We all know that the iPhone is tough to work on but is the iPad 2 a bit too hefty? Apple’s next generation iPhone and the rumored iPad mini will debut this fall, starting at a mystery event on September 12, according to blogger John Paczkowski.
Facebook’s new streamlined design seems to be tricking users into exposing personal data unintentionally.
First it was vision with Google Glass — could Google Hands be next? The search engine giant patented a smart glove design last week.
What’s the first thing successful CIOs do in the morning? If you think that you should check your email, you might be doing it wrong.
Is The Oatmeal’s Michael Inman the next technology wunderkind? He’s singlehandedly defeated the “world’s silliest tech lawsuit” and now Inman has raised a million dollars for a Nikola Tesla museum in New York. Let’s hope he continues to use his powers for good.
The world’s largest oil producer Saudi Aramco got nailed by a cyber-attack that is putting its 30,000 workstations at risk of being completely wiped. One would hope that such a large enterprise has a brilliant disaster plan in place.
Will law enforcement agencies use their new facial recognition technology to access newly available Facebook photos?]]>
My first job in journalism was to take calls on Friday nights from high school football coaches, who would relay the stats and a few details about the game. A bunch of other college interns and I would take the information, create a box score and write a short story about the game, which would then get compiled into a conference “wrap.”
The job was interesting but so repetitive that I used to say that robots could do it. It turns out I was right.
It’s being done now by Automated Insights, a Durham, N.C., startup. The company has married big data and content creation with developers and writers to create completely automated news and information services. I met with founder & CEO Robbie Allen at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, and he explained how he started out in sports but is now looking to branch out.
“We have done a lot in sports, but we’ve done a lot in other verticals as well, like finance, real estate and traffic, and others where there are large sources of data,” Allen said. “We are moving forward with the approach that we are not just sports, but a B2B company that’s leveraging customers’ big data to generate unique and interesting content that they can use in a variety of ways.”
I should be worried that computers have finally replaced real writers, but when you consider the demand for content around large data sets (think fantasy sports or rush-hour traffic reports), there is a real need.
Automated Insights’ writers design what the content is going to look like and the developers translate that into code, Allen explained.
“The writers determine what are the things that go into a game recap; what are the data triggers that we would want to generate a sentence or paragraph about,” he said. “And the developers are responsible for marrying that design with the available data to generate actual content.”]]>
If you have an original iPhone in NYC, you’re about to become very sad when you attempt to make a call on a 2G network.
Is technology making us lonely? Or is it alleviating loneliness when we’re alone? Perhaps it’s two sides of the very same coin.
Remember how everyone was upset last week when it was discovered that iPhone apps were stealing copies of your personal photos? Android apps are doing it too.
Is it the project manager’s job to fix companies? Elizabeth Harrin ponders the role of project managers in portfolio management and delivering cost efficiencies.
Rumor has it that Yahoo’s new CEO Scott Thompson is gearing up for some big layoffs at Yahoo over the coming months.
Is being targeted by hacker supergroup Anonymous ever a good thing? It is when it’s a wake-up call for companies like Sony and the latest to fall, geopolitical analysis firm Stratfor.
It’s time for another round of Apple iPad 3 release date rumors. Where is it? Is it en route? Is it on the way? Is it a unicorn? Frantic fan boys are imagining all kinds of Apple iPad 3 release date scenarios while they salivate over the next precious Apple deliverable.]]>
Now, Google has agreed to support the Do-Not-Track button and will add it to Chrome within nine months. You may remember that the Federal Trade Commission called for the adoption of a Do-Not-Track button on Web browsers two years ago. In theory, it would allow consumers more autonomy in sharing their own personal privacy with third parties. Nevertheless, when Firefox and Internet Explorer added Do-Not-Track buttons, users were still tracked by advertisers and companies that hadn’t agreed to honor the arrangement. What is it they say about good intentions?
Meanwhile, California is attempting to shut down data privacy leaks via mobile applications. The state has reached an agreement with Google, Hewlett-Packard, Amazon.com, Apple, Microsoft and Research In Motion — one that it hopes will protect smartphone users from further privacy breaches like the Path and Google debacles uncovered earlier this month.
When it comes to the Internet and government intervention, we have to be mindful of the careful dance around precedent. We applaud when the U.S. government tries to protect us from data poachers with a privacy bill of rights, but just a month ago we were up in arms about the Stop Online Piracy Act. So, which is it going to be? Do we want the government regulating the Internet or don’t we? As you well know, I tend to have a cold, black heart that’s filled to the brim with pessimism about Internet privacy; the Do-Not-Track button and the White House’s privacy bill of rights feel to me like security theatre.
What do you think? Will the Do-Not-Track button make a difference in upholding consumer data privacy? Is it the role of government to regulate the Internet? The comments are waiting to hear from you.]]>
However, as Bill Murray once said in Stripes, something is seriously wrong here. The new iPhone 4S and its Siri voice recognition software are getting very favorable reviews, and everyone I have talked to about Siri has nothing but good things to say about it. So, why do I dare to blaspheme?
It’s not the technology, it’s the message. As I’ve noted before, Apple has an irresistible power over its users. So, when in the new 4S TV commercials Apple shows several morons learning how to accomplish daily tasks by using Siri, I get a little worried. The message is, you can solve everything by asking Siri. My question is, why would you want to?
If I didn’t know better, I would say Apple is taking a subtle swipe at the intelligence of its customers and iPhone users. It’s a practice Microsoft created about a decade ago: We can give over our lives to software, which theoretically frees our minds to do more complex tasks. It could be a step toward the next phase of human evolution, or it could be the next step in the dumbing down of Internet users. But it’s not. It’s just a tool; and like any tool, it has its uses and its limits.
One final thought for companies that are thinking about a bring-your-own-device policy: If too many iPhone users start talking into their phones to accomplish their daily tasks, it’s going to send some people over the edge — like me.]]>
Oracle has completed its sixth acquisition of 2011, purchasing cloud-based customer service provider RightNow Technologies for its motley crew of cloud services. We’ll see whether Amazon.com starts shaking in its boots, but it seems doubtful that this acquisition will affect trends in cloud computing.
If networks start to look like the cloud, does networking need its own DevOps movement? Stacey Higginbottom thinks so.
Something to consider for your next user-integration project: Computer voices are mostly female because our brains are wired to like them better. Unless, of course, it’s Morgan Freeman’s voice; then, all bets are off.
We’re all sick of those reports about the sky falling, but in this case, the sky is indeed falling. A German satellite has made an “uncontrolled re-entry,” crashing somewhere in Southeast Asia.
It’s been 10 years since Apple introduced the world to the iPod. The event was a new high-water mark for the company as it moved from being a boutique brand to a major player in the tech arena. IPods used to max out at 10 GB. They grow up so fast!
IT leaders should focus on simplicity, calculated risks and trends like cloud computing and desktop virtualization, advised analysts at last week’s Gartner Symposium/ITxpo.
Worried that the PC is dead? Rumors of its death seem to be greatly exaggerated. Even in a floundering economy, Intel’s quarterly results are better than those from Apple, which missed its Q4 earnings estimates.
Another major birthday: Ubuntu turned 7 this week. Mark Shuttleworth points out that the use of Ubuntu is one of the biggest trends in cloud computing.]]>
But guess what? News did not disappear. Information and video still showed up on Al Jazeera and CNN and other outlets, and such ancient technologies as fax, dial-up modem and ham radio served as alternatives for the unplugged. The Egypt Internet shutdown did not appear to slow down the protesters. The oldest form of communication — word of mouth — may work faster on a local level than anything in our digital world.
It seems as if wired Americans in particular were the most derailed by the shutdown because they were no longer able to get news from Egypt via their preferred channels of Twitter and Facebook. And Frank Rich makes a lot of sense when he argues that we are affected by “the default assumption that the Egyptian uprising … must be powered by the twin American-born phenomena of Twitter and Facebook.”
There are still serious questions about how effective social networking tools can be in these situations. I wrote last year about how the revolution will not be Tweeted. This week, another Middle East hotspot, Syria, opened up Facebook and YouTube after a three-year ban. But really, what better means is there to keep an eye on dissent?]]>
But if you talk to some agile purists, they balk at the idea of using the two project development approaches together. At their basic premises, agile and Waterfall fight against one another: Waterfall deals with change by resisting it; while agile, and in particular Scrum, embraces change, according to Elena Mitelman, principal of agile consulting firm Smart Edge LLC.
To give a broader scope of Waterfall vs. agile approaches such as Scrum, here’s Mitelman’s take on both:
Used since mid-late 1990s.
Term formally coined in 2001 by Agile Manifesto.
Likens software development to lab research.
Still iterative, but iterations are unlike prior models.
Very light on documentation.
Manages risk between and within iterations.
Encourages risk-taking and exploration.
Keeps costs down by implementing only what’s required at this time, keeping things simple.
Chaotic, yet controlled.
Has been proven on many projects.
Not without implementation challenges.
Used since 1970s.
Assumes software development is similar to manufacturing and construction.
Sequentially flows from specifications through maintenance.
Deals with change by resisting it – cost of change goes up as project progresses.
Documentation-heavy process to prevent change.
In a perfect world, a simple and cost-efficient process.
But the world is not perfect…
And in the end, she is obviously a Scrum vs. Waterfall fan. Her reasons for evangelizing Scrum: It doesn’t prescribe to any specific engineering practices; it focuses on interactions between people; unlike Extreme Programming, or XP, it doesn’t require that you follow a number of set practices; and it is not specific to software development.
“[Scrum] can be used for any project, including launching a product, starting a company, etc.,” she said.
I’d like to hear from you if you are mixing and matching approaches, and how it’s working out for you, or if you think a Scrum and Waterfall combo leads to project failure. Email me at email@example.com.]]>
How’s that for an attention getter? That’s how Nigel Fenwick, principal analyst at Forrester Research, ended his session on social media for the CIO at last week’s Forrester IT Forum, with a quote from Forrester CEO George Colony.
But too many CIOs and decision makers are social media virgins: When Fenwick polled the audience of CIOs, few session attendees raised their hands to indicate they actively tweet or blog. Even fewer had a social media policy in place at their organizations.
That inexperience and ignorance could prevent companies from taking advantage of a powerful business tool.
Communicating across your organization and industry, scoping out the competitive landscape and gaining valuable insight into the needs and expectations of your customers can put you in touch on a broader scale. Part of being an effective worker is being social, which relies on having the means to communicate with other people on your team, in your organization or in your industry. However, these business benefits may not be clear if you’re unclear on what social media really is.
Benefits aside, trying to block social media is a Quixotic quest. Fenwick said that CIOs decide to ban social sites at work and expect that to take care of the problem. “But think of how many of your employees have smartphones,” he said. “They are just going to go around you and connect from there.”
At the end of the day, social media is a tool, and employees need guidance on how to use it properly. Consider the big picture when making a social media decision and aim for policies that are nuanced — with clear expectations and proper online etiquette.]]>
Social Connector, first discussed in November, allows users to read emails and view the senders’ most recent social networking activities. For now, people using Office 2003, 2007 and the beta versions of Office 2010 can view only recent LinkedIn activity — and users aren’t able to push information from Outlook to LinkedIn. Microsoft said the Facebook and MySpace plug-ins will be ready for download when Office 2010 goes on sale in June.
Social Connector isn’t perfect. It has limited capabilities compared to Xobni and Thunderbird, which have richer plug-in systems and a wider reach than Microsoft’s tepid attempt has (for now). And yes, some criticize Microsoft for being behind the times, waiting years before taking the step to include social networking at all. But that’s exactly why you should pay attention to this development: The fact that Microsoft is now including social networking in its flagship communication project sends a very clear signal. Microsoft is often behind the curve on tech (Vista, anyone?) so when the company does jump on board, it’s probably time to consider the technology standard-issue.
So, maybe it’s time for the excitement around social networking to fade: Tools like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are not all good or all bad, but they are definitely here to stay. And social networking is a better way of doing some kinds of work, such as finding connections you have at a given company, in a given role or in a particular area of expertise.
But while Microsoft’s finally hopped on board, too many IT departments still maintain the school-marm mentality: Ignore it and push it underground, or regulate it in a superficial, published social networking policy.
Preliminary results from a Forrester Research social media survey show that, of the 93% of respondents who access social media from work, almost half work for companies that don’t have a social media policy. Additionally, 38% report that their employer does not sanction access to social media, but they still use it.
Why aren’t IT departments outlining a social networking policy — possibly helping sales organizations in finding new leads, or HR in scouting new talent — including tools many may not know about?
Social networking is a business trend that can bring value, but you have to know how to use it. For the IT department, it’s less about fighting it (blocking sites, prohibiting its use on company time) and all about making sure the business gets the maximum benefit company-wide, as opposed to a few siloed success stories.
So, get started on that social networking roadmap strategy and train users on how to use it — because if good ol’ Microsoft has caught on, what’s your excuse?]]>