Tag: Tech

After The Facebook Scandal It’s Time To Base The Digital Economy On Private Ownership Of Data

The continuing collapse of public trust in Facebook is welcome news to those of us who have been warning about the perils of “data extractivism” for years.

It’s reassuring to have final, definitive proof that beneath Facebook’s highfalutin rhetoric of “building a global community that works for all of us” lies a cynical, aggressive project – of building a global data vacuum cleaner that sucks from all of us.

Like others in this industry, Facebook makes money by drilling deep into our data selves – pokes and likes is simply how our data comes to the surface – much like energy firms drill deep into the oil wells: profits first, social and individual consequences later.




Furthermore, the rosy digital future – where cleverly customized ads subsidize the provision of what even Mark Zuckerberg calls “social infrastructure” – is no longer something that many of us will be taking for granted.

While the monetary costs of building and operating this “social infrastructure” might be zero – for taxpayers anyway – its social and political costs are, perhaps, even harder to account for than the costs of cheap petroleum in the 1970’s.

Such realizations, as sudden and shocking as they might be, are not enough. Facebook is a symptom, not a cause of our problems.

In the long run, blaming its corporate culture is likely to prove as futile as blaming ourselves.

Thus, instead of debating whether to send Zuckerberg into the corporate equivalent of exile, we should do our best to understand how to reorganize the digital economy to benefit citizens.

And not just a handful of multi-billion-dollar firms that view their users as passive consumers with no political or economic ideas or aspirations of their own.

The obstacles standing in the way of this transformative agenda are many and, worse, they are structural – not likely to be solved with a clever app.

These obstacles stem primarily from the disquieting dynamics of contemporary capitalism – which is more stagnant than our obsession with innovation and disruption betrays.

Rather than from our supposed addiction to social networking or tech companies’ abuse of that addiction.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

5 Creativity Apps To Inspire Kids

Unleash your child’s creativity and imagination with these inspiring apps.

From arranging fruit to make faces to blowing an ink spot into a whimsical monster, this list is full of apps that will spark your kids’ creativity.

These apps will tickle your kids’ imaginations and encourage them to think outside the box.




1. Faces iMake – Right Brain Creativity

A fanciful and fun tool for creating faces out of everyday objects including food, toys, tools, and more.

Kids create faces using unusual collage materials, such as candy, toys, fruit, musical instruments, and more to make fanciful art.

2. MoMA Art Lab

Kids learn about modern art by playing with this unique set of art tools.

They can create their own artwork or follow step-by-step projects based on famous pieces of modern art during which they can add their own unique flair.

3. The DAILY MONSTER Monster Maker

Splat! An ink spot jiggles, hoping your creativity will turn it into a world-class monster.

This app provides inspiration to draw monsters by starting with a ink splat on the page. From there, kids add whimsical body parts by selecting and dragging them from a file labeled “Parts.”

4. Toontastic

Ready, Set, Action! With this set of intuitive digital tools, your kids will be creating and directing their own cartoons.

This app provides kids with a set of digital tools to create their own cartoons.

They choose their setting, add characters, move those characters around in the setting to create animation as they provide the voices, add music, and — Voila! they’re done!

5. Petting Zoo – Animal Animations

21 animals await your touching. Their responses to your touch, tap, or swipe are magical, endearing, and hilarious.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

How To Track App Store Sales And iTunes Price Drops

Who doesn’t like App Store sales — or even better, sales on iTunes movies and music?

A few months ago I stumbled on an app called CheapCharts and I’ve been using it ever since to monitor App Store sales on apps I want to keep an eye on.

Aside from App Store sales, CheapCharts can also monitor sales across pretty much every other category including music, movies, books, and TV shows. CheapCharts is completely free to download and use.

Once you have CheapCharts installed, you can instantly launch it and start browsing through current apps and games that are on sale, or you can take things one step further.




How to track App Store sales and iTunes price drops with CheapCharts

  1. Launch the CheapCharts app and tap on the menu icon in the upper left hand corner.
  2. Tap on the search button.
  3. Type in an app, game, song, book, movie or TV show you want to track price drops for and search for it.
  4. Find it in the results and tap on its name.
  5. Tap on the Add to Wishlist option towards the top.
  6. The first time you do this you’ll be asked if you want to allow CheapCharts to send you notifications of price drops, choose Activate.

That’s pretty much it. Any apps you add to your wishlist, you’ll get a push notification every time the price changes. I use this frequently for movies that are new releases.

While they’re typically expensive right when they come out, they tend to drop in price fairly quickly.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

How To Improve Your Internet Browser Speed And Performance

If your browser is slow, don’t necessarily blame it on your connection. Third party toolbars, certain extensions, cookies or settings may also impede on your browser’s performance.

Here are some simple tips and tricks to optimize your Internet Explorer browser:

  • Uninstall toolbars
  • Disable toolbars and extensions directly from your browser
  • Clear browsing cache and cookies
  • Reset your browser settings

Other ideas that might help:

  • Install the latest version of Internet Explorer
  • Try another browser




There are numerous internet browsers, each one looking slightly different from the other. Some browsers come with more features, others keep it simple.

Some operate a little better than others. But all internet browsers basically do the same thing: allow you to browse the web.

The most popular browsers are Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera.

There are also other, less popular browsers like RockMelt, Avant Browser, Maxthon, Deepnet Explorer, Flock, SeaMonkey, AOL Explorer etc.

Switching from one browser to another is in most cases the fastest and easiest way to fix a lot of the issues you encounter.

If the browser is packed with toolbars and plug-ins, won’t open some websites or takes a long time to load, you can try to install another one and see if it works better.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Huawei Says Three Cameras Are Better Than One With P20 Pro Smartphone

Huawei’s latest flagship smartphone is the P20 Pro, which has not one, not two, but three cameras on the back.

The new P20, and the larger, more feature-packed P20 Pro, launched at an event in Paris that indicated the Chinese company is looking to match rivals Apple and Samsung and elevate the third-largest smartphone manufacture’s premium efforts.

The P20 has a 5.8in FHD+ LCD while the larger P20 Pro has a 6.1in FHD+ OLED screen, both with a notch at the top similar to Apple’s iPhone X containing a 24-megapixel selfie camera.

They both have a fingerprint scanner on the front but no headphone socket in the bottom.

The P20 and P20 Plus are also available in pink gold or a blue twilight gradient colour finish that resembles pearlescent paint found on some cars – a first, Huawei says, for a glass-backed smartphone.




The P20 has an improved version of Huawei’s Leica dual camera system, which pairs a traditional 12-megapixel colour camera to a 20-megapixel monochrome one, as used on the recent Mate 10 Pro.

But the P20 Pro also has a third 8-megapixel telephoto camera below the first two, producing up to a 5x hybrid zoom – which Huawei says, enables the phone to “see brighter, further, faster and with richer colour”.

When I first heard that Huawei’s new flagship device was going to have three rear-facing cameras I was sceptical,” said Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight.

But it feels like the company has added meaningful features rather than gimmicks, including the five-times telephoto zoom, excellent low light, long exposure performance and crisp black and white pictures the dedicated monochrome lens offers.

Huawei has also improved its built-in AI system for the camera, which recognises objects and scenes, pre-selecting the best of 19 modes for the subject.

Huawei’s AI will also help people straighten photos and zoom in or out to assist with composing group shots.

The company is also pushing its new AI-powered stablisation for both photos and videos, which Huawei says solves the problem of wobbly hands in long-exposure night shots.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Nike Unveils The Next Generation Of Flyknit: Flyknit 360

According to Nike, Flyknit debuted at the 2012 London Olympic Games on the Nike Flyknit Racer. Six years later, Nike is on to the next generation: Flyknit 360.

Nike Flyknit is the product of a digitally engineered knitting process that knits a flat upper; that upper is then attached to a midsole to construct a shoe.

Today, Nike has announced a new advancement in Flyknit: now, a shoe upper can be constructed in a complete 360-degree form that wraps the entire foot.

According to Nike, engineers use complex knitting structures to create a closed anatomical form that mimics the shape of the foot to construct this upper.




Afterwards, the upper is put through a thermoforming process that applies shape and support underfoot.

Nike has said that the benefits of its new Flyknit 360 are threefold. First, wearers should be better locked in because the new construction offers a closer fit that reduces movement in the shoe.

Second, Nike says the 360-degree form will improve agility and quickness by minimizing the space between the foot and the ground.

And third, the new Nike Flyknit should be more sustainable; because it is precision engineered down to the individual stitch it produces 60% less waste than traditional cut-and-sew methods.

Like many of Nike’s innovations, this new Nike Flyknit 360 will appear in its Mercurial soccer boots; the Mercurial Superfly 360 and Mercurial Vapor 360.

Both boots are now available for purchase on nike.com.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Larry Page’s Kitty Hawk Unveils Autonomous Flying Taxis

Autonomous flying taxis just took one big step forward to leaping off the pages of science fiction and into the real world, thanks to Google co-founder Larry Page’s Kitty Hawk.

The billionaire-backed firm has announced that it will begin the regulatory approval process required for launching its autonomous passenger-drone system in New Zealand, after conducting secret testing under the cover of another company called Zephyr Airworks.

The firm’s two-person craft, called Cora, is a 12-rotor plane-drone hybrid that can take off vertically like a drone, but then uses a propeller at the back to fly at up to 110 miles an hour for around 62 miles at a time.




The all-electric Cora flies autonomously up to 914 metres (3,000ft) above ground, has a wingspan of 11 metres, and has been eight years in the making.

Kitty Hawk is personally financed by Page and is being run by former Google autonomous car director Sebastian Thrun. The company is trying to beat Uber and others to launching an autonomous flying taxi service.

The company hopes to have official certification and to have launched a commercial service within three years, which will make it the first to do so.

But its achievement will also propel New Zealand to the front of the pack as the first country to devise a certification process.

The country’s aviation authority is well respected in the industry, and is seen as pioneering.

Kitty Hawk is already working on an app and technology to allow customers to hail flying taxis as they would an Uber, but whether Page, Thrun and their team will actually be able to deliver within three years remains to be seen.

Many companies have promised great leaps but failed to deliver meaningful progress towards a Jetsons-like future, from Uber’s Elevate to China’s Ehang.

Even if Kitty Hawk hits all its projected milestones and launches commercially, there’s then the matter of persuading people to actually use it.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Apple Announces A March 27th Event Focusing On Education

Apple has announced an event on March 27th that will focus on “creative new ideas for teachers and students,” according to an invitation that just went out.

There’s not a lot to go by in terms of hints from the invitation — just a stylized Apple logo and the phrase “Let’s take a field trip,” which fits in with the education theme.

But it’s been rumored that Apple has been working on cheaper MacBooks and iPads, which would make sense given this event’s context.

Interestingly, the event won’t be held in Apple’s newly opened Apple Park campus in Cupertino, but at a high school in Chicago.




Chicago’s Board of Education recently added computer science as a graduation requirement for all public schools in the city, making it a fitting pairing for an Apple event.

Apple has also been working to transition the iPad into a classroom tool for educators for the past several years.

With recent rumors claiming that the company could release an entry-level 9.7-inch iPad priced around $259, which is even cheaper than the current $329 model.

Additionally, if you’re prone to reading into Apple’s invitations, it’s easy to see how the company could be hinting at something related to the iPad or Apple Pencil with this seemingly hand-drawn Apple logo.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

A Self-driving Uber In Arizona Kills A Woman In First Fatal Crash Involving Pedestrian

An autonomous Uber car killed a woman in the street in Arizona, police said, in what appears to be the first reported fatal crash involving a self-driving vehicle and a pedestrian in the US.

Tempe police said the self-driving car was in autonomous mode at the time of the crash and that the vehicle hit a woman, who was walking outside of the crosswalk and later died at a hospital.

There was a vehicle operator inside the car at the time of the crash.

Uber said in a statement on Twitter: “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident.” A spokesman declined to comment further on the crash.

The company said it was pausing its self-driving car operations in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.




Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO, tweeted: “Some incredibly sad news out of Arizona. We’re thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened.

Uber has been testing its self-driving cars in numerous states and temporarily suspended its vehicles in Arizona last year after a crash involving one of its vehicles, a Volvo SUV.

When the company first began testing its self-driving cars in California in 2016, the vehicles were caught running red lights, leading to a high-profile dispute between state regulators and the San Francisco-based corporation.

Police identified the victim as 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg and said she was walking outside of the crosswalk with a bicycle when she was hit at around 10pm on Sunday. Images from the scene showed a damaged bike.

The 2017 Volvo SUV was traveling at roughly 40 miles an hour, and it did not appear that the car slowed down as it approached the woman, said Tempe sergeant Ronald Elcock.

Elcock said he had watched footage of the collision, which has not been released to the public. He also identified the operator of the car as Rafael Vasquez, 44, and said he was cooperative and there were no signs of impairment.

The self-driving technology is supposed to detect pedestrians, cyclists and others and prevent crashes.

John M Simpson, privacy and technology project director with Consumer Watchdog, said the collision highlighted the need for tighter regulations of the nascent technology.

The robot cars cannot accurately predict human behavior, and the real problem comes in the interaction between humans and the robot vehicles,” said Simpson, whose advocacy group called for a national moratorium on autonomous car testing in the wake of the deadly collision.

Simpson said he was unaware of any previous fatal crashes involving an autonomous vehicle and a pedestrian.

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Pass it on: Popular Science