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January 11 2014

Vining While Driving: The Deadly Trend Millions Are Watching

Buckle up, crank the engine and … record a Vine video? Whether to yell at crazy drivers or poke fun at unknowing passersby, Vine users are filming a scary amount of footage while driving

And as the fastest growing app of 2013, more users are watching and filming their own Vine videos behind the wheel.

“For me, I get more ideas when I’m in my car,” says Alx James, who, at the time of writing, has the 11th most-followed Vine account. James’ Vine videos are mostly recordings inside his car; many he records while driving.

He’s not the only one. Many other top Viners are also taking to the streets Read more...

More about Safety, Social Media, Law, Features, and Cars

December 26 2013

Fear Makes Scary Scents Stronger

The nose may really "know" when it comes to danger, according to a new study that found that odors associated with electric shocks in mice trigger a sensory-cell reaction much stronger than for non-fearful odors.

The finding was surprising, said study researcher John McGann, a neuroscientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey. The sensory neurons are at the very beginning of the circuit that enables the perception of smell, far outside of conscious control, and yet they "learn" to tune into scary smells.

"The effects of learning can happen not just on behavior, but on sensory processing," McGann told LiveScience Read more...

More about Research, Safety, Health, Science, and Us
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November 19 2013

Feds Probe Tesla After Electric Car Fires

The old adage "ask and you shall receive" is ringing true for one billionaire entrepreneur.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to investigate his company after several of its Model S electric cars caught fire during accidents. The federal agency announced Tuesday it would take on the investigation, USA Today reports.

Musk published a post on Tesla's blog Monday lashing out at the media for what he considered to be overblown coverage of the car fires, or as he put it, "seeking to make a sensation out of something that a simple Google search would reveal to be false." Read more...

More about Safety, Car, Automobiles, Tesla, and Us World

November 18 2013

Twitter Alerts Adopted by UK and Irish Government Agencies

The practical uses for Twitter in the UK and Ireland, beyond sharing news and personal updates, will now include emergency alerts. Twitter UK representative Steve Summers made the announcement on Sunday via a blog post on the company’s website

Joining the Twitter alert program are 57 official governmental agencies, including the London Metropolitan Police, the office of the Mayor of London, the Environment Agency, the Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre, the London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service. A full list of the agencies now offering the alert service can be found on Twitter’s website Read more...

More about Uk, Twitter, Safety, Software, and Ireland

November 16 2013

Invisible Helmet Deploys Like an Airbag on Impact

It looks like a trashbag coming out of a finely patterned neck pillow. But if you find yourself colliding with a car while on your bike, it could actually save your life.

Meet Hövding, the invisible bike helmet. It's a real, actual thing. But it won't be so easy for it to come to market in the United States.

Here's a three-minute documentary about the Swedish helmet and its founders:

Bicycle injuries are obviously serious business. The 677 cycling deaths in 2011 (the last year for which there's data) made up 2% of all motor-vehicle traffic deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 48,000 bikers were injured in crashes. At the same time, bike ridership has been on the rise in the United States. Read more...

More about Safety, Health, Bike, Bicycle, and Inventions

October 22 2013

Glow-in-the-Dark Spray Could Make Night Driving Safer

How can you make roads safer for drivers? One company, called Pro-Teq, is testing glow-in-the-dark material that can be sprayed onto roadways to help illuminate the way for night drivers.

The U.K.-based company developed a waterproof photoluminescent coating, called Starpath, which absorbs light during the day and gives off an ethereal glow at night, according to Treehugger. The coating is non-reflective and has anti-slip properties, which could reduce the number of accidents on motorways, Treehugger reported. Starpath-covered roads could also help communities save money and energy, since they brighten enough to not need street lamps Read more...

More about Safety, Health, Driving, Car Accidents, and Small Business

September 26 2013

September 19 2013

5 Apps to Ward Off Creeps

Developers make apps with a wide range of purposes, so it's no surprise that there are safety apps to help you ward off unpleasant people. After all, your smartphone is constantly at your side, making it a viable tool for protecting your well-being.

But what can an app actually do to help you get out of uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situations?

Whether it's making a fake phone call appear on the screen, alerting others to street harassment or even having your smartphone shout at the offender, these five apps will help you avoid unsavory individuals. Read more...

More about Safety, Apps, Features, Tech, and Apps Software

August 08 2013

Prescription Packaging Alerts You When Meds Expire

If you take more than one medication, it can be difficult to keep track of your drugs' respective renewal and expiration datesSelf Expiring, designed by Kanupriya and Gautam Goel, can help you solve one of those problems. If drug companies implement the expiration-responsive packaging, it could prevent illegal drug sales as well as accidents and fatalities arising from the consumption of expired medications.

Self-Expiring Packaging Warns People About Outdated MedsImage: Self Expiring

The winner of a Red Dot design award, the packaging graphically displays a "not fit for consumption" message using universally accepted danger signs in regional languages. It is composed of two layers of information, as the foreground contains the medicine label and the background carries a hidden expiration message. Read more...

More about Safety, Health, Tech, Prescription Drugs, and Medicine

August 03 2013

6 Shark Myths Solved to Keep You Safe This Summer

Sharks have a bit of a PR problem on their fins. While the World Health Organization estimates 1.3 million people die in car crashes annually, ISAF reported shark attacks weigh in at approximately 80 — most of which aren't fatal. Although most of us won't think twice about jumping in a car, we might worry about the danger of sharks

Despite a relatively low number of actual attacks, it's still smart to learn about shark safety. In honor of Shark Week (airing August 4th - 11th on Discovery Channel), Mashable consulted Dr. Joel Fodrie, an ecologist at the University of North Carolina's Institute of Marine Sciences in Beaufort, N.C., to clear the aquatic creatures' good name Read more...

More about Safety, Summer, Shark Week, Biology, and Watercooler

July 03 2013

iPhone Dock Smoke Alarm Alerts You During Sleep

Every year in the United States, about 3,500 Americans die in fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Household smoke alarms can help save lives, and a new iPhone dock design could work as a secondary detector in your bedroom.

Seattle-based Tonic Product Design created an iPhone dock and accompanying app that can warn you while you're sleeping when smoke or carbon monoxide is detected. It's still a prototype design right now, but the Sense+ dock includes a built-in photoelectric smoke detector and carbon monoxide gas detectorCarbon monoxide is an odorless gas that can be deadly.



More about Safety, Fires, Tech, Home, and Iphone Dock

June 17 2013

5 Gadgets to Keep Your Newborn Safe

Every new parent experiences moments of panic. For instance, after an unexpected four hours of blissful sleep, you might dash crib-side to make sure the baby is still breathing

While audio monitors help parents keep an ear out for newborn grunts and gurgles, a new generation of movement monitors gives parents an added source of comfort during those first few months

These not only detect sound but motion, too (or lack of it), to ensure babies are enjoying healthful nights' sleep. And while sleep-deprived parents certainly don’t need to be aware of every single movement and sound, these detectors can be set to problem-only alerts Read more...

More about Safety, Gadgets, Features, Baby, and Contributor

August 16 2012

Invisible Bike Helmet Keeps Riders Safe, Looking Cool [VIDEO]

How often have you, or someone you know, eschewed a bicycle helmet to look cool at the expense of safety?

Well, gamble with a traumatic brain injury no more. Two Swedish inventors created an invisible helmet called Hövding, and it doesn't involving using any Harry Potter invisibility cloak magic, or even plastic. The helmet is actually a thick collar -- like one you might see on a heavy winter jacket -- with an airbag hood underneath that deploys should you get in an accident.

It uses rechargeable battery-powered accelerometers and gyroscopes to detect movement that resembles being in a bike crash and launches airbags around the wearer's h…
Continue reading...

More About: safety

January 10 2012

Facebook Spam and Cybercrime on the Rise: How You Can Avoid It [INFOGRAPHIC]

Just how much cybercrime happens on Facebook? About 4 million Facebook users experience spam on a daily basis, 20% of Facebook users have been exposed to malware, and Facebook sees about 600,000 cases of hijacked log-ins every day.

As it stands, there are settings you can change to protect yourself against cybercrime. However, Facebook users aren’t ever totally safe from being scammed and preyed upon as profile information continues to be shared with third parties, malware remains prominent and scammers are still allowed to create fake profiles.

SEE ALSO: 5 URL Expanders to Help You Avoid Spammy Links

Of course, there are a few reminders for staying safe on the world’s largest social network. You can find some of them in the infographic below, by Zone Alarm.

It also shows the breadth of Facebook users around the world. In North America, out of 272 million Internet users, 168 million are surfing the web on Facebook. In Europe, 476 million people are on the Internet and 209 million are on Facebook.

Check the graphic below to see six simple reminders to keep yourself safe on Facebook:

Facebook Safety Infographic by Zone Alarm

Image courtesy of Zone Alarm

More About: cybercrime, Facebook, infographic, malware, safety, Social Media, spam

October 19 2011

App Makes Checking In With Parents a Game


Parents worried about their children’s whereabouts no longer need to resort to tracking them like FedEx packages. A new alternative to smartphone monitoring, launching Wednesday, turns voluntarily staying in touch with parents into a game.

“Our view is that what makes kids safer is communication and being close to their folks,” says the new iPhone app’s co-creator Matthew Bromberg, “And I don’t want to know where my kid is on the map every single moment. I just want to know what’s going on.”

Here’s how the app, ImOK, works: Parents sign up for an account and send an activation code to other members of their families, who can then sign into the private network on their own phones. Adolescents check-in to the app in exchange for points. Plotting themselves on a map gives them five points. Adding more information, such as a photo, a message or the names of friends to a checkin gets them more points.

What they receive in return for their points is up to the parents — and the basis of the app’s future business model.

Adolescents can suggest rewards from a “wishlist” section of the app. Parents either approve these ideas or add their own. Bromberg says the most popular rewards used in the beta version were allowance, a special activity or additional phone time and text messages. He rewards his own two children with allowance and the occasional iTunes purchase or video game.

“All of these things would hit my credit card anyway, frankly,” he says, “but its fun to have them earn out in a way that isn’t too stressful or challenging.”

His hope is that more parents will, as he has, shift the money they give their kids in the form of allowance to spending within the ImOK app. According to a study by EPM Communications, the average U.S. 8 to 14-year-old receives about $2,000 in spending money a year from his or her parents — which makes allowance a $43 billion opportunity annually.

ImOK’s business plan taps into this opportunity with an in-app store for redeeming wishlists or even a branded ImOK spending card that can be redeemed at other outlets.

“My belief is that there’s a really interesting use case here [surrounding] stuff that goes on in just your family,” Bromberg says. “There’s so much transfer of money and information and back-and-forth, and it’s a space that I don’t see that anybody has really owned.”

More About: Children, ImOK, iphone app, safety

For more Business coverage:

October 18 2011

Ford Vehicles Will Now Read You Text Messages While You Drive

Ford is installing a feature in its new vehicles — and many of its older ones — that can read text messages out loud.

The feature, which is intended to reduce texting while driving, is part of Ford’s voice-activated technology, Sync, and is already installed on all model 2012 Ford vehicles with the exception of the Ranger. Using a Bluetooth connection, it syncs with phones and alerts users when they receive text messages, reads them out loud and allows users to respond with a selection of standard pre-written messages without taking their hands off the wheel.

On Tuesday, it will be made available as an upgrade to Sync vehicles that are model 2010 or later. In order to install the capability, owners can download the upgrade from the Ford Sync site onto a USB drive along with print-out instructions. Older Ford vehicles that have Sync will soon be able to make the update as well, says supervisor of Sync product development Mark Porter.

We shouldn’t need data to convince us that texting and driving at the same time is a bad idea. But we have tons of it. A 2009 study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that texting while driving increased the risk of a truck getting into an accident by more than 23 times. A 2007 Clemson University study found that text messaging and iPods caused drivers to leave their lane 10% more often during driving simulations. And if you have doubts that texting is detrimental to driving performance, you can prove it to yourself with an interactive game that The New York Times has created to make the point.

So in an age when most car companies have a Bluetooth integration features, why isn’t text-to-voice already a standard option?

Several apps such as DriveSafe.ly and SMS Replier have created popular solutions, but only a few vehicle manufacturers such as Ford and BMW have integrated the feature into vehicles themselves.

One factor in the slow adoption is that not many phones integrate with text-to-speech features like Ford’s. So far BlackBerry phones are the most notable devices compatible with the technology required. Some Android phones also support the technology. iPhones do not.

Porter says that he thinks more phone and vehicle manufacturers will soon start to add it.

“It’s very similar to a couple of years ago when Bluetooth devices were just coming out and had a hands-free profile [for integrating with vehicles] and few phones supported it,” he says. “Now it’s almost standard.”

Image courtesy of istockphoto, jabejon

More About: BMW, ford, safety, text messaging

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July 19 2011

7 Things Facebook Should Do To Increase Security [OPINION]

This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

Eugene Kaspersky is CEO of Kaspersky Lab, the company he co-founded in 1997, which is now the world’s largest, privately-held anti-malware company. You can follow him on Twitter @e_kaspersky and his blog at eugene.kaspersky.com.

For the past seven years we have seen how Facebook has dramatically changed the way people communicate while it has formed a new culture of online socializing.

For most people, Facebook has been about keeping in touch with friends and family in a totally new way. But for security researchers, such as myself, it has led to seven years of new challenges for the security industry. The main issue with social networking and security is that social networks are, well, social, and when the human mind gets involved, vulnerabilities can be exploited. I’m talking about human vulnerabilities, those against which it’s hard to defend.

Many Facebook users lack knowledge and experience about how to protect themselves in the social networking environment, which has made the situation worse. Facebook appeals to new Internet users who often lack the computer savvy to identify online threats, and the most vulnerable segment of the audience — kids — have little life experience required to make reasonable decisions.

Because of this, I believe Facebook needs to enhance the security and privacy features of its site so the problems don’t escalate out of control. With the help of my colleagues, here are seven key recommendations I believe will make Facebook a safer place:

1. Enforce Full HTTPS Browsing

This way, all users can make sure no one is snooping into their conversations, even if they’re browsing Facebook through an untrusted Internet connection. Additionally, it will render attack tools such as Firesheep completely useless.

I admire the fact that Facebook has enabled optional HTTPS browsing in its recent security features roll-out. However, I don’t think the option is clearly marked enough for most users to find and utilize it. Therefore, I feel that this feature should be made mandatory for everyone.

2. Implement Two-Factor Authentication

Banks are offering e-tokens to their customers to safely access their online banking accounts; but in a world where social networking sites are becoming more and more important to what we do online, users should also have the same technology available for protecting their Facebook accounts.

This option should be enforced and mandatory, otherwise it may easily be lost in the depth of account settings. Following Facebook’s initiative to send verification codes via SMS, I suggest the company develop a mobile application that will generate a one-time password in addition to the master password. This way, an attacker would have to compromise not one, but two devices to access a Facebook account. This is not an easy task even for an experienced hacker.

3. Make Clear Which Facebook Apps Are Trusted

Malicious Facebook apps are being analyzed and reported by researchers on a daily basis. Facebook needs to perform a thorough security check and approve all incoming applications to make sure no malicious app makes its way onto a user’s profile.

At the very least, allow users to add a list of trusted/approved applications to his or her profile. If the person wants to use an application that is not trusted, they should be able to run it in some sort of “profile sandbox,” so that any malicious activity would not affect their friends and family.

4. Tighten the “Recommended” Privacy Controls

Currently, Facebook’s recommended privacy settings easily allow for an attacker to become the friend of a friend of a target, and consequently to access data needed to reset a password for an email account, or to misuse other personal information. Why does Facebook allow “everyone” to access status, photos, posts, bio, favorite quotes and family and relationships by default?

In the security market we follow a simple rule that works: “Disable everything, then enable the things you really need.” If Facebooks wants to take steps to actually make its site safer, the default setting should make personal information visible only to friends. Allow the users to decide later whether they want to change their data exposure.

5. Allow Permanent Deletion of Facebook Accounts

Permanently deleting a Facebook account should … permanently delete the account. Respect the user’s will to entirely wipe out his presence on Facebook, without worrying that some materials have been left available on the Internet, and make permanent account deletion a simpler process that doesn’t require a special request to Facebook customer support.

6. Commit to Parental Controls

Allow parents to set up limited-access accounts for their children, as sub-accounts under their own Facebook presences. The limited sub-accounts could automatically be turned into full-access accounts once children reach the age of consent.

My colleagues and I support initiatives to protect users under 18, as expressed in California’s SB242, which extends the opportunities for parents to control their children’s social media accounts.

7. Better Educate Users

I value Facebook’s commitment to educate users about security and privacy in social networks, including the initiative to set up dedicated Pages to these topics (Facebook Safety, Facebook Security and Facebook Privacy). However, no matter what sort of protection surrounds Facebook users, those privacy features will remain useless should users lack the awareness.

For this reason, I recommend extending the practice by introducing more opportunities for user education. A good example would be to launch daily webinars that cover the most important aspects of Facebook security in the clearest and simplest way possible for the general public.

It is also the belied of myself and my colleagues that a closer interaction with security vendors will assist in building a stronger community to bolster critical Facebook initiatives and allow for more informed decisions. An advisory board consisting of the most authoritative experts in the security community, and regular summits to review past and future initiatives could bring additional value to the development of a safer Facebook.

These are seven realistic, doable and actionable steps that can dramatically increase the safety and privacy of Facebook’s users. Of course, no technology can guarantee 100% security as long as the human factor is involved. Still, Facebook can and should do everything it can to protect its users and keep them safe.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, malerapaso

More About: facebook, letter, mark zuckerberg, op-ed, Opinion, privacy, safety, security, social media

For more Social Media coverage:

July 09 2011

Up to 25% of Accidents Are Associated With Gadgets

A new study from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) highlights the impact that cellphones and other gadgets can have on car crashes. According to the study, as many as 25% of U.S. car crashes are associated with drivers distracted by a cellphone or gadget.

Produced using a grant from State Farm, the GHSA report, titled Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do [PDF] looks at the main external driver distractions. Not surprisingly, talking on cellphones, fiddling with gadgets and texting while driving are some of the most common driver distractions.

After reading the 50-page document, it’s clear that this study contains as many certainties as uncertainties. As GHSA Executive Director Barbara Harsha says in a statement, “Much of the research is incomplete or contradictory. Clearly, more studies need to be done addressing both the scope of the problem and how to effectively address it.”

Still, one certainty is that cellphone usage increases the risk of crashing and texting is likely more dangerous than using a cellphone.

What is the Solution?

Understanding that drivers who text or talk on the phone are more likely to get into car crashes than those who don’t, what can be done to decrease these distractions?

Unfortunately, the GHSA study is inconclusive on the effects of both texting bans and public service announcement campaigns for distracted driving.

From the report:

  • Laws banning hand-held cellphone use reduced use by about half when they were first implemented. Hand-held cellphone use increased subsequently but the laws appear to have had some long-term effect.
  • A high-visibility cellphone and texting law enforcement campaign reduced cellphone use immediately after the campaign. Longer term effects are not yet known.
  • There is no evidence that cellphone or texting bans have reduced crashes.

Still, the GHSA encourages states to pass more bans of driving while texting and while talking on cellphones — hands-free or not.

How often do you find yourself engaged with an iPod, cellphone or an in-dash GPS while driving? Let us know.

[via Reuters]

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, jhorrocks

More About: car accidents, data, driving, GHSA, safety, stats, texting, texting while driving

For more Tech & Gadgets coverage:

June 14 2011

UK Ministry of Defense Warns Troops Against Careless Talk on Social Media [VIDEO]

The UK Ministry of Defense has posted two YouTube videos to warn its servicemen and women about the dangers of sharing too much information on social media sites.

In one video, a mother posts a seemingly innocuous update about a “VVIP visit” to her son’s operating base. In the next scene, she serves tea to a figure in a balaclava. “It’s not just your friends and family reading your status updates,” the video’s text warns.

The other video follows two women documenting their nights out on Foursquare and Twitter. Again the balaclava-clad figure appears — this time dancing with the girls in a club. The text on screen asks, “Is it just your mates who know where you’ve checked in?”

A Ministry of Defense website dedicated to personal security online features the former video. An introduction encourages people to be wary that unsavory characters might be looking to use their information maliciously. “These range from criminals looking for ways to con you or steal your identity, to those who may wish us harm,” the post says. “While it is unlikely that you’ll fall victim, you should be aware of the risk.”

Resources on the same site explain what information is revealed by posting on specific sites and how to to set security options.

Over-sharing personal information on social media sites is a potential risk to anyone’s safety, and we’re not surprised that the UK MoD’s efforts remind Telegraph writer Tom Chivers of the World War II propaganda that cautioned personnel and their families against casually mentioning sensitive information.

“Careless talk costs lives,” was the key slogan in Britain, Chivers notes.

More About: safety, uk, youtube

For more Video coverage:

Tags: youtube safety uk

April 19 2011

Facebook Expands Safety & Security Tools

Just a day after security firm Sophos sent Facebook an open letter addressing privacy issues, Facebook has introduced a suite of new safety features.

While the social network did not satisfy the letter’s requests to make privacy the default, create a vetting process for app developers and turn on HTTPS automatically, it did come through on the promises it made in an announcement at President Obama’s White House Conference on Bullying Prevention last month. Here’s what’s new:

  • Two Factor Authentication: This is a new feature that will be turned off by default. If you turn it on, Facebook will ask you to enter a code anytime you log in from a new device.
  • Improved HTTPS: Facebook added HTTPS support in January, which makes it harder for someone on a public WiFi network to hijack your data. Now if you start using a non-HTTPS application while in HTTPS mode, Facebook will automatically switch you back to HTTPS mode when you’re finished.
  • Expanded Social Reporting Tool: Facebook’s new social reporting tool brings community members into the mix when dealing with bullying or other violations of Facebook’s terms of service. The features allows users to send a private message to the person who posted the offensive content or — if they want to report the content to Facebook — to include trusted authority figures as contacts in the report. Previously, the feature was only included for photos and wall posts. Now it is available on profiles, pages and groups as well.
  • Family Safety Center redesign: Facebook’s safety center got a makeover that highlights the site’s safety philosophy, community, and tools and resources like account settings. As in the previous versions, resources for Parents, Teachers, Teens and Law Enforcement are also highlighted. Facebook wrote on its official blog that it also plans to add a free, downloadable guide for teachers who want to use social media in the classroom. Considering that most schools block Facebook on their computers, we’re curious to see what the guide suggests.

What do you think of Facebook’s safety update? What changes do you think Facebook should make to improve user security and privacy?

More About: bullying, facebook, privacy, safety

For more Social Media coverage:

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