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Girl Gimmicks

Ditch the Lazy Lady-Tech

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tweetingbra.com

Women want time-saving wearable tech just as much as men. It’s time for technology companies to move on from the stereotypical and sexist digital bras.

It’s been an exciting year for wearable tech, with door-unlocking rings, basketball shot-tracking wristbands and rechargeable gloves all making it to market. Sadly, though, when it comes to the idea of making wearable gadgetry for women, inventors seem to be repeatedly getting stuck at the drawing board. A drawing board covered with boobs and question marks, if recent inventions are anything to go by.

 In the past six months, a steady stream of "smart bras" have made their way into the wearable tech world, promising to level the male-dominated playing field of creative contraptions. But on closer inspection, these digitized over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders are just reinforcing staid stereotypes about the kind of tech women 'should' have, instead of making products we'd actually want to use. 

Let's take exhibit one: the Microsoft-designed bra aimed at regulating emotional overeating. Loaded up with heart-rate monitors and removable stress sensors, it takes electrocardiograms to check whether the wearer is guilty of excessive face-stuffing, at which point a phone app called EmoTree (seriously) tells her off. Needless to say, the male equivalent product was canned early on in development, meaning that us lucky ladies get all of the digi-chest-chastizing to ourselves. Neat! 

One of the biggest frustrations with this kind of lazy lady-tech is how the majority of it literally takes the sole clothing item men don't wear, stitches a bunch of batteries and sensors into it and then passes it off as being a key player in the women's market. But why should my lingerie pay the price for inventors who are unable to create anything more sophisticated for women than depressing underwear?

Quantified Self

Find the Best Fitness Tracker

There are dozens of fitness gadgets on the market that can measure movement, heart rate, elevation, and even body temperature. Here’s how to figure out which will work for you.

While no technology will ever replace diet and exercise, a new class of gadgets may provide key insights into your physical fitness. Known by a litany of terms—fitness trackers, health monitors, activity trackers, and wearables—there’s a growing cadre of tech toys that share a common goal: to get you into better shape.

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Jordan Siemens/Getty

To know whether any of the trackers are worth your cash, let’s start with what fitness trackers do. Essentially, they are little gadgets users wear for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The most basic ones are equipped with an accelerometer, which measures motion to collect data activity, steps and sleep.

You can track this data in easy-to-understand graphics online or on a smartphone to literally get a picture of your health. In general, they encourage change with a simple principle: you can only change habits you’re aware of.  As a consumer, you need to figure out exactly what data you want, and how much you’re willing to pay.

A new startup has created a miracle gadget that unites all your credit, debit and gift cards into a single card.

Credit cards may soon be relics of the past if Coin lives up to its hype.

Coin has created a gadget the size of a single credit card that can store payment data for all the cards in your wallet. It can be swiped for payment just like any other credit card. “Coin is designed for the lifestyle of today but with the technology of tomorrow,” said founder and CEO Kanishk Parashar in a release.

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The secret behind the Coin is that it is powered by a 128-bit encryption for all storage and communication. (Coin)

The company says that the product is a completely unique and secure device that fits seamlessly into your wallet or purse. The secret behind the Coin is that it is powered by a 128-bit encryption for all storage and communication. Through the magic of Bluetooth, your phone will even notify you if you’ve left your Coin card back at the cashier or at home.

Playback Wars

The Apple-Pandora War

The Internet radio business is growing, with Apple the latest company to jump into the pool of competitors. But it’s not yet a ‘Pandora Killer.’

Last week, the CFO of Pandora took to the stage at a corporate conference to boast that its market share had risen in October—the month following the release of Apple’s iTunes Radio.

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AFP

The statement, which seemed to prove the newly released iTunes Radio wasn’t a “Pandora Killer,” made headlines. It was fodder for all the industry-watchers who recognize the significant revenue stream and sizable audience at stake. What may have begun as a rather innocent revolution in entertainment is now quickly giving way to an all-out war between digital radio competitors.

The arena is a rough and tumble environment where companies such as Pandora, Spotify, Slacker, and Rdio were already hard at work attempting out-strategize each other for market share when iTunes Radio appeared onto the scene on September 18 with all the pomp and promise of prowess that characterizes an Apple announcement. The question is clear: Just how much of a threat will the new iTunes Radio be?

#Winning

Why Twitter Is #Winning

The social network made a huge splash with its IPO today, rocketing above its initial share price. But will the stock go the way of Facebook and Yahoo!—or Webvan and Globe.com?

Twitter staged its initial public offering on Thursday morning. It raised $1.8 billion by selling 70 million shares at $26 a piece to investors. When trading finally opened at about 11:00 a.m., the first price was $45.10—a nice 73.5 percent pop. The company instantly was valued at about $31 billion.

Twitter

Bloomberg/Getty

The deal is a huge, ginormous, all-enveloping story, in large part due to what I’d call a double example of selection bias.

What do I mean? Well, first, journalists are obsessed with the offering in a way that many other people aren’t. Twitter is our medium. Many of us live in it, and we all feel we’ve done our part to build it. And so many usually skeptical scribes are shamelessly rooting for Twitter to succeed. Twitter lists have replaced RSS and email newsletters. Tweets and retweets are the currency of buzz. We boast about our number of followers the way people used to boast about cover stories or right-lead front-page articles. (You see, kids, in the 1990s there were these things called magazines and newspapers.) Pundit Niall Ferguson constructed a Twitter-based index that calculates relative prestige as the ratio of tweets to followers. (Mine is about 2.5:1.) Twitter helps drive traffic to articles, though not as much as you would think. Lots of people, including me, retweet articles and links without actually clicking on them.

Subtech

Subreddit Owns the Syrian War

How a 22-year-old law student and five moderators have been using social media to track down news from the front lines in Syria—and scoop mainstream media.

On the afternoon of October 31, U.S. media outlets began reporting evidence of an Israeli airstrike targeting Hezbollah-bound missiles in Syria that occurred the night before. It was a big story—indicating that Israel was continuing to flout international law to prevent Hezbollah from getting weapons.

Syria

Opposition fighters open fire during combat in the Salaheddin district of Aleppo, Syria on October 9, 2013. (Karam al-Masri/AFP/Getty)

But by the time the strike made headlines, it was not quite news for Christopher Kingdon, a 22-year-old law student in Cambridge, England, who had been following reports of the incident for nearly 24 hours, since he saw @RamiAlLolah’s tweet that Israeli jets had violated Lebanese airspace and that there was an explosion at an air defense base.

Kingdon, under the username “uptodatepronto,” and a crew of five moderators spend their days wading through posts on hundreds of YouTube feeds and Twitter accounts, commissioning Arabic translations, scouring for trustworthy confirmations from on-the-ground sources and disseminating information—all related to the war in Syria. Together they run the subreddit r/syriancivilwar, a forum on Reddit with 5,554-subscribers that posts 24-hour coverage of the two-year conflict. Often, Kingdon and his ad hoc team beat mainstream media in reporting Syria’s biggest news.

Creative

Web Summit’s 15 Hottest Apps

Global techies flocked to Dublin to present their crazy digital inventions. Meet the newest ways to find a parking spot, make your kids do their chores, and upload beehive data.

On Wednesday and Thursday this week, the global tech world was in Dublin for the hottest tech trade fair of the moment, the Web Summit. Now in its fourth year, the Summit was closed out by a “fireside chat” between Paypal founder Elon Musk and Irish premier Enda Kenny, with a record total of 10,000 attendees from around the globe.

The 15 Hottest New Apps at Dublin’s Web Summit

Getty

Wednesday night in Dublin was kinda messy, in a free bar-meets-nerd way. Think Mardi Gras for geeks with flashing neon sunglasses and nite-glow cocktails.

“This is an event like no other,” event founder and CEO Paddy Cosgrave said. “It is a melting pot where entrepreneurs can share experiences, collaborate on new ideas and have the opportunity to meet people who have blazed a trail in their respective fields, as well as pitch their business ideas to some of the leading investors in the world. In four short years, the Web Summit has become the ‘not to be missed’ event in Europe and has helped put Dublin and Ireland on the global tech stage.”

NSFW

Meet the Facebook Police

Algorithms may rule the Internet, but they aren’t always up to snuff. Meet the group responsible for looking at—and judging—your Facebook posts.

Chances are they’ll never see the things you post on Facebook.

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The Daily Beast

But cross the line—share a video of a Syrian soldier getting decapitated or a filtered, topless selfie—and you’ll meet the cops of the world’s premiere social networking site.

The junior analysts who make up the User Operations team are the human decision-makers behind the generally faceless Facebook machine. They are very real people who have been hired, oftentimes with only a few years of experience, to judge whether the videos and photos you post—or report—are potentially offensive, walking the line of propriety that would send the site spiralling into the irresponsible.

article

Instagram’s Sex Censorship

Instagram updated its list of banned hashtags, keeping #sex but allowing #faketits. Not only is its policy nonsensical and inconsistent—it’s hilariously absurd.

Instagram has a hashtag problem, but it has nothing to do with the flood of #swag, #follow4follow, #instagood or #YOLO spam that’s clogging your photo stream.

Instagram

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Instagram has censored more than 100 hashtags, apparently to keep you from searching for pornographic pics. The list of banned hashtags includes #sex, #bubblebutt and #ballsack. The problem: its censorship is incomplete and nonsensical.

On Sunday, my blog The Data Pack published a list of hashtags that Instagram blocks users from searching (it does not prevent users from posting hashtags, however). The list was an update on an earlier list published in August, pieced together by running a list of popular hashtags through Instagram’s developer API and watching out for a for the return of an error, “400 This tag cannot be viewed.”

#FailWhale

Syrians Hack @BarackObama

For a brief period on Monday, links from the president’s official Twitter feed were directed a pro-Syria YouTube account. Brian Ries on how the online vigilantes got in.

The Syrian Electronic Army may have just hit its biggest target yet: the president of the United States.

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President Barack Obama uses a laptop computer to send a tweet during a "Twitter Town Hall" in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 6, 2011. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

The anonymous group responsible for hacking multiple news organizations’ digital properties to spread messages in support of the Syrian regime claimed on Monday morning that it had hacked the Twitter account @BarackObama.

Sure enough, links that had been sent by the account, which is managed by Organizing for Action, redirected to a YouTube video posted by a user named “syrian truth”—surely not somebody operating on behalf of Obama.

Tech Nightmare

Obamacare Fail

The president’s 2012 campaign deservedly tooted its own horn for meticulous tech preparation. His signature achievement, on the other hand, failed its tech tests. Draw your own conclusions, says Lloyd Green.

If the train-wreck rollout of Obamacare teaches us anything, it’s that President Obama is just not that into governing. While the president’s 2012 campaign was the handiwork of technology’s best and brightest, Obamacare looks more like a taxpayer-funded redheaded stepchild.

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President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the Affordable Health Care Act in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, October 21, 2013. (Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast)

According to “Inside the Cave,” the postmortem on the Obama campaign's technology operations, repeated testing and excellence were the rules of the road for the president’s reelection efforts. Chiding the Romney campaign for its never-tested ORCA debacle, the Obamaites were deservedly praised for their persistent meticulousness: “Obama 2012 didn’t have the magic of hope and change. What it did have was a relentless focus on operational excellence and massive scale.”

Too bad the campaign didn’t mentor Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and her minions on the need for testing or the necessity of making sure the Obamacare portal worked before it was unleashed on the world. Apparently, HealthCare.gov was only tested at the last minute, and then it failed miserably and crashed when “just a few hundred people tried to log on simultaneously.”

MARGIN CALL

Apple Fights to Stay on Top

With the launch of its new line of tablets, Apple is fighting to reverse its declining market share in a booming market. But lower-priced competitors are closing in.

It’s hard being the envy of nearly every brand.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook holds the new iPad Air during an Apple announcement at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 22, 2013. (Justin Sullivan/Getty)

Yet, as today’s rollout of a new set of iPads demonstrates, that may just be Apple’s core problem. It’s the HBO of tech companies. It’s a highly profitable, premium brand that got started in the 1970s, and that industry peers envy and love. But while highly profitable, it always has to cope with cheaper, aggressive competitors. (Netflix announced Monday that it had surpassed the premium cable network in subscribers).

Well, Apple is now a purveyor of expensive, high-end products in a market where consumers are turning to cheaper alternatives.

Sepia-Toned Firearms

Instagram’s Grey Gun Market

Instagram isn’t just for showing off your fabulous life anymore. Some photo-sharers are using the site to privately sell guns. Brian Ries on the (mostly legal) Instagram arms market.

Among all the sneakers, dresses, paintings, and dogs being filtered and sold through ad-hoc negotiations on Instagram, there is one outlier: guns.

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Instagram

A simple search on the increasingly popular photography app, which Facebook bought in April 2012 for $1 billion, reveals a web of semi-anonymous private and professional dealers who are advertising, negotiating, and selling firearms over Instagram.

Users of Instagram, which has no explicit policy prohibiting the sale of firearms, can easily find a chrome-plated antique Colt, a custom MK12-inspired AR-15 tricked-out with “all best of the best parts possible,” and an HK416D .22LR rifle by simply combining terms like #rifle or #ar15 with #forsale. These are handguns, shotguns, assault rifles, and everything in between being sold in an open, pseudo-anonymous online marketplace. With no federal law banning online sales and differing, loophole-ridden state laws, many gun control advocates are concerned about the public safety consequences of this unregulated market.

#forsale

The Instagram Flea Market

Move over eBay! Some people are promoting more than just their lives on the photo-sharing site. Brian Ries reports on Hashbag, the new site that helps navigate the growing marketplace of buyers and sellers.

Instagram claims that an average of 55 million photos are shared through their app each day.

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Homepage of www.hashb.ag.

These are snapshots of breakfasts, espressos, puppies, dresses, shoes, first dances, selfies, and sunsets. The average user shares these photos hoping, at most, for some positive feedback from their friends and followers.

But it’s not all for show. A Brooklyn-based website designer recently discovered that a percentage of the items in these pictures are for sale—or #forsale, in Instagram parlance. Two million a year, it turns out. And so on Thursday Mike Bodge, 31, launched a website that allows the community of makers and sellers on Instagram to more easily connect.

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The Snapchat Explosion

The photo app is social-media’s puberty: naughty or dorky fun without a permanent record. By Winston Ross.

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