Saturday, January 31, 2015

Qatar buys 10% stake in British Airways owner

Qatar A380

Qatar Airways took delivery of its first Airbus A380 last September.

Qatar Airways has emerged as the owner of a 10% stake in International Airlines Group (IAG), the owner of British Airways (BA) and Iberia.

The Gulf airline is already a member of the Oneworld alliance.

Willie Walsh, IAG’s chief executive, said he was delighted Qatar had become a “long-term supportive shareholder”.

The stake, worth about £1.15bn, gives Qatar closer links with a group that has two major European hubs and strong transatlantic networks.

Mr Walsh said his company would explore what “opportunities exist to work more closely together and further IAG’s ambitions as the leading global airline group”.

Akbar Al Baker, chief executive of Qatar, said: “IAG represents an excellent opportunity to further develop our westwards strategy.”

Earlier this month he criticised European airlines, saying they they “cannot keep up” with the competition posed by Gulf rivals.

Bigger stake

The two groups’ route networks are largely complementary, with Qatar strong in southeast Asia, India and the Middle East, while Iberia flies to many destinations in South America.

International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI)

LAST UPDATED AT 30 JAN 2015, 16:30*CHART SHOWS LOCAL TIMEInternational Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) intraday chart

Qatar said it could increase its holding, but would be limited by the 49% cap on non-EU ownership of European airlines.

Neither group said whether IAG had been aware of Qatar’s stake-building and did not say who the shares had been bought from, or when.

Qatar has more than 130 aircraft and a further 340 on order. It is competing with other Gulf airlines including Emirates, based in Dubai, and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad.

The Doha-based carrier had 22m passengers in the 2013-14 financial year, compared with 44.5m for its larger rival Emirates. IAG carried just over 77m passengers in 2014.

Other moves

Qatar’s move comes as IAG attempts to complete a takeover of Aer Lingus for about £1.3bn.

The company has said it planned to run the Irish airline as a separate business with its own brand, management and operations.

IAG was formed when BA and Iberia merged in 2011. It has about 430 aircraft and 60,000 employees.

Shares in IAG closed down 3.5% at 544.5p on Friday, making it the biggest faller on the FTSE 100.

The stock has risen by more than a third in the past 12 months and the company is valued at £11.4bn.

Qatar buys 10% stake in British Airways owner
544.50 p-


Friday, January 30, 2015

9 Surprising Benefits of Being Single

benefits of being single
I’m convinced most people in long-term relationships are secretly miserable. Sure, it’s nice to have a partner to cuddle with, but relationships can also be terribly inconvenient. If you don’t believe me, consider these surprising benefits of being single.

1. You can travel on a whim.

How do you think a romantic partner would react if you woke up and decided to move overseas, go backpacking through mountains in Iceland, or take a cruise to a tropical destination? They probably wouldn’t be happy if you didn’t include them in that decision (and rightfully so!). Single people, however, have the freedom to travel without hesitation. If you’re a vagabond at heart, then singlehood might be for you.

2. You can flirt without fear.

Let’s face it: everyone flirts sometimes, whether they are single or not. This flirting is usually innocent in nature, but it could nonetheless lead to an awkward situation if a single person ends up developing feelings for somebody who is romantically involved. Add an insecure partner to the mix and this awkward situation could quickly turn into a terrible confrontation. If you love to flirt, then singlehood might be for you. 

3. You can work on yourself.

It is awfully tempting to get complacent when you have a partner. A survey by UK researchers found that 62% of respondents gained 14 pounds or more after beginning a relationship. This weight gain appears to be a direct consequence of typical date-night activities. When asked to choose their primary bonding activity, 30% of respondents chose “watching television” and 20% chose “eating out.” If you’d like to concentrate on improving your mind and body, then singlehood might be for you.

4. You can save tons of time.

It’s fun to send flirty texts back and forth, but can you imagine how much time the typical couple spends on their phones? A lot of people get anxious without constant communication, so those texts and phone calls might add up to a loss of several hours per day. Of course, you could just choose a partner who is more independent, but finding such a creature could be a difficult task. If you would rather invest your time in a more productive fashion, then singlehood might be for you.

5. You can sleep in peace and quiet.

Confession: I really, reallyREALLY miss cuddling. I’ve been single for a while, and love it for the most part…but the absence of physical touch has driven me a bit crazy (maybe I should start collecting applications for a cuddle buddy?). That brings us to the point: even though it’s nice to snuggle, I have a VERY difficult time sleeping next to another person (especially if they snore!). If you know that feeling, then singlehood might be for you.

6. You can become more self-reliant.

Have you ever been through a breakup so emotionally devastating that you couldn’t function for weeks, or months, afterward? Love is a chaotic force that can be both beautiful and destructive (you do know hurricanes are named after people, right?). Passionate feelings cannot and should not be silenced. But never let a person become the single subject of your thoughts, because few relationships are destined for eternal success. If you’re not comfortable with that risk, then singlehood might be for you.

7. You can stay in touch with friends.

“Don’t you worry; we’ll stay in touch!” Those words should sound familiar if you have friends who have gotten married and/or had children. How many of them actually kept their word? Not many, I bet. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since these major life decisions require the sacrifice of free time and personal freedom. It’s hard to find the time to do much when you have a spouse and child to consider. If you aren’t ready for such a commitment, then singlehood might be for you.

8. You can avoid settling for a bad match.

Almost 50% of marriages in America are destined for failure. You have to wonder how many of those still married stay together due to religious beliefs, financial reasons, or the sake of their children. To complete this grim picture, add in how easy it is to settle for a bad match when you’re feeling lonely. If you’re not 100% sure what you expect from a partner, then singlehood might be for you.

9. You can do whatever the hell you want to.

Just like a flower will wither if you don’t water it, a relationship will suffer without proper care and attention. Do you have a friend who complains about how “needy” her partner is? This complaint could be justified depending on the context, but most people simply underestimate how much time it takes to sustain a healthy relationship. There is nothing “strange” about wanting your significant other to spend time with you. If you’re not ready to consider the needs of another person, then singlehood might be for you.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Astronomical discovery: 'Super Saturn' with rings 200 times as large

CNN)In 1610, after he built his telescope, Galileo Galilei first spotted enormous Saturn's gigantic rings. More than 400 years later, astronomers have in a sense dwarfed that discovery with a similar first.
Using powerful optics, they have found a much larger planet-like body, J1407b, with rings 200 times the size of Saturn's, U.S. and Dutch astronomers said.
It lies some 400 light-years away from Earth.
For decades, scientists have believed that many moons around large planets formed out of such ring systems. But this is the first one astronomers have observed outside of our solar system, they said.
It was discovered in 2012, but a detailed analysis of its data was recently completed and published.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Marissa Mayer in front of Yahoo logoThe spinoff will allow Yahoo’s chief executive Marissa Mayer to focus on the firm’s core operations

Yahoo has announced a plan to spin-off its 15% stake in China’s Alibaba Group and hand the business to its shareholders.

In creating a separate company that is made up of its stake in Alibaba, Yahoo will avoid a large tax bill.

Yahoo also reported fourth-quarter earnings of $166m (£109m), a 52% decrease from a year earlier.

The company said revenue from display advertising fell by 4% to $532m from a year earlier. However, investors were cheered by the company’s decision to spin-off its Alibaba stake. Shares in Yahoo increased by more than 6% in trading after US markets closed.

According to a release, Yahoo’s remaining 384 million shares of Alibaba – worth about $40bn – will be owned by a newly registered company called SpinCo. SpinCo shares will then be given to existing Yahoo shareholders.

Renewed focus
By spinning-off the Alibaba shares into a separate company, Yahoo’s chief executive Marissa Mayer will please investors – but also put renewed focus on her efforts to turn around the company.

Since taking over in 2012, Ms Mayer has led a string of high-profile acquisitions – most notably that of blogging platform Tumblr – but the company has still struggled to find other streams of revenue as its primacy as a search destination declines.

“I’m pleased to report that our performance in Q4 and in 2014 continues to show stability in our core business,” she said in a statement.

“Our mobile strategy and focus has transformed Yahoo and yielded significant results,” she added, noting that the company’s mobile ad revenue was $1.26bn in 2014.

Fighting fakes
Separately, on Wednesday, a Chinese regulator accused Alibaba of not paying enough attention to illegal businesses conducted on its e-commerce websites and failing to take measures to eliminate issues such as the sale of fake goods.

The report was based on a meeting between Alibaba and government regulators in July before the company’s record breaking share flotation in September.

Last month, Alibaba reported that it spent more than $160m (£103m)fighting fake goods on its websites between the beginning of 2013 and November 2014.

Apple posts the biggest quarterly profit in history

US technology giant Apple has reported the biggest quarterly profit ever made by a public company.

Apple reported a net profit of $18bn (£11.8bn) in its fiscal first quarter, which tops the $15.9bn made by ExxonMobil in the second quarter of 2012, according to Standard and Poor’s.

Record sales of iPhones were behind the surge in profits.

Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones in the three months to 27 December – well ahead of most analysts’ expectations.

I mean, a lot of us were expecting good iPhone sales during the holidays, but I don’t think anybody really thought Apple was going to blow past 70 million units sold”

In a conference call with financial analysts Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook said that demand for phones was “staggering”.

However, sales of the iPad continued to disappoint, falling by 18% in 2014 from a year earlier.

The demand for Apple’s larger iPhone 6 Plus model appeared to help boost profits and increase the iPhone’s gross profit margin – or how much Apple makes per phone – by 2% to 39.9%.

However, Apple did not give a breakdown of sales for the iPhone 6 and other models.

Apple shares rose more than 5% in trading after the US markets had closed.

Buster Hein, who edits the “Cult of Mac” website, told the BBC that iPhone sales had surpassed expectations.

“Oh my gosh, it’s unbelievable,” he said. “I mean, a lot of us were expecting good iPhone sales during the holidays, but I don’t think anybody really thought Apple was going to blow past 70 million units sold,” he said.

“Apple became the number one smartphone company in China in the last quarter, which was just huge for them,” he added.


Preparations for the opening of an Apple store in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province

Analysis: Richard Taylor, BBC North America Technology Correspondent

Apple’s impressive results represent a significant shift towards the massive untapped potential of China.

With a strong line-up of devices entering the final quarter, it was able to reap the fruits of its deal with the world’s biggest mobile network, China Mobile.

However, the success of its latest big-screen iPhones may have contributed to further cannibalising sales of the iPad.

The once unstoppable tablet is being further squeezed both by a resurgence in laptop sales, as well as by competition – both in an increasingly saturated US market and in emerging markets by lower-priced, rival machines.

See More>> 

Apple posts the biggest quarterly profit in history

Apple takes high road in China smartphone standoff with Xiaomi

Lei Jun, founder and Chief Executive Officer of China's mobile company Xiaomi, shows Mi Notes at its launch in Beijing January 15, 2015. China's Xiaomi Inc staked its claim to Apple Inc's crown on Thursday as the world's third-biggest smartphone maker and most valuable tech start-up unveiled the flagship Mi Note, its challenger to Apple's iPhone 6 Plus. REUTERS/Jason Lee (CHINA - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS TELECOMS) - RTR4LHWQ

Lei Jun, founder and Chief Executive Officer of China’s mobile company Xiaomi, shows Mi Notes at its launch in Beijing January 15, 2015. China’s Xiaomi Inc staked its claim to Apple Inc’s crown on Thursday as the world’s third-biggest smartphone maker and most valuable tech start-up unveiled the flagship Mi Note, its challenger to Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus.

(Reuters) – Apple Inc (AAPL.O) is steering clear of Chinese rival Xiaomi Inc’s [XTC.UL] low-price online strategy, ramping up store openings in China to harness its premium edge and fend off the fast-growing No.3 global smartphone maker.

The U.S. firm’s quarterly results smashed Wall Street expectations with record iPhone sales in the holiday season and a 70 percent rise in China, powering the company to the largest profit in corporate history.

Its result in China, as well as other emerging markets such asBrazil, marks a riposte to critics who questioned the firm’s strategy a year ago not to launch a cheaper phone to lure cost-conscious buyers from Xiaomi and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS).

“In the long run Xiaomi is more of a threat to Apple than say Samsung,” said Ben Thompson, analyst at “But the way Apple fights that is to further differentiate, not by trying to compete on Xiaomi’s turf, which is low cost.”

Instead, Apple plans to roll out around 20 new China stores by 2016, likely located in glitzy locations and rubbing shoulders with outlets for luxury brands such as Chanel and Hermes International SCA (HRMS.PA).

For Apple, brick-and-mortar stores help it maintain a premium image, from the product to in-store service and even packaging, allowing the firm to charge far higher prices than rivals – vital to its enviable profit margins.

“If you could only get an Apple product online, then there wouldn’t be the same user experience and so people might not be so willing to buy. After all, it’s an expensive product,” said Shi Xinchao, 24, a civil servant in Jiangsu province.


Apple’s quarterly leap may be hard to replicate, with the launch of large-screen iPhones and a tie-up with telecoms operator China Mobile Ltd (0941.HK) in late 2013 lifting last year’s numbers.

“People had been waiting for large-screen iPhones for a long time. The demand had piled up and Apple hadn’t been able to meet it,” said Nicole Peng, research director for Canalys inChina.

Canalys data showed Apple outsold all other smartphone makers in China by units shipped in October-December 2014, making it the country’s top seller for the first time.

However, some were already asking what Apple’s next driver of growth in China would be and how the firm would fend off Xiaomi’s longer-term challenge.

Xiaomi unveiled the Mi Note earlier this month, its challenger to Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus. At 2299 yuan ($371) for a model with 16 gigabytes of memory, the Mi Note costs almost two-thirds less than its Apple rival.

The Chinese firm, which sold its first phone just over three years ago, has also been moving into other personal and home devices that would be compatible with Xiaomi phones, helping it retain users.

“This could lock in Xiaomi’s younger generation, low-income users from migrating to other brands like Apple,” said Gartner analyst C.K. Lu.

“The large screen has given Apple a big core, but what’s after the large screen? That’s what we need to address.”

(Additional reporting by SHANGHAI newsroom; Editing by Christopher Cushing)


Apple takes high road in China smartphone standoff with Xiaomi

14 Things A Responsible Father Will Never Do

Responsible father
I know so many fathers who were barely present when their children were growing up. Yet the father’s role is a most important one because, aside from providing a safe home, he must carry out the duties of fatherhood diligently. That includes loving support, guidance and encouragement in winning life’s battles. Here are 14 things a responsible father will never do.

1. He will never set a bad example.

How many times have you heard a father tell his kids that there are certain things they must not do, like losing their temper and behaving badly? The problem is that some fathers lose it and are not a role model for their kids at all. They lose their temper when driving and curse the other drivers loudly. They forget that kids copy behavior.
“Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice.” – Charles F. Kettering.

2. He will never beat or spank his kids.

An irresponsible father uses physical violence and beating to impose the rules. But a good disciplinarian knows how to use other methods which are far more effective in the long term. Using violence is teaching a child that aggression is one way of dealing with conflict.

3. He will never cancel prime time with his kids.

Children expect parents to be present. Workaholic fathers never carve out time to be with their kids and they feel neglected and abandoned. Enjoying games, movies and outings together is precious and a really good father knows that and will rarely cancel because of some urgent work commitment.

4. He will never forget important milestones.

Fathers have to remember the milestones in their kids’ lives and make a firm commitment to be there. These can be anything from an important match to a birthday party or graduation from high school. The best way to get to know a child really well is by following his progress and achievements. When fathers fail to turn up, kids are really disappointed.
“It is a wise father that knows his own child.”- William Shakespeare

5. He will never criticize his kids unfairly.

You know the scene. Fathers tend to pick holes and criticize their kids’ efforts and belittle them. They do not realize that when a kid washes the car, they need to encourage them by praising them for doing a good job. If they have missed some dirty spots, the responsible father tells his kids that they should go over the car and check for the smaller spots they may have missed. It is also a way of teaching kids to do the job well.
When I told my father that I was doing my best, his reply was “Your best isn’t good enough!’ It was very discouraging.

6. He will never let his relationship with his spouse affect the way he treats his kids.

When conflict and tension begin to sour marriages, kids are often the first to suffer. An unloving and uncaring father will let his resentment take over and may well spend less time with the kids as a way of getting even with his wife or partner. A responsible father will always let his precious values dominate family life.

7. He will never show disrespect.

When a father loves and respects his spouse and kids, this sets the tone for family relationships. But when a father allows disrespect and bitterness to flourish and never hides this from his kids, they will never be able to love and respect him. This should be reciprocal and it is an essential element inresponsible fatherhood.

8. He will never be authoritarian.

Most parenting experts point out the difference between being authoritarian and authoritative. The former means that the father is always right and imposes the rules in a very harsh and often violent manner. Being authoritative means that the father will offer his kids choices and chances to grow in a warm and supportive environment. You can read more about this is Laurence Steinberg’s book called We Know Some Things: Adolescent-parent Relationships in Retrospect and Prospect.

9. He will never be totally permissive.

The other end of the spectrum is where fathers allow their kids free rein to do what they like and they thoroughly spoil them. This is totally irresponsible because the real world out there is full of obstacles, limits and rules. Being permissive is the worst possible way you can bring up a child because he or she will never function well in society.
“People are saying it takes a village to raise a child, but first it takes a mother and a father, who are understanding, compassionate, nurturing, and responsible – working together to instil discipline, character, integrity, and responsibility in their children.”- Charles Ballard

10. He will never be detached.

Irresponsible fathers put their children at considerable risk. They refuse or cannot be bothered to look after them while playing or when they need emotional support. Such detachment is bound to lead to injury at a physical and psychological level. This is the view of Anita Gurian who is a professor at the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry unit at the NYUMedicalSchool.

11. He will never lie to his children.

“So my father was a person who never lied to me. If I had a question, he answered it. I knew a lot of things at a young age because I was intrigued.” – Nick Cannon.
Research shows that by the age of 5, children are expert liars! Many of them have learned the art from watching their own parents lie. The parents sometimes tell them how to do it by suggesting they lie to their grandparents to pretend they like their presents. Another favorite is to ask them to tell callers that they are not at home when they are in. There are even parents who are prepared to lie about their residency to get them into a better school. They risk up to 20 years in prison if they do that. What a great example!
It is therefore a surprise to learn that parents get upset when their own kids lie to them. But who taught them? A responsible father or mother will know the dangers of lying and will always try to tell them the truth.

12. He will never ignore a plea for help.

When things go all wrong, it is terrible if your father is not there or even willing to listen. He never has any time for his kids. The kids feel that they have no one to turn to unless Mom will help out. There is now much debate in the UK about changing the Dickensian laws on neglect of children which were introduced in the Victorian era. The proposed law would make child neglect a criminal offence.

13. He will never insult his kids.

I know some very strict and rather harsh fathers who make a habit of insulting or deriding their kids. They call them stupid, lazy and untidy, just to mention a few. There is always something to criticize and they are doing this in front of friends, relatives and even colleagues. The responsible father will err on the side of over praising and encouraging their children so that they never have low self-esteem.

14. He will never stop loving his kids.

“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”- Sigmund Freud.
A responsible father will never stop loving his kids in any conditions. Even when marriages break up, a father must always maintain contact, even if he is at the other end of the world. It is so important for the mother not to ruin or pollute the child’s view of his father. The same goes for the father because very often parents use the sad event to denigrate the other partner. This is why parents should always encourage their kids to set up a Skype account so that they can still maintain contact.
Do you have happy or unhappy memories of your father? What made him the best or worst dad in the world? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, January 26, 2015

7 Food Hacks To Make Sure Your Food Stays Fresher For Longer

Did you know that an estimated 30-50% of food grown or produced on our planet is never eaten? In the UK alone, 18 million tonnes of food is wasted each year, while in the U.S. 30% of their food – worth approximately $48.3 billion – goes uneaten. In fact, the US and the majority of European countries have twice as much food as they need to satisfy their population’s nutritional needs. Just 1/4 of this food could nourish hungry countries and prevent starvation.
When we let food to uneaten, we are also wasting energy, labour, money and numerous other resources that could be going to much better uses. So, how can we as individuals cut down the amount of food waste? All it takes is small steps! This infographic from Pounds To Pocket gives some fantastic tips on how to keep all sorts of foods fresher for longer, so you can of you bit for the planet and eat well!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Moment blind mother looks at her newborn child for first time

A video that went viral this week showed a legally blind mother in Canada getting to look at her newborn child for the first time thanks to vision-enhancing glasses.

The video posted to YouTube shows 29-year-old Kathy Beitz seeing her newborn boy with the aid of a bulky black headset.

“For the first baby that I get to actually look at, being my own is very overwhelming,” Beitz said in the popular video.

Beitz has genetic macular degeneration known as Stargardt disease.

She was able to see her new son with the aid of eSight glasses that enhance video in real time. The enhanced images allow people who are not totally blind to see the world around them.

“She gave birth and she instantly wanted to see him,” said Yvonne Felix, Beitz’s sister who posted the video about the moment.

Felix, who has the same disease, is raising money so more people can access the expensive glasses at


Friday, January 23, 2015

Essex, England (CNN)With a flick of her wrist, the drum beat begins. The familiar deep sound of the tom-tom drum echoes around the makeshift studio. But this is a musical performance with a twist.

For a start, the “studio” is actually a converted barn deep in the English countryside. The woman playing the “instrument” is Grammy Award-winning musician Imogen Heap. And the drum she’s beating doesn’t exist.

Pioneering the fusion of wearable tech and music, Heap is in a completely different octave thanks to what she calls her Mi.Mu Gloves — gloves that put the power to create an entire musical composition right at her fingertips.

“In the past the only way that I could interact with the computer (to make music) was by using a mouse and a keyboard and this is very two-dimensional,” explains the musical trendsetter.

“I wanted to be able to have something which … was directly from (the) brain — to quickly be able to manipulate sound just by intuitive gestures.

While visiting MIT’s Media Lab in 2009, Heap met Elly Jessop, an engineer developing her own musical gloves using gestural data. Heap’s mind exploded with ideas and she soon set about putting together a team of musicians, makers, hackers and technologists to bring her ideas to life.

Fast forward five years and the dream is finally becoming a reality. Known for her distinctive fusion of soft acoustic sounds, electronica and tech, the British-born artist hopes the gloves will also help bring her music to fans in a more tangible way.

“The gloves help me embody those sounds which are hidden inside the computer, for me to physicalize them and bring them out so that I can play them and the audience members will understand what I am doing — rather than fiddling around on a keyboard and mouse which is not very clear — I could just be doing my emails.”

How it works

Each glove is loaded with a myriad of sensors, buzzers and buttons that all send a chorus of information wirelessly back to computer software. It then interprets each gesture and produces sounds.

“It has sensors in the fingers that sense the bend of your finger, all of them, including the thumb, some motion sensors like accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers,” explains Kelly Snook, a Mi.Mu engineer, who has been working on the gloves project since its conception almost six years ago.

“It takes all the information about your hand and the posture that you are making — where your hand is positioned and how fast you are moving it — and it sends all that information to the computer and then allows you to, on the computer, tell your music software what to do with each gesture.”

She adds: “It has little buzzers in your wrist that … (vibrate) when you’ve done something or you are in this mode. It’s all wireless and it’s all very seamless.”

Music and movement have forever had a symbiotic relationship. But with these gloves, Heap hopes to take her stage performances a step further.

“Movement for me is key,” she says. “I have a body and I have a mind and in my mind I have music. And it’s a very shapely, sculptural thing that’s going on.

“With the gloves I’ve almost got infinite mobility and so many different ways that different actions can cross over each other and therefore make something I wouldn’t have thought of — I can almost jam with myself,” she laughs.

“So movement and playing with music with my hands, almost like a potter, is now becoming a reality with these gloves that I’ve been developing with my team.”

Musical revolution?

The gloves are already making waves among technologists and musicmakers eager to get their hands on them. Initially, the project looked to KickStarter for crowdsourced funding, and while they didn’t make their target, the campaign introduced the team to a group of like-minded engineers and hackers, who still wanted to help fund the bespoke gestural gloves. They now collaborate with the team by providing data and feedback from use of their own pair.

“We found 15 people who were willing to invest quite a lot of money at this early stage and help us develop them further. (They) have their own gloves and they range from people interested in robotics, to music therapy, to storytelling, to musicians, to sound engineers and animators — all kids of different people,” says Heap.

And the gloves look set for international stardom as they’ve even caught the attention of pint-sized pop princess Ariana Grande, who recently spent some time with Heap and ordered her own gloves to bring on tour next year, according to the thrilled Mi.Mu team.

The team is quick to point out the idea isn’t particularly new — gestural music devices have been around for decades. But they hope they can spur the musical innovation forward.

Snook says: “We are not the first to do this, nor will we be the last. We’ve just been really passionate about doing it for music and doing it on stage and breaking down the barriers between the audience and the performer and making it much more intuitive the way the performer can communicate what they are doing electronically.

“Similar to when the electric guitar came on the scene, music really changed because of that one liberating instrument and so what’s exciting to me about the glove project is the way that we could be seeing that complete shift in music making and performance.”

Heap adds: “The gloves have certainly changed the way I make music. I’m not going to say it’s going to change the world. It’s certainly part of a big movement of wearable tech and I really hope that we can move forward the game.”

Journalist with links to Anonymous sentenced to 5 years in prison

The case against Barrett Brown worried many that a conviction would criminalize the act of linking on the Internet.Barrett Brown drew the attention of law enforcement after posting a public link to data stolen in the 2011 hack of security think tank Stratfor.

The case against Barrett Brown worried many that a conviction would criminalize the act of linking on the Internet

Barrett Brown, a journalist who has served as an unofficial spokesman for various Anonymous hacking operations, was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges of obstructing a search warrant, making Internet threats and being an accessory to unauthorized access of a protected computer.

The sentencing ends nearly three years of legal wrangling for Brown, who first attracted the attention of law enforcement officials in 2011 when he copied a hyperlink to data stolen in a hack of security think tank Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, from one Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel to another. The hack reportedly yielded 200 gigabytes of data, including e-mails and credit card information from Stratfor clients, which include the US Army, US Air Force and Miami Police Department.

Despite Brown’s lack of hacking skills, prosecutors argued that the act of posting a link to the data made him a party to the crime. Seeking to have the charge dismissed, Brown’s attorneys argued in a court motion (PDF) that Brown did not “transfer” the stolen data but merely republished a public link to information that was already in the public domain.

Brown’s case was closely followed by journalists, civil-liberties activists and Internet activists who worried the case could infringe on freedom of the press by criminalizing the act of linking on the Internet. Brown’s previous journalism experience included writing for such media outlets as The Guardian, Vanity Fair and Huffington Post, among others.

“The right of journalists — or anyone for that matter — to link to already-public information, including sensitive information, is in serious jeopardy if Brown is convicted,” Hanni Fakhoury, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote in a blog post after the indictment was handed down.

While most members of the hacking collective Anonymous hide their faces and identities, Brown took a more public approach. As a spokesmanlike figure for the group, he recorded videos of himself talking and gave interviews to reporters.

He was arrested at his Dallas home in 2012 while he was in the middle of an online chat after posting tweets and videos threatening revenge against an FBI agent associated with the investigation. In one YouTube video, titled “Why I’m Going to Destroy FBI Agent Robert Smith Part Three: Revenge of the Lithe,” Brown speaks of ruining the agent’s life.

“Robert Smith’s life is over,” Brown said in the video. “When I say his life is over, I’m not saying I’m going to kill him, but I am going to ruin his life…”

Brown said he targeted the agent because authorities were threatening to charge his mother with obstruction of justice for allegedly hiding a laptop that Brown said he himself hid.

While the hyperlink charge was ultimately dropped, Brown said the prosecution revisited the link charge during a December sentencing hearing as “relevant conduct” that should be considered in deciding Brown’s punishment.

“The fact that the government has still asked you to punish me for that link is proof, if any more were needed, that those of us who advocate against secrecy are to be pursued without regard for the rule of law, or even common decency,” Brown said in a presentencing statement to the court.

Under a plea deal with prosecutors, Brown was sentenced to 63 months in prison and ordered to pay nearly $900,000 in restitution and fines. He had faced up to eight and a half years in prison afterpleading guilty to the charges in April. The two and a half years he has spent in custody will be credited toward his sentence, according to the Dallas Morning News.


Journalist with links to Anonymous sentenced to 5 years in prison

The Internet will vanish, says Google's Eric Schmidt


Speaking at Davos, Google's executive chairman explains that we'll all be experiencing our digital connections as a seamless part of our everyday world.

Digitally speaking, we’re not even plodding along yet.

Why, AT&T is throttling my data this month and my phone still won’t work too well in half of California’s Wine Country.

However, Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, is very well connected to the future. And he’d like you to know that the pesky Internet thing will soon be a digital dodo.

I know this because today he said: “The Internet will disappear.” As the Hollywood Reporter offers, Schmidt was schmoozing and strategizing with the hive mind of world leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

He made a few more brushstrokes to contribute to his picture of Futureworld: “There will be so many IP addresses (…) so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it.”

Surely you will sense it, because you’ll find this magical at-oneness with the digital world far more interesting than, say, the humans in a room who are also finding their own magical at-oneness with the digital world.

Schmidt explained: “It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room.”

Permit me a dynamic guffaw at the mention of permission. Humanity has long ago bared its chest and dropped its trousers, merely for the opportunity to post images of its tanned toenails and to buy some strawberry-flavored toothpaste.

Just to underline this, the Davos forum also heard from Harvard professor of computer science, Margo Seltzer. The AFP reported two of her more charming statements.

First: “We live in a surveillance state today.” Second: “We are at the dawn of the age of genetic McCarthyism.”

This latter thought portends a world, she said, where tiny drones are flying through the air checking you for a pox of one kind or another. On behalf of, say, your health insurance company.

All for the greater good, you understand.

Yesterday, with its HoloLens, Microsoft showed one small step toward walking into its version of a dynamic room. Most who saw it found it exciting.

For Schmidt, the idea of a dynamic world represents “a highly personalized, highly interactive and very, very interesting world.”

Of course we’ll rush headlong into it because there’ll be so much excitement along the way. There’ll be fun and marveling to be had.

We should look forward to it. We’ll all be robots after all, programmed to marvel at just the right things.


Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.


The Internet will vanish, says Google's Eric Schmidt

Thursday, January 22, 2015

8 Web Design Facts that Will Blow Your Mind

1. All web browsers render websites differently

When you look at a website from your home computer using Google Chrome, it might be a completely different experience than your friend has when she browses the same website through Safari on her iPhone. Why does the same website look so different across various browsers? It all depends on parsing and rendering, or the way that browsers translate code and display it on your screen. Some browsers will load the code in a very specific order, and sometimes browsers won’t recognize certain code at all. For more detail on this, HTML5 Rocks has an excellent breakdown of how each browser parses code and renders it on the screen.
Browser differences can make it tricky for you to create a website that provides a great experience to everyone. That’s when professional web designers step in. They are familiar with HTML and CSS standards, known browser issues, and the ways to work around potential hurdles. It’s a web designer’s job to ensure that your website looks good and functions properly across many different browsers. They also perform extensive browser compatibility testing to identify potential issues, and establish necessary fixes for those issues, before a website goes live.

2. Design dictates where users will focus on your website

The Internet has forever changed the way we read and browse content. According to the Nielson Norman Group’s report, “How Users Read on the Web,” successful websites with a clear and scannable layout have a 47% usability improvement. If a visitor can’t skim through your website and identify key information quickly, they are likely to leave and visit another website instead.
Web designers strive to create sites that direct viewers to the most vital information, such as an online store, your company’s blog, an organization’s history, or other content important to both them and you. Web professionals can also use heat maps and analytic tools to see which buttons and links are popular so that they can continually improve the user experience with future updates on the site.

3. A two-year-old website may be too old

Web designers work hard to keep up with the breakneck pace of technology. Since the web browsers and devices being used to access websites are constantly changing, the way that those websites are designed and developed must change as well. To remain current and relevant, digital professionals must stay on top of the latest coding standards, browser compatibility updates, and search engine algorithms. An outdated website runs the risk of not displaying properly in the web browser, having unexpected formatting issues, or not showing up effectively in search engine results. For this reason, a site that is even two years old may be antiquated if it has not kept pace with these changes.

4. Templates will restrict what you can do with your website

Many people turn to website templates as an “easy way out.” Pre-packaged templates often allow anyone to create a website with little to no coding knowledge. Unfortunately, companies can lose credibility by relying too heavily on templates, which typically include bloated code and unnecessary design elements. Trying to force a template to do something new can make it look patched-together, like a Frankenstein website, and that is if that template will even allow for those needed changes. Many templates are notoriously inflexible in what they will allow for, meaning your site may be painted into a corner. Your organization can benefit the most by having a web presence that is custom-made for your needs and the needs of your customers.

5. Your website’s code helps it to appeal to search engines

You could have the most visually-stunning website in the world, but it won’t matter if you don’t have an audience to view and use that website. Web professionals make sure that the way your site is coded will help an audience to find your website when they type certain keywords into Google or another search engine. The way that the website is coded even affects how your search engine listings look, from the title of the web page in the search results to the small description of your site that appears below the title. Search engines can be a great source of new traffic your website, and there are many additional steps that can be taken on a site to fully optimize if for those search engines, but it all starts with coding best practices and ensuring that the foundation of your site in conducive to a good relationship with the search engines.

6. Images and videos can have a positive or a negative impact on your website

Multimedia content, including images and videos, can be a powerful part of a website, but if used improperly, they can also significantly damage a website’s performance. Large image and video files can dramatically slow down the loading time of your website. When visitors have to wait too long for a page to load, you risk them growing impatient with the site and abandoning it altogether. To ensure that any multimedia content that is used on a site engages visitors rather than drives them away, web designers must use images and videos that are optimized for websites. These optimized files will ensure that your page loads quickly while still offering that rich imagery or video content.
Web professionals also avoid outdated multimedia formats, such as Flash, which aren’t supported by many of today’s mobile device platforms. Instead, they favor current standards, like HTML5 video, so that people can access your media from the widest range of devices possible, including computers, tablets, and smartphones.

7. A good website design ranges between $500 – $5000

pricing infographic by Incion reveals that a good website design can cost between $500 to $5,000. If you’re surprised at this range, consider the number of hours and collective brainpower that goes into optimizing websites for search engines, making content accessible across browsers, and improving overall performance by speeding up your website’s loading times. Designers often rely on specialty software and robust tools to ensure that a website’s code functions the way its intended while displaying well.

8. There’s a big difference between responsive and mobile web design

Most people don’t think about the seemingly magical website conversion that happens when they switch between their smartphone and computer. These are two very different approaches to shifting screen sizes, either mobile design or responsive design.
Mobile design is restrictive. It serves up a separate, and often limited, version of your website that can be used on smartphones and tablets. However, because mobile websites generally provide visitors with the bare basics that the site has to offer, they won’t get to see the full glory of your web design or use it to its full potential.
Responsive design is extremely flexible, allowing websites to resize and reflow their layout based on the visitor’s screen size. This gives visitors a consistent experience from large-screen, high-resolution monitors all the way to the smallest smartphone touchscreens, while also having an experience that is suited to each of those individual devices. Responsive websites will simply adapt to their environment, while maintaining the same stunning images, typefaces, and navigational options.
The complexities of web design are indeed mind-blowing, requiring a high level of updated awareness and attention to detail to create the best website possible. Keep these facts in mind as you move forward with your own web presence!
Featured photo credit: Kelly Kline via