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.
Today Screen Widgets in iOS 8
One of the new features that has come in iOS 8 are Today screen widgets. These widgets allow you to get app information or access the app straight from the Today screen instead of having to find the app on your Home screen and open it. It is something that I personally welcome. As I stated in my review of iOS 8, one of the aspects of the Home screen is that it is boring and needs widgets. Having them on the Today screen certainly is a step in the right direction and may prove to be better from a
The post Today Screen Widgets in iOS 8 appeared first on AlliOSNews.
How To Get Past The iCloud Terms & Conditions in iOS 8
It is being widely reported that some users are experiencing errors with iCloud after upgrading to iOS 8. The issue has to do with the iCloud Terms & Conditions which were changed with the new version of iOS. This is very similar if not identical to the issue that plagued users after iOS 7 was released last year. Basically what happens is after upgrading, users are prompted to accept the new iCloud Terms & Conditions but when they attempt to do so they get a “Unable to connect to server” error. This then disables iCloud on their device. If
The post How To Get Past The iCloud Terms & Conditions in iOS 8 appeared first on AlliOSNews.
Twitter CEO Responds To Pot-Smoking Accusation In Best Way Possible
PayPal and Palatir cofounder Peter Thiel is a legendary entrepreneur with a nose for investment. But when it comes to Twitter, it seems like all he smells is weed.
“Twitter is hard to evaluate,” Thiel said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday. “They have a lot of potential. It’s a horribly mismanaged company, probably a lot of pot-smoking going on there.”
But if Twitter CEO Dick Costolo was bothered by the potshot, he didn’t let it show. He responded with the following tweet:
@goldman working my way through a giant bag of Doritos. I’ll catch up with you later.
— dick costolo (@dickc) September 17, 2014
Costolo was responding specifically to former Twitter vice president Jason Goldman, who cracked a joke about the floating libertarian sea colony Thiel hopes to create.
“Yo but how high were you when you decided to go live on an ocean platform,” Goldman wrote.
Thiel also took on Uber and Apple. See his full remarks in the clip above.
Apple Will No Longer Unlock iOS Devices For Police
Apple unveiled a host of new privacy features Wednesday night and said it would not unlock encrypted iPhones and iPads for law enforcement under most circumstances. The move comes as tech companies struggle to manage public concerns that they have been too obliging to government requests for user data.
The new measures were announced on the day that Apple rolled out iOS 8, its new mobile operating system. On a new privacy site, Apple outlines the new features, offers tips for users on how to manage their privacy, and explains how Apple will respond to government information requests.
“On devices running iOS 8, your personal data such as photos, messages (including attachments), email, contacts, call history, iTunes content, notes, and reminders is placed under the protection of your passcode,” the company said. “Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”
“This is a great move,” Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist for the ACLU, told the Washington Post. “This seems to be the result of pressure, because of the Snowden revelations. Apple seems to be putting user privacy ahead of many other things… There are going to be a lot of unhappy law enforcement officials.”
Apple is also touting its record of fighting for user’s privacy, claiming that it has never created a “backdoor” for government agencies to access user data, a growing concern among consumers in the wake of reports on tactics used by the NSA and disclosed by Edward Snowden.
The company also said that it publishes all requests for data that are permitted by law.
“In the first six months of 2014, we received 250 or fewer of these requests,” the company said.
A message from Apple CEO Tim Cook accompanied the site, pledging that the company would strive to be more transparent in how it handles user privacy.
We’re publishing this website to explain how we handle your personal information, what we do and don’t collect, and why. We’re going to make sure you get updates here about privacy at Apple at least once a year and whenever there are significant changes to our policies.
A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.
Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.
Along with announcing the stance Apple is taking with government requests for data, the new site explains the privacy features in new iOS 8 apps and services. Apple also addresses how users can bolster security on their devices, something that has been of especially great concern following the apparent hacking of some celebrity iCloud accounts.
VIDEO: Intel's new dual-screen laptop
Intel says it has several manufacturers building new computers based on the novel dual-screen laptop concept it has just unveiled.
Despite Facing Backlash, Facebook Refuses To Change Controversial Policy
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco drag queens are sparring with Facebook over its policy requiring people to use their real names, rather than drag names such as Pollo Del Mar and Heklina. But the world’s biggest social network is not budging from its rules.
In recent weeks, Facebook has been deleting the profiles of self-described drag queens and other performers who use stage names because they did not comply with the social networking site’s requirement that users go by their “real names” on the site. On Wednesday, Facebook declined to change its policy after meeting with drag queens and a member of the San Francisco board of supervisors. The company said is usually deletes accounts with fake names after investigating user complaints.
“This policy is wrong and misguided,” said Supervisor David Campos, who was flanked by seven drag queens during a press conference at San Francisco City Hall.
The drag queens and others in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community say many Facebook account holders fear using their real names for a variety of reasons, including threats to their safety and employment.
“I have crazy family members who I don’t want contacting me through Facebook,” said a self-described drag queen who calls herself Heklina.
Facebook said it temporarily restored hundreds of deleted accounts for two weeks. After that they’ll have to either change their name to their real name, or convert their profile to a fan page.
Campos and the drag queens, led by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — a San Francisco group of drag performers and activists that’s been around since 1979 — say they plan another meeting with Facebook and are hopeful that the company will ultimately alter its policy.
If Facebook doesn’t change its policy, the drag queens at San Francisco City Hall Wednesday said they would organize protests and boycotts.
“Abused women, bullied teens, transgender people… (there are) a million different people with a million different reasons to use fake names,” said Sister Roma, a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
Facebook says it policy “helps prevent bad behavior, while creating a safer and more accountable environment.”
The company says performers and others have other ways of keeping their stage identities on the site, including creating pages that are meant for businesses and public figures.
Many in the drag queen community are professional performers who rely on Facebook to publicize gigs. They said a fan page isn’t the same as a regular Facebook page.
“Your reach is limited, said Rosa Sifuentes, a San Francisco-based burlesque performer who goes by the name Bunny Pistol.
The company’s policy has been around just about as long as Facebook itself.
This isn’t the first time users have criticized Facebook’s policy.
Political activists have complained, especially those living in countries where they could face danger if their real identities are revealed. In 2011, Chinese blogger and activist Michael Anti, whose legal name is Zhao Jing, had his profile deleted because he was not using his given name — even though his professional identity has been established for more than a decade and is better known. Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, has “merged” her stage name with her birth name on Facebook in an apparent compromise.
It’s not always easy to determine which names are inauthentic. Some people whose real names sound fake have had their accounts deleted, too.
For Facebook, the real names policy is not just meant to keep people accountable. The company and other website operators argue that requiring people to use true identities can reduce online vitriol and bullying. Real names also help Facebook target advertisements to its 1.32 billion users.
Facebook estimates that 6 to 11 percent of its monthly user accounts were duplicate or fake in 2013.
“We believe the percentage of accounts that are duplicate or false is meaningfully lower in developed markets such as the United States or United Kingdom and higher in developing markets such as India and Turkey,” Facebook wrote in a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “However, these estimates are based on an internal review of a limited sample of accounts and we apply significant judgment in making this determination, such as identifying names that appear to be fake or other behavior that appears inauthentic to the reviewers.”
Amazon Admits It Whiffed On Fire Phone Pricing
Amazon planned to cut the price of its much ballyhooed smartphone at some point, but the retail giant moved faster than anticipated, an Amazon executive admitted Wednesday.
The Fire Phone, released in late July, was initially priced at $199 with a two-year contract. When it was announced, critics wondered why Amazon would aim so high. The phone didn’t seem better than similarly priced premium phones from Apple and Samsung. Why would those companies’ rabidly loyal fans — Apple and Samsung control over 70 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, according to comScore — make the switch to a new phone and operating system?
They didn’t. In August, The Guardian’s Charles Arthur estimated that Amazon had sold fewer than 35,000 phones in the first 20 days.
Less than two weeks later, and the day before Apple announced its new lineup of iPhones, Amazon cut the price drastically to 99 cents.
The writing was on the wall. “We heard the feedback,” Dave Limp, senior vice president of devices at Amazon, said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “We … heard it from customers that they expected more value. We had had a plan to reduce the price. To be perfectly honest about it, it was going to happen a little later.”
Limp declined to say when Amazon had initially planned to reduce the price of the Fire Phone. He made his comments after the company unveiled its new lineup of Kindle tablets and eReaders at a small event for journalists in lower Manhattan.
Amazon deviated from its usual pricing strategy with the Fire Phone, which CEO Jeff Bezos had unveiled with much fanfare at an event in June near the company’s Seattle headquarters. Historically, Amazon has sold hardware — it makes tablets, eReaders and a box that connects to your TV to stream content from the Internet — at break-even prices and makes its money when people use the devices to buy content or things.
Amazon executives believed that the sensor-packed phone, which the company reportedly spent four years developing, was a premium device. But the gesture control, 3D effects and other bells and whistles haven’t been a hit with consumers.
“I think we’ve gotten to the right place now,” Limp said in the interview. “It was a bit of a road to get there. But I think that customers are reacting positively to the new pricing. We’ve got a big holiday ahead of us, so we’ll see how it goes from there.”
Amazon Fixes The Biggest Problem With Kindle
Amazon’s goal is to make reading a book on a Kindle better than reading a traditional book.
But in the seven years the retailing giant has been making Kindles, they’ve fallen short in one huge and annoying way: Without a sneaky (and not recommended) workaround, sharing your collection of eBooks with other people was nearly impossible.
Amazon said on Wednesday it’s adding the ability to share your eBook collection with your household. The company calls it Family Library, and it will come as part of Amazon’s new lineup of Kindles, unveiled on Wednesday and available next month. Amazon says the new feature will roll out to all Kindle eReaders released since August 2010, from the Kindle Keyboard onward.
New customers will be able to add another Amazon account when they register their new eReaders, and people who already have Kindles will be able to link another account once the software is updated. (Amazon already allows you to loan certain eBooks to other people, but you can only do it once per book, for two weeks at a time, and you can’t read the book while someone else has it. An Amazon spokesperson said Family Library doesn’t have those restrictions, though many publishers do limit books to six devices in total.)
“This is something customers have been asking for for a long time,” said Peter Larsen, vice president of devices at Amazon, adding that people can choose to share their entire eBook collections, or just specific titles.
Amazon’s new lineup of Kindles — and updated Kindle features — comes as the company is engaged in a bitter, public dispute over eBook prices with the publisher Hachette.
Apart from sharing eBooks, people using Family Library will be able to share games, apps, audiobooks and programming from Prime Instant Video, the Netflix-like streaming video service that comes as part of Amazon Prime, the company’s $99 loyalty program. Amazon said it will add downloaded movies and TV shows to the list next year. And the feature will work across multiple Amazon devices, so if you start reading something on your Kindle Fire tablet, you can pick it up on your Kindle eReader, or, eventually, your iPad.
The Family Library screen shown on a new Kindle Voyage
Apple included a similar feature — it’s called Family Sharing — in iOS 8, the latest version of its mobile operating system, which became available for download on Wednesday. Apple lets you share music, books and other content with up to six people. Amazon’s Family Library only allows for two adults and four kids. (Amazon has kid-specific accounts.)
Amazon’s not just doing this to be nice. The company wants to keep you in its Kindle-sphere. You may be more likely to buy a Kindle Fire tablet, and download pricey movies and TV shows from Amazon if your partner also has a Fire tablet.
This article has been updated with new information from an Amazon spokesperson regarding which models can support Family Library. A previous statement that it would not be available on models released before 2013 was incorrect.
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WSJ: iPhone 6, 6 Plus cameras beat Galaxy S5 handily
The Wall Street Journal’s Geoffrey Fowler has had a chance to take the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung’s Galaxy S5 on a test run from a photographic perspective, comparing the built-in cameras on each. On paper, the iPhone models were at a serious disadvantage: the photo modules are only 8MP, compared to the 16 megapixel units on Samsung’s flagship smartphone. Nevertheless, Fowler’s photos make clear that Apple’s combination of lenses, camera, sensor and post-processing technologies create consistently better pictures.
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Facebook's Name Policy Won't Accept Chase Nahooikaikakeolamauloaokalani Silva
Chase Nahooikaikakeolamauloaokalani Silva has a bone to pick with Facebook.
Last week, the social media platform froze Silva’s account because of a policy that suspends accounts suspected of fake names. Facebook says they want you to “always know who you’re connecting with,” and the policy was enacted to help “keep our community safe.”
But his 29-letter middle name is real and the site doesn’t make it easy for him to prove it.
“That’s my name,” Silva wrote in a Facebook post, shortly after he was alerted to make the change. “I am a proud Hawaiian who wants to be able to display my Hawaiian given name.”
Story continues below…
Post by Chase N Silva.
The lengthy name, Silva told HuffPost, means “to be strong and draw strength from heaven above.” His great-grandmother who spoke the Native Hawaiian language fluently selected it for him.
He shortened it on Facebook to just the first letter to appease the policy because he said there was no easy way for him to access his account without first making the change. Then, there’s a series of informational pages and links that lead to a form where users can submit approved documents to confirm their identity.
“We’ve always required that people use their real identity on their Facebook profiles,” Andrew Souvall, a representative for Facebook told HuffPost in an email, adding that people tend to use “fake names to engage in bad behavior” online. “We also recognize that a person’s real identity is not necessarily the name that appears on their legal documentation,” he said, “and that’s why we accept other forms of identification.”
Facebook’s recent policy implementation caused an uproar among performers and drag queens in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community who identify with their stage names online and in real life. After a group of LGBT activists threatened to protest outside of Facebook’s San Francisco office, company officials agreed to discuss their concerns.
Silva, a self-described “proud gay male,” doesn’t plan on contacting Facebook to prove his name, and he says he shouldn’t have to. He believes that Facebook shouldn’t tell its 829 million active users daily what names they can and cannot use.
“Facebook should not be able to dictate what your name is, what you go by, what you answer to,” he told HuffPost. “Aside from the LGBT community, there are rape victims, abuse victims, even teachers, who use aliases because they don’t want people to contact them. It’s a protection of your identity.”
For Silva, his full, given name is a “badge of honor.”
“It’s not a standard name, obviously, in America’s eyes,” Silva, who was born and raised on Oahu before moving to Seattle in 2008, “but that’s the name that I’m proud of.”
Skin printer and bee probe win award
A printer that creates fake skin to help burn victims heal, kit to check the health of bees and a solar-powered portable cooker win 2014′s national Dyson awards.
Startups and Relationships: How to Get Them Both Right
A while ago, I was sitting there in my well-paid executive job running marketing for 62 countries, as you do. I had my apartment and company car, a hot girlfriend and took amazing trips whenever I felt like it.
Photo: George Diakou
Fast forward to today. My job now is to try to keep our startup alive; there are no trips and no cars — there are baby puppies though. My girlfriend is now my pregnant wife and we live at her mum’s place. Glamorous, no?
Life is fast, unpredictable and often served best with a little bit of planning and a big chunk of ‘just dive in, get focused and believe in what you’re doing.‘
That’s essentially been the Funifi way so far. When my co-founder Andrew and I left our jobs, apartments and friends behind to move out to Copenhagen for four months last year to take our new startup to Startupbootcamp, people said we were being irrational, impulsive and risky. Truth is, we were probably being only two of those.
Throughout this whole process, one thing has consistently stood out. The quality of the people around me always helps me to make decisions that seem to work out well in the end!
So here are three things that I found useful for creating and maintaining healthy personal and professional relationships:
Tip 1: Know your partner
For me, this meant my co-founders and my then girlfriend.
The selection process here is about seeing character traits that you like.
Andrew and I had worked together for a few years so there was more than enough scope to understand each other’s motivations, values and vision.
With co-founder number two, Denis, we’d done some work together previously. I knew he was talented and he seemed like a good guy but Andrew had also worked with him more closely before so it became a case of ‘if he likes you then I do too.‘
With Anna, we’d already been together for years but it takes a special person to also quit her job and come along for the adventure with a team of crazy guys chasing a dream.
So we took the plunge and made our way to Copenhagen to build our company, wow what risk takers we were. We assumed that the tough part was over and that, as soon as we got there, everything would be so smooth. It didn’t quite work out that way.
Five of us living in a small three-bedroom apartment wasn’t easy. Add that to being told that we were selected for the program mainly because of our awesome team and despite our original idea (which we obviously thought was amazing at the time!).
We had to reshape our plans and pivot and we’d only been there for a week.
At times of doubt you need the right people around you. It’s important to understand each other and to also be on the same page about where you are going.
Tip 2: Have common goals
Many relationships collapse when people seemingly grow apart, one wants one thing out of life and the other wants something else. This doesn’t just happen overnight though, there’s a whole chunk of time in-between where communication is key.
We started Funifi with a raw objective, to ‘change the world.’ Now I know that sounds cliché but it really was the thought process. An undefined statement like that though can cause havoc if not discussed and made more specific. It’s like saying ‘what do you want from this relationship?’ and your partner saying ‘to be happy.’ Obviously we want to be happy but what does that really mean to each of us?
Denmark made us stronger as a unit, we homed in on what was really important and that eventually turned our vision statement into ‘to positively impact every family on the planet,’ which we liked.
Photo: George Vou
We lost a few people and added others along the way as what we represented became easier to define and relate to. We also welcomed Lach to the team who added experience to our talented young dev lineup with Kyriakos and Chrys.
With Anna we always talked about what we wanted in both the short and long term. The whole adventure we had begun fitted pretty well into the ‘big picture’ vision that we shared.
Tip 3: Commitment
There is no more serious way of showing intent than committing yourself fully to a cause, project or relationship.
When you know you want something you need to show it. This can come in the form of small steps or one large leap depending on the situation. For me it was the first way on a personal level and the second professionally.
I’ve heard people say ‘I’m going to try this startup thing and see how it works out.’ For us, that just wasn’t an option. Once focused, we dedicated ourselves one hundred percent. Resignations were written, lives packed into a suitcase and all savings used on getting a good start with our startup.
With the now wife, It was best to go step-by-step. No need to declare undying love on the first date but you know, call back, tell her you like her, don’t be scared to move in together when the time comes and so on.
There’s a right time for everything but commitment must be demonstrated with actions.
It’s been just over a year from when we decided to commit fully and our baby steps are turning into leaps as we now have our app in the App Store. There’s still a lot to be done but our talented team is focused and growing as we recently added Celia, Maria, Lukasz and Stef to the family.
Some say to focus on the journey and the journey to me is defined by the quality of the relationships we form along the way.
So be smart, be honest and be selective when choosing the people you will share your valuable time with.
Find out more about our story so far here.
You can also download the app here.
News For High Schools: Digital Media Plus Teaching Equals Support For Freedom
Some experts say smart phones make young people stupid. Others say technology makes them smarter. Still others say the tool is not important — it’s how we learn to use it.
A new survey of more than 10,000 high school students lends support to that last view. Amid an explosion in social and mobile media — their media — high school students are supporting freedom of expression in record numbers, and are even more likely to do so if they also have had a class in the First Amendment.
During the past 10 years, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has funded five “Future of the First Amendment” surveys, each probing what American high school students know and think about our most fundamental freedoms.
This year, for the first time, American high school students show a greater overall appreciation for the First Amendment than do adults.
More students than ever before say they are thinking about the First Amendment. Nine in 10 say people should be able to express unpopular opinions. Six in 10 say the press should not be censored by the government.
What happened? One explanation: the digital age. In 2011, Connecticut researcher Ken Dautrich found “a clear, positive relationship” between social media use and support for free expression. He now finds the same link between digital media use and First Amendment support.
Student news diets are increasingly digital, social and mobile. In 2007, for example, only 8 percent of students surveyed reported consuming news and information daily through mobile devices. This time around, 61 percent do — an all-time high.
As students add their voices to the never-ending news streams in cyberspace, is it any wonder they seem to know more, to care more, about the freedoms that make this possible?
That said, teaching still matters. This year’s Future of the First Amendment survey confirmed that students who had a class dealing with the First Amendment — 7 in 10 said they did — also support freedom of expression in greater numbers.
Indiana’s Jim Streisel, Dow Jones Newspaper Fund Journalism Teacher of the Year at Carmel High School, believes digital media and teaching work together. “If you’re a kid who has always used social media, you’re enjoying the freedom you have without thinking much about it,” he said. “When you take a class, especially a media class, you start to understand what that means, how the First Amendment is behind the scenes.”
Classes help even heavy media users. For example: 65 percent of the students who use digital news daily agreed strongly that people should be able to express unpopular opinions, but if they had a class, that support rose to 69 percent.
Teacher Streisel says it’s important for classes to teach the both media literacy and the First Amendment. That’s how high school journalism classes work. You create media. You learn about the First Amendment. You emerge a stronger supporter of rights but also responsibilities.
But many of today’s classes that teach about freedom do it from the view of social studies or history and are not as hands-on. “In driver’s ed,” Streisel says, “we don’t just show pictures of cars and say ‘go drive one yourself.’ We put an adult in there to help students learn. Social media is the same way.”
Students deserve greater freedom. Most high school students say that First Amendment rights should apply to their school activities. But most teachers disagree — if they can’t Tweet anything they want to about their school, why should students? Understandable, but how can schools teach First Amendment values by censoring students?
Upon graduation, freedom-loving students may face some rude shocks. In this year’s survey, majorities say they oppose having their online activities monitored by business or spied upon by government. Yet only 20 percent of the students (and 28 percent of the teachers) said they knew “a lot” about revelations that the National Security Agency collects vast amounts of domestic data from phone calls and emails.
Public opinion about the First Amendment matters. It’s the context within which the U.S. Supreme Court interprets the amendment’s meaning.
We know too well how volatile public opinion can be. After the 9/11 attacks, for example, adult support for the First Amendment plummeted. The public was willing to give up some freedom in the name of national security. Support bounced back, only to be sunk again after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
Whether young people will turn their First Amendment support into more resilient social norms is still an open question. But increased education, along with the new generation’s overwhelming use of social and mobile media — forms of media it will shape as students grow older — offers new hope that American values will live on in the 21st Century.
This column was excerpted from the Future of the First Amendment survey at www.knightfoundation.org
How To Download iOS 8 Without Losing Your Mind, In 5 Steps
Almost as soon as Apple released iOS8 on Wednesday afternoon, iPhone users started to freak out over how much space the new system required, and media outlets started to publish guides on how to best free up that space.
But there is an easy and quick way to download your iPhone’s new operating system without losing your mind, and it’s simply to do so using iTunes on your computer.
The new operating system only needs 1.1 GB of space, but when you download it wirelessly, it needs 5.8 GB to install. That huge difference is a result of your iPhone having to store the old operating system while it uncompresses the new file. Using iTunes makes that unnecessary.
If downloading iOS8 via iTunes sounds scary, have no fear. We’ll walk you through the process step by step.
1. Connect your device to your computer and open iTunes.
2. Click on the “iPhone” button.
3. You’ll then be brought to a page giving you the option to “Check For Update.”
4a. When it tells you iOS8 is available to download, click “Download and Update.”
4b. If you still don’t have the 1.1 GB of space, start deleting. On your phone, go to Settings > General > Usage to see what is taking up the most space, most likely your old iMessages and pictures.
Save them to your computer if you really need them or do some spring cleaning to your old apps. When you have enough space, attempt step 4a again.
5. Follow the instructions, and make sure your iPhone stays connected. It should only take about five to 10 minutes to download iOS8 this way, compared to hours, possibly, doing it wirelessly. And then you can start playing with all of iOS 8′s new features.
Fighting for Which Future? When Google Met Wikileaks
In the summer of 2011, in the midst of the Cablegate affair (the leaking of some 250,000 diplomatic cable transmission between the US State Department and American embassies by WikiLeaks), at a time of far-reaching changes in the regimes of Tunisia and Egypt, and while public demonstrations against existing social order swept various places in the world, a meeting was held between WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Google CEO Eric Schmidt and his associates (Jared Cohen, Director of Google Ideas and previously a member of the State department’s policy planning staff; Lisa Shields, VP Communications & Marketing at Council on Foreign Relations; and Scott Malcomson, director of communication at International Crisis Group and previously advisor at the US State department).
The published transcript of their discussion provides a rare glimpse into a clash between conflicting worldviews, a clash which reflects various power and ideological struggles raging over the past twenty years with regard to technology’s role in our society, usually away from public view.
Derivative Work: Colin Green
Original Photos by: Cancillería del Ecuador, Guillaume Paumier and Wikimedia (Photos are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license)
Four such interrelated struggles are particularly worthy of mention. First, what will control of cyberspace look like? Will it be well-organized and centrally controlled by states and corporations, or by the individual users and professional experts? The debate on whether the Internet needs to operate without state regulation has already been decided both normatively and practically. The naive belief expressed in John Perry Barlow’s 1996 Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, that the web can exist independently, relying on self-regulation only, is no longer tenable. Cyberspace, just like any other human space, is used for both positive and negative activities. The power struggle over the regulation of cyberspace is still ongoing: will it be the crowds whose “collective wisdom” and direct connectivity self-regulate online conduct (relying on professional experts and civil society to establish standards governing the way we communicate with each other), or will control be left to various state or corporate power elites who regulate our behavior by virtue of their control of political and economic resources, including technological platforms? In recent years, we have witnessed a trend of growth in both state and self-regulation of the Internet. However, the question of balancing power foci remains to be seen.
Second, technology — the web in particular — is it neutral or political? Technocrats tend to argue that because technology is based on algorithms devoid of human interference, makes it possible to construct consistently neutral and non-discriminatory processes. However, by the very fact that it is designed by humans, every technology is inherently political, involving values and interests cast in the image of its developers, and subsequently shaped by its users.
The third struggle is over the number and identity of mediators. In the information age, the ability to control flows of information is a significant power element. Technological improvements have immensely increased the individual user’s ability both to produce and to disseminate data. Despite this ability, however, true control of information is in the hands of mediators. The huge amount of information produced every second, as well as the need to create, share and read content require the user to rely on mediators. These network gatekeepers help the users in all their activities in cyberspace, from filtering excess information through connectivity with others to producing new content. We rely on Google to find what we search, or on Facebook and Twitter to show us the posts uploaded by our friends. But Facebook does not show us all of our friends’ posts, only those it selects. This is a struggle for controlling the agenda of information conveyed and transferred from one person to another — the essence of power — another aspect of the politics of information if you will.
Finally, the fourth struggle rages over transparency. Tim Berners-Lee, one of the founding fathers of the World Wide Web, open code developers, and multiple forces in civil society and business sectors all have been working on making information more open and publicly accessible. For some, information openness has become a means to an end. The boundaries of openness have become a critical issue in the struggle for shaping the image of cyberspace and society in general. What are the checks and balances involved? Is the revealing of sensitive information at a security cost justifiable solely based on the freedom of information principle? Does blowing the whistle on systematic surveillance and tracking of civilians and users justify any means? And if limits are drawn, who should determine the boundaries? Information can be open, but its flows will certainly not be equal.
These power struggles are waged between conflicting sides, but framing them in terms of good against evil, anarchist versus conformist, freedom fighter against the power hungry is simplistic and ignores the complexity of these debates. Google is presented as promoting a model of white, liberal and secular values, while WikiLeaks is presented as promoting various shades of gray. But in fact, the Wikileaks orthodox position against censorship, at all costs, is designed to allow it total control on the freedom of publication, how and as much as it wants. But will this allow other narratives they do not espouse to be freely expressed? It is reasonable to assume that they too, in their capacity as mediators, will become an alternative form of censorship.
The complexity of power struggles is revealed also when Assange and Schmidt talk about the reduced extent of mediation required in the “new world.” Assange talks about relying on the masses as a way of bypassing intermediators, while Schmidt makes do with believing in the empowering potential of technology as an explanation for the user’s growing power. Both ignore the fact that the degree of mediation has not decreased, but rather increased. Today, Google is the greatest platform mediator in human history — between its clouds, Android operating system, mapping service, search engine, YouTube, chat and telephony in Hangouts, photos on Picasa, or Waze. WikiLeaks, which wants to create “an improved model of journalism,” is also a mediator, whether reluctantly or not. In the diplomatic cables affair, it deliberately chose to release certain materials and exclude others from the public domain. Who can assure us it is an honest mediator? Nobody can answer that question — neither Assange nor Schmidt.
Despite their conflicting views on various issues, Julian Assange and Eric Schmidt share a blind adoration of technology and the belief that technological solutions will cure society of its ills and woes, of rampant inequality in different contexts and the brutal denial of various rights. Technology has an important role to play, but it is people who turn it into a space for economic growth or into a dangerous space.
NewsCorp: Google platform for piracy
NewsCorp’s chief executive writes strongly worded letter calling for a tougher approach from the EU to search giant Google.
The Power of Team Collaboration in the Workplace
Recent research by Cornerstone On Demand shows 38 percent of workers feel there is not enough collaboration in the workplace. Factors that would encourage collaboration, according to participants of the study, include positive recognition of input shared (50 percent), encouragement from senior staff (41 percent), ability to easily share input with different departments (33 percent), and more.
Here are some ways to harness the power of team collaboration and get your employees working smarter, harder, and most importantly, together:
Online Collaboration Tools
Social media ties us all together in more ways than ever. Tweeting along with your favorite television shows and Instagramming pictures of your lunch aren’t the only ways social media has taken flight. In the enterprise world, for instance, internal social media tools are making it easier for coworkers to connect and collaborate.
According to a survey, 75 percent of companies were using social collaboration tools in 2013. These tools can make it easier for employees to work remotely, for coworkers to ask quick questions without interrupting their workflow, and for your teams to share projects within the office and with outside contractors. These tools make it easy for even the busiest members of your team to stay in the loop.
Balance Collaboration and Focus
In order to get workers collaborating more fully, many companies are embracing the open office floor plan. There are many perks to this style of office, primarily the openness and transparency fostered between co-workers and departments. It’s easier to work together when you have line-of-sight to your other team members and open rooms where collaboration can happen spontaneously.
A 2013 study by Gensler found 69 percent of workers were dissatisfied with the noise levels of their workplaces. Yet a study by MIT cited in the report claimed researchers were able to predict 35 percent of a team’s performance simply by measuring the number and quality of face-to-face interactions. You need to give your employees room to focus and breathe, while also providing open spaces for collaboration. Make sure the design of your office strikes a balance between working solo and putting your best brains together.
Encourage Employees to Live the Brand
It’s easier for teams to throw their all into projects if they understand exactly what they’re working towards. Don’t be shy about communicating with your teams, and they’ll find it easier to communicate with each other.
Make the mission statement of the company central and make sure all collaboration efforts align with your company’s values. Once employees start living the company brand, they’ll have an easier time collaborating around projects and working toward central goals.
Your best people are creative problem solvers and big idea dreamers. So help them cut loose and listen to their imagination. Make creativity a focal point of your company culture by encouraging employees to cultivate ideas, especially in a collaborative environment. Set up regular brainstorming sessions and get everyone involved.
Always leave your door open for great ideas, no matter what section of the company the idea is coming from. Form interdisciplinary teams and allow employees to try completing new tasks to better understand how the company runs. Provide professional development and even plaster your office with whiteboard, so there’s always a writing surface for when inspiration strikes.
Great companies know the value of collaboration and understand how to foster it within teams and departments. It’s time to harness the power of collaboration and turn your workforce into a team of superhero employees.
Thanks for reading our digest. Opinions in the articles above are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Digital Workshed ltd.