The Latest and Greatest in Technology News

The Battle Over “Silicon Beach”

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Influential Los Angeles venture capitalist Mark Suster was sitting in a meeting of LA tech power players one week in March, with one agenda item: Get rid of the term “Silicon Beach.”

Get it off the mayor’s office innovation reports. Get it off the startup-networking websites. Get it off the t-shirts. Get it off the bumper stickers.

I called Suster and said I’d like to write something about Silicon Beach and about that meeting, organized by the LA County Economic Development Corporation to reshape the way people see LA tech. READ MORE

How to Stop Facebook From Sharing Your Web Browsing History

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Facebook is going to start sharing app and Web browsing history it collects with advertisers to display more targeted ads. This includes all those non-Facebook sites you visit. If this skeeves you out as much as it does me, you can opt out, kind of.

Facebook describes the feature this way on its security and privacy settings page: “You might visit a company’s website that uses cookies to record visitors to it. The company then asks Facebook to show their ad to this list of visitors, and you might see these ads both on and off Facebook.”

Unlike most Facebook-related privacy settings, you can’t opt out from the site’s settings page (click the padlock icon in the corner and then select Ads), though. In order to opt-out, you have to go through the special tool available on the Digital Advertising Alliance site. We walk you through the steps. READ MORE

Do We Really Need to Learn to Code?

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“Learn to Code!” This imperative to program seems to be everywhere these days. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg recently donated ten million dollars to Code.org, a non-profit that believes that “every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer programming,” and that “computer science should be a part of the core curriculum.” So-called “developer boot camps” are popping up everywhere. For second graders, recent college graduates, and people looking for a new career alike, the implication seems to be: Take an intensive course to learn to code and forget about everything else.

In the May 29th issue of Newsweekthe tech columnist Kevin Maney argued that all this coding reeducation might soon be unnecessary. “Computers are about to get more brainlike and [soon] will understand us on our terms, not theirs,” he wrote. When that happens, “the very nature of programming will shift.” READ MORE

Programming through play: Why teaching kids to code will change how the rest of us code

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As students enrolled in an after-school programming class, the group was already familiar with a multitude of digital tools designed to introduce kids to programming. With Code Monkey Island, I had seemingly entered into an arms race to teach kids as young as eight a set of skills worth six figures a year.

The new literacy
Visiting the elementary school cemented one important fact for me – the world was a very different place when I was 10 years old. In 2001, I was taking my first tentative steps into a fledgling, dial-up Internet. Now, kids aren’t just exploring the Internet – they’re building it. READ MORE

Digital Library Wallpaper lets visitors ‘borrow’ ebooks by scanning your walls

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Experiments like Night Film have blurred the lines between physical books and digital content, but a project by Vodafone Romania and furniture retailer MobExpert blur the lines between paper books, ebooks, and interior decoration. Digital Library Wallpaper is exactly what it sounds like: a flat representation of books bearing QR codes on their spines. READ MORE

Silicon Beach emerges as, what else?, a tech-heavy stretch on the West Side

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Snapchat. Tinder. SpaceX. Riot Games, creator of League of Legends.

These companies are part of the reason Southern California’s tech ecosystem is drawing some attention away from Silicon Valley. Much of that attention is concentrated on a stretch from Venice up to Santa Monica known colloquially as Silicon Beach, where Google and Twitter have set down L.A. roots.

“The tech scene seemed to explode during the last three years with the rapid emergence of accelerators, incubators and co-working environments on the West Side,” said Scott MacKinnon, vice president of operations at Technical Connections, an L.A.-based IT staffing firm founded in 1984, long before the Internet took off. “Suddenly you had scores of companies springing up every 90 days, looking for tech talent. Some have made it big, and some are gone, but the entrepreneurial bug had bit.” READ MORE

Having High-Tech Gadgets Is a Career-Booster, Says Study

Always using the latest high-tech gadget is one way to boost your image at work, new research suggests.

Indeed, business professionals who want to be perceived as leaders should be investing in the latest technology breakthroughs, according to a study published recently in The Journal of Product Innovation Management.

“Familiarity with and usage of new high-tech products appears to be a common manifestation of innovative behavior,” the study’s authors wrote. “Those who are tech-savvy are also perceived as authoritative on other subjects and as leaders.” READ MORE

Amazon Dash Is a Magic Wand That Makes Sure You Never Run Out of Stuff

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Amazon just unveiled Dash, a handheld Wi-Fi magic wand thingy that helps you keep your AmazonFresh shopping list forever up to date. Never run out of toilet paper or oatmeal again!

The handheld Dash device, about the size of a Nintendo Wii remote, packs a barcode scanner and a microphone, allowing you to scan or say what you’re running low on without having to leave your kitchen. READ MORE

The Ring Input Device Puts Gesture Control And Home Automation On Your Finger

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There was once a rumor that Apple would actually use a ring device for input to an Apple television. Neither of those gadgets exist yet, of course, but Ring is a Kickstarter project trying to fund a finger-based wearable that could enable the kind of controls envisioned in that Apple flight of fancy.

The Ring is a hardware device that resembles an ordinary (if slightly chunky) ring, filled with sensors and electronics to give it the ability to control devices and render input. It can enable gesture controls, of the kind you’d get with a Wii remote, for instance, as well as text input by drawing letters in the air, gesture-based authorization for finalizing payments, and transmit alerts from connected devices via a built-in vibration motor and onboard LED. READ MORE

Disney Researchers Create Algorithm to Bring 3D Textures to Touchscreen

Researchers at Disney have developed a new algorithm, which is capable of simulating 3D geometric features on touch screen surfaces and allow people to ‘feel’ the texture of the objects viewed on a touchscreen.

According to researchers at Disney’s research lab in Pittsburgh, the latest technique involves transferring small vibrations via the display that offers users a feel of shallow bumps, ridges and edges of an object. READ MORE