Twitter’s new Policy Changes Aimed at Combatting Abuse

Twitter logoTwitter will be making two new policy changes. One is related to prohibited content. The other is about how they will enforce certain policy violations. The goal is to reduce the amount of abuse that Twitter users could find themselves subjected to.

More specifically, they have updated their violent threats policy. It now extends to “threats of violence against others or promot[ing] violence against others.” This change broadens the previous policy so that it is not limited to “direct, specific threats of violence against others”.

Twitter is also going to take steps to enforce penalties upon those who violate Twitter’s policies. Their support team has been given additional enforcement options that gives them the ability to lock abusive accounts for specific periods of time. Twitter’s blog further explains: “This option gives us leverage in a variety of contexts, particularly where multiple users begin harassing a particular person or group of people”.

In short, Twitter can lock a user’s account if he or she violates the Twitter Rules. Twitter can actually give users a timer “countdown” that shows exactly how long it will be before a person can use their Twitter account again. Personally, I think that this delay will effectively remove the instant gratification that some people appear to get from harassing others on Twitter. They won’t be able to fire off the next unpleasant comment – they have to wait.

Once the “countdown” ends, Twitter might ask the user to enter their phone number. An SMS with a verification code will be sent to that phone number. The Twitter account won’t be unlocked until the person is able to send Twitter the SMS code. After that clears, it is possible that Twitter will require a person to delete the Tweet (or Tweets) that got them in trouble in the first place. Don’t want to delete that Tweet? The account stays locked.

Twitter is also testing a new product feature that will help them identify suspected abusive Tweets and to limit their reach. The feature “takes into account a wide range of signals and context that frequently correlates with abuse including the age of the account itself, and the similarity of a Tweet to other content that our safety team has in the past independently determined to be abusive.”

My impression is that this new feature will be able to notice that a brand new “egg account” has been created, to note that it is sending out abusive Tweets, and to prevent the person behind the account from being able to continue to do so. In other words, an abusive Tweeter that got his or her account locked might not be able to immediately make a brand new “egg account” for the purpose of continuing to behave badly on Twitter.

Child Angel Keeps an Eye on Children

British Inventors Project

Continuing GNC’s coverage of the Gadget Show Live and the British Inventors’ Project, Child Angel is one of the smallest and most advanced child tracking device on the market. Made to be attractive to the child and easy to use in an emergency, the Child Angel wrist-mounted tracker provides accurate location monitoring by combining GPS, GSM and Wi-Fi hotspot triangulation.

Child Angel keeps children safe in three ways. First the parent can view the child’s location on a map using the Child Angel app on their smartphone or tablet (both iOS and Android). Second, the child can send a “Help Me!” alert by taking off the bracelet and third, an alert is raised if the child leaves a geo-fenced SafeZone.

The battery life is about 48 hours and the Child Angel can easily be recharged through the micro-USB. The Child Angel bracelet is available in different colours and can be customised with personalised covers, too.

The Child Angel should be available soon with a retail cost around £100.

Child Angel

iSwimband Returns to CES with Updated Product

iSwimband logoPool and water safety are serious concerns. iSwimband returned to CES in 2015 to talk about its updated product for swimmers. Imagine being able to receive an alert on your smartphone when a young child enters the water. Or imagine being able receive an alert when a more advanced swimmer has been underwater for too long.

Jamie spoke with Paul Newcomb for the second time in as many years about iSwimband. Paul talked about the updated iSwimband and how the band can be used in conjunction with a swimmer’s current set of goggles or swim cap. Paul also noted that iSwimband makes a customized set of goggles that easily allows for iSwimband integration, and that the company will soon be releasing a specialized swim cap that does the same.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly for the TechPodcast Network.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $50 toward any mattress purchase by visiting casper.com/geeknews
30% off all New GoDaddy Product Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 .com New or Transfer cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: cjcgncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

Ford SYNC 3 at CES

Ford LogoIn the good old days, cars had heaters and radios. if you were lucky it might have had a cassette player. Getting directions involved winding down the window and asking a local. Today’s vehicles have zoned environmental controls, multi-source AV, GPS with maps and drive train telemetry to three decimal places. All this is fantastic but while you’re figuring out the way to San Jose, you don’t have your eyes on the road.

Ford wants its drivers and passengers to have a great journey but to get to their destination safely, and in an unprecedented move, Ford invited customers to their advanced car simulator in Dearborn to help design the next iteration of their infotainment system. With over 20,000 pieces of feedback, Ford developed SYNC 3 with safety and ease of use at the fore. Big touchpoints keep hands on the steering wheel longer and voice commands now produce what the driver wants rather than purely what is said.

Todd chats with Gary from Ford about the company’s approach to the latest iteration of Ford SYNC, which will be available on 2016 model cars.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $50 toward any mattress purchase by visiting casper.com/geeknews
30% off all New GoDaddy Product Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 .com New or Transfer cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: cjcgncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

iSwimband Offers Portable Drowning Detection

iSwimbandAquatic Safety Concepts has introduced the iSwimband. It has been described as a wearable “appcessory” for swimmers. The purpose of iSwimband is to reduce the incidence of preventable drowning.

It is intended as an added safety measure that parents and caregivers can use when children are swimming or using a bathtub. It is not meant to be used as a replacement for diligent supervision.

The iSwimband is wearable Bluetooth sensor that is worn by a child or toddler. It can be worn as a headband or attached to a swim cap or water goggles. If a child has been submerged for too long a period of time iSwimband will alert a parent or caregiver through his or her iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. It comes with a free companion iSwimband app.

There is also a tamper resistant version of iSwimband that can be worn by toddlers. It is comes in the form of either a wristband or a clip that will send an alert if the toddler accidentally enters (or falls into) the water.

One iOS device can monitor up to 8 iSwimbands. The “appcessory” functions up to a 100 foot range (dependent upon environmental conditions). There is a one-time setup that only takes a few minutes.

Twitter Restores Block Functionality

Twitter logoTwitter very recently made a change to what happens when a user blocks another one. After receiving lots of feedback, Twitter announced that it was going to restore block functionality back to the way that it originally was. It kind of surprised me how quickly Twitter responded to user feedback on this issue.

Previous to this whole situation, a person who has a Twitter account could chose to block another user. Doing so prevented that other user from being able to contact them. A person who had been blocked could not:

* Follow the person who had blocked them
* Retweet anything from the person who blocked them
* Send a Tweet to a person who blocked them
* Send a direct message to a person who blocked them
* Read the Tweets of the person who blocked them (at least, not directly through their blocked account)

Twitter briefly instituted a change to its block functionality. In short, the new change would have worked more like a “mute” instead of a block. You block a person who is harassing you. The new change would mean you would no longer see anything that person tweeted. But, it would no longer prevent that blocked user from contacting you, retweeting your tweets, or sending you direct messages.

Lots of people on Twitter were very upset by this change. I saw tweets about it that included #RestoreTheBlock. For many people, Twitter felt a lot less safe. The new change meant that the people you blocked (so you could avoid their harassment) could go ahead and continue to threaten you.

Twitter responded by putting the block functionality back to what it was before the (brief) change. Part of Twitter’s blog about this situation notes that they want people to feel safe while using their platform.

It appears that part of the reason why they made the change was because Twitter was getting feedback from users who had been blocked – and who were angry about it. Twitter appears to have made the change to prevent “post-blocking retaliation”.

The new change would have prevented a blocked user from realizing that he or she had been blocked. Unfortunately, it would also have made Twitter unsafe for the person who did the blocking. Kudos to Twitter for its rapid response to users feedback about their desire to have the block functionality restored!

Morpher Folding Bicycle Helmet

Bicycle helmets are great pieces of equipment and take the brunt of an impact instead of your head in the unfortunate event of an accident. Most things that a cyclist is likely to hit are pretty hard, whether it’s a car, tree or the road itself, and a helmet can genuinely save your life. The sad fact is that in 90% of cycling fatalities the rider was not wearing a helmet.

However, the shape of a helmet means that they’re not that convenient to carry round in a bag or rucksack and take up lots of space. All too often the helmet gets left behind for the sake of convenience. In an attempt to solve this problem and save more lives, inventor Jeff Woolf has developed the world’s first folding bicycle helmet, the Morpher Helmet.

Morpher Helmets Open and Flat

 

As you can see from the picture above, the helmet folds flat from front to back making it much easier to carry around in bag with other flat things, like notepads, magazines and tablets. With an emphasis on safety from the start, the helmet exceeds all safety requirements worldwide and will be independently CE tested before the full launch. The inventor Jeff Woolf is no lightweight either having twice been awarded “British Inventor of the Year” and awarded an OBE for services to innovation and business.

To fund the production of the helmets, Morpher is launching an Indiegogo campaign. Early birds will be able to snap up helmet for US$59 (about GB£35) with a second tier at $79. The RRP is expected to be $110 so it’s a bargain but you will have to wait until April 2014 before the helmet arrives. The goal is to raise $35,000 over the next 47 days. As with all crowd-funded projects, bear in mind that there is not yet a finished product for you to buy.

Watch the video below to learn more about the Morpher helmet and the man behind it.


Looks like a great idea and I hope the project succeeds, especially as I’ve contributed myself for a Morpher helmet.

Frontline Airs Exposé on Cell Tower Deaths

Before you get too excited about the whole cellular radiation debate, which is mostly debunked by the way, this in-depth report was about tower workers falling to their deaths due to poor regulation of safety issues while climbing these monstrous metal towers (climbers are 10 times more likely to die than construction workers).  Frontline aired the show on PBS May 22nd and the entire episode is now available for streaming on their web site.

To nobody’s surprise all of the cell companies refused comment during the show.  In fact, we learned that virtually none of them have even been fined by OSHA for any of the accidents.  They are above responsibility thanks to layers of protection they have put between themselves and the actual contractors who do the dirty work.  Incidentally, many of those workers make around $10 per hour to climb hundreds of feet, mostly unprotected because that allows them to climb faster and get more jobs done.  One of the worst offenders turns out to be AT&T, who pushed hard for fast work to be done during their iPhone expansion.

While one retired AT&T executive did talk with the show, the other interviews are with contract companies and the actual workers.  You can watch chapter 1 of the episode in the embedded video below.  A word of warning – there are a few graphic images of bodies laying at the base of towers.

Watch Cell Tower Deaths on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

iOnRoad Warns Drivers of Danger

As well as being a really bad pun, iOnRoad is an augmented reality app that helps car drivers become safer drivers. Courtney gets into the fast lane to find out more about this app which was awarded a CES Innovation Honoree prize.

Available for Android smartphones now and the iPhone soon, the app uses the smartphone’s camera, GPS and accelerometer to provide warnings and guidance to car drivers as they drive. By looking at the white lines, the car in front and correlating data from the GPS and accelerometer, the app can warn about lane departures, tailgating and speeding. The iOnRoad includes a couple of other features, including reading text messages and a car locator.

Obviously the phone has to be mounted on the dash with a view to the front of the car, but you can test the app using the video here. The app is currently free with a charge of $9.99 to be introduced in the future.

Interview by Courtney Wallin of SDR News.

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $50 toward any mattress purchase by visiting casper.com/geeknews
30% off all New GoDaddy Product Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 .com New or Transfer cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: cjcgncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

Kidz Gear Volume Limiting Headphones

Volume Limiting Headphones

CES regular Jack Peterson talks with Todd and Don on the latest headphones for children from Kidz Gear.

Kidz Gear produces headphones with smaller headbands and ear cups to fit the smaller heads of children. This year they’ve brought to the market new wired headphones that have a built-in volume limiter that prevents children’s hearing becoming damaged through excessive sound levels. The headphones reduce the maximum sound level by about 20% into the 80-95 decibel range.

The new headphones are compatible with the iPad, iPhone and iPod ranges and include an inline remote  and mic control. They’re available from the Apple Store or direct from Kidz Gear for $29.99.

An additional new product in the same vein is a volume limit cable which can be added to already-purchased headphones to make them safer for children. Priced at only $9.99, there’s currently a special price of $5.99 showing on-line.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Don Baine, the Gadget Professor for the TechPodcast Network.

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $50 toward any mattress purchase by visiting casper.com/geeknews
30% off all New GoDaddy Product Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 .com New or Transfer cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: cjcgncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today