vendredi 30 mai 2014

Turn any business site into a social media hub for customers

Social media flags

User generated content is an important factor in getting consumers to trust online business. But not every enterprise has the time or the skills to build and manage a presence across multiple social media sites.

Customer profile management specialist Janrain has introduced a new product that allows users of any site to introduce and share social content.

Janrain User-generated Content (UGC) lets customers comment, share across social networks, chat, create original content, and see activity streams that automatically appear across a brand’s mobile and desktop experiences.

"Janrain UGC turns any site into a highly engaging social experience and gives consumers compelling reasons to share their social data with their favorite brands," says Larry Drebes, chief executive officer of Janrain. "When attention is the most valuable commodity, brands have to craft highly personal social experiences that people will want to share with their friends and return to again and again. Janrain is putting a suite of tools in the hands of digital marketers who want to build a lively interactive brand identity that draws people into a brand experience, gives them reasons to create accounts and relationships with these brands, and keeps them coming back".

Features include allowing visitors to publish comments on site content and monitor site activity filtered by individuals, social network friends or site wide. Companies can host real-time conversations for events like product launches, plus content from social media can be integrated into news feeds.

By allowing greater interaction with a site Janrain UGC helps improve customer engagement. The data collected can help marketers create personalized brand experiences which in turn gives visitors reasons to keep coming back and interacting with the site.

More information on what Janrain UGC can do is available on the company's website.

Image Credit: Oleksiy Mark / Shutterstock

Cloud music player Style Jukebox goes ad-free

Style Jukebox

Style Jukebox is a cloud player that lets you upload your personal music collection to the cloud so you can stream it to your Android, iOS, Windows and Windows Phone devices. It is designed to work both online and offline, so users can listen to their songs even in areas without cellular coverage.

Style Jukebox has been offered in a free, albeit ad-supported, version as well as in a premium one, the latter of which comes with more storage space, support for a higher number of linked devices, and support for more file types. Now, following a new round of funding, the startup's co-founder Ionut Antiu tells me Style Jukebox is improving its free plan so users will no longer see ads.

Antiu says this applies to all Style Jukebox apps, which the company started to update earlier today to reflect this change. The free plan, however, will still come with the same limitations as before, namely 1 GB of cloud storage, limited number of linked devices and no support for FLAC and M4A-ALAC file types. Those who want more can get the premium version, which is available for $2.99 per month or $24.99 per year.

Antiu also tells me the latest updates for the apps include new features and performance improvements. Windows Phone fans should be pleased to learn that Style Jukebox on Windows Phone 8.1 features Cortana support, allowing users to control playback and search for audio files using voice commands.

If you want to learn more about Style Jukebox, check out our Q&A.

Is Yahoo planning a video service to rival YouTube?

YahootubeYahoo is reportedly preparing a YouTube rival that will go live later this summer.

According to Advertising Age, which cites sources close to Yahoo, the Internet giant has harbored such plans since 2012, when Marissa Mayer first took over the company's reigns. Just over a year ago, it tried to pick up Dailymotion.

It seems that Yahoo initially intended to reveal its new service back in April, but contracts spats have delayed the launch.

The platform would share many similarities with YouTube, such as the ability for users to build their own channel pages and embed their Yahoo videos on other sites. However, Yahoo is hoping to trump its rival by offering content creators more lucrative financial offerings.

These would come in the form of chunkier revenue sharing agreements or significantly higher fixed advertising rates. Right now, exact numbers are unknown.

As things stand, YouTube creators currently lose 45 percent of their advertising revenues to Google, and would likely jump at the opportunity to make more from their videos.

However, Yahoo is believed to have upset a lot of creators with its content ownership proposal. According to sources, Yahoo wants total ownership of all clips shared to Tumblr.

"I've never seen anything like that in my life," said a producer involved in negotiations with the company. "Anyone who's done a content deal knows that would never fly".

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

NSA: Edward Snowden did not raise surveillance concerns internally

Covering ears

In an interview with NBC earlier in the week, Edward Snowden -- ever a thorn in the side of the NSA -- defended his decision to leak documents to the press, saying "Sometimes to do the right thing, you have to break a law". The whistleblower has long insisted that his revelations were born of a desire to help his country, and claims that he previously tried to voice his concerns about the US government's surveillance tactics through official channels.

Speaking in Wednesday's interview, Snowden said "I actually did go through channels, and that is documented. The NSA has records, they have copies of emails right now to their Office of General Counsel, to their oversight and compliance folks, from me raising concerns about the NSA’s interpretations of its legal authorities". This is something disputed by the NSA who released details of a brief email exchange between Snowden and the Office of General Counsel.

The emails show Snowden querying whether Executive Orders or federal law took precedence. The NSA claims that this is nothing more than Snowden "asking for an explanation of some material that was in a training course he had just completed", going on to say this is the only relevant record to be found that support his claims. The Office of General Counsel's reply to the email states that Executive Orders have the "force and effect of law", but "cannot override a statute".

It may seem like a minor point, but it is one that it important. One of Snowden's justifications for his leaks is that he thinks "it's really disingenuous for the government to invoke and sort of scandalize our memories [of 9/11], to sort of exploit the national trauma that we all suffered together and worked so hard to come through to justify programs that have never been shown to keep us safe, but cost us liberties and freedoms that we don't need to give up and our constitution says we should not give up". If there was a confusion between orders passed down by the White House and law passed by Congress the argument is that the NSA's activities were illegal.

The NSA is insistent that the short email exchange is not proof of Snowden voicing concerns internally. The agency goes further saying, "We have searched for additional indications of outreach from him in those areas and to date have not discovered any engagements related to his claims".

There are unsurprising claims of a government cover-up. Snowden's legal advisor, Ben Wizner said: "This whole issue is a red herring. The problem was not some unknown and isolated instance of misconduct. The problem was that an entire system of mass surveillance had been deployed -- and deemed legal -- without the knowledge or consent of the public. Snowden raised many complaints over many channels. The NSA is releasing a single part of a single exchange after previously claiming that no evidence existed".

This game of verbal tennis is likely to continue for months and years to come. Edward Snowden may have rattled governmental cages with his actions, but public opinion of his decisions remains divided. Surveys show that people in the 18-29 age bracket believe he served the public interest, and those in older age groups are more likely to feel he should face criminal prosecution.

Photo Credit: ollyy/Shutterstock

Scribus adds image alignment script, refines PDF export options


Open-source, cross-platform desktop publishing package Scribus 1.4.4 has been released. Despite the seemingly minor version number, it includes a number of significant changes.

The new build -- also available in portable form -- adds support for exporting documents in the PDF/X-1a format. It also improves image handling, introduces a new image-alignment script and features a number of stability improvements.

Support for PDF/X-1a means users can now export Scribus documents as PDF files with all fonts embedded and CMYK or spot-colored images. Version 1.4.4 also updates its Barcode plug-in to reflect the latest changes made to the underlying Barcode Writer in Pure PostScript (BWIPP).

The new release also rewrites -- and improves -- the Autoquote script, which is used to convert straight quotes in a text frame to correct quotation marks. The script, introduced in version 1.3.9, now provides more options to end users and adds thin spaces to French texts where appropriate.

A new script has also been added that allows users to quickly and easily align images in frames -- the feature is available via the Scripts > Scribus Scripts menu. Page borders can now also be used as guides, allowing users to snap items to borders.

Scribus 1.4.4 also comes with the promise of improved handling of transparencies in Photoshop-generated TIFF files, while Mac users regain the ability to export documents in various bitmap formats.

Version 1.4.4 also adds full support for the OpenICC Directory Proposal, and also integrates the CMYK color palette created by the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) for newspaper advertisements. This is accompanied by a new color palette aimed at professional geographers.

The app also comes with the promise of various tweaks, bug fixes and improvements: adjustments have been made for Windows 8, while issues with the user interface and canvas display have now been resolved. Another bug with the spellchecker -- which resulted in a crash -- has also been fixed.

The update is rounded off with a number of updates and improvements to its documentation and translations.

Scribus 1.4.4 is available now as a free, open-source download for Windows, Mac and Linux. Windows users can also download and run Scribus Portable 1.4.4.

Samsung Galaxy S5 gets the Active treatment

Samsung Galaxy S5 Active

Last year, South Korean maker Samsung introduced a number of variations of its Android flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S4, among which was a ruggedized model designed to work in harsh conditions. Dubbed the Galaxy S4 Active, it could even shoot video and play music through headphones underwater.

The specs of the new Galaxy S5 suggest that Samsung put an end to the Active designation, as the smartphone comes IP67-certified out-of-the-box. This means it is both dust and water-resistant, which suffices for those who do not leave their Galaxy S5 in the desert, construction sites, fish tanks, hot tubs, lakes and the like. Samsung, however, seems to think a Galaxy S5 Active has its place, as the smartphone was just unveiled.

Today, AT&T introduced the Galaxy S5 Active in its portfolio, revealing the features that set it apart from its less-rugged sibling. The former employs a different exterior design, which looks to make it more accident-proof, with physical hardware buttons on the front (the Galaxy S5 only has a single hardware button for home). The shell is also shock-resistant, and has a "convenience" button on the side which provides easy access to "outdoor activity" software. The heartbeat monitor is carried over from the Galaxy S5.

"Samsung Galaxy S 5 Active is built to handle the wear and tear of an active lifestyle, while still maintaining the level of performance customers expect from a premium smartphone", says AT&T Devices senior vice president Jeff Bradley. "Now you can enjoy the outdoors with a durable, premium smartphone on the nation’s most reliable 4G LTE network".

As far as hardware specifications go, the Galaxy S5 Active comes with: 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080 by 1920; 2.5 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor; 2 GB of RAM; 2,800 mAh battery; 16 MP back-facing camera; 2 MP front-facing camera; 16 GB of internal storage; microSD card slot; 4G LTE cellular connectivity; Bluetooth 4.0 LE (Low Energy); Wi-Fi 802.11ac; physical measurements of 5.72 x 2.89 x 0.35 inches and 6 ounces; Android 4.4 KitKat.

The Galaxy S5 Active is available now from AT&T, in Camo Green, Ruby Red and Titanium Gray, for $199.99 with a two-year contract. With AT&T Next 12 the smartphone costs $35.75 per month, while with AT&T Next 18 it runs for $27.50 per month. The off-contract price is $714.99.

jeudi 29 mai 2014

Acer unveils Build Your Own Cloud (BYOC) Experience Center


Acer has opened its BYOC Experience Center in Aspire Park over in Taiwan, a place which is designed to showcase the firm's Build Your Own Cloud ecosystem and its usefulness to both individuals and business organizations.

This is all part of Acer's push into cloud territory, as it looks to diversify away from the PC hardware business which has been hit hard lately by a downturn in demand (as tablets have gathered much momentum).

The BYOC Experience Center is designed to demonstrate how individuals and organizations can use Acer's ecosystem to easily build their own personal clouds, with a range of apps on show in four different zones.

Acer Chairman Stan Shih said: "Based on the Acer Open Platform, BYOC crosses platforms and industries and allies with partners to build new applications for a better quality of life. We are calling for partners to join the BYOC ecosystem to develop new technologies and apps, and in the spirit of Wangdao, create value for our mutual benefits".

Acer is eyeing the expansion of the Internet of Things -- the proliferation of connected devices -- and is developing concept products with various partners, including the likes of apps for connected cars and the smart home. The BYOC center apparently highlights a number of scenarios showing mobile devices being used to remotely control home appliances.

BYOC for the enterprise will also be a major theme, with topics focused on including eAuction services (B2B online auction websites for real-time bidding) and eTicketing.

On the consumer level, Acer has also launched a suite of BYOC apps (abApps) to allow for the use of secure cloud storage lockers synced across Windows, Android and iOS. The first abApps (which are free) will be abFiles, abPhoto, abDoc and abMusic, which -- well, you can probably guess what they pertain to.

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

HTC One mini 2: Good design, solidly built, but overpriced [Review]


It's quite a trend now for handset makers to produce a big phone, then produce a smaller version of it and call it 'mini' or, in Sony's case, 'compact'. The idea is to piggy-back on the features that a flagship, top of the range phone offers, and bring down the overall size for smaller hands, and the overall price for smaller budgets. So, the new HTC One M8 has been joined by the HTC One mini 2, just as the original HTC One was joined by the original, er, HTC One mini.

You will have spotted an obvious difference in naming between the new flagship and the new mini. HTC isn't helping itself here, but it clearly wants us to view the two handsets as close relations, so let's forgive, forget and move on.

Don't be fooled by the word 'mini' in the name of this handset. It isn't particularly small, nor is it a perfect 'mini me' for the HTC One M8. Some features have been cut back to squeeze it into the price range HTC has gone for.

Still, if you just evaluate the HTC One mini 2 with your eyes alone, you'll see that it is unmistakably designed as a clone of the One M8. The curved metal back that feels almost slippery smooth against your palm, those two plastic strips on the back that are cleverly melded into the metal to give a 'zero gap' design, the non-removable backplate. It's all exactly as you'll find in the HTC One M8.

There are some design differences though. I like the way the One M8's metal back extends into the handset edges. With this handset, the plastic edges are more mundane. There's a single and not a dual flash on the back, and that second camera on the One M8 -- the one used for creating depth of field based effects -- is missing. I'll come back to the camera features later.

For the record, the vitals of the HTC One mini 2 are 65 x 10.6 x 137.4mm (WxDxH) with a weight of 137g, compared to the M8 at 70.6 x 9.35 x 146.36mm (WxDxH) with a weight of 160g.

The smaller size of the One mini 2 makes for a handset that is much easier to grasp and slip into a pocket than the One M8, but it is still pretty sizable and two factors combine to affect the overall size.

HTC-One-Mini-2-slide-1_slideshowdisplayv3 HTC-One-Mini-2-slide-2_slideshowdisplayv3 HTC-One-Mini-2-slide-3_slideshowdisplayv3

This is a relatively tall phone because of the characteristic twin speakers sitting above and below the screen. They are quite something; I was very impressed with the sound quality from the HTC One M8, and here it is also superb. HTC has definitely set a new standard with BoomSound. The size is also dictated by the 4.5in screen -- that's quite large for a 'mini' handset. I've got small hands, and I found reaching all the way across the screen one-handed a bit of a challenge. The screen's resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels means this is a handset that doesn't fuzz its text and gives you crisp, clear graphics. In combination with those speakers, you could use it for a bit of catch-up TV if you needed to.

Under the hood you can't expect the very best specifications, but what's here is for the most part well thought through. This is a 4G handset with NFC, and the Wi-Fi is 802.11 a/b/g/n. The microUSB slot on the bottom edge of the casing supports MHL and USB On The Go -- it'll read from those fancy USB sticks with microUSB connectors.


HTC has chosen the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset to provide the driving power for this handset, and given it 1GB of RAM in support. I found it perfectly adequate for everyday use. There was no slowing or stuttering, and nothing I'd grumble about in performance terms if this was my personal handset.

Internal memory is reasonably generous at 16GB straight out of the box, with 10.37GB free for your own use. Because the back is not removable there is a microSD card slot on the right edge. And of course if you are in need of yet more storage, there's that USB On The Go option. Your nanoSIM lives in a slot on the left edge of the chassis.

On the software front it's Android 4.4 with HTC Sense 6, as you would expect from a top flight handset from HTC. Sense 6 includes BlinkFeed, HTC's news and social aggregator that consumes a home screen. As I noted in my HTC One M8 review BlinkFeed is improved on its earlier incarnation in two ways. You can set up personalized feeds on topics that interest you, and you can disable it completely if you don't like it. Sense 6 itself has become less cluttered than earlier versions, and it is a pretty neat Android skin.

HTC can't resist adding a few apps too, and the highlights include a productivity folder containing Polaris Office 5 and a nice notes app called Scribble. I'm also a fan of the HTC Car interface which gives you nice big icons to tap at.


Moving onto the camera, HTC has abandoned its ultrapixel technology here, instead using a standard 13 megapixel offering. As already noted the second camera is gone from the back too. Still the camera captures a good snap, and the front camera shoots to 5 megapixels. Both can grab HD video. As handset cameras go, there's nothing much to grumble about here, though if you are a Zoe fan, then you may bemoan the absent Zoe app. In actual fact, there's a Zoe app icon -- but right now, if you tap it you simply get a 'coming soon' message.

Battery life does give me something to grumble about, as it is a little less robust than I'd like. If you enjoy a bit of music or gaming during the day you may need to head to the mains mid-afternoon to make sure there's enough power to see you through the evening.


To help out here HTC includes an 'extreme power saving mode' which does things like turn screen brightness down, turn vibrations off, and switch off data connections when the screen is off. It can be set to kick in when the battery reaches 20 percent, 10 percent or 5 percent charge. For everyday use you can nip into ordinary power saver mode which you can configure to dial the CPU down, reduce screen brightness, turn off vibrations or turn off the data connection when the screen is off.


Overall there are no major problems with the HTC One mini 2. It's solidly made, has a good screen, some nice features, and it performs well enough. The battery is perhaps disappointing, but there are some life extending tweaks you can apply.

However, consider the Moto G. Newly upgraded to 4G and with specifications that give the HTC One mini 2 a real run for its money, Motorola's budget handset costs way less. That alone marks the HTC One mini 2 out as an extravagant purchase.

Good Points

  • Nice design and solid build

  • Impressive display

  • Good sound quality

  • NFC and MHL

Bad Points

  • No Zoe app yet

  • Expensive


Manufacturer and ModelHTC One mini 2
Processor1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
Memory16GB (10.37GB available)
Memory expansionmicroSD
Display4.4in, 1,280 x 720 pixels, 326ppi
Main camera13 megapixel
Front camera5 megapixel
FM radioYes
Size65 x 10.6 x 137.4mm (WxDxH)
OSAndroid 4.4

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

How big data is helping to prevent suicides


Big data isn't just about finding more effective ways to market and advertise -- it's also about making the world a better place.

One of the industries in which big data is having its greatest impact is health care. So many improvements are being made with better results in hospitals and healthcare facilities across the world. One area, however, that continues to prove extremely difficult for the healthcare industry, and other industries, is suicide prevention.

The positive side is that services that offer Hadoop in the cloud and other big data applications in the cloud, are readily available for any business and any size. Big data no longer requires big money.

Because of the complicated and sensitive nature of suicide, it's been extremely difficult to successfully discover and prevent it without people specifically revealing that they're contemplating suicide.

Sure, there are warning signs and symptoms that people can look for, but they are far from definitive. What if there were a successful way to constantly and accurately predict patients with suicidal intentions? An untold amount of good could come from that.

Data analysts, health care professionals and scientists from across the country are seeking to do this, and big data is making it all possible. Currently there is no real science to suicide prevention.

It's hard to combat such a devastating problem without something definitive to identify, beyond mere outside observation, who is really at risk and who just happens to have some of the common symptoms. This type of information would be invaluable to not only health care professionals, but also schools and families among other entities.

What is being done?

One of the demographics that is most ravaged by suicide is military veterans. According to a recent study, 22 veterans commit suicide every day -- almost one an hour. What an incredible tragedy! Of those who do commit suicide, 44 percent percent see their physician before committing the act. Because of that, military veterans are the focus demographic for the Durkheim Project, an effort looking to use information from both doctors visits and social media to find clues that indicate the potential of suicide before it's too late.

The system isn't just looking for isolated keywords, it's much more complicated than that. Suicide generally isn't the cause of just one thing. So, the project is hoping to find interlinked dialog, beyond just words and phrases, that can pinpoint the problem. Big data brings together all of this data from doctors and social media and then makes sense of it to produce the definitive results.

The importance of the project cannot be overstated. Not only is this about finding ways to prevent suicide, but the findings could fundamentally change the way we do things. It's about not only intervening before suicide is committed, but it's also about preventing the contributors to suicide in the first place -- whether that's in the military, in school or at home.

The possibility of these findings are endless with the help of big data. It's easy to see how this holds implications for not only reducing military veteran suicides, but also for stemming the tide of rising teen suicides. The benefits of the findings and potential outcomes are endless.

What other implications are there?

Big data is changing the world. Its impact on suicides is just one example. Along with the numerous benefits for healthcare, big data is also making a difference in many other sectors. It's improving our quality of life in so many different ways. It's important to know that big data is important and can make a difference for your business too. Whether it's saving lives, reducing injuries, reducing expenses or creating new products, there's an application for every market.

Gil Allouche is the Vice President of Marketing at Qubole

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

The moon now has faster broadband than some parts of the UK


Thanks to work carried out by MIT and NASA, the moon now has faster broadband than some parts of the UK, after registering speeds of just under 20mbps.

According to Wired, the Earth's satellite is now able to receive large amounts of data, with video and audio streaming possible as a result of new, record-breaking broadband transmission speeds.

A laser-powered communication uplink was used to achieve a top download speed of 19.44mbps. To give this some perspective, a recent report carried out by Ofcom revealed the average UK broadband speed to be 17.8mbps, whilst average speeds in rural areas came in at 11.3mbps.

If you can't quite get your head around that, think of it this way: it is now potentially possible for bored astronauts to catch up on their favorite "Breaking Bad" episodes whilst being almost 300,000km away from our planet's safe ground.

The signal also registered an upload speed of 622mbps, 4,800 times faster than the previous record.

There are, obviously, some connection issues, as outlined by Mark Stevens of MIT Lincoln, who told Wired, "Communicating at high data rates from Earth to the moon with laser beams is challenging because of the 400,000-kilometre distance spreading out the light beam. It's doubly difficult going through the atmosphere, because turbulence can bend light-causing rapid fading or dropouts of the signal at the receiver".

So there we have it, the Internet is now available on the moon. Good luck getting someone out to fix your connection though (especially as Ofcom recently had to warn BT about its slow response times).

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

mercredi 28 mai 2014

Here's how to unlock a hijacked iPad or iPhone


A number of iPhone and iPad users have fallen foul of a particularly nasty hack, in which they find themselves locked out of their devices unless they pay to have them unlocked.

The extortionist leaves a message claiming to be from the well-known software engineer Oleg Pliss. A message on the screen reads "Device hacked by Oleg Pliss", and encourages the user to pay $100.

The exploit only appears to affect users connected to the iCloud service. A number of users, most of them from Australia, took to Apple's Support forums complaining of the same issue, saying they had been hit on multiple Apple devices at once and were forced to change iCloud passwords.

"iPad woke me at 4.30am with the message 'Your device has been hacked by Oleg Pliss' and sound -- I thought it was the morning alarm," wrote one user going by the handle deskokat.

"I then signed in to my powerbook -- but as a guest user -- VERY grateful I did. Message to say I'd been hacked there too, wouldn't let me sign out without erasing all data for that user. As there was nothing but a couple of expendable files on there, I signed out. And the guest user portal has been erased. I then went into my own (password protected) desktop, no hacking message. Have changed my Apple ID password".

The user also reported receiving a total 15 messages in their Hotmail account stating that their devices had been registered as "lost" through Find My iPhone services, suggesting that the theft-prevention service was ironically the vector of attack. However, there has been no confirmation on whether Apple's systems have been compromised, or whether it is simply poor password habits by the users.

One user, georz, has offered the following advice to fix the problem:

  • Turn off your phone

  • Plug your cable into the computer and have iTunes open (do not plug into the phone yet)

  • Press and hold the home key on your turned-off phone (for about 10 seconds).

  • If nothing happens, plug in the cable into your phone (keep holding the home key)

  • Wait until you see the picture of iTunes and the cable on the front of the phone

  • Your iTunes should then recognize the phone as an unidentified phone

  • Select restore factory settings (it should download some software) after approximately 15 minutes and automatically install it

  • The phone should go through some of the standard reset screens (usually black screen with apple icon and loading bar)

  • You will be prompted to restore the phone.... do this from iTunes not the phone

  • Throughout this process you must not let the phone or computer go into sleep mode, and don't disconnect

However, prevention is definitely better than a cure. Make sure your iCloud account has a strong password containing numbers, capital letters and symbols. Also ensure that you have set a passcode on the device, as the remote lock normally can be overridden by entering that passcode once you've visited and taken the device out of lost mode.

For devices that didn't have a passcode, the solution seems to be to go through the above process and then backup and restore the device via iTunes on OS X or Windows.

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.