Google apes Warby Parker, lets you try on Glass before you buy

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Tempted by Google’s Glass headset, but worried it’ll make you look like a doofus? It’s a legitimate concern, but there’s hope: Google is now sending out non-functional dummy units that you can try on at home. Potential Explorers were sent an email…

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Our Favorite Android, iOS, and Windows Phone Apps of the Week

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Our Favorite Android, iOS, and Windows Phone Apps of the Week

Good week? Bad week? Weird week? No matter. You’ll be playing with your smartphone all weekend anyway, so here’s some cool new apps!

Read more…


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Privacy groups ask FTC to check tech firms’ link to NSA

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Several advocacy groups are calling for an investigation into Internet companies Yahoo and Google whose networks were secretly accessed by the National Security Agency (NSA).

In a letter sent last week, the groups asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) find out how the NSA could extract so much data without the knowledge of Google and Yahoo.

“The Commission should pursue this investigation because it routinely holds itself out as the defender of consumer privacy in the United States,” the authors said. “It is inconceivable that when faced with the most significant breach of consumer data in U.S. history, the Commission could ignore the consequences for consumer privacy.”

The letter, signed by officials from the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Center for Digital Democracy, and other organizations, follows recent reports that the NSA gained access to millions of consumer records by secretly tapping directly into data streams from major Internet companies.

The reports prompted fresh concern about NSA surveillance activities and of the privacy of data being held by the world’s largest Internet companies.

Firms deny compliance

Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and others have insisted that they divulge consumer information to the NSA and other government agencies only under appropriate court orders. Each has denied providing any help to the NSA and other spy agencies gathering data on Internet users.

In fact, in a court filing last week the companies demanded that the government release more information about the kind of data that Internet companies are being asked to provide the NSA.

The letter from the privacy groups stands out because it seeks to hold Google and Yahoo responsible for the NSA’s data collection activities because of a lack of network security controls.

ftc logo

“We are saying that the companies should do more to protect the privacy of user data and that the FTC has a responsibility to police these practices, particularly since both Google and Facebook are subject to consent orders concerning privacy,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of EPIC.

Rotenberg said consumer privacy groups have long urged Internet companies to adopt better privacy and security practices to safeguard the information they collect. He noted that privacy groups have asked Internet companies to minimize data collection when possible and to delete unneeded data.

Therefore, Internet companies must be held responsible for breaches of data they store, he said.

A Google spokesperson wouldn’t comment on the letter. Yahoo didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Jaikumar Vijayan , Computerworld

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld.
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Dropbox lowers the wall between personal and business accounts

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Dropbox is taking another shot at the enterprise with a completely redesigned version of its service that allows end users to see separate containers for personal and work content on the same device simultaneously and gives more control to IT administrators over corporate files, including real-time monitoring of where files are traveling.

Dropbox has had a business product since 2012, and earlier this year it rolled out some new features for administrators.

[ Also on CITEworld: Apple's new iWork apps are great, but iCloud sharing has serious flaws ]

But the update announced today required some major back-end work, so the company is positioning it as the “relaunch” of Dropbox for Business. As CEO Drew Houston explained to the press at an event in Dropbox’s San Francisco headquarters, “We rebuilt the foundation of Dropbox because nobody has done this before. Nobody has built a product that both users love and IT loves.”

Dropbox lowers the wall between personal and business accounts

Credit: Dropbox

End users are the main beneficiaries of the update. Previously, Dropbox users could only be logged into one Dropbox account at a time — if their company gave them a work-only Dropbox (administered by IT), they couldn’t access their personal Dropbox folder from the same app. The upcoming release fixes that: Users will be able to see both their personal and work Dropbox accounts within the app at the same time, or toggle between them (see the screenshot to the right for how this will look on a mobile device).

IT will still be able to monitor and control the flow of files to the business account, and will be able to restrict company-owned devices so that users can only see their company (not personal) Dropbox folder.

To get this feature, the user will have to join her personal Dropbox account to her work one; she can also detach them at any time. Single sign-on can be achieved through Active Directory Federation Services or third-party tools like Okta.

Dropbox also announced three new features for IT administrators on Dropbox for Business:

  • Remote wipe. When an employee is removed from a Dropbox for Business account, IT can now wipe all files stored in the Dropbox for Business folder on the device. Personal files will remain.
  • Account transfer. When an employee leaves the company, an IT administrator will be able to transfer access to all files in that person’s work Dropbox to a new employee.
  • More detailed reports on sharing. IT administrators will get more visibility into shared files in Dropbox for Business including the ability to see exactlywho has accessed files, even if they’re outside the team. Admins will also be able to download CSV files of log activity to analyze them.

Even with these tools, Dropbox still trails behind many enterprise-oriented collaboration tools like Box — which has a more robust development platform and is introducing features for real-time collaboration, an area that Dropbox said it’s not targeting at this time.

But by gradually adding the features that IT departments demand, Dropbox is hoping to eliminate the need for these enterprise-focused providers in most companies. Chances are, your company’s employees are using Dropbox already, so why make them switch? That question is getting harder and harder to answer.

Matt Rosoff is the editorial director of CITEworld. Read Matt’s bio

This article was originally published on

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Author Says ‘Surrogacy Is Ancient’

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The new book “The Baby Chase” follows an Arizona couple all the way to India and back, in their quest to have a baby. Host Michel Martin is joined by author Leslie Morgan Steiner to talk about how surrogacy is transforming the American family. Also joining the conversation is Rhonda Wile, a nurse who hired two surrogates in India to have her children.

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Don’t Compare The Brazilian Spying Case To The NSA’s Mass Surveillance Efforts

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Earlier today a Brazilian newspaper broke the story that ABIN, the top intelligence agency in that country, has employed low-tech spying techniques on foreign diplomats.

This is sticky for the country as it has been intensely critical of the NSA and its practices of mass surveillance the world around. If the NSA is spying, and ABIN is spying, do we come to a wash, all walking away simply saying that everyone spies, so calm down?

Not in the least.

Let’s review a few facts. Governments spy. They even joke about how they all do it. This is the normal state of affairs, as it has always been the state of affairs.

Here’s the New York Times discussing Brazil’s efforts to spy on people, as originally reported by Folha de São Paulo:

The statement followed a report in the newspaper Folha de São Paulo describing how the Brazilian Intelligence Agency, commonly known as Abin, had followed some diplomats from Russia and Iran on foot and by car, photographing their movements, while also monitoring a commercial property leased by the United States Embassy in Brasília, the capital.

So, we’re talking about activities so basic that they aren’t uncommon among ex-partners who are a bit hung up on the end of a relationship. And if the United States didn’t expect that its embassies on foreign soil might be target for local surveillance, I’ll shave my head.

Now for context, here’s a partial roll of the NSA’s activities that have been recently revealed:

That’s just a taste and doesn’t include the domestic efforts of the agency and even most of its foreign work.

If governments are going to spy, why am I unhappy with the NSA and its efforts? Because there is a difference between walking behind a visiting diplomat to see where she goes than ending digital privacy for all global citizens. If you can’t feel the difference between the two, I doubt that we are going to be able to come to comity on this issue.

I find it frustrating that people are comparing two things of utter disparate scale as if they are commensurate. They are not.

And no, I would not be either offended or surprised if the United States government dispatches gumshoe hacks to walk 15 feet behind certain diplomats. Sure. Go for it. But the fact that governments do that has nothing to do with the NSA’s offenses to privacy, and therefore democracy. Don’t trivialize the destruction of the fundamental core tenet of democracy.

Top Image Credit: Mike Vondran

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Burns explores Roosevelt legacy in new documentary

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WARM SPRINGS, Ga. (AP) — Filmmaker Ken Burns said Saturday that he wants to tell the story of three of the most famous Roosevelts, their strengths and weaknesses, in an upcoming documentary on one of America’s most famous political families.

He previewed part of the 14-hour series that will air next year during a reunion of the extended Roosevelt family at the former polio clinic in rural Georgia that President Franklin Roosevelt purchased after coming to seek a cure for his crippled legs. Roosevelt built a home here known as the Little White House, where he died in 1945.

Burns’ film explores the political and family ties between President Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor. The filmmaker acclaimed for documentaries on the Civil War, baseball and World War II said he aimed for an honest portrayal of political figures who were sometimes reduced to caricatures.

Contrasting American ideals of heroism with those of the heroes of ancient Greece, Burns remarked that the Greeks “saw heroes as having very obvious strength but also very obvious and sometimes equal weaknesses.”

“Achilles had his heel,” Burns said. “And so I think for us, it’s always been what kind of American history do you show? One that’s sort of treacly and superficial or one that gets deeper?”

Defining a common legacy between the three figures is tricky since their lives span from 1858 to 1962. The political populism of Theodore Roosevelt — for example, his anti-monopoly stances and efforts to improve food safety and regulation — arguably found a new expression in the New Deal politics championed by Franklin Roosevelt to alleviate the suffering inflicted by the Great Depression.

The film follows Eleanor Roosevelt as she emerged from her role as first lady after Roosevelt’s death and successfully worked to adopt a United Nations declaration of human rights. She was the niece of Theodore Roosevelt and a distant relation to Franklin Roosevelt.

All three Roosevelts backed an expanded role for the central government, an unresolved issue in American politics. Congressional Republicans recently shut down much of the U.S. government in a failed attempt to derail big changes to the health insurance market made by a Democratic president.

“We have a federal government that is big because of Franklin Roosevelt,” Burns said in an interview. “And lots of people think that’s a good thing. And a lot of people think that’s a bad thing. And a lot of people, most people, don’t understand it.”

The film shows flaws. Theodore Roosevelt encouraged a rebellion in Panama so the United States could secure the land needed for the Panama Canal. It discusses Franklin Roosevelt’s infidelity and the emotional abuse inflicted by Eleanor Roosevelt’s mother and an absent, alcoholic father.

Evidence of the history depicted in the film can be found on the surrounding campus. Roosevelt’s residence still has the bed where he died and a door has scratch marks believed to be from his dog. Burns saw the fast-driving 1938 Ford that allowed Roosevelt to escape his watchful bodyguards.

“He would ride along the countryside, toot his horn, say, ‘I want to talk to you,’” said Marion Dunn, 90, who met Roosevelt while working at the rehabilitation center. “He was a real people person – he didn’t talk up or down to anyone.”

Tweed Roosevelt, the great-grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, said he was supportive of Burns’ work but could not judge the documentary since he had not seen all of it. While the Roosevelts have been extensively chronicled, it’s uncommon to consider the joint legacy of all three in a single work.

“The attitudes of Franklin and Eleanor (weren’t) all that different from T.R.’s view about the ‘common man’ and the difficult situations they face,” Tweed Roosevelt said. “Today that’s certainly in my opinion a very important issue, but it seems to be somewhat ignored. Here we are in an era of increasing distance between the rich and the poor getting very much back to how it was in T.R.’s time.”


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Health Law’s Troubled Start Has Dems Anxious

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Already under fierce attack from Republicans over the new health care law, President Obama now faces broad and mounting Democratic concerns that the troubled start of the insurance program will cut into the political benefit the party received from the government shutdown and cost Democratic candidates in next year’s midterm elections.

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Red Sox hope to win title at Fenway

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Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz walks into the dugout after a workout at Fenway Park in Boston, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. The Red Sox are scheduled to host the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of baseball’s World Series on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz walks into the dugout after a workout at Fenway Park in Boston, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. The Red Sox are scheduled to host the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of baseball’s World Series on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Grounds crew members dismantle the batting cage after the Boston Red Sox’s workout at Fenway Park in Boston, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. The Red Sox host the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of baseball’s World Series on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Championship banners hang on the facade of Fenway Park in Boston on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, including the one from 1918, which was the last World Series that the Boston Red Sox clinched at home. The Red Sox will face the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the World Series on Wednesday in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

A security guard keeps an eye on things outside Gate D at Fenway Park in Boston, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. If the Boston Red Sox are able to win the baseball World Series at at the stadium, police and city officials want to make sure fans celebrate responsibly. Boston holds a 3-2 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals with Game 6 and if necessary Game 7 scheduled at Fenway for Wednesday and Thursday nights. Police plan to put extra patrols on duty to guard against any unruly celebrations. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell speaks during a news conference before a workout at Fenway Park in Boston, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. The Red Sox are scheduled to host the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of baseball’s World Series on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

(AP) — Ted Williams never did it. Not Carl Yastrzemski. Not Carlton Fisk. Not even Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling, who ended The Curse nearly a decade ago but did it on the road.

Practically no one alive can remember seeing such an event unfold: The Boston Red Sox could win a World Series title on the celebrated green grass at Fenway Park.

When the Red Sox last won a World Series at home, Babe Ruth, Carl Mays and Harry Hooper were the stars in September 1918, a season cut short by World War I. Ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2, this year’s Red Sox have two chances to reward their faithful.

“It would be awesome,” said John Lackey, who starts Game 6 on Wednesday night against Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha.

Fenway was just a kid the last time the Red Sox took the title there, a modern 6-year-old ballpark. A crowd of 15,238 watched the Red Sox defeat the Chicago Cubs 2-1 to win the Series in six games.

“It was a ball game that nobody who was present will forget. It left too many lasting impressions,” Edward F. Martin wrote the following day in the Boston Globe.

That was so long ago that Woodrow Wilson was president of the United States, television hadn’t been invented and the designated hitter didn’t exist. There were 16 major league teams — none west of St. Louis — all games were played in the daytime and the NFL was 23 months from formation.

Now, Fenway Park is a centurion, the oldest home in the majors and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The last time a World Series Game 6 was played between Lansdowne and Van Ness Streets was in 1975, the night Fisk sent Pat Darcy’s second pitch of the 12th inning high down the left-field line and waved his arms three times, urging the ball fair, before it clanked off the yellow foul pole atop the Green Monster.

“I was just wishing and hoping,” Fisk recalled in 2005. “Maybe by doing it, you know, you ask something of somebody with a higher power. I like to think that if I didn’t wave, it would have gone foul.”

Boston needed that 7-6 win to force a seventh game against Cincinnati, and the Red Sox went on to lose the following night.

Now, they are one win from setting off a Boston Glee Party.

“With no disrespect to history or to Carlton, you know, it’s an iconic video and a highlight that is shown repeatedly, and one of the more memorable swings that probably has taken place in this ballpark,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said Tuesday, “but hopefully there’s somebody tomorrow night that can wave their arms just the same.”

Boston swept the Series in 2004 and ’07, starting at home and winning titles at St. Louis and Colorado. Given the length of time since the last championship clincher at Fenway, there is a seemingly insatiable demand for the just over 38,000 tickets.

As of early Wednesday, the cheapest of 1,200 or so ducats for sale on was for standing room on the third-base side at $997.50. A dugout box seat was available for $12,322.

“I don’t know what happened in 1918, but tomorrow we’re going to try and make it happen, make people proud and happy in the city of Boston and New England,” David Ortiz said. “I guarantee it’s going to be wild.”

Ortiz’s performance in the World Series has been better than Ruthian. He’s batting .733 (11 for 15) with two homers, six RBIs, four walks and a sacrifice fly, and has one-third of Boston’s hits.

“That’s why we call him ‘Cooperstown,’” Game 5 star David Ross said, “because he does Hall of Fame stuff.”

While the Red Sox went through a light workout at Fenway Park on a cool autumn afternoon, the Cardinals tried to maintain their cool as they got stuck in St. Louis, joined by their families on a charter flight delayed several hours by mechanical difficulties.

“Fortunately we have plenty of food, snacks for the kids, lots of entertainment with on-board movies, and everybody travels with all their high-tech stuff,” manager Mike Matheny said. “Most of these kids are pretty happy that they’re not in school right now, and it’s a great way to spend a day.”

The plane took off about 9:10 p.m. EDT after a delay that appeared to last around 6 hours and landed shortly after 11 p.m.

Farrell made a bit of news, saying Ross will get his fourth Series start behind the plate in place of slumping Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

“David has given us a spark offensively out of the position,” the manager said.

Shane Victorino is expected to return to right field after missing two games due to a bad back, and Game 4 star Jonny Gomes will start in left over Daniel Nava. With the shift back to the American League ballpark, Mike Napoli returns to first base and Ortiz to designated hitter.

Playing with a foot injury, Allen Craig will be the DH for St. Louis. Trying for their second title in three seasons, the Cardinals have high confidence in Wacha, a 22-year-old rookie who has won all four of his postseason starts, allowing three earned runs in 27 innings.

“I imagine it’s going to be crazy, but I’m not going to pay any attention to it,” Wacha said.

Boston doesn’t want the Series to reach a seventh game on Halloween night, which likely would be started by Jake Peavy, who has a 7.11 ERA in this postseason. St. Louis would start Joe Kelly, who pitched well in Game 3 but didn’t get a decision.

Ortiz, the last remaining veteran from the 2004 title, wants to make sure fans can start the hullabaloo.

“Hopefully this will get over tomorrow, and they’ll get to enjoy it like they always do,” he said. “Party time.”

NOTES: Forty-one of 62 previous teams with 3-2 World Series leads won the title, including 24 in Game 6. … Since the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates won Games 6 and 7 in Baltimore, six straight teams have failed to overcome 3-2 deficits on the road.

Associated PressSource:
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3-D printing comes of age

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Boeing, NASA, Lockheed Martin and GE are among the large corporations that for decades have used additive manufacturing, known more popularly as 3-D printing.

Additive manufacturing is also used prominently in the medical and dental industries — about 80,000 hip implants have been made to date using 3-D printers, and every day some 15,000 tooth crowns and fillings are made with parts from 3-D printers, said Terry Wohlers, an industry analyst.

It was only about six or seven years ago that people began invoking dimensions to give “additive manufacturing” the trendier 3-D printing name. The rise of a movement among consumers known as “maker culture,” a type of do-it-yourself philosophy geared toward engineering-related pursuits such as 3-D printing, robotics and electronics, is one possible explanation for the name change.

But analysts also point to a singular event: the expiration in the late 2000s of a key patent held by Stratasys covering fused deposition modeling. Growth in the consumer market has been impressive since then, because the technology, also known as material extrusion, is now used in other companies’ 3-D printers.

The extrusion process produces an object by melting and depositing molten plastic through a heated extrusion tip. Like other additive manufacturing processes, it adds one layer upon another until the part is complete. Alternative methods include material jetting, which uses an inkjet print head to deposit liquid plastic layer by layer. Another is powder bed fusion, which uses an energy source, like a focused laser, to build parts from plastic or metal powder.

Those three processes are the most popular, Wohlers said.

3-D printing has some challenges, both for consumers and industry. For consumers, the quality of the lower-cost machines isn’t great, said Wohlers. They’re hard to set up, sometimes there are pieces missing, and their reliability and output is not always very good, he said.

And for the average consumer, versus the technically adept do-it-yourselfer, there still aren’t many compelling applications, some say. Instead of making a new toy or replacing a household tool with your computer, “it’s still more convenient to go to the hardware store or toy store,” said Pete Brasiliere, an industry analyst with Gartner.

For the enterprise, 3-D printing can have a useful place. If you want to print 1 million devices or products at high quality, experts agree it’s better to go with a traditional subtractive process. “But if you want to do one, 10, or even 100, 3-D printing has advantages for low-quantity, high-product value,” Brasiliere said.

Others cite additive manufacturing’s boutique appeal. 3-D printing will never replace the high-volume manufacturing of mass-produced items like the iPhone, said Brasiliere, but for low-volume components that have very specific requirements around the material, design and performance, “3-D printing makes sense,” he said.

Zach Miners, IDG News Service , IDG News Service

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service
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