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4 Potential avenues for the next social network

Looking at the general tech landscape, we have a few ideas as to what potential new social media could look like.

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IMAGE FROM PIXABAY.COM

Over the years, three things have become very clear about social networks. The first is that broadly speaking, they’re drastically altering our day-to-day lives and the ways in which we interact with one another. The second is that the big players – namely, Facebook and Twitter – have probably become too big to be displaced. Suffice it to say if Facebook can’t be defeated by a recent, massive privacy scandal (it’s rebounded completely since the Cambridge Analytica news went public), it’s probably going to stay on top. The third thing that’s become clear, however, is that entrepreneurs and developers will never stop trying to open up new avenues for social networking interest.

If we could predict exactly what these avenues might look like, we probably wouldn’t be writing about it – we’d be trying to make money off of the ideas. Nevertheless, looking at the general tech landscape, we have a few ideas as to what potential new social media could look like.

1. Platforms For Women

This is something we’d never have predicted a few years ago, particularly since so much of modern social media is specifically about interacting with the opposite sex and sparking relationships. However, there are also growing concerns about women being harassed or otherwise treated unfairly online, and one company has also raised the issue of women having to make “carefully curated social media presences.” To solve this problem, Maverick has emerged as a female-only social media platform daring girls to be their authentic selves. It’s a fascinating concept that could certainly catch on and inspire imitation.

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2. Social Gaming Platforms

Gaming is already quite social, but we wouldn’t really call games social networks just yet. Instead, think back to earlier internet days, and the kinds of arcade sites that would allow for usernames and chats. This feels like something an innovative company could bring back with a little more organization, either tapping into retro arcades (which have been made popular again by mobile devices) or even casino games. Players today can visit any mainstream casino site and find dozens of the most popular games, along with other people playing. There’s nothing to stop a developer from building on this idea to combine social interaction and gaming – something like a virtual version of an in-person arcade where people might hang out.

3. Mixed Reality Platforms

Perhaps the most obvious avenue for social media, though one there’s been surprisingly little buzz about, is mixed reality. Encompassing both VR and AR, this is a concept that would allow for a more visual component to social interaction online. In VR we could actually walk up and speak to digital versions of our friends or family members; in AR we could control avatars of ourselves moving about digitally rendered 3D communities. Neither idea would be quite so convenient as basic, text- and image-based social media, in that real-time interaction would be needed. But it’s still a very intriguing concept that someone, at some point, is going to get just right.

4. Alternate Reality Platforms

This is not merely the same thing as mixed reality, at least as we’re describing it. We’re referring instead to an idea that was posted about at an Irish tech site, known as UHIVE. It’s actually a little bit tricky to grasp (it uses the blockchain to design a social media platform), but the interesting thing is that it comes packed with two worlds: the Civilized World and The Grey World. The former is essentially a version of an ordinary social network: you are yourself, you interact with real friends, there are social norms, etc. The Grey World, however, is an obscure, alternate reality that, as the write-up says, has successfully revived anonymity for users. It is, by the sound of things, a bit of a free-for-all for creative energy and anonymous social browsing. This sort of balance, between real and artificial social spaces, is something that could certainly catch on.

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Technology

How tech is shaking up the retail investing scene

Investors can check the price of stocks whenever they like, read associated stories, access balance sheets, and generally have all of the tools at their disposal to work out whether a company is a good buy. It’s fair to say that tech is shaking up the retail investing scene in more ways than one.

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Retail investors used to have to make a stark choice. Either they bought and sold equities through a broker – somebody who would buy shares in companies on their behalf – or they’d pile all their capital into a mutual fund and wait. Without the internet, investors usually had to wait for their statements in the mail before they found out about the performance of their investments. It wasn’t always good news.

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Technology has changed all that. Retail investors now have information that is nearly as good as top hedge funds. Investors can check the price of stocks whenever they like, read associated stories, access balance sheets, and generally have all of the tools at their disposal to work out whether a company is a good buy. It’s fair to say that tech is shaking up the retail investing scene in more ways than one.

Software Advisors

It was only a matter of time before somebody applied new artificial intelligence software to the retail investing scene. In the past, retail investors had to do their research if they wanted to understand how markets worked. Investing is a technical discipline, as well as an art, and an understanding of key terms is essential. But robo advisors take some of the edge off the otherwise steep learning curve. People new to finance can quickly get up to speed with all the relevant concepts and jargon. Robo advisors can give information about complicated investment plans, 401(k)s and many other things.

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Retail investors can also put their faith in machines too if they see fit. The world’s first AI-powered investment ETF launched last year. The ETF is a collection of funds managed by a computer based on all available data. The software takes data from the market to predict which firms will perform best over a 12-month horizon. So far, the software hasn’t convincingly beaten the market, but it’s early days.

Trading Apps

In the past, if you wanted to buy shares in a company, you had to physically visit your broker, give the order, and then get them to buy the shares on the open market. Things have moved on a lot since then. Thanks to smartphones, the average investor can now just fire up an app on their phone, place an order, and take ownership of shares on the same day. Apps are usually linked to major trading houses, so be careful which you choose

High-Frequency Trading Products

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The market is continually looking for new ways to create profit opportunities. A controversial method of doing this is the so-called high-frequency trading where an automated trading system makes dozens of trades per second. High-frequency trading is shaking up the retail investment scene because it is changing the strategy that regular traders should use.

Retail investors can either invest in funds that take advantage of automated, rapid trading or they can adopt a value-investing approach, ignoring all the short term fluctuations in the market. The good news is that there are now products that cater to both. Some funds use high-frequency trading, while others attempt to follow companies with value potential.

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Technology

The future of mobile phones – What comes next?

Mobile phones have evolved from bulky bricks capable only of calls to tiny pocket-sized computers capable of practically everything. It’s hard to imagine what could come next considering how advanced modern phones already are, but manufacturers and phone carriers are already busy planning new advancements.

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In the last three decades, mobile phones have evolved from bulky bricks capable only of calls to tiny pocket-sized computers capable of practically everything. It’s hard to imagine what could come next considering how advanced modern phones already are, but manufacturers and phone carriers are already busy planning new advancements.

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Here are just some of the improvements that are thought to shape the future.

LIMITLESS CONNECTION

When it comes to wireless plans, people are now getting much more for their money including free texts and even free calls. Plans such as this Verizon wireless plan offer incredibly strong signal and even mobile hotspot data. It’s thought that in the future, ‘unlimited data’ will become the norm and phone/wi-fi signal will be available practically everywhere allowing people to stay constantly connected.

FACIAL RECOGNITION

Facial recognition is already here with the iPhone X being the first to pass the tests. Other phones are thought to adopt this technology soon making it a standard feature in the future. Facial recognition can be used a secure alternative to a password preventing anyone else from being able to unlock your phone. It could also become the main form of payment – already you can use your phone to make payments and payment apps are now allowing you to use facial recognition technology. Cards may eventually become defunct given that they pose a greater security risk and facial recognition could take over.  

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COLLAPSIBLE PHONES

This year, Samsung unveiled the prototype for the world’s first foldable phone. Once this technology has been perfected, we could see phones on the market that are able to fold up and fit neatly into the smallest pockets, whilst being able to then fold out to the size of tablets when we need a bigger screen. This could make them both more portable and more practical when doing activities such as reading and watching videos. On top of having foldable screens, phones of the future may even have self-healing screens to counteract damage (such technology is already in development, although it could still be a while until it is perfected).

SELF-CHARGING BATTERIES

This technology may be a fair way off yet, but researchers are already looking into it. By using a combination of solar power, hydrogen fuel cells, nanobatteries and perhaps even kinetic energy, it could be possible to keep our phones charged up on the go without ever needing to plug them into a wall. This remains the one big inconvenience with mobile phones – whilst portable chargers already exist, these chargers themselves need to be charged up beforehand. Having a phone that charges itself could make it easier to travel and get by in remote places without having to search for somewhere with a plug point.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Blued pokes fun on awkward sexting encounters to encourage safer sex & promote HIV awareness

Blued wants to remind its users to get tested for HIV and practice safer sex.

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From unsolicited dick pics to inappropriately direct sexual invitations, together with exposure to extreme kinks and aggressive flirting from total strangers, the online gay world can sometimes feel like the sexual equivalent of rush hour on a Friday night.  

But while hooking up in the digital age can be messy and confusing, one rule should be clear: when your partner refuses to practice safer sex, it’s time to stop and make a U-turn.

In celebration of World AIDS Day this December 1, the world’s largest gay social app Blued–a platform that’s facilitated millions of awkward sexting encounters–wants to remind its users to get tested for HIV and practice safer sex, through a series of videos where a user aggressively sexts multiple people, and hooks up with a guy who’s only willing to have sex, as long as it’s safe.

Currently, Blued has close to one million users in the Philippines, where as many as 32 people test positive for HIV every day, mostly among men having sex with men.

This stems from a lack of education on how HIV is transmitted, as well as the stigma of sex and the continuing discrimination of the LGBT community.

No longer just for gay trysts…

“We at Blued believe in sex-positivity, and that the abstinence-only solution to stopping HIV is not exactly the most realistic solution for a lot of people,” says Evan Tan, country marketing manager of Blued in the Philippines. “By making fun of awkward sexual encounters, we want people to lighten up their attitudes towards sex–but also remember that using condoms, getting tested for HIV regularly, adhering to your PrEP regimen, and establishing to your partners that safer sex is a non-negotiable rule, will allow you to enjoy your sex life even further.”

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Health & Wellness

Healthcare providers – not hackers – leak more of your medical data

After reviewing detailed reports, assessing notes and reclassifying cases with specific benchmarks, researchers found that 53% were the result of internal factors in healthcare entities.

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Yes, your personal identity may be at the mercy of sophisticated hackers on many websites; but surprisingly, when it comes to health data breaches, hackers aren’t the ones to blame. Instead, hospitals, doctors’ offices and even insurance companies are oftentimes the culprits.

This is according to a research from Michigan State University and Johns Hopkins University, which found that more than half of the recent personal health information (or PHI) data breaches were because of internal issues with medical providers – not because of hackers or external parties.

“There’s no perfect way to store information, but more than half of the cases we reviewed were not triggered by external factors – but rather by internal negligence,” said John (Xuefeng) Jiang, lead author and associate professor of accounting and information systems at MSU’s Eli Broad College of Business.

The research, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, follows the joint 2017 study that showed the magnitude of hospital data breaches in the US. The research revealed nearly 1,800 occurrences of large data breaches in patient information over a seven years, with 33 hospitals experiencing more than one substantial breach.

For this research, Jiang and co-author Ge Bai, associate professor at the John’s Hopkins Carey Business School, dove deeper to identify triggers of the PHI data breaches. They reviewed nearly 1,150 cases between October 2009 and December 2017 that affected more than 164 million patients.

“Every time a hospital has some sort of a data breach, they need to report it to the Department of Health and Human Services and classify what they believe is the cause,” Jiang said. “These causes fell into six categories: theft, unauthorized access, hacking or an IT incident, loss, improper disposal or ‘other.'”

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After reviewing detailed reports, assessing notes and reclassifying cases with specific benchmarks, Jiang and Bai found that 53% were the result of internal factors in healthcare entities.

“One quarter of all the cases were caused by unauthorized access or disclosure – more than twice the amount that were caused by external hackers,” Jiang said. “This could be an employee taking PHI home or forwarding to a personal account or device, accessing data without authorization, or even through email mistakes, like sending to the wrong recipients, copying instead of blind copying or sharing unencrypted content.”

While some of the errors seem to be common sense, Jiang said that the big mistakes can lead to even bigger accidents and that seemingly innocuous errors can compromise patients’ personal data.

“Hospitals, doctors offices, insurance companies, small physician offices and even pharmacies are making these kinds of errors and putting patients at risk,” Jiang said.

Of the external breaches, theft accounted for 33% with hacking credited for just 12%.

While some data breaches might result in minor consequences, such as obtaining the phone numbers of patients, others can have much more invasive effects. For example, when Anthem Inc. suffered a data breach in 2015, 37.5 million records were compromised. Many of the victims were not notified immediately, so weren’t aware of the situation until they went to file their taxes only to discover that a third-party fraudulently filed them with the data they obtained from Anthem.

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While tight software and hardware security can protect from theft and hackers, Jiang and Bai suggest health care providers adopt internal policies and procedures that can tighten processes and prevent internal parties from leaking PHI by following a set of simple protocols. The procedures to mitigate PHI breaches related to storage include transitioning from paper to digital medical records, safe storage, moving to non-mobile policies for patient-protected information and implementing encryption. Procedures related to PHI communication include mandatory verification of mailing recipients, following a “copy vs. blind copy” protocol (bcc vs cc) as well as encryption of content.

“Not putting on the whole armor opened health care entities to enemy’s attacks,” Bai said. “The good news is that the armor is not hard to put on if simple protocols are followed.”

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Technological advancements up to present day

Back in the day things would be developed over a certain period of time. But they have since changed. Here we explore the various things that have been developed over the past few years.

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Technology has really shocked everyone. Back in the day things would be developed over a certain period of time. But they have since changed. Things are being developed every day from cars, cell phones, top Australian online casinos, applications, modes of energy and many others.

In this article, we will explore the various things that have been developed over the past few years.

Electric Cars

Cars are known to use gasoline. For cars, gasoline is like the nutrient that they require for them to function. But then again at the same time, the exhaust gases are bad for the environment. But great minds are always thinking ahead. So what was simply done was to make cars use electric energy for them to function. That way nothing on earth will be threatened. With car technology, we could go on about it forever. Everything on cars has been developed. They now have cars that don’t require keys to start the car as you can use your phone or a car button.  And as for unlocking you only need your fingerprint.

3D Printers

Printers have been known to print papers from when there were introduced. And they were slowly developing to printing plastics. Jaws dropped when they started printing metal, we thought that probably that is where they are going to end. But clearly they did not stop; now they have what is known as the 3-D metal printing. This one prints the exact thing that you want to be printed, for instance, you want to print a car part now that is possible.

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Robot Technology

Asians have always been known for their fondness for robots. And they managed to advance them from the normal robots that we are used to. Asians have developed robots that can help people in restaurants and are now the actual waiters. They do away with human labour.

Clearly one can note that technology is definitely advancing and for the better. Even in the world of online casinos, first, they were just yebo casino games. But now we have Live Dealer online casino games, technology truly is amazing.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Apple blocks its LGBTQI Pride watch face in Russia

While Apple regularly brandishes its “unwavering commitment to equality and diversity” in highly-produced LGBTQI Pride videos, the company – apparently – has its limits, with its Pride Apple Watch face hardcoded to not show up if the paired iPhone is using the Russian locale.

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In case anyone forgets: Pride support has its limits for businesses.

While Apple regularly brandishes its “unwavering commitment to equality and diversity” in highly-produced LGBTQI Pride videos, the company – apparently – has its limits, with its Pride Apple Watch face hardcoded to not show up if the paired iPhone is using the Russian locale.

As its is, Apple support forum users have been questioning the lack of a Pride watch face in Russia. The company – helmed by an openly gay man himself, CEO Tim Cook – first introduced its Pride Apple Watch face during the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June, drawing inspiration from the rainbow flag to celebrate LGBTQI Pride and stand against discrimination of LGBTQI people.

But tested on an iPhone running the latest iOS 12 beta, the Pride watch face simply disappears once a user switches to a Russian location.

In 2013, Russia implemented a “gay propaganda” law that – according to the European Court of Human Rights – reinforces prejudice and encourages homophobia. The law comes with the threat of jail time and fines for what Russia deems to be offensive speech.

With the non-appearance of the Pride-related product, Apple seems to be avoiding this particular legal quandary.

Apple sells a special Pride edition Apple Watch strap, donating a portion of the proceeds toward LGBTQI advocacy organizations. But the same product is also not available in Russia, one of the countries with worsening LGBTQI-related situations and where the support is most needed.

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With this, the company worth about $945 billion in June highlights many companies’ “we support you… but only to an extent” approach to LGBTQI Pride. Just this August, for instance, Unilever in the Philippines started to offer a 20-day paid leave for fathers, healthcare benefits for same-sex partners and paid absences for adoptive parents. But the company has also been accused of putting profit before the human rights of LGBTQIA people – e.g. Unilever North Africa Middle East has production facilities in countries such as Tunisia and Algeria, where – according to a 2015 report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association – homosexual activity continues to be illegal.

Unilever starts offering 20-day paternity leave, same-sex partner benefits in Phl

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