Are Smartphones Turning Us Into Bad Samaritans?

In late September, on a crowded commuter train in San Francisco, a man shot and killed 20-year-old student Justin Valdez. As security footage shows, before the gunman fired, he waved around his .45 caliber pistol and at one point even pointed it across the aisle. Yet no one on the crowded train noticed because they were so focused on their smartphones and tablets.

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Obama Nods to Rocky Start on Health Law

President Barack Obama acknowledged his frustration Monday with the technical problems that have hampered the online health-insurance marketplaces, but pledged that the issues would be resolved and the Affordable Care Act would prove successful.

“Nobody’s madder than me about the fact that the website isn’t working as well as it should, which means it’s going to get fixed,” the president said in a speech at the White House.

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Snapchat Spurned $3 Billion Acquisition Offer from Facebook

Snapchat, a rapidly growing messaging service, recently spurned an all-cash acquisition offer from Facebook for $3 billion or more, according to people briefed on the matter. The offer, and rebuff, came as Snapchat is being wooed by other investors and potential acquirers. Chinese e-commerce giant Tencent Holdings had offered to lead an investment that would value two-year-old Snapchat at $4 billion.

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For Startups, the Tricky Question of Holidays

Last December, Michael Mogill required his five employees to work through the holidays because he was eager to keep growing his young video-production company. He didn’t throw a party or give out year-end bonuses.

But while his clients were satisfied, the 27-year-old founder of Crisp Video Group in Atlanta says it was clear that his staffers felt burned. By springtime, all of them quit. “They just didn’t like to be in a company that valued the work and nothing else,” says Mr. Mogill. “It was a huge lesson for me.”

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This Week in Video for ATD: Facebook Redesigns News Feed, Roku Gets a New Box and The White House Favors Phone Unlocking

There was a lot of talk this week about Facebook’s redesign of its news feed, which was announced Wednesday, and new developments in the rights of consumers to unlock their cell phones. Also, Roku came out with a new box for streaming television content. Here’s a quick list of the video appearances made by AllThingsD staffers to weigh in on these topics.

On Monday, in response to a petition that garnered more than 114,000 signatures, the White House came out in favor of the consumer’s right to unlock cellphones once the terms of the original contract are fulfilled (which was followed on Thursday by the Wireless Consumer Choice Act, a bipartisan effort to ensure just that). Ina Fried appeared on WSJ’s Digits with Simon Constable on Monday to talk about the White House’s decision:

On Tuesday, Walt Mossberg also joined Constable on the WSJ show to talk about the “evolutionary, not revolutionary” new features of the Roku 3, which include a better interface and a new remote with earbuds:

And Kara Swisher talked to CNN’s Howard Kurtz this morning from SXSW about Facebook’s news feed redesign — covered earlier this week — which was heralded by the company on Wednesday as bringing users “the best personalized newspaper in the world,” but really just places more emphasis on photos.

Finally, at 3 pm today, our own Liz Gannes will make an appearance on Leo LaPorte’s weekly roundtable discussion This Week in Tech.

News Corp, AllThingsD contemplate split – sources

AllThingsD, the widely read technology blog run by Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, has begun discussions with owner News Corp about extending or ending their partnership, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters,” Peter Lauria and Nadia Damouni report for Reuters. “According to these sources, AllThingsD‘s contract with News Corp expires at the end of the year. One of the sources said Swisher and Mossberg have to deliver a business plan by next week to Robert Thomson, the former Wall Street Journal managing editor who will helm News Corp’s publishing unit as CEO after it is spun off.”

Lauria and Damouni report, “The fact that AllThingsD’s contract is up this year is well known, and sources said the website is receiving a lot of ‘inbound interest’ from potential buyers parallel to its talks with News Corp. Among the names mentioned as having reached out to AllThingsD were Conde Nast, where Swisher recently signed to work as a contributing writer for Vanity Fair, and Hearst.”

“Sources described the website as profitable. It has grown into a technology industry must-read, and features a popular conference division known for snagging A-list corporate executives for intimate interview sessions. Apple’s Steve Jobs, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and virtually every other major technology executive has spoken at the D Conference, as it is known,” Lauria and Damouni report. “Sources described the relationship between News Corp and AllThingsD as amicable but stressed. ‘Like all partnership, there could be more cooperation between the two,’ said one source. ‘There is tension between AllThingsD and the Wall Street Journal, for example.’”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]