New Museum using iBeacons to simulate minefield for Day for Mine Awareness

Hot on the heals of the MLB’s expansion of the use of iBeacons in most of their ballparks, the New Museum in New York City decided to go a little more dramatic with iBeacons: they’re making them into land mines. Well, simulated land mines. To mark the UN International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on April 4th, the New Museum is simulating a minefield with iBeacons and an app called Sweeper for iOS and Android (though it’s not going live until April 3rd). So you use your iPhone to probe for virtual mines, like this:

The Sweeper exhibit is a live experience of a virtual minefield. When used at a UN event, Sweeper ( is the app that allows anyone to experience the fear of living with land mines (App is going live on April 3). Using iBeacon, a low energy Bluetooth technology to find a phone’s location, the Sweeper app detects transmitters hidden throughout the exhibit. When a person comes too close to a transmitter, it acts as a landmine and detonates, filling the user’s headphones with a jarring, visceral explosion followed by an audio testimony of someone’s actual experience. Users are then invited to make a small donation of $5 to help ensure no one ever has to go through what they just did.

This is easily one of the most innovative implementations we’ve seen for iBeacons. The public exhibit will be open on April 4th from 11am to 3pm at the New Museum in New York City. From basic check ins to virtual mine probing, it seems like iBeacons could prove to be very versatile — how else can you see them being used?

Source: United Nations Mine Action Service [pdf], Via: 9to5 Mac


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Of course, there had to be a Lego BatKid too

Of course, there had to be a Lego BatKid too

The Batkid saved San Francisco and our collective souls, melting the hearts of millions around the world, so it was only a matter of time (minutes) before someone made him out of Lego.

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European operators take baby steps toward LTE-Advanced rollouts

European operators Vodafone, Telefónica and EE have all started testing LTE-Advanced, and are aiming to offer speeds over 200Mbps. But a lack of devices means commercial services will have to wait.

While LTE is still in its infancy in many parts of the world, operators have started to test LTE-Advanced, which uses a handful of technologies to increase speeds even more. On Thursday, Vodafone and Telefónica in Germany announced small-scale trials of the speedy technology in Dresden and Munich, respectively. The two join British operator EE, which announced a test in London’s startup cluster Tech City earlier this month.

All three are taking advantage of a feature called carrier aggregation to improve speeds. It allows networks to devote more resources to some users by treating two channels in the same or different frequency bands as if they were one. The amount of frequencies used decides the maximum bandwidth. EE is using two times 20MHz to reach 300Mbps, while Vodafone and Telefónica are using one 10MHz channel plus one 20MHz channel for up to 225Mbps.

But carrier aggregation isn’t just about theoretical top speeds: Implementing the technology will also mean improved, although lower, speeds even for users who haven’t got the perfect coverage needed for the highest speeds, said Per Narvinger, head of Ericsson’s LTE radio products, in an interview earlier this year.

While the networks are ready, it will take longer for devices to catch up. The EE trial will launch using a Huawei router, which is the first device of its kind, according to the operator. The router can provide a wireless high-speed connection to up to twenty 802.11ac devices.

EE expects the first commercially available routers will be introduced by the middle of next year, with smartphones arriving in the second half of the year. EE also plans to launch commercial services in 2014. In June, SK Telecom launched carrier aggregation with an updated version the Galaxy S4 smartphone from Samsung Electronics. The South Korean operator’s network offers up to 150Mbps by combining two 10MHz channels. That speed can also be achieved with 20MHz of continuous spectrum in one band, which is kinder on smartphone and tablet batteries.

The lack of terminals compatible with the higher speeds means some operators that can offer 150Mbps without carrier aggregation are taking a more cautious approach.

“When the chip sets are ready and implemented in a lot more terminals, we will of course consider commercial deployment of LTE-Advanced, but we are not there yet. Our priority at the moment is on building coverage so that more customers can use 4G,” said Tommy Ljunggren, vice president of System Development at TeliaSonera’s Mobility Services.

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The latest on deaths, damage in Philippine typhoon

Here are the latest casualty figures and damage reports from the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan. All figures are preliminary and based on national and regional government officials and media reports.

— National: 2,275 confirmed deaths, with another 3,665 hurt, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. President Benigno Aquino III told CNN that the death toll could be 2,000 or 2,500, lower than earlier estimates by two officials on the ground that it could hit 10,000.

— Leyte province: Thousands feared dead or missing. Widespread severe damage. Tacloban, its main city with a population of 220,000, lies in ruins. Communications, transport cut in many areas.

— Samar: 400 estimated dead, 2,000 missing.

— Eastern Samar: 211 dead, 45 missing and 174,000 residents affected.

— Cebu: 63 dead.

— Iloilo: 162 dead, according to Gov. Arthur Defensor. He said 68,543 houses were destroyed and 536,584 people have been affected. Aid is reaching the province, but delivery of relief goods to island villages is hampered because 90 percent of motorized boats have been destroyed. Helicopters are delivering food and other goods but cannot fly when the weather is bad.

— Capiz: 44 dead and 1 missing. TV footage showed damage to some houses, but it did not appear extensive.

— Aklan: 10 dead.

— Antique: 7 dead.

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‘Redesign, polish’ delay Recon Jet’s shipping by ‘a few months’


Recon Jet

Bad news for folks waiting on the Recon Jet. The $500 Android-based heads-up-display — think of it in the same family of wearables as Google Glass — will miss its expected launch in December.

Recon Instruments co-founder and CEO Dan Eisenhardt in a blog post and email to those who preordered over the weekend announced that "certain aspects of the latest prototype fell short of my expectations, so some redesign will be required." Eisenhardt notes that they have "mapped a clear path to resolving each of the option issues," but "the bad news is the time necessary to execute the re-design will delay first shipments by a few months."

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AP sources: Martin considered quitting football

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Before Miami Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin left the team saying he was bullied, he told multiple people that he was considering quitting football, two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

One of the people said Martin considered giving up the sport because he was mistreated by other offensive linemen. That person said Martin, who sought counseling for emotional issues, now plans to continue playing. Both people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the organization has said little about Martin’s departure.

After practice Wednesday, several players questioned why Martin left and supported guard Richie Incognito, who was suspended by the team and was accused of being Martin’s main tormentor.

“I don’t know why he’s doing this,” offensive tackle Tyson Clabo said. “And the only person who knows why, his name is Jonathan Martin.”

Last week, Martin’s agent said the second-year player from Stanford was harassed almost daily by teammates in his rookie year and the hazing continued into this season. That prompted an NFL investigation, and the Dolphins suspended Incognito, who sources said sent Martin threatening and racist messages during the offseason.

Commissioner Roger Goodell appointed a New York lawyer with experience in sports cases to investigate the case.

The controversy attracted more than 100 reporters and cameramen to the Dolphins’ complex Wednesday, and when the throng entered the locker room after practice, a player pushed the button on a boom box sitting at Incognito’s stall.

Circus music began to play.

Then the Dolphins, clearly weary of the circus atmosphere, opened up. They passionately defended Incognito and insisted they didn’t see the blowup coming. Most said Martin and Incognito were friends.

“The whole thing, it’s kind of mind-blowing to me,” Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “It’s kind of mind-blowing to most of the guys on our team right now.”

The 24-year-old Martin was briefly hospitalized after he left the team and is now with his family in California.

Tannehill said he was shocked when Martin departed.

“It’s tough for me, because you can’t help a situation that you didn’t know existed — that no one on this team knew existed,” Tannehill said. “We have a bunch of good guys in this locker room. To be put in a situation where everyone’s attacking the locker room saying it’s such a bad place, such a bad culture, no leadership to stand up and stop the situation — no one knew there was a situation to be stopped.”

Several players said Martin and Incognito were close.

“If you had asked Jon Martin a week before who his best friend on the team was, he would have said Richie Incognito,” Tannehill said. “The first guy to stand up for Jonathan when anything went down on the field, any kind of tussle, Richie was the first guy there. When they wanted to hang out outside of football, who was together? Richie and Jonathan.”

Guard John Jerry said he never heard Incognito use the racist term included in one voicemail and wouldn’t have objected anyway.

“I would have just laughed it off,” Jerry said. “I know the type of person he is, and I know he doesn’t mean it that way. Everybody’s got friends that when you’re out, they say those type of things. It’s never made a big deal.”

The 30-year-old Incognito was kicked off his team at Nebraska, and has long had a reputation as one of the NFL’s dirtiest players. But he has been universally praised by his teammates this week.

“Does he like to give guys a hard time? Yes. Does he like to pester guys and have fun? Yes,” Tannehill said. “But he brought a lot of laughter to this locker room, he brought a lot of cohesiveness to this locker room and he was the best teammate that I could ask for.”

For Martin, the final straw was a lunchroom prank at the team complex, and he then left the squad. Tannehill and Jerry said the same prank has been pulled on many other players.

Hijinks are especially common among the offensive linemen, Clabo said.

“We have a system of basically it’s just a big joke, basically,” he said. It helps camaraderie. It keeps things light in the room. Everyone participates. No one is exempt and so I don’t see how … we would all be guilty of bullying.”


AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.


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Gay rights bill clears first hurdle in Senate

FILE – In this Oct. 29, 2013 file photo, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Senate prepared to push major gay rights legislation past a first, big hurdle Monday as Democrats and a handful of Republicans united behind a bill to prohibit workplace discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File )

FILE – In this Oct. 29, 2013 file photo, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Senate prepared to push major gay rights legislation past a first, big hurdle Monday as Democrats and a handful of Republicans united behind a bill to prohibit workplace discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File )

FILE – In this Sept. 8, 2011, file photo, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Major gay rights legislation is set to clear the first hurdle in the U. S Senate Monday. Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada announced his support on Monday, saying in a statement that the measure “raises the federal standards to match what we have come to expect in Nevada, which is that discrimination must not be tolerated under any circumstance.” (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A major gay rights bill has cleared its first hurdle in the Senate.

On a vote of 61-30, the Senate voted to move ahead on the legislation that would prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The bipartisan vote increases the chances that the Senate will pass the bill by week’s end, but its prospects in the Republican-led House are dimmer.

Speaker John Boehner remains opposed to the bill, arguing that it will lead to frivolous lawsuits and undercut job creation.

A vote would come 17 years after the Senate rejected a similar discrimination measure by one vote.

The Obama administration has said passage of the bill is long overdue.

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Chinese journalist tries to crowdfund his career

In this photo taken Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, Yin Yusheng poses for a photographer in Beijing, China. Yin hopes to craft a new kind of journalism in China, where the industry is widely seen as state-controlled and corrupt. He wants to make his readers the boss – and that includes paying his salary. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

In this photo taken Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, Yin Yusheng poses for a photographer in Beijing, China. Yin hopes to craft a new kind of journalism in China, where the industry is widely seen as state-controlled and corrupt. He wants to make his readers the boss – and that includes paying his salary. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

In this photo taken Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, Yin Yusheng poses for a photographer in Beijing, China. Yin hopes to craft a new kind of journalism in China, where the industry is widely seen as state-controlled and corrupt. He wants to make his readers the boss – and that includes paying his salary. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

(AP) — From his temporary home on a friend’s sofa, Yin Yusheng hopes to craft a new kind of journalism in China, where the industry is widely seen as state-controlled and corrupt. He wants to make his readers the boss — and that includes paying his salary.

Once users pledge 5,000 yuan ($800) — half his monthly pay when he worked for a business daily — he takes a story up. He has completed one piece since beginning his experiment in crowdfunding in September, appealing to those who are “tired of the praises sung by the state-run media.”

Journalism in China is held in low esteem by many members of the public, not just because virtually all media is state-controlled and toes the government line, but also because of dirty practices dating back to the 1990s. Journalists regularly demand money from companies or individuals not to report a negative story about them, and expect a “red envelope” with cash to report a positive development or to turn up at a press conference.

Yin, who lost a reporting job at a magazine earlier this year when it changed from a weekly to a monthly, wants to be beholden only to the news-reading public, and is testing whether crowdfunding from online donations can give him a stable income.

In an online mission statement, he says crowdfunding can make a product successful, save a company and bring donations to the weak and vulnerable. “In the same way, it can give us the truth,” he writes.

There already are several self-styled citizen journalists in China publishing online reports on their own websites. Yin said he wants to bring a professional standard to this kind of reporting and thinks colleagues in the industry may follow his lead because such reporting “enjoys a little more sliver of freedom” than working in the state-controlled industry.

Yin, 43, has advertised his story ideas on China’s two largest microblogging sites and the online marketplace Taobao.

The crowdfunded investigative piece he has completed was about Chen Baocheng, a Beijing reporter detained during a protest over a land demolition in his hometown. Yin’s pitch attracted the required funding within 24 hours. A week and a half later, he uploaded the finished piece onto two Twitter-like microblogging sites, Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo.

State media stories on the case tended to focus on police and lawyers’ reactions, but Yin’s vivid report was based on more than 20 interviews with police, lawyers, witnesses, local officials and some of those who had been detained. Some reports alleged that Chen doused an excavator operator in gasoline, but Yin’s report found that he had arrived only after others had already poured the fuel.

Yin also tweets from the scene. “I am on the scene, meaning you are on the scene as well,” his promise to readers goes.

His plan came from discussions with friends who, like him, entered print journalism from backgrounds in computer science or online media, and who began to see the Internet’s power to usurp traditional media.

“We began to ask ourselves the question: Why do we have to confine ourselves to one specific media outlet? Many of us had already become quite influential, so publishing an article online might have more public impact,” he said in an interview at a Beijing cafe.

In the U.S. and Europe, journalists and activists have used crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter to find money for one-off creative projects, like a first book or a documentary. A number of sites also have experimented with such financing for journalists in the past few years, especially in the United States, said George Brock, a journalism professor at City University London.

“I don’t think it’s going to be the central plank or pillar of a new business model for journalism, but the experiments that have been done in it have shown that projects that catch people’s imagination, whether they be Web or print or film, really can raise money,” Brock said.

Yin set his limit at 5,000 yuan, which is also slated to cover his expenses, in hopes of discouraging the notion that a big spender could control his agenda. He uploaded details on the 1,955 yuan he spent covering his first report, including photos of bus and train tickets and other receipts.

He is saving money by staying in a friend’s apartment, which he says might also make it more difficult for officials to track him down.

He risks becoming a target in the government’s intensified crackdown on online expression. In recent months, China’s leaders have clamped down on what they call online rumors and efforts to erode the rule of the Communist Party through lies and negative news. Their targets have included celebrity bloggers that call attention to social injustices.

Even if the government does not detain Yin, it could scrub his reports from the Internet.

“The key point here is the distribution question” and whether Yin’s reports will be censored, said David Bandurski, a researcher with the China Media Project at Hong Kong University. “All Internet is China is in a recent period of extreme intensification of control and he’s dealing — presumably if he’s doing investigations — with sensitive issues.”


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Mozilla sheds a light(beam) on Web privacy

Mozilla has long considered itself a champion of the free and open Web, and the company plans to walk the walk as much as it talks the talk. The company’s latest and best foot forward in that direction: Lightbeam for Firefox.

This Firefox add-on shows, graphically, how the sites you visit interact with other sites — and how tracking information may be gathered in the process, often from multiple sites at once without your knowledge.

Many of us know casually that browsing a given site also means interacting invisibly with a whole slew of other sites. Facebook, for instance: there’s barely a site that doesn’t invoke code from Facebook’s servers for the sake of the Like button, Comment forms, and so on. Lightbeam aims to make it clearer how all that works.

Originally developed as a project code-named Collusion, Lightbeam presents the user with three basic ways to slice and dice the data gathered from your movements online. The Graph view lets you see how any given site visited interacts with others — and lets you see which sites have the most, or least, interactions with other sites. Clock view lets you see how many connections are made hour-by-hour over a 24-hour period, and List view presents all connections in a flat textual list.

Other app/service combos like Ghostery have been introduced in the past to help end-users find out who’s tracking them, but haven’t sported anything like Lightbeam’s visuals.

Alex Fowler, leader of privacy and public policy efforts at Mozilla, called it “a Wizard of Oz moment for the Web, where users can collectively pull back the curtain see its inner-workings.”

What’s most interesting about Lightbeam is how users can opt-in to allow the data collected about their movements to be shared with Mozilla. This sharing is off by default, and according to the Belfast Telegraph and the data submitted by Lightbeam is kept as anonymous as possible. IP addresses are not logged, data is aggregated anonymously, and the plug-in itself is open source under multiple licenses (MPL 1.1/GPL 2.0/LGPL 2.1) and can be removed easily. One imagines Mozilla is at least trying to not recapitulate many of the sins of the very people it’s criticized.

Worries about how vulnerable everyday software is to tracking and surveillance, whether by government agencies or businesses looking for behavior data to mine and monetize, aren’t like to dissipate anytime soon. Mozilla in particular has been hammering hard on end-user privacy. It recently upgraded Firefox to remove vulnerabilities that allowed the NSA to de-anonymize those using the Tor network, and has voiced constant concerns about the way the Web is being turned into a tool for casual wiretapping.

What’s tougher to do is to raise consciousness about the issues in a way that will allow ordinary users to take proactive action. Even though the casual corporate mining of behavior data is far more pervasive than government surveillance, the latter inspires far more ire. Maybe having a tool like Lightbeam to show people the truth of the matter will be more helpful than mere words.

This story, “Mozilla sheds a light(beam) on Web privacy,” was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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Google’s Cars Now Drive Better Than You Do

Google's Cars Now Drive Better Than You Do

Though there may be plenty of hurdles when it comes to getting self-driving cars on the road in large numbers, Google has gotten one step closer to its goal of replacing every human on Earth with machines (I think that’s what "Don’t Be Evil" meant). Through an analysis of reams of data, they’ve proven that their autonomibiles are smoother and safer than the average driver.

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