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Friday, April 25, 2014

New Andy Warhol Images Found On Old Disks

New Andy Warhol Images Found On Old Disks


New Andy Warhol Images Found On Old Disks

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 11:07 AM PDT

(PITTSBURGH) — Cybersleuths have unearthed images that Andy Warhol apparently made on a computer in 1985.

The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh says in a release that the artist had a contract with Commodore International to produce images on one of its Amiga home computers. The old images recently were extracted from disks by members of Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University Computer Club in collaboration with museum staff.

The museum says the images vary from doodles and camera shots of a desktop to versions of Warhol’s classic images of a banana, Marilyn Monroe and a Campbell’s soup can.

Mother of Stowaway Identified as Refugee

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 11:05 AM PDT

(SAN JOSE, Calif.) — A United Nations official says the mother of a California teenager who stowed away on a flight to Hawaii is living in a refugee camp in Ethiopia.

Ubah Mohammed Abdule, 33, is living at the Sheder Refugee Camp in Ethiopia, said the official from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees office on Friday. According to the UN, the camp houses about 10,200 displaced Somalis.

The official was not authorized to speak and asked to remain unnamed.

The boy’s father told Voice of America his son was always talking about going back to Africa.

Somalia has been plagued with internal conflict, drought and violence for decades. Today, more than 1 million Somali refugees are living in neighboring Kenya, Ethiopia and Yemen.

Poll: Americans More Optimistic About Jobs

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 10:55 AM PDT

More Americans are optimistic about the job market this month than at any time since the 2008 financial crisis, according to a new poll, with 30% saying now is a good time to find a quality job.

That marks a significant improvement from the 8% who said they were optimistic about the job market in 2010, but it’s still a drop from the pre-2008 highs of almost 50%. And even though almost a third of Americans are optimistic, two-thirds still say the job market is lackluster; 66% of Americans say it’s not a good time to hunt for employment.

Potential Net Neutrality Changes Spark Lobbying Storm

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 10:52 AM PDT

Hordes of lobbyists have been streaming in and out of the Federal Communications Commission’s doors over the past two months, as the Commission has been hard at work at new proposed rules governing the way Internet traffic is delivered to customers’ homes.

At least 69 companies, public interest groups and trade associations have lobbied the FCC in regards to the so-called net neutrality changes, the New York Times reports. Net neutrality refers to the concept that Internet service providers should treat all Internet traffic as equal in regards to speed of delivery. Proponents of the idea say it bolsters competition among media giants, while detractors argue it amounts to undue government interference in the marketplace.

The lobbying firestorm is likely to intensify after the commission announced Wednesday that it will propose rules allowing ISPs to charge companies for Internet “fast lanes.” That’s a position some view as antithetical to net neutrality, a concept which they argue was enshrined in an earlier FCC order that was the crowning achievement of the agency’s previous Chairman, Julius Genachowski.

Genachowski’s replacement, former cable lobbyist Tom Wheeler, has said the FCC’s new proposed rules are not a reversal for the Commission. Wheeler has also said that the FCC would retain the ability to act against any activity deemed harmful to consumers under the proposed changes. Some commentators believe that Wheeler’s proposal is the quickest solution for the FCC to regain lost ground after the appeals court’s Open Internet Order decision.

FCC commissioners are set to vote on the proposed changes next month before they’re opened to public comment.

[NYT]

 

Tech Startup Amplifyd Seeks to Bring Lobbying to the People

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 10:23 AM PDT

Silicon Valley types have long dreamed of a way to hack the beast of bureaucratic dysfunction known as the U.S. government. Mark Zuckerberg honed in on immigration reform. Sean Parker invested in a mystery venture to attempt improving political engagement. And now a much smaller Bay Area startup with a snazzy name, Amplifyd, is launching with the lofty goal of providing "crowd-sourced lobbying" services to regular Americans.

At the core of the project is an untested idea that stretches the definition of lobbying: Provide an app that allows people to pay to create phone call petitions targeting state and federal legislators.

"We spend so much money trying to get politicians elected but there's no real system that can effectively communicate our opinions as constituents," said Amplifyd founder Scott Blankenship. At the same time, Blankenship says, business interests spend millions to influence politicians.

Beginning on June 3, Amplifyd hopes to change that imbalance that by allowing activist groups to initiate campaigns aimed at influencing elected officials with telephone campaigns. For around $7—the exact final price has not been determined—a Concerned Citizen can hire another person to call a member of Congress or a state legislator. Blankenship says about 1,000 people have signed up to be callers, with the promise of earning up to $30 per hour.

The script begins, "Hi, I'm calling on behalf of (name of the person who paid), and this call is being recorded so he can review the call later," and continues with talking points, complaints, suggestions and the like. From the $7 Concerned Citizen paid for the call $1.50 goes to the campaign, between $2 and $3.50 goes to the caller and the remainder goes to Amplifyd.

Blankenship says he was inspired to build Amplifyd by his experience in the anti-water fluoridation movement, an issue he cared deeply about but didn't have a lot of time to devote to. "There's a of people like me who want to live in a society and community that matches what they want and their opinions on how things should be run but not necessarily wanting to sacrifice their family and goals and money to fight for that campaign," he said.

It’s a business model that depends on people not wanting to make their own phone calls to express their opinions. The $7 price tag on a call could be seen as a high price for a service people can accomplish themselves by literally picking up the phone.

“It’s a mathematical estimate that considers variable calling expenses and payment/transfer fees, then broken out between us, the callers and the campaigners so that all groups are getting paid a decent amount for their efforts,” Blankenship told TIME. “If we can’t stay in the black, then we have failed our mission to provide this tool to our national community.” The price of calls will be reassessed after the product launch, he said.

But the $7 is far cheaper than professional lobbying, even as it shows little resemblance to the real thing. Sure, lobbying involves some working of the phones but as the term implies there's a bit more to it than that. The lobbyist in its purest form is someone who hangs out in the lobbies outside the Senate and House chambers and corners legislators entering and leaving to make convincing arguments and, when the occasion calls for it, thinly veiled electoral threats. Of course, that doesn't include all the influence peddled between K Street in Washington and golf courses near and far.

It’s also not strictly true that lobbying is unavailable to everyday Americans. Whether you're a member of a labor union, a veteran, property owner, or a homeless person, someone in Washington on any given week is likely skulking around the Capitol building trying to convince members of Congress vote in your interest.

Amplifyd does raise interesting ideas about the future of political influence in the age of crowdsourcing. It's not inconceivable that the site could collect payments from people and use them in a lump sum to hire a real lobbyist outfit, wing-tip shoes and all, on an ad-hoc basis, something that was not really possible before with the same efficiency. And rather than donating to a large organization representing an interest group, under Blankenship's concept—we'll call it the Kickstarterification of politics—a person can make more precise donations toward furthering specific causes they care about.

Blankenship says six activist groups are in line to start using Amplifyd when it goes live on June 3. Just how many people are in line to pay $7 so someone else will make a phone call for them remains unknown.

College Students Found a New, Better Way To Use Tinder

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 10:20 AM PDT

College students have begun using Tinder to pursue the greatest thing in the world. No, not love. Free food.

American University junior Julia Reinstein realized that the dating/hookup app could be used for more practical means than finding makeout partners. People could identify if they had or were in need of a spare meal swipe at the school’s cafeteria. By limiting your search distance to a mile, meal matches would proliferate. Think of all the food babies yet to be born.

“That’s symbiosis, folks,” Reinstein wrote on Swipe for Swipes’ Tumblr.

I had friends who, while in grad school, used to joke about using OKCupid as their meal plan, but this endeavor is much more direct. As long as the salad bar doesn’t come with a side of expectations, everybody wins.

[Washington Post]

Tito Vilanova, Former FC Barcelona Coach, Dies at 45

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 10:19 AM PDT

Former Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has died of throat cancer, the club announced Friday. He was 45.

“The FC Barcelona is in immense mourning,” the football club’s official account tweeted. “Tito Vilanova has died at the age of 45. May he rest in peace.”

Vilanova was first diagnosed with cancer in 2011. He stepped down from his coaching post last year after leading his team to the top of La Liga to undergo further cancer treatment.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu paid his respects to Vilanova on Twitter. “Tito Vilanova was a wonderful person, and will never be forgotten at FC Barcelona. Thank you for everything you taught us. Rest in peace.”

If Google+ Heads to the Grave, at Least It’ll Have Direction

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 10:16 AM PDT

Google may be about to drastically alter its social plans with Google+, now that the executive in charge of the project, Vic Gundotra, is leaving the company.

At least that’s what a couple of anonymous sources are telling TechCrunch. Gundotra announced his departure on Thursday, and TechCrunch says Google+ will become more of a platform than a full-blown Facebook competitor. Google may also stop mandating that all new products contain social integration–a move that hasn’t helped Google+’s reputation in the past.

Google has half-denied the story, saying the news of Gundotra’s departure doesn’t change the company’s plans. (It’s always possible that a change in strategy was in the works before Gundotra announced he was leaving, allowing Google’s statement and TechCrunch’s story to both be true.)

But if major changes to the Google+ strategy are afoot, that’s a good thing. The Google+ project has long been a muddled mess of conflicting strategies, and the site itself has buckled under the weight of too many superfluous features. I wrote as much last year, when Google killed its well-liked Latitude app in favor of similar features in Google+ proper:

When you look at Google+ now, it's clear that Google wants it to be a hub of activity for communication, events, photos and local happenings. The problem is that outside of Google+, that type of activity already exists, through services like Gmail, Calendar, YouTube and Maps. Instead of using social circles to enrich those services, Google is just poaching the best features and shoving them into the Google+ website and app, where they'll be ignored or forgotten.

The current trend in social networking is toward unbundling, so instead of going to one site or app for all your social needs, you might split it up among several ones, each of which do one thing and do it well. Facebook recognized this a while ago, which is why it purchased Instagram and WhatsApp. If Facebook can’t keep people on its own apps and website, at least it can own some of the more popular single-use tools that people are hooked on. (Kara Swisher at Re/code famously likened Facebook’s “conglomerate” approach to that of Disney.)

As of last July, Google was still moving in the opposite direction, creating a more bloated Google+. And while Google has tried to bring social features to some of its standalone apps, its approach has often been heavy-handed and unpopular. Forced Google+ integration in Google Reader and YouTube, both of which had strong communities of their own beforehand, are prime examples of how Google+ fostered hostility rather than goodwill.

The time is right for Google to rethink its approach. I still like the idea of Circles as a way of controlling who sees what, but there are other ways of letting people share without the Circle mechanism, whether it’s through phone numbers, Gmail context or physical proximity.

Already, there are signs that Google is on the right track, and that the unwinding of Google+ has begun. Just last week, Google started letting Gmail users share photos that they’ve automatically backed up from their phones. Technically, it’s an expansion of a Google+ feature, but it’s actually a way of liberating your photos from Google’s social network. This little Gmail feature will likely do more for photo sharing through Google services than Google+ ever did, and I suspect we’ll see more examples like it as Google+ is de-emphasized.

What will become of Google+ proper? Danny Sullivan at Marketing Land has some plausible speculation on that front. He suspects that Google+ accounts may simply revert to Google accounts, helping erase some of the stigma without actually changing anything substantial. Meanwhile, the actual Google+ app and website could evolve into something like Google Reader or Facebook Paper–a place you’d go to fill up on recommended links, but not necessarily a centralized hub for all things social. If that happens, Google+ would essentially be unbundled from itself.

For too long, Google+ has flailed out in too many ways, with no clear goal beyond claiming more users with questionable numbers. Cutting off the tentacles might look bad for Google, but it’s better than letting the monster live.

NCAA Hypocrisy Strikes Again: Michigan Star Forced To Go Pro

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 09:58 AM PDT

If you can stand 30 seconds of soft torture, please watch this advertisement from the NCAA:

The NCAA has been running such propaganda since last year, during big events like the March Madness basketball games. They’ve always bothered me, since they’re nonsensical. How exactly is bureaucratic sports organization headquartered in Indianapolis a “spirit-squad” for college athletes going on job interviews? I was an NCAA athlete back in the late 1990s. Where were my cheerleaders when I bombed several inquisitions? Well, that was a long time ago. So maybe this pom-pom thing is a new development.

Or is this some kind of metaphorical message? Since you played college sports, and learned teamwork and confidence and other qualities, you’ll be more prepared for real-life events like a job interview? Yeah, OK, whatever. A good ad should require no decoding.

But the key, really, is the end of the ad, when the narrator says that the NCAA is “always there for student-athletes.” We’ve got your back, the NCAA is saying. That’s a bold, strong proclamation.

Too bad it’s not true.

Consider the case of Michigan basketball star Mitch McGary. During the Wolverines’ run to the title game in 2013, the then-freshman emerged as a force, averaging 16 points and 11.6 rebounds in the NCAA tournament before Michigan fell to Louisville in the final. He had shed twenty pounds during the season, and had a kind of goofy, lovable-lug way about him. One of his teammates told a story: While heading to a shootaround in New York City before a game, everyone noticed that McGary wasn’t on the team bus. Turns out he got stuck in a hotel elevator, which gave the team more reason to razzle the rookie: His weight caused it to stop.

But McGary was able to laugh at himself, too. He was just a college kid. And despite his NBA potential, McGary seriously considered remaining in college next year. NCAA, dispatch the spirit squad. The whole point is for these “student-athletes” to stay in school, right?. Instead, McGary is off to the NBA, against his will, thanks to the draconian policies of the NCAA itself.

A back injury limited McGary to just eight games this season. He missed the NCAA tournament. After Kentucky knocked Michigan out of the tournament in the Elite 8, writes Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports: “McGary was contemplating whether to enter the NBA draft or return for his junior season. Coming back would allow him to prove his back was fine and continue enjoying life in Ann Arbor. His play could bolster his NBA draft stock. It was an attractive option.”

But then he got some news: McGary had failed a marijuana drug test during the tournament. And even though he did not play during any of the games, under NCAA rules, he would have to miss all of next season. As Wetzel explains, if Michigan had administered the test during the regular season, and McGary tested positive, he probably would have missed three games under Michigan’s punishment. But since the NCAA takes over the testing during the tournament, McGary is subject to the NCAA penalty: a full-year ban for a first-time offender. For using a recreational drug growing more legal and accepted by the day.

The NCAA denied Michigan’s appeal. But then, right after reaffirming McGary’s one-year ban, the NCAA itself changed the punishment for future first-time offenders, reducing it from a one-year ban to a half-season ban. “Street drugs are not performance-enhancing in nature, and this change will encourage schools to provide student-athletes the necessary rehabilitation,” the NCAA said in a statement. But the new policy goes into effect on Aug. 1. And the NCAA declined to apply the new standard to McGary.

The NCAA: “We’re always there for student-athletes.”

Sure.

In his interview with Wetzel, McGary took responsibility for his mistake. He smoked marijuana while hanging out with friends in March—usually, he says, he turns it down. He had passed every other drug test Michigan gave him over two years. McGary may have gone to the NBA regardless of this incident. But what should have been a minor, embarrassing suspension for next season turned into a ridiculous one-year ban, and left him no choice.

The NCAA: “We’re always there for student-athletes.”

So if the NCAA refuses to apply common sense to its enforcement system, the least it can do is stop running those ads. Because they’re blatantly hypocritical. And I’d rather not throw a shoe at my television.

Kerry Warns Russia Over Ukraine

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 09:55 AM PDT

With tensions smoldering in eastern Ukraine, the U.S. gave Russia a new warning Thursday. Saying Russia was using "the barrel of a gun and the force of the mob," Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russian intelligence and special ops of actively working to destabilize eastern Ukraine.

“For seven days, Russia has refused to take a single concrete step in the right direction. Not a single Russian official—not one—has publicly gone on television in Ukraine and called on the separatists to support the Geneva Agreement, to support the stand-down, to give up their weapons and get out of the Ukrainian buildings,” Kerry said, adding that "if Russia continues in this direction, it will not just be a grave mistake, it will be an expensive mistake.”

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