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Date: Friday, 18 Jul 2014 07:01

The trick to leveraging managed big data services is determining which projects are good candidates for outsourcing and then finding a service provider that can deliver immediate value while also reducing administrative risks and infrastructure costs.

Table of Contents

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    Author: "Mike Kavis" Tags: "Amazon, Amazon, big data, big data, Clou..."
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    Date: Friday, 18 Jul 2014 00:51

    Even as Aereo touched off an epic legal fight with broadcasters at the Supreme Court, it was unclear just how many people were paying to use the streaming TV service. This week, a potential clue emerged via a letter from the Copyright Office that cited Aereo’s submission of “royalty and filing fees totaling $5,310.74″ for the period of January 1, 2012 until December 31, 2013.

    The letter appeared on Thursday, and came in response to Aereo’s application to pay cable royalties under the Copyright Act’s statutory licensing rules.

    The $5,310 number is significant because it represents a percentage of total revenue during the period for Aereo, which shut its service last month in response to a Supreme Court ruling. On Twitter, law professor Bruce Boyden suggested that the number reflected subscriber revenues of around $1 million for the period:

    Boyden’s figure is an estimate, but it appears consistent with the numbers set out in Section 111 of the Copyright Act (which sets out rates ranging from 0.33 to 1.064 percent of a cable provider’s gross receipts).

    And, as the Hollywood Reporter’s Eriq Gardner noted, that $1 million figure in turn provides a proxy for the number of Aereo subscribers.

    Since Aereo’s basic subscription was $8/month, or about $100 a year, it appears unlikely that the company, which was operating in New York and a dozen other cities, had more than 100,000 paying subscribers. (The $1 million figure represents total revenue for nearly two years so, even if all that revenue came from 2013, that would be equivalent to the annual payments of only 10,000 people).

    Of course, there are some big caveats here: we don’t know, for instance, how quickly Aereo was adding subscribers, including in 2014 when the service expanded to more cities and began receiving a flood of media attention. Likewise, the revenue figure is not an exact proxy for Aereo’s popularity since, in many cases, multiple people would have shared one account. Also, the revenue figure does not reflect Aereo’s future potential since the company likely held back on expansion and marketing pending the outcome of its court case.

    That said, the apparently low number is perhaps remarkable given the sky-is-falling reaction that Aereo engendered in TV industry circles. Aereo did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

    There have been other guesses at Aereo’s numbers. In October of 2013, the Wall Street Journal estimated Aereo’s subscribers by counting lit boxes at its Brooklyn facility. The Journal guessed that Aereo had 100,000 subscribers in New York alone, thought that was never confirmed and was higher than what others in the industry had speculated.

    For now, Aereo’s future is highly uncertain as it tries to navigate its legal status before the Copyright Office and the courts. The next significant milestone may come this month when a New York judge is expected to rule on how an injunction should apply to Aereo.

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    Author: "Jeff John Roberts" Tags: "Aereo, copyright office, cord cutting, P..."
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    Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 22:20

    If you were looking for another way to cement Twitter into your daily life, the company just provided one: shopping. Twitter announced Thursday that it was buying CardSpring, a startup that has built an e-commerce platform that lets people sign up for deals or even purchase items directly from a tweet or other forms of social media.

    Twitter has already been dabbling in the mobile payments and e-commerce space, working with American Express, Amazon and Starbucks to push offers, fill your online shopping cart and even buy friends coffee drinks all within tweets.

    Buying CardSpring though would allow it to scale down to the local business level. Merchants could offer promotions or discounts in their Twitter feeds, which customers could register for using their Twitter credentials and later take advantage of in an online or brick-and-mortar store.

    Twitter didn’t disclose any details on the purchase price.

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    Author: "Kevin Fitchard" Tags: "Amazon, American Express, CardSpring, cr..."
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    Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 22:14

    Google’s quarterly infrastructure spending has been skyrocketing for several quarters now, and the past three months were no exception. Google spent nearly $2.65 billion on data centers during the second quarter — more than $1 billion over last year’s second quarter and more than triple what it spent two years ago.

    Google is now knee-deep in numerous infrastructure-intensive fields, but I suspect its major push into cloud computing is a big contributor to the record spending. As Google Fellow and Senior Vice President of Technical Infrastructure Urs Hölzle explained at our Structure conference last month, the company expects its cloud platform to be a major line of business going forward and it’s spending more money than anybody else to ensure its infrastructure is up to the task.

    Update: This article was corrected at 5 p.m. PST to correct amount Google spent to 2.65B, not 2.67B.

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    Author: "Derrick Harris" Tags: "capex, daata centers, Google, Google, We..."
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    Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 21:25

    Google’s Q2 revenue grew by more than 20 percent compared with the same quarter of last year, beating the consensus expectations of Wall Street analysts, but the company’s bottom line was smaller than expected: excluding one-time expenses, Google reported earnings of $6.08 per share — lower than the $6.25 that Wall Street stock-watchers were expecting. Although the company doesn’t comment on expectations, it did say that spending had increased, primarily as a result of data center construction.

    The company’s revenues totalled $15.96 billion — up 22 percent year-over-year — compared with consensus estimates of $15.61 billion, and earnings after taking into account spending related to stock-based compensation and other expenses hit $3.42 billion or $4.99 per share. After excluding those costs, earnings totaled $4.18 billion.

    One of the metrics that analysts and investors have been watching closely at Google is the cost-per-click related to the company’s ads (the amount Google gets paid by advertisers for each click), whether on its own Google-owned and operated sites such as YouTube or on the sites of partners who belong to AdSense or AdMob networks. The cost-per-click on both its own and its partner properties declined again in the most recent quarter, dropping by 6 percent.

    Google cost per click

    For the first time, Google has started breaking out the figures for its cost-per-click on its own sites versus those of its network partners, and the difference is fairly dramatic: on Google owned and operated sites, CPC was down 7 percent in the quarter, but for network sites it was down almost twice as much at 13 percent. The growth of mobile usage has been a big part of this decline, since mobile ads tend to cost less.

    Google’s capital expenditures hit $2.65 billion, up from $2.35 billion in the first quarter and $1.6 billion in the second quarter of last year. Chief financial officer Patrick Pichette said on the company’s conference call with analysts that the higher spending was a result of data center construction and real estate acquisitions, and that investors “should see it as a positive signal, a sign of our sustained optimism about Google’s business.”

    Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Flickr user Affiliate

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    Author: "Mathew Ingram" Tags: "2014, advertising, earnings, Google, Mob..."
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    Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 21:20

    MIT researchers have created a new network-management system, called Fastpass, that they say cuts down on the long wait times that occur during periods of heavy network congestion. The research team will present its findings during the ACM Special Interest Group on Data Communication conference in mid August.

    In a data center, every time a person makes a request, multiple packets of data have to get passed around via a router from one end to the other. When a lot of people are making requests, these data packets can end up getting clogged in the router as the router sets aside the data packets it can’t handle in a queue.

    Diagram showing reduced latency

    Diagram showing reduced latency

    At the heart of the appropriately named Fastpass system is a centralized server called an arbiter. The MIT researchers claim that each time a router or some other network node like a switch or a bridge wants to shoot out data based on a user request, it first passes the request over to the arbiter, which acts as a sort of overseer of all network nodes and requests. Based on the arbiter’s knowledge of the networking system as well as handy timeslot allocation and path assignment algorithms, it can determine the best networking route and time to send the request through in order to prevent a data packet pileup.

    An excerpt from the MIT research paper describes the technical aspects of the Fastpass system:

    Endpoints communicate with the arbiter using the Fastpass Control Protocol (FCP). FCP is a reliable protocol that conveys the demands of a sending endpoint to the arbiter and the allocated timeslot and paths back to the sender. FCP must balance conflicting requirements: it must consume only a small fraction of network bandwidth, achieve low latency, and handle packet drops and arbiter failure without interrupting endpoint communication. FCP provides reliability using timeouts and ACKs of aggregate demands and allocations. Endpoints aggregate allocation demands over a few microseconds into each request packet sent to the arbiter. This aggregation reduces the overhead of requests, and limits queuing at the arbiter.

    The MIT team apparently tested out Fastpass in a Facebook data center and found that the average queue length of the routers was cut down by 99.6 percent. Even during periods of heavy network traffic, the time it took for a request to be sent and retrieved was reduced from 3.56 microseconds to 0.23 microseconds.

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    Attached Media: application/pdf (1 858 ko)
    Author: "Jonathan Vanian" Tags: "data center, Facebook, Fastpass, Fastpas..."
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    Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 20:46

    In news that surprised no one, Hewlett-Packard named Meg Whitman as its latest chairman of the board on Thursday. Ralph Whitworth, who had been serving in that post, resigned earlier this week citing his health.

    In other news, incumbent director Pat Russo is now the lead independent director and HP named Klaus Kleinfeld, CEO and chairman of Alcoa, was named to the board.

    Whitman was named president and CEO of HP in September 2011, after the  troubled tenure of Leo Apotheker who lasted less than a year.

    On Thursday, HP’s board also declared a cash dividend of $0.16 per share on the company’s common stock, payable on October 1, 2014.

    Whitman is presiding over the transition of an iconic tech company that has already ridden many transitions from its roots in calculators and test instruments to being a major supplier of printers, servers and PCs. Now it continues to juice its hardware business while also pushing more into cloud and related services.



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    Author: "Barb Darrow" Tags: "Hewlett-Packard, HP, Meg Whitman, Meg Wh..."
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    Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 20:18

    Google’s chief business officer Nikesh Arora is leaving, the company announced as part of its earnings release Thursday. Arora is heading to Softbank, where he will become vice chairman, as well as CEO of the subsidiary SoftBank Internet and Media. Omid Kordestani, who up until now served as a senior advisor to Google CEO Larry Page, will be taking over Arora’s duties on an interim basis.

    Arora joined Google in 2004, and took over as SVP and chief business officer in early 2011. He’s been a key part of Google’s earnings calls, which he has been live tweeting as well, so it’s only fitting that he announced his departure on Twitter as well:

    Arora’s departure is just the latest in a string of management shake-ups for Google. Earlier this year, it parted ways with Vic Gundotra, who was the driving force behind Google+ and the longtime face of Google’s developer efforts. And in February, the company put veteran ad executive Susan Wojcicki in charge of YouTube.

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    Author: "Janko Roettgers" Tags: "Google, Google, nikesh arora, Softbank, ..."
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    Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 18:58

    No, the included watch faces on Android Wear smartwatches won’t be the only ones you can choose from. You’ll eventually be able to download new ones from the Play Store, but Google isn’t quite ready for that yet. In a Google+ post on Thursday, Wayne Piekarski, a senior developer advocate at Google, said the company is working on a API developers can use to create watch faces.

    Of course — and somewhat typically for many early Google products — developers aren’t waiting for the API. Earlier this week we saw a Star Trek–themed Android Wear watch face, for example, and that’s not the only one available.

    Star Trek LCARS Android Wear


    It’s not yet time for these, says Piekarski.

    “As we work on finalizing the API, we would suggest not posting your apps publicly to Google Play until there is a stable, published API (we’d suggest using Alpha or Beta channels, available through the Play Developer Console, in the meantime). These changes mentioned above are coming soon and will make it easier for you to create great watch faces, but the existing unpublished API may not be compatible with the next Android Wear release, and no one wants to disrupt the experience for users in the future.”

    The suggestion makes sense, but I suspect it will fall on some deaf ears. One of the more attractive features of Android is how customizable it is and how much you can tinker with it. We saw the same situation when Google’s Chromecast launched: Apps to extend the functionality of the streaming stick quickly appeared in the Play Store using an early version of the SDK. As Google changed the SDK, these apps lost functionality or were simply broken.

    For now, I anticipate more Android Wear watch faces to appear in the Play Store, even if that’s not what Google desires. Developers probably won’t want to wait on the official API, which may not appear until the Android L release later this year, just to create official Android Wear watch faces. At that point, I’d expect developers to retool their watch faces with the official API to be fully optimized for the Android Wear user interface and for battery life.

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    Author: "Kevin C. Tofel" Tags: "Android, Android Wear, Google, Google Pl..."
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    Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 18:47

    Intel said on Thursday that it has created a customized version of its Xeon E7 x2 processor that is tailored to work with Oracle software. The new chip will supposedly allow for better performing Oracle applications that can handle more tasks than they could previously handle.

    Essentially, Oracle’s new Exadata Database Machine X4-8, used for data warehousing and resource-heavy tasks like online transaction processing (OLTP) and in-memory workloads, is powered by the new Intel customizable silicon. Using the new processor, the Oracle machines can now be controlled via software to make changes on the fly to better allocate resources when necessary.

    The news highlights two recent developments by both Oracle and Intel in recent months. Last month at Structure, Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s data center group, explained how Intel developed a customizable chip that links together a Xeon processor and a field-programmable gate array (FPGA). Using the FPGA in conjunction with the processor supposedly results in a much more efficient chip that can be used for complex tasks like translating search algorithms and compressing genetic data, Bryant said.

    Last month also saw Oracle announcing its In Memory Option software to be used as an add-on to the company’s database lineup for enhanced real-time analytics and transactional workloads.

    Today’s announcement shows the advent of more specialized chips needed for more specialized workloads. With Intel wanting to ensure that its chip making skills are still a big business while not losing workloads to OEMS or Arm (or even the cloud), it’s betting there’s money to be had in customizing chips for specific types of jobs.

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    Author: "Jonathan Vanian" Tags: "ARM, big data, chip, data warehouse, FPG..."
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    Date: Monday, 07 Jul 2014 15:28

    AT&T is sweetening its pre-order deals for the LG G3 smartphone by offering 50 percent off accessories with purchase. Aside from the LG Quick Circle Folio case and stereo Bluetooth headset, that discount also applies to the LG G Watch. The G Watch purchased directly through the Google Play Store at full price is $229, so a G Watch bundled with the G3 smartphone will only cost $114.50.

    In a release published Monday, AT&T outlined the details and availability for both products. Starting tomorrow, the G Watch can be ordered while pre-orders start for the G3 phone; presumably the G Watch will ship sooner since it is generally available today. Both can be had in AT&T retail stores on July 11. There are three purchase options for the smartphone: Zero down and no contract for $24.17 a month in the AT&T Next 18 program, zero down and no contract for $29 a month with AT&T Next 12 or $199 with a two-year agreement.

    I took an early look at the LG G3 last month, although it was a South Korean model that wasn’t compatible with the cellular networks here in the U.S. Overall, the phone is impressive, boasting a higher resolution 5.5-inch display than competing devices. The Android phone was a solid performer during my limited time with it and takes reasonably good images; LG says it can focus faster than other phones thanks to a laser auto-focus system, but I didn’t see a huge benefit there.

    LG G3 featured

    I spent even less time with the company’s G Watch, having just a few minutes to use one at Google I/O 2014 last month. I was offered a choice between a loaner G Watch or a Samsung Gear Live at the event and chose the Samsung model mainly because it felt better on my wrist. There is little difference between the two otherwise, save for a larger battery in the G Watch, while the Samsung has an integrated heart rate monitor and different display technology.

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    Author: "Kevin C. Tofel" Tags: "Android, Android Wear, AT&T, Google,..."
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    Date: Monday, 07 Jul 2014 14:52

    HTC might be profitable again, but the path to matching the success it enjoyed in 2010 goes straight through Asia. Its new mid-range handset, the Desire 616, might be just the ticket, powered by an Octo-core processor made by MediaTek.

    First launched in China and currently rolling out across Asia and Russia, the five-inch handset is powered by a MediaTek-made processor with eight cores clocked at 1.4GHz and features dual-SIM support. There’s no LTE support, but the device does support HSPA+ connections up to 21Mbps. The screen is a respectable 720 x 1280 pixels. Disappointingly, the device runs Android 4.2 JellyBean, which is an out-of-date version of the operating system.

    This isn’t the first HTC device with a MediaTek processor — that honor would go to the Desire 310, a low-end device — but it’s yet another sign that HTC is diversifying its product line with mid-range handsets for emerging markets, in addition to the aluminum phones powered by top-tier processors it’s known for in the United States and Europe.

    The Desire 616 only comes with 4GB of onboard storage, but includes a card slot that can add up to 32GB of microSD storage. Its battery is also removable. The rear-facing camera is an 8MP shooter that is probably the same module that was included in the HTC One Mini 2.

    The Desire 616 will have some of HTC’s unique software features, including its Sense interface and BlinkFeed, which is a social media stream pinned to a home screen.

    The Desire 616 isn’t heading to the United States, and whether it is a hit in Asia depends on the price. Based on murmurs from earlier this year, it should cost between $200 and $300 when it goes on sale. If HTC can deliver its high-quality hardware at that price point, it might be just compelling enough to boost its bottom line.


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    Author: "Kif Leswing" Tags: "desire 616, HTC, HTC Desire, jellybean, ..."
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    Date: Monday, 07 Jul 2014 13:55

    If you consider the start of the current tablet market to be 2010 when the iPad launched, it will have only taken five years for tablets to outsell traditional PCs. That’s the expectation from research firm Gartner, which published its latest computer sales forecast figures on Monday.

    Dell Venue Pro tablets

    We’ve already witnessed an overall decline in PC sales for the past 18 months but the growth rate for tablet sales is slowing as well. Put another way: Tablet sales are still on the rise, just not as quickly as they were in previous years. Gartner estimates 256 million tablets will be sold this year, which is 23.9 percent more than in 2013. By comparison, the firm says 120 million tablets were sold in 2012 and 206 million last year, which is a jump of nearly 72 percent.

    Next year, Gartner figures, will see 320.9 million tablet sales compared to 316.6 million traditional PCs, ultramobile and premium notebooks, marking the first time tablets will outsell their computing ancestors.

    That may not be a surprise; after all, there are many reasons for consumers and businesses to spend money on tablets as opposed to desktops and notebooks. Tablets have continued to gain functions that were once the domain of traditional computers, for example. Computers are also on longer replacement cycles by comparison. My son, for instance, uses a 2008 MacBook laptop and just said he hopes to use it through his last two years of high school before replacing it. And tablets are generally priced lower than computers, making them easier on the budget.

    Does this mean tablets are replacing computers? For some, they surely are, but there are still plenty of good reasons for traditional computers to exist, ranging from legacy enterprise apps to animation in the entertainment industry.

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    Author: "Kevin C. Tofel" Tags: "Apple, desktops, Gartner, iPad, Laptops,..."
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    Date: Monday, 07 Jul 2014 13:40

    Amazon Web Services leads the league in public cloud services. By a lot. Even after big strides by Microsoft and Google, Gartner analyst Lydia Leong estimated that AWS alone still has five times more IaaS compute capacity than the aggregate total of the other 14 cloud providers Gartner tracked.

    That’s not to say AWS is invulnerable. Even devout fans acknowledge that Amazon’s resources are unwieldy to track and monitor. Attendees of Google’s cloud event in March included many AWS users who were very enthusiastic about Google’s sustained usage price model, which kicks off discounts automatically when certain utilization levels are met.

    That sure beats having to futz over spreadsheets tracking AWS usage, according to the developer sitting next to me at the Google event. He wasn’t ready to jump to Google yet, but he acknowledged that Google Cloud was certainly worth a look.

    As one AWS watcher put it: “Amazon wants to sell you the Big Mac, but it charges separately for the bun, the ketchup, the onions, the pickles and the secret sauce. Many people just want to buy the Big Mac, all-inclusive.”

    And many developers are seeing the advantage of using more all-inclusive resources like DigitalOcean “droplets” that bundle SSD-backed storage, memory, CPU cores and data transfer for a set price ranging from $5 to $80 per month. On last week’s Structure Show, DigitalOcean CEO Ben Uretsky said DigitalOcean has never had to discount that pricing.

    AWS challenge: Making complexity simple

    But anyone who thinks Amazon is standing still doesn’t know Amazon. The concept of CPU credits it unveiled along with new t.2 “burstable” EC2 instances show that it will continue to tweak its services.

    In an interview last week, Amazon’s GM of data science Matt Wood would not comment on plans for more automation, but he did note that one of the design goals of the CPU credits, which show up on the customer’s CloudWatch console, is that they kick in without the user having to think about them.

    Per AWS evangelist Jeff Barr’s blog post:

    “Your ability to burst is based on the concept of ‘CPU Credits’ that you accumulate during quiet periods and spend when things get busy. You can provision an instance of modest size and cost and still have more than adequate compute power in reserve to handle peak demands for compute power.”

    So Amazon knows it needs to get more automated and simpler, but it has a long way to go. Even the new t.2 instances add complexity, according to Brian Adler, principal cloud architect at RightScale, which provides multi-cloud management and monitoring tools.

    In a blog post, Adler wrote:

    “[A]lthough the new t2.small instances are 40 percent cheaper than the m1.small instances, the m1.small instances include storage, while the new T2 instances do not. In addition, the T2 family operates as a shared CPU model. For example, at baseline, the t2.small instance gives you only 20 percent of a CPU core.”

    RightScale's comparison of small AWS EC2 instances. ECU stands for EC2 compute unit.

    RightScale’s comparison of small AWS EC2 instances. ECU stands for EC2 compute unit.

    And, Adler added:

    “While the T2 family has 1 or 2 vCPUs, you are sharing the vCPU so only get a percentage of the vCPU power. AWS also provides an ECU measure (EC2 Compute Unit) that describes the relative measure of processing power for different instance types. However, in the case of T2 instances, the published ECU ratings are ‘Variable’ due to the bursting capabilities, which makes it difficult to compare with other instance types.”

    Expect Amazon to roll out more automation-in-service-of-simplicity going forward. That could start as early as this Thursday at the AWS Summit in New York, or if not there, definitely at its annual AWS Re:Invent event in November.

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    Author: "Barb Darrow" Tags: "Amazon, Amazon Web Services, Amazon Web ..."
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    Date: Monday, 07 Jul 2014 13:20

    Looking for an affordable 10-inch Android tablet? On Monday, LG officially launched the 10.1 G Pad, the biggest in its family of value-oriented tablets.

    The 10.1 G Pad is the newest and largest of four tablets in the G Pad line of Android slates. Unfortunately, its specs haven’t been boosted for the larger screen: the 10.1 G Pad only sports a comparatively low-resolution 1280 x 800 IPS screen, a quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor (most likely the 400) and 1GB of RAM. The screen is particularly disappointing, considering the LG G3 smartphone sports a 5.5-inch display with a 2560 x 1440 resolution, the best panel currently on a smartphone sold in the United States. The difference in resolution will be clear when switching from one LG device to the other.

    On the other hand, the G Pad has some of LG’s nifty software features from the G3, including QPair, which allows LG smartphones to connect to LG tablets over Bluetooth; LG’s dual window multitasking; and “knock code,” which allows users to knock the tablet to wake it up. The device will run Android 4.4 KitKat, the most recent release version, and thankfully a microSD slot for expandable storage is included.

    Price and availability are not immediately available, but LG says the G Pad 10.1 will make its debut in the United States “later in the month.” The tablet’s smaller sibling, the G Pad 8.3, has a suggested retail price of $330, so expect something in that range.

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    Author: "Kif Leswing" Tags: "Android, g pad, LG, lg pad 10.1, tablets"
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    Date: Monday, 07 Jul 2014 12:55

    Software-defined networking (SDN) has evolved over the past few years from concept to basic protocols to a new framework for evolved data networking. In 2014 this new approach to networking has found its way into pilots and even production networks across multiple industries. That’s because SDN allows users to abstract network services from the underlying network hardware — turning the standard network deployment on its head and focusing squarely on the applications that the network provides connectivity for. This new level of flexibility and agility is enabling businesses to provide faster, more reliable IT and cloud services than they ever could before.

    Realizing these benefits takes time because SDN is still an emerging technology. Solutions are evolving and early adopters are undertaking much of the integration work to make new SDN gear work with their existing infrastructures.

    In this webinar, our panel will address these topics:

    • Opportunities presented by SDN
    • Constraints and realities of this still nascent technology
    • Case studies of successful SDN deployments
    • Where to start and how to proceed with an SDN pilot
    • Conclusion and key takeaways

    Speakers include:

    • Ashar Baig, research director, Gigaom Research
    • Ben Kepes, director, Diversity Analysis
    • Greg Ferro, independent analyst
    • Charles Ferland, VP, Business Development, Nuage Networks

    Register here to join Gigaom Research and Nuage Networks for “ Software-defined networking in the real world,” a free analyst webinar on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. PDT.

    If you would like explore more SDN, read “SDN meets the real world: implementation benefits and challenges” (this report was underwritten by Nuage Networks).

    Author: "Gigaom" Tags: "Uncategorized, SDN"
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    Date: Monday, 07 Jul 2014 12:22

    International air travelers heading to the U.S. now face another potential headache in security lines: they may not be able to board their plane unless they are able to turn on their phones, laptops and other electronic devices.

    According to a new order announced on Sunday by the Department of Homeland Security:

    “During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones. Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. The traveler may also undergo additional screening.”

    The new order, which did not specify which particular airports will be subject to the decree, comes after earlier expressions of concern by U.S. concern that devices might be used as a shell to contain a bomb.

    According to a security expert cited by the Wall Street Journal, the Transportation Security Administration issued a warning over such a plot in 2012 and has already been asking passengers to power up devices, but the new directive will serve to increase such procedures. The TSA did not state if U.S. agents will conduct more extensive searches of the devices themselves.

    The new measures may add to already-arduous wait times at the airport, though the security expert cited by the Journal suggested that airlines may rush to provide chargers to passengers who are waiting to board.

    While the TSA doesn’t have direct jurisdiction over foreign airports, the U.S. requires airlines and airports to take certain measures if they wish to provide non-stop service to American cities.

    Author: "Jeff John Roberts" Tags: "air travel, airports, Department of Home..."
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    Date: Monday, 07 Jul 2014 10:25

    In the wake of Europe’s top court invalidating the Data Retention Directive for having insufficient privacy safeguards, the British government is set to pass emergency laws allowing the core functions to continue there. According to a Sunday report in The Guardian, all major political parties support forcing providers to store and provide law enforcement access to details of who called or emailed whom and when, as has been the case since 2009. However, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are reportedly against expanding existing powers to also take in details like which web pages people visit. This “snooper’s charter” idea has been repeatedly suggested and shot down, but the government remains keen to see it put into practice.

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    Author: "David Meyer" Tags: "Data Protection, data retention, privacy..."
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    Date: Monday, 07 Jul 2014 07:52

    The European freelancer marketplace Twago has taken a chunky investment from Randstad, one of the world’s top recruitment firms.

    Twago focuses on the sorts of jobs freelancers can do from behind a keyboard – translation, design, coding and so on. It operates in much the same space as Elance and oDesk, but unlike those U.S. firms it’s willing to deal in languages other than English and handle European currency.

    The Berlin-based firm filed for bankruptcy back in early 2012 after an angel investor vanished, but it swiftly returned with publishing and classifieds giant Müller Medien as majority investor. That company is again involved in the new financing round, which I understand is in a healthy seven-figure range, and it remains the majority stakeholder.

    Randstad participated via its Randstad Innovation Fund, which the recruitment behemoth is using to tap into new human resources trends. This is the second investment for that initiative, after “mobile workforce” outfit Gigwalk. According to a statement from Randstad’s Paul Jacquin, “companies are more and more interested in short-term projects in order to meet demands for increased flexibility in a changing world of work.”

    Twago, meanwhile, sees Randstad as a good partner for expanding its reach into the more traditional turf where the Dutch recruitment firm is so prevalent in Europe.

    “Randstad is very strong in Europe and has access to a great variety of small, medium and even large enterprises where we don’t have access,” Twago founder Thomas Jajeh (pictured) told me, explaining that Twago had previously relied mostly on online marketing. “We can greatly benefit in terms of scale.”

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    Author: "David Meyer" Tags: "Berlin, hr, human resources, Randstad, r..."
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    Date: Sunday, 06 Jul 2014 17:30

    The US has the best research universities in the world, which is why we attract the best students from around the world. Forcing them to leave, rather than allowing them to stay and add their skills and knowledge to our economy, is one of the most short-sighted policies we have.” —John Hennessy, President, Stanford University

    America’s top universities are busy graduating a new crop of highly-skilled scientists, engineers and mathematicians — more than half of them foreign-born — but many of them will not remain in the US after graduation. The fact is, many of our foreign-born students will accept jobs elsewhere because current immigration policy makes it difficult for them to stay and work.

    Why would we let some of the best and brightest graduates of our top universities leave? The rational, as it is applied across all spectrums of immigration policy by a myriad of political pundits, appears simple: “Immigrants take jobs from Americans.” It’s a supply and demand argument that claims jobs filled by these highly skilled graduates could have been filled by unemployed Americans.

    However, the reality contradicts these claims. Foreign-born STEM (sciencetechnologyengineering and mathematics) graduates are actually proven job creators. Arguably, they are America’s single strongest economic driver in the modern era. A report by the Technology CEO Council stated that entrepreneurial “start-ups are disproportionately founded and supported” by foreign-born individuals. According to a report by The New American Economy, 40 percent of the largest US companies were founded by immigrants or first-generation immigrants, including many of the hottest tech startups. A recent example, Whatsapp, which sold to Facebook for $19 billion, was founded by a Ukrainian immigrant. My own company, Mediaocean, was founded by an immigrant more than 40 years ago.

    Furthermore, hiring these foreign STEM graduates is anything but cheap. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 2.5 computer science openings for every graduate. In fact, the top five largest technology companies in the US have over 10,000 combined unfilled computer science openings. These statistics inspired CEOs from many of our largest tech companies and trade associations to write an open letter to President Obama and Congress asking for a reformed immigration policy. Companies need to subsidize hired workers through a costly and complex immigration process stuck in a bygone era of bureaucratic paperwork with little automation.

    As global competition for STEM talent increases, other countries are attempting to capitalize on our dysfunction. One need look no further than the billboards Canada has placed along our technology corridors for evidence of this. Saudi Arabia and other countries are building national laboratory systems similar to our own with an emphasis on recruiting US-trained scientists.

    So, how do we solve this problem? It begins with the H1-B visa. H1-B is the designation for short–term, skilled workers visa in the US. Applicants must have at least a bachelor’s degree under a broad list of majors, including some liberal arts, business and STEM majors. The amount of H1-B visas is capped at 65,000 per year for bachelor-degreed applicants with another 20,000 reserved for master’s degrees. This cap was put in place 10 years ago and has not grown to meet the demand, which is estimated at anywhere from two to three times this amount, according to the report by The New American Economy. The US should double the amounts of H1-B visas given every year while increasing the fees substantially, from the $325 an applicant pays today to $1,500 or more. The difference in fees should be used to help fund scholarships for US-born students to pursue STEM degrees.

    Even once an employee gets an H1-B visa, there can still be issues. If an H1-B visa holder loses their job today, they need to leave the country if they are unable to immediately find a new sponsor. There is no grace period whatsoever. It again appears short-sighted to lose a highly-skilled worker due to temporary employment status. Work permits should be granted to any foreign students that graduate with a degree from an accredited four-year US university in a STEM field. After working for four years in a STEM field, they should be allowed to self-petition for permanent residency (as opposed to employer-sponsored). This way we keep the brightest people here, but they are free to change jobs or move to new locations as they desire.

    Finally, we should create a special visa designation for foreign technology entrepreneurs who wish to relocate their business to the US. This designation should be limited in scope and require the business to have enough capital resources to be a net job creator. As President Obama said last year, “Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity, until bright young students are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.” Now is the time to get the politicians to act on this common sense issue.

    John Bauschard is President, Platforms at Mediaocean, where he oversees development and adoption of Mediaocean’s next-generation systems for the global marketing industry.
    Photo courtesy of Shutterstock user Filipe Frazao.

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