samedi 28 février 2015

Happy 3rd birthday Raspberry Pi!

3rd birthday

Raspberry Pi celebrates its third birthday today. Well actually it doesn’t, as the super-affordable ARM GNU/Linux computer was launched on February 29 2012, in what was (obviously) a leap year, but it’s close enough.

In that time the Raspberry Pi has achieved staggering success. Two months ago it was revealed total sales had surpassed 5 million (and the Raspberry Pi Foundation says another half a million have been sold in this month alone), with new and updated models launched in the past year.

Eight months ago the Model B+ was announced, followed four months later by an improved and cheaper Model A+. And then, at the start of this month, the Raspberry Pi 2 appeared, promising 6x faster speeds and even the ability to run Windows 10 (if you’ve bought one of the new models you might want to check out my colleague Brian Fagioli’s getting started guide).

One thing has remained constant in all that time though -- the price.

While commercial companies look to charge as much as they can get away with for new models, the non-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation sells its devices for as cheaply as it’s possible to do. The Raspberry Pi 2 might be a huge step up from the Model B and B+, but it’s still just $35/£25.

We’re huge fans of the Raspberry Pi at BetaNews as you can tell from past coverage, and we’re thrilled by the success it. So much has been achieved in three short years we can’t wait to see what comes next.

Two years ago I chatted to Liz Upton, Head of Communications at Raspberry Pi Foundation (and wife of the foundation’s Executive Director Eben), about their eventful first year, and plans for the future and it's worth revisiting some of those early questions:

BN: How did the idea of Raspberry Pi come about?

LU: Back in 2006, when Eben was teaching at the University of Cambridge he started to notice a decline in both the numbers of kids applying to read Computer Science, and in the level of knowledge that those kids arrived at the university with. We talked about it with our friends in the pub, like you do. And plenty of them thought it was a real problem too -- some of them thought it was such a problem that we came together and decided we'd try to do something about it. We had a hypothesis: that the fall in numbers and skills had to do with the disappearance of programmable machines in kids' lives. Computers like the BBC Micro or the Amiga had been replaced from the bottom end by sealed-unit, black-box consoles, whose whole business model is that you shouldn't be able to program them. And from the top, there was the PC. Of course, a PC is a wonderfully programmable machine; but in most families it's also a very vital tool for family life. It's where you do your banking or your homework. And many kids aren't allowed to mess around with the family PC for fear of breaking it. We felt a very cheap, programmable unit that kids could buy with their own pocket money, so they had a sense of ownership, was a possible solution. It's still early days, but on seeing some of the kids who've had a Pi for some months now, I've a feeling we were on to something.

BN: Where did the name come from?

LU: "Raspberry" comes from the tech industry's fondness for fruit names (there are lots of fruit-named computer companies, like Apricot, Tangerine…those, of course, are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head). And "Pi" is for Python, which has always been our first choice of teaching language (it was even before we knew what the hardware would look like). We initially thought that using Pi rather than Py would make for a really nice logo in the shape of the Greek letter, but as you can see, we didn't actually end up going that way!

BN: You’ve just sold your millionth Pi. Are you surprised by its success?

LU: Around the end of 2011, just before we started selling Pis, we started to worry that perhaps we'd bitten off more than we could chew. We'd managed to raise enough capital among ourselves to produce 20,000, and the plan was to use the profits from those Pis to seed the next batch (which would have taken a couple of months to make), and so on. We realized that we might have a problem on the day when we made a pre-released OS available for the Pi, well before anyone actually had one -- all of a sudden 60,000 people arrived on our website and downloaded this buggy software for a platform that didn't even exist yet. It suggested that the demand was much, much bigger than we'd anticipated. We decided that we'd need to revise the business model, because there was no way we could make enough fast enough with the resources we had to satisfy the sort of demand we were seeing. So we approached RS and Farnell, two British components companies which already had world-wide distribution networks in place, to see if they'd be interested in manufacturing the Pis for us under license so we could build up to a workable level of stock immediately. That was an enormous help in trying to deal with the demand we were seeing, but as you're probably aware, we've still been running to keep up, even though there is currently one Pi coming off the production line in Wales every few seconds!

BN: Raspberry Pi seems like a very British project, a modern day BBC Micro, but it's been well received in America. Why do you think that is?

LU: I think that a need for access to tools is universal. And those problems of introducing kids to programming -- the ubiquity of the family PC and the games console -- are universal too, at least in the developed world. Industry is starting to notice a decline in standards in young people too; we work with a number of industry bodies in the UK and in the US which are also promoting proper computing for young people, because they don't want to see a situation where the skills base dries up and blows away either. Eben and I will be at Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix in a couple of months, to do some work with the kids there. I love doing this stuff; and it's always so much fun in the US, with the American tradition of science fairs (which we don't have a real equivalent of in the UK).

Facebook lets you choose a custom gender, now it's time to drop real names

Facebook lets you choose a custom gender, now it's time to drop real names

Facebook found itself under fire last year for imposing a real name policy. Drag artists, the LGBT community, musicians and other groups were among those who felt they should be able to use a name other than the one that appears on their birth certificate. The social network ultimately backed down, but the whole debacle left something of a bad taste in the mouth.

People are able to use "the authentic name they use in real life" to identify themselves on the site, and Facebook has opened up gender options further. There's no need to feel limited by the male or female labels, or even make a selection from a readymade list -- you can now specify whatever gender you want. But is this enough?

Facebook diversity heralded the feature and also announced that users can use up to ten different gender identities, and can choose the audiences they would like to share each one with. A choice of pronoun is also available, so when birthday time rolls around, friends can be invited to "wish him a happy birthday", "wish her a happy birthday", or the gender-neutral "wish them a happy birthday". The move came about after consultation with LGBT advocacy organizations.

Now, if you do not identify with the pre-populated list of gender identities, you are able to add your own. As before, you can add up to ten gender terms and also have the ability to control the audience with whom you would like to share your custom gender. We recognize that some people face challenges sharing their true gender identity with others, and this setting gives people the ability to express themselves in an authentic way.

Facebook gender identity options

But gender identity is just a portion of anyone's make up. It's time that Facebook offered the same flexibility for names. The social network has accepted the idea that some people find it difficult to share their gender identity with all of their contacts -- the same is true of names. The debate about Facebook's real names policy has a tendency to center around the LGBT community, but this is far from being the only group affected by Facebook imposing the rule surrounding names. Think victims of abuse, victims of crime and so on. These are people who might well want to use a different identity online -- it's not good enough to say that such people should not use Facebook.

One's name is no more or less part of one's identity than one's gender, and just as one may have more than one gender identity according to audience and circumstances, the same is true of names. It has been argued that people who find themselves using different name identity for different parts of their life should set up business pages, but this is not an acceptable solution.

There is the argument that one's real name need to be used to ensure that you are identifiable in case of illegal activity, harassment or the like -- but unless someone using a fake name does something to draw attention to themselves, or is reported by another user, who is to know? It makes as much sense as it would to force people to use a government-verified photo for this profile image.

Of course ultimately, Facebook is free to impose whatever rules and restrictions is likes, and anyone who disagrees strongly enough with them is free to avoid using the site. But that's not the point. Facebook is very keen to be seen as a company that is accepting of everyone -- something it was boastful of when talking about its diverse workforce -- but that's missing the point and giving Facebook too easy a time. The abomination that is Ello sprang to (minor) popularity in protest at Facebook's real name policy and it's clar that the real names policy is something that people care about deeply.

There's no getting away from the fact that Facebook's embracing of different gender identities is a positive thing, but there's still more that can be done. Logically, it makes no sense for Facebook to 'permit' users to express part of their identity in whatever way they wish, but not all of it. Just allow people to identify however the hell they like on the social network; there really is no good reason not to. Judging by the comments that appear beneath Facebook's announcement of the new gender options, I'm far from being alone in my view about the need to eliminate the real name policy. Who's with me?

Photo credit: fieldwork / Shutterstock

Xbox One selling badly in China

China red xbox

It was big news last year when Microsoft announced that it would officially start selling the Xbox One in China. The original September launch date came and went ("Despite strong and steady progress, we are going to need a bit more time to deliver the best experiences possible for our fans in China"), but eventually the next gen console made it on sale.

Although China gave the green-light for the sale of 5 million Xbox units, actual sales have been way, way below that. Launch numbers (including pre-orders) were just 100,000 units, and the company responsible for Xbox One sales in China has posted huge losses.

Techweb reports that the BesTV subsidiary lost 17.24 million yuan (US$2.75 million) in 2014.

While there are no current sales figures for the console, it’s been observed that Chinese online retailer Tmall shipped fewer than 200 units in January.

There are several reasons behind the lukewarm response to Microsoft's console including price (despite a post-launch price cut it’s still very expensive), the fact that only a limited number of games are available -- some of which have been censored -- and the console is region locked so games from elsewhere won’t play. Plus Chinese gamers simply aren’t used to paying for games.

Although the Xbox One was the first western games console to be sold officially in China since the ban on production and sales of such devices was lifted, it has been widely available through the gray market, so anyone interested in purchasing the console likely did so before it arrived officially.

It is of course too early to write off the Xbox One in China, but it’s far from an encouraging start for Microsoft which was banking on Chinese sales to help in its battle against Sony’s PS4. Recent predictions claim there will be 40 percent more PlayStation 4s in use than Xbox Ones by 2019.

vendredi 27 février 2015

Twitter triples troll-tackling team

Twitter triples troll-tackling team

Like many social platforms, Twitter is often used by trolls to launch abusive attacks on people. It's something that Twitter has tried to tackle before, but now the company is stepping up its game. Having already made it easier to report abusive tweets, the same tools are being rolled out to simplify the reporting of content relating to impersonation, self-harm and doxing.

Dick Costolo had already promised that Twitter was ready to get tough on harassment, and now we know what he meant. The size of the team handling reports about abuse has been tripled, and this means that five times as many reported tweets are to be investigated.

It is no longer necessary to find yourself on the receiving end of abuse to try to do something about it. Anyone is free to report tweets which could be deemed abusive, as well as those which reveal personal information about people, or in which someone pretends to be someone else. But it is the changes that are happening in the background that Twitter will be hoping make the difference.

A new set of investigative tools and procedures means that Twitter is able to react to reported tweets faster:

While we review many more reports than ever before, we’ve been able to significantly reduce the average response time to a fraction of what it was, and we see this number continuing to drop. We are also beginning to add several new enforcement actions for use against accounts that violate our rules. These new actions will not be visible to the vast majority of rule-abiding Twitter users – but they give us new options for acting against the accounts that don’t follow the rules and serve to discourage behavior that goes against our policies.

Costolo had recently said "we suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years", and this appears to be Twitter's attempt to get back on track. The new features are rolling out globally over the next few weeks starting now, and victims of abuse and other problems will be keen to see what different they make.

Photo credit: Elisanth / Shutterstock

The top four places your data is at risk

at risk

We all worry about protecting our information, but how do we know which activities or locations are most likely to put it in jeopardy?

Digital rights management company Seclore has produced an infographic showing the four places where your data is most at risk. Unsurprisingly perhaps some of these are areas where you have the least control.

Third parties are a particular worry. The Home Depot breach in 2014 saw details of 5.6 million credit cards stolen. Yet it seems businesses still haven’t learned the lesson, with only 32 percent of vendors having security certifications.

Mobile is a risk too with 113 phones lost or stolen every minute in the US alone and 86 percent of mobile apps lacking adequate security. The cloud is also a worry with 71 percent of IT professionals believing their cloud service providers wouldn’t alert them to a breach involving customer data.

Email is a bigger threat than you might think too with 88 percent of companies having experienced some sort of data loss via email. Each email is copied an average of six times thanks to team collaboration increasing the risk of exposure.

You can view the full infographic below.


Photo Credit: D.R.3D/Shutterstock

4 reasons why cloud spending is set to explode this year


The Gartner Worldwide IT Spending Forecast report predicts fiercer competition in 2015 between traditional on-premise software vendors, pushing expenditure up to $3.8 trillion. It says that spending in the enterprise technology market will reach $335 billion this year, increasing by 5.5 percent over 2014’s figures. Traditional vendors are now having to increasingly compete with cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings, lower prices and vendor software consolidation.

These trends have pushed traditional on-premise software vendors to increasingly offer more discounted cloud services to counter the onslaught by the incumbent SaaS players.

Bimodal IT

Amidst this competitive environment, organizations are looking more strategically at their IT expenditure. They are no longer just seeing IT -- including the cloud -- as means of creating cost-efficiency gains.

Gartner’s research director for cloud computing, Gregor Petri, says that there is also a move towards bimodal IT, which is driving spending: "In Mode 1 companies are trying to renovate the core of their IT, and in Mode 2 they are exploring new things".

He believes that the first mode is about efficiencies and the second about improving the customer experience, culminating in growth for their own organizations. In the second mode organizations want to go after new customers, new products, new solutions and new opportunities. "Companies are investing in IT again -- that’s true, but many vendors are still in the mode of increasing efficiencies in existing processes using Mode 1 of cloud computing, and yet we now see most firms concentrating on Mode 2", he explains.

These two modes are challenging from an internal perspective because organizations often have to align themselves with both of them.

To find new opportunities in Mode 2 they need to be bold rather than afraid. This is because they will either need to change their approach, their goals or outcomes half-way through a project. Mode 1 is very different because organizations will often know from the outset what they want to achieve, and it’s all about doing that efficiently.

Spending ratios

In terms of the ratio of clouding spending versus traditional IT expenditure, Karl Deacon -- Chief Operating Officer at Canopy -- says that the Atos cloud, "has shown that the percentage of contracts requiring or including digital or cloud solutions in outsourcing deals more than doubled in 2014 compared to 2013".

The Atos cloud is a joint venture backed by Atos, VMware and EMC. Atos claims on its website that it doesn’t: "sell widgets, and we don’t theorize about the future…as business technologists with a pure client focus, we are orchestrators who can put your entire cloud puzzle together".

In Deacon’s view, this signals a more aggressive growth in demand for cloud solutions and services in comparison to previous years. "Clients are already spending about 20 percent of their IT budget on cloud technologies or services, and this spending sometimes falls outside of their organizations’ central IT budget", he explains.

Deacon expects this trend to continue, rising by about 10 percent of the overall IT budget per annum. This is due to factors such as the rising prevalence of shadow IT and digital transformation across departments.

Hybrid cloud matures

One other important trend forecast this year is the rise of the hybrid cloud, which is expected to reach maturity in 2015 and so it is being seen as the way forward. Cap Gemini is seeing this happen, and spending on it is already increasing.

Paul Hammond, the company’s senior vice-president and chief technology officer, says: "The underlying architecture required offers an option to use Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, etc…and when you get into some of the production systems, the security and data sovereignty elements you can see that it either drives the private cloud or it sits within an organization’s datacenter".

He adds that this doesn’t mean that an organization wouldn’t want to use the public cloud because even if it does sit within traditional IT architecture, the cloud may at some point still be used. This may not only involve a public cloud, but much depends on factors such as data criteria and security, which are two elements that are driving the hybrid option within the same architecture.

Buying a complete service

Regarding the threat that SaaS software poses to traditional software vendors, Petri says customers don’t just buy the application functionality from a cloud provider. They are in fact buying a complete service: the underlying middleware, operating systems, hardware and many other things that would traditionally be bought from other kinds of IT vendors.

"In most cases, if you buy SaaS from a SaaS vendor, you don’t have any choice about the underlying layers, so to some extent it offers less choice and it increases your dependency on the provider", he explains.

Third parties may also not be able to sell any additional software, hardware other tools for the underlying layers -- a market which he says has traditionally been bigger than the market for the application itself.

Lock-ins can limit customers’ choice about how and where they spend their budgets to just one vendor -- making it harder for traditional vendors to compete while in effect restricting customers’ choice about what systems they’d ideally like to purchase beyond what a SaaS vendor offers.

Cloud alternatives

Due to the large number of cloud providers locking in customers, many on-premise third party software providers are being forced to offer a SaaS alternative to their on-premise and traditional license-based solutions.

To what extent is this happening? "The impression I have, after operating in this field for the past 10 years, is that -- apart from the niche software providers who offer highly specialized applications -- most vendors are moving and many are already there in one form or another", claims Deacon.

He nevertheless feels that it’s hard to offer an exact percentage of how many vendors are making the transition towards offering SaaS products and services, and particularly as even Oracle and SAP tend to still operate using traditional software licensing models. Yet vendors like them are also heavily invested in cloud software businesses -- even if they haven’t moved towards adopting a cloud user licensing model as the bulk part of their business.

Predicting 2015

Hammond predicts that there will be a natural uptake because of the benefits of SaaS.

Hybrid cloud environments will pose some challenges that revolve around end-to-end operations. There is a need to tie them up with traditional models. Organizations will otherwise have no idea about reporting, SLAs and problem resolution.

"Some vendors will improve their ability to monitor, provide tools and report -- at the end of the day it’s about integrating the stack rather than just selling you a piece of software that does the analytics or something else", he concludes.

So there will be some challenges, but spending will increase and competition will too because, as Hammond puts it, demand is only getting harder and faster, and so the use of SaaS, public, private and hybrid clouds will increase to fulfill this requirement.

Bimodal IT will be the key driver of cloud spending over the course of the year because organizations are looking more strategically at how they spend their budgets. They now want to focus on delivering a better customer experience; to reduce the time to market of a product, application or service.

Ultimately what drives their spending is a need to increase their profitability rather than just focus on cost-efficiencies.

An improved perception of cloud security will also drive spending; and this why customers will increasingly spend more on SaaS -- and in particular on hybrid cloud.

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

Google will allow sexual content on Blogger after all

sex keyboard button censorship

Three days ago Google announced that any Blogger blog found to contain nudity or explicit content would be converted into a private blog that only the owner could see.

Unsurprisingly, this move wasn't well received by the Blogger community, and today Google has backtracked.

Writing on the Google Product Forums, Jessica Pelegio, Social Product Support Manager at Google, confirms the search giant’s change of heart:

This week, we announced a change to Blogger’s porn policy. We’ve had a ton of feedback, in particular about the introduction of a retroactive change (some people have had accounts for 10+ years), but also about the negative impact on individuals who post sexually explicit content to express their identities. So rather than implement this change, we’ve decided to step up enforcement around our existing policy prohibiting commercial porn.

Blog owners should continue to mark any blogs containing sexually explicit content as “adult” so that they can be placed behind an “adult content” warning page.

Bloggers whose content is consistent with this and other policies do not need to make any changes to their blogs.

Thank you for your continued feedback.

This is a smart move from Google, as the response to its original plans went down about as well as a drunken nun lead balloon.

Image Credit: fotoscool/Shutterstock

Creating advocates for SaaS and B2B products


One of the best ways of getting people to buy your product is to get your existing customers to recommend it. That’s equally true in the business world as it is for consumer products.

A new infographic from SaaS customer management specialist Bluenose looks at how companies can create more powerful advocates for their B2B and SaaS products.

Among the key points are that acquiring new customers can cost seven times more than retaining existing ones, so it’s important to focus on the customers you have. Satisfied users are more likely to become advocates for your business and can be worth as much as $500,000 each.

It's also useful to offer a rewards program for those who recommend your services to others. Some 84 percent of B2B decision makers start of the process with a referral and these leads are 36 times more useful than a lead from a cold call.

Employees are also an important part of the process. They are the face of the company and if they’re positive about the product it reflects well on the business. It's important that they know their product too, 67 percent of customers trust content provided by a company’s technical expert.

You can see the full infographic with other tips including promoting word of mouth and social media advocacy below.


Photo Credit: bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock

jeudi 26 février 2015

FCC votes in favor of Net Neutrality... just

FCC votes in favor of Net Neutrality... just

The Net Neutrality debate has been rumbling on for quite some time now, but today something of a milestone has been reached. After the campaign gained the support of President Obama, Twitter, and many others, today was the Federal Communications Commission vote on a number of proposals put forward by chairman Tom Wheeler.

It is a victory for Net Neutrality and a great step towards ensuring that the internet remain open and free from controls by companies or government. The policy states, among other things, that ISPs may not charge for prioritization of web traffic. The vote was far from being a landslide. Two Republicans opposed to the policy changes kept the result to a 3-2 vote in favor of the proposals.

While the ban on paid prioritization has been the main focus of much of the net neutrality campaign, it is not the full story. The newly approved rules mean that broadband connectivity will be reclassified as a telecommunications service, introducing greater regulation, and there would be greater control of paid deals between content providers and broadband companies.

As well as being blocked from creating a two-tier internet where certain types of traffic is given greater priority over others, broadband providers would not be permitted to accelerate or block connections for a fee. The definition of broadband has been opened up, so the proposals will apply to mobile providers as well as to companies providing connection through landlines, fiber and the like.

The vote was well-received across the tech industry, and CEO of Xirrus Wi-Fi, Shane Buckey said:

The FCC's decision on net neutrality further validates its goal to provide more affordable and distributed Wi-Fi to the U.S. This foundational step supports IT infrastructure investment to provide more reliable Internet connectivity and improved quality of service for their users regardless of the internet service provider.

But not everyone is happy. The US Telecommunications Industry Association is planning legal action against the changes and Verizon denigrated the vote as "misguided", adding:

Today's decision by the FCC to encumber broadband internet services with badly antiquated regulations is a radical step that presages a time of uncertainty for consumers, innovators and investors.

Opponents of net neutrality have been left licking their wounds but, even in light of the vote, it's unlikely that we have heard the end of this debate yet. Nevertheless, history has been made.

Photo credit: mindscanner / Shutterstock

Emailage fights fraud with email address scoring


Email is the most common form of digital ID, used to login to websites, complete transactions and more besides. This means that over time each email address develops its own unique reputation and digital life based on its past behavior and actions online.

Phoenix-based startup company Emailage has used this to develop a risk scoring system for email addresses which will help companies to reduce the risk of fraudulent transactions. Emailage has successfully flagged over 2 million transactions as risky in the past year alone, amounting to $150 million it's saved customers. The company has now received $3.8 million in venture capital funding to further develop its product.

"Email is the most unique and common ID in the online world," says Rei Carvalho, CEO of Emailage. "By using our proprietary machine learning algorithms across a vast consortium of data, we are able to stop fraudsters in real time. As our customer base grows, our solution becomes more powerful and our industry-leading fraud detection rates will continue to improve. We are excited to use this financing to grow quickly and expand our offerings".

Emailage customers have already benefited from faster approval rates for 60 percent of transactions and improved pinpointing of the the most risky transactions with an average hit rate of 25 percent. Some customers are detecting 50 percent or more of their total fraud just by analyzing risk based on the email. Having this information available in real time not only prevents fraudulent transactions from occurring but also helps recognize reputable new customers that may have been declined based on other criteria.

More information on how email scoring is able to help prevent fraud is available from the Emailage website.

Photo Credit: Balefire/Shutterstock

Agile versus waterfall development: The case for agile


Agility and flexibility are top of mind when it comes to delivering IT projects. With that being the case, the traditional waterfall development approach, which requires each step of a project to be completed before the IT team can move onto the next, seems a bit outdated.

Enter the agile development technique. This iterative development method should be the go-to today. It's based on collaboration and continuous development, and differs from the waterfall approach in that it can be characterized as being adaptive rather then predictive. Essentially, with agile, the requirements gathering, development and testing happen concurrently versus consecutively. Let’s take a closer look at why this development method makes more sense for most businesses today. And then, we’ll briefly examine a newer method -- DevOps -- which, too, is becoming more common. Regarding agile:

It’s More Collaborative

Many companies, both large and small, are already using agile development for their internal and external development needs. In some cases, vendors will use agile development methods in collaboration with customers. In a typical agile development set-up, requirements are developed in collaboration with the user and written in a format that explains in non-technical language what is needed.

For example, a requirement may be as simple as a consumer, for example, wanting to have the ability to make a payment to a friend for their portion of a dinner bill. This broad requirement is then broken down into a series of "stories" each describing an action. These could be things like: "access system x", "initiate payment", "carry out security checks", and so on. Each story is worked on collaboratively by a group of developers, ideally with the user involved throughout, making it the more collective, hands on approach, instead of the more siloed method of waterfall development.

It’s More Customer-Centric

The agile development method is more customer focused, and more efficient, than the typical waterfall requirements-gathering process -- in which all requirements are gathered, and the project mapped out in full, up front.

Agile code development typically begins with each team first writing the test script that will prove each "user story" is complete (again, as referenced above, these are descriptions that capture actions like "access system" or "initiate payment"). Code is then written, often by pairs of developers collaborating and acting as an instant checks and balances system, and tested against that test script on a continuous basis. This allows for any errors to be caught during the development process and fixed in real time. On the other hand, in a waterfall process, all development is finished before testing begins, which leaves room for a backlog of errors to have built up. Some glitches may be difficult to find, and the testing process takes longer as a consequence.

It’s More Adaptable

Aside from being more collaborative and more customer-centric (and therefore making the development process quicker and delivering better quality software), agile development also makes it easier for development teams to cope with changing requirements. This means the software delivered at the end of a project is likely to be better suited to the user’s purpose. The user is invited back to view and test the code that has been developed at regular intervals in the process -- if they are unable to join for the duration -- to ensure it delivers what they expected. Because code is developed to "user stories", which describe just a small part of the overall requirement, it is easier to change a single, or even a number of, stories that have been developed over a short period of time and related tests, than to potentially have to go back through hundreds or thousands of lines of code to work out what needs to be revised.

For its collaborative nature, its customer-centricity and its adaptability, I would argue that agile development over waterfall is the better option in most business cases today. It’s the less bulky option and enables businesses to better discover and address user’s needs. In addition to agile, another development model that’s becoming more common is DevOps. Agile bridged the gap between development and testing being sequential activities in two large steps, into multiple sprints of smaller steps. This allowed developers to avoid a potentially large set of errors at the end of the development effort. DevOps brings testing and user acceptance testing (UAT) much closer and allows for continuous deployment, which is very much needed in cloud environments. Either method is suitable for businesses today and could be considered more present-day than the waterfall method of the past.

0f8d8f0Alok Sinha is President -- Global Application & Engineering Services -- at Xchanging, a global, publicly held business process, procurement and technology services company. To learn more, please visit .

New tool simplifies translating apps into different languages


Developers put a lot of time and resources into the technical aspects of their apps. But when it comes to selling them in other markets there's often little left for localization.

Now OHT-Mobile, part of One Hour Translation, has a solution with the launch of Lingui, a low-cost way to localize apps quickly without the need for extra manpower, complicated processes or even the requirement to send updates to the App Store or Google Play.

"Having spent a lot of time and effort developing their application, one of the biggest challenges facing developers is how to make their applications accessible and engaging for users around the world," says Ofer Shoshan, CEO of One Hour Translation. "Lingui by OHT-Mobile allows developers to cut out the time consuming and expensive process of localizing applications for multiple audiences".

Lingui simplifies the development process by inserting a few lines of code into the app that detect text in the UI and allow the option to translate in a number of ways. There's the choice of automatic translation, professional human translation or crowd sourced translation. Once the process is complete, the update goes live instantly and everywhere allowing app users to choose from all active languages.

"Until now any newly translated apps would have to be uploaded to the relevant app stores, delaying the time to get the app to market. What's more, users often had to update the app in order to get support for new languages or updated translation," says Shoshan. "With Lingui, your app translations and supported languages are managed on OHT-Mobile's cloud. Updated translations or additional languages are simple and easy to add. There is no need to republish the app in the market or to update the app on the user's device".

Lingui will be on display at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona from the 2nd-5th March or you can find out more on the One Hour Translation website.