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Thursday News: Fire phone, spying increases demand for cloud services, Daniel Keyes dies, and hilarious First Moon Party video

Thursday News: Fire phone, spying increases demand for cloud services, Daniel...

Amazon’s Fire phone has average looks and high aspirations (hands-on) – Well, some of the reviews are in, and they’re not exactly glowing. If the Amazon Fire phone were a serious contender to overthrow the iPhone, I might consider it. But a phone that doesn’t even have Bluetooth (It has Bluetooth 3.0 wireless technology) but does manage six cameras doesn’t really seem like it’s going to do much to the smart phone market. Dynamic Perspective, Firefly, and a gesture-driven three-panel design are some of the selling points. Assuming you want to buy.

Excepting the five cameras on the front, the Fire phone looks like an average device. In many ways, the build reminds me of the Nexus 4: Gorilla Glass adorns the front and rear, and the plastic sides reach slightly around the back. With a 4.7-inch display, I had no problem handling the phone — Bezos was adamant that this size is optimal for one-handed use, and although I prefer slightly larger devices, Amazon believes that this size is the “sweet spot” for its users; not too large, but not too small. Its 8.9mm thickness doesn’t make it too bulky, and the back is narrower than the front, so my hand wrapped around it pretty easily. –Engadget

VMware: NSA revelations have been the single biggest issue for cloud clients – So this is interesting. According to VMWare’s SVP of hybrid cloud services, the whole NSA/Snowden scandal, and the revelations about the government’s broad-based surveillance have actually increased the demand for public cloud services, which, while counter-intuitive, may also signal the extent to which people are willing to accept the risks inherent in such integrated technologies.

Initially the spying revelations created a very short-term, knee-jerk reaction that the privacy breach would mean the death of public cloud adoption, Fathers said. But months later, there’s now a general acknowledgement that public clouds can actually deliver better security, as well as performance and economics, compared to enterprises’ own infrastructure and private clouds, –Gigaom

Daniel Keyes, a Novelist of the Mind, Dies at 86 – When I first came across this story, SFWA was the only site to have extended coverage, and it wasn’t super-informative. I’ve been scanning obituaries for Daniel Keyes since, and I haven’t yet found one that wowed me. But this piece from the NYT did contain an interesting tidbit related to Keyes most famous book, Flowers For Algernon, and its inspiration:

The premise underlying Mr. Keyes’s best-known novel struck him while he waited for an elevated train to take him from Brooklyn to New York University in 1945.

“I thought: My education is driving a wedge between me and the people I love,” he wrote in his memoir, “Algernon, Charlie and I” (1999). “And then I wondered: What would happen if it were possible to increase a person’s intelligence?” –New York Times

First Moon Party – Jane tweeted this video earlier today, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a hilarious and de-mystifying treatment of a girl’s first period (and menstruation more generally). Yes, it’s advertising for the Hello Flo “care package” service, but as far as I’m concerned they’ve earned any business they get from this. May not be safe for work, although I watched it in my office, cackling hysterically, with no problem. –YouTube

Monday News: How people use their tablets, the trouble with Indiegogo, NPR’s tricks its readers, and amusing YA quiz

Monday News: How people use their tablets, the trouble with Indiegogo,...

Data Point: People Really Like to Read on Their Kindle Fires – A very interesting graphic comparing the iPad, the Galaxy, and the Fire. The statistic for e-reading on the Kindle Fire is a clear stand-out, but I’m not really sure what — if anything — that means. My first response was thinking that I hardly ever read on my Kindle Fire. However, there’s no category for “watching media,” which is what I do most on my Fire. And, if that was the only Kindle I had, I might read more on it — and reading might also be an indicator of general visual media consumption on the device. But it’s still interesting that e-reading on the Fire registered at double the rates for the iPad and the Galaxy (67% to 33% and 33%). –The Wall Street Journal

How Does Indiegogo Deal with Fraudulent Campaigns? – I don’t know if you’ve been following the Healbe crowdsourced funding scandal at Indiegogo, but Pando has, and they’ve found some extremely disturbing evidence that the diet watch device the company is claiming to manufacture (and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars toward), is not what it seems. And now, where crowdsource platform Indiegogo used to have a very strong fraud guarantee in its support/terms of service language, it only has a vague reference to fraud-checking. Needless to say, that does not instill confidence in either Healbe or Indiegogo — or it shouldn’t, at least.

In my last update — where Healbe’s founders explained that their innovation method was inspired by Russian science fiction, and released a ludicrous “demo” video — I wrote that the Healbe story had gone from scam to farce. Today Indiegogo has made clear that they’d rather be complicit in that farce, and in a million dollar scam, than be forced to take responsibility for what happens on their platform. –Pando Daily

Masterful NPR Prank Asks Why People Comment Without Reading – Although I think NPR is far from perfect (although no online venue meets that bar for me), what they pulled off with this slightly early April Fools’ Facebook joke is nothing short of brilliant. They posted a story titled “Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore?,” and instead of clicking on the link — which would have exposed the gag — people went ahead and commented anyway, descrying the fact that people aren’t reading before they comment.

The lesson here? It’s either that NPR is wasting your tax dollars on denigrating the American character, or that this is exactly why we need services like NPR in the first place. But you were probably already thinking that anyway long before you read this story. –Mediaite

Quiz: Can You Tell These YA Stories Apart? – Many of you have probably seen this already (sorry – I’ve got a backlog of stories that aren’t time-sensitive), but if you haven’t it’s a pretty amusing little quiz on five of the most popular YA series (Divergent, Hunger Games, Twilight, The Fault in Our Stars, Harry Potter). Definitely seems to add weight to the argument that from a distance all genre stories can look alike (aka it’s not the story, but how it’s executed that counts). –The Vulture