how the electorate gets their information. A study the company conducted on its users found that increasing exposure to hard news “measurably increased civic engagement.”
That leaves Facebook in a peculiar and unenviable position — no matter what its intentions are, even minor decisions will have political impacts.
Every product change it makes leads to a set of winners and losers, and often these have their own unintended effects. A small alteration in deciding what types of stories get promoted, or what types of behaviors are highlighted, could potentially sway the outcome of an election somewhere. There is nothing it can do to make every side happy, and even doing nothing is a decision that has its own consequences.
The company announced yesterday that it was shutting down a feature that the Obama campaign used in 2012 to register over a million voters. During the election supporters shared access to their list of Facebook friends with the campaign through an app. Researchers have found that while people often view political messages with skepticism, they are more receptive and trusting when the information is coming from somebody they know. The feature was credited with boosting Obama’s get-out-the-vote efforts which were crucial to his victory, but Facebook has decided to disable this ability in order to (rightfully) protect users from third-party apps collecting too much of their information.
When this feature was first released it provided the enterprising Obama campaign with a large advantage over the less technologically-inclined Romney campaign. Whenever there is an opportunity to advance the way messages are delivered to specific groups, political strategists are going to race to see who can most effectively use it to their advantage. So many elections have come down to mobilizing a relatively small portion of the voting population.
In addition to helping candidates target their messages and influencing how we perceive the importance of issues, Facebook has also proven its ability to impact voter turnout.
In fact, they’ve been testing this directly — for years. In this area the company has been far less hands-off; starting in 2008 the social network has been showing users a “voting button” on election day specifying which of their friends had voted and allowing them to inform their network they had voted as well. While seemingly insignificant, Facebook’s data scientists found a substantial impact.
In a study actually titled “A 61-million-person experiment in social influence and political mobilization,” the company checked public voting rolls to see whether those who had the button presented to them actually showed up to the voting booth. Many of them did — the company believes that its efforts led to an additional 600,000 voters casting their ballot. (Professor Jonathan Zittrain reminds us that the contested 2000 presidential election came down to only 537 votes in Florida.) There was a control group who did not have the button shown to them, but it’s not clear how these users were selected. Facebook plans to roll this out in more elections, all over the world.
The company insists that it favors no particular ideology and that its efforts are “neutral.” The first part is likely true, but the second is not possible. The company’s algorithms take into account a proprietary mix of our own biases, connections, and interests combined with Facebook’s business priorities; that is the farthest thing from neutral. Facebook says it just want to encourage “civic participation,” but politically mobilizing the subsection of people that are on their network is not without its own impacts.
Ben Smith of Buzzfeed sees large opportunities for campaigns in the “inexpensive viral populism” Facebook can provide, he believes that the ”viral, mass conversation about politics on Facebook and other platforms has finally emerged as a third force in the core business of politics, mass persuasion.” With digital ad spending up and over 500 campaigns now directly paying social media companies in this last cycle, the growth and reach of Facebook is only going to increase. The most recent midterm elections alone saw 184.2 million likes, shares, and comments. That means that future Karl Roves will need to know how to capitalize on the intricacies of targeting Facebook posts and ads.
Taken together, this puts Facebook in an incredibly powerful position to determine the political future of the several countries where it is most popular. Whether it wants this responsibility or not, Facebook has now become an integral part of the democratic process globally.
This article originally appeared on Forbes — Disruption and Democracy.
Check out my upcoming book, Identified: How They Are Getting To Know Everything About Us.
Drones Sighted by Pilots Landing at JFK Airport in New York City Show New Risks
A string of drone sightings this week by airline pilots flying into John F. Kennedy International Airport highlights aviation risks posed by the increasingly popular unmanned aircraft.
Test Prep Company Uses Pictures Of Kim Kardashian's Derriere To Teach Kids Math
This is one place we never expected to see pictures of Kim Kardashian’s behind: in SAT test-prep questions.
Earlier this week, test preparation company Catalyst tweeted a photo of Kim Kardashian’s famous photos from Paper magazine with math questions on it. According to Catalyst founder and CEO Jared Friedland, the math questions involve “three types of circle questions that the SAT asks over and over again,” he told The Huffington Post over the phone.
The company tweeted:
As patriotic, pop-culturally-minded Americans, we couldn’t help but see Kim Kardashian’s recent photos as an opportunity to teach SAT math.
— Catalyst Prep (@CatalystPrep) November 20, 2014
#KimKardashian #SAT #math pic.twitter.com/SHpOw3KEvh
— Catalyst Prep (@CatalystPrep) November 20, 2014
#KimKardashian #SAT #math pic.twitter.com/E0u85CQPa9
— Catalyst Prep (@CatalystPrep) November 20, 2014
#KimKardashian #SAT #math pic.twitter.com/9DAoa9gxPZ
— Catalyst Prep (@CatalystPrep) November 20, 2014
Friedland told The Huffington Post that the company, which helps prepare students for the SATs and ACTs, tries to use “pop culture and humor to relay important strategies to students. Most other test prep companies take it as a given that if you’re preparing for the SATs or GRE it’s going to be a boring endeavor. We reject that notion.”
While the tweets have since gained attention around the web, Friedland said, “This tweet was something we did on a lark. We, like many Americans, were checking out the photo shoot and the spread.”
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Niche Apps: The Next Wave of Social Media
Let’s face it, Facebook is a social media leviathan. With more users per day than some countries have people, the social networking phenomenon is beginning to run into a problem: it’s become too popular. In fact, even President Obama recognizes that it’s lost its luster; ever since mom, dad and your great aunt you haven’t seen in 10 years sent you a friend request. It’s become a place to track the growth of family members’ offspring and read about the 17 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Probably Your Best Friend.
In fact, a recent report shows that holders of all things cool, millennials, are leaving Facebook with the social network down 3 million users in that demographic over the past three years.
So where are these makers of cool going? They’re neglecting their Facebook apps in favor of more specified apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder and Yik Yak, where they’re less likely to run into their grandmothers.
This shift in the coolness of the social media giants is causing a new wave of social media to enter the market: niche apps. While Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow users to maintain contact with anyone who requests them, niche apps are designed to offer more specialized services, thus allowing people to make a different kind of connection with others. Users of niche apps sign up for accounts with a specific agenda in mind and use those apps to meet that specialized need, whether it be for dating a certain type of person or getting laundry delivered in their area.
Even the social media giants are starting to get in on the niche trend. For example, Facebook now offers a messenger app that is entirely separate from its original app. The concept of creating apps and networks that allow people to meet others with similar interests or intentions offers a new realm of possibilities. These networks are meant for people of a certain profession or industry, or maybe for those with a specific hobby, or who have survived a serious illness, making niche social media apps the virtual support groups of the future.
One reason why these niche apps are becoming so popular is the ever growing rise in preference of using mobile apps, rather than a computer with Internet access. Millennials are the makers of cool here because they were born at precisely the right time. The older members remember the earlier days of the Internet but are willing to adapt to the ever-changing atmosphere of technology, while the younger members don’t remember a life before iPhones and the App Store.
As the popularity of mobile technology continues to grow, the demand for social media apps becomes more and more specialized. Facebook has too many features that just aren’t convenient for mobile use; Snapchat’s features are far more basic, mobile-friendly, and limited to a specific function: the app is to share nonpermanent images and small bursts of text with a user’s friends on the network, and nothing else. The conversations can’t be saved for later viewing; and a user’s prospective employee cannot simply access a Snapchat account to see what a user has been up to lately.
Twitter has the brevity that mobile users appreciate, but its web presence and permanence of its posts also make it unattractive to Millennials who want to use social media as a way to vent about their lives without threat of repercussion. Enter: Yik Yak, whose anonymity allows users to post what they please without wondering if their boss will run into it. In fact, if a user tries to post identifying information such as a phone number on Yik Yak, the app will delete both the post and the account.
As mobile continues to grow, it’s clear it is the future of social media. Young users crave social media that is more specific to their needs, and offers basic functions that are mobile-friendly, a need which niche apps readily meet. With need-specific apps growing in popularity over the last year, it’s obvious that 2015 will bring even more apps to quell even the quirkiest user desires.
Kevin Deegan is Chief Technology Officer of On.com, a People Discovery Engine that helps users meet new people through photos. Deegan started his career at age 13 when he began writing code and creating websites, and has spent the last 7 years in the professional web/app development space. Deegan holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Solving the Threat to our Energy Grid
co-authored by Dr. Stephen Bryen, Founder & CTO Ziklag Systems
Admiral Michael Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency and head of the US Cyber Command has warned Congress that our energy grid is under threat of cyber attack. His warning comes after independent reports tracked intrusions targeting energy companies, health care systems and other components of our “critical infrastructure.” The warning advised the House Intelligence Committee about the threat, but it lacked concrete steps to prevent cyber attacks that could hobble the United States in a crisis.
It is clear we need more than warnings. There is no thought through national policy on how to properly protect the energy grid, telecommunications, defense systems and industries, or our emergency preparedness system. Certainly the US government has warned for years about cyber vulnerabilities and urged computer security. But our policy makers, who mean good, haven’t the vaguest idea of what to do about protecting America’s computer-driven networks.
Even so, a vast array of security companies, some tiny, some bigger, some traditional defense companies looking to expand their revenue base, have emerged offering different solutions, all of which sound like witch doctor incantations. None of them can demonstrate that their “solutions” have stopped any potential adversary from successfully attacking our critical infrastructure. All the empirical evidence points in the opposite direction. Despite spending, the situation is far worse now than ever before, and is likely to grow ever more dangerous. Countries such as China and Russia may have found our Achilles heel –they are acting that way and pouring in resources to do us in. They are smart to do so: it is highly profitable for them to steal our secrets, empty our banks and threaten our well being. The cyber attack industry also is semi-privatized, meaning that even rogue players can cause irredeemable harm. Are our nuclear missile systems safe from cyber attack? Our command and control systems secure? No one can say for sure.
The problem concerns computer networks and machine controller systems known as SCADA. SCADA are systems that manage our refineries, power grids, nuclear power stations, manufacturing processes and anything that is automated. It was a Siemen’s SCADA system sold to Iran and used to refine uranium that was attacked by the now famous Stuxnet worm (ostensibly a joint US-Israeli attempt to slow Iran’s nuclear weapons program). We use the same exact systems just about everywhere. The Russians and Chinese no doubt have taken Stuxnet apart, so they know how to do it. Of course they were helped by all the nice cyber folks who published all of Stuxnet’s secrets!
A good first step would be to design a new, secure SCADA controller that replaces all the SCADAs operating in our critical infrastructure. A US-only secure SCADA should replace SCADA devices everywhere in the critical infrastructure. The US government should sponsor a crash R&D program. It is important to do all this secretly. The Chinese and Russians and the rogue actors need to be kept totally in the dark.
Fixing SCADA is only a first step, but a badly needed one.
In parallel, we need new, secure operating systems for our sensitive computer networks to replace unsuitable commercial products which, unless changed out, will lead to our destruction. Commercial network operating systems cannot be repaired -they must be scrapped. This is a tall order: but we have the expertise to do the job. In fact, even the Chinese are already putting in place their own operating system development to keep Western intelligence agencies out. We can build even better ones. We need to urgently.
Briefly: Evernote 6.0, Bushel device management system
Evernote has released a major update for its OS X app, bringing support for Yosemite. Over-all performance speed has been improved, introducing a redesigned interface with a lighter color theme, and new icons. Users now have more control over tables they create, with new color and style customizations available. Notes can be searched for via OS X’s Spotlight function, and sending notes to others can now be done while remaining in the app. Many bug fixes and crashing issues have also been resolved in the latest app iteration. Evernote is free to download, with premium subscriptions available.
Passwords: Secret Pieces of Us Revealing Something More
My grandpa is one of those people who is very logical about everything, especially when it comes to passwords. He is the person who the tech people love, because he picks a random stream of numbers (there is that app that can randomly generate one for you) with no correlation to himself so no one would be able to hack it, and he also changes it often.
We all know that the random string of numbers and letters formula should be followed when creating a password, and yet, a lot of us opt for something more personal, something that we can remember and that is a part of us–but we construct it in a way that will hopefully not be cracked by someone else.
I personally am horrible when it comes to remembering random numbers–the fact that I know my I.D. number for school is a miracle–so I decided to take the cheesy route and use a variation of my anniversary date with my boyfriend because we got together when we were fifteen and that is of course what you did at the time. I still use it today because we are long distance and it is a way for me to take a part of him with me wherever I go (queue the “awws”).
I saw this article in the New York Times, by Ian Urbina, about keepsake passwords, and the backgrounds for the password choices were so fascinating. People are making stories for their passwords without really thinking about it, and it was really interesting to see how they opened up to Urbina as he got them talking.
The stories that really caught my attention were the motivational ones. I would have never thought to put a goal in a password, but it really makes sense. Passwords are things we have to draw upon and remember in our daily lives, so making one to help you eat healthier or to remind you of a hardship that you overcame and don’t want to go back to is probably one of the most clever things I have ever heard of.
One of my favorites in the New York Times piece was the story of Mauricio Estrella’s motivational passwords and how most of them actually worked. One of these was: “to help quell his anger at his ex-wife soon after their divorce, Estrella had reset his password to “Forgive@h3r.”‘ And as he had to change his passwords, he kept the motivational ideas coming.
So seeing these awesome stories got me thinking about what stories my fellow peers might have behind their passwords. When I went asking around to see what other people chose to lock away their emails and Facebooks with (which was slightly awkward considering I’m asking people to somewhat entrust me with something private), I was immensely impressed by how much thought was put into their passwords.
In addition to making the passwords close to their hearts, a lot of people put considerable thought into what would trick others. I usually tack something extra on the end of mine in hopes that I won’t see some random hacking on my Facebook wall, but so many people took it to the next level.
The three girls that were brave enough to share their passwords with me all had some sort of motivational/proud moment aspect attached to their passwords, as was expressed in the Times piece.
Kalynn shared with me that at her community college, they were required to change their passwords every 90 days. This required some creativity and memory skills on her part, so she would always make them motivational to a goal she wanted to achieve that was related to school. One of hers was “transfer2014″ and that’s exactly what she did. She is now attending CSU San Marcos.
She also said that she uses variances of her anniversary with her boyfriend, because that is an easy one to remember. Sentimental and motivational? This girl has got it down.
My Swiss German partner in crime, Sarah, is the definition of a hard worker and a big dreamer. I always see her running around, textbooks in hand and schedule jam packed with events, because she knows she wants to graduate and move on to bigger and better things.
When I asked her about some passwords she uses, she said “Ever since I was 5, I wanted to go to UC Santa Barbara, so my passwords always had something to do with UCSB.”
As we know, opinions change, and she now attends UC Santa Cruz, but keeps the tradition up. She now uses UCSC as the basis for some of her passwords, along with other numbers to make sure no one can hack it.
She also really likes to travel and makes passwords based on the places she wants to go. Some examples she shared were: something with Brazil in it for her music station passwords, bank stuff is locked away by something that contains Zürich, sports she does something with Australia, and social media gets Spain.
I think that is really clever, especially since traveling seems to be on everyone’s agenda, though not many people actually make the effort to get out there and do the traveling bit. I have no doubt in my mind that Sarah will visit each and every place that she sets her mind to.
Holli’s story is of a pride-based password. She’s one of those people who knows what she wants and will go out there and get it, and not let anyone stand in her way. She paid her way through college, got good grades, and graduated with a degree in something she loves and has a passion for.
This was a proud moment for her, so her school’s name earns a place in her password, so she can be reminded of her accomplishment and remind herself to aim higher and dream bigger.
Positive thoughts lead to positive results, and these passwords really let that logic shine through. The next time I need to change a password, I think I’ll definitely go the motivational route.
While all the girls went for the motivational approach, the guys that I interviewed opted for more of a “what makes me, me” take on their passwords. There was a good mixture of childhood memories that got to tag along for the ride and still be used in passwords today, and also current hobbies/quirks that make them who they are.
My boyfriend Ian is a true video game player, and loves the games inside and out. From storylines to the artistic wonders of the game, they are a work of art to him as much as they are something fun to do. He’s the kind of person who will spend three hours discussing the ending to a favorite game with a buddy, just like people love doing with books and movies.
Because video games are a big part of his life, he likes to create passwords based on a few of his favorite characters and games at the time. This makes it easy for him to remember the passwords, as well as integrate a passion that makes him who he is.
When I asked my friend David about his passwords, he said they were the “definition of nerdy.”
“One of my passwords contains the name of my favorite anime character. I thought it would help since most people wouldn’t guess a Japanese name,” he said.
I thought this was very clever since he was able to add a flare of who he is, while also thinking of how to avoid getting hacked.
When Razma told me his password story, I couldn’t help but laugh at how cute it was. He said when he was five he made up an imaginary dog because his mom doesn’t like animals so he couldn’t have a real one.
He uses the dog’s name for his password, so even if the hint “pet’s name” comes up, people will get confused because he has never had a pet. This is a great way to have a childhood memory live on, and trip potential hackers up along the way.
I wanted to see if this streak of “what makes me, me” passwords would continue into different generations, so I asked my dad about his password.
He said he uses his old license plate number from his first car back in Switzerland, where he grew up. He had his own car, but shared the plates with his dad, so they would have to trade off and wait until the other one was home before they could go anywhere. (In Switzerland the plates stay with the person, not with the car).
He uses the password because it has letters and numbers (the techs are smiling), as well as a reminder of his dad, whom he doesn’t get to see very often, and of course the good old days of being 18.
What’s so interesting about these stories is that the Times piece also found many people who use passwords that define themselves in some sort of way. Because in the end, making it about a memorable event or dream or aspiration is the best way to help us remember without making it easy to guess.
Do you have a cool keepsake password that you now have a sudden urge to share with the world?
The New York Times magazine will continue reporting on ”The Secret Life of Passwords.” If you have a keepsake story to share for publication, please email the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org. And obviously, please don’t send him current passwords.
Maybe it’s motivational, maybe it’s about you, maybe it’s an ode to pizza because pizza is the bomb–who knows?
Get your story out there and see who can relate.
By: Francine Fluetsch, UC Santa Cruz
This Proposal From Space Will Warm Your Nerdy Little Heart
One Seattle man took his love for his girlfriend to new heights – literally – by executing a marriage proposal from 90,000 feet in the air.
In 2012, Jason Hakala of Cut Video (the same folks that brought you the viral pot-smoking grannies video) and a few of his friends planned to release a weather balloon into space to honor the 50th anniversary of John Glenn’s orbit around the earth. Jason had already been thinking about popping the question to his girlfriend Stella at that time and thought it would be cool to incorporate a proposal into the launch mission.
“Initially that is what it was — a tribute video to space exploration with the addition of my proposal video,” he told The Huffington Post via email. “But later it became more about the proposal. I think there is something romantic about it, in a very nerdy and unique way.”
Jason and Stella
Jason and his team built a structure using PVC pipe and attached the weather balloon, an iPhone, a GoPro and a GPS unit, which they launched from a field three hours east of Seattle. The GoPro was pointed towards the iPhone as it played looped video of Jason’s marriage proposal, as well as the John Glenn tribute. (Watch above)
Jason and the structure post-flight. The iPhone still works!
The launch materials
The weather balloon being filled with helium during launch prep
They tracked the balloon’s path using the GPS unit so that they could find it when it landed several hours and 200 miles later. Stella was there for both the launch and the landing, but Jason said she never suspected a thing.
The couple after the landing
The following day, he took Stella and her family on a hike where he played her the proposal video footage from space (she, of course, said “Yes!”). The most romantic part of it all? The crazy amount of effort he put into it, she later told Jason.
Stella after the proposal
The happy couple first met in high school in Honolulu, Hawaii but reconnected 10 years later in Seattle. They married in Hawaii in August 2012 and are now parents to a 13-month-old daughter named Suvi, who can be seen in the adorable photo montage at the end of the video above.
The Hakala family
This just reinforces what we’ve always known: there’s simply no love like nerd love.
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New York City Could Kill Uber If It Wanted To
New York City taxi drivers want the city to revoke Uber’s license to operate. But there may be a simpler approach that might actually benefit New Yorkers: Just put more taxis on the street.
Uber is thriving in New York mainly because bad government policy limiting the number of available taxis created a huge business opportunity. Better government policy can take it away.
Neither Uber nor the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission immediately responded to requests for comment.
Here’s a chart of the population of New York and the total number of licensed cabs in the city, going back to when its medallion system of taxi licensing was first introduced in 1937.
Astonishingly, there wasn’t a new medallion issued in New York for almost six decades: There were precisely 11,787 cabs in New York from 1937 to 1996, when the first modern medallion auction took place.
Between 1996 and 2010, more than 1,400 new cabs hit the streets. That’s better than nothing, but it didn’t do much to change the ratio of people to cabs:
That basically flat line up to 2013 was Uber’s business opportunity. In an increasingly wealthy city with a growing population, the number of people per cabs stayed at post-war levels for decades after that made any sense.
New York City doesn’t just need more cabs, it needs way more cabs per person. New York has about three cabs per 1000 residents. Washington, D.C., has twelve. Las Vegas has six.
The further this people-per-cab line drops, the worse it is for Uber. The real improvement in this ratio didn’t come until Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s green “borough cabs” hit the street. Green cabs are just like the city’s iconic yellow cabs, except they can only be hailed outside of Manhattan (though they can drop riders off in Manhattan). Twelve-thousand green cabs started operating between 2013 and 2014. Another 6,000 are due to be licensed in 2015, along with 2,000 new yellow cabs between 2015 and 2017 (those cabs, which are still subject to final city approval, are the dotted lines in the charts).
Uber all along has considered taxis to be the villains in its story. Uber is right that strictly limiting the number of cabs in New York is bad policy that enriches medallion owners and hurts riders. It also hurts the public as a whole –- even the non-taxi-riding public. Medallion sales are a solid source of revenue for New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s budget is counting on $1.5 billion in revenue from medallion sales over the next three years. For a city struggling to balance its budget, that’s significant.
But if taxi owners are the villains, Uber is not necessarily the hero. Privatization doesn’t have to be the only response to bad public policy. The best response to bad public policy is often just good public policy. New York City could prove that by continuing to massively increase the size of the city’s regulated cab fleet.
Three Killer Photo Apps
As smartphone cameras continue to get better, mobile photography will amaze us even more. Social media has made us addicted to telling stories, and photos bring those stories to life.
It’s not just about taking a good picture anymore. With the right photo app, you can transform memories into works of art.
So, get off the default settings of your camera. Expand your options, and explore the apps below to hone your photography skills.
By the makers of JellyBus Inc., Moldiv offers a powerful photo collage editor. Select the type of collage you desire from a wide variety. Import pictures from your Photo Library or capture new images. No need to import photos one at a time. This app allows you to pick all of your photos for a single layout at once.
Adjusting photos are even easier. For individual pictures, you can choose from 50 photo effects. Wherever your inspiration leads, zoom, pan, rotate, or mirror each photo. If you select “Frame Adjust,” you can control the ratio of the layout, corners, shadows, and spacing.
If that wasn’t enough, Moldiv gives you the option to add text to your collages. From traditional to modern fonts, personalize your work. Choose your text’s color, texture, and pattern. Are you in love with stamps? This app has that covered, too. Mold any image into a cool stamp. Then, shape, rotate, or move your unique stamp.
What’s a collage without the bragging? Save your collage in full resolution (standard, medium, or maximum). Let your friends experience your work. You can share via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Flickr. All the best collage tools are packaged in this app, and you get a wonderful result.
This app made a splash with its appearance on the TV show Shark Tank. Cycloramic provides perfect panoramic photos through visual and auditory cues. You receive up to 44MP panorama output. Plus, you can enhance your pictures with frames, stickers, and filters.
For iPhone 5 and 5s users, simply balance your phone on a flat surface and the internal vibration motor will cause the phone to spin on its own. As the phone rotates, the app will take multiple photos and stitch them together. That’s it! Now, you have a great panoramic photo.
No worries iPhone 6 users, you can enjoy the same great experience, too. Just place your phone between the prongs of your power adapter and the phone will spin. Unfortunately, these hands-free capabilities are not available on the iPhone 6 Plus, due to its size.
Mobile photo editing can be a hassle with multiple clicks. Snapseed provides an easy, usable interface. Now, you can simply swipe to adjust brightness, contrast, and color. You still get all the same powerful editing and enhancing capabilities.
Swipe up and down to select your photo effects and left to right to adjust its strength. When editing, you have the option to compare your work to your previous edits. The app also includes a popular “tilt shift” effect that gives photos a miniaturized look.
Spruce up your photography. No more excuses for pictures that look “blah.” Try these three amazing photo apps to give your pictures a well-deserved facelift.
Image courtesy of Epicva.com
FCC Chief Braces For Wave Of Lawsuits Over Net Neutrality
(New throughout, adds comments from Wheeler, background)
By Marina Lopes
WASHINGTON, Nov 21 (Reuters) – U.S. regulators expect Internet service providers to sue the government over any changes in the way they are regulated and must reevaluate any proposals to make sure they stand up in court, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said at a meeting on Friday.
Last week U.S. President Barack Obama said Internet service providers should be regulated more like public utilities to make sure they grant equal access to all content providers. This touched off intense protests from cable television and telecommunications companies and Republican lawmakers.
“Let’s make sure that we understand what is going on here. The big dogs are going to sue regardless of what comes out,” Wheeler said.
“We need to make sure that we have sustainable rules, and that starts with making sure that we have addressed the multiplicity of issues that come along and are likely to be raised,” he added.
Wheeler did not explicitly address the reclassification of Internet service providers and a spokesman said he is still evaluating multiple options. Experts have said reclassification could be challenging to argue in court. A decision is not expected before 2015.
On Nov. 12, AT&T Inc said it would stop investing in high-speed Internet connections in 100 cities until the Web rules were settled. (Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by David Gregorio)
Forums: Siri fails and iOS 8.1.1 comments
This week in the MacNN forums, members share amusing tales of times that Siri has failed them, providing examples of how Siri doesn’t always understand what is really going on. Comments are piling up faster than the snow in Buffalo about the latest update to iOS 8, with some saying it made things better while others aren’t so sure it has helped much at all.
This Smartphone Case Prints Your Photos Instantly
Remember Polaroid cameras? Back in the day, the idea of snapping a picture and seeing the results instantly was amazing.
Now, our favorite camera — the smartphone — doesn’t allow for instant prints, but a small company based in France might soon make that function a reality. The startup Prynt is developing a smartphone app and case that works as a printer to print pictures straight from a phone.
CEO Clément Perrot stopped by the TechCrunch headquarters to show off the prototype.
The whole thing appears to work simply enough. You can snap and print a picture instantly with two clicks of a button, or open the app and pull photos from your camera roll or social networks to print them.
The photo prints in about 50 seconds.
The current prototype holds one sheet of photo paper and prints a photo in 50 seconds, Perrot explains in the TechCrunch video. However, the company aims to have the device print photos in 30 seconds and hold up to 30 sheets by the time it launches next year.
Photos are currently sent from a smartphone to the printer using Bluetooth technology, but the final product will plug into the phone, making the process quicker, according to the company’s site. Within the app, users will be able to order the paper, estimated to be 30 cents per sheet, according to TechCrunch.
The product is expected to sell for $99 in a Kickstarter campaign to be launched in January 2015, Chief Marketing Officer Vikram Chudasama told The Huffington Post via email. The prototype currently fits smartphones with about 4-inch screens, but Perrot told TechCrunch the company plans to make bigger models as well. The app works with iOS and Android.
European Parliament Eyes Google Break-Up
(Adds details of probe, context, lawmakers and industry comments)
By Alexei Oreskovic, Julia Fioretti and Alastair Macdonald
Nov 21 (Reuters) – The European Parliament is preparing a non-binding resolution that proposes splitting Google Inc’s search engine operations in Europe from the rest of its business as one possible option to rein in the Internet company’s dominance in the search market.
European politicians have grown increasingly concerned about Google’s and other American companies’ command of the Internet industry, and have sought ways to curb their power. A public call for a break-up would be the most far-reaching action proposed and a significant threat to Google’s business.
The draft motion does not mention Google or any specific search engine, though Google is by far the dominant provider of such services in Europe with an estimated 90 percent market share. Earlier on Friday, the Financial Times described a draft motion as calling for a break-up of Google.
Google declined to comment.
The motion seen by Reuters “calls on the Commission to consider proposals with the aim of unbundling search engines from other commercial services as one potential long-term solution” to leveling the competitive playing field.
Parliament has no power to initiate legislation and lacks the authority to break up corporations, and while the draft motion is a non-binding resolution, it would step up the pressure on the European Commission to act against Google.
Google already faces stern criticism in Europe about everything from privacy to tax policies, and has been wrestling with a European court’s ruling that requires it to remove links from search results that individuals find objectionable.
The company has grown so large as to inspire distrust in many corners, with a chorus of public criticism from politicians and business executives.
“It’s a strong expression of the fact that things are going to change,” said Gary Reback, a U.S. attorney who has filed complaints on behalf of companies against Google over fair search. “The parliament doesn’t bind the commission for sure, but they have to listen.”
RESOLUTION “VERY LIKELY” TO BE ADOPTED
Europe’s new antitrust chief said she would take some time to decide on the next step of the four-year investigation into the Internet search leader, after her predecessor had scrapped a proposed settlement with the company.
European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who took over from Joaquin Almunia on Nov. 1, said she would take a representative sample of views from parties involved in the case and check on the latest industry developments before taking any action.
Resentment, however, has been building in Europe for years.
Google has tried to counter that mistrust, which its executives believe is linked to European perceptions of the United States in general. But recent revelations about U.S. surveillance practices, including that Washington monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, have ignited a strong backlash, particularly in Germany, where the historic experiences of Nazism and Communism have left people deeply suspicious of powerful institutions controlling personal data.
Andreas Schwab, the German Christian Democrat lawmaker who co-sponsored the resolution, told Reuters it was “very likely” it would be adopted as both his own center-right group, the largest in parliament, and the main center-left group supported it. Schwab proposed the resolution along with Spanish centrist Ramon Tremosa earlier this week.
In a statement on Wednesday, the two said Google had failed to propose adequate remedies during the antitrust investigation by the commission. Vestager has said she wants time to study the dossier after her predecessor decided against a settlement with Google that would have ended the case.
Google “continued thereby to suppress competition to the detriment of European consumers and businesses,” Schwab and Tremosa said.
In a position paper, they cited a number of possible solutions to what they saw as Google’s abusive dominant position in search engines and its ability to drive Internet traffic to favored sites. If these failed, then, they suggested, legislation should be tried.
“In case the proceedings against Google carry on without any satisfying decisions and the current anti-competitive behavior continues to exist, a regulation of the dominant online web search should be envisaged,” they said.
Reflecting broad suspicion of Google, other parties in parliament may also support the non-binding resolution.
Jan Philipp Albrecht of the Greens said: “Search engines like Google should not be allowed to use their market power to push forward other commercial activities of the same company.
Officials at the European Commission could not be immediately reached for comment.
It was also not clear how U.S. regulators would respond. In a major victory for Google, U.S. regulators in 2013 ended an investigation into the Internet company and concluded that it had not manipulated Web search results to hurt rivals. It did get Google to agree to change some of its business practices, including halting the “scraping” of reviews and other data from rivals’ websites for its own products.
Rivals such as Yelp Inc argue that the company is squeezing them out in Internet search results.
The review site, which has complained that Google ranks its own content higher than Yelp’s, said on Friday that the Internet search service harms users by favoring its own products, for instance social network Google+, which also carries review co