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Showing posts from 2014

Google and Microsoft Challenge Hotels in Wi-Fi Debate

December 2014
Google and Microsoft Challenge Hotels in Wi-Fi Debate
While the latest flashy gadgets and technology tend to steal the spotlight each holiday season, the continued debate over wireless access at hotels—whether for individual purposes or to accommodate larger groups—will likely have some of the biggest implications in 2015.
Several months ago, the FCC fined Marriott $600,000 for blocking the use of personal hotspots at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) and Marriott International responded with a petition arguing that a hotel operator should be able to use equipment to manage its network, even if it "may result in interference with or cause interference to" a guest's wireless device, as a matter of safety against malicious software and other web-based attacks.
Beyond network security, AH&LA argued that "unauthorized access points can hinder the ability of …

Zombification from notifications: How to fix the problem of too many alerts

Zombification from notifications: How to fix the problem of too many alerts
December 27, 2014 4:00 AM By Shruti Gandhi 
When was the last time you suspended all notifications on your phone? Maybe in airplane mode or at night (and even then, only if your alarm can still work), right?
Of course, you don’t want to miss your boss’ urgent email, an alert about a family emergency in the middle of the night, or that call from the school when your child is sick. Text during dinner? Sorry kid, hold that thought. WhatsApp alert during a date? Before your tell me about your hobbies, I just need to respond to this forward from my 30 best friends (I mean, they saw I viewed the message — thanks, WhatsApp). Don’t you entrepreneurs love it when the investors pull out their devices mid-pitch? Sounds like it could be a scene from a Shaun of the Dead sequel, doesn’t it?
The mindless action of reaching for our phones in the middle of anything makes us living zombies in today’s world.
For the strong few…

Facebook must face lawsuit over scanning of users' messages

Facebook must face lawsuit over scanning of users' messages: judge By Nate Raymond | Reuters – Wed, 24 Dec, 2014
(Reuters) - Facebook Inc must face a class action lawsuit accusing it of violating its users' privacy by scanning the content of messages they send to other users for advertising purposes, a U.S. judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California, on Tuesday dismissed some state-law claims against the social media company but largely denied Facebook's bid to dismiss the lawsuit.
Facebook had argued that the alleged scanning of its users' messages was covered by an exception under the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act for interceptions by service providers occurring in the ordinary course of business.
But Hamilton said Facebook had "not offered a sufficient explanation of how the challenged practice falls within the ordinary course of its business."
Neither Facebook nor a lawyer for the plaintiffs responded to …

'Tipping Point'? Could 2015 be the year of domestic robots and 3D printed food?

Could 2015 be the year of domestic robots and 3D printed food? Futurologist claims technology has reached a 'tipping point'Comments were made by London-based futurologist Dr James Bellini He says more people will opt for mobile phone-controlled smart devicesMany of these devices will be home-based, such as smart thermostats  Domestic robots are the product people are most looking forward toDr Bellini added that we were beginning to see the phasing out of 'traditional' technologies, such as the TV set and landline phonesBy Ellie Zolfagharifard for MailOnline and Press Association Published: 13:39 EST, 24 December 2014 | Updated: 16:22 EST, 24 December 2014
A smart home full of devices connected to each other, as well as domestic robots are closer than we think, according to one futurologist. This year has seen a rush in the popularity of smart gadgets, with items like 3D printers and smart thermostats making it onto Christmas lists for the fi…

Scientists use skin cells to create artificial sperm and eggs

Scientists use skin cells to create artificial sperm and eggs
Early-stage sex cells research in Cambridge has potential to help people with fertility problems
Ian Sample, science editor
Wednesday 24 December 2014 12.00 EST 
Scientists have made primitive forms of artificial sperm and eggs in a medical feat that could transform the understanding of age-related diseases and fertility problems.
Researchers in Cambridge made the early-stage sex cells by culturing human embryonic stem cells under carefully-controlled conditions for a week.
They followed the success by showing that the same procedure can convert adult skin tissue into precursors for sperm and eggs, raising the prospect of making sex cells that are genetically matched to patients.
The cells should have the potential to grow into mature sperm and eggs, though this has never been done in the lab before. The next step for the researchers will be to inject the cells into mouse ovaries or testes to see if they fully develop i…

Mind over matter, the brain alone can tone muscle

Mind over matter, the brain alone can tone muscle
"What our study suggests is that imagery exercises could be a valuable tool to prevent or slow muscles from becoming weaker," said Brian Clark.
By Brooks Hays  Dec. 24, 2014 at 10:14 AM
ATHENS, Ohio, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- New research suggests muscles respond to simple thoughts of exercise; simply imagining exercise can trick the muscles into delaying atrophy and even getting stronger. It's further proof that brain and body, which evolved together, are more intwined than separate.
To demonstrate the power of the brain, researchers at Ohio University wrapped a single wrist of two sets of study participants in a cast -- immobilizing their muscles for four weeks. One set was instructed to sit still and intensely imagine exercising for 11 minutes, five days a week. More than just casually daydream about going to the gym, participants were instructed to devote all of their mental energy towards imagining flexing their arm muscle…

Soon Your Tech Will Talk to You Through Your Skin

Soon Your Tech Will Talk to You Through Your Skin
By Clive Thompson  12.22.14  5:30 am 
When Thomas Ella gets a text message on his smartphone, he can sometimes tell what it says without reading it. Instead, he feels it: An app called Mumble! “plays” the text as a pattern of vibrations, syllable by syllable, using higher-intensity vibrations when a message has exclamation points or capitalizations. After a few weeks of using the app, Ella developed a sort of tactile ESP, an ability to recognize texts as coming from particular friends and to distinguish a significant message that needs a reply from an “LOL” that doesn’t. “It’s cool,” he says, “to have a reason not to pull out my phone.”
Haptic technologies have begun to flourish recently—tools that buzz, vibrate, or otherwise “communicate information through people’s skin,” as haptics pioneer Karon MacLean, of the University of British Columbia, puts it. Automakers like General Motors are producing drivers’ seats that vibrate in the d…

Smartphone use 'changing our brains'

23 December 2014 Last updated at 12:03 ET
Smartphone use 'changing our brains' By Michelle Roberts Health editor, BBC News online
Our brains are adapting to touchscreen smartphone technology say researchers who have carried out a study on human volunteers.
The scientists used something called electroencephalography (EEG) to measure brain activity.
They found distinct differences between smartphone users and people who used 'conventional' cellphones.
Smartphone users had more attuned fingers and thumbs, based on their EEG readings.
Of the 37 volunteers, 26 were touchscreen smartphone users while 11 used 'old-fashioned' mobile phones.
The EEG readings looked at the electrical messages sent back and forth between the brain and the hands via nerves.
Multiple electrodes placed on the volunteer's scalp recorded these exchanges about sensation.
From this, the researchers were able to build up a picture or map of how much brain tissue is devoted to a given bo…

The best office apps for Android

The best office apps for Android
By JR Raphael, InfoWorld | Dec 15, 2014
Which office package provides the best productivity experience on Android? We put the leading contenders to the test
Getting serious about mobile productivity
We live in an increasingly mobile world -- and while many of us spend our days working on traditional desktops or laptops, we also frequently find ourselves on the road and relying on tablets or smartphones to stay connected and get work done.
Where do you turn when it's time for serious productivity on an Android device? The Google Play Store boasts several popular office suite options; at a glance, they all look fairly comparable. But don't be fooled: All Android office apps are not created equal.
I spent some time testing the five most noteworthy Android office suites to see where they shine and where they fall short. I looked at how each app handles word processing, spreadsheet editing, and presentation editing -- both in terms of the features …

7 Things Microsoft Killed in 2014, and 1 That Got Off the Hook

7 Things Microsoft Killed in 2014, and 1 That Got Off the Hook
Network World | Dec 22, 2014 10:09 AM PT
2014 has been a year of major changes at Microsoft, not the least of which was the naming of Satya Nadella to replace Steve Ballmer as CEO.
But the company also registered plenty of changes across its product lines, making way for new offerings by scuttling or renaming old ones.
Here's a look back at 2014:
Windows XP support
Microsoft warned and warned and warned, and then finally did pull the plug on Windows XP support in April, leaving the machines of millions and millions of foot-draggers vulnerable.
As of November, XP still owned better than 13% of the worldwide operating system market, trailing only Windows 7, even though Microsoft had ceased distributing XP to OEMs in 2008 and for netbooks in 2010.
Microsoft in June ditched a marketing program involving a partner that essentially offered bloggers incentives to write nice things about the Internet Explorer browser followin…

California puzzles over safety of driverless cars

California puzzles over safety of driverless cars
Dec 21, 10:46 AM (ET)
By JUSTIN PRITCHARD
LOS ANGELES (AP) — California's Department of Motor Vehicles will miss a year-end deadline to adopt new rules for cars of the future because regulators first have to figure out how they'll know whether "driverless" vehicles are safe.
It's a rare case of the law getting ahead of an emerging technology and reflects regulators' struggle to balance consumer protection with innovation.
Safety is a chief selling point, since self-driving cars — thanks to an array of sensors — promise to have much greater road awareness and quicker reaction time than people. Plus, they won't text, drink or doze off.
Though the cars are at least a few years away from showrooms, seven companies are testing prototypes on California's roads, and regulators have questions: Do they obey all traffic laws? What if their computers freeze? Can they smoothly hand control back to human drivers?

Google self-driving car prototype ready to try road

Google self-driving car prototype ready to try road
AFP 37 minutes ago
This image provided on May 28, 2014 by Google shows a self-driving two-seat prototype vehicle conceived and designed by Google (AFP Photo/) San Francisco (AFP) - Google on Monday announced that the first completed prototype of its self-driving car is ready to be road tested.
"We're going to be spending the holidays zipping around our test track, and we hope to see you on the streets of Northern California in the new year," the Internet titan's autonomous car team said in a post at Google+ social network.
The prototype is a manifestation of plans that California-based Google revealed in May to build its own autonomous car minus typical features such as steering wheels.
"They won't have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal... because they don't need them. Our software and sensors do all the work," Google's Chris Urmson said in a blog post in May.
Technical speci…