Archive | October 10, 2012

Microsoft Office: Coming to your smart phone soon!

Still looking for the perfect app for your phone to open documents on the go?

“Microsoft product manager Petr Bobek has confirmed that the software maker is planning to release native iOS and Android versions of Office 2013 next year. Speaking at a press event in the Czech Republic earlier today, Bobek told Czech site IHNED that native apps will be made available from March 2013.

A press release, seen by The Verge, from Microsoft’s Czech Republic team confirms the availability for iOS and Android. “In addition to Windows, Office will be also available on other operating systems, Windows Phone, Windows RT, Mac OS, Android, iOS and Symbian,” says Microsoft, while separately noting that there will also be a new version of Office Web Apps too. Office for iPad has long been rumored to be in the works, offering iOS users a way to access Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents from Apple’s tablet and phone devices.

The press release also mentions that Office 2013 will be made available to businesses in December, with a consumer launch scheduled for the end of February 2013. “Office 365 services and other Office products for mobile (phones and tablets) will be released from March 2013,” says Microsoft.” – source

Interesting news I would say, since I am still looking for the perfect app to open those kind of documents on my Android phone. Are you looking forward to this app? Would you be willing to try it, even on your iPhone?

 

Forgot your password?

The word cloud in this picture shows the most commonly used paswords, with greater prominence given to those most frequently. Published in InformationWeek BYTE ‘Top 5 Password Managers’. Dazzlepod. Disclosure Project, dazzlepod.com/disclosure/

Passwords, in these days you need them anywhere. For accessing your Facebook account, different email accounts, your EUR-account, forum sites, Twitter, your online bank account, your work, online shopping and so I can go on. Besides, there is more and more known about ‘internet danger’ and we process more private information over the internet than ever. So a good, save password is important, but not everyone sees that importance already. Roughly, there are two types of persons.

  • Persons who choose the same easy password everywhere. Probably the name of your dog, girlfriend or boyfriend or just a random word and maybe they even added some numbers.
  • Persons who want to do it ‘properly’ and created a complex sequence of letters, numbers and symbols as a password.

Then, there is the problem that you have to memorize it. Your e-mail account will work out fine, you basically use it on a daily basis. But what about that online shopping site you registered once? Of course you have the option: ‘Forgot password’.  But sometimes you get a ridiculous question like: ‘What was your hobby when you where young?’ or ‘Who was your best friend in primary school? ‘ (very surprising that you give a different answer when time has passed by) Besides, it is sometimes really easy to guess for others. So what should you do then?

Well, I believe in the future you won’t need passwords. They probably scan your eyeball or track your voice. You already have laptops with fingerprint readers, but they fail too often to be taken seriously. But there are actually nice innovations in development. Touchscreens could be configured to detect subtle aspects of your interactions with your computer, like the distances between your fingers or the speeds at which you tap and scroll. Technologists at Rutgers University in New Jersey have built a prototype of a ring, worn on the finger, that would send tiny bursts of electricity through the user’s skin to the screen, vouching for his or her identity.

But what you should do now? Install a piece of software. You have so called ‘password wallets’ like LastPass or 1Password. (some examples) They generate unique random passwords for you and store them all behind a single master password. Just make sure you remember that password, there’s no recovery process based on security questions. Use internet safely. 😉

(interested in my source and a really nice article about this topic? Go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/oct/05/online-security-passwords-tricks-hacking#zoomed-picture)

Fighting Fraud with Benford’s Law

Last time I’ve been writing about making predictions of the future, by making use of Big Data from the past. This is called Predictive Analytics. But in several cases it is not possible to make predictions based on data. Fraud for example, is one of these cases. That’s what you would probably think………

Read More…

The Chinese Room – a thought experiment

The DBA lecture on smart agents and the rather amusing presentation of “SIMI” reminded me of a documentation I’ve seen recently.

So, I’ve been spending the weekend watching a “BBC Horizon” marathon (if you ever want to feel smarter, just slump on a couch and do this…) and amongst documentaries about driverless cars, the hopeless British inventor Clive Sinclair and Fermat’s Last Theorem, I watched the 1987 episode “Thinking”. It is a documentary about the early stages of Artificial Intelligence.

It also includes “The Chinese Room”, which is a thought experiment proposed by John Searle. The hypothetical situation is that science was able to come up with a computer that behaves as if it understands Chinese. It would be able to answer any written question in Chinese and convince a native Chinese speaker that the program itself is a native Chinese speaker. The question now is: does the program really “understand” Chinese?

This of course is a documentary from the 80’s. Considering Siri, refrigerators that talk to you and voice controlled DSS, do you think AI research has finally produced programs that “understand” us?

Google Ventures – The Nest Thermostat

After hearing lots of interesting facts about Google and its diverse investment strategy during our last workshop, I did some research on the Google Ventures website and found an interesting technology that I wanted to share with you.

It is called the NEST thermostat. It is basically a smart thermostat that gathers all the information about your daily habits – when you turn on the heating, when you leave the house, etc. – and uses this input to automatically learn from the users temperature settings. After using it for a few days/weeks it programs itself and ultimately does all the necessary heating adjustments. It promises to reduce your energy bill by up to 20% and is even accessible remotely from your smartphone.

From my perspective, this is a very useful technology that transforms the information it gathers about you into monetary rewards. If you want to get more information about it, check out the NEST’s website.

 

New cloud service that allows cloud usage across many providers and platforms. Dropbox etc beware!

Anyone remember Trillian? Back in the day when people used MSN, ICQ, and other messengers, Trillian was a tool to combine all into one consolidated message service. In a similar fashion, “Funambol” is attacking “siloed” cloud service providers that restrict customers in switching between services by offering  a more versatile tool. In my opinion, this is a great differentiating mechanism. Read for yourself:

 

Gunning for iCloud: White-Label Cloud Hub Provider, Funambol, Closes $5.75M Round To Push Global Growth

White-label cloud service provider Funambol has closed a new $5.75m funding round aimed at speeding its global expansion. The company’s customers — notably mobile carriers and telcos but also device makers, service providers, portals and system integrators — are already deploying its OneMediaHub personal cloud repository to millions of their users. Funambol is aiming to use this latest cash injection, along with a working capital line, to further accelerate its rate of global growth.

Previous investors in the company Nexit Ventures, Castile Ventures and HIG Growth Capital all participated in this round.Funambol is explicitly taking aim at what it describes as ‘siloed’ cloud services — i.e. proprietary services which require users to be locked into other platform-specific hardware or software services to access them. It specifically name-checks Apple’s iCloud, Google’s Drive and Microsoft’s SkyDrive services. By contrast, Funambol stresses its cloud offerings support multiple brands — thereby allowing users to avoid having to manage multiple cloud services. Device compatibility and flexibility are a given, thanks to Funambol’s open source roots.

The growth in consumer adoption of cloud services — from email and storage to calendar and contacts syncing — is driving demand for cross-device flexibility, the company reckons. And it’s this demand it’s seeking to capitalise on to fuel its own growth — as the companies buying its services look for ways to attract and retain their own customers.

“Major global mobile providers are seeking a white-label personal cloud solution, and we are delighted to work with them to grow their customer acquisition and retention capabilities,” noted Amit Chawla, Funambol CEO, in a statement. “Our new financing is validation of this surging market demand. It will enable us to accelerate our role as the leader of white-label personal cloud solutions.”

“As we look at new investment opportunities, we are pleased that Funambol has signed major customers in a very short time span. Along with Nexit Ventures and Castile Ventures, we are increasing our investment in the company,” added Fred Sturgis, Managing Director, HIG Growth Capital, in a statement. “Mobile and personal clouds are one of the fastest growing segments in the industry.”

More information at: http://techcrunch.com/2012/10/09/gunning-for-icloud-white-label-cloud-hub-provider-funambol-closes-5-75m-round-to-push-global-growth/

Facebook Rolls Out ‘Want’ Button

Facebook has rolled out the ‘want’ button. In a test with a few selected retailers, Facebook gives its users to possibility to click the ‘want’ button for products they would like to buy. This new functionality is an extension of the already existing F-Commerce. What do you guys think? Would you use it? 

Below the article by Damon Poeter:

Facebook on Monday confirmed what’s been speculated for months—that the social networking giant is actively trying out additions to its arsenal of business-friendly interactive tools for users, including a so-called “Want” button.

The company is currently engaging in a “small test in which a few select businesses will be able to share information about their products through a feature called Collections,” Facebook said in a statement emailed to PCMag. Retailers involved in the program are Pottery Barn, Wayfair, Victoria’s Secret, Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus, Smith Optics, and Fab.com, the company said.

Facebook’s Collections test comprises “three actions being tested separately,” the company said, naming them as “Want,” “Like,” and “Collect.” The social network’s Like button is already famous, of course, while hints of an upcoming Want button were first detectedback in June, contained in code within the Facebook Javascript SDK that pointed to the development of such a feature and even the ability to render the button.

The Collections feature won’t be a social plug-in or available outside of the Facebook site for now, the company said. It will be viewable by Facebook users on their News Feeds.

Basically, in addition to liking product content tagged by the participating retailers as part of the Collections test, users will also be able to identify themselves as “wanting” a product in a vendor’s Collection, or in the process of “collecting” it. Those notes will be visible to users’ friends on their Timelines and there will be a Buy link for each product in a Collection that links to a place to buy it offsite. Facebook said.

The company said it is “creating three distinct groups of users to test each action,” referring to the Like, Want, and Collect variants of the Collections test.

At last year’s F8 developer conference, Facebook dropped some hints that its Like button would be morphing into a series of more specific descriptions of how a user interacts with content and media on the site and elsewhere, for example including an option for a user to mark down that they had listened to a song.

There was some talk at the time of the addition of a Want button for products, but more speculation centered around different variations of how a user might be able to signify that they’d consumed media.

Source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2410724,00.asp