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Sources: Apple’s 2015 ‘iPhone 6s’ models to gain Force Touch but no dual-camera system


Apple’s 2015 family of iPhones are expected to adopt features first introduced in other Apple products, such as the dynamic Force Touch input found on the Apple Watch, but won’t include a recently-rumored multi-camera system, AppleInsider has been advised.

People familiar with development of Apple’s next-generation handsets — internally codenamed “N71″ for the 4.7-inch model and “N66″ for the 5.5-inch version — say they’re bound to hit the market under the expected “iPhone 6s” naming convention and retain the same two screen sizes and casing enclosure designs first introduced this past September in the iPhone 6 lineup. Those customers clamoring for a return to a smaller iPhone in the 4-inch range won’t hear their cries answered — this year, at least.

Instead, those familiar with existing prototypes say Apple’s current plans call for both the new 4.7-inch model (N71) and the 5.5-inch “iPhone 6s Plus” (N66) to gain Force Touch, a capability Apple debuted with the Apple Watch when it was announced in September. Their arrival on the iPhone product line would come roughly one year later, falling in line with the company’s historical pattern of first debuting new cutting edge technology on one iOS device (iPhone) before extending it to another (iPad) the following year.

Apple’s 2015 iPhones — internally codenamed “N71″ for the 4.7-inch model and “N66″ for the 5.5-inch version — are to adopt Force Touch, sources sayWith variable forces, a message notification might trigger a tapping sensation, while pressing down on the Watch’s digital crown or screen to trigger Force Touch would invoke completely different tactile sensation. How Apple might implement the dynamic new touch input method on the iPhone — whether paired with its haptic feedback engine or otherwise —�is unclear.

Apple has called Force Touch its “most significant new sensing capability since Multi-Touch,” lending some amount of credence to the idea that it could expand beyond the Apple Watch. Such a move could also require a corresponding switch to a flexible display material, however — electrodes surrounding the Apple Watch’s OLED display detect the level of deformation caused by the user’s press, a measurement not possible with rigid displays.

One person — who has recently proven extremely knowledgable regarding Apple’s forward-looking plans — said the company toyed with putting Force Touch in the iPhone 6 last year, but “calibration” issues led to the feature being pulled from the device during its development cycle. With the Apple Watch release imminent, any issues preventing a potential iPhone debut have presumably been resolved, as the company’s current roadmap calls for its extension to the 2015 iPhones.

The Apple Watch, seen in this September 2014 staff photo, will be the first Apple product to hit the market with Force Touch this April.

People familiar with the ongoing development of N71 and N66 have also dismissed the notion of a two-camera system in the “iPhone 6s” lineup, explaining that doing so would require a major redesign of the chassis of the handset. As in years past, this year’s “s” upgrades are expected to look largely identical to their predecessor, with the most significant updates coming in the form of hidden internal upgrades and Force Touch.

A rumor popped up in November claiming Apple’s next-generation iPhone will employ a “two-lens system” to capture DSLR-quality images. Existing smartphones and small form factor devices, like HTC’s One M8, already sport secondary imager for calculating depth data.

There are obvious hurdles to cramming another lens — and presumably camera sensor — into an already cramped iPhone 6 chassis. From a design perspective, tacking on another imager may not be ideal considering the current iPhone chassis is thinner than its camera module. A small controversy erupted when Apple unveiled iPhone 6 with a camera “bump” that breaks up the handset’s otherwise clean lines.

Apple SVP of Design Jony Ive, who has a knack for creating simplistically beautiful products, also seemed disappointed with the protrusion. In an interview with The New Yorker earlier this month, he said the decision to keep the protruding camera lens was “a really very pragmatic optimization.”

With internal real estate at a premium, packing in an extra camera would require a modification of iPhone’s housing, which will not happen this year, those familiar with the matter say.

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How to add more notification Profiles to Quick Settings in BlackBerry 10.3.1


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NSA Bulk Telephony Metadata Program Reupped Until Parts Of The Patriot Act Potentially Sunset


In a post on its official Tumblr, the United States’ Office of the Director of National Intelligence noted that it sought and received a reauthorization of its telephony metadata program, authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The program collects metadata on phone calls, including those of United States citizens.

The reauthorization lasts until June 1, 2015.

Why that date? The NSA has your answer, ready-made:

The Government sought renewal of this authority to and including June 1, 2015 in order to align the expiration date of the requested order for this program with the June 1, 2015 sunset of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act.

That is the reason I highlight the reauthorization — it’s the last freebie. Given that Section 215 is set to sunset, and will require an act of Congress to have its soul reborn, the intelligence community, and by extension the American government, is staring down the barrel of a tool that they might lose.

This is why privacy reform might not be utterly dead. Given that parts of the Patriot Act must be reauthorized, there will be debate. Heaven forfend, we may actually be able to improve the legal code. The government plans to release the “most recent order,” regarding the program, once it finishes a “declassification review.”

The Section 215-based program to collect the metadata of phone calls has been controversial. Calls for the program to end along with, if we may dream in the sun, a host of other NSA programs have been met with bureaucratic glaciation.

If Congress can’t find a way forward this summer, it might end a program with inaction that it failed to end with action, the same substance that granted it the opposite result the last time around.

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Why Greece Should Not Switch To Bitcoin


Editor’s note: Wences Casares is the founder and CEO of Xapo.

In some discussions about Greece exiting the euro, it has been suggested that Greece should swap the euro for bitcoin. At first glance, bitcoin may appear to be the cure. But if the euro is the problem, switching to Bitcoin would be like trying to cure a headache with a bullet to the brain.

The main problem with the euro is that Greece cannot print more of it; only the European Central Bank can. But at least someone can. In theory, Greece could persuade the European Central Bank to print more euros for them.  On the other hand, if Greece were to switch to bitcoin, it would have no ability to control how much of their currency they could issue, and no one could be persuaded to issue more bitcoins (not the European Central Bank, not the U.S. Federal Reserve, not the U.S. Marines, no one).

A defining characteristic of bitcoin is that its supply is fixed and capped. There are 13,882,100 bitcoins today, there will be 20,343,750 bitcoins on January 1, 2025, and there will never be more than 21,000,000 bitcoins.

There are about 10 million people who own bitcoins. If bitcoin is successful, we can expect 1 or 2 billion people to own bitcoins sometime in the next 20 years. The only way 1 or 2 billion people can have 21 million coins is by the price of bitcoin increasing (significantly). An economist would call bitcoin a “deflationary currency.”

Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s new Finance Minister, agrees that because it is deflationary, bitcoin would be bad for Greece. But he goes on to say that bitcoin is a flawed currency because it is deflationary. This misses the point. Bitcoin is not a currency for a government; it is a global currency for the people. People will generally prefer a currency that goes up in value over time (which is called a deflationary currency, like bitcoin) over one that loses value over time (like all country currencies, which are called inflationary).

It is a bad idea for Greece (or any other country) to renounce their currency and adopt bitcoin. It is akin to adopting gold as a national currency and giving up monetary policy. Monetary policy, used responsibly, has been a step forward for public finances and prosperity. Monetary policy, however, has also been abused by governments that choose to print too much currency.

This has created inflation and devastated the finances of the poorest people in these countries. These people have had no choice but to hold on to their national currency as it loses value, in many cases losing everything.

Bitcoin gives people everywhere an alternative. Anyone with a smartphone can hold bitcoins as a refuge from a currency that is losing value. This sends a message to their governments: “Let’s have our own currency, but manage it responsibly, because now we have a choice.”

If bitcoin is successful, it will not replace any country’s local currency, not even Greece. Bitcoin is poised to become not the currency of any particular country but the global, digital currency of the Internet, by the people and for the people.


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Trying To Hire A Diverse Team Of Engineers? It’s Not Just A Pipeline Issue


Editor’s note: Omotayo Olukoya is an electrical engineering and computer science student at UC Berkeley.

Recently, there have been a flurry of articles discussing the lack of diversity in tech. Many reference “pipeline” issues as justification for the low numbers. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, blacks and Hispanics collectively make up approximately 18 percent of U.S. computer science graduates, yet Facebook, Yahoo and LinkedIn are between 8 to 11 percent non-white, non-Asian, and Google’s American workforce is only 2 percent black. Clearly, there’s more than just a pipeline issue at play.

Here’s what I see from my perspective as a black computer science student, and here’s what I think companies wanting to hire more people like me can be doing differently.

First some background on me: I grew up in Nigeria, moved to the U.S. after high school, and attended community college. I worked really, really hard and was able to transfer to UC Berkeley. I fell in love with computer science and decided to pursue a major in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS).

My first year at Berkeley was rough. Amid the sea of white and Asian students and professors, I felt very, very different. In my 1,000-plus person intro classes, I’d struggle to find another student that looked like me. I remember a professor joking that we’d all been coding on our game devices since childhood. For most of my peers, this was true. But for me, having never programmed nor taken a CS course before I came to the United States, it was just a reminder of how different I was.

Initially, I found it tough to forge connections with peers in my major because, understandably, people tend to befriend people like themselves. For minorities, this causes academic challenges: you get left out of homework groups, and every partner-based project is a stress-inducing experience.

A really helpful resource was Piazza, used in almost every EECS class, which is an online tool that allows you to ask and answer questions of your professors and other students in the class. No one sees the color of your skin when you communicate online, so it was one of the few places I felt comfortable sharing my ideas and questions. That definitely helped.

Still, though, that professor was right: Many of my peers had been coding for a decade, and they were friends with other people who had been coding just as long. So, my peers had these great networks of recent alums that had worked at top firms and could coach them on how to score similar jobs. My classmates knew which classes to take, when and how to apply for internships, what to expect from on-campus and on-site recruiting processes and, most importantly, how to prepare for coding interviews. It’s a powerful coaching network — for those who gain access to it.

I saw so many students with mediocre grades score amazing internships because they knew how to play the game. I remember preparing for my first coding interviews. I studied lecture notes and other class materials. During the interviews, I answered questions academically. I was so naive! That’s not what the interviewers wanted — they wanted me to solve the problems, not deconstruct them. After bombing a few interviews, I searched for interview prep resources. I found Stack Overflow and read Cracking the Coding Interview. Finally, I was prepared, but I wouldn’t wish my experience on anyone.

I know that the majority of companies truly want to create a more diverse workforce, but I don’t think they know how to ensure that minority candidates like me have a fighting chance to pass their interview process. Here’s some advice:

Reach out to students of color when they’re freshmen and sophomores. Don’t assume these minority students know which classes to take or how to score internships. In my first two years, I mainly focused on the electrical engineering portion of my major, because I had no mentor or network to tell me to build my core coding skills, as my classmates did. By junior year, I was significantly behind my classmates in terms of coding experience, which required a lot more catch-up during my junior and senior years. Provide coaching and connections early on so students have the potential to become the candidates you seek.

Don’t assume candidates know how coding interviews work. People only know how coding interviews work if they have a strong social network in place to tell them. Run workshops or send potential candidates information on how to prepare for coding interviews, and you may find more women, minorities and candidates from non-core schools suddenly pass your technical bar. 

Include diverse employees in the recruiting and interview process. I spent last summer interning at Goldman Sachs. I met them at the NSBE conference, and one of my interviewers was African-American. This was the first time I was interviewed by an African-American engineer at any company to which I had applied. It really helped me feel comfortable. I had a wonderful experience with Goldman, from my interview through the entire internship process, and I appreciate how serious they are about hiring and nurturing top-notch diverse talent.

If you have a diversity team, include them in the interviewing process, too.  At one large tech company, I was the only person of color among 20 students attending on-site interviews. I immediately got intimidated, lost my confidence and failed my interview. Had someone from the diversity team — or anyone who looked like me — greeted me when I arrived, that would have helped so much to make me feel comfortable and welcome there.

Silicon Valley is the world’s center of innovation. Now that so many tech companies are starting to take diversity seriously, I hope they’ll apply their innovative energies to their recruiting processes. In most cases, they’re ripe for disruption.

Featured Image: Rawpixel/Shutterstock (IMAGE HAS BEEN MODIFIED)

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Gillmor Gang: Temporary Filling


The Gillmor Gang — John Taschek, Kevin Marks, Keith Teare, and Steve Gillmor. Topics include Microsoft squeezing Facebook and Google messaging out, or did they says John Taschek? Also Google making everything but money on Android, but does it all add up to the new Search? And the chat room fears House of Cards will Eat your Weekend. Plus, the latest G3 (below) chats with SCOTTeVEST’s Scott Jordan on social marketing.

@stevegillmor, @jtaschek, @kteare, @kevinmarks

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

Live chat stream

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook

G3: The Third Man

G3 on Facebook

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