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  • Stitch: A New Social Network For Elders

    Having your parents or elderly relatives on Facebook is something no one enjoys. There is the issue of your family getting to know what exactly it is that you do on social media (yes all those nasty post shares and swearing will need to be under control) and your virtual privacy will cease to perpetuate. Forget about how you feel, your parents or even grandparents perhaps don’t even like being on social media as there isn’t anything that is catered to their tastes or liking. So does that mean seniors will not be able to connect to each other on social media? Of course not! And the answer to that is Stitch.

    Stitch is a social network which has been designed specifically for people over 50 years of age. The headquarters of Stitch is in Australia and the company is the winner of a recent TC Radio Pitch-off. The site enables users to connect to likeminded individuals and discover and make friends, romantic companions or simply try out new activities.

    “Many older adults have lots of things they want to do, but nobody to do them with” says Marcie Rogo, cofounder of Stitch “Stitch meets this need with a unique and vibrant social network with the ability to meet other like-minded people through member-driven group activities, travel, and one-on-one companionship.”

    “Many older adults have lots of things they want to do, but nobody to do them with” says Marcie Rogo, cofounder of Stitch “Stitch meets this need with a unique and vibrant social network with the ability to meet other like-minded people through member-driven group activities, travel, and one-on-one companionship.”

    Don’t misconstrue Stitch to be an online dating site – many Stitch members host group events such as trivia nights or wine tasting. The social network already gathered 20,000 active members and over 50 active Stitch communities.

    Users on Stitch can use the platform for free, but it also has a $60/year premium tier which will provide members with features such as unlimited profile views, boosted profile positions and member-to-member phone calls. The company informed that about 10% of the member who sign up with the platform, concerts to premium users.

    Stitch also has a phone-based customer service platform whereby members can talk on the phone with a real human being. This feature might not seem appealing to the youth but an older demographic is more comfortable with speaking to another person via voice as opposed to in the virtual world.

    The site is a spinout of a startup called Tapestry, which provides a tablet solution to help seniors stay connected in retirement communities. Stitch has been able to raise $1M in seed round in August and is planning a Series A for 2016.

  • English Wikipedia Now Has Five Million Articles

    Internet’s largest encyclopedia and our go-to source for information Wikipedia has surpassed five million articles. The measure only include the English Wikipedia. The milestone was achieved after a new article on a shrub, with the scientific name of persoonia terminalis, native to eastern Australia, were published, written by Australian editor Cas Liber.

    Since it was founded in 2001, the achievement comes about in just short of 15 years. But the number of articles is nowhere near the number needed to represent and store all of human knowledge, a volunteer wikipedian estimates. According to his study, it will take a total of 104 million articles to completely encompass all of human knowledge in existence as of now. But new knowledge is constantly generated every year.

    But the number of topics needed to be covered is just one measure. Of this five million articles Wikipedia has, only tens of thousands are considered of high quality. Others are languishing in as stubs and just provide basic information, even on some influential topics. The same volunteer estimate 44.7 million articles are required to cover scientific topics, not including physics and meteorology. “There are still great gaps in its coverage with millions of important topics missing from its pages. Many articles—even vital ones—are not yet considered high-quality,” The Wikipedia community observes.

    “There are still great gaps in its coverage with millions of important topics missing from its pages. Many articles—even vital ones—are not yet considered high-quality”

    There is also concern about bias in the topic selection, much of which veer towards western, particularly anglophone viewpoint. Even in well fleshed-out articles’ perspective and associated examples limit themselves to western ones, even though significant thoughts and ideas exist outside of that bubble. The proportion of editors who are women is staggeringly low, most of who white males. The community admits this is a ‘work in progress’ along with its primary goal of gathering human knowledge. Initiatives like Wikproject Women Scientists and Wiki Loves Africa are working to address the situations. The site has editions in 200 other languages, including Bangla, almost all of them are lagging significantly behind the English for lack of volunteers.

    The encyclopedia is now the seventh most popular website in the world with almost 8 billion pageviews a month. it hit its first million on March 1, 2006, five years after its launch.

  • 4 Tech Innovations That Are Helping Shape The Developing World

    Technology has made our lives easier- there simply is no denying this fact. But what about the less privileged regions in the world where even the most basic amenities that you and I take for granted are significantly more than luxuries? In such regions, consumer tech isn’t limited to just the latest smartphones and tablets and the like. It also refers to products that can truly be be life saving.

    Let’s go take a look at 4 such products/ services that are helping shape the developing world like none other.

    1. Obi Worldphones

    Obi-Worldphone-SF1-Specifications-and-Price5

    Smartphones are more than just mobile phones. These days, they function more as our own portal to the entire world. Sadly though, even a relatively low end device is often out of the reach of a lot of people living in the developing nations. Thanks to Jon Sculley, former Apple CEO, premium smartphones are no longer out of reach.

    Obi is offering premium smartphones at under $250- a definite bargain compared to the prices of equivalent devices. Its flagship handset- the Worldphone SF1, offers a 5-inch full HD display (1,920 x 1,080 pixels), a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor, a 3,000mAh battery and a 13-megapixel camera. It’ll sell at $200 for 16GB and $250 for 32GB.

    2. Babylon

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    Access to medical care is often very poor in developing regions. In fact, according to estimates, a staggering 50% of the population in emerging regions still do not have access to even the most basic health care services. Thanks to Babylon though, there has been some headway into making medical attention more accessible to the underprivileged populace.

    The Babylon app is essentially a personal health service that strives to make healthcare more accessible as well as affordable. It offers a consultancy service that connects patients to medical practitioners and can be used 12 hours a day and six days per week. By using advanced AI and health data, the app diagnoses patients and also offers them a completely free text based enquiry function for asking medical queries.

    3. Luci Solar Lantern

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    Access to electricity is yet another thing that we take for granted, but is rare for the underprivileged. While we may keep our lights switched on even during the day, there are many for whom even lighting more than one lamp at night is financially impossible.

    The Luci Solar Lantern is a great way to counter this problem. This solar powered lamp can be used to provide illumination for up to 12 hours on a single charge. Moreover, it is also very durable and can be collapsed to fold into itself, making it very convenient to carry around.

    In fact, this feature makes the lamp a perfect choice for travellers as well as aid workers who need to visit remote places regularly.

    4. Lifestraw

    lifestraw-drinking-water

    Like electricity, access to water is a major problem for the relatively underdeveloped regions. A United Nations report suggests that at present, there are close to 900 million people who do not have access to to safe and healthy supplies of water, making them susceptible to severe diseases and illnesses.

    For such regions, the Lifestraw is no less than a godsend. The basic Lifestraw is essentially a tube shaped water filter that can eliminate as much as 99% of the germs found in water and can be used for filtering up to 1000 litres of water. Apart from this one, there are several other models that offer higher filtration capacities.

    And the best part- the Lifestraw costs only about $39 (Tk. 3030 approximately).

  • Show Support For France On Facebook, But Why Not For Syria Or Lebanon Too?

    There has been an outpouring of support and condolences that went towards France in the aftermath of the Paris Terrorist attacks, the coordinated attack perpetrated by ISIS that has left, as of now, 132 people dead and an uncountable number wounded. As the world rallies, Facebook is also helping its users show solidarity by a tool that superimposes French flag over their profile photo in one click, the same way Facebook did when US supreme court allowed same sex marriage last June.

    But here’s is the issue: on Thursday, a double suicide attack ravaged Lebanese capital Beirut that also killed 30 people. But that went under Facebook’s notice of solidarity. People have been taking note of it and have expressed displeasure in various social media.

    We do not want to be contrarian and throw angry fists against anybody, although such tendencies are typical for some of us (something like ‘you are talking about/giving charity to ALS research but never do for prostate cancer’ type of argument, as if doing both are mutually exclusive). But the plight of people of Lebanon, another democracy, is no less than the French people. So if you want to express solidarity to the victims of these barbarous acts, although not native to Facebook, there are tools that can come to your aid.

    If you want to superimpose both France and Lebanon’s flags on your Facebook profile or any other for that matter, you can use LunaPic. Choose any flag or flags you desired to put on, then upload your profile picture. It will give a superimposed version of the image. Links are available on its page to post that image as profile picture on Facebook.

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    Lebanon2

    Lebanon3

    After you are finished, you would get something like this:

    Capture

  • Social Media Ignites Over Paris Attacks

    The atrocious terrorist attacks in Paris that left over a 100 innocent people dead and a lot more injured has become the hot topic of conversation everywhere. France has declared three days of national mourning, and many more people worldwide are also using the social media to express their support and condolences for the French citizens.

    Facebook has introduced a tool that lets people show solidarity by modifying their profile picture with red, white and blue- colours of the French flag. Millions of users have opted to change their profile photos, and along with the #PrayForFrance hashtag, they are showing unity and support over such a terrible tragedy.

    Moreover, the popular social media site has also added a ‘Safety Check’ feature allowing people caught up in the attacks to inform their friends and families about their locations. This is similar to the feature that Facebook had introduced during the Nepal earthquakes earlier this year.

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    Although the tool was designed specifically for France, a lot of Bangladeshi users have been using this tool without comprehending the true meaning, thereby unwittingly sparking off a controversy. Hasib, a Bangladeshi Facebook users, opined that this happened primarily due to some Bangladeshis who got caught up in the frenzy and started using it without bothering to understand the true purpose of the function.

    On the other hand, many have also raised the question that why such or tools aren’t designed for countries such as Syria, Palestine, Iraq or Afghanistan who have to face terrorist atrocities on a daily basis. Some have even accused Facebook and other international media of being biased towards specifically the developed countries. Arguing that condolences should be for all countries who have to deal with such tragedies, the question that why France should receive special treatment has indeed  struck up a storm in the social networks.

  • Telegram Blocks ISIS Channels, New Ones Emerge

    The Islamic State or ISIS has been using the supposedly super secure messaging service Telegram to recruit, campaign, and promote their causes and the company has been striving to block the broadcast channels used by the terrorist organization. However, the group seems to be creating new channels at a rapid pace as well.

    Telegram, the application that was made two years ago by the founder of Russian social network site Vkontakte, has become popular with people all across the globe and is regarded as one of the most secure ways of uploading and sharing videos, texts, and voice messages. ISIS made it their preferred platform for public broadcast two months ago to broadcast their videos.

    Telegram has stated that it identified and blocked 78 IS related broadcast channels in 12 languages on its site. It said “We were disturbed to learn that Telegram’s public channels were being used by ISIS to spread their propaganda.”

    After the recent Paris attacks that left 129 people dead, the group employed Telegram to unveil to the world that they were the ones responsible for the attack. Earlier, they also took to Telegram to claim responsibility for bombing a Russian airliner over Egypt which cost 224 lives.

    Telegram has stated that it identified and blocked 78 IS related broadcast channels in 12 languages on its site. It said “We were disturbed to learn that Telegram’s public channels were being used by ISIS to spread their propaganda.”

    After the news spread, some IS sites were instantly blocked by Telegram but they again emerged soon in new locations on its network. As many as 16,000 followers were drawn in some of the dozens of channels that have been set up. Although some are no longer available, others seem to be running fine.

    Reuters tried to get a comment from Telegram, which did not respond but it was explicitly mentioned on its site that necessary action was being taken to block ISIS.

  • Were PlayStations Used For Planning The Paris Attacks?

    With the massive level of surveillance conducted worldwide by security agencies as well as governments, the question that is on everyone’s mind is how could the terrorists behind the Paris massacre communicate and coordinate with each other to pull off such a massive operation without alerting authorities?

    The answer could be a PlayStation 4!

    Gaming consoles such as the PlayStation use its own network (PSN) for allowing gamers to chat with each other, and experts are opining that the terrorists used these channels to communicate with each other without striking up red flags on surveillance radars.

    PSN currently has over 110 million users globally, with more than 60 million active connections, meaning that it is rather difficult for intelligence officers to sniff out potential terrorist communications. Moreover, such networks offer a multitude of way for criminals to talk to each other. They could either voice chat or send PMs, or even modify in-game elements to send messages.

    So how would modifying in-game elements work? Assume you are playing a multiplayer game such as Call of Duty. Instead of communicating directly with another player, you could shoot bullets at a blank wall in a specific pattern so that the bullet holes spell out certain keywords which would then be picked out by the intended recipient.

    Quite understandably, monitoring such communications would be next to impossible for surveillance agents, and the authorities would also receive significant flack if word got out that they were trying to infiltrate something as benign as video game chatter.

    While there are yet to be conclusive evidence that this was indeed the case for the Paris tragedy, it should be mentioned that there is at least one case where a PS4 was used for illicit purposes. Just a few months back in June, reports surface from Australia that a teenager had used his PlayStation console to contact ISIS members. he then went on to download the blueprints of a bomb through PSN, and one can only guess what would have happened next had the teenager not been apprehended by the authorities right on time.

  • BT’s £12.5bn acquisition of EE gets provisional approval

    BT’s plan to buy EE — the UK’s largest mobile phone network — for £12.5bn has been…


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