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With $282M acquisition, Silicon Labs doubles down on Internet of Things

Silicon Laboratories is doubling down on the “Internet of Things” market with its recent $282 million acquisition of California-based Sigma Designs.

Austin-based Silicon Labs has continued to notch higher sales growth thanks in part to its efforts to pivot toward high-growth areas such as Internet of Things products, electric vehicles and renewable energy.

The Internet of Things — or IoT — is a chip industry term for non-computing devices that are connected to the Internet.

Silicon Labs will be acquiring Sigma Design’s Z-Wave-related intellectual property and product portfolio, which it said expands its range of wireless communication solutions for smart homes.

Sigma Designs, based in Fremont, Calif., provides integrated system-on-chip solutions that are used to deliver multimedia entertainment throughout the home.

“The connected home represents one of the largest market opportunities in the IoT,” Tyson Tuttle, CEO of Silicon Labs, said in a written statement. “Today, there is no single dominant wireless technology for home automation. By adding Z-Wave technology to Silicon Labs’ connectivity portfolio, we will be better positioned to serve this fast-growing market.”

Silicon Labs will pay Sigma’s shareholders $7.05 per share in cash, which is a 26 percent premium over Sigma’s closing price of $5.60 per share on Dec. 6.

In addition to Z-Wave technology, Sigma Designs also provides solutions for Media Connectivity and Smart TV. Sigma Designs plans to divest or wind down its Smart TV business. 

In the event that certain closing conditions are not met, the parties have agreed that Sigma Designs would instead sell its Z-Wave business to Silicon Labs for $240 million, contingent upon approval by Sigma Designs’ stockholders.

Silicon Labs makes a variety of chips, sensors and software that can be used in a wide range of devices, from televisions to smart energy meters and data centers. Its major customers include Cisco, Fitbit, LG Electronics and Samsung.

Founded in 1996, Silicon Labs employs about 1,300 people and is headquartered in downtown Austin.

The company’s Internet of Things division continues to drive sales growth for the chipmaker. In the third quarter, that division reported revenue of $100 million, a 23 percent increase from the same quarter a year ago. Revenue from its IoT division now makes up 50 percent of its sales.

Silicon Labs and Sigma Designs expect the transaction to close in the first quarter of 2018.

Children at risk as internet exposure rises

By ELIZABETH MERAB
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Governments and the private sector have not kept up with the game-changing pace of digital technologies as more children get exposed to the internet.

With digital technologies such as cell phones, computers, tablets and games having become ubiquitous and at least one in three internet users being a child, this explosion has ended up exposing children to new risks and harm — both on- and offline.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), however, noted in The State of the World’s Children 2017: Children in a Digital World that millions of the most disadvantaged minors were being left behind.

“Children and young people today are digital natives, increasingly using online platforms to do their homework, connect with their peers, express their opinions, entertain themselves, access information and find solutions to the issues that affect their lives and futures,” states the report, which was released on Monday.

SOCIAL MEDIA

The report highlights digital divides and explores debates about the impact of the internet and social media on children’s safety and well-being. As digital technology rapidly evolves, it says, so can the risk to children online — from cyberbullying to misuse of their private information to online sexual abuse and exploitation.

“For better and for worse, digital technology is now an irreversible fact of our lives,” said Unicef Executive Director Anthony Lake. “In a digital world, our dual challenge is how to mitigate the harm while maximising the benefits of the internet for every child.”

The report presents Unicef’s first comprehensive look at the ways in which digital technology is affecting children’s lives and life chances, identifying dangers and opportunities.

INEQUITIES

Youth are the most connected age group with a 71 per cent online presence compared with 48 per cent of the total population. But African youth are the least connected, with around three out of five not online, against just one in 25 in Europe.

Some 56 per cent of websites are in English and many children cannot find content that they understand or is culturally relevant to them. Whereas the internet was designed for adults, it is increasingly used by children and young people.

But millions of children are missing out. A third of the youth — 346 million — are not online, exacerbating inequities and excluding children from the digital economy. The gender gap is also growing with 12 per cent more men than women online, the divide is greatest in low-income countries.

2017 Roundup Of Internet Of Things Forecasts – Forbes


ThinkStockPhoto

The last twelve months of Internet of Things (IoT) forecasts and market estimates reflect enterprises’ higher expectations for scale, scope and Return on Investment (ROI) from their IoT initiatives. Business benefits and outcomes are what drives the majority of organizations to experiment with IoT and invest in large-scale initiatives. That expectation is driving a new research agenda across the many research firms mentioned in this roundup. The majority of enterprises adopting IoT today are using metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect operational improvements, customer experience, logistics, and supply chain gains. Key takeaways from the collection of IoT forecasts and market estimates include the following:


Statista, Size of the Internet of Things market worldwide in 2014 and 2020, by industry (in billion U.S. dollars).

  • The global IoT market will grow from $157B in 2016 to $457B by 2020, attaining a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 28.5%. According to GrowthEnabler MarketsandMarkets analysis, the global IoT market share will be dominated by three sub-sectors; Smart Cities (26%), Industrial IoT (24%) and Connected Health (20%). Followed by Smart Homes (14%), Connected Cars (7%), Smart Utilities (4%) and Wearables (3%). Source: GrowthEnabler, Market Pulse Report, Internet of Things (IoT), 19 pp., PDF, free, no opt-in.


: GrowthEnabler, Market Pulse Report, Internet of Things (IoT), 19 pp., PDF, free, no opt-in

  • Bain predicts B2B IoT segments will generate more than $300B annually by 2020, including about $85B in the industrial sector. Advisory firm Bain predicts the most competitive areas of IoT will be in the enterprise and industrial segments. Bain predicts consumer applications will generate $150B by 2020, with B2B applications being worth more than $300B. Globally, enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has fueled more than $80B in merger and acquisition (MA) investments by major vendors and more than $30B in venture capital, according to Bain’s estimates. Source: Bain Insights: Choosing The Right Platform For The Internet Of Things


Bain Insights: Choosing The Right Platform For The Internet Of Things

  • The global IoT market is growing at a 23% CAGR of 23% between 2014-2019, enabling smart solutions in major industries including agriculture, automotive and infrastructure. ― Key challenges to growth are the security and scalability of all-new connected devices and the adherence to open standards to facilitate large-scale monitoring of different systems. Source: Export opportunities of the Dutch ICT sector to Germany (25-04-17), PDF, 95 pp., no opt-in


Export opportunities of the Dutch ICT sector to Germany (25-04-17), PDF, 95 pp., no opt-in


PwC, Leveraging the Upcoming Disruptions from AI and IoT, 20 pp., PDF, free, no opt-in

  • Discrete Manufacturing, Transportation and Logistics, and Utilities will lead all industries in IoT spending by 2020, averaging $40B each. Improving the accuracy, speed, and scale of supply chains is an area many organizations are concentrating on with IoT. IoT has the potential to redefine quality management, compliance, traceability and Manufacturing Intelligence. Business-to-Consumer (B2C) companies are projected to spend $25B on IoT in 2020, up from $5B in 2015. The following graphic compares global spending by vertical between 2015 and 2020. Source: Statista, Spending on the Internet of Things worldwide by vertical in 2015 and 2020 (in billion U.S. dollars).


Statista, Spending on the Internet of Things worldwide by vertical in 2015 and 2020 (in billion U.S. dollars).


Verizon State of the Market: Internet of Things 2017 Making way for the enterprise.


: Pete Wassell (Augmate): AR Smart Glasses and the Industrial IoT

  • By 2020, 50% of IoT spending will be driven by discrete manufacturing, transportation, and logistics, and utilities BCG predicts that IoT will have the most transformative effect on industries that aren’t technology-based today. The most critical success factor all these use cases depend on secure, scalable and reliable end-to-end integration solutions that encompass on-premise, legacy and cloud systems, and platforms.Source: Internet Of Things Market To Reach $267B By 2020.


Boston Consulting Group, Internet Of Things Market To Reach $267B By 2020.

  • The hottest application areas for IoT in manufacturing include Industrial Asset Management, Inventory and Warehouse Management and Supply Chain Management. In high tech manufacturing, Smart Products, and Industrial Asset Management are the hottest application areas. The following Forrester heat Map for 2017 shows the fastest growing areas of IoT adoption by industry. Source: IoT Opportunities, Trends, and Momentum Robert E Stroud CGEIT CRISC.


IoT Opportunities, Trends, and Momentum Robert E Stroud CGEIT CRISC.

  • B2B spending on IoT technologies, apps and solutions will reach €250B ($296.8B) by 2020 according to a recent study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). IoT Analytics spending is predicted to generate €20B ($23.7B) by 2020. Between 2015 to 2020, BCG predicts revenue from all layers of the IoT technology stack will have attained at least a 20% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR). B2B customers are the most focused on services, IoT analytics, and applications, making these two areas of the technology stack the fastest growing. By 2020, these two layers will have captured 60% of the growth from IoT. Source: Internet Of Things Market To Reach $267B By 2020.


Boston Consulting Group, Internet Of Things Market To Reach $267B By 2020.

  • Improving customer experiences (70%) and safety (56%) are the two areas enterprises are using data generated from IoT solutions most often today. Gaining cost efficiencies, improving organizational capabilities, and gaining supply chain visibility (all 53%) is the third most popular uses of data generated from IoT solutions today. 53% of enterprises expect data from IoT solutions to increase revenues in the next year. 53% expect data generated from their IoT solutions will assist in increasing revenues in the next year. 51% expect data from IoT solutions will open up new markets in the next year. 42% of enterprises are spending an average of $3.1M annually on IoT. Source: 70% Of Enterprises Invest In IoT To Improve Customer Experiences.


70% Of Enterprises Invest In IoT To Improve Customer Experiences.

  • McKinsey Global Institute estimates IoT could have an annual economic impact of $3.9T to $11.1T by 2025. Their forecast scenario includes diverse settings and use cases including factories, cities, retail environments, and the human body. Factories alone could contribute between $1.2T to $3.7T in IoT-driven value. Source: McKinsey Company, What’s New With The Internet of Things?


McKinsey Company, What’s New With The Internet of Things?


Statista, Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices installed base worldwide from 2015 to 2025 (in billions).


Statista, Number of Machine-to-Machine (M2M) connections worldwide from 2014 to 2021 (in billions).


Statista, Projected global Internet of Things enabled sensors market in 2022, by segment.

Sources:

10 Predictions For The Internet Of Things (IoT) In 2018

2017 Internet Of Things (IoT) Intelligence Update

Bain Insights, Three Ways Telcos Can Win On The Internet Of Things [Infographic]

Bain Insights: Choosing The Right Platform For The Internet Of Things

Big Data Analytics Is The Most Wanted Expertise By 75% Of IoT Providers

Cambridge Consultants, Review of latest developments in the Internet of Things, 7 March 2017, 143 pp., free, no opt-in.

Cognizant Trend Study: Digital Industrial Transformation with the Internet of Things: How can European companies benefit from IoT?

Charles Green, internet personality known as ‘Angry Grandpa’ – obituary

Charles Green, who has died aged 67, was an American internet personality known to his 3.5 million YouTube subscribers as “Angry Grandpa”.

A video entitled “Grandpa Ruins Christmas”, which showed him throwing a tantrum when his family did not wait for him to come over to open Christmas presents was first uploaded in 2007. 

In 2010 the AngryGrandpaShow YouTube channel was launched, featuring regular videos showing Green getting violently angry about minor annoyances (in one he destroyed his entire kitchen when he could not find his sweets), raging about politicians, the taxman, the pope, his ex-wife, Elvis and other things that stuck in his craw, trying out new junk food or responding to practical jokes played by his youngest son, Michael, a webmaster who also acted as the cameraman.

His videos were featured on programmes including Channel 4’s RudeTube and MTV’s Pranked. Green also had a personal…

The reaction to “Cat Person” shows how the internet can even ruin fiction

ff348_vnmts40ekopeld4stv3n The reaction to “Cat Person” shows how the internet can even ruin fiction
Photo:SSPL/Getty Images

For reasons that people are now trying to determine, this weekend the internet turned its collective gaze to a short story called “Cat Person.” Published in the December 11 issue of The New Yorker, and now the publication’s most-read short story of the year, “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian follows the short relationship between a 20-year-old college student named Margot and a 34-year-old man named Robert. Told in close third-person from Margot’s perspective, the story deals with how emotions can be conveyed and hidden and misinterpreted, especially through texting. The story hinges on an awkward date that ends in the central pair having consensual sex, despite Margot having been turned off along the way. Later, when she ends things between the two of them—over text, of course—Robert reacts poorly.

Response to the story has varied from praise for its relatability to flat dismissal to jokes about how everyone is talking about a—Who’da thunk it?short story of all things, with much of the conversation focusing on who is the more sympathetic character between Margot and Robert. On Sunday, someone created a “Men React To Cat Person” Twitter account, compiling screenshots of responses to the story, wherein some men express confusion over its merits, others defend Robert as the story’s victim, and one wonders if the story should exist at all, stating that the events depicted don’t just happen to women:

It’s the same kind of thinking that, after hearing a real-life story of a woman being catcalled or harassed or worse, prompts some to declare, “Not all men.” As though that’s what a woman were trying to prove—that all men are horrible—when she shares such an account. She is instead saying, “This happened, because this kind of thing happens.” So it goes with this story: This is but one depiction of one instance in which one fictional man and one fictional woman fail to relate to or understand each other, a depiction that nevertheless aligns with very real contemporary gender dynamics.

Debating over who’s the bigger jerk in this, or any, work of fiction misses the point. Neither character is perfect, and what drives Roupenian’s story is how their flaws rub up against each other. Robert lets his insecurities overtake him, and Margot, who, again, is only 20 years old, cannot yet vocalize what she wants or needs, having come of age in a society that expects women to perform a great deal of emotional work to protect others’, especially men’s, feelings. “Cat Person” illustrates how such a gendered scenario might play out, but again, it must be said, in this one very specific imagined situation.

And yet because so many people came to the story through social media, as opposed to having the print issue delivered to their mail boxes, they clicked through and read without seeing its “fiction” designation. This no doubt encouraged some people to read the story not only as nonfiction but also as something that was up for debate, something they should or should not agree with. “Ours is an age where the reductive aesthetics of the broadsheet prevail, so it’s inevitable that some readers view ‘Cat Person’ as weighing in on a timely issue and offering up lessons, the way personal essays are so often inclined to do,” Laura Miller writes in a piece for Slate. This has, for better or worse, become the way we read nearly everything on the internet, as texts that must engage with a predominant conversation, then be fought over and nitpicked ad nauseum, as though each article, tweet, or Facebook post might somehow be the last word on a subject.

But even those who knew the story was fiction might be forgiven for treating “Cat Person” like an essay. Subverting the old maxim of show don’t tell, the story explains itself as it goes along, in a way that can make it feel overly determined and like the author is indeed trying to argue something. Consider this sentence, which comes during the pair’s date after Margot is refused entry into a bar and Robert kisses her: “With the drinks in front of him and the kiss behind him, and also maybe because she had cried, Robert became much more relaxed, more like the witty person she knew through his texts.” Not to Gordon Lish this thing, but what if everything but “Robert became much more relaxed” were deleted? Presenting the characters’ actions without the attendant interpretation would have required readers to come to their own conclusions about what those actions mean. The prose’s “when this happened, it made Margot feel this” one-two rhythm conjures the kind of confessions one finds in personal essays. Claire Fallon goes further in a piece for HuffPost, saying, “Roupenian’s story is the fiction version of ‘It Happened To Me: I Had Bad Sex Because It Felt Awkward To Say No.’” Snark aside, Fallon is onto something. “Cat Person” feels familiar, just not as a short story.

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Both the prose style and the social media context in which many people arrived at the story may help explain why “Cat Person” was treated as both an essay and as an argument about how men and women relate to one another. But “Cat Person” is not an argument. No short story is. And if it were an argument for anything, it would be an argument only for itself, for its existence as a work of art—which, in this case, is both reinforced and diluted with each click, opinion, and share.

Why the Internet Turned Against a Bullied Kid

If the story has taken a grim turn, however, a deeper current of virtual congruence may be at fault: our collective expectation that everything we love online will turn bad. In some circles, the phenomenon is known as Milkshake Duck-ing, after a joke by weird Twitter personality Pixelatedboat. Our faves, we have learned to believe, will inevitably turn problematic, souring faster than milk left out on the counter. Skepticism is not the inverse of enthusiasm so much as its louder echo. It’s not that we can’t let good things be good, just that we can’t stop ourselves from identifying how they are also bad. At core, we do it for the same reason we hate bullies: If we’re going to ensure that we’re in the right, it’s safest to assume that everything is wrong.

Enjoy a look at the parallel “alt-right” internet, which is a giant fucking trainwreck

f6c0e_teffdhm2mgud0zjod6se Enjoy a look at the parallel "alt-right" internet, which is a giant fucking trainwreck
Photo: Klaus Mellenthin/Getty Images

While so many of us cucks, snowflakes, and SJW trash complain that social media services like Twitter and Facebook haven’t done enough to combat hate speech and general harassment, members of that loose confederation of racists, homophobes, and catch-all “conservative ideology” called the “alt-right” think Big Media has gone too far. Their solution? Build a new suite of internet services by shitty people, for shitty people.

Likely incensed by the one or two times they’ve been slapped on the wrist for directing racial epithets at their least favorite journalist or celebrity, the “alt-right” has created its own versions of everything from YouTube to Patreon. Described in an article by the New York Times’ Kevin Roose, these services are meant to provide “a refuge from political correctness and censorship” where “all views [are] welcome, no matter how crude or incendiary.”

The site names are pretty much exactly what you’d expect. There’s a crappy Wikipedia (Infogalatic), asshole-friendly Twitter (Gab), bafflingly named Kickstarter (GoyFundMe), dumb Facebook (WrongThink), white supremacist OKCupid (WASP.love), and even a Patreon alternative called… Hatreon.

Roose sifted through the trash to understand how well these services are doing and found, unsurprisingly, that the sites are “more pitiful than fear-inspiring.” Few users and moderators, technology that performs like garbage (“If the alt-right’s ideology harks back to 1940s Germany, its web design might transport you to 1990s GeoCities”), and a lack of support from mainstream corporations, like the credit card companies whose cooperation is vital for Hatreon, is causing even die-hard supporters to give up on the grand project. It’s also difficult for “alt-right” sites to attract web development talent (there aren’t a lot of public investors lining up to pitch in money) or find service providers willing to work with them. Basically, all the usual difficulties of being a tech start-up applies, and the extra disadvantage of being public shitheels adds even more trouble.

For the “alt-right,” this is yet another example of the kind of humiliation that follows the movement like a shadow. For the rest of us, it’s a welcome reminder that even in a time when the worst elements of humanity feel so emboldened to make their terrible views known, there are still a handful of built-in roadblocks stopping them from spreading as far as they’d like.

Check out the entire article for more technological schadenfreude.

The Alt-Right Created a Parallel Internet. It’s an Unholy Mess. – The …

“I’m an investor in Gab,” wrote the user, who goes by the username @AnewThomasPaine. “I believe in the idea, but I’m disappointed in the platform.” In another message, he wrote: “I barely use it as there are few active users, and few essential features even after a year.”

Gab, which claims to have more than 300,000 registered users, was supposed to be an alt-tech success story. The service attracted reams of attention when it launched last year, and it raised more than $1 million in a crowdfunding campaign, making it the rare alt-tech platform with significant resources. Utsav Sanduja, Gab’s chief operating officer, told Slate this year that the company was starting an organization called the “Free Speech Tech Alliance,” and had recruited more than 100 Silicon Valley engineers to help.

But today, Gab is buggy and confusing, and much of the activity on the site appears to come from a small core of frequent users. Several of the well-known figures who once posted on the site have abandoned it. (“I’m a creature of habit, and fell out of habit of posting there,” Mike Cernovich, a notorious right-wing media personality, told me.) The site also had its own censorship drama earlier this year, after moderators removed a post that mocked Heather Heyer, the activist killed during the Charlottesville protests.

Gab’s founder, Andrew Torba, declined to comment on the site’s progress, telling me in a Gab message that “I don’t do interviews with fake news outlets.”

Instead, I spoke with Cody Wilson, a developer in Texas who is behind another alt-tech service. Mr. Wilson’s product, a crowdfunding site called Hatreon, was meant to give alt-right personalities and others a way to raise money for projects deemed too risqué for mainstream crowdfunding platforms such as Patreon and Kickstarter.

Hatreon got off to a fast start, with more than 400 creators raising about $25,000 per month on the platform. But lately, it has fallen into disrepair. According to Mr. Wilson, a major credit card company, which he declined to name, kicked Hatreon off its network last month, preventing many users from funding projects on the site and all but killing the company’s prospects for growth. Today, visitors to Hatreon are greeted by a message saying that “pledging is currently disabled while we upgrade our systems.”

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Mr. Wilson, who does not describe himself as alt-right, said he has accepted that building a viable alt-tech business might be impossible, given the practical constraints.

“I don’t understand how any of them plan to be profitable,” he said.

Things aren’t going much better for WrongThink, which went online in late 2016 with aspirations of becoming a free-speech alternative to Facebook and Twitter. A year later, WrongThink has only about 7,000 registered members, according to the site’s founder, who goes by the username Bane Biddix.

Far-right activists have been trying to build alternative tech platforms for years, with little success. A decade ago, white nationalist websites with names like New Saxon and PodBlanc sprang up to compete with Myspace, Friendster, and the other social giants of the era. But most of those sites fizzled when their creators ran out of money or got into legal trouble. And none came close to reaching a large mainstream audience.

Granted, it is still the early days for this new wave of services, which are coming of age during the Trump years and could benefit from changing norms around P.C. culture and acceptable speech. Some alt-right leaders are hopeful that a coming “purge” on Twitter — their phrase for a change in the site’s hate speech policies, which Twitter plans to enforce beginning next week — will send scores of disgruntled users scurrying to alt-tech platforms.

But Mark Pitcavage, who studies right-wing extremism at the Anti-Defamation League, told me that alt-tech companies face several structural barriers. Not only do they have to build a compelling product and attract users — a steep challenge even in the best of circumstances — but they must do it without access to mainstream funding sources, such as venture capital firms and angel investors, which provide much of the fuel for other tech start-ups. They also rely on finding companies that are willing to host their services and process their payments.

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b9f22_12ROOSE-2-master675 The Alt-Right Created a Parallel Internet. It's an Unholy Mess. - The ...

WASP.love, a dating site for white nationalists and others who want to “preserve their heritage.”

“Being on the internet is a group venture,” Mr. Pitcavage said. “You rely on an internet service provider, a domain name service, a credit card processor. It’s a very common thing for one or more of these entities not to want to do business with a white supremacist group.”

There is also a talent shortage among alt-tech companies, many of which rely on volunteers, and few of which can afford to pay the kinds of salaries demanded by top-tier programmers.

“Speaking frankly, you’re not getting 10x engineer talent with these people,” said Mr. Wilson of Hatreon, using a popular Silicon Valley term for a star employee. “No one’s lining up for this.”

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Alt-tech is also a victim of the same market forces that have held back other small tech start-ups. Much of the internet’s basic architecture is controlled by a handful of gatekeepers — Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon among them. Those companies run back-end services that allow developers to build reliable products, the app stores that allow them to reach a mass audience, and the advertising platforms that allow them to make money. Without the support of Silicon Valley’s giants, it’s nearly impossible to compete, no matter what your political views are.

“If someone with sufficient money and determination magically materialized, I’m not saying it’s impossible, but even then it wouldn’t be easy,” Mr. Pitcavage said.

The good news for the alt-right’s detractors, then, is that the movement’s vision of a flourishing parallel internet seems doomed to fail.

The bad news is that, without a functional alternate ecosystem, it may be harder to quarantine the views of neo-Nazis and other noxious ideologues to little-used corners of the internet, far from the vast majority of users. Facebook, Twitter, and other mainstream services will continue to be the dominant venue for ideological battles, and keeping these platforms free of hate and misinformation will remain those companies’ responsibility. Let’s hope they’re up to the challenge.


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The internet is up in arms about the right way to cut toast

Who knew cutting toast could cause such controversy?

British student union Hallam Nation posed an all-important question to Twitter: What’s the correct way to split a piece of toast?

Now, the social-media platform is engrossed in the debate, and it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

Hallam Nation posted a photo of three differently cut pieces of toast — one chopped on a diagonal, one bisected vertically and one halved horizontally, and asked: ‘Which way would you prefer our staff to do your toast at the end of a night?”

Twitter user @jnttabi replied: “[I don’t know] why but when i was younger the triangle always tasted better than the rectangle.”

Twitter user @TommyRaketic voiced his resounding disgust for the vertical method. “Never in my life seen toast cut like 3, outrageous,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, @Jack Skellington said, “If you cut your toast long ways, throw your whole life in the bin you creature.”

@PaulCruikshank chimed in, “If you cut your toast like Number 3 then please never eat toast again. #NoToToastNumber3.” And he didn’t stop there: “I mean — imagine you met the love of your life and then you found out that they cut their toast like #ToastNumber3! You’d have to really examine your conscience with that one!”

Concluded @lieutenant_Eric: “Raised on 3, discovered 1 in my youth and have dabbled with 2 but really don’t want to make it a habit.”
It’s a hot topic any way you slice it.

The internet is a terror battle ground — and we’re losing

Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what’s happening in the world as it unfolds.

Why We Need to ‘Break the Internet’ Today

We have only two days until the FCC votes to kill net neutrality. That’s why sites from reddit to Etsy to Mozilla have joined today’s plan to ‘Break the Internet’ with an overwhelming number of messages to Congress demanding that it stop the FCC’s plan.

Take Action Now gives you three meaningful actions you can take each week, whatever your schedule. You can sign up here to get actions like these in your inbox every Tuesday.

NO TIME TO SPARE?

This week, we’re asking you to make two urgent phone calls. First, call Congress to demand it defend net neutrality. Then, call your member of the House of Representatives at 844-311-7810 and implore them to reject the latest version of the Republican’s tax plan, which gives huge tax breaks to the rich and sets the stage for cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and public education.

GOT SOME TIME?

Help net neutrality activists ‘Break the Internet.’ Sign up to tweet every 10 minutes, add a banner to any websites to which you may have access, post on Facebook and other social media sites, and email as many of your friends as you can.

READY TO DIG IN?

Last week, Congress voted for a two-week extension on the must-pass budget bill and activists are demanding that Democrats reject it if the DREAM Act has not yet passed—a distinct possibility. With 86 percent of the American people believing that DACA recipients should be able to stay in the country, this should be an easy choice. Make plans to get to DC for Operation DREAM Act Now between December 18-22 to demand that Congress take action. And if you can’t make it, be sure to call every day to demand your representatives fight for this needed law.

Have you been using Take Action Now to get involved? If so, we want to share your story! Click here to tell us how you’ve joined the resistance or fought for progressive causes. We’ll share some of the best stories in future editions of Take Action Now and on The Nation’s website.

Quebec Politicians Want You To Pay A New “Internet Tax”

Quebec may be alone on this, but that isn’t stopping anyone: the provincial government is wholly committed to creating an “internet tax” on all online services. 

Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao brought up the idea of a single sales tax for online services yesterday, in a meeting with the federal and provincial finance ministers. 

READ ALSO: Warning: A Second Snowstorm Will Hit Montreal On Wednesday

But all Leitao got in response was utter silence. Finance ministers from every other province didn’t say a word when asked about an “internet tax,” remaining mum on the subject. 

“There was not much interest from the others,” said Leitao, reports JDM. 

That doesn’t mean the Quebec government is backing down. 

“As we have already said, will put in place the necessary measures to impose the sales tax on online digital services,” said Leitao.

We do know what federal Minister of Finance Bill Morneau thinks about a sales tax for internet services. Morneau is decidedly against it. 

The Liberal Party has said, since 2015, that the federal government will not be a part of a “Netflix tax” or any other tariff imposed on online services. 

Netflix is, by the way, the primary reason why the Quebec government is so keen on creating an internet service tax. Unlike traditional broadcasters, Netflix doesn’t pay anything to operate within Canada. 

And despite the partnership between Netflix and the federal government, where the former will be investing millions to create Canadian content, Quebec still wants a tax in place to level out the playing field online. 

Or, you know, just collect money on streaming (other internet) services the provincial government is currently making no money off of. 

The Quebec government can’t just fold internet services into the QST, mind you. Doing so will require formal permission from the federal government, which would allow the province to collect from a QST but not GST. 

Before the internet tax discussion was finished, however, the federal finance minster did say that his office was prepared to meet with the Quebec government to create some sort of resolution. What form that will take, no one knows at the moment. 

Reports of children being groomed on the Internet have increased five fold in four years

Experts have warned parents to prepare their children for the dangers of social media on new smart phones and computers this Christmas as a Mirror investigation reveals an explosion in online grooming cases.

Reports of children being groomed by perverts online has jumped five fold in just four years.

The youngest person arrested for grooming was just 13 years old, with the oldest person arrested for grooming was 83.

Total reported cases across England and Wales have leapt from 182 in 2012 to 1005 in 2016.

A look at the figures show Cleveland’s reported cases went from just one in 2012 to 168 in 2016 and Leicestershire’s reported cases of grooming have quadrupled from 2014 to 2016.

North Yorkshire’s reports of grooming have gone up nearly three times in two years, from 42 to 120, while Derbyshire Police revealed reported cases of grooming have trebled in three years from 42 to 126 from 2013 to 2016.

But while more cases than ever are being reported, convictions have fallen.

Children’s access to mobile phones has been blamed for grooming increases by some
(Image: Getty)

The investigations that resulted in charges, cases have dropped from 151 in 2014 and 163 in 2015 to just 67 in 2016.

Figures from UK police forces show reported cases of grooming have even doubled in the last two years as the problem continues to rise.

There is also large North/South divide between figures, with many more cases being reported every year in the north of England than anywhere else. Police say an explanation for this could be the north having much larger police forces on the whole.

But despite the growing trend, it can be revealed that the number of people charged for grooming has decreased since 2013.

The Mirror asked all 43 police forces in England and Wales how many of reported cases of sexual offences involving the Internet and grooming were reported in the last five years.

The figures show reported cases of grooming with have doubled in the last two years.

We also asked how many people were charged with sexual offences involving the internet and grooming, with a year by year breakdown.

Child grooming is befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child via a computer or mobile phone, in order to lower the child’s inhibitions with the object of sexual abuse.

It also regularly lures minors into child-trafficking situations, illicit businesses such as child prostitution, or the production of child pornography.

(Image: E+)

Carolyn Bunting, General Manager of e-safety organisation Internet Matters, said: “Online grooming is one of parents’ worst fears.

“Despite growing up in a digital age, it is important we remember that children are vulnerable and parents must understand there’s steps they can take to help keep their children safe online such as ensuring privacy settings are switched on when using social media.

“This Christmas, no doubt parents will be receiving new tech gifts from Santa, so we recommend that parents take an active role in making sure their devices such as smartphones and tablets have all the necessary age-appropriate filters and controls so they are set up safe.”

Visit internetmatters.org for more information on how to set up safe this Christmas.

British man becomes star in Dominican Republic after Internet girlfriend rejects him for being ‘too poor’

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Why Alita Has Big Anime Eyes And How The Internet Is Reacting

f43af_ubtodwhud8fz2l1fcrod Why Alita Has Big Anime Eyes And How The Internet Is Reacting
[GIF via 20th Century Fox]

When the Alita: Battle Angel trailer hit last Friday, it was impossible not to notice the character Alita’s anime-style eyes.

While talking to IGN Brazil, Sin City director Robert Rodriguez explained the decision to give the character these peepers, saying, “The manga anime eyes that we’ve seen since the 30s and Astro Boy has never been done photorealistically. So, usually when we see an anime translated, it doesn’t feel like that.”

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Continuing, he adds, “The early artwork I saw that Jim [Cameron] had, before it was even technically possible, had that in her [Alita]. It was so striking and so arresting, I thought, ‘My god, we have to do that. We have to be the first to bring a true manga and anime character to life.’”

You can see the full response below:

Here is how people have been reacting to the trailer on Reddit.

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And the response on Twitter:

Alita: Battle Angel opens on July 20, 2018, big eyes and all.

Why ‘The New Yorker’s ‘Cat Person’ is the story about sex and consent the Internet needed

If you’re someone who frequents Twitter, you may have caught yourself reading a certain short story published this weekend by The New Yorker.

The article, titled “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian, is a fictional story that went viral for reasons that don’t necessarily scream “Internet gold.” It’s not a sci-fi story about a mutant cat-turned-human, nor is it a clickbait-y article full of cat memes.

Instead, “Cat Person” is a lifelike story about a college girl, Margot, who has bad sex with an older guy, Robert. They meet at the theater where she works, start texting and eventually go on a date that doesn’t end well — after cringe-worthy conversations and a bad kiss, Margot guilts herself into enduring sex that she really doesn’t want to partake in. 

So why has the story struck a chord with so many people?

The story comes at a time when news feeds have been flooded with stories of sexual harassment and assault allegations against some of the most powerful men in Hollywood and beyond. 

Although the story doesn’t involve assault, it questions “people’s inability to read each other, inability to read each other sexually,” New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman told The Huffington Post Monday. 

Just like the #MeToo movement, a viral hashtag that people have used to share their own stories of harassment and assault, the story also invokes a realness that many can relate to, adding to the likability of the piece and sparking discussions online. 

In an interview with The New Yorker, Roupenian said that the story was inspired by her own “small but nasty encounter” with someone she met online, and later told The New York Times that “many of the details and emotional notes come from life, they were accumulated over decades, not drawn from a single bad date.”

People took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the story, many writing about how it resembled some of their own experiences.

“If it had ended instead with her seeing that guy a billion more times after anyway (because) she hates herself that would be my experience,” one user wrote.

“Maybe if you can’t relate to ‘Cat Person’ it’s because you are not a woman who has ever been on a date with a man,” another wrote.

“Men and women don’t understand each other. The consequences for women are very different from the consequences for men,” one user summarized. 

One Twitter user mentioned the usefulness of this story for women going forward.

“I guess I’m glad straight girls can now use the term ‘cat person’ to describe that sort of dude,” one wrote.

The story also sparked conversations about one of its themes: the nuances of consent. 

“I liked it for all the shudders it induced and for the conflict it explored between consent and self-guilt,” one wrote.

“For me “Cat Person” shows how anemic our concept of consent truly is. It conveys a passive inevitability that shouldn’t be,” another wrote.

Ethiopia restricts internet access amidst new protests

Reports indicate that authorities in Ethiopia have restricted access to social media in the wake of renewed clashes that have led to deaths in the Oromia region.

A popular news portal, Addis Standard, said access to regular internet was impossible in the affected areas which included the capital, Addis Ababa.

According to the portal, the restriction “came amidst increasing reports of student protests in various university campuses against the killing of a student in Adigrat Univ at least 15 civilians in Chelenko.

Access is however possible via the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN) connections. More often than not when internet cuts are imposed, people are advised to switch to VPNs for access.

VPNs are basically network setup for use by a limited number of individuals, such as employees of a company and are often encrypted for security.

It is not the first time the country has resorted to internet cuts for political reasons. But the most recent case was in June this year, when access was cut during a national examination.

The move was defended at the time by authorities as a means of securing the integrity of the Grade 10 and 12 university entrance examinations.

“The shutdown is aimed at preventing a repeat of leaks that occurred last year,” one Mohammed Seid, public relations director of Ethiopia’s Office for Government Communications Affairs, told Reuters.

The recent protests have been blamed partly on federal forces and a paramilitary unit of the neighbouring Ethiopian-Somali regional state, the Liyu Police.

The government has in the past accused activists of abusing social media to spread inciting material that has often led to anti-government protests. The government in August this year lifted a state of emergency imposed in October 2016 to quell similar protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions.

There’s a Gender Gap in Internet Usage. Closing It Would Open Up Opportunities for Everyone

michael suriano/unsplash

We have all heard about a gap when it comes to participation of women in the tech industry. Facebook, Google, and Apple have 17%, 19% and 23% women in their technology staffs, respectively. Multiple surveys, such as the “The Elephant in the Valley,” have documented systematic discrimination against women. And there’s a continuous barrage of news stories regarding the challenges that women face across a raft of iconic Silicon Valley firms. No more than a quarter of U.S. computing and mathematical jobs are held by women, consistent with the data that around 26% of the STEM workforce in developed countries is female. In developing countries, those differences are even greater.

But the gender gap problem doesn’t stop there. There’s also a shortage of women using some of the industry’s products. The International Telecommunications Union reports that the proportion of women using the internet is 12% lower than the proportion of men; this gender gap widens to 32.9% in the least developed countries. And even when a woman gets on a phone or is online, she might face additional hostility. A World Wide Web Foundation report says “women around the world report being bombarded by a culture of misogyny online, including aggressive, often sexualized hate speech, direct threats of violence, harassment, and revenge porn involving use of personal/private information for defamation.”

What this speaks to is an opportunity for the tech industry — both to address internal diversity issues and to address how companies think about the products they create around the world.

Consider the benefits of narrowing the gender gap. When women are locked out of digital products, businesses lose customers and product development gets stymied. For example, the Connected Women report from the GSMA shows that women are less likely to be financially independent when the digital gender gap is wide.

Closing this gap would disproportionately help women and the global economy; a recent Accenture study suggests that women derive greater value from “digital fluency” in the workplace than men do. And a study of Kenya’s popular M-PESA mobile money service suggests that digital financial services can increase the participation of women in the workforce and create opportunities for women in the formal market economy. Plus, consider the new generation of unlikely entrepreneurs – on Facebook-owned Instagram – in socially conservative Saudi Arabia: a growing number of women are turning to the app to start businesses that can bypass both bureaucracies and social restrictions. Thousands of women have established Instagram businesses selling handicrafts, food, clothing and accessories. Moreover, women tend to have a disproportionate influence on decisions around family, community, and children. They tend to invest more of their earnings in their families than men do – almost 10 times more. So closing the digital gender gap would likely have far-reaching benefits.

Of course, this story is bigger then any one business goal. To quote the World Economic Forum’s founder, Dr. Klaus Schwab, “Achieving gender equality is obviously necessary for economic reasons. Only those economies (that) have full access to all their talent will remain competitive and will prosper. But even more important, gender equality is a matter of justice. As a humanity, we also have the obligation to ensure a balanced set of values.”

Understanding the opportunity in digital inclusion

Apart from the many benefits of the uptake of digital technology, can the industry’s advances actually help address this gender disparity? Can it help close the gender gap and set the many multiplier effects in motion?

As part of our global study of the patterns of digital evolution, a collaboration between The Fletcher School and Mastercard, we set out to ask a related question: what is the impact of an increase in digital uptake across countries on gender inclusion?

We created two measures. One is a measure of gender inclusion, an index that combines several indicators of female participation, including female literacy rates, the proportion of women with accounts at a financial institution, female labor force participation rates, and the proportion of seats held by women in national parliament. The second measure is one of digital uptake, an index comprising adoption of the internet, mobile or landline connections, digital consumption, and use of digital technology for commercial purposes.

Our analyses of the relationship between these measures point to an interesting result. We find that every percentage in growth of digital uptake over the period 2008-2011 leads to a positive growth rate of gender digital inclusion over the period 2011-15 by about 2.3%.

When the 60 countries analyzed are limited to only those in the developing world, every percentage in growth of digital uptake over the period 2008-2011 leads to a positive growth rate of gender digital inclusion over the period 2011-15 by about 2%.

We see this as further evidence that digital uptake contributes to wider benefits across the economy and in narrowing the gender gap. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, when we remove the obstacles that constrain women from reaching parity with men, $28 trillion of new value is added to global GDP in 10 years. Surely, this should make us feel more encouraged about the positive impact of digital technology in helping reduce a key form of social, political and economic imbalance.

If the makers of digital technologies can better focus on creating products and virtual environments where women feel more included, more women will use the industry’s products, which, in turn, create these multiplier effects across society. It will also help drive the need to hire more women to participate in building and selling those products. It is useful to remember that all six programmers of Eniac, the world’s first digital computer, were women; it is time the industry caught up with its own history.

We will now need to watch and see if the tech industry can find better ways to both close the gender gap in its own ranks as well as the gender gap in its customers.

The author thanks Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi, Cassandra Pagan, and Rasima Swarup for their insights, research and analyses.

Is this the week the ‘free internet’ dies? Or is it all just another Y2K

This could be the week that net neutrality dies — but supporters of a free internet aren’t going down without a fight.

The vote by the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the internet is set for Thursday — with members expected to vote 3-2 along party lines — but there are still two possible avenues for challenging the FCC’s planned rollback of net neutrality: through courts or through Congress. With a Republican majority, the latter is unlikely, but it hasn’t stopped net neutrality supporters from trying.

bfb2c_171211-net-neutrality-protest-1204p-rs_22020bd1f51ab9577e6d423f9000eb21.nbcnews-fp-360-360 Is this the week the 'free internet' dies? Or is it all just another Y2K


bfb2c_171211-net-neutrality-protest-1204p-rs_22020bd1f51ab9577e6d423f9000eb21.nbcnews-fp-360-360 Is this the week the 'free internet' dies? Or is it all just another Y2K

Social media has been buzzing with people expressing their concern ahead of the vote. When the #NetNeutrality hashtag is used on Twitter, it even comes with a small buffering icon to show what a future internet with fast and slow lanes may look like.

But others have noted that there may be nothing for consumers to worry about — even comparing the online hype to Y2K.

“The rhetoric is far out-pacing reality,” Daniel Lyons, an associate professor of law at Boston College and a tech policy expert who calls himself a “net neutrality skeptic,” told NBC News.

So what exactly would change if net neutrality disappears?

At its core, net neutrality ensures that all traffic is treated equally on the internet. Since 2015, the internet has been regulated as a utility, instead of an information service. This gives the FCC the authority to ensure that providers don’t create fast and slow lanes for internet traffic.

Many of the big internet service providers, including Verizon, ATT and Comcast, the parent company of NBC News, believe rolling back net neutrality rules will allow them to innovate and offer customers new options at more competitive prices.

Everyone from open internet advocates to tech companies, including Google, Facebook and Apple, have warned that this could set a dangerous precedent, allowing these internet service providers to become gatekeepers of information and entertainment.

If the vote scheduled on Thursday goes according to plan, the FCC commissioners will vote 3-2, along party lines, to roll back the net neutrality rules, reclassifying the internet as an information service.

Next, the FCC will publish the rule in the Federal Register, the journal detailing government agency rules, proposed rules and public notices.

“Then it usually takes effect after 60 days,” Lyons said. “Realistically, I don’t think consumers are going to see much of a difference.”

The new “light touch” approach would give internet service providers free rein to control your online experience, potentially prioritizing traffic to their own sites, controlling the speed a certain page loads — a practice known as “throttling” — and even blocking access to certain sites.

The one caveat: They’ll have to disclose these practices, either through an easily accessible public website or by informing the FCC.

Another change: The vote would return power to the Federal Trade Commission to advocate for consumers against any anticompetitive practices.

“I think the one real concern is anticompetitive behavior that favors affiliate,” Lyons said. For example, he said, if “Comcast wants you to watch their streams and decides to slow down Netflix.”

While it would theoretically be able to do so under the new rules, Comcast said in a blog post last month that its “commitment to customers remains the same: We do not and will not block, throttle or discriminate against lawful content — and we will be transparent with our customers about these policies.”

Returning to a light-touch framework would allow internet service providers to experiment with new business models that spur innovation and benefit consumers, Lyons said. “I have faith antitrust laws will protect us against bad experiments,” he added.

Google: Southeast Asia’s internet economy is growing faster than …


0e62c_southeast-asia-map Google: Southeast Asia's internet economy is growing faster than ...

Southeast Asia is now the world’s third largest region for internet users — with more people online than the entire U.S. population — and internet is having a bigger impact on the region than originally thought, according to a new report co-authored by Google.

China and India typically dominate the conversation when looking at emerging economies in Asia, but Southeast Asia is rapidly being acknowledged as a market where the internet is changing daily behaviors and creating new opportunities. A lack of data has traditionally made it difficult to pinpoint that potential but Google and Singaporean sovereign fund Temasek today released an update to their highly referenced 2015 ‘e-Conomy SEA’ report — the main takeaway is that growth has exceeded their initial expectations.

The original report forecast Southeast Asia’s internet economy hitting $200 billion per year by 2025, but now it is estimated that it will top that number, reaching $50 billion in 2017 alone.

Online travel remains the biggest segment for internet-based spending — jumping to $26.6 billion in 2017 from $19.1 billion in 2015 — but e-commerce and ride-hailing saw the highest growth.

0e62c_southeast-asia-map Google: Southeast Asia's internet economy is growing faster than ...

E-commerce, and this does not include second-hand/consumer-to-consumer sales, grew at a compound annual rate of 41 percent to cross $10 billion for the first time in 2017. The e-Conomy SEA project expects it will go on to hit $88 billion by 2025 to become the most lucrative segment.

0e62c_southeast-asia-map Google: Southeast Asia's internet economy is growing faster than ...

Uber and Grab are battling it out in Southeast Asia’s ride-sharing market, while local unicorn Go-Jek has plans to expand beyond Indonesia, and that competition is reflected in the report’s newest findings.

It concluded that total spend on the taxi apps has more than doubled over the two years to cross $5 billion in 2017. The ride-hailing industry is expected to develop further still and reach $20 billion by 2025, that’s up from an original estimate of $13 billion in the first report.

Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, is likely to account for the majority of that, with the 2015 research pegging its share of revenue at more than 40 percent.

0e62c_southeast-asia-map Google: Southeast Asia's internet economy is growing faster than ...

Going into more depth, the study estimated that the number of passengers using ride-hailing apps daily has more than quadrupled since the first study in 2015, while driver numbers are also up 4X.

0e62c_southeast-asia-map Google: Southeast Asia's internet economy is growing faster than ...

Here are other nuggets from the report as gleaned by Google:

  • 3.6 hours on the mobile internet every day. Southeast Asians spend more time on the mobile internet than anyone else on the planet. Thailand is top of the list with 4.2 hours per day, with Indonesia a close second at 3.9 hours per day. To compare, the U.S. spends 2 hours per day, the U.K. 1.8 hours per day, and Japan 1 hour per day on mobile internet.
  • 140 minutes shopping online every month. Southeast Asians spend almost twice as much time as Americans in e-commerce marketplaces. The region will have an $88.1 billion e-commerce market by 2025.
  • 6 million rides booked through ride-hailing platforms every day. The ride-hailing market in Southeast Asia has grown four-fold since 2015 and will be $20.1 billion by 2025.
  • More than $12 billion raised by Southeast Asian startups since 2016. At 0.18 percent of GDP, the amount of investment into Southeast Asian startups is on par with India’s and a vote of confidence in Southeast Asia’s huge internet potential.

Full details of the study can be found here.

Featured Image: KYTan/Shutterstock




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