Why we need to start taking sexual harassment accusations more seriously

Have you ever wondered what goes inside the mind of a serial sex offender?

People don’t wake up one fine morning and think, “you know what, let’s try to molest someone today.” No, they build up an appetite for such behaviors through years of internalized, devious narratives. Like Ted Bundy, they work on gaining the trust of the people around them, making sure that no one else notices when they indulge themselves.

Perhaps, these offenders feel that they are entitled to behaving like this because they are good looking, charming and/or belong to certain strata of society. Most of all, they do this because they feel like they have the power in such situations.

No two sex offenders are alike. However, most sex offenders are experts in rationalizing their behavior. They often commit crimes in situations where sexual violence is more likely to go unpunished. Trying to fit an accused sex offender into a typical profile is also foolhardy, because, in all honesty, no such profile exists. Ted Bundy, for instance, was not only an A student but also someone who volunteered for his university’s suicide prevention centre. Does that sound like a typical serial rapist and killer?

Why we need to stop accepting excuses

In the recent spate of allegations, several victims have mentioned how the perpetrators used their position and organizational power to both coerce women for sexual favors and also to evade scrutiny when official complaints were raised. They have engaged in actions that border on the verge of paedophilia. Only a small percentage of survivors ever come forward. If the accusations are this grave, then you have to wonder what else has been done that will never see the light of day.

Also read: The case of Nusrat and our “rape culture”

Some of the perpetrators have used their (allegedly) frail mental states as an excuse for their behavior. As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, let me be categorically clear: anxiety or any other kind of mental illness does not give you license to be a sorry excuse for a human being. Nothing does.

Sexual harassment survivors rarely come forward, but when they do, they find a litany of obstacles blocking their way to justice.

There is victim blaming, yes, but there’s also fence sitting, stonewalling and gaslighting.

These are the reasons why Me Too still hasn’t picked up pace in places like Bangladesh. Instead of diligently investigating accusations, matters are swept under the rug. We shame the victim, accusing her of not keeping quiet about her shame. Sometimes, close relatives also blame the victim for speaking out in the first place.

Also read: Let’s dare to debate about harassment

On the other hand, a bevvy of options is made available for the accused. We create excuses for the individual. “He didn’t mean it. He was young. He was misguided. He can get better.” We refuse to indict the accused, while mounting piles of evidence continue to grow. But then again, does evidence really matter when the “she was asking for it” mantra still reigns supreme?

Why sex offenders go free

Only 2% of rapists are convicted. It’s not difficult to see why that’s the case. Of course, rape and molestation aren’t the same things. But they stem from the same mindset: the kind of mindset that objectifies women to the highest degree. And they aren’t alone: in closely knit communities, they are often aided and abetted by various kind of facilitators.

One recent survivor recounted in her Facebook post how others helped the accused in getting her alone in a room, and how afterwards, many tried to persuade her from taking the matter to the authorities, because ‘it would make life difficult for her’. This kind of gaslighting is shocking but not entirely surprising.

Legal recourse is rarely pursued, and even when it is, the onus is on the victim because the benefit of the doubt goes to the defendant (which, in this case, is the accused). And that kind of doubt can be easily created. Gina Tron of Vice wrote about her own assault story, discussing how the defence attorney used photos and drawings from the Internet to construe that Tron liked ‘rough sex’. Her case was eventually thrown out, because “they apparently thought I hadn’t fought back enough and I wasn’t bruised enough and I didn’t go to the police soon enough.”

With such a bleak outlook, it’s no surprise that so many survivors choose to remain silent. They have to put their reputation on the line, with so little to gain. It’s fortunate, then, that brave souls still come forward in the hope that other’s do not face the same fate.

On the other side of the coin

Of course, not all accused are equal. Some are, in fact, wrongfully accused, but historically, that number has proven to be very small (2-8% of all accusations). There is a danger that Me Too accusations can destroy a person’s life before he/she can dispute the claims made against him/her; however, in most cases, the accuser has much more to lose by coming forward.

Making sure such events do not happen again is no mean feat, and makes for a conversation that’s best left for another day. But it’s a conversation that we need to have frequently and more often. Otherwise, these stories will continue to slip through the cracks.

An expatriate’s Pohela Boishakh in New York

Pohela Boishakh in New York City is both weirder (and more ordinary) than you think. Weather is a big, big thing here, and although there aren’t millions of Bengalis here, nearly everyone appreciates the good tidings brought by spring (and its promise of summer).

Read more: The story of how Bengalis owe Pohela Boishakh to Mughal emperor Akbar

Far from home

Of course, there’s no Mongol Shovajatra to see in Queens. But there is Jackson Heights, which holds Pohela Boishakh celebrations every year at the Diversity Plaza. The same place is home to a variety of Bengali restaurants, such as Ittadi, which often serve their own versions of Panta and Ilish on the day.

It’s especially hard for me to find more traces of Pohela Boishakh here because I was never into celebrations myself back in Bangladesh. But we get to see people embrace the inner Bengali inside them more frequently than expected, often arranging small events in their own communities, such as those in Astoria or Ozone Park. Perhaps, absence does make the heart fonder.

Pohela Boishakh is just one festival

There are other ways to celebrate spring too. Sakura festival celebrates the coming of spring (and cherry blossoms), taking place throughout 28th to 29th April. There’s already been a Cherry Blossom festival on Roosevelt Island, but the only train station on the island was swarmed with people afterwards, as escalators broke down and trains arrived infrequently. The MTA later rerouted other trains to the island station to relieve overcrowding, while the police helped to direct and control the crowds.

So far, I have only had one fried Hilsa fish and some sweets. Dieting doesn’t really allow me to stuff myself, but it was pretty good, all things considered. If you happen to live abroad as well, do let us know how you are spending your Noboborsho today. Especially if you have weird and exciting stories to share.

A chilling window into the mind of a psychopath: The Ted Bundy Tapes

It doesn’t take long for Ted Bundy to make you feel uneasy. Charming, handsome and intelligent, he speaks with an air of comfort and ease that almost makes you forget he is a serial killer.

Can you truly know how a killer’s mind works?

Diagnosed with manic-depressive disorder, Ted Bundy is an acute narcissist who enjoyed the attention his arrest and subsequent series of trials brought to himself. There’s a disturbing scene in the third episode of the documentary series where he asks one of the policemen to go over a crime scene in excruciating detail.

Conversations with a Killer: the Ted Bundy Tapes is a decent introduction to the infamous serial killer’s story. He operated in an era that was still unfamiliar with serial killers, and the manhunt to catch him would go on to pioneer developments in crime investigation that are still important to this day.

The tapes were recorded by rookie journalist Stephen Michaud and seasoned reporter Hugh Aynesworth in 1980, when Bundy was on death row.

He was initially unresponsive in his conversations with the pair, until Michaud encouraged Bundy to talk about himself in the third person, as though he were an expert witness

Bundy was careful not to reveal anything that would indicate he was making an admission of guilt, and the closest he got to revealing how his mind worked was when he talked about how such an individual is motivated by a need for fulfilment, hoping that the next murder would fulfill that need.

What works (and doesn’t work)

One of the strong points of the series is its use of authentic footage and photos from the seventies and eighties, which stretch from the victims and their parents, the police investigating Bundy’s case to Bundy himself as he goes through trials, several escape attempts and lastly, walks to his death via electrocution.

What is chilling about Bundy is that there is a void inside him that nonetheless lures his victims to a false sense of security. He married one of his closest friends, Carol Ann Boone, after proposing to her during a trial, and sired a daughter, Rosa, with her when he was on death row.

However, the documentary doesn’t spend as much time on his victims as it could have, which is a pity because they remain mostly faceless. Two days before his execution in 1989, Bundy confessed to murdering thirty women, but it’s likely that his actual kill count was much higher.

The director, Joe Berlinger, is intimately familiar with the true crime genre, and has also directed the upcoming film on Bundy, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil which features Zac Effron as Ted Bundy.

While what Bundy did to his victims is undoubtedly vile- he often decapitated his victims and had sex with their corpses- the interest in him that continues to endure is partly because of his own catering to his narcissism, and partly because of our perverse interest in evil.

There is also the fact that murderers like Ted Bundy, and the fictional Joe Goldberg from You, are fetishized and even pined after in some cases. Elizabeth Yardley, Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University, talked in an interview with Real Crime how documentaries and other media portray killers as captivating individuals.

“Serial killers get others on side and take charge of a situation with a mix of compliments and common sense,” she explains. “They tend to have a very good grasp of other people’s emotions and are quick to pick up on any vulnerability or weakness in order to convince them into doing things they normally wouldn’t.”

The verdict

As it stands, Conversations with a Killer: the Ted Bundy Tapes feels slightly incomplete, an exploration that is fascinated and intimidated by Bundy but does little to demystify his actions and motivations. The documentary suggests that he is unknowable, in the way most of us are. If you want to know more about him, further reading (and viewing) is in order.

Originally published on Upthrust.

Black Panther makes history with best picture oscar nomination

Black Panther made history as the first superhero film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The closest film that came before was the Dark Knight, and many critics were vocal about the snub. Many believe that the subsequent expansion of the Best Picture category to ten nominations was a reaction to this controversy.

Black Panther has also been nominated for six other categories, such as Best Costume Design, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Score, Best Original Song and Best Production Design.

“The only way we ever wanted to do this project was the right way and that meant finding a filmmaker who had something personal to say, who had a vision and could take this character into another arena and showcase the power of representation on a canvas of this size,”

Said Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios. 

“We’re very, very proud of what this film has done. The movie has made a cultural impact that is just humbling and gratifying to see. And we’re very grateful to the Academy for this recognition.”

Of course, Black Panther has some tough competition, sharing its nomination with Roma, Vice, The Favourite, Bohemian Rhapsody, BlacKkKlansman, Green Book and A Star is Born.

Directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther is notable for its cast and strong message. The film grossed $1.34 billion worldwide last year.

Apple’s WWDC 2014: 13 predictions

To be honest, Apple doesn’t bring much excitement with their new developments; they are mostly known for polishing or re-polishing what they’ve already made. Like Facebook’s f8, Apple has something called a Worldwide Developers Conference or WWDC where new, or ‘varnished’ ideas are discussed. So, that time of the year is here again, this Monday 2nd June, we are hoping this time we’ll see some dynamic unveilings as per predictions. In line with Apple’s habit of teasing consumers, iTunes chief Eddy Cue has made a remark hinting that Apple’s product lineup this year will be better than ever, than “two decades” in his words. Today, I’ll give you some exciting insight on what will perhaps be the best WWDC yet:

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]1. iOS 8: [/button]

As usual, it’d be wrong for us to expect something too new in their new iOS. But we can safely assume that they will definitely make things look better by rounding off rough edges and changing a few tidbits here and there. One new aspect of the iOS 8 is that it will aim towards the trending idea of giving health reports to consumers. An app called Healthbook will be available, which will allow users to see information on their blood pressure, activity, heart rate, and sleep. But the question remains how they will collect this data; keeping in mind the activities of their competitors, they will probably insert some sort of a sensor in their products, or it could be done via supported accessories, or our best guess would be that this feature would pop up in the soon to be released iWatch.

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]2. Smart Home:[/button]

If you’ve read the rumors regarding Apple entering the smart home market, this shouldn’t sound new to you. Apple’s iPhone does have the kind of software that can enable it to help you control things inside your home. It could be really cool, being able to shut doors and play music without having to get up. But more importantly, this industry needs Apple; it needs Apple’s stability, reliability and simplicity. This WWDC is said to reveal information on their smart home system that will be bigger and better than any other competitor around.

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]3. New Apps:[/button]

Two of OS X’s apps, the image-viewer Preview and the basic writing tool TextEdit, might find its way into the new iOS. Also, the iTunes radio may be getting its very own app so that it can actually be out and about instead of being hidden inside the music app, that’d be nice.

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]4. OS X:[/button]

The brand new version of OS X will consist of major design changes, much like the change we saw after updating to iOS 7. It is said that while there will be drastic changes in looks, it’ll still work like it used to so that old Mac users have no problems coping up. This move falls right in line with the fact that there will more common apps between OS X and iOS. In any case, given Apple’s limited ecosystem, I’d say there should definitely be a smooth sync between its own devices.

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]5. Siri:[/button]

Shazam has been a notable iOS app for a long time with its magical ability to recognize any song it hears with great accuracy. But what’s new is that Apple is planning to partner with Shazam to allow Siri to listen to songs automatically and identify them. This is could come in handy especially when you hear a song on the radio that you love but don’t know the name of. Also, Siri may soon be available on OS X. Although we can’t say for sure whether this will happen this very year or not, we can say that it is highly likely for it to happen soon.

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]6. Apple Maps:[/button]

For a long time now, Apple has been far, far, and I can’t emphasize enough on the word ‘far’, behind Google in the map sector. But now all that is about to change; the biggest update ever made for Apple maps is here and it will include things like directions for Public Transits and other small details without which their maps were near useless. The overall design and look will also be shaped into perfection. While this will be made for iOS 8, we can’t be sure whether this will come with the initial update and suspect that it may be part of later updates as Apple does not want to release a mediocre maps app again.


[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]7. Split-screen iPad:[/button]

The split-screen feature has been common with brands like Samsung and Microsoft whose point is that their devices can be more productive than they seem. But Apple has always been one to hold on to simplicity, which doesn’t exactly go hand in hand with having multiple screens. But apparently there’s soon to be a change in Apple’s motto because there has been word that Apple’s iPad will carry the split-screen ability when tilted to landscape mode. We can’t be sure whether this will be part of iOS 8 or not. Some even say that it’d be wrong to predict its unveiling in this year’s WWDC. Also, this feature may be limited to the larger devices like iPad Air.

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]8. iPhone 6:[/button]

There has obviously been a lot of talk on how the new iPhone would be. Apparently two ‘bigger’ iPhones are on their way this summer or perhaps early fall. That’s definitely an aspect we would love for Apple to consider, the 4 inches display of the iPhone 5 and 5s just didn’t cut it with their huge faced competitors. We’ve got our fingers crossed for a 4.7 or maybe, do I dare say it, 5.5 inch screen? But the sad thing is, Apple has been facing some difficulties in production and it is hard to say whether the new phone will be revealed in this WWDC.

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]9. MacBooks:[/button]

It’s high time that Apple decides to apply its retina display technology to the MacBook Air and that’s probably what’s going to happen. The new MacBook air is said to be much slimmer with a 12-inch retina display, and this would perhaps be the first proper update in design in 4 years. But Apple will still need a lot of time to work on its cost and battery life issues so the release of this new beauty may not be unnecessarily early.

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]10. iPad:[/button]

No big change is expected there given that there has already been such a change quite recently. But there will be an exciting new addition: a touch ID fingerprint sensor, the kind that’s already present in the iPhone 5s. There’s also been word about an ‘iPad Pro’ with a 13-inch display but that seemed a bit far-fetched to us, at least for this WWDC.

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]11. iWatch:[/button]

This is another topic that’s been talked about to death for the past few months and rumor has it that Apple will be unveiling an iWatch at the end of this year. Other than wearable tech, there has been another hot trend, and I’m getting really tired of writing about this, the health measuring fad. So, we can conclude that the iWatch will come with, other than basic notifications feature, perhaps a sensor that tracks and measures your health. We can say that so confidently because Apple has been hiring a lot of health experts lately—what else could that mean?

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]12. Apple TV:[/button]

Tim Cook has been hinting that the Apple TV will be holding a lot of surprises. This could have something to do with the fact that Apple has been working with cable suppliers to get live video feed content essentially substituting your set-top box with a greater technology. Details on the technique that will go behind creating that feature are still unclear. There have also been whispers about the TV including Siri and supporting 3rd party apps. It all seems very stirring in the TV world, so we expect some top-notch improvements.

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]13. Beats:[/button]

In case you are not aware, the industry has been buzzed with the news of Apple’s acquisition of Beats for $3 billion. Tim Cook has a lot of questions to answer, but for now he says that once the acquisition passes through regulators, Apple has a lot in store for the future; big, big plans.

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Microsoft’s smartwatch: coming soon

Wearable tech is, or is going to be, the ‘in-thing’ very soon. Already, we can see the two rivals Samsung and Apple trying to dominate the smartwatch game with the Gear Fit and the upcoming iWatch. But aren’t we missing a big name here? That’s right, Microsoft is finally catching up. Rumor has it that Microsoft is coming up with a smartwatch that is compatible with all 3 platforms: Windows, Android and iOS.

It seems that Microsoft has been struggling a lot lately; I mean, look at the Zune Music Player and the Surface Tablet. But this time, they mean business. Microsoft has decided to try and imitate the reason why their X-box and Kinect were such massive successes. The ‘father of Kinect’ Alex Kipman will be working on wearable tech for the company. So you can imagine that this watch will definitely carry some form of a sensor. As you know, Samsung has been upping their game by targeting the health conscious bunch of the mobile population; yes, you guys know what I’m talking about. The heart rate monitor has been a big selling point for Samsung, or at least that’s how it was marketed.


Microsoft’s new smartwatch will have a heart-rate monitor as well, but the difference being that the sensor is continuous and will watch your heart rate and fitness all throughout the day. Unlike Samsung’s technology, this is automatic and does not need to be switched on. I suppose Microsoft is relying on the genius that went behind Kinect to have an edge with their heart-rate monitor feature. But the point of all this is more about acting on the data people get from the monitor and not the process of diagnosis itself. In the long run, Microsoft wants to instigate the idea of ‘consumerized healthcare’ where people will be able to diagnose themselves and argue on the information they see.

Another notable aspect of this watch is its compatibility across all platforms. Ever since Satya Nadella has been appointed CEO, starting from the unveiling of the Microsoft Office pack that was for the first time available on Apple’s iPad, he has been aiming to make Microsoft’s products popular among more platforms then just Windows. He believes that this will help Windows phones make a dent in the market for smartphones which is predicted to be divided as follows: 3.5% Windows, 80.2% by Android and 14.8 by Apple’s iOS.

The watch will look a lot like the Samsung Gear Fit with the screen being on the inside of your wrist for greater privacy of notifications and ease of use. A rather small touch color display and two days of battery life are all said to be present in Microsoft’s smartwatch which has no fixed release date as of yet, but according to Forbes, this summer may hold its launch.

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Tech Superhero: Evan Spiegel

There have been an uncountable number of complaints by parents, teachers and other authoritative figures regarding teenagers who have been addicted to a certain app to such an extent that it has been hampering their studies. No, it’s not Facebook, or even Instagram; it’s Snapchat: the hot new source of entertainment for teenagers and young adults. Being the only app that allows your sent picture-messages to disappear, it has brought innovation to the world of apps and a threat to its competitors in social media. The man behind this genius idea is Evan Spiegel. He is the co-founder and CEO of Snapchat and today this American internet entrepreneur is my subject of focus.

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]Early Life:[/button]
Evan was born and brought up in California. On June 4th 1990, Melissa Ann Thomas and John W. Spiegel, two lawyers gave birth to the famous Mr.Spiegel. As you can tell by his birth year, he is still quite young and a lot like the other internet legends like Zuckerberg and Page, it seems that he came up with a jackpot idea before even reaching his 30s.  He attended Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica and later studied product design at Stanford University, and what a product he ended up designing! He left 3 classes before graduation in 2012 to pursue his work on Snapchat, except that at first it wasn’t called so.

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]The beginning of Snapchat:[/button]
You know, as I go on I seem to find more and more similarities between Mark Zuckerberg’s and Speigel’s story. ‘Picaboo’ as it was called, was initially made for sending and receiving censored images, much like Mark’s ‘Facemash’ made to compare ‘hot girls’. I suppose it’s expected of a 21 year old who thought he was too cool for school. But soon that idea developed into something much greater, way beyond the mind sets of a bunch of wild college kids. The idea occurred to him when a friend of his sent a photo that he ended up regretting and wishing he could take back. In that situation, they did a bit of research to find out if there was anything out there that could use to delete sent messages or photos. That’s when he realized that there was noticeable gap in the internet world where deleting a sent item is near impossible. So, he and Bobby Murphy, who by the way is the current CTO and co-founder of Snapchat, came up with a prototype that would allow pictures to disappear. It turned out to be very amusing to use, and the majority of the excitement came from the fact that what you see is only temporary.
Murphy and Spiegel were frat brothers at Kappa Sigma along with Frank Brown who claims that he had a part in the creation of this idea and therefore sued them based on that.




But for this app to grow into what Evan dreamt, he’d need serious investors ready to power it with heavy funding. Till then Bobby and Evan’s dad, who he lives with, has been financing this project.
Barry Eggers who worked at Lightspeed Ventures had a daughter who spread word in her high school that three of her favorite apps were Angry Birds, Instagram and Snapchat. Eggers and one of his partners Jeremy Liew had never heard of Snapchat and felt like they had to find out more about it. So, Liew sent Speigel a message asking him to meet up which he did and after showing Liew some early data, he was convinced. Evan says that he was very lucky to have come across Liew because at that point server bills went through the roof.

Anyway, you should know that Spiegel had to struggle a lot to get people to use this app in the first place. He used to stand on the (Santa Monica) promenade and go up to people individually asking them to try the new application where they can send disappearing photos. In reply, most of them would get the impression that the app was made for the wrong reasons like exchanging explicit pictures. It occurred to Evan that clearly he wasn’t explaining the concept as well as it should be explained. He struggled to break that impression. Gladly, today, the reach that this app has achieved has proved that people understand that there’s a lot more to it.

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]Snapchat and Spiegel today:[/button]
Now, Snapchat is valued at $4 billion and despite many acquisition offers it has received, like the $3 billion offer by Facebook, Spiegal has decided to keep the company under no one but him. It seems like today, Spiegel, the 23 year old CEO of a billion dollar company is starting to compose himself. Given his ‘wild’ past, scandalous controversies about the rejection letter he sent to Zuckerberg and even the lawsuits filed by Brown, have all been reasons for Evan to grow stronger as a person.  He always said that he looks up to Google and Tencent, which shows his penchant for going big and staying that way. Keeping his struggles in mind he has said, “I’d like to create a space for people who have a lot of talent but not a lot of reach.”

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Google’s wonder vehicle: ‘Driverless Cars’

1.2 million people worldwide die of car accidents in year and 33000 of which occur in America. But Google believes that this does not necessarily have to be the case; in fact, their aim is to reduce car accidents by 90%. How? Well, it has been established for decades now, that machines can, sometimes, outsmart human capabilities. Taking that fact into account, and perhaps the fictional character ‘RoboCop’, Google has come up with what is called ‘Robo-taxis.’

These are exactly what their name suggests, robot-like cars that are designed to drive better and safer than you and I. Google’s skunkworks group, a project called Google X led by co-founder Sergey Brin has finally declared the design for its self-driven car. So the first thing you’d want to know about, naturally, is to what extend exactly is it self’ driven? If you’re aware of the auto-pilot feature in a helicopter or plane, you can refer to that to understand the whole concept, except Google’s idea has gone beyond that; this car has no steering wheel or pedals. This new version of Google’s self-driving technology was shown off by Brin at the Recode Conference, and it was a lot more than a retrofitted version of existing Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Two people can fit into this car and it has various computers and sensors on board that allow it drive completely on its own. Of course, it’s still a prototype but Google plans on creating 100 early versions of the wonder car just for testing this summer. These cars will remind you a lot of a Fiat 500 and perhaps a little of those talking animated cars in the Herbie series! Other than being ‘cute’, they will have some manual controls at first, in case anything goes wrong. They’ll be made using ‘off the shelf’ parts; intense use of foam and an electric motor or two.

Google has been very vague on the issue of which companies it’s planning on partnering with. But after a successful pilot program in California, they have confirmed that they will be partnering with companies for producing these cars for commercial purposes. However, it has been said that they are only at a ‘discussion level’ with contract manufacturers. So far, it seems that Google is headed towards success given the fact that there has been high demand for such an idea, especially for people who live in sparsely populated areas where commute lacks.

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Apple’s entering the Smart Home Technology market

It seems that everyone wants a piece of the smart home market and that’s quite expected given that it’s the future of technology. But I guess I couldn’t say everyone unless the names ‘Apple’ and ‘Google’ were involved. On one hand, Apple is planning to move into the business of smart home technology by developing software that will turn your iPhone into a remote that controls your home appliances. They are currently trying to get smart home appliance manufacturers to certify their products for use with Apple devices; it’s going to be a lot like those Apple accessories that read ‘made for iPhone’. According to Financial Times, apple is to announce this in the next Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) on 2nd June.  On the other hand there is our beloved Google, who has made news by the seemingly promising purchase of Nest Labs for a notable $3.2 billion. Not that this isn’t indication enough of the fact that Google wants to enter the smart home market, there has also been talk about Google acquiring camera manufacturer Dropcam, although all this is still uncertain.

But Apple has a certain edge in this game already, and I’ll tell you why:

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]1. The Apple Experience:[/button]

It seems that people are still having a hard time setting up a ‘smart’ home. The process, if you’re successful, is still quite tedious and hard to use. Moreover, the system is shaky and unreliable. After a few days, most people tend to get rid of the ‘techno junk’ and go back to the simpler life. But if you’ve ever used even one Apple product, you’d know that they are known for two things: simplicity and stability. Great things are expected from them, one of them being that users will fall weak to the Apple experience and use their smart home systems.

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]2. Consumer Demand:[/button]

There isn’t much demand for a smart home system because it is not exactly a necessity. So, Apple has found a clever way to enter people’s homes without having to sell the concept of a smart home. Apple TV, as you know, has been quite the hit. What they will do is basically turn it into a Trojan horse by doubling it as a smart hub for your home. See, Apple’s already there.


[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]3. Helpful Partners:[/button]

Apple has made some successful moves; one of them was to support Bluetooth LE (low energy). This has caused a lot of other companies to line up to be associated with Apple, one of them being Philips Hue. So, we can rest assure that Apple won’t have any trouble finding established companies ready to hop aboard when they enter the new market.

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]4. Privacy and Security:[/button]

Only two things to say here; one, Apple is known to be ‘limited’ but that leads to the fact that it is very safe, secure and private. Secondly, Google made a little slip-up that gave Apple a golden opportunity:  they revealed in a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that they will foresee ads on thermostats in the near future. This suggests an invasion of privacy for consumers as they think that Google will send data to corporations about their most personal spaces just to earn a little extra profit. Even though that sounds nothing like Google, perception is everything. Apple will market people’s fear to their advantage and look like the safer option.

[button link=”#” size=”medium” target=”self”]5. More than a smart home:[/button]

Given Apple’s all new ‘Car Play’ feature, and the fact that it’s now working on an iWatch, it seems pretty obvious that if Apple does enter the smart home market, it’ll be doing a lot more than making your home smart. You’ll be able to control so many different aspects of your life with the help of Apple, like from your car or even when you’re just out with your iWatch. Their integration gives you total control of everything and anything you have related to Apple.

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Google Fiber: a 1000 mbps internet connection

Remember how I said that Google is taking over the world? Well, I did. And Google seems to be trying really hard to prove me right. You see, in today’s day and age, the greatest source of power is perhaps the internet. Clearly being the world’s largest search engine wasn’t enough, Google is now here with what they call ‘Google Fiber’, a broadband internet connection and television for selected parts of USA.
Google wanted to avoid the complications of an underground cabling system for the last mile so it decided to rely on aggregators named Google Fiber Huts from where the fiber cables travel along utility poles right into your home and neighborhood.

A meter to display the speed of Google Fiber in comparison with the other regular lines

[button link=”#” size=”large” target=”self”]What is it that makes Google Fiber so special?[/button]
It’s not really a question, but more a statement that Google Fiber is special; I mean, it’s Google after all, we expect nothing less. If you visit Google’s page on Google Fiber, you’ll see that the first thing they mention, what seems to be their selling point, is the speed. But I’ll tell you this, there is a lot more to it than just that.

1. Speed: The only words worth saying here are ‘1000 Mbps’ or ‘1 GB.’ I don’t have to explain to you the importance of speed. Frustrated at the constantly staggering videos that need to buffer every 10 minutes, the low quality, and waiting for days for the utterly slow downloads – we’ve all been there. Yet, we don’t mind spending a handful of cash at the end of the month on internet bills. I suppose we don’t have much of an option. Sadly, even after the release of Google Fiber, we still don’t. You see, they only provide to certain locations in USA, like Kansas City for example.

2. No charge for peering: As I’ve mentioned earlier, Google Fiber also excels in areas other than speed. That would obviously indicate stability and quality. To provide you with the kind of HD quality it promises, what they do is ‘free peering.’ Peering, in case you’re unaware, is the process through which services can connect their networks directly up to Google’s. This causes a reduction in unnecessary congestion. Of course, considering that it’s free of charge, services are ready to jump in.

3. Colocation: Again, the point of focus in this process is direct access. Colocation is when the streaming company can keep some of its equipment in the Fiber facilities. The advantage for you here is that the content you receive takes a short and fast trip from the source of your internet connection, directly to your home, instead of taking the now unnecessary detour through your internet’s facility. Faster travel equals to better quality on your end. While Google didn’t invent this concept, they have made it free. So now, more companies want to join in to take advantage of the free space and power provided by Google Fiber.

[button link=”#” size=”large” target=”self”]Where is it available? [/button]
Google had some fun deciding as to where they’d provide this spectacular service. They held a competition in which over 1100 communities applied. The request form they had to fill out was simple, maybe a little too simple; this caused people to cry out to be different by various, fascinating activities. Some notable ones are:
1. Supporters from Baton Rouge actually remade the song “Give a Little Bit” by Roger Hodgson, quite creatively, to “Give a Gigabit”.
2. 1000 citizens of Greenville, South Carolina utilized glow sticks to create “The World’s First and Largest People-Powered Google Chain.” From a bird’s eye point of view, the name “Google” was colorfully visible like Christmas lights.
3. Topeka, Kansas, the city of Rancho Cucamonga, California and Sarasota, Florida    temporarily renamed themselves, putting “Google” in their names.

4. Duluth, Minnesota’s mayor, jokingly I’m sure, proclaimed that every first-born child will be named either Google Fiber (for boys) or Googlette Fiber (for girls).
5. A small plane bearing a banner reading “Will Google Play in Peoria, IL?” flew over the Google campus in Mountain View, California.

Even videos had been posted on YouTube by some cities convincing Google to select each of them. Anyway, when Google finally did select a winner on 30th May, 2011, it turned out to be Kansas City, Kansas. On 9th April, 2013 Austin, Texas got lucky and became Google Fiber-ed. On 17th April, Google announced that Provo, Utah will also have the Google Fiber facility. Although there are plans for Google to expand in future, so far these 3 cities have been blessed with Google’s magic.

It’s probably killing you right now to have learnt that such an internet connection exists but is yet out of reach. We do hope Google decides to take notice of the South East Asian countries and decides to spread some love there. But the only problem may be that it will turn out to be quite expensive. Still, let’s hope for the best.


[button link=”#” size=”large” target=”self”]Prices and Packages available*[/button]
Getting straight down to it, Google Fiber has 3 offers for you:

1.Free Internet: Speaks for itself really. There is a $300 construction fee. But you can only take this offer once, or give $25 per month for 12 months. This gives you up to 5mps for download and 1mbps for uploads.

2. Gigabit Internet: This is the 1gigabit download/upload speed line that will cost you $70 monthly with no construction fees. It also includes 1 TB of free storage on Google Drive, Gmail and Google+ photos.

3. Gigabit + TV: This is the real deal; 1 gigabit of internet and over 150 channels (including HD) for just $120 monthly. You will also get a Nexus 7 tablet that will act as a remote for your DVR, where, you can record up to 8 channels simultaneously which you won’t have a hard time storing, thanks to the 1 TB of free storage on Google Drive, Gmail and Google+ photos.

*Only available to the current Google Fiber locations as mentioned in the article.

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