jeudi 30 avril 2015

Microsoft reveals Code editor for Windows, Mac, Linux


Microsoft has announced the first public preview of Visual Studio Code, a free cross-platform developer’s editor for Windows, Mac and Linux.

As you’d expect with this kind of tool, there’s syntax highlighting, autocompletion, bracket matching and similar support for a lot of languages: C++, jade, PHP, Python, XML, Batch, F#, DockerFile, Coffee Script, Java, HandleBars, R, Objective-C, PowerShell, Luna, Visual Basic, Markdown, JavaScript, JSON, HTML, CSS, LESS, SASS, C# and TypeScript, with more to come,

That may sound much like many other Notepad replacements, but then Code goes much further. It can validate JavaScript files according to your preferred rules, preview Markdown files, show color preview annotations for CSS, LESS and SASS, and gives you IntelliSense, intelligent refactoring, "find all references" and more.

Oh, and did we mention a debugger for JavaScript? Git support? Diffs? Easy integration with tools like Make, Ant, Gulp, Jake, Rake, MSBuild?

The core editor doesn’t have all the frills of some of the competition -- there are no multiple clipboards here, no case changing options, no line sorting -- but that’s only because Code is concentrating on the features that really matter. Like the ability to open files or folders; create/ delete/ rename/ move/ use a file’s context menu from within the program; display up to three editor windows side by side for comparisons; search across files; use multiple cursors, expand code snippets and more.

More than a Notepad replacement, not quite a full IDE, Visual Studio Code looks like a spectacular code editor to us, packed with intelligent, time-saving features. Download it immediately.

Microsoft releases Band SDK to developers

Microsoft Band SDK released to developers

In the world of wearables, Microsoft Band may not hold the same gravitas as Apple Watch or the various Android Wear devices, but the company is still trying to get more developers on board -- today launching the Microsoft Band SDK, following on from February's preview release.

With support for Windows Phone, Android, iOS, and full-blown Windows, Microsoft is clearly keen to appeal to as many developers as possible. This full SDK release offers access to all of Band's sensors -- as part of a push to get more third-party apps on the device.

The SDK gives developers the chance to create tiles that display notifications based on information pulled in from the sensors or from connected devices. The software and cloud services giant also appeals to developers in other ways, by, for example, suggesting that personalization options could be used to monetize an app. Introducing the SDK on the Microsoft Devices Blog, Zulfi Alam, general manager of the personal devices division, highlights some of the new features:

  • Build apps that support Windows
  • Create your own custom layouts for pages on third-party tiles using icons, text, buttons, and barcodes for payment options
  • Receive events and button-click callbacks from the Microsoft Band to your phone app. If you press a button on a page inside your tile, your app would know which button was pressed
  • Connect to the Band from background tasks
  • Tap into calorie subscription from the Microsoft Band

The SDK can be downloaded from the Microsoft Health for Developers website, where sample code is also available.

Euro currency crisis raises Chromebook's sales appeal

Toshiba Chromebook 2 Ports

What if you manufactured a low-cost, underpowered laptop -- and the configuration suddenly turned into a massive marketing advantage? That may well be the opportunity ahead for Google and its Chromebook OEM partners; if they seize the opportunity.

As we reported Wednesday, Gartner predicts that currency devaluation will compel major computer manufacturers to raise prices by as much as 10 percent, particularly across Europe and in Japan. Higher prices mean more customers will do with leaner configurations, and choose sub-$500 systems. Meanwhile, PC makers will give purchasers less for more money, cutting back features to preserve margins while shifting sales priorities to markets where currencies are more buoyant. What is Chromebook already? A lean, low-cost PC in that price category but better optimized for hardware.

When I consider the broader implications of Gartner's forecast, suddenly even the Hiaer and Hisense Chromebooks are more appealing. A parent could buy one for each of three schoolkids and still spend less than $500. It's the rare model that sells for as much as half a grand. The Chromebook with best-of-class screen -- Toshiba's 13.3-incher is $249. The model with largest display, Acer Chromebook 15, sells for the same price. Purchase two of each to reach Gartner's $500 price target -- or save big buying just one.

Price Less

Google showcases 22 Chrome OS computers (there are more). With exception of the pricey Pixel, only three sell for more than $300 -- and none for more than $350.

Advantage: Google configures Chrome OS, setting supporting OEM configurations, to require less. Windows 8.1, or forthcoming 10, need more but will utilize diminished hardware on some of the newest PCs (assuming Gartner guesses correctly). With Chromebook, you get less, because that's all you need, rather than making do with less.

The typical Chrome OS laptop features Intel Celeron processor, 2GB to 4GB RAM, and 16GB storage -- the latter because content syncs to the cloud, like Google Drive. Webapps tends to be less taxing on microprocessor and graphics chip because remote servers do the heavy-lifting rather than the PC running bloated, locally-stored code.

Something else: The web-based applications that Chrome OS supports tend to be lower-cost, if not free, when compared to typical desktop application, and that's another savings benefit. Most consumers don't need Microsoft Office for Toshiba Chromebook 11 or any other.

I'm a pig. Oink. Oink. I demand more oomph from a full-time PC used for creating content (whether or not it's really needed). So I spent big on Google Chromebook Pixel LS, which is in the same price range as an Apple laptop. But the majority of consumers, and most certainly students and some small businesses, can do just fine with a more typical Chromebook, which -- this must be repeated -- is already designed to give more on lesser configurations.

Better Than New

If you're not thinking about a Chromebook -- and you should be if living in Europe or Japan -- I recommend as alternative buying a refurbished Mac or Windows PC, which is not the same thing as open box. A refreshed Windows PC is more likely to cost $500 or less while packing heartier hardware than the newer systems about which Gartner frets. Refurbished means the manufacturer or retailer checked for good working order. Better than new is typical, because the seller's nightmare scenario is a return on a return of a near-zero-margin computer.

By contrast, open box items are pure returns that aren't refreshed as new, may be missing parts, and typically aren't protected by the original warranty. Open box is a buyer-beware purchase. Refurbished typically is not.

Or you could just buy a new Chromebook.

Photo Credit: Joe Wilcox

Shazam and TuneIn Radio gain 'OK Google' Android music identification and playback


The older I get, the less aware I am of the current popular musicians. If I hear a pleasing song while I am at the store or chilling at Starbucks, it would be awkward to ask one of the younger and hipper people to identify it for me -- that is about as uncool as one can get. Luckily, thanks to technology, I can use my smartphone to discover name of both the song an artist.

Today, both Shazam and TuneIn announce a partnership with Google to integrate their app functionality into the Google app on Android. What does this mean? You can call upon Google with the familiar "OK Google" followed by "Shazam This Song". The Shazam app will then attempt to identify a song using your devices microphone. You can use similar functionality to play music with TuneIn Radio.

"Google voice action-enabled Shazam is the latest in a series of integrations that also include Now cards in the Google app and Google Play. Now cards provide Android users with automatic Shazam updates through the Google Now feed. The Google Play integration makes it easier to play and buy music that users have discovered with the app, allowing direct purchasing from the online store. Users with a Google Play All Access subscription can also instantly stream Shazamed songs right from the app. Shazam is a top-rated app in the Google Play store, and one of the 25 most consistently used apps worldwide", says Shazam.

36mDaniel Danker, Chief Product Officer, Shazam explains, "we're aiming to make it as easy as possible to connect with the world around you. The only thing easier than tapping a button is not having to tap a button at all. Using Shazam with Google voice actions changes the game by making this process literally hands free, so people can identify and enjoy great music no matter where they are, or what they're doing".

It is important to note that you must install the Shazam Android app for this new feature to work. In other words, the functionality is not baked into the Google app; instead, it passes the commands to the Shazam app.

In my testing it worked very well. I played Three 6 Mafia's "Rainbow Colors" and said "OK Google, Shazam this song". Impressively, it identified the song in just a few seconds. While Google can already identify songs natively, I found Shazam's results preferable as I could easily share it to social media or play it in Spotify. Very cool.


What if you want to listen to music while driving or other situation where you cant use your hands? TuneIn Radio's integration with the Google Android app solves this issue. Like Shazam, you must have the TuneIn Radio app installed.

"Whether you need to change the station while driving, find the basketball game broadcast, or want to listen to a new podcast while cooking dinner, try out these activities with no taps! Simply ask Google to find what you'd like on TuneIn. To use Google app voice commands for TuneIn, tap the Google app icon and say commands like 'Ok Google, play Rihanna on TuneIn' or 'Ok Google, open TuneIn in Car Mode'", says TuneIn.

Android users, are you excited about this new functionality? Tell me in the comments.

Photo Credit: 2j architecture/Shutterstock

Android Wear: How to set up your smartwatch

Moto 360

So you’re thinking about getting yourself an Android Wear smartwatch, but you're not sure if it’s too complicated to set up?

The truth is it’s a very simple device and setting up is no different than, say, setting up an app on your smartphone.

Anyone who tried out a Galaxy Gear from Samsung last year is familiar about how this goes.

  1. Before anything, make sure that your smartphone is compatible with the Android Wear watch.
  2. You’ll then need the companion app and the new version of Google Play Services. The latter should install itself automatically once you’ve begun.
  3. The former can be downloaded using this link. The download and installation process is no different from any other app out there.
  4. During the installation process, you’ll need to give permission for the app to do things like recognize your contacts or track your position; they are necessary in order for the app to work properly.
  5. Once you have installed the app, turn on Bluetooth on both of your devices.
  6. You should see your Android Wear smartwatch listed as an available device, and you might see other devices nearby.
  7. Choose the Android Wear smartwatch, and you’re automatically connected to your smartphone through the device’s Bluetooth connection.
  8. One more thing you should do is go through the notifications tutorial, to see how to enable notifications on your smartwatch.

After that, you’re directed to look at your watch and to familiarize yourself with the various settings and functions.

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

Photo Credit: Joe Wilcox

Google's open source addressing system could replace longitude and latitude

Google's open source addressing system could replace longitude and latitude

Google often decides to go about things in its own way, and is frequently found approaching common problems from a unique angle. The latest candidate to receive the Google treatment is the humble address. Not web addresses or email addresses, but regular postal addresses. So what's the deal?

While street names and numbers usually get you to where you want to go, that's not always the case. You could opt to use longitude and latitude instead, but what sane person wants to do that? This is the very question Google asked before it came up with Open Location Code, an open source addressing system the company hopes developers will latch onto.

Street names and numbers are not always useful, and the same is true of postcodes and zip codes; while common, they are not used in every part of the world, and even when they are, they may not provide the required level of accuracy. Google's Open Location Code is essentially a shortened version of longitude and latitude, and can even be used in conjunction with a partial address to make them even shorter.

For example, 849VCWC8+R9 is the address of Google HQ, and Google points out that this is a similar length to a phone number, and could be easily communicated over the phone or via email. But it can be shortened to CWC8+R9, Mountain View for something that's easier to say and read. So what are the possible applications? It's ideal for giving the location of a remote place that has no landmarks, places at sea, or locations in countries that don’t use a familiar addressing system.

Developers can take a look at the Open Location Code project on GitHub.

Photo credit: Ganibal / Shutterstock

LG G4 vs Samsung Galaxy S6: Which flagship has the better camera?


Samsung’s Galaxy S6 is a great device, no doubt about it. It has all the elements needed for a great smartphone: a large, high quality display, powerful processor, a great operating system with countless features, and two amazing cameras.

However, the competition out there is merciless. Apple has hit the South Korean giants hard with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models, and now the LG G4 seems to be out for blood, as well.

The G4 hasn’t even been properly unveiled yet, and Forbes has already made a detailed comparison of the cameras on the two smartphone heavyweights, and even though LG has some hardware advantages over the Galaxy S6, the question remains whether or not is it worth extra $$$.

"One aspect of which the company is most proud is the G4’s main lens. Its f/1.8 aperture is currently the brightest on any smartphone and is a massive improvement on the f/2.4 lens found on the current G3 model. Perhaps more importantly it just pips Samsung’s excellent f/1.9 Galaxy S6 camera at the post", says Forbes, later adding that the 0.1 difference might not be "incredibly important", as LG likes to put it.

Manual control over shutter speed, ISO and white balance are also big advantages for the G4.

Still, the automatic snapshots are what will ultimately determine the better camera for most owners. Both Apple and Samsung are extremely good at that, and we will still have to wait and see just how LG’s flagship G4 can compete with the duo.

Startup time, handling of the phone while taking pictures, megapixels; those are all elements making the difference between a good camera and a great camera.

"These early details look very promising, but the Galaxy S6 is a very tough act to follow and it will definitely take more than just an f/1.8 lens to pull it off", Forbes concludes.

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

Ever wondered how old you look? New tool from Microsoft will hurt your feelings

how old

Microsoft has created a new website which makes use of its recently released Face detection APIs to guess a user’s age based purely on a photo they submit.

The creators expected around 50 people to be interested in trying out the project, but the site has gone viral, racking up over 35,000 users as of yesterday, and likely hundreds of thousands more today. People want to know how they are perceived by others and a site that promises to predict their age based on an uploaded photo was bound to be hit. It’s a shame then, that a random number generator could probably produce more accurate results.

I’ve tested several photos of myself, and others, on the site and the ages predicted vary wildly. And I mean wildly. The site guessed I was 35, based on one photo I uploaded, and then 75 based on another. I’m actually 48. Both pictures were taken at the same time, just from a slightly different angle. My advice is if you try it, and you get a flattering result, stop there. The next result will likely not be as kind.

In fairness, its early days, and Microsoft is still improving the feature, so it will hopefully get better in time. Well it has to really.

A post on the Machining Learning Blog explains how the technology works (or doesn’t) and makes for interesting reading.

You can try it out for yourself now at Let me know in the comments how accurate, or otherwise, it is for you.

What Google's looking for in a manager

Google bans Chinese security certificates

Being a manager at a company is a difficult task. You need to help people, motivate them to work, plan their projects, and make decisions. Even though a lot of people dream of becoming a manager, or any sort of boss at a company, not everyone is fit for that kind of pressure and expectation.

But when it comes to Google, being a manager is a completely different experience. The reason? It’s kinda hard to manage people that are most likely a lot smarter than you.

Google’s head of human resources, Laszlo Bock spoke to Quartz’s Max Nisen recently, on the subject of employing and managing people, and he says managing Googlers is a vastly different experience.

Bock says that in most companies you get rewarded and promoted for having better insights than the people you’re surrounded with, as well as being able to play the game of politics. "Everything you experience teaches you that you need to be assertive, and out in front, and making all of the decisions".

At Google, managing doesn’t mean making decisions -- it means getting the maximum out of the team.

"You realize that you have a lot less levers, control and power than you do at a lot of other companies. You don’t decide who to hire, or how big a bonus somebody gets, you don’t decide who gets promoted".

You need to motivate them without the leverage of power.

"You’re forced to figure out how to add value without relying on power, and you do that by influencing, by giving people the opportunity to learn, and giving people more freedom".

Master this skill, and you will be a great Google manager.

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

Dell Wireless Dock available today


Laptop computers are great, as they allow the user to be portable. Want to surf the web in Starbucks? You got it. Need to take notes in class? Go for it, bro. Unfortunately, some people -- myself included -- prefer working with a huge monitor, mouse and keyboard. Traditional docking stations are a good solution, but they can take up significant desk space. Plus, depending on the unit, docking and undocking can be a tedious affair

There has to be a better way, right? The Dell Wireless Dock may be what you are looking for. While not the first such Intel WiGig solution, fans of Dell quality will want to take notice. If you have a compatible Intel-powered laptop or tablet, you can dock your machine -- sans wires -- for increased productivity.

"The cables and large docking station may be gone, but your productivity certainly is not. The Wireless Dock allows you to work more efficiently by powering up to two external displays (VGA, HDMI and mDP), keyboard, mouse, audio and other peripherals. The dock is equipped with two USB ports in front and three in the back to provide you the flexibility to work with as many devices as you need to manage your busy work flow", says Dell.

The manufacturer also says, "the new Dell wireless docking solution is designed for laptops, Ultrabooks, and 2 in 1 devices with 5th generation Intel Core vPro processors enabled with Intel Tri-Band Wireless-AC 17256. The Dell Wireless Dock is compatible with the Dell Latitude 7000 Series and Latitude 5000 Series with an optional installed Intel Tri-Band Wireless-AC 17256 available only at the time of purchase".


What makes this particularly cool is that you do not even need to have the computer on your desk -- it can communicate from a nearby bag, drawer or shelf . This saves room, while also protecting the computer from things like coffee spills.

I had the pleasure of experiencing Intel WiGig technology on a dock from a different manufacturer and it worked flawlessly. Intel's technology has no issue wirelessly streaming 1080p video without a stutter. It is a really impressive thing to use. Keep in mind, you can use Dell's dock with computers from other manufacturers too

If you own a machine that is compatible with Intel WiGig you can buy the Dell Wireless Dock here. Unfortunately, pricing is not yet live, but should be available later in the day.

Are you a Bitcoin early adopter? Here's how you can minimize risk

Bitcoin has significantly shifted from being a commodity traded by investors towards being used as an actual currency used to pay for goods and services. Exponentially growing transactions in the past year as well as increased involvement from businesses and government figures suggest that cryptocurrency adoption will only continue. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, stated his desire for the UK to become a "global center of innovation for financial technology" before the end of 2015, and has taken steps to both regulate Bitcoin exchanges as well as provide guidelines for organizations who deal in the currency. On the business side, the number of merchants accepting Bitcoin have already hit 100,000 this year -- this number is expected to reach 140,000 by the end of this year.

It is common knowledge that there are clear business benefits and opportunities to utilizing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. For example, any existing market currency can be converted to a cryptocurrency through the use of online portals. Once held, cryptocurrencies can be stored in an electronic "wallet" without the need for a bank account. If a company manages most of its assets in bitcoin, this will naturally result in a reduction of third-party costs, and represent an alternative to managing multi-currency risk -- however, this option is not without its own risks.

You will need to consider the following if you are looking into Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies:

Price risk: because there are no derivatives markets to support cryptocurrencies, companies accepting Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies will experience price volatility on a daily basis with no means to protect against extreme losses in value of their holdings.

Liquidity risk: due to the lack of market infrastructure supporting cryptocurrencies, trading tends to be of relatively smaller quantities than corporates would need to transact on a daily basis. As a result, exchanging large amounts of Bitcoins, for example, may incur large bid/ask spreads. This often results in a loss of value or the need to spread out transactions over periods of time, incurring more costs and increasing price exposure.

Counterparty risk: payment systems using Bitcoin are not regulated nor do they provide any guarantees. If a $100M payment "doesn’t go through" then what is the recourse and to whom? Even if the result is positive, treasurers need payments to go through immediately and be certain of their outcome

If the benefits of cryptocurrencies outweigh the risks for your organization, you can take the following measures to minimize said risks:

Minimise your Bitcoin holdings: Be effective with your cryptocurrency management and only hold the quantity of Bitcoins needed to meet forecasted Bitcoin obligations. Holding more will expose your company to unnecessary "Virtual Currency" (VX) risk.

Diversify by using multiple counterparties: Given the lack of central bank backing and protection against counterparty risk, should anything go wrong with your Bitcoin wallet, payments or exchange provider, you may risk losing everything. If you have large cryptocurrency transfers to make, consider spreading the risk by using multiple counterparties.

Stay current on regulations: Given how new Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies are, the regulatory landscape is still only taking shape. In the US, Bitcoins have been designated a commodity, so any price fluctuations while you hold Bitcoins generates capital gains and losses. Other markets have their own unique nuances, so stay informed.

Establish strong audit and controls: One of cryptocurrencies’ biggest benefits and challenges is the level of anonymity and lack of audit trail it provides. For example, any payments made with Bitcoin are irreversible. To counter this, you need to ensure that your organization's internal processes and audit trails are more detailed than for regular payments.

While Bitcoin remains unstable, its increasing acceptance in the business world will only help overcome the pains of early adoption. It is inevitable that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will continue to evolve and develop into a legitimate financial tool. Until then, exercise caution in all your Bitcoin dealings.

Photo credit: Lightboxx / Shutterstock

tim-2-sm_1Tim Wheatcroft is director of corporate communications at kyriba. He has spent more than 15 years in the PR trenches on both sides of the Atlantic, having started his career in London before moving to San Diego in 2001. He has worked on a diverse range of technology and consumer campaigns, ranging from start-ups to major global players. Tim’s PR experience ranges from the world’s largest technology firm to a chain of hamburger restaurants, both of which have their unique benefits.

Why backups are shifting to the cloud


A backup and recovery solution is essential for enterprises if they're to safeguard their critical data. Yet whilst they may take care of their servers, according to a new infographic from private cloud company SingleHop they're less concerned about endpoint data.

Only 50 percent of companies have endpoint backups in place and this leads 16 percent of end users to do their own backups using a non-approved solution.

This seems short sighted given that system downtime is a major cost, loss of mission critical data costs in excess of $70,000 per hour on average and even losing non-critical data can cost $42,000 per hour.

Organizations encounter unplanned downtime 13 times a year on average and targeted attacks are a major threat with 50 percent aimed at larger enterprises and 31 percent at those with fewer than 250 employees.

No surprise then that data loss is a major concern for management and that they're increasingly turning to the cloud as a solution. 64 percent already store data in the cloud and 78 percent plan on changing their protection product in the next two years.

There are more interesting statistics on the effects of downtime in the full infographic below.


Photo credit: LilKar/Shutterstock