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12
May

Paris looks to Instagrammers to boost city museum visits


Maybe you’ve heard of the term ‘influencer.’ It’s the moniker marketers have given to the heavy hitters of social media with their considerable follower counts (often in the tens or hundreds of thousands). You know, the Kendall and Gigis currently dominating our modern world. Well, Paris Musées, the public institution that oversees 14 of the city’s municipal museums, has cottoned on to this new media wave and is turning to Instagram as a platform to raise awareness and boost museum attendance. To promote its recently launched site, which houses a searchable digital collection of all the museums’ works, Paris Musées has commissioned 10 Instagrammers from various art backgrounds to recreate or reinterpret some of these iconic works.

The campaign, created in a partnership with digital agency Kindai, has hard data on social media influence to back it up. In 2014, the agency published a study which found that cultural institutions in France benefitted the most from an associated Instagram post — accounting for about 53 percent of related Instagrammer visits. Philippe Rivière, the head of Digital Service at Paris Musées, said that while he hopes younger generations will be inspired by the campaign, the idea behind the collaborations was really “to reach a diverse audience while keeping the artistry and aesthetics” of the collections intact.

To do this, Paris Musées matched up its ten influential Instagrammers, culled from various artistic disciplines like fashion, humor, illustration, photography, with a notable work emblematic of a particular museum. This process, which Rivière said some museums found to be challenging, often resulted in several works being pulled for an artist’s consideration. “Some museums like Cernuschi do not have [an] easy piece of art to remake,” he says. “In this case, we had to find creative Instagrameurs, in this case Rafael Mantesso, to provide a completely different view.”

The resulting collection of Instagrammer reinterpretations will be on display from May 11th to July 31st at Paris’ Gare Saint-Lazare train station. And if you happen to swing by the exhibit, don’t hesitate to pull out your smartphone and add your own twist to the Instagram installation. Paris Musées is encouraging passersby to contribute their own takes on the city of light’s hallowed art and use the hashtag #ParallelesParisMusées.

“Paris is fortunate to be one of the cultural cities of the world,” says Rivière. “That said, everyone does not have the opportunity to go there, even living in France … This platform can be a way of preparing [for] the visit or even make you want to visit a particular museum.”

Source: Paris Musées Collections

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12
May

New DIY wearable teaches kids to code and be active


The Mover Kit aims to combine the fun of wearable tech for kids with important programming tools that’ll help them later in life. It also has rainbow lights that you can program to flicker whenever you moonwalk. If either of those things sound palatable to you, there’s a Kickstarter out there with your name on it.
You can thank Technology Will Save Us for the idea, an organization founded to foster creativity in youth through hands-on technology. The kit is aimed at children 8 and up, offering a piece of buildable, wearable tech that can be programmed to perform a wide variety of tasks using an online tool called Move.

The Mover Kit can be assembled in about 15 minutes and is comprised of a Mover board, 8 RGB LEDs, accelerometer, magnetometer, USB connector, rechargeable battery, snap band bracelet, and a lanyard. The device went through several different prototypes in tests with over 300 children, and it offers several different options for kids to repurpose it every single day if they choose to.

So far the Kickstarter has raised over $29,000 of its $50,000 goal with 28 days left to go. It’s an interesting addition to the growing number of projects aimed at children with simple-to-understand code and assembly, and might even end up appealing to DIY beginners as well as kids if it hits production.

12
May

Evernote adds image previews and search for Google Drive files


For many, Evernote is a useful productivity tool for notes, lists and more. Today, the company announced integration with Google Drive that allows you to drop in files instead of simply linking to them. As part of the new feature, those Drive files will show up as linked thumbnails and any images will display a preview. What’s more, you can search Drive from Evernote and any changes made to documents or other files that are stored in the cloud will sync to your notes as well.

Google is making a habit of giving third-party apps access to Drive in the interest of productivity. Last month, the company announced that Yahoo Mail and WhatsApp users could drop in files from the cloud-based repository inside the respective iOS and Android apps. Right now, this latest Google Drive integration is available in beta on the web and Evernote’s Android app with other platforms coming soon.

Source: Google Drive, Evernote

12
May

IBM developed a ‘magic bullet’ to combat viral infections


IBM Research and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) in Singapore have created a new chemical “macromolecule” that could aid in the fight against a wide range of viral diseases like Ebola, Zika, dengue fever, herpes or even influenza. The new chemical was “designed from the ground up” to combat viruses in three ways: by preventing it from infecting healthy cells, stopping the virus’s replication and finally boosting the body’s immune system to help it fight the virus on its own.

So far, the new chemical has been effective against Ebola, dengue and herpes simplex when tested in a lab environment. But what makes this completely new molecule a so-called “magic bullet” is its ability to fight off the viruses regardless of any mutations they naturally make over time. Zika, for example, mutates rapidly, making it particularly difficult to develop a vaccine to combat it. While, IBM and IBN began their research before the Zika outbreak reached “alarming proportions,” they hope to partner with a pharmaceutical company soon to test the chemical’s effectiveness against the virus.

For now, however, the two groups are exploring ways to put their new chemical into consumer goods like anti-viral wipes or a vaporized version that could be used in hospitals to prevent further outbreaks.

12
May

It’s no surprise that Disney shut down its gaming division


No one should have been surprised by Disney’s announcement that it would cancel the Disney Infinity series and shut down its video game business. However, when the news went live, Twitter immediately lit up with shock. My phone buzzed with questions and incredulity from friends. Hell, even I gasped when I read the blog post.

The surprise was justified. Disney Infinity was a respectable and adored franchise in the toys-to-life category, and its developer, Avalanche Software, was held in high regard. Infinity entered the fray in 2013, two years after the original toys-to-life series, Skylanders, debuted. Financially, Infinity single-handedly turned around Disney’s gaming division, Disney Interactive.

Disney Infinity is such a strangely great game. I never expected it. Terrific figures and art. Very sad to see it canceled.

— Mitch Dyer (@MitchyD) May 10, 2016

Disney Infinity was the tenth-best selling game of 2013, hitting 3 million sales by January 2014. In the year after the original game’s release, Disney Interactive posted its first annual operating profit in recent memory. As more games and figurines hit the stores, Infinity carried the Interactive division to profitability, again and again. By December 2015, Infinity was estimated to be the number-one toys-to-life franchise, outselling both Skylanders and LEGO Dimensions. Sales started to waver by early 2016, though the franchise was far from failing.

And then it was over. In a blog post this week, Disney Interactive SVP John Blackburn announced that the series was canceled and Disney later clarified that it was done making video games, full stop. Avalanche, a studio of roughly 300 people, was shut down.

Again, our surprise was justified — but we really should have seen it coming. In fact, Disney set the stage for disappointment early on in Infinity’s life cycle.

Back in February 2013, just months before Infinity debuted on the world stage, Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger told Wall Street analysts that if the series didn’t perform well, he would likely tear down the company’s gaming division and switch to an all-licensing model. Between 2008 and 2013, Disney Interactive had accumulated losses of $1.41 billion.

Surprising, sad news here. I had thought for sure that those Disney Infinity figures were a goldmine. RIP Avalanche: https://t.co/0jZC4XJrYP

— Ryan McCaffrey (@DMC_Ryan) May 10, 2016

“If Infinity does well, it bodes very well for the bottom line of this unit,” Iger said at the time. “If it doesn’t do well, the opposite will be the case.”

Disney Infinity did do well, but not well enough. In a world where competitors are increasingly targeting digital releases, it’s incredibly expensive to manufacture retail games — let alone toys-to-life titles that require a lineup of action figures hitting stores throughout the year. For a mega-corporation like Disney, which has to manage its franchises for film, books, TV and various other formats, it’s more cost effective to license its games to the highest bidder with the best resources. Disney gets to pick the studio it wants, rather than run the one it has.

Besides, Infinity couldn’t touch the numbers brought in by Star Wars: Battlefront, a series that Disney licensed to a third-party studio (EA) for development and publishing.

Disney Interactive saw a decrease in operating revenue and income in the second quarter of 2016, and the company mentioned these retail and licensing factors in its earnings report: “Lower operating income was primarily due to… lower operating margins and comparable store sales at our retail business and lower results for Infinity. These decreases were partially offset by higher licensing revenues.”

Dear Avalanche Software and everyone who worked on @DisneyInfinity… pic.twitter.com/wzYva05tQh

— Greg Miller (@GameOverGreggy) May 11, 2016

Even without the tremendous amount of pressure placed on Disney Infinity to succeed, and without the exit strategy that executives laid out before the game even launched, Avalanche was on shaky ground. Not because of its own performance — but simply because it was a video game studio.

The video game industry is volatile. Across the globe, studios come and go seemingly on the whims of a cruel god; even successful or beloved companies are regularly hit with layoffs and closures. The 2015 IGDA Developer Satisfaction Survey found that 65 percent of developers held permanent jobs, but that over the past five years, they reported having an average of 2.7 employers. “This indicates that employees are often hired and let go,” the IGDA concluded.

Volatility is basically a running joke in the industry — even though it’s a life-shattering reality for many developers. Avalanche was headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, a region that now boasts an extra 300 unemployed, experienced video game developers. There are a handful of other studios in the state, including Epic Games subsidiary cHair — but the industry doesn’t exist in Utah the same way it does in Los Angeles, San Francisco or Montreal. If they want to stay in gaming, a lot of these folks will have to move.

Disney Infinity brings a lot of joy to my house. Saddened as a gamer about the Avalanche closure and the employees affected. ❤

— Mike Futter (@Futterish) May 11, 2016

Or, they’ll risk it all to start independent studios. Plenty of laid-off developers have gone indie and found success, though in most cases it’s a grueling and uncertain road.

Avalanche and Disney Interactive as a whole are the latest losses in an extremely expensive, challenging and unpredictable industry — one that Disney doesn’t need to stress over quite as much anymore. We shouldn’t be surprised when good studios go under, but we will be because from the outside, it just doesn’t make sense.

It’s not a surprise that Disney shut down its gaming division. It’s just business.

12
May

British young offenders who brag online could see tougher sentences


The Sentencing Council for England and Wales today proposed an expanded set of guidelines that courts would have to follow when sentencing young offenders aged 10 to 17. Importantly, for the first time, the instructions explicitly mention video, images and other details of the incident deliberately shared through social media and elsewhere online as an “aggravating factor,” which could increase the seriousness of an offence and lead to tougher sentences.

While the existence of this kind of media and its gravity hasn’t been ignored before now, the new guidelines clarify their importance to courts faced with relevant cases — though it’s just one consideration among many, including the nature of the offence and age of offender. The potential aggravating factor is described as:

“Deliberate humiliation of victim, including but not limited to filming of the offence, deliberately committing the offence before a group of peers with the intent of causing additional distress or circulating details/photos/videos etc of the offence on social media or within peer groups.”

It has been added to the non-exhaustive list of factors that should be considered when sentencing youths for both general and sexual offences, with guidelines for the latter class now also including a mention of online grooming, where that has played a role. Sentencing guidelines for adults in England and Wales don’t cite social media specifically yet — though there are similar aggravating factors to do with capturing and disseminated media related to offences — but it’s understandable why the Sentencing Council would make it a priority in more comprehensive guidelines for young offenders.

The sad fact is: online bragging of this kind, particularly on social networks, is all too common. In a recent, serious case, two 15-year old girls were given life sentences for beating and ultimately murdering a woman in her home. They documented the attack on Snapchat. An woman in the US was also accused last month of broadcasting her friend’s rape live, over Periscope.

Slowly but surely, law enforcement agencies are exploring the role the internet and social networks play in both minor offences and serious crimes. A couple of months ago, for example, The UK’s Crown Prosecution service updated its Social Media Guidelines to give criminal prosecutors a better understanding of what constitutes online abuse.

The new sentencing guidelines announced today are still subject to change after a 12-week open consultation period — and it’s important to note that their expansion isn’t at all limited to the inclusion of tech-specific aggravating factors — but there’s no reason the social media mentions won’t be incorporated when the proposals become official advice.

Via: The Law Society Gazette, BBC

Source: Sentencing Council

12
May

Apple’s App Review Process Now Takes as Little as Two Days


Apple’s app review process has become significantly faster during the first five months of 2016, according to AppReviewTimes.com, a website that tracks average App Store review times for both the iOS and Mac App Store using data crowdsourced from developers on both platforms.

App Store approval times have dropped to an average of two days, compared to between eight and ten days in May 2015, based on 328 reviews submitted in the last 14 days. The shorter process has been well received by the developer community, which had grown accustomed to weeklong waits.

I’m uncharacteristicly excited about faster review times. Going to be devastated when someone inevitably ruins it.https://t.co/td5QkeUaBb

— Paul Haddad (@tapbot_paul) May 5, 2016

Oh, and yet another fast App Store review time of 2 days. Definitely feels like a (welcome) trend of faster review times #iosreviewtimes

— John Pollard (@yeltzland) May 4, 2016

Wow, the @AppStore approved my update in 2 days. So much faster. I like the new you App Store.

— Aaron Lake (@OrbitalNine) April 4, 2016

“A lot of the way that we build software for iOS is controlled around the fact that you have a one-week release cycle,” Button Inc. founder Chris Maddern, whose team has done work for Uber Technologies Inc. and Foursquare Labs Inc., told Bloomberg. “It can now happen within hours of submitting them, which is really awesome because it speeds up the development cycle.”

Last December, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller took over App Store leadership responsibilities from iTunes and services chief Eddy Cue. Schiller now leads nearly all developer-related functions at Apple, and WWDC 2016 next month could serve as a good opportunity for him to announce shorter approval times on stage alongside new versions of iOS, OS X, and other developer updates.

Tags: App Store, App Store Review Guidelines
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12
May

Google Again Surpasses Apple as Most Valuable Company in the World


With Apple shares dipping below $90 this morning, Google’s parent company Alphabet briefly overtook Apple as the world’s most valuable company hitting a market cap of $498 billion compared to Apple’s market cap of $494 billion. Apple and Google shares continue to fluctuate and the two companies are neck-and-neck for the top valuation, but Google remains in the lead.

Apple’s stock has seen steep declines in recent weeks, following its first ever drop in iPhone sales and its first year-over-year revenue decline since 2003. Apple’s share price is down again amid rumors of weak demand for the upcoming iPhone 7 and there’s no relief in sight as Apple is also expecting a revenue drop in Q3 2016.

Apple’s guidance for the quarter includes expected revenue of $41 to $43 billion and gross margin between 37.5 and 38 percent, compared to $49.6 billion revenue and gross margin of 39.7 percent in Q3 2015.

Google parent company Alphabet previously overtook Apple as the most valuable company in the world in February of 2016 following a strong Q1 2016 earnings report.

Earlier today, Apple was ranked the world’s most valuable brand by Forbes, assigned a brand value of $154.1 billion compared to Google’s $82.5 billion.

Tags: Google, AAPL, Alphabet
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12
May

​Skip the yard sale and hawk your stuff online – CNET


Your stuff is perfectly decent, so you don’t want to throw it away and you do want to make a little extra cash. The only option is having a yard sale, right? Hold up! Before you go to the trouble of making signs, setting up tables, and making change, try selling your electronics, furniture and knickknacks online.

Here are a few options to try out and some tips to make your experience go smoothly.

Facebook groups

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Facebook groups are a great way to get rid of your stuff.


Screenshot taken by Alina Bradford

One of the easiest ways to get rid items is by posting them for sale in a Facebook selling group. Chances are there’s a local buying and selling group in your town, even if your town is tiny.

To search for a group, go to the Facebook search bar and type in your town’s name and keywords like “swap,” “buy” or “sale.” Join the groups with the most members. These are usually very active and contain a lot of people eager to buy used items.

Joining a local group is a good way to get rid of items because the buyer can pick up your item and members of the group are alerted when your item is listed. The key to using Facebook groups safely is setting up a pick-up area that isn’t your home. Hand off the item in a public place that is well-lit.

If you don’t have a local group, or you want a better chance at selling your item, join a group that was created specifically for buying and selling your particular item. Just type in the name of your item into the search bar to find a group.

To get the best results, post your item in several different groups, list your price, and be sure to add “or best offer.” You’ll get more offers and get the most money for your item.

Also, ask your friends to comment on your “for sale” post. This keeps the post bumped to the top of the sell feed, ensuring that more people see the post.

Listia

Listia is an auction and bartering site that uses a points system for bartering items instead of money. People on this site love old tech, knickknacks and unusual items.

The site gives you certain number of points to start you off. You can get additional points through auctioning items, watching videos and inviting friends. You then can use the points to purchase gift cards or to win other people’s auctions.

Here are some basics to get you most points for your auction items:

  • Always pay for the shipping. Members on this site usually don’t bid on auctions where they have to pay shipping.
  • Post clear photos of the item you are auctioning.
  • Write your seller name on a piece of paper and include it in each photo of your item. This helps reassure bidders that you’re not a scam artist.
  • Always give a good description of the item.
  • Always answer questions about the item quickly.
  • Post short auctions that are around three days in length.

5miles app

The 5miles app is a buying and selling app with nearly 7 million users and more than $200 million in transactions. What makes this app different is that verifies users’ identities by phone and Facebook to reduce scammers, which tend to pop up on selling and buying sites frequently.

5miles shows buyers sales within a five-mile radius of their location. This is great for people that have items that are too big to mail for a reasonable price, like televisions, furniture or record players.

To prevent people from blowing up your phone about your items, use Google Voice to create a free phone number that will take messages and send them to your email.

Trade-in sites

Don’t want to deal with people at all and have a lot of gadgets to sell? There are several sites online that buy electronic items, and the best part is you don’t need to deal with another person. All you do is fill out a form and send in your item. Most of these sites even pay for shipping and will buy broken electronics.

To get the best deal, search for the item you want to sell on several different sites to see which one will pay the most money. To be sure you’re getting a fair offer, you can also look up your item on Sage BlueBook.com, the world’s largest reference site for used electronics’ values.

Some good sites to try are uSell and GadgetValuer, but there are many more. Here’s a list of some other good trade-in sites for electronics.

eBay Valet

If you want a lot of eyes on your auction, then eBay still can’t be beat. Setting up your own auction and dealing with buyers can be a pain, though. The eBay Valet service makes everything simple.

All you do is print out a short form, fill it out, print out the free shipping label, and ship your items to eBay. Or, if you want to do the least amount of work possible, you can drop off your items at an eBay drop-off center. Use this tool to find a drop-off center near you.

Once they get your item, eBay sets up an auction and deals with taking the pictures, picking a starting price, answering questions, and shipping to the buyer.

The service is free, until you sell something, and then eBay takes a 20 to 40 percent cut, depending on the total amount your item sells for. You get your money within two business days after the buyer has paid for the item through PayPal.

To make sure your item sells and doesn’t get rejected by the Valet, check eBay Valet’s list of items that don’t sell.

12
May

How to keep Facebook quizzes from spamming your friends – CNET


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Screenshot by Alina Bradford/CNET

Facebook quizzes are so seductive. Of course you want to know who you were in a past life and what your decorating style is. The only problem with these quizzes is that they often send spammy messages to everyone you know by posting things on your page at random. Nothing makes friends unfollow faster than feed spam.

You can stop the spam and keep your quizzes by making sure to click appropriately. As soon as you click on a quiz, most of them will ask you, “Who can see updates from this app?” Always click Only Me.

Even though you pick this option, you can still take the quiz and you can still post the results, if you like. When the quiz does post spam on your feed, though, only you will be able to see the post, and your friends won’t be bothered.

Did you already do a quiz and it won’t stop spamming? Go to Settings > Apps and then click on the picture of the pencil beside the quiz app and choose Only Me or click on the X to delete the app.

Seven tips for securing your Facebook account

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