The Latest and Greatest in Technology News

U.S. chief technology officer Todd Park is stepping down (updated)

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Updated (8:11 p.m. PST): Updated with confirmation of Park’s departure via an independent source that spoke with VentureBeat.

If there’s one thing most folks in the tech industry can agree on, it’s that there aren’t nearly enough technology-minded individuals helping to run the government.

The U.S. government’s chief technology officer Todd Park plans to do something about it, which is why Park has decided to step down from his position, VentureBeat can now confirm. The news was initially reported by Fortune.

Confused? Don’t be. READ MORE

The noPhone, Because Smartphone Separation Anxiety Is Real

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The other day, as I sat on the couch with a dead iPhone resting on my belly, I found myself wondering why my phone is constantly dead. And I had a revelation: I’d rather have a dead phone within reach than be even a few feet away from it as it charges across the room. It’s pathetic, I know, but absolutely true.

Enter the noPhone. READ MORE

The Pros and Cons of Sassy Job Titles

Social Media Ninja. Email Marketing Guru. Director of First Impressions.

If you’re involved in the job search right now, chances are you’ve come across at least a couple of these unusual job listings. With recruiters and employers pulling out all the stops to attract top talent, many companies are utilizing unconventional titles in order to tout company culture and attract the “perfect candidate” — from Subway’s Sandwich Artists™ (yes, it’s a registered trademark) to referring to the director of HR as the Chief People Officer.

While these sassy titles hint at a relaxed and fun work environment, it’s important to note that not all companies will find success in this approach. READ MORE

Does Tech Improve Your Quality of Life?

Have you ever heard people say that technology is getting in the way of human interaction? Or that our high-tech, always-connected world is making us miserable?

I’ve seen those stories too. But what they don’t mention is that tech is actually contributing to our happiness.

This week’s Evidence of Abundance focuses on how technology is changing our quality of life.

The following graph comes from a 2012 report called “Happy Planet.” It shows the degree of happiness in various countries according to their use of technology. READ MORE

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