pbahra writes: There is no shortage of talk about Big Data and the transformational impact it will have, but one sector of the economy that traditionally hasn’t been a heavy user of technology is hoping it can reap the benefits, too. Charities, nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations — or the third sector — are hopeful that the ability not merely to handle vast datasets, which is one attribute of Big Data, but the combination of disparate datasets, will bring new insights to their work, resulting in greater efficiencies on the ground, and better value for money. For example, using satellite data, weather information, population density and other information allows teams to focus efforts on distributing things like malaria nets or doing indoor residual spraying, or even stepping up education programs in areas likely to be blighted.
pbahra writes: "Finally, the U.K. is going to get a 4G mobile-Internet service. For a country that was once at the cutting edge of mobile telephony, its lack of a high-speed mobile broadband was becoming a severe embarrassment. Everything Everywhere, Britain’s largest mobile network operator, has been granted permission by U.K. regulator Ofcom to provide next-generation LTE services as early as Sept. 11. Although Ofcom’s ruling is a significant step for the U.K.’s telecoms future, the choice of frequency — 1,800 MHz — means that devices that can take advantage of the much faster data speeds that LTE offers—theoretically up to 100 megabits a second—are limited. Currently the only significant market using the frequency is South Korea. While 1,800 MHz is in use in a small number of European countries, and in Australia, numbers of users are small in comparison to the U.S.. This means devices may be harder to get and cost more. So anyone who thinks their new iPad is going to zip along at 4G speeds is going to be disappointed; the new iPad only supports U.S. LTE frequencies. For the same reason, those hanging on for the new iPhone, expected to be announced on Sept. 12, in the hope that it will be LTE-compliant are unlikely to have good news. Even if there is a new iPhone, and even if it is LTE enabled, will it operate on Everything Everywhere’s frequency?"
pbahra writes: "It seems that the markets are as much in love with “Big Data”—the ability to acquire, process and sort vast quantities of data in real time—as with the technology industry. The first Big Data initial public offering hit the market last week to roaring approval. Splunk Inc., which helps businesses organize and make sense of all the information they gather, soared 109% on its first day of trading. Big Data, big price. However, according to a report published last year by McKinsey, there is a problem. “A significant constraint on realizing value from Big Data will be a shortage of talent, particularly of people with deep expertise in statistics and machine learning, and the managers and analysts who know how to operate companies by using insights from Big Data,” the report said. “We project a need for 1.5 million additional managers and analysts in the United States who can ask the right questions and consume the results of the analysis of Big Data effectively.” What the industry needs is a new type of person: the data scientist."
pbahra writes: "Conferences for start-ups and entrepreneurs often feature "pitch contests," slots in which aspiring entrepreneurs take to the stage to sell their ideas to the audience. Last month's ArabNet conference, held in the Lebanese capital, was no different. What was different, however, was the number of pitches from female entrepreneurs. The stereotype has it that women in the Middle East are subjugated, oppressed and barely let out of their houses. But if that is the case, how come 40% of the pitches were from women—a higher percentage than is typical in equivalent conferences held in Europe? Nor was this closer-to-equal representation of women unique to ArabNet--other conferences in the region boast similar ratios."
pbahra writes: "As the impact of mobile devices takes hold, retailers are set to see the same transformative period that has roiled the media industry, according to eBay Chief Executive John Donahoe. For Mr. Donahoe, the company’s future lies in being a bridge between the physical and virtual worlds of commerce. “People talked about digitization of the media for years, and then the iPad came out,” he said. “What has happened since the iPad came out? Hundreds of millions of people have fundamentally changed how they consume media. The same thing is happening to shopping. Consumers are now in charge. And they are using these devices in ways that no one would have guessed.”"
pbahra writes: "Kodak’s declaration of bankruptcy earlier this month closed a glorious chapter in the history of photography. With the introduction of the first automatic snapshot camera more than 110 years ago, Kodak transformed photography from an alchemy-like activity dominated by professionals into a hugely popular one that became an integral part of people’s lives. Photography had been mostly confined to professionals who took formal portraits in studios. Kodak got photography out of studios and into family life. Understanding how it did this is vital to grasping the reasons for its failure. Thus, when digital technology arrived in the photographic industry, Kodak inhabited a world that was largely its own creation. There was no one more steeped in it than Kodak. This became obvious to me when I spent a day with Kodak’s top management in their Rochester headquarters in the U.S. about 11 years ago. But by the end of the day, I was convinced that this company was not going to be around much longer. Here are the top five reasons for Kodak’s demise:"
pbahra writes: "Europeans will take to the streets this weekend in protest at the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, an international agreement that has given birth to an ocean full of red herrings. That so many have spawned is, say critics, in no small part down to the way in which this most controversial of international agreements was drawn up. If the negotiating parties had set out to stoke the flames of Internet paranoia they could not have done a better job. Accepted there are two things that should never be seen being made in public—laws and sausages—the ACTA process could be a case study of how not to do it. Conducted in secret, with little information shared except a few leaked documents, the ACTA talks were even decried by those who were involved in them."
pbahra writes: "It isn’t often you get the chance to meet a real revolutionary. It is a term cheapened by misuse, but Khaled el Mufti is a revolutionary. It is no exaggeration to say that the role he played in the Libyan uprising last year was crucial; had he and his telecoms team failed, it isn’t hard to think that Col. Muammar Gadhafi might still be in power. Today, Mr. Mufti is a telecoms adviser to the interim government and heads the e-Libya initiative, a bold plan to use the transformative powers of technology to modernize the Libyan state, overturning 40 years of corruption and misrule under Gadhafi. Mr. Mufti is an unlikely revolutionary, a softly spoken network-security engineer with a degree from Imperial College in London. Almost by chance he was in his native Libya when the revolution took place, working on a project with BT in the capital, Tripoli. When a large protest was called for Feb. 17 in Benghazi, he told his BT colleagues to leave, and he headed for Benghazi. It was quickly apparent that the key communications technology for the rebels wasn’t the internet, but the mobile network. “Having shut off international calls, we thought it was very likely he would shut down the mobile network.” In utmost secrecy Mr. el Mufti and a small team started to plan and build their own system. They had one major stroke of luck."
pbahra writes: "News that the U.K. is scrapping its unloved IT curriculum has been well received, but how important were school lessons? TechEurope asked a range of entrepreneurs from around Europe what they learned at school, and whether it was what persuaded them to take up the career they have. Here's what they had to say."
pbahra writes: "One of the biggest cultural problems that entrepreneurs face in western Europe is the attitude to failure. In America and eastern Europe, failure is often seen as a stepping stone to success; in western Europe it is a wall. So how does that explain the success of Duane Jackson, CEO of KashFlow? A company that since 2004 has been selling accounting software for small businesses and today has over 10,000 customers and is still the only accounting software with certified PayPal integration. “I failed spectacularly,” he said. Spectacular means being arrested in early 1999 at the airport in Atlanta, Ga. attempting to smuggle in 6,500 ecstasy tablets. “I’m sometimes asked how I fell into crime. I didn’t fall into it. I grew up with it.” Growing up in children’s homes from the age of 11, Mr. Jackson taught himself how to program. “None of the secondary schools in Newham [London] would take me. The children’s home were left to teach me. So they locked me in the dining room with a few worksheets, but they also had a ZX Spectrum in there. I spent close to a year with the manual and learned how to program.”"
pbahra writes: "Renault has launched what it describes as a “tablet,” an integrated Android device built into its next range of cars, effectively opening the way to the car-as-a-platform. The device, called the R-link, will be integrated into the forthcoming Renault Clio 4 as well as the Zoe electric vehicle, according to Patrick Hoffstetter, Renault’s chief digital officer. Renault will roll it out across the full range, he said. At the Le Web conference last year, Renault’s chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, announced the company’s intention to open up the car to developers, safety considerations not withstanding. “The car is becoming a new platform,” said Mr. Hoffstetter. He said the seven-inch device can be controlled by voice recognition or by buttons on the steering wheel. “We need help now,” he said. “We need developers to work on apps.” When it launches, there will be about 50 apps bundled with the device, mostly written by Renault. “We will open a Renault app store for people to download their own apps,” he said. Although Mr. Hoffstetter would not be drawn on the exact terms for developers, he said there would be a revenue share."
pbahra writes: "A computer the size of of a pack of cards, yet powerful enough to run full-scale applications, and even provide high-definition, Blu-ray quality output is being designed by researchers in Cambridge. It will cost just $25. Called Raspberry Pi, think of it as Lego for the digital generation. According to Robert Mullins, co-founder and lecturer at Cambridge University’s Computer Science department, the computer is aimed mainly at school children to help them enjoy computers and have fun programming. “We wanted something that had a kit, or toy, feel to it,” he said. “We wanted to make it cheap enough so that even if you only have pocket money you should be able to buy one.”"
pbahra writes: "What’s the difference between a smartphone and a feature phone? According to Mary McDowell, who is leading Nokia's feature phone charge in emerging markets, it's the fact that software applications can be written to run natively on the operating system. It’s a definition that average consumers likely don’t care about. Ms. McDowell is trying to blur that line with feature phones that surf the web and run applications (not natively on the OS) such as Facebook and WhatsApp. When asked why, she says it’s more about getting these consumers to pay a little bit more for their features phones—which help Nokia’s margins—and less about prepping people to trade up to smartphones. Nokia’s effort to “bring the Internet to the next billion” is an interesting strategy that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves."
pbahra writes: "Although the debate on net neutrality is frequently heated it is also often ill-informed and can seem obscure which is why, perhaps, the arguments have often been restricted to a techy minority. A new U.K. report, The Open Internet--Platform for Growth seeks to throw a little light on the issue. It should, however, be noted from the outset that the organizations that commissioned the work, the BBC Blinkbox, Channel 4 television, Skype and Yahoo have all benefited from net neutrality. Nevertheless the points raised are ones that do need to be answered by supporters of Internet traffic discrimination. In the executive summary, the report, produced by Plum Consulting, outlines what it sees as the principles governing the open Internet. The report suggests there is a sort of virtuous circle where consumer demand for Internet access drives investment in enhanced networks, that in turn allows growth in Internet-based applications, which consumers want and therefore drives their demand for access, and so on. "The open Internet has allowed start-ups such as Skype, Yahoo!, Spotify, YouTube, Google and Facebook to scale globally," the report says."
pbahra writes: "Twitter could almost have been created as a tool for scientific analysis. It churns out vast quantities of data in a format that looks perfect for computational crunching. But do tweets reflect what is really going on in the world? The BBC reports on how “engineers” from Texas Rice University monitored tweets during American football games. Professor Lin Zhong said that this tracking revealed what was happening in the game sometimes faster than broadcast media, often registering big events within 20 seconds. This Twitter-following technique, he said, could be applied to anything from monitoring reactions during televised political debates to revealing the location and duration of power cuts. However, other scientists were warning of the potential dangers of focusing too much research on social media and big data analysis techniques."