A butterfly flaps its wings on Twitter, and a vaccine map goes viral

Skeptical Software Tools

CFR vaccine preventable diseases mapIf you follow the problem of vaccine denialism (like most skeptics do) and are on social media, you probably saw a cool interactive global map of disease outbreaks this week. It was created by the Council on Foreign Relations – there’s a picture of it here and a link below the fold.  

Just in the last week it was posted by many major websites including Kottke.org, Mother Jones, L.A. Times, The Verge, Wired, The Atlantic Wire and even Forbes. And of course all those posts – and the direct link to the map – were being wildly passed around on social media.

Whenever I see something like this going viral, I dig a little bit before I retweet or repost it.  Sometimes there’s a better version of the post to link, or the one you saw didn’t attribute it to the original author correctly. I like to make sure…

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With DeepMind, Google Prepares For A Future Where We See Ourselves In Every Computing Interaction


Google seems to have paid at least $500 million to acquire DeepMind, an artificial intelligence startup that has a number of high-profile investors, and that has demoed tech which shows computers playing video games in ways very similar to human players. Facebook reportedly also tried to buy the company, and the question on most people’s minds is “Why?”

More intelligent computing means more insightful data gathering and analysis, of course. Any old computer can collect information, and even do some basic analytics work in terms of comparing and contrasting it to other sets of data, drawing simple conclusions where causal or correlational factors are plainly obvious. But it still takes human analysts to make meaning from all that data, and to select the significant information from the huge, indiscriminate firehose of consumer data that comes in every day.

AI and machine learning expertise can help improve the efficiency and…

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Could Watson and Siri love like Her’s Samantha?

One Scientist’s Bid to Debug Human Software

Digital Chocolate, Which Nurtured Some Of Gaming’s Best Talent, Sells Its Barcelona Studio To Ubisoft


Digital Chocolate, the long-troubled gaming company from original EA founder Trip Hawkins, has sold its 46-person Barcelona studio to France’s Ubisoft. The sale comes just months after the company closed down its Helsinki office. Ubisoft confirmed the acquisition to us and Digital Chocolate has yet to respond to immediate requests for comment. Ubisoft is picking up all of Digital Chocolate Spain’s technologies and brands, but they’re not acquiring any of the company’s other studios.

The company has been downsizing for more than a year, with layoffs and Hawkins stepping down in 2012 to form a new educational gaming company. It’s another tough chapter for the 10-year-old company, which has raised at least $55 million to date in four separate venture rounds.

Somewhat Ironically, even though Digital Chocolate had trouble finding its footing on emerging gaming platforms like Facebook and iOS, the company has nurtured some of the industry’s…

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Line Adds Vine-Style Clip Maker & Video Calling To Its Mobile Messaging Platform


The largest mobile messaging apps are increasingly social platforms in their own right. There is more evidence of that today as Line Corporation‘s Line — which had around 250 million registered users at last count — has added yet another feature to its platform play in a v3.9.0 update to its iPhone app (Android users will get the update “in future”).

Snap Movie allows for Vine-style short video sharing, which gives Line users yet another way to communicate with each other without having to leave its social, entertainment playground.

Or, as Line puts it:

Now LINE users can participate in the global trend of sharing their own original video clip and BGM arrangements.

As with Twitter-owned Vine, Snap Movie lets iPhone users of Line create a short video for sharing that’s composed of one or more scenes by recording footage by holding their fingers down on the screen…

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How to Sell Your Phone for the Most Money


If you’re looking to sell off your old smartphone for a bit of spending money or to fund the purchase of a new phone, cashing in on old electronics is easier than ever. Take your smartphone to a retail store for an immediate trade-in, or sell it online if you don’t need the cash immediately.

So how do you know just what your old phone is worth? We checked all of the major options and priced out what we’d get by selling a 16GB iPhone 5 on AT&T in good working condition. But before we dive into where to sell, here are some general rules of thumb on what these buyers will — and won’t — pay for:

  • Phones on different networks may be worth different amounts. Phones on AT&T or factory unlocked phones tend to be worth the most.
  • Your phone’s current condition has a big impact on its…

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Spotify Launches In Taiwan, Argentina, Greece and Turkey


Spotify has launched in Argentina, Greece, Turkey and Taiwan, bringing its streaming music platform to a total of 32 countries.

The heart of the Mandopop (Mandarin pop) industry, Taiwan marks the latest step in Spotify’s Asia expansion, which began in April when the service premiered in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Desktop streaming is free in Taiwan and premium service, which allows users access the platform on their mobile devices or smart TVs, is NT$149 (about $5), or half of the $9.99 that users in the U.S. pay.

Despite its lower pricing in Asia, Spotify faces strong competition from several local players, including KKBOX, which has 10 million users and already boosts strong ties to Mandopop labels. KKBOX has diversified its product offerings beyond streaming music by hosting live events on its platform that allow users to listen along as celebrities select tracks and chat via…

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China May Lift Social Media Ban From Shanghai’s Free-Trade Zone


A tiny crack could be forming in the Great Firewall that blocks China’s internet users from politically sensitive websites. According to the South China Morning Post, Chinese authorities are to lift a longtime ban on Facebook and Twitter. However, access to the social media sites will only be granted within the confines of Shanghai’s free-trade zone — a mere 28 sq-km out of mainland China’s vast 9.3 million sq-km area.

(MORE: Beijing’s Next Anti-Graft Target? Mooncakes)

Party apparatchiks may also allow access to the New York Times. An anonymous official told the Post that the idea is to reassure foreign investors that Shanghai’s free-trade zone was operating under a more visitor-friendly set of rules.

“If they can’t get onto Facebook or read The New York Times, they may naturally wonder how special the free-trade zone is compared with the rest of China,” the official said. Soothed by…

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Porting BlackBerry Java NFC Applications to BlackBerry 10 Part 2: Tag Writing

BlackBerry Developer Blog

NFC tags

Guest post by John Murray

This is the second part of a six-part series by Martin Woolley and me on porting BlackBerry Java applications that use NFC to BlackBerry 10. In our last post, we looked at Tag Reading. This time, we’ll review the way in which you’d port code that writes to NFC tags.

Here’s where we are in the series as a whole:

  1. Reading NFC Tags
  2. Writing NFC Tags
  3. Peer to Peer Mode
  4. Reading NFC Contactless Cards
  5. NFC Virtual Tag and Card Emulation
  6. NFC Card Emulation

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the aspects you need to deal with:

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