Daily Archives: September 7, 2014

Visiting Japan PM hopeful on SL war crimes probe

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he hoped Sri Lanka’s war crimes probe would silence its critics ahead of his arrival Sunday on the island to push for stronger trade ties.

Abe told the local Sunday Times newspaper he also hoped Sri Lanka could achieve “true national reconciliation” five years after the military crushed ethnic Tamil rebels to end the island’s separatist war.

Sri Lanka has been under intense international pressure over war crimes allegedly committed by the military in the final months of the war.

The UN rights body in March ordered an international panel to investigate charges that Sri Lanka’s security forces killed at least 40,000 Tamil civilians.

Abe noted that Colombo, which has refused to cooperate with the UN-mandated probe, had expanded the mandate of its own inquiry into those disappearances during the war to include investigating war crimes claims.

“Japan hopes such efforts made by Sri Lanka will lead to dispel concerns indicated in the resolution by the UN Human Rights Council,” Abe said in an interview with the newspaper published Sunday.

Japan, the largest single foreign aid donor to Sri Lanka, remained neutral at the UN Human Rights Council vote in March that voted to set up the war crimes probe.

Abe arrives from Bangladesh later Sunday as part of a regional tour aimed at boosting trade and offsetting China’s mounting influence in South Asia.

Abe, who is travelling to Colombo with a business delegation, will be the first Japanese premier in 24 years to visit the Indian Ocean island.

He is due to hold talks with President Mahinda Rajapakse on expanding their economic and political ties, Sri Lanka’s information minister said.

Officials said Japan was helping Sri Lanka set up a new digital television broadcast system and was also assisting with upgrading the transport sector.

Abe and Rajapakse also aim to strengthen maritime territorial cooperation in the face of a more territorially assertive China, media reports said.

On Saturday, Abe won Dhaka’s support for Tokyo’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Dhaka would withdraw its candidacy in favour of Tokyo in view of Japan’s “continued and strong support in Bangladesh’s development process”.

Abe’s tour follows Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to Tokyo this month during which the two countries, which both have prickly relations with giant neighbour China, declared they would raise ties to a “new level”.


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Is Facebook pushing up your phone bill?


New York: Have you discovered a sudden surge in your phone bill? This could well be linked to reading news feeds on the Facebook mobile app on your phone, media reports suggest.

Users who do not turn off the default auto-play setting on Facebook videos may suffer as videos on news posts may play on their own if users just pause to read them.

Tracking a recent surge in hefty data charges among users, Britain-based consumer website MoneySavingExpert.com first spotted the problem.

“We have seen many complaints from people who have been stung with data bills exceeding their monthly allowance and who believe it to be because of Facebook auto-playing videos,” the site said.

To avoid extra data charges entirely, users can easily turn the auto-play feature off in settings in their mobile and desktop devices, CBS News reported.

There is also an option so videos only auto-play when a user is connected to WiFi, Facebook was quoted as saying.


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Why Business Can’t Risk Ignoring Crazy Technologies


Recently I met the creators of a new wearable technology called DrumPants. Yes, you read that right: pants that are drums and, apparently, a host of other musical instruments. Instead of slapping your thigh and making that oh-so-boring slapping sound, DrumPants turns said slapping into a snare drum.

How? The product uses sensor strips that affix to your normal pants (duh) and fit into your shoes. These communicate to a small control box that fits in your pocket. In that little box is a speaker, a headphone jack and more than 100 different sound choices from piano to guitar to flute and, yes, drums.

So, Burt from Mary Poppins! It looks like your rig is the buggy whip in waiting.

To many people, and especially small business owners who aren’t operating in the tech frontier, this might sound like yet another niche, hipster Kickstarter. It could be kind of cool in clever ways, but ultimately there doesn’t seem to be much practical application.

Except there is. DrumPants Pro will let you control any mobile app that accepts MIDI or OSC signals. Not so pointless now, eh?

Technologies like DrumPants are worth paying attention to, not for their preliminary, primary use but for their potential. For businesses seeking every sort of competitive differentiation, a seemingly oddball technology could have massive potential application.

What if a doctor could tap his or her foot to begin recording a medical history (assuming full HIPAA compliance)? What if a retailer could push out a coupon based on real-time store traffic? Take it further and put DrumPants-like sensors in a car steering wheel. Could they notify the driver when they’re gripping the wheel too hard and perhaps minimize road rage?

We see a pattern when wearables are introduced. Geeks rave, the general public cries “Silly!”

But in a few years, we will all know what happened. I mean, it happened with the mobile phone! Few people looked at the Zach Morris phone and thought, “Hmmm. I bet I’ll be able to do my banking on that device one day!” But some did. And they’re probably doing just fine.

The key to understanding the value of newer, quirky technologies is thinking through to the potential applications. So instead of dismissing something like DrumPants as being hipster chic and vaguely useless, take the time to learn about it and dream up ways it might help you better your bottom line.


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