All posts by Joel Fernandes

Joel Fernandes (G+) is a tech enthusiast and a social media blogger. During his leisure time, he enjoys taking photographs, and photography is one of his most loved hobbies. You can find some of his photos on Flickr. He does a little of web coding, and maintains a tech blog of his own - Techo Latte. Joel is currently pursuing his Masters in Computer Application from Bangalore, India. You can get in touch with him on Twitter - @joelfernandes, or visit his Facebook Profile for more information.

Play Mario Kart on Facebook – Facebook Scam

A new scam is reportedly spreading on Facebook, which claims that you can play Mario Kart on Facebook for free. This is click-jacking and like-jacking scam, which also offers you to complete some online surveys.

The scam is titled Play Mario Kart on Facebook!and has the following description – “Play Mario Kart on Facebook with your Friends! Join the multiplayer mayhem NOW! Click here to play”. Please avoid clicking on the scam link, and DO NOT share the message on your Facebook Wall. It is also reported that the scam message has been spreading via private messages.

Play Mario Kart on Facebook - Facebook Scam

Play Mario Kart - Facebook Scam

Clicking on the scam link will take you to a bogus webpage which contains a link that urges you join the game by clicking on the “Play Now” button. Clicking the button link will click-jack and like-jack your Facebook account, and will automatically posting the message and “like” it. Alongside, it also asks you to complete the following online surveys in order to continue playing the game –

Play Mario Kart - Survey Scam

Please DO NOT complete any surveys. All these are fake links and might result in downloading malware programs on you computer. These malware programs are designed to gather user information and user credentials like credit card numbers, which are then sent to the scammer. Scammers are paid money to generate traffic or get users to complete such online surveys.

Don’t be tricked by this scam which will definitely put you in a trap. Surprisingly, when I clicked on the link using a test account, I was thrown with a warning message by WebSense. This is very first time that  I’ve  noticed a warning message from WebSense. Facebook partnered with WebSense in order to warn users about unsafe links.

Facebook - WebSense Warning

It is recommended that you DO NOT click on such links or  scam messages  on Facebook. If you come across this scam message, please delete/remove the scam from your Facebook news feed immediately. Alternately, you can report the scam to  Facebook Security.

With over 800 million users on Facebook, the social networking giant has always been a main target for spreading scams. It is quite difficult to identify scams on Facebook. Here is a post on How to Identify and Avoid Facebook Scams. As a precautionary measure, always check which applications you use and remove unwanted or suspicious ones. If you aren’t sure how to do it, you can always check our guide on  removing apps from Facebook. In addition to that, don’t forget to check out our article about  Avoiding Facebook Lifejacking and Clickjacking scams.

Bookmark  Techie Buzz Facebook Scams. We always keep you updated with the  latest scams spreading on Facebook.

Microsoft’s HoloDesk Lets You Play and Interact with Virtual Balls

Who said Microsoft cannot invent? The Microsoft Research team is making use of most interactive and favorite interactivity solution, Kinect, in a research project that will definitely “wow” you. The project is named “HoloDesk“, which allows users to play or manipulate with virtual 3D objects, in an aim to bridge the gap between the real and the virtual world.

The project (system), built by Microsoft Research in Cambridge, is made up of an overhead screen, which has a cabinet like structure, and projects a 2D image through a beam splitter to measure the depth. It uses a combination of projectors, Kinect technology and webcams to read the user’s hands and face. Several custom algorithms are used to calculate the object size, color, distance, and so on, in order to bring everything together in real time.

HoloDesk

With HoloDesk you can pick virtual 3D objects, place them on top of the other or even shoot them. For instance, a virtual 3D ball can be picked and placed in a real cup, whose existence, position, size, and other details are recognized by the system.

The Microsoft Research team gave a more scientific explanation –

“A virtual image of a 3D scene is rendered through a half silvered mirror and spatially aligned with the real-world for the viewer. Users easily reach into an interaction volume displaying the virtual image. This allows the user to literally get their hands into the virtual display. A novel real-time algorithm for representing hands and other physical objects, which are sensed by the Kinect inside this volume, allows physically realistic interaction between real and virtual 3D objects.”

The user looks through a transparent display, which is the cabinet like structure, in which holographic objects can be picked up andMicrosoft manipulated with. At present, one can do all these interactions with virtual and real objects within the small cabinet only. However, as technology advances, this limitation could possibly be removed in future.

The HoloDesk project comes from the brains of the folks at the Sensors and Devices team at Microsoft Research Cambridge. However, the technology for sensing motion and displaying images like this isn’t new. An Israeli company called Lumio demonstrated a similar working for virtual keyboards almost a decade ago. But what sets this virtual 3D experience apart from others out there? Here’s what the research team had to say

“For the record, the HoloDesk isn’t the only 3-D interaction experiment out there. But what sets it apart from the rest is the use of beam-splitters and a graphic processing algorithm, which work together to provide a more life-like experience.”

Here’s a video of a user demonstrating the HoloDesk project –

From the video you can see that the interface has some glitches and turn jerky, and the system is far away from being perfectly functional. Nevertheless, it still is something really cool!

Recently, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Microsoft Research developed an interesting proof-of-concept called OmniTouch, which is a wearable projecting and sensing device that turns virtually everything into  an interactive touch surfaces. For instance, you can dial a number by projecting a keypad onto your hand or on the wall or on your table. Looks like Microsoft is behind some serious innovations.

Le Chal – A Haptic Shoe for the Visually Impaired

How nice would it be if the blind could walk around the streets without the white stick in their hand? That’s what Anirudh Sharma has been working since January 2011. Anirudh, who holds a Bachelor of Information Technology Engineering degree from Rajasthan Technical University, has developed a system called “Le Chal”, which is a Hindi translation for “Take Me There.” It helps the visually impaired to walk without having to carry their white stick in hand. Not just that, the system also alerts them about any potholes they come across while walking.

Le Chal Shoe

Sharma made his debut of the haptic (of or relating to the sense of touch) shoe design during an MIT Media Lab Workshop hosted at COEP, and was featured in MIT Review in August 2011. During the workshop, he created the first prototype of the haptic shoe and showcased it to the delegates. The shoe was instantly named “Le Chal”.

So what does Le Chal basically do?

Le Chal is a non-obtrusive navigation aid for the visually impaired, which is designed to send vibration signals about the direction one need to walk in so to reach the desired destination. The entire system is fitted to a regular shoe which is coded to parse Google Maps/GPS data. It is basically intended to assist the blind in finding their way to a specified geographical location, and also helps them avoid walking into ditches and potholes on their way.

Le Chal Design

The system contains an Arduino LilyPad which is the main circuit board and is placed at the back mid-sole region of the shoe. Along the sides of the shoe, there are four mini vibration motors placed (front, back, left and right), which are intended to inform the user about the directions. For instance, a vibration on the left side indicates that the user should turn left. The vibrations start out low, but build in intensity as the user nears points where he or she has to take a turn.

It also contains a Bluetooth Arduino LilyPad to sync devices and a smartphone with GPS enabled to pull the location data from the satellite.

How it works?

IT all starts with the user entering their destination on Google Maps, using their Le Chal Android app. The phone then converts the speech into text and communicates by Bluetooth with the LilyPad Arduino circuit board. Now following the directions given by Google Mas along with the location data from GPS, the phone gets the circuit to activate the vibrator depending on the direction.

A proximity sensor in the front of the shoe also alerts the user to obstacles, which it can detect from up to ten feet (three meters) away.

The shoes have had their trials in a Bangalore blind school. We intend doing about 20 shoes (priced at Rs 1,000 or $20 USD a piece) and distribute them to the visually challenged. After the feedback, we will make all the improvements suggested by the user group before going for future plans,” said Anirudh.

Vaishnavi Kasturi, a visually challenged girl who cleared CAT, said: “It’s a great option. Sometimes a white cane cannot sense big objects. They just don’t matter on a pothole-marked terrain like in Bangalore. The shoes could be very convenient. The proximity sensor is brilliant. It can help you spot small objects. For instance, in case of a pothole, there is one at virtually every step in Bangalore, the shoes could give out some warning by way of vibrations.”

Twitter Testing New Timeline Features

After Google, which redesigned most of its services, the next on the list is the micro-blogging site Twitter, which has been quietly testing some new changes to its timeline. The new timeline brings contextual information right into your stream. This allows users to see in-line tweets, expand other tweets in conversation and view embedded media.

Currently, a slider opens on the right when you click on a tweet, which shows conversation (or replies) or photos and videos. However, looks like Twitter wants to eliminate the slider, and is looking forward to load tweets and media in-line.

Patrick Bisch, founder of Pinglio.com, was the first to report about the changes when he was on the micro-blogging site earlier today. In a video, Bisch showed that when hovering over a tweet, a “Open” link appears on the top-right corner of the tweet, which can be used to expand it. The “Open” link is replaced with a “Close” link when the tweet is opened.

Twitter New Timeline Features

Whenever you click on a tweet containing a link to a photo, video or other media, the media will open up within the timeline rather than displaying it on the slider.

Apart from that, Bisch found out that his re-tweet, reply and favourite buttons were moved to the top of his tweets, which currently are at the bottom of the tweet. Also, clicking an individual’s Twitter handle will show their profile along with their latest tweets in a pop up box (in a single frame above your Timeline).

Now, looking at these features, it seems like Twitter wants to remove the slider feature, and integrate something more interactive. The features surely look good enough, however there isn’t any confirmation from Twitter yet, and it is not yet clear whether it plans to roll out the new timeline design to all of its users.

Here’s a video that shows how the new-look version of the timeline works:

Have you seen the new Timeline changes? What do you think of these changes? Let us know by adding your comments below.

Siri Co-founder Dag Kittlaus Quits Apple

The co-founder of Siri, the much acclaimed and the most loved application in the newly launched iPhone 4S, Dag Kittlaus, in an unexpected move has decided to quit the US technology giant, Apple, to pursue other projects and execute new entrepreneurial ideas.

According to AllThingsD, who first broke the news out stated –

There were several reasons for the departure, which was amicable and has been planned for a while, sources said. They included Kittlaus’ family being in Chicago, a desire to take time off and an interest in brainstorming new entrepreneurial ideas.

Siri Founders

Kittlaus joined Apple as part of the company’s acquisition of the voice control firm for $200 million in April 2010. He founded the
company along with Adam Cheyer and Tom Gruber and served as Siri’s CEO since 2007. Earlier to that, Kittlaus was a resident at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and also worked at Motorola.

Kittlaus has updated his LinkedIn profile indicating that he is currently the Founding Advisor at Palindrome Advisors, which mainly partners with non-profits and NGOs to help them effectively communicate with their supporters and the public at large. The other two co-founders will remain Apple staff members, according to their LinkedIn profiles.Siri

Siri is a voice-activated virtual personal assistant that was announced as an application on the iPhone 4S, enabling the user to give the iPhone commands, which it can execute and respond to. It helps the user to write and send text and e-mails, set reminders and alarm, schedule a meeting, browse the Internet and even answer sensitive and funny
questions
.

The voice assistant was originally a free downloadable app from the Apple App Store for the iPhone. After announcing that the Siri is included with the iPhone 4S, Apple took down the application from the App Store. A developer of 9to5Mac reported that he was able to port Siri back to iPhone 4. However, the performance and quality was not impressive.

Earlier this week, a major flaw was identified with the Siri system by a security blogger, which involved anyone to access the iPhone even when it is locked. This security loophole allowed the unauthorized users to bypass the passcode lock to perform tasks like making calls and sending messages with the help of Siri.

Woman Kills Pregnant Woman & Cuts the Baby from Her Dead Body – Facebook Scam

Yet another scam is spreading on Facebook and this time it promises users to show a video of a woman brutally killing a pregnant lady.

The scam titled – “Woman Kills Pregnant Woman & Cuts The Baby From Her Dead Body Because Her Boyfriend” has been spreading for hours on Facebook. There’s no video shown in the website link provided in the message.

Woman Kills Pregnant Woman & Cuts The Baby From Her Dead Body Because Her Boyfriend - Facebook Scam

Clicking the URL will take you to a fake page where you are asked to verify your age by clicking the “I Agree” button. However, the button is not used to verify your age, but to “share” the scam message on your Facebook wall. From the screenshot below, you can notice the line – “By clicking Share link you certify that you are 18 years old and that you do not violate the Terms of Service.” This clearly indicates that the scammer’s intention is to spread the scam message and spam the entire social network. However, after you have shared the video, you will be asked to complete a set of surveys, but there is NO video shown.

Woman Kills Pregnant Woman & Cuts The Baby From Her Dead Body Because Her Boyfriend - Facebook Scam

Please do not “share” the scam message across your wall. There is no video shown even after the message has been shared. Instead you will be redirected to another fake page or asked to complete a set of online surveys. Scammers’ usually create such scams to generate traffic to their fake websites.

Please beware that the website you are visiting might silently download malicious programs without your knowledge. These malware programs are designed to gather user information including email ids, user names, passwords and credit card details.

It is recommended that you DO NOT click on such links or scam messages on Facebook. If you come across this scam message, please delete/remove the scam from your Facebook news feed immediately. Alternately, you can report the scam to  Facebook Security.

Here is an article about  Avoiding Facebook Likejacking and Clickjacking scams. We have also compiled a list of  Most Actively Spreading Scams on Facebook  on Facebook for you to look through and avoid.

You might also want to  use a security application for protecting you from Facebook scams. As a precautionary measure, always check which applications you use and remove unwanted or suspicious ones. If you aren’t sure how to do it, you can always check our guide on  removing apps from Facebook.

Facebook Launches Jobs Portal – “Social Jobs” in Partnership with Department Of Labor

In an apt move, Facebook has partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), Direct Employers Association (DE) and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) to help students, job seekers and employers get a suitable job by using the power of social networks.

Jobvite 2011 SurveyAccording to a study conducted by an independent survey, more than 70 percent of college career centers have a Facebook page, and a Jobvite poll created in 2010 showed that 89 percent of respondents have recruited or plan to recruit via social networks.

The main aim of this partnership is to get people back to work, and peruse a number of initiatives to effectively use social networks in the job market. According to the document uploaded on Scribd, states the partnership will include the following features –

  • Conduct in-depth survey research about the ways in which job seekers, college career centers, and workforce recruiters are  using the  social web.
  • Develop and launch a central Facebook Page that will host specialized resources and content designed to help job  seekers and employers.
  • Explore and develop systems  for delivering  job postings  virally through Facebook at no charge.
  • Promote existing employment programs and resources offered by government agencies for job hunters.
  • Distribute educational materials about leveraging the power of the social web to recruiters, government agencies, and job seekers.

The effective use of social networks is significantly growing at speedy pace and becoming increasingly prominent in job recruitment. This particular move by Facebook is in a way a challenge to LinkedIn, which now has more than 120 million members all over the world. The job portal called Social Jobsaims to grant users a variety of jobs-related information, and has a long term goal to help bring down the 9.1% unemployment rate in America. Facebook hopes to begin work immediately on connecting employees and recruiters with better online social resources.

U.S. Secretary of Labor  Hilda L. Solis said:

Linking American job seekers with the resources they need to get back to work is a top priority of the Obama Administration and my department. By leveraging the power of the social web, this initiative will provide immediate, meaningful and ready-to-use information for job seekers and employers, and a modern platform to better connect them.

[Press Release]

Google Doodle Celebrates Mary Blair’s 100th Birthday

In honor of the great American artist who is notably known for her work done for The Walt Disney Company, the Google Doodle is celebrating the artist’s 100th birthday by publishing a creative doodle on its homepage. The doodle is quite impressive and is based on the art of her work.

Google Doodle Celebrates Mary Blair's 100th Birthday

The Google Doodle went live just moments ago, however there are a set of viewers who are still not able to view the doodle. It’s probably due the dateline thing.

Mary Blair:

Mary Blair is recognized all over the world. She was one of America’s greatest artists and is best remembered today for work done for The Walt Disney Company. You might not recognize her, but I’m sure you would have heard of the films Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Song of the South, and most famously Cinderella, for which Blair has produced the concept.

She was born on October 21, 1911 in McAlester, Oklahoma. She moved to Texas during her early ages, and later to California when she was about 7 years of age. Mary graduated from San Jose State College and won a scholarship at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angele. In the year 1934, she married to a notable artist named Lee Blair who had won a gold medal in the art competitions of the Olympic Games for his “Rodeo”.

Life and Career of Mary Blair

  • After marriage, she worked in the animation industry in the Ub Iwerks (FYI, Ub Iwerks was the creator of Mickey Mouse)
  • She worked on art for Dumbo, an early version of Lady and the Tramp and a second version of Fantasia which was released late in 1990s.
  • She worked on two partially animated features Song of the South and So Dear to my Heart.Mary Blair
  • In early 1950s, Mary Blair was credited with color styling on Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.
  • Mary resigned from Disney after the completion of Peter Pan and worked as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator.
  • In 1967, Mary created mural art for the Tomorrow land Promenade, which is a 90-foot-high (27 meters) and remains a focal point of the Disney’s Contemporary Resort hotel at Walt Disney World, which was completed for the resort’s opening in 1971.
  • On July 26, 1978, Mary Blair died of a cerebral haemorrhage.

Awards won by Mary Blair:

  • 1991: She won the Disney  Legend  award
  • 1996: She received the Winsor McCay award from ASIFA-Hollywood

Mary had an incredible sense of imagination and childhood, and her work’s has inspired many of the illustrators from the mid 21 century. Here are some of the best examples of her work:

Here’s a video presentation of the artist’s works –

[Slideshow via]

Twitter + Facebook + Google Plus = Chime.in; A New Social Networking Site by UberMedia

Entrepreneur and investor Bill Gross, the CEO of UberMedia, a social media company that specialized in creating social networking apps like Echofon and UberSocial/Twidroyid, has officially launched a new social networking site, which is supposedly the clone of – Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus – called Chime.in

Chime.in is basically, well yet another social networking tool, which is about connecting people with same/similar interests. The fact that the newly launched social networking site is someway similar to Twitter, and this fact is being dodged by the CEO, making it a point that the project is all about enabling people to join and build dynamic communities around topics of similar interests, which easily enables users to create and engage with relevant media content.

Chime.in -  Connect around your interests

“Social media is the future of all electronic content and transactions,” said Bill Gross, CEO of UberMedia. “It will be everywhere, just like oxygen. However, now that a billion people are using social media, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of content that’s irrelevant to you. Chime.in, by focusing on your interests, and not just people, makes it much more relevant and engaging.”

Chime.in is all set to have a direct competition with the four major social networking giants Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Yet, the question strikes my mind do we need another social networking site? I don’t really think so.

Here are some basic features of Chime.in –

  • One can easily integrate media in every post. However, the good thing is that it does not allow you to post GIFs.
  • You have an option to either follow a specific category of a user or the user as a whole (includes all his/her categories)
  • Everything on Chime is public. There are no direct messages or PMs. This however, is a limitation which hopefully should be added when it is out of beta.
  • You can place ads on community pages and makes some bucks.

How different is Chime.in from Twitter and other social networks?

Chime has two unique and different features, which are

Chime is all about interests and topics. People stick around to topics that they are interested in, and all the discussions that take place are called as Chimes. These Chimesare automatically organized by Chime which will appear on your something called as Chimeline(a timeline).

The next feature is that you can post ads to the communities you create. For instance, you can pin Google AdSense advertisements to the communities that you create and make some money out it while you keep people engaged with topics. Alternatively, you have an option to let Chime.in populate it with advertising and give you a portion of the profits.

Chimes and Chimeline

Just like Twitter and Facebook, Chime also provides you with vanity URLs, where you append your own name or alias along with the domain.

Chime.in Profile

Updating a post on Chime is pretty simple and easy. The approach of adding a post is very much similar to Google Plus. You can add a link, post an image, upload/add a video, and even add a poll. However, the post box consists of two sections – Headline, which is optional and the “Chime”. The Headline is limited to 65 characters while the content (Chime) is limited to 2000 characters. You can enter up to 5 categories which you post could be related to.

Post Updates on Chime.in

You can as well connect your Chime account with Twitter and Facebook accounts. Just click on the “connect” buttons to authorize your accounts with Chime –

Connect with Twitter and Facebook

Like Twitter, you can add/change the background image for your profile.

Chime.in - Background Images

Verified Accounts

Chime.in verifies celebrity profiles, which will avoid scammers and users to create fake celebrity accounts to attract followers. Here’s a verified account of Ashton Kutcher

Ashton Kutcher Verified Chime.in Account

Yet another similar like Twitter, you can share, like or save a Chime to your favourites and view the same by clicking on the “Saved” option on the left sidebar.

Mobile Apps

Chime.in supports iOS, Android, and Blackberry for its mobile apps and allows you to compose Chimes, reply to Chimes, upload photos, browse your Chimeline and view profiles.

Click here to download the official Chime.in mobile apps

Chimes.in Mobile Apps

According the site, Chime is a place to learn and share with others who have the same interests. Where one day, your every interest, no matter how big or small, serious or silly, will have its own vibrant community of people who are just as passionate about it as you are.

Free Starbucks $50 Gift Card – Facebook Scam [UPDATE]

UPDATE:  Starbucks tweeted to its 1.7 million followers on Twitter, warning them that a gift card offer on Facebook is fake and asking users not to fall for the trick.

“Beware – there is a scam on Facebook offering a  free $50 Starbucks card.  Don’t click on it, it isn’t real.”

Starbucks Warns Users

A Facebook scam that we reported yesterday indicated – “Free $25 Tim Hortons Gift Card” which tricked users in giving away a free $25 gift card by asking them to share and provide their personal details. A similar scam that I noticed on my Facebook Wall today was – “FREE Starbucks $50 Gift Card”.

Free Starbucks $50 Gift Card - Facebook Scam

The scams spreading on Facebook has a description that reads – “To celebrate our 40th Anniversary, we are giving away thousands of $50 Gift Vouchers FREE” along with a link to a bogus website. Clicking the link will take you to the bogus site where you are asked to “share” and add a comment “Happy Birthday”. Once done, you are then redirected to another page where you are asked to enter your email ID in order to claim the gift card.

Free Starbucks Gift Card

After you have entered your email ID, you are again redirected to another page where you are asked to fill out your personal information like name, age, and mobile number. However, despite completing all the steps, there is no free gift card given.

The entered details will be sold to third-party individuals or marketing organizations, who will make use of it to spam with SMS updates and junk emails. The best way to deal with such scams is ignore the them or avoid filling out the form. If you find this particular scam post on your Facebook Wall, then you can delete it by clicking the “x” on the top-right corner of the post.

Please note that scams like this use multiple domain and different web pages. You may see variations in the landing pages, but they are all the same.

Despite Facebook taking precautionary measures by officially launching a document called Guide to Facebook Securityand partnering with a web based security firm WebSense, there hasn’t been much improvements in reducing the number of scams spreading on Facebook. However, we at Techie Buzz make sure that our readers stay up to date with the latest threats and scam messages spreading on Facebook and elsewhere. So, make sure you’ve liked us on Facebook and signed up to receive free email alerts.