Sunday, August 3, 2014

Automated Thanking Machines

YouTube and FastCoCreate

-Leo Burnett Toronto turned ATMs into "Automated Thanking Machines" for TDCanada (video above).

More than 30,000 TD customers in more than 1,100 bank branches across Canada were given tokens of appreciation, such as a $20 bill. But the giving got way more personal than that. A talking ATM, or Automated Thanking Machine, in select locations gave out personalized gifts to a lucky few, including introducing huge Toronto Blue Jays fan Mike Jobin to Jays star Jose Bautista and giving him the chance to throw the first pitch at a Jays game. Or flying a mom and her kids to Disneyland. Or sending a nice old lady to Trinidad to see her dying daughter.


You Are Not Late   ß RECOMMENDED

Can you imagine how awesome it would have been to be an entrepreneur in 1985 when almost any dot com name you wanted was available? All words; short ones, cool ones. All you had to do was ask. It didn't even cost anything to claim. This grand opportunity was true for years. In 1994 a Wired writer noticed that was still unclaimed, so with our encouragement he registered it, and then tried to give it to McDonalds, but their cluelessness about the internet was so hilarious it became a Wired story.  Thirty years later the internet feels saturated, bloated, overstuffed with apps, platforms, devices, and more than enough content to demand our attention for the next million years. Even if you could manage to squeeze in another tiny innovation, who would notice it?


If we could climb into a time machine and journey 30 years into the future, and from that vantage look back to today, we'd realize that most of the greatest products running the lives of citizens in 2044 were not invented until after 2014. All these miraculous inventions are waiting for that crazy, no-one-told-me-it-was-impossible visionary to start grabbing the low-hanging fruit — the equivalent of the dot com names of 1984.


Because here is the other thing the greybeards in 2044 will tell you: Can you imagine how awesome it would have been to be an entrepreneur in 2014?


So, the truth: Right now, today, in 2014 is the best time to start something on the internet. There has never been a better time in the whole history of the world to invent something. This is the time that folks in the future will look back at and say, "Oh to have been alive and well back then!"


LA Residents Call 911 Over Facebook Outage

PC Magazine

Does missing your friend's latest baby picture constitute an emergency? For some Los Angeles residents who reportedly called 911 to report that Facebook was down briefly on Friday, the answer is apparently yes.

Facebook was not accessible for a short time during "a widespread outage that affected users in multiple countries," according to Reuters. Service was restored fully and the outage was being blamed on "a 'technical' failure rather than any suspicious activity," the news agency cited an unnamed source as saying.

But before all Facebook users were able to access the site again, some LA-area Facebookers seems to have thought the interruption of their social networking fix was worthy of a call to emergency dispatch, the Los Angeles Times reported.


Engineers Tap Gaming Technology to Improve Design

University of South Wales

University of New South Wales (UNSW) researchers are using a virtual reality headset and open source software to create immersive worlds for engineers. "We're very interested in immersion--entering the virtual image or space generated by a computer--and how it might help in engineering understanding," says UNSW researcher John Page. He notes the technology could provide a more cost-effective way for engineers to experience the physics of environments for which they design. "It's not really practical to send your engineers into space, for example, to learn how things function in that environment," Page says. "We're trying to create very rich environments using computer game theory in which we're able to expose engineers to real physics of environments such as space." Page also thinks immersive technology could enable operators to perform their jobs in a virtual world first while processes are still being developed, providing valuable feedback to engineers. Engineers also could fill a virtual factory with humanoid robots that work with the processes and develop skills based on learning and training. The researchers are using MakeHuman, free open source software, to create the humanoid agents.


How to Spot a Social Bot on Twitter

Technology Review

University of Indiana researchers have developed a method to identify sophisticated social bots and distinguish them from ordinary human users. The researchers chose 15,000 previously known social bots and collected their 200 most recent tweets as well as the 100 most recent tweets mentioning them. This process produced a data set of about 2.6 million tweets, and the researchers added a similar dataset for 16,000 human users consisting of more than three million tweets. The researchers then created Bot or Not?, an algorithm that mines the data looking for significant differences between the properties of human users and social bots. The algorithm examined more than 1,000 features associated with the accounts and found significant differences between human accounts and bot accounts. For example, bots tend to retweet more often than humans and they also have longer usernames and younger accounts. In addition, humans receive more replies, mentions, and retweets. The researchers say these factors can be used to identify bots.


Lack of Coding Skills May Lead to Skills Shortage in Europe

Computer Weekly

A lack of basic coding skills could result in Europe facing a shortage of up to 900,000 information and computer technology (ICT) professionals by 2020, according to the European Commission (EC). Coding is today's literacy and important to enable the digital revolution, say EC executives Neelie Kroes and Androulla Vassiliou. They say fundamental coding skills are poised to become critical for many positions in the near future as society transitions to a world in which cloud-based and connected devices are more common. Although the EC says more than 90 percent of professional occupations require some ICT competence, the number of computer science graduates is not keeping pace with this demand. Kroes and Vassiliou have urged European union (EU) education ministers to get children more involved in EU Code Week, which takes place across Europe in October. EU Code Week aims to make coding more visible and motivate children and adults alike to learn new skills. Meanwhile, a poll of U.K. boardrooms found that 94 percent of senior executives consider digital skills to be very important to their business, but 20 percent said the quality of digital skills among graduates is below average.


Vint Cerf, Father of the Internet, Looks Forward--and Back

Washington Post

Vint Cerf, chief Internet evangelist for Google and often referred to as the "Father of the Internet," has been working with computers since the late 1950s and recently discussed the ways technology, the Internet, and he himself have changed over the decades. Cerf, who received the ACM A.M. Turing Award in 2004, says he remains an active Internet user, especially of email, which he uses to connect with colleagues, friends, and family, including his 98-year-old mother. He believes strongly in helping to make the Internet accessible and comprehensible to all people, especially older people who do not have the intuitive grasp of the technology wielded by those who grew up with it. He has been surprised by many of the ways in which the Internet has developed since he helped to pioneer it late last century, the most curious of which to him is the rise of social media. Cerf says he finds the social uses of the Internet perfectly explicable and natural, but worries about how abuses such as cyber bullying and harassment can be contained. Although he retains a passion for software design and coding, Cerf no longer has the time for it, and instead focuses on his efforts on spreading access to the Internet through public policy, regulation, and new technology.


Dunkin Donuts Launches 'Shark Week' Selfie Campaign


Each year The Discovery Channel holds "Shark Week," a week-long series of programming about sharks. Originally designed to educate and build awareness and respect for sharks, the event is now in its 27th year. While fan favorites like 'Shark After Dark' and 'I Escaped Jaws' will be returning, this year Shark Week has made an interesting partnership and collaborated on a campaign that utilizes social media.

In honor of Shark Week, the Discovery Channel has teamed up with Dunkin Donuts and launched a Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter campaign. People are asked to take a selfie while biting into their favorite Dunkin Donuts breakfast sandwich, and upload it with #DDSharkWeek. Participants gain the chance to win their photos shared on both 'Shark After Dark' and the Dunkin Donuts billboard in Times Square, a shark week prize pack, and a $100 Dunkin Donuts gift card.


888,246 Handmade Poppies Surround the Tower of London to Commemorate WWI


The artistic minds behind this installation commemorating 100 years since the start of World War I are ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper. Cummins specializes in ceramic flowers, which he makes by shaping on a wheel and then carving by hand. But this project was bigger than ever. Over 50 fifty people worked together to make the nearly million ceramic poppies.

The installation's name, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, also comes from Cummins. He, in turn, borrowed it from will of an anonymous man who died in Flanders. "I don't know his name or where he was buried or anything about him," Cummins told the Guardian, "But this line he wrote, when everyone he knew was dead and everywhere around him was covered in blood, jumped out at me: 'The blood-swept lands and seas of red, where angels fear to tread.'"

At the Tower of London, the poppies spill like blood from a wall, flowing down to flood the moat. Each evening, the Last Post will be sounded and a selection of names of the dead read out loud.


What Kind of Rebel Are You?


Are you more Che Guevara, James Dean or Mother Teresa?


Open Letter to Adults from a Highly Creative Child

The Creativity Post

Dear Grown-Ups,

I'm confused. Sometimes adults tell me that I've done something really creative, and that my unique thoughts might help solve the world's problems. But often you say other things about me, like I'm a dreamer and I have a hard time paying attention, or that I need to apply myself. When you say these things, I'm not sure what you mean because I see myself differently. But when I hear the comments so often, I start to doubt myself, too. So I'm writing this letter to give you my responses to the things that adults say, and to share a few ideas about how you might be able to help me be my best self at home and at school.

"He's smart, he's just acting lazy."
"He has a hard time paying attention."
"She's a daydreamer. She doesn't have a brain in her head."
"If you'd only apply yourself . . ."
"Stop dilly-dallying. Just get it done. If you would just work faster . . ."
"You should pick something and stick with it."