Shared posts

15 Oct 19:42

"It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO. So, in 2015, we will launch a stand-alone,..."

“It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO. So, in 2015, we will launch a stand-alone, over-the-top, HBO service in the United States. We will work with our current partners. And, we will explore models with new partners. All in, there are 80 million homes that do not have HBO and we will use all means at our disposal to go after them.”


Richard Plepler, chairman and CEO of HBO, in a press release today released during the Time Warner investor meeting.

Yesssssssssssssss. Finally.

16 Oct 12:55

Why Inequality Matters

Why Inequality Matters:

Bill Gates on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century:

I agree that taxation should shift away from taxing labor. It doesn’t make any sense that labor in the United States is taxed so heavily relative to capital. It will make even less sense in the coming years, as robots and other forms of automation come to perform more and more of the skills that human laborers do today.

Interesting point.

16 Oct 23:41



17 Oct 01:39

New iPads and the Apple SIM

by Federico Viticci

A major change in the new iPads that Apple didn't mention on stage today is the Apple SIM, which will come preinstalled on the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. As we mentioned in our overview, the Apple SIM will be initially limited to the US and the UK.

Ina Fried writes:

The cellular-equipped versions of the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 can be bought with a single SIM card that supports multiple carriers, meaning that customers don’t have to decide at the time of purchase which cellular carrier they want. Customers buying previous versions of the iPad were bound to one carrier from the outset, since the SIM card was only compatible with that service.

Over at Quartz, Dan Frommer argues that the Apple SIM could potentially be a big deal on the iPhone and even disrupt the wireless industry:

It’s early, but it’s easy to see how this concept could significantly disrupt the mobile industry if Apple brings it to the iPhone. In many markets—especially the US—most mobile phones are distributed by operators and locked to those networks under multi-year contracts. People rarely switch operators, partially out of habit and satisfaction, but mostly because it’s annoying to do so.

There have always been rumors (see: 2010) of Apple setting itself up as a MVNO to change the way customers “interact” with carriers. It's interesting that Apple has started to experiment with Apple SIM on the iPad and I'm curious to see if and how this will expand worldwide.

∞ Read this on MacStories

17 Oct 02:10

All the new Apple stuff (October 2014)

by Michael Zhao
2014-10-16 11.25.15 (1)

During today’s event, Apple updated pretty much everything they didn’t get to in September. There’s a new iPad Air and iPad mini, a Retina iMac, and a surprise appearance of an updated Mac mini. Apple also announced the launch of Mac OS X Yosemite (which you can download right now) and iOS 8.1 (which launches Monday with support for Apple Pay); we covered those back in June when they were first announced.

What’s new about the new iPads?

For one thing, choosing between mini and Air just got a lot easier. The iPad Air 2 got a bunch of updates and is better than the original Air in every aspect. It’s thinner and lighter than its already-thin-and-light predecessor, and it has a better screen, faster chips, better cameras, Touch ID, and faster wireless (both Wi-Fi and LTE). Oh, and it now comes in gold.

The new iPad mini 3 only got the paint job and Touch ID sensor. Beyond that, it’s the same exact thing as the old iPad mini Retina (seriously, compare the specs side by side), which now sells for $100 less. That makes the mini 3 a pretty bad deal.

With this latest generation of iPads, Apple has made it clear that big tablets are the ones to get. This makes sense given their push for larger phone screens. If phones are larger, there’s less need for a small tablet. 

The iPad Air 2 is thinner and slightly lighter, so it's easier to use one-handed than previous full-sized iPads. Photo by Seamus Bellamy

The iPad Air 2 is thinner and slightly lighter, so it’s easier to use one-handed than previous full-sized iPads. Photo by Seamus Bellamy.

The most immediately obvious change to the iPad Air 2 is its size. A reduction of 1.4 millimeters of thickness and 32 grams of weight doesn’t sound like a lot. After trying them in person, though, the Air 2 is noticeably lighter and thinner in the hand, making it more comfortable to hold than the original. And now the Air is now only 0.2 pounds heavier than the iPad mini. If you like the Air’s larger screen but preferred the mini for its lighter weight and easier one-handed use, the new Air may be more appealing.


The iPad Air 2 (right) has an anti-reflective coating whereas the iPad mini 3 (left) does not. Photo by Dan Frakes.

The iPad Air 2 (right) has an anti-reflective coating whereas the iPad mini 3 (left) does not. Photo by Dan Frakes.

 The key to the new Air’s thinness is a redesigned screen with no air gaps between the layers. Apple claims that this also makes the display sharper. They’ve also added an anti-reflective coating to the glass to make it easier to read. Screen glare has been one of the big criticisms of the iPad for reading and outdoor use, so this is a welcome improvement. The image above shows the same ceiling light reflected off the screens of the iPad mini 3 (left) and iPad Air 2 (right). On the mini, the glare is very bright and completely obscures whatever is on the screen. On the Air, there’s still a glare, but it’s much more muted and you can still see the screen through it. It’s not a matte anti-glare treatment—which usually affects colors and brightness—but rather a more-subtle reduction of reflections.

The camera’s resolution is now 8 megapixels instead of 5 MP and adds burst mode and slo-mo video shooting. That’s similar to the camera on the iPhone 5s, though the pixels on the sensor are a bit smaller than those on the 5s, so low-light performance might not be as good. Still, it’s not bad for a tablet.

The insides have been upgraded too. Apple says the new A8X processor makes graphics up to 2.5 times better, and apps will run faster and more efficiently. The Air 2 has two-stream 802.11ac Wi-Fi, so you’ll get faster internet and file transfers if you use it with an ac-capable router like our pick. It also has the same M8 motion coprocessor as the iPhone 6—not that you should use your tablet for fitness tracking. Like the iPads that came before it, the Air 2 should have an impressive 10-hour battery life.

Pricing starts at $500 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model. There’s a 64GB model for $600 and 128GB for $700. As with the iPhone, Apple eliminated the 32GB model entirely.

LTE still costs $130 extra, but in a surprising move, the LTE Air 2 comes pre-installed with a SIM card that lets you switch freely between AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint without changing SIM cards (Verizon is conspicuously absent). That means you can pick whichever carrier works best for you and just buy data from them as needed. Apple didn’t make a big deal out of this, but it’s actually a pretty big win for customers since you can switch networks without needing to buy a new iPad.

The new iPad mini 3 has the same pricing structure but starts at $400 for the 16GB version. Pre-orders for both start on the 17th and they’ll ship starting late next week.

Should I get one?

If you bought an iPad a while back and find that it’s now gathering dust, buying a new one probably won’t change that. But if you’re using yours less because it’s getting slow and annoying, now’s a good time to upgrade. Touch ID alone will greatly improve your tablet experience. Games will have better graphics, apps will load faster, and of course, everything will be a tiny bit easier to travel with.

However, if you have a perfectly functional iPad that isn’t laggy, you should first consider your use patterns. The improved portability won’t really matter if you’re just watching TV in bed or reading the news on the couch. But if you use the iPad a lot for traveling, you’ll appreciate that the new ones are light enough to operate one-handed. It’s also easy to justify upgrading if you like taking photos with a tablet. The upgraded 8MP camera should be a huge improvement over those of past iPads. We have more advice on this in our full guide.

How about that Retina iMac?

The Retina iMac is as gorgeous as you’d expect from an iMac with a 5120×2880, 14.7-megapixel display. It has the same design as the normal 27-inch iMac, but possesses faster guts and a much more pixel-dense screen. Assuming this Retina display is as accurate out of the box as the MacBook Pro with Retina display was when it came out, this is going to be a real game changer for photographers, who will be able to see photos in near full resolution with near-accurate colors.

It starts at $2,500, which is surprisingly affordable given that Dell plans to sell a 5K monitor for the same price. However, we don’t yet know whether the GPU in the base configuration will be powerful enough to push all those pixels smoothly. Fully maxed out, it’ll set you back $4,400.

It’s available starting today, but the smart money’s on waiting for the reviews and benchmarks to see just how good that display is, and whether the hardware is enough to keep up with it. But if you must have it now, our computer section editor Nathan Edwards has some advice on which configuration to get: “Most people who just need a great computer will probably be fine with the base model GPU with 2 GB of VRAM. Video editors, 3D modelers, and anyone who deals with very high-resolution graphics—basically anyone who relies on a good GPU for work—should get the upgraded GPU with 4 GB of VRAM. Or a Mac Pro.”

Is the new Mac mini worth considering now?

Maybe. The new Mac mini has upgraded processors, storage, graphics, and Thunderbolt 2 ports, and its base model now starts at $500 instead of $600. By the time you’ve added a keyboard, mouse, and monitor, you’re approaching the cost of a MacBook Air or 21-inch iMac. But if you already have a monitor you like and a keyboard/mouse combo that works, it’s not an awful deal for a competent desktop computer. It’s the cheapest way to get a Mac, and the small size makes it a decent candidate for a media center PC or a very small desktop. You could build a desktop with much better specs for the same amount of money, if you have the time and know-how, but that would be much larger and wouldn’t be a Mac.

17 Oct 01:56

Living with multiple myeloma: My cancer is back

by tyfn

Waiting for chemo treatmentMay 2013: Waiting for chemo treatment

This week I had my Hematologist appointment and based on elevated levels of my Beta-2 microglobulin, my cancer is back. For most multiple myeloma patients, their myeloma protein resides in the gamma globulin, for me it is the Beta 2 globulin. My igG number is used to track my cancer levels, which will parallel my Beta 2 number. Right now, my igG level is 14.8, my Beta 2 level is 9.5. Therefore I was in complete remission (no myeloma visible in my blood stream) from November 2013 until July 2014.

I had a good discussion with my Hematologist. Basically if my igG levels spike or if I experience bone pain (a common symptom of multiple myeloma), then we will have to discuss chemo treatment options. Otherwise, we will watch my levels and hopefully they will only go up gradually. I will continue to have blood tests every five months and see my Hematologist every 3 months.

Serum Proteins (Electrophoresis & Immunoglobulins) (g/L)
Date Albumin Beta 2 Globulin Gamma Globulin igG igA igM
Reference Range 34.0-53.0 1.8 – 4.8 5.1 – 15.0 6.7 – 15.2 .70 – 4.00 .40 – 2.30
Oct 46.2 9.5 6.4 14.8 .39 .27
Sept 45.1 6.2 7.1 12.8 .36 .21
July 45.9 4.9 6.9 10.8 .34 .25
June 45.3 4.0 6.6 9.9 .33 .30
May 46.5 3.5 7.3 9.2 .33 .26
Apr 47.9 2.8 7.0 9.2 .28 .23
Mar 48.3 2.8 7.0 8.9 .31 .33
Feb 51.4 2.8 6.4 7.7 .24 .38
Jan 47.6 3.0 6.2 7.5 .17 .33
Nov 45.6 3.5 5.1 7.1 .14 .10

Test Comment: There is a monoclonal band in the beta 2 region. This band was previously identified as IgG lambda.

Hematology Profile
Date WBC Hemoglobin Platelet Count Neutrophils
Reference Range 4.0 – 11.0 135 – 170 150 – 400 2.0 – 8.0
Oct 4.1 139 305 2.1
Sept 3.7 135 241 1.8
July 2.9 133 247 1.4
June 3.4 135 265 1.8
May 3.2 138 294 1.5
Apr 2.3 137 243 0.9
Mar 2.0 135 211 0.8
Feb 2.0 132 208 0.9
Jan 1.9 124 217 0.7
Nov 2.2 118 220 1.1

I had a question about whether multiple myeloma was a chronic disease and about whether the spoonie theory applies. I was told that it is not, which makes sense to me. I don’t have a limited amount of energy each day and my disease is terminal.

I’m now in ‘preparing for chemo’ mode. With my last two chemo treatments, I had life altering events , so I may have serious side effects again and I need to be prepared (e.g. financially, physically, mentally, emotionally). During Revlimid, I had a ischemic stroke caused by TTP, a rare blood disorder and spent 12 days in hospital. In 2013, during Velade, my T7 vertebrae collapsed causing intense pain over four weeks.

I expect chemo in the next two years. It is important that I remain stress-free as possible in my life to help keep my levels from spiking.
I view my upcoming chemo as an opportunity to continue to share knowledge about multiple myeloma to others. Whenever my treatment happens, I will document it like in 2013 using photography and social media. I also hope to get going on Cancer Sabbatical, once I can get a laptop.

If anyone has any questions, just ask. Staying positive!

To recap: I have Multiple Myeloma, a rare blood cancer. It is incurable, but treatable. From February to November 2013, I received Velcade chemo through weekly in-hospital injections as an outpatient. It was a challenging year.

I also love photography and use it for personal health and healing. You can view my photos on Pinterest.

Sunset in a UBC ForestSunset in a UBC forest

The post Living with multiple myeloma: My cancer is back appeared first on Fade to Play.

16 Oct 18:03

Sneak Peek at Pixelmator for iPad

by Ausra (Pixelmator Team)

This one is huge. And I mean it. 

We are extremely excited to finally let you know that we’ve been working very hard at a non-stop pace for two years on something that is definitely one of the best apps for the iPad ever. Or, if you will, definitely the best image editing app for the iPad.

Today, we introduce Pixelmator for iPad — a full featured image editing app for the iPad.

Just to tease you a bit more, we won’t show everything as of yet. But there are a few things that we just cannot keep to ourselves:

Pixelmator for iPad is a full featured, layer-based image editor that you can use to create, edit, and enhance your images. It looks amazing. It is a real iOS 8 app. Also, it is so incredibly easy to use. Pixelmator for iPad has a fantastic true-to-life painting engine, incredible color adjustments, retouching tools, gorgeous effects, shapes, typography, selection tools, non-destructive layer styles, and pretty much all of the advanced image editing tools that you will ever need. 

If that’s not enough, well, Pixelmator for iPad can work with Photoshop documents. Of course, it works flawlessly with Pixelmator for Mac via full iCloud support, via Handoff, or whatever else you choose. 

It is definitely a superb app and here is a tiny sneak peek of what it looks like:

Pixelmator for iPad is coming out very soon. It will cost $4.99, and it is going to be awesome. Oh, and by the way, it’s just 1.0 yet. This is only the beginning.

Be the first to know about Pixelmator for iPad release:

Subscribe to all other important Pixelmator news and announcements.
16 Oct 16:44

Mozilla and Telefónica Partner to Simplify Voice and Video Calls on the Web

by Mozilla
Mozilla is extending its relationship with Telefonica by making it easier than ever to communicate on the Web. Telefónica has been an invaluable partner in helping Mozilla develop and bring Firefox OS to market with 12 devices now available in … Continue reading
17 Oct 04:55

Bug Bash on Firefox OS v2.1

by pragmatic

The Firefox OS QA team is holding a Bug Bash on Firefox OS v2.1 next week in multiple timezones around the world. Please join us by contributing as little as 15 minutes of your time. Select a bite-size task through One and Done and earn a badge! Bring your Flame device, flash the latest 2.1 build, and help us provide the best quality ever!

Location and Time

  • Mountain View | Thu Oct 23 2014 from 4 pm to 6 pm PST | Meeting Room: Sanctuary
  • San Francisco | Thu Oct 23 2014 from 4 pm to 6 pm PST | Meeting Room: The Warfield
  • Paris | Thu Oct 23 2014 from 3 pm to 5 pm CEST | Meeting Room: Apero
  • Taipei | Fri Oct 24 2014 from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm GMT+8 | Meeting Room: Orange


All contributors will get a General QA Participation badge. Additionally, we’ll give out a B2G badge and stickers for

  1. any blocker bugs found
  2. any bugs knocked off the qa-wanted list

More details can be found here:

Hope to see you around!

Firefox OS QA Team

When: October 23, 2014.

17 Oct 07:00

Apple announces new iPads and Macs

by Roland B

Apple Event Main Pic

“It’s been way too long”

Apple held its October special event yesterday to introduce its line of new iPads and Macs and as usual, it was a more low-key affair than last month’s iPhone 6 launch.

Teasing us with the mysterious strap line “it’s been way too long”, there was intense speculation that besides the expected iPads, there might be a few surprises in store. Perhaps Apple would finally get serious about the living room with a long overdue Apple TV update or refresh the poor old Mac Mini – a diminutive desktop that is adored by Apple fans yet receives almost no media attention.

Unfortunately there weren’t any real surprises at the event, as details of the new iPads were unintentionally leaked (or was it just a cheap publicity stunt?) on Wednesday in new iPad User Guides in the iBooks store. The inclusion of Touch ID on the new iPads was already assumed, but it makes you wonder about this “doubling down” on secrecy. In fact, Apple even alluded to recent leaks with an admittedly funny video skit about tripling down on security.

Here’s a brief rundown of the main news.

Apple's Tim Cook holds the new iPad Air 2

Apple’s Tim Cook holds the new iPad Air 2

Apple’s strongest product lineup ever?

Echoing comments made by Apple’s Eddy Cue earlier this year, CEO Tim Cook noted that Apple’s product lineup is the strongest it’s ever been, designed to work seamlessly together and made possible by the most advanced operating systems on the planet – iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite.

So what was actually announced?

A new iPad Air 2, an iPad Mini 3, and a new iMac with a “5k” super high-resolution screen.

There was also a welcome update to the Mac Mini, but no Apple TV, and no Retina display MacBook Air.

You can’t have everything I suppose….

iPhone – a record breaking launch

Back to the event itself, and the first 20 minutes covered the stellar launch of the recent iPhone 6, the imminent Apple Pay rollout, and also a brief mention of the Apple Watch.

Unsurprisingly, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus rollout has been an incredible success. According to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, it’s been the most successful launch ever by a large margin. No sales figures were disclosed – they will instead be revealed when Apple reports its quarterly results next week.

But 10 million iPhone 6 sales on the first weekend and 4 million in China in the first 6 hours confirm it’s been a sellout for the new iPhones, which will be available in China from today and another 36 countries on October 31st.

Apple Pay – launch on Monday

Apple Pay (or  Pay) has received lots of media attention as Apple plans to aggressively roll out its new wireless payments system using the iPhone’s new NFC chip and Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

As “the easy, secure and private way to pay”,  Pay will launch in the U.S. on Monday via an iOS update to version 8.1. Since last month’s special event, Apple has incredibly signed up another 500 U.S. banks to the scheme and dozens more big name retailers. The service is expected to roll out internationally later this year and into next.

Apple Watch

Still on release date for the Apple Watch

Apple watch – still no release date

The Apple watch is, according to Apple “the most personal device we’ve ever created”, and has apparently received a great reception from the tech community, health and fitness sector, and fashion and style industries. This month it features on the cover of Chinese Vogue, worn by Chinese model Liu Wen.

Cook noted that Apple has been working closely with third party developers such as BMW and American Express to create Apple Watch apps. However, the best news for developers is that WatchKit will be available from next month, enabling them to start creating their own unique apps. Unfortunately, there was still no news on the launch date which is still pegged for early 2015. Perhaps the recent bankruptcy of GT Advanced Technologies (Apple’s main sapphire manufacturing partner) will lead to supply screen supply problems…

It remains to be seen how popular  Watch will be, as recent surveys have shown that American teens are not that excited by the prospect of the watch.

iOS 8 and OS X “Yosemite”

Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, took to the stage to provide an update on iOS adoption and its latest Mac operating system, OS X Yosemite (actually OS X version 10.10).

iOS 8 has already been installed on 48% of devices in just 4 weeks, said Federighi. That means that 94% of iDevice users have an OS that has been released or updated in the past year (i.e. combined statistics for both iOS 7 and iOS 8). While iOS 8 adoption has been marginally slower than iOS 7, it’s still an impressive figure when compared with Android.

Apple also took time to highlight Android’s adoption rates. According to Federighi (and validated on the Google Developer website), 54% of Android users are stuck on the older Jelly Bean, while the newest version KitKat took 313 days to achieve just 25% adoption.

“What really sets iOS apart is all the great technologies it puts in the hands of developers” – Craig Federighi, SVP Software Engineering

iOS 8.1 will be available on Monday and, besides the various fixes and updates, will include Apple Pay support, and the return of the Camera Roll. It’s obviously a time of the signs that Apple has listened to its users, who complained vocally that Camera Roll had been removed in iOS 8.

OS X Yosemite gives Macs a facelift

Apple's OS X Yosemite is available for free today

Apple’s OS X Yosemite is available for free today


In terms of OS X, the new version of Apple’s desktop OS will be available for free from today. Adopting a flatter look more in line with iOS, Yosemite includes improvements to the notification centre and more seamless integration with iOS devices – you can even take and receive phone calls and SMS messages right on your Mac.

iPad Air 2 – thinner, faster, lighter…

Tim Cook took highlighted the impact the iPad has had and how it is being used in ways that nobody imagined – perhaps to position the iPad in a more positive light consider that growth in tablets is slowing, and sales are being cannibalised from super sized phablets and smartphones.

“It’s not surprising that we’ve sold more iPads in the first 3 years than any product in our history. 225 million sold around the world.”

Cook also pointed out that the iPad is consistently rated number 1 in customer satisfaction surveys, with the iPad Mini Retina achieving an unbelievable 100% satisfaction in one instance.

Apple iPad Air 2 Phil Schiller

Apple’s Phil Shiller introduces the iPad Air 2


So what was new in the iPad Air 2? As expected – thinner, lighter, faster……

Here’s a brief summary of the main features:

  • A new custom A8X CPU – claimed to be 40% faster than the A7, and 12 x faster than iPad 1
  • 6.1 mm thick (18% thinner than the iPad Air 1)
  • 2.5 x faster GPU (180 x faster than iPad 1)
  • 10 hour battery life
  • M8 motion coprocessor chip (motion, barometer, speed)
  • Anti-reflective screen – 56% less reflective
  • Dual New 8 MP camera with burst mode, time lapse, slo-mo at 120 fps
  • Faster WiFi up to 866 Mbps and 4G up to 150 Mbps
  • Touch ID fingerprint sensor
  • Available in silver, space grey and gold
  • 16, 64, and 128 GB storage options

The iPad Air 2 is noticeably thinner even than the Air 1. It was shown next to the original 2010 iPad – it’s so thin that two of the new models stacked up are still thinner than the original. But has Apple done enough to update the iPad Air?

It’s a solid upgrade that’s perhaps more incremental than revolutionary, but Apple may have done just enough to maintain sales and tempt users to upgrade.

The iPad Air 2 is available today for pre-order, starting at £399 for the 16 GB version, £479 for 64 GB, and £559 for 128 GB.

Apple iPad Mini 3

The iPad Mini 3 received Touch ID but not much else

iPad Mini 3

The new iPad Mini received only minor updates. While gaining the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, little else on the diminutive iPad was updated – even last year’s A7 CPU was retained.

Perhaps Apple is trying to encourage consumers to upsell to the more profitable iPad Air 2, but there are many people who will be disappointed that the Mini didn’t receive a more significant update.

Nevertheless, last year’s model is retained at the new lower price point of £239 for a 16 GB model, and the original (non-Retina) Mini is also being kept alive at the cheaper end of the price bracket, for just £199.

Let’s hope that Apple deems to bestow a better CPU on next year’s iPad Mini…

14.7 million pixels on the new Retina iMac

Perhaps the star of the event, more so than the new iPads, was Apple’s new super high resolution Retina 5K iMac. The iMac is a popular all-on-one desktop that has helped Apple buck the industry trend and achieve 18% year on year growth.

The new 27″ model now sports a gorgeous 5,120 x 2,880 display with 14.7 million pixels, which Apple claims is the world’s highest resolution display. Contrasting this to regular 1080p Full HD, that’s 7 x more pixels and even 67% more pixels than one of the latest (and expensive) 4K TVs can handle.

Besides the display, the iMac’s internals were also beefed up – £1,999 now gets you a faster CPU, an AMD Radeon GPU and Apple’s hybrid “Fusion Drive” that can be configured up to 3 TB.

Apple iMac Retina 5K

Apple’s new iMac with Retina 5k display ups the ante for high-res all-in-ones

The iMac is an important product for Apple, not least because it’s used by professionals for photo and video editing and contributes enormously to the “Halo Effect” that helps drive sales of Apple’s other products.

It’s disappointing that the smaller 21.5″ iMac didn’t receive the same cutting edge display, but as the technology becomes cheaper, it’s something that we’ll no doubt see in the future.

Apple Mac Mini

Apple’s Mac Mini received a welcome spec bump

Mac Mini update surprise

One of the products most loved by Apple fans is the tiny Mac Mini, which is sold as a compact desktop machine sans keyboard, monitor and mouse.

If you’ve ever read any Apple forums, you’ll be aware that the faithful have been crying out for an update for a long time.

Thankfully, Apple did update the machine, albeit with a moderate spec bump starting from £399. Nevertheless, it was a much needed update that’s brought the tiny machine up to date with more capable hardware.

13 Oct 22:49

Twitter Favorites: [dwiskus] Productivity tool experts remind me of audiophiles. There comes a point where you’re listening to your stereo and missing the music.

Dave Wiskus @dwiskus
Productivity tool experts remind me of audiophiles. There comes a point where you’re listening to your stereo and missing the music.
17 Oct 05:42

Instapaper Liked: Vancouver Archipelago

Perched at the western edge of the Fraser Sea, the Vancouver Archipelago holds what remains of a great western city. This is the fifth in a series of extreme…
17 Oct 12:35

Android 5.0 Lollipop comes with its own ‘Messenger’ app

by Rajesh Pandey
If you’d look closely at the Nexus 6 screenshots on its official listing page from Google, you will notice an icon for a new Messaging app on the homescreen.  Continue reading →
17 Oct 14:48

Mozillians of the world, unite!

by davidwboswell

When i got involved with Mozilla in 1999, it was clear that something big was going on. The site had a distinctly “Workers of the world, unite!” feel to it. It caught my attention and made me interested to find out more.


The language on the site had the same revolutionary feel as the design. One of the pages talked about Why Mozilla Matters and it was an impassioned rallying cry for people to get involved with the audacious thing Mozilla was trying to do.

“The project is terribly important for the state of open-source software. [...] And it’s going to be an uphill battle. [...] A successful project could be the lever that moves a dozen previously immobile stones. [...] Maximize the opportunity here or you’ll be kicking yourself for years to come.”

With some minor tweaks, these words are still true today. One change: we call the project just Mozilla now instead of Our mission today is also broader than creating software, we also educate people about the web, advocate to keep the Internet open and more.

Another change is that our competition has adopted many of the tactics of working in the open that we pioneered. Google, Apple and Microsoft all have their own open source communities today. So how can we compete with companies that are bigger than us and are borrowing our playbook?

We do something radical and audicious. We build a new playbook. We become pioneers for 21st century participation. We tap into the passion, skills and expertise of people around the world better than anyone else. We build the community that will give Mozilla the long-term impact that Mitchell spoke about at the Summit.


Mozilla just launched the Open Standard site and one of the first articles posted is “Struggle For An Open Internet Grows“. This shows how the challenges of today are not the same challenges we faced 16 years ago, so we need to do new things in new ways to advance our mission.

If the open Internet is blocked or shut down in places, let’s build communities on the ground that turn it back on. If laws threaten the web, let’s make that a public conversation. If we need to innovate to be relevant in the coming Internet of Things, let’s do that.

Building the community that can do this is work we need to start on. What doesn’t serve our community any more? What do we need to do that we aren’t? What works that needs to get scaled up? Mozillians of the world, unite and help answer these questions.

17 Oct 13:46

"There’s an interesting thing about ancient China, because if you read through the history, almost..."

“There’s an interesting thing about ancient China, because if you read through the history, almost every single major invention of the world was invented in China first, and sometimes it took hundred of years for each to either it to make it’s way to Western Europe or to be reinvented in Western Europe. That includes paper, printing, steel, gunpowder, the compass, rudder, suspension bridges, etc. It’s almost everything, and for a long time China led the world in civilization because it was able to make these things long before anyone else. But there was one invention that China did not invent, and it would turn out to be the most important invention, and that was the invention of the scientific method.

There’s still a question about why China didn’t invent that, which was invented in the West. Because of that one invention, the West suddenly had a method for inventing new things and finding new things that was so superior that it just blew past all the great inventions of China and invented so many more things because of the power of this one invention. And that invention—the scientific method—is not a single thing. It’s actually a process with many ingredients, and the scientific method itself has actually been changing. In the very beginning it was very simple, a couple of processes like a controlled experiment, having a control, being able to repeat things, having to have a proof. We tend to think of the scientific method as sort of a whole—as fixed in time with a certain character. But lots of things that we assume or we now associate with the scientific method were only invented recently, some of them only as recently as 50 years ago—things like a double blind experiment or the invention of the placebo or random sampling were all incredibly recent additions to the scientific method. In 50 years from now the scientific method will have changed more than it has in the past 400 years just as everything else has.

So the scientific method is still changing over time. It’s an invention that we’re still evolving and refining. It’s a technology. It’s a process technology, but it’s probably the most important process and technology that we have, but that is still undergoing evolution refinement and advancement and we are adding new things to this invention. We’re adding things like a triple blind experiment or multiple authors or quantified self where you have experiment of N equals one. We’re doing things like saving negative results and transmitting those. There’s many, many things happening with the scientific method itself—as a technology—that we’re also improving over time, and that will affect all the other technologies that we make.”


Kevin Kelly

17 Oct 14:18

Engineering at Mozilla – Building Firefox with Georg Fritzsche

by Robert "Bob" Reyes
The Mozilla Philippines Community (MozillaPH) welcomes Georg Fritzsche to the Mozilla Community Space Manila (MozSpaceMNL) on the evening of Tue 18 Nov 2014. Georg is a Platform Engineer working on Firefox Desktop. He will talk about the Firefox engineering process as well as his recent projects and experiences working on Firefox. If you are interested in attending this event, kindly secure your FREE ticket. Strictly RSVP only. Maraming salamat po! Online Ticketing for Engineering at Mozilla – Building Firefox with… Read the rest
17 Oct 15:27

Let’s play the TransLink No-Win Game

by pricetags

From Business in Vancouver: “Developers step up to pay for transit stations

The economic benefits of being linked to rapid transit are so important that Metro Vancouver developers are paying millions of dollars to upgrade old stations and even help pay for new stations.

  • At the Marine Gateway station, for instance, developer PCI Group paid $2.5 million for access and safety improvements to the existing Canada Line station …
  • In Richmond, residential developers Polygon Homes, Concord Pacific and Pinnacle Properties agreed to a levy of $7,800 per housing unit they build nearby to pay for the $25 million Capstan Village, a new stop on the Canada Line. …
  • In Coquitlam, a unique funding arrangement between the province, the city of Coquitlam, Morguard Real Estate Investment Trust, which owns Coquitlam Centre Mall, and residential developers was used to cover the $28 million cost of an extra stop, the Lincoln Station, on the Evergreen Line, which completes in 2016. …
  • A new Canada Line transit station has been roughed in at Cambie and 57th in Vancouver, and it is expected that private developers will be paying to build it. …


Is this:

(a) Another reason why housing is unaffordable in Vancouver.

(b) Another example of Vancouver as a massive real-estate play for the benefit of developers.

(c) Why our rapid-transit lines will be impossibly overcrowded.

(d) _____________________________________

17 Oct 16:03

After watching Gruber's fascinating speech at XOXO, I wonder why don't you consider going full time blogging on your own like he did, so you can maybe write more and focus on what you what?

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood… I obviously thought about that in the past, but I chose to take my career in a different direction. And honestly, I could not be happier with my choice. 

That said, I always wish I could find more time to write. And I keep trying to come up with ways to “get back into it” — but it’s honestly hard when you have another full time job.

But I won’t give up. I’ll get to a good place from a writing perspective again eventually. I just need more time :)

17 Oct 16:45

“All cities are mad, but the madness is gallant”

by pricetags

From Gladys We, who lurks on MetaFilter:


Planned cities are not a new idea (Palmanova, Italy, 1593). From Washington, D.C. (1791), to CanberraAustralia (1911), to Brasilia, Brazil (1957), planned cities have long been an urban dream (from space), perhaps most frequently applied to national capitals. But they don’t always work out as planned.

In North America, some argue that everything settled after the 1871 Dominion Lands Act in Canada or the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 in the US counts as “planned” because it was platted before the settlers arrived.

BroughtonNS (perhaps Canada’s first planned town; current population 24), 
New Haven, CT (the US’s first planned town (1638)),



ChicagoIL, the Burnham Plan and PullmanChicago;


Perhaps consider:
Mexico City, Mexico, which has turned its city planning muscle to green planning
Guadalajara, Mexico, which has an original colonial town plan, a 1950s revamp, and an ongoing reworking

Elsewhere in the world planned cities are often schemes of vainglorious dictators:
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Astana, Kazakhstan
KolmanskopNamibia (abandoned diamond town)
Planned Al-Noor City to build a bridge over the Red Sea

Or they may be very ancient:
4500-year-old planned city in Karachi, India?
Catalhoyuk, Turkey: 9000 years old? 10,000 years old? Really old.

Original article here.


Admit it: Had you ever heard of Broughton, Nova Scotia, before?

And for sheer lunacy:

17 Oct 16:32

Perfect for Price Tags: Architecture and Cycling

by pricetags

This comes from The Guardian (thanks to Penny Coupland for the link):.

Architecture for bikes – in pictures

From Calgary’s space-age Peace bridge to Eindhoven’s floating roundabout and the Copenhagen apartments with a cycle path straight up to the 10th floor, Gavin Blyth’s Velo City highlights some of the world’s best cycling infrastructure..

 A few shots from the book:

Arch 1

Peace Bridge, Calgary


Arch 2

 Arganzuela bridge, Madrid

17 Oct 18:21

Nexus Player now available to pre-order for $109 CDN

by Daniel Bader

Google’s first Android TV product, the Nexus Player, is now available to pre-order from the Play Store.

For $109, a merciful $10 premium over the US version, the Nexus Player attaches to one’s TV or AV receiver and acts as an independent conduit to Google content and Android-based services.

A bunch of app developers have already modified their code for the big screen, including Songza, Netflix, Plex and many others. Users interact with the box with voice or the included remote control, and Android gamers can purchase the optional gamepad ($44.99) to bring compatible titles to the television.

The Nexus Player also acts as a Google Cast conduit, so users can cast content from compatible apps, like Rdio, Netflix and others, to the TV directly.

The set-top box ships in 3-4 weeks from Google’s warehouse.

SourcePlay Store
17 Oct 18:40

Nexus 9 and Nexus Player go up for pre-order on Google Play

by Rajesh Pandey
Beside releasing the final Android 5.0 SDK and updated Developer preview images, Google has also put up the Nexus Player and Nexus 9 for pre-order on Google Play.  Continue reading →
15 Oct 17:59

Here’s the full change log of Android 5.0 Lollipop

by Rajesh Pandey
Google’s official announcement post for Android Lollipop is pretty scarce on all the new features of the latest version of Android. The company only highlights Material Design, the new Notification system and Quick settings in its post.  Continue reading →
15 Oct 12:58

Will Edward Snowden Inspire More Leakers From His Russian Exile?

by Paul Scicchitano
Edward Snowden mural in Manchester, U.K., by SLM Art. Credit: Flickr/Paul Capewell.

The biggest fear for U.S. intelligence 13 years ago was that the unprecedented terror strikes on the Pentagon and New York’s Twin Towers would serve as a prelude to bigger and more deadly attacks, possibly involving a dirty bomb or some other weapon of mass destruction.

While intelligence experts continue to worry about that worst-case scenario, they also have a new fear to keep them up at night — that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden will inspire copycat leakers from his self-imposed Russian exile. The question jumps out because he was nominated for a Nobel Prize — though he was not awarded one — and exalted in a new movie.

Investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, who first published many of the Snowden revelations in The Guardian, added fuel to the latter concern in a recent interview and in the film “Citizenfour,” which premiered recently at the New York Film Festival. It features a scene in which Greenwald tells Snowden about a second source in U.S. intelligence, according to The Guardian.

“I think one of the most exciting things about the Snowden revelations is that we created a template for other people to come forward with blowing the whistle,” he earlier boasted to Politico. “I provided the template for vigorously defending my source and story, and aggressive reporting, and a big part of what I want to do is nurture that model,” added Greenwald, whose reporting earned The Guardian a shared Pulitzer Prize for Public Service along with The Washington Post.

Defense’s defense

Department of Defense officials insist that they are taking no chances, and have come up with a “comprehensive approach” to limit unauthorized disclosures of future national security leaks. “Personnel in all components are continuously working to protect classified information and identify those who do not uphold their obligations to protect national defense information,” stated George E. Little, assistant to the Secretary of Defense for public affairs.

“The template that they put in place is: ‘We’re going to steal a lot of data. We’re going to go public with it, and then we’re going to go off to China and we’re going to end up stuck in Russia.’”

Recent DOD changes include improved training on handling and protecting classified information, new guidance on the protection of classified information, improvement of security on classified computer networks, implementation of an insider threat task force as ordered by President Obama, and a mandatory department-wide incident report system to track unauthorized disclosures.

The Pentagon has also added a new “top down” reporting system, which includes monitoring all major national media for unauthorized disclosures of defense department classified information and conducting investigations as warranted.

Template not followed by ‘anybody’

But will that be enough to stop Snowden and Greenwald’s so-called template for developing copycats?

“Actually the template that they put in place hasn’t been followed by anybody,” former House Intelligence Chairman Pete Hoekstra told The Open Standard. “The template that they put in place is: ‘We’re going to steal a lot of data. We’re going to go public with it, and then we’re going to go off to China and we’re going to end up stuck in Russia.’ That is not a template that I think a lot of the whistleblowers subscribe to.”

Journalist Greenwald did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Recent contacts

Snowden, whose story is chronicled in “Citizenfour,” surfaced in September to issue a warning over foreign-made communications technology in a written statement delivered to the Internet Ungovernance Forum in Istanbul, Turkey and then in a subsequent warning to the people of New Zealand’s over alleged spying activities there. He also released a video after being named a recipient of the 2014 Right Livelihood Award in Sweden, which is commonly referred to as the alternative Nobel Prize.

“If you live in New Zealand, you are being watched,” he warned in a commentary published in The Intercept, an online publication funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and co-founded by Greenwald. “At the NSA I routinely came across the communications of New Zealanders in my work with a mass surveillance tool we share with [New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau], called ‘XKEYSCORE.’” He described the tool as being used primarily for reading private emails, text messages, and Internet traffic. “I know this because it was my full-time job in Hawaii, where I worked every day in an NSA facility with a top secret clearance,” Snowden added.

‘Quintessential American whistleblower’

Not surprisingly, fellow leaker Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers’ fame, applauds Snowden as the “quintessential American whistleblower” and a “personal hero,” who had no choice but to go public with his concerns.

“No one is punished for using secrecy to conceal dangerous policies, lies, or crimes, yet concerned employees who wish to inform the American public about what the government is doing under their name are treated as spies,” Ellsberg penned in a January press release welcoming Snowden to the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Screening process tightened

Former CIA analyst Frederick Fleitz, who is now chief analyst with Lignet, says that the U.S. made changes to its screening process in light of the Snowden debacle. “We found that computer technicians had far broader access to classified systems than they should have,” he said. “We also found that there is a firm that was procuring these people based on how many people they cleared, not based on the quality of the clearances. This firm is in a lot of trouble right now and I think there’s a lot of thought being given to whether commercial firms should be processing security clearances.” Fleitz fears that Snowden may have already inspired copycats.

“That’s possible and I know that he’s probably encouraging them. This has always been an issue,” he acknowledged. “There’s always going to be a small number of malcontents and disgruntled individuals who are within the U.S. government, who have security clearances. My hope is that the Snowden phenomenon will die out and his 15 minutes of fame will be over and he will just go away.”

Former House Intelligence Chair Hoekstra told The Open Standard that he doesn’t view Snowden as a whistleblower in the true sense, though he recognizes the need for greater whistleblower protections within the U.S. intelligence community.

“Whistleblowers that I’ve had the opportunity to deal with over the 18 years that I was in Congress, number one they were committed to good government,” said Hoekstra, who made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate in 2012. “They were committed to doing everything that they could to expose abuses and waste and fraud and illegality in the federal government.

“But ultimately they were very, very committed to this county and this nation. And they followed a protocol which said: ‘We’re going to go to Congress. And we’re going to go to the proper authorities. And we’re going to do this the right way. And we’re not going to run to the press.”

Protections needed

Even so, Hoekstra recognizes that the intelligence community needs more protections for whistleblowers.

“They’re very limited in their ability to approach Congress and to expose wrongdoing,” the Michigan Republican acknowledged. “They have to go through procedures within each of the agencies that they may be assigned.”

Hoekstra would prefer that whistleblowers be given greater direct access to the House and Senate intelligence chairs as well as to the ranking members. But he conceded that Congress has a difficult oversight task when it comes to intelligence.

“Whistleblowers are probably more critical than anywhere else,” he asserted. “I have not seen any movement by Congress to enhance the protections of whistleblowers in the intelligence community since the Snowden affair. I hope that in the next Congress that will take place. It hasn’t so far.”


15 Oct 13:57

Free Public Wi-Fi Could Get a Boost From the Gigabit Internet

by Erik Smith
The landscape is changing for wired cities. Credit: Flickr/University of Wisconsin-Whitewater ResNET.

Ten years ago, Spokane, Washington, a medium-size city with big dreams, threw the switch on the Spokane HotZone. The 200-block downtown hotspot was one of a spate of free public municipal Wi-Fi networks, large and small, that allowed their cities to declare themselves “cutting edge.” Last year Spokane pulled the plug.

The business never really penciled out, says Adrian Folsom of Ptera, the Liberty Lake, Washington-based ISP that offered the service after the original provider went bust. The idea was that people would pay after two hours of daily usage. Not enough did. “Hotspots are really hard to make a go of,” he said. “There’s just no money in it.”

Spokane’s experiment is the discouraging norm rather than the exception. An idea that flowered briefly a decade ago, free municipal Wi-Fi promised to serve the poor, pose competition for cable companies and telcos, and blanket cities with signals that could be picked up with then-new mobile computing devices. Cities rushed to launch public-private partnerships with firms like EarthLink, AT&T and Motorola. By 2008 grand plans withered as private firms pulled out. Smaller-scale projects like Spokane’s died when equipment needed replacement.

An apparently successful citywide system continues in Minneapolis, developed under an unusual and unlikely-to-be-replicated long-term contract between a private provider and the city, arranged long before the rise of 4G networks. How many municipal Wi-Fi projects remain is unclear – Wikipedia lists 69 nationally; a quick check shows a number have gone dark.

Achilles heels

Meanwhile, limited Wi-Fi projects are still being announced – low-income neighborhoods in Boston, parks in San Francisco, the waterfront in Baltimore. One-time grants often fund setup. But what happens when equipment and software require updates? More typical is the announcement this summer that Riverside, Calif. is abandoning Wi-Fi service covering 70 percent of the city – upgrades would have cost $6.5 million.

Really, that’s today’s debate – not about Wi-Fi but about the best way to wire cities. Should networks be public or private, open or closed, or something in between?

Blame it on the downfall of many a technology – the lack of a business model. Bill Schrier, former chief technology officer for Seattle, said most partnerships were launched with vague plans that private operators might sell advertising or charge for faster service. “Mayors and city councils across the country said, free Wi-Fi – we’ve got to get in on this. It became a fad. But the fact of the matter is that it never worked out.”

Schrier’s city explored the idea with two neighborhood projects but encountered technical difficulties – indoor users sometimes encountered weak signals; file-sharing hogged bandwidth and brought warning notices from the Motion Picture Association of America. And Seattle never could find a financial model that worked. “Just like anywhere else in the country, there was no business plan, and we shut them down,” Schrier said.

The advance of the Internet also played a role. Typical municipal Wi-Fi systems offered pokey speeds of one megabit per second or less, a little slower than DSL a decade ago. Bandwidth was inadequate for today’s streaming, a need now better served by mobile cellular data networks, for those willing to pay to watch YouTube and Netflix on their iPads. Need Wi-Fi for your laptop? Try a coffee shop.

Gigabit Internet fiber systems might prompt muni Wi-Fi add-ons

Yet, don’t count out city-scale Wi-Fi. A different sort of business plan seems to be emerging from the multi-billion-dollar race to wire cities for the ultra high-speed fiber-optic gigabit Internet of the future. Los Angeles is preparing a much-watched RFP to attract perhaps $4 billion in private fiber investment. It wants free citywide Wi-Fi as part of the deal. “I want to see every inch of the city covered, every home and business wired,” the project’s champion, LA Councilman Bob Blumenfield, tells The Open Standard.

The wireless add-on might cost $100 million and provide low-bandwidth service of particular value to those who cannot afford monthly charges for a wired connection. Blumenfield said a system operator might cover wireless costs with revenue from the network.

Supplement to wired networks

Really, that’s today’s debate – not about Wi-Fi but about the best way to wire cities. Should networks be public or private, open or closed, or something in between? Citywide Wi-Fi might play a role, but as a supplement to wired networks, not as a standalone solution. Municipal ownership advocate Chris Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance said cities are well suited to offer free Wi-Fi as part of their public mission, in conjunction with a blazing-fast fiber system, but they need to settle the bigger issues first.

As for how fast we’ll see widespread gigabit Internet, estimates vary but 2025 could be a turning point. Ambitious plans by Google Fiber to roll out gigabit Internet service in select markets has launched a scramble by cable companies and telcos to lay down fiber to home and business, while some 400 cities have developed municipally owned networks of various types that add to the competitive pressure. {Full Disclosure: Google is a partner of Mozilla, the parent company of The Open Standard.}

In a world where far-more-capable wired networks have become feasible, Mitchell said municipal Wi-Fi “can be an important amenity — but it doesn’t get us where we need to go.”


15 Oct 14:58

Struggle For An Open Internet Grows

by Paul Scicchitano
Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution. Credit: Flickr/Pasu Au Yeung.

While the West focuses much of its attention on the threat of cyber-spying, a broader global struggle for Internet and press freedom is being waged. In Hong Kong, some pro-democracy protestors recently counteracted Chinese government interference with mobile connectivity by using the FireChat app and mesh networks to form a “temporary Internet.”

But the battle for free expression has ranged from the Tehran rooftop where seven young Iranian men and women made the mistake of dancing in public and posting a video of it on YouTube, to the bloodied Syrian landscape, where the grisly beheadings of two American journalists were cruelly recorded as an Internet propaganda tool by ISIS terrorists.

“In terms of people being threatened and intimidated, certainly there’s a lot more going on than ever gets in the press,” said Rebecca MacKinnon, author of “Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom.”

Decline in global press freedom

Global press freedom has fallen to its lowest level in more than a decade, according to the recently released Freedom of the Press 2014: A Global Survey of Media Independence by Freedom House.

The report noted that the promise of an Arab Spring has been lost to “major regression” in Egypt, Libya, and Jordan, while it found “marked setbacks” in Turkey, Ukraine and East Africa. Even the democratic U.S. suffered a hit by government attempts to inhibit reporting on national security issues.

“In terms of people being threatened and intimidated, certainly there’s a lot more going on than ever gets in the press”

“Meanwhile, as a result of declines in democratic settings over the past several years, the share of the world’s population that enjoys a free press remained at 14 percent, meaning only one in seven people live in countries where coverage of political news is robust, the safety of journalists is guaranteed, state intrusion in media affairs is minimal and the press is not subject to onerous legal or economic pressures,” the report found.

The Freedom House report also found:

  • Several dozen journalists covering the Euromaidan protests in the Ukraine were attacked in early December. The protestors were demanding closer European integration.
  • Countries moved to impose restrictions on online social networks, microblogs, mobile telephones, and other information and communication technologies, either through the extension of existing laws to cover online content in Azerbaijan and Jordan or by censoring websites in Sudan and Zambia.

Aftermath of Arab Spring

The Arab Spring once held great promise as a model for how an open Internet could unite sometimes divergent groups under a common desire for transparency, basic human rights and free expression of ideas.

Middle East expert Walid Phares  wrote “The Coming Revolution,” which foresaw the Arab Spring and its aftermath. He now acknowledges that the reality did not live up to the potential.

“The Arab Spring owes its first successes to the very rapid rise of Internet and free use of Internet,” particularly Facebook, said Phares. “Internet allowed the Arab Spring to explode, but then unfortunately, because these societies were not able to get to a full democracy – as was the case before that in Eastern Europe – then the freedom of Internet was shared between those who wanted to continue civil society work, and those more jihadist extremists who also started to use Internet.”

Worst track records

According to the 2014 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, three countries share the dubious distinction of being the worst on the planet for press freedom – Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea. “Despite occasional turbulence in the past year, these countries continue to be news and information black holes and living hells for the journalists who inhabit them,” the report stated.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the report ranked Finland the best of 180 countries for press freedom for the fourth straight year. Finland was followed by the Netherlands and Norway for the second year in a row.

Key threats to press freedom include:

  • Journalists are threatened by organized crime in Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil and Paraguay and physical danger from non-state groups like militias in Libya.
  • Syria, which ranked near the bottom of the list, was singled out as one of the countries where “freedom of information and its actors” are most in danger.
  • Iran was singled out for its crackdown on any criticism of foreign policy.
  • The army’s return to power in Egypt brought persecution of the Muslim Brotherhood, which affected not only Egyptian journalists but also their Turkish, Palestinian and Syrian colleagues.

Positive steps

Fortunately, not all the news has been bad. In addition to the tech savvy shown by Hong Kong protestors, in Serbia grassroots activists advanced a much-needed Declaration of Internet Freedom. Moreover, violence against journalists, direct censorship and misuse of judicial proceedings are on the decline in Panama, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia and Ecuador, according to the World Press Freedom Index. In South Africa, the president refused to sign a law that would have endangered investigative journalism.

Technical barriers

But while overt intimidation has been used for decades to quell dissent, technical means of constraining debate have grown with the Internet’s influence. “There are more countries blocking websites than 10 years ago,” MacKinnon said. “More governments are doing what’s known as filtering so if you’re in a particular country you can’t access Facebook. If you’re in Ethiopia, you can’t access websites run by dissidents outside of Ethiopia.”

Phares singled out Iran as one of the most technically proficient countries in the Middle East for restricting the open Internet. But even the Iranians have not been 100 percent effective. “Saudi Arabia, for example has created an internal Internet for the Saudis to use but then you can bypass that,” Phares said. He was quick to add, “The price of bypassing that if you are caught is high, usually.”


12 Oct 19:05


by Emily Chang

Instagram filter used: Normal

View in Instagram ⇒

14 Oct 04:30

Creating And Resolving Strong, Angry, Groups

by Richard Millington

Groups rally when they're being attacked. 

Groups rally when they're being ignored (and have a spark). 

If you want to make your group stronger, foster the perception that the group is being attacked. They bond under fire. They support and help one another. 

Smart group organizers know this. They bait an opponent until they react and then capture the moment for others to see. 

If you want to make your group louder, foster the perception that they're being ignored. Create plausible actions they can. Targeting an organization's sponsors, customers, or writing to their employees often works. Never highlight a problem unless you have a solution. 

Better yet, collaborate on something (e.g. how to switch to a new customer) and begin disseminating it. Turn that frustration of being ignored into something the group can productively do to feel they have power. 

Highlight a particular person whose attention they need to get and go about getting it. Take steps to to ensure they can't be ignored. Phone them up 20 times a day. Then make it 50. 

On the flip side.

Never allow the perception that you're attacking a group (or worse, a member of that group). The entire group will rally against you. Never ignore the vocal demands of a group that has a spark (something beyond normal issues_.

And if you do, there is only one way to dispel an angry group. You're not going to like it. You need to completely engage. You need to let them win. You need them to feel that they have achieved something. 

You need to ask them to put forward people to speak on their behalf and then have real dialogue with these people. The symbology of this matters almost as much as the outcome. 

13 Oct 00:00

The 10K Hour Rule: Deliberate Practice leads to Expertise, and Teaching can trump Genetics


Mark Guzdial, Computing Education Blog, Oct 16, 2014

This is a pretty good article, not only because it invokes the classic 'make a PBJ' example, and not only because it cites the  proper source for the 10,000 hours of practice rule (hint: not Gladwell), but also because it provides an intelligent discussion of how the rule applies, offers a telling argument against the counterproposal (that skills are innate and not learned), and teaches us the value of focus and reflection in learning. But there's a not-so-subtle shift from "people can learn" to "people can be taught" and an invocation of the  mysterious "power of a great teacher to go beyond simple rote practice to create deliberate opportunities to learn," as though no other means were possible to accomplish the same thing by oneself, or with the aid of friends, projects, life experience or software. See also: Practice Does Not Make Perfect.

[Link] [Comment]
14 Oct 03:49

HTC executive teases something “amazing” and “beautiful” on Twitter

by Rajesh Pandey
An HTC executive has teased the impending launch of the Nexus 9 on Twitter by posting a  picture of a box that contains something “amazing” and “beautiful” which just arrived.  Continue reading →