Can Facebook give free Internet access to the world?

Facebook Initiative
Source: BestComputerScienceDegrees.com



Dating: Is the Web getting in the way of love?

"Is technology ruining your relationships?" asked Jess Carbino in HuffingtonPost.com. "Honestly? Yes," I thought. Apparently a study by my favorite research group, the Pew Research Center, has found that gadgets have “a pronounced effect” on dating and relationships. "Surprise, surprise" I thought. Here's the latest as seen in my favorite magazine The Week.

Almost one fifth of young people say they have argued with partners about how much time they spend online, compared with just 8 percent of older adults. Yet many young adults also find that technology provides “a forum to resolve conflicts.” Having “grown up revealing more about themselves in an online forum,” Millennials feel more at home with the medium.

But even some grown-up couples say tech can improve their relationships, said Sharon Gaudin in ComputerWorld.com. Overall, about 27 percent of the people surveyed said technology had an impact on their relationships, with most rating the impact as positive. “It gives people the ability to communicate in more and different ways,” said Dan Olds, an analyst with the Gabriel Consulting Group. “Text messages make it easy to toss out those quick ‘I’m thinking about you’’’ or “‘I’m still mad about last night’ messages.’’ One out of four couples said they felt closer to their partner because of texts or online messages, and 9 percent have resolved disputes online or by text message when they were having trouble discussing it in person.

Certainly, “hyperconnectivity is a double-edged sword,” said Eliana Dockterman in Time.com. “Young couples are operating in a competitive, geographically diffuse job market” that can separate them by continents. At first glance, that might make our connectedness seem like a good thing. But researchers have found that “the positive aspects of long-distance all seem to be based on how little couples see one another.” All that Skyping could just be “sabotaging your long-term relationship.” So as socializing online becomes easier, “consider the value of space.”

For singles, though, the web has been a real boon, said Julia Wood in CNBC.com. “With so many fish in the sea, more singles are heading online to find their soul mate.” A survey by Match.com found that 31 percent of respondents said they met their last date online, compared with 33 percent who met dates through friends and or at work. That doesn’t mean online dating is without its own challenges: There are now so many dating sites and apps that “choosing one is almost as difficult as finding someone who matches your standards.”

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SIY: The mainstreaming of mindfulness

Stressed-out Americans from war veterans to Google workers are embracing meditation. Does it really work? My answer is YES. Thank goodness mindfulness is going mainstream. Here's a fabulous update from The Week.

Why is mindfulness so popular?

It appeals to people seeking an antidote to life in work-obsessed, tech-saturated, frantically busy Western culture. There is growing scientific evidence that mindfulness meditation has genuine health benefits—and can even alter the structure of the brain, so the technique is drawing some unlikely devotees. Pentagon leaders are experimenting with mindfulness to make soldiers more resilient, while General Mills has installed a meditation room in every building of its Minneapolis campus. Even tech-obsessed Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are using it as a way to unplug from their hyperconnected lives. “Meditation always had bad branding for this culture,” says Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter. “But to me, it’s a way to think more clearly and to not feel so swept up.”

What is mindfulness, exactly?
It’s a meditation practice central to the Buddha’s teachings, which has now been adapted by Western teachers into a secular self-help technique. One of the pioneers in the field is Jon Kabat-Zinn, an MIT-educated molecular biologist who began teaching mindfulness in the 1970s to people suffering from chronic pain and disease. The core of mindfulness is quieting the mind’s constant chattering—thoughts, anxieties, and regrets. Practitioners are taught to keep their attention focused on whatever they’re doing at the present moment, whether it’s eating, exercising, or even working. The most basic mindfulness practice is sitting meditation: You sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and focus your awareness on your breath and other bodily sensations. When thoughts come, you gently let them go without judgment and return to the focus on the breath. Over time, this practice helps people connect with a deeper, calmer part of themselves, and retrain their brains not to get stuck in pointless, neurotic ruminations about the past and future that leave them constantly stressed, anxious, or depressed.

Does it work?
Scientific research has shown that mindfulness appears to make people both happier and healthier. Regular meditation can lower a person’s blood pressure and their levels of cortisol, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal gland and closely associated with anxiety. Meditation can also increase the body’s immune response, improve a person’s emotional stability and sleep quality, and even enhance creativity. When combining mindfulness with traditional forms of cognitive behavioral therapy, patients in one study saw a 10 to 20 percent improvement in the mild symptoms of their depression—the same progress produced by antidepressants. Other studies have found that up to 80 percent of trauma survivors and veterans with PTSD see a significant reduction in troubling symptoms. Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is also teaching mindfulness as a form of treatment for patients with substance abuse problems.

Why does it work?
MRI scans have shown that mindfulness can alter meditators’ brain waves—and even cause lasting changes to the physical structure of their brains (see below). Meditation reduces electrical activity and blood flow in the amygdala, a brain structure involved in strong, primal emotions such as fear and anxiety, while boosting activity regions responsible for planning, decision-making, and empathy. These findings have helped attract the more skeptical-minded. “There is a swath of our culture who is not going to listen to someone in monk’s robes,” says Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, “but they are paying attention to scientific evidence.”

Who are these converted skeptics?
Ironically enough, Silicon Valley’s tech geeks are leading the way. “It seems counterintuitive, since technology is perhaps the biggest driver of mindlessness and distraction,” says Ann Mack, a director at marketing communications brand JWT Worldwide. Google now has an in-house mindfulness program called SIY “Search Inside Yourself,” and the company has even installed a labyrinth at its Mountain View complex so employees can practice walking meditation. Tech leaders flock annually to the Wisdom 2.0 conference, and there are now countless smartphone apps devoted to the subject. But these developments have led to a growing concern that mindfulness is being co-opted and corrupted.

Why is that?
Long-term adherents of mindfulness worry that what is fundamentally a spiritual practice is being appropriated by new age entrepreneurs seeking to profit off it. Others are concerned that Fortune 500 executives are pushing meditation so that overworked employees can be even more productive without melting down. But Westerners clearly need some sort of strategy to cope with a world now filled with the inescapable distractions of technology. The average American now consumes 63 gigabytes of content, or more than 150,000 words, over 13.6 hours of media use every single day—and all indications are that those numbers will keep climbing. For Janice Marturano, founder of the Institute for Mindful Leadership, mindfulness is not just a way of coping with the deluge of input; it’s a way of confronting the modern world head-on. “There is no life-work balance,” says Marturano. “We have one life. What’s most important is that you be awake for it.”

Rewiring the brain
Until recently, neurologists believed that a person’s brain stopped physically developing when they were 25 to 35 years old. From that point onward, the hardware was set. But a growing body of research points to the possibility of lifelong “neuroplasticity”—the ability of the brain to adapt to new input—and a 2011 Massachusetts General Hospital study found that those who meditate regularly for as little as eight weeks changed the very structure of their brains. MRI scans showed that by meditating daily for an average of 27 minutes, participants increased the density of the gray matter (which holds most of our brain cells) in an area that is essential for focus, memory, and compassion. Previous research had already shown that monks who had spent more than 10,000 hours in meditation had extraordinary growth and activity in this part of the brain. But it’s now clear that even relative beginners at mindfulness can quickly rewire their brains in a positive way.

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Amazon vs. Netflix: The Fight of the Century

Amazon vs Netflix
Source: Business-Management-Degree.net

Don't Be Fooled: 2014's Top April Fools' Day Tech Jokes

As reported by Stephanie Mlot of PC Magazine, from Google and Hulu to HTC and Uber, check out the roundup of some of the day's best practical jokes.

The tech industry often produces what seem like farcical products, but turn out to be the next big thing. But on April 1, even the most enlightened must take the news with a grain of salt.

Don't be fooled this year. Google kicked things off early with a search for a Pokémon Master to officially join the company. That wasn't the only joke from the search giant. Check out a few more below, as well as PCMag's favorite April Fools' pranks from the past.

Selfiebot: Stop digging in your purse for your phone when the perfect selfie opportunity arises. Instead, reserve a Selfiebot—a photo-taking drone that follows you around, "always watching … for life's most precious moment."

Gmail Shelfies: Celebrate Gmail's 10th anniversary with custom selfie themes. Ditch the typical landscapes, starry skies, and close-up flower shots for a selfie of you and your pet hedgehog. Even better: Your family, friends, and that guy you've been stalking can also set your Shelfie (SHareable sELFIE) as their Gmail theme, reading and writing emails while staring at your face in the background.

Google's "The Magic Hand": Google Japan has developed a mechanical hand that makes operating touch-screen devices more accurate and convenient—via an arcade-game joystick.

YouTube viral video trends: YouTube unveils its plans for 2014's viral video trends, including Clocking, Butter Fails, the Glub Glub water dance, and baby shaming. Later this year, the video sharing site will roll out cake bumping, wolf-mask tee-ball, and the Harlem Shake—again. If you think you've got a great YouTube meme idea, tweet it now with the hashtag #newtrends.

Google+ Auto Awesome: Visiting the Grand Canyon on a nice family vacation when, what's that? David Hasselhoff photobombs you! Perk up any photo with Google+'s new celebrity photobomb feature, rolling out initially with support from The Hoff.

Emojify the Web: Can a word smile? Can it roll its eyes? That's the aim of Google Translate support for emoji. Using algorithms, the app can interpret the content and tone of words, and boils them down to a single, meaningful symbol.

Total Temperature Control by Nest: Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and Nest CEO Tony Fadell team up to allow airline passengers to control their own climate. Want the warmth of a tropical paradise on your flight to Boston? Select "Cancun Afternoon," and don't forget the sunscreen. Or try "Chicago Polar Vortex" for that freezing-wind-in-your-face feeling.

SwiftKey Flow Hard: SwiftKey is expanding its easy-flow typing techniques from your touch-screen phone to your traditional PC keyboard. Flow Hard brings SwiftKey's predictive technology to your physical keyboard.

Hulu Spin-Off Season: TV streaming site Hulu is launching Spin-Off Season, which brings some of your favorite goofy sidekicks and ensemble characters to the forefront. Original content includes Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Sergeant Terry Jeffords back on the streets, a cooking show with Dr. Hannibal Lecter, and childrens' Spanish lessons with Community's Señor Chang.

WazeDates: Having no luck with online dating sites? Try traffic crowdsourcing app Waze's new feature, WazeDates. Just turn on the mobile setting, fill out your preferences, and wait for mobile alerts when single Wazers are driving nearby.

HouzzPrintz 3D Printer: Forget the hassle of shipping costs and wait times. HouzzPrintz 3D printer allows you to reproduce anything you see on the site with your own printer—about the size of a small airstream trailer.

HTC Gluuv: Accessorize your new HTC One (M8) with the all-in-one HTC Gluuv, a silver-and-black mitt that works seamlessly with the smartphone to "unleash your imagination and communicate in ways you've always wanted." Give a physical thumbs-up to "like" a Facebook post or pound your fist to capture a beautiful sunset with the Gluuv's 87.2-megapixel camera.

Toshiba DiGit: The first all-in-one wearable, Toshiba's DiGit gloves offer the functionality of a smartphone, DSLR camera, media streaming box, gaming console, home theater system, MP3 player, and ultrasound machine. The pair also comes fully loaded with 64GB of storage and 1TB cloud storage, plus 4G wireless, and 12 hours of battery life.

Uber Second Avenue Subway: New York City commuters can hop on the "U line" today, riding the length of Second Avenue for only $2.50. (The April Fools' Day promotion actually allows riders to catch a cab up and down Second Avenue, between 128th and Houston streets, for a discounted price.)

Apple Acquires iFixit: The industry leader in repair guides, iFixit, has been acquired by Apple for an undisclosed amount that iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens said "we couldn't refuse." As part of the deal, Cupertino will produce the most replaceable electronic devices on the market.

FreshDirect Eagle-Caught Salmon: It's biked in daily from the banks of the Salmon River in Pulaski, NY. And 41 percent off!

For videos and more, check out this article on PC Magazine!

NetLingo was voted as a "Top 100 Web Site" two years in a row by PC Magazine. They said NetLingo is "One of the 100 Best Web Sites, it is a living dictionary devoted to the often cryptic and comedic vocabulary of the Internet, which is evolving at record speed." -

And BTW they missed this one at ONTRAPORT: The fusion of software and wine ;-)

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