Independent news, views, opinions and reviews on the latest gadgets, games, science, technology and research from Apple and more. It’s about the technologies that change the way we live, work, love and behave.
FLASHBACK to September 3 1952: Magnetised soap is shown to visitors to the annual inventors’ fair in Cologne, Germany, by the inventor, Franz Fuehrer, left, of Grosshesselsche, Sept. 3, 1952. The soap is built around a magnet which makes it stick to metal. The same principal is applied also to other toilet articles.
CAN thoughts change your physical body? Michael Forrester looks at the work published on TunedBody:
With evidence growing that training the mind or inducing certain modes of consciousness can have positive health effects, researchers have sought to understand how these practices physically affect the body. A new study by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France reports the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of intensive mindfulness practice.
The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.
THIS is a fairly strong prediction: that Facebook is actually dead and buried. At the same time as it manages to increase the number of users, increase the amount of time they spend on the site and also charge more money for each of the more ads they see. Sounds difficult that it could be dead as a result of all of that.
But the argument is actually a little different:
What appears to be the most seminal moment in a young person’s decision to leave Facebook was surely that dreaded day your mum sends you a friend request. You just can’t be young and free if you know your parents can access your every indiscretion. The desire for the new, also drives each new generation to find their own media and this is playing out now in social media. It is nothing new that young people care about style and status in relation to their peers, and Facebook is simply not cool anymore.
THE death of cool is when the establishment start to get it. The BBC appearing at Glastonbury marks the big summer festival out as horribly uncool. Uncool can also be the moment your mum pokes you on Facebook. It turns out that teens in Britain and the rest of Europedon’t rate Facebook. But their parents do. Facebook is a way to spy on the kids. Who needs the NSA when you have Facebook?
“HE went to play his games, not knowing anything was on it,” says Tom Mayhew of his eight-year-old son and his ‘new’ Nintendo 3DS, the one he’d been given for Christmas. “After a while, [the kids] took pictures of themselves and when the picture was taken it went to a file. When that file was opened, there were already pictures on it.”
Not any pictures – but a dozen pornographic pictures.
WE’VE entered a strange time for films. Films everyone can remember first time round are being remade, Ryan Reynolds is still getting work and, weirdest of all, films are being made based on toys.
Now, of course, action figures and the like have ended up on the silver screen, but the Rihanna-starring ‘Battleship’, based on a coordinates board game, flummoxed everyone. What next? Well, to save us all from a ‘what’s next – [insert ludicrous 'Monkey Tennis' idea here] joke’, we’ll cut to the chase.
Candy Crush, that’s what.
IN 1994, Dan Perkins, aka Tom Tomorrow, foresaw the NSA and the American elite’s plan to watch us all and record our movements on tapes in his work for Spin magazine.
THE financial markets have been waiting for this for some years: for Apple to sign up with China Mobile to take the iPhone. The importance of it is that China Mobile is the last major airtime provider around the world that doesn’t currently carry Apple’s products. And with 760 million subscribers that’s a hell of a market that Apple is missing out on. The deal has finally happened:
FLASHBACK to 05/03/1960: The nuclear bomb alarm in Washington is shown. The robot ‘sensor’ detected the brilliant light of an atomic explosion and transmited an automatic warning instantly to distant Air Force command posts, signalling an attack.
TIME magazine’s Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer received a phone call from a Samantha West. The caller wanted to talk about Scheree’s health insurance.
He asked is she was real? She replied: “I am a real person, can you hear me okay?” The staffers called Samantha back:
She failed several other tests. When asked “What vegetable is found in tomato soup?” she said she did not understand the question. When asked multiple times what day of the week it was yesterday, she complained repeatedly of a bad connection
WHAT makes a memorable, quotable quote, the kind of thing you slap in an essay at school to earn a tick, or include in an article to illustrate a point, your theories backed up by a person of note’s wit and wisdom? Like you, we have no idea. But Phil Lucas has nailed it. It could be anything. He’s taken Facebook status updates and attributed them to famous faces. No longer trite, the words are injected with meaning and depth. Well, maybe:
Martin Luther King
A TAIWANESE tourist was walking along checking her Facebook page when she fell off Melbourne’s St Kilda pier.
Victoria state police reported the news with the headline: “Status Update: OMG One Step Too Far.”
Senior Constable Dean Kelly of the Water Police Squad says: “She wasn’t splashing around too much, she wasn’t in a panic. She admitted, ‘I can’t swim but I seem to be floating OK. She seemed to be floating on her back.
She had a backpack on – we’re not sure if that was providing her with a bit of buoyancy or something – and we were able to pull her aboard the boat. She had a mobile phone in one of her hands and when we pulled her aboard the first thing she did was apologise, say sorry, and then she explained that she’d been on her phone checking her Facebook page when she left the jetty unexpectedly and ended up in the water.”
Lest we forget:
CHRISTMAS Tree of the day is this one made from detonation cord. Flick the switch and ka-boom. Look at that fairy go:
CY Kuckenbaker filmed a 4-minute shot from the Washington Street bridge above State Route 163 in San Diego at 2:39pm Oct 1, 2013. “My aim is to reveal the colour palette and colour preferences of contemporary San Diego drivers in addition to traffic patterns and volumes,” he says. “There are no CG elements, these are all real cars that have been removed from one sample and reorganized.”
DO you listen to the radio? Only at work or when there’s a football match on when you’re driving? Well, you won’t be forced into a digital switchover, as happened with television, because so few people actually bother listening to the radio that it barely matters.
It seems, such is the radio malaise, that everyone is still using analogue devices. Or the internet, of course.
LAST weekend, China landed a lunar probe on the moon. It was the world’s first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades. Along with the USA and the old USSR, China is only one of three nations to have reached the moon.
An open letter to the people of Brazil, from Edward Snowden
Six months ago, I stepped out from the shadows of the United States Government’s National Security Agency to stand in front of a journalist’s camera. I shared with the world evidence proving some governments are building a world-wide surveillance system to secretly track how we live, who we talk to, and what we say. I went in front of that camera with open eyes, knowing that the decision would cost me family and my home, and would risk my life. I was motivated by a belief that the citizens of the world deserve to understand the system in which they live. My greatest fear was that no one would listen to my warning. Never have I been so glad to have been so wrong. The reaction in certain countries has been particularly inspiring to me, and Brazil is certainly one of those.
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Read the rest of this entry »
THERE’S a bit of a logical disconnect in this idea that we’re all going to sign up for streaming music services like Pandora, Spotify and so on. The problem being that the more free services there are competing for our custom then the fewer of us are going to bother to pay for it. This is indeed how it normally works you know, more suppliers thus lower prices to consumers:
Yet even as they have grown, streaming companies have encountered a stubborn problem: Music lovers will consume large amounts of music as long as it is free, but getting them to pay a monthly subscription has proved much more difficult.
SO the language changes once again. Collins, the dictionary people, has just released its list of words of the year. They always do this just before Christmas in order to remind middle aged men that dictionaries make very good presents from Santa for their children. Just like their own fathers told them 35 years ago.
In the list change this year we’ve a change in the definition of “geek”. From one who is socially awkward, near incompetent, to one who is now at the blazing, leading, edge of contemporary culture.
“Often we find that they achieve better longevity too. Just compare previous generations’ use of words like ‘cloud’, ‘tweet’ and ‘tablet’ to ours.
“‘Geek’ is a great example of a word that has evolved from having a negative meaning to having a positive one.
“Its origins are in the 19th century, but it has most recently changed from describing someone preoccupied with computing to someone who is passionate about any field of expertise.
“This change in meaning represents a positive change in perceptions about specialist expertise, and is a result of the influence of technology on people’s lives in 2013.
DID you know that 61% of all web traffic is created by robots? A new report from web security company Incapsula says robots read the web more than humans. The company spotted at 1.45 billion bots from 20,000 websites over three months. Of the 61% robots, 31% are malicious.
Dr Ian Brown, associate director at Oxford University’s Cyber Security Centre, tells the BBC:
“Their own customers may or may not be representative of the wider web. There will also be some unavoidable fuzziness in their data, given that they are trying to measure malicious website visits where by definition the visitors are trying to disguise their origin.”
Frederic Lardinois ponders:
At first glance, this sounds like this means the number of nefarious attacks is up, but Incapsula actually notes that the bulk of growth in this number is due to what it calls “good bots.” Visits from certified agents from search engines and similar tools increased from 20 percent to 31 percent, for example. According to Incapsula, many search engines have lately increased their sampling rates. In addition, the SEO tools that try to help websites rank higher once they are crawled, also now often visit sites more often than ever before.
THERE are a lot of companies who still don’t understand the value of fan-made tributes to their products. Prince takes all his stuff off YouTube as soon as he can and some movie studios get riled at clips of films been shown. However, one industry that really understands it is the world of gaming.
YouTube is awash with walkthroughs, compilation videos, nostalgia clips and more, all made by fans for fans. The gaming community understands that it is all free publicity and enables gamers to feel at one with the games they enjoy.
I ALWAYS feel remarkable clever when I find the Financial Times agrees with one of my ideas. It seems like confirmation that I’ve had a good idea sorta thing. And here they’re saying that investing in Bitcoin doesn’t look all that good an idea. For you can start up your own digital currency instead.
Buying Bitcoins while their price is so bubbly is nothing more than a gamble. Investing in other online currencies, or in companies that can help the Bitcoin economy develop, looks like a sensible use of a venture capitalist’s money.
THE Football Association are very disappointed that numbers of people taking up football are dwindling. It seems less kids want to run around in dreadful weather, getting lumps kicked out of them and paying their subs for the privilege.
In completely unrelated news, football took over Twitter in 2013 and dominated the spikes of activity the site had.
SO. The iPotty was the Worst Toy of the Year. And then…we saw the Fisher-Price Ipad Apptivity Seat, Newborn-to-Toddler.
IT is the season for the awards ceremonies and one organisation has declared that this, the iPotty, is the worst toy of the year. I have to admit that I can’t quite see it myself: either as the worst toy of this or any other year or as an actual product to be honest. What it actually is is simply a potty to be used, obviously, for potty training and containing a stand into which one can slip one of Apple’s iPads. And you might think that that’s about it and not something so heinous as to deserve this award:
BOSTON—December 9—It’s official. Fed up with the latest effort to insinuate screens into every nook and cranny of young children’s lives, members of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood selected the 2-In-1 iPotty with Activity Seat for iPad by CTA Digital as winner of this year’s TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young children) Award for the Worst Toy of the Year.