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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 19th Jul 2016

A man playing Pokemon Go on his smartphone

Image copyrightREUTERS

Anglican churches have been urged to welcome players of Pokemon Go who use their premises as Pokestops.

The online game - which is attracting millions of new players - involves finding virtual Pokemon characters in various real locations.

Several churches have been designated as Pokestops, which players visit to collect items during the game.

The CofE has said the game gives church communities a chance to meet more local people.

It has issued guidance to churches around the country, encouraging them to welcome players who visit them as part of the game.

Pokemon Go launched in the UK on Thursday, and has proved popular with people around the world.

Church locations which have been registered on the game as Pokestops include St Stephen's in Rednal, Birmingham, Hope Church in Islington, north London, and St Mary's Episcopal cathedral in Glasgow.

A phone with Pokemon Go on the screen

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionPokemon Go can be played in many locations - even Downing Street

The Church of England's digital media officer, Tallie Proud, issued guidance to churches on Thursday.

In it, she said: "Pokemon Go is therefore giving churches around the country a great opportunity to meet people from their area who might not normally come to church.

"You might also spot people standing outside the church on their phones who may be playing the game and at your 'PokeStop'."

Church communities have been encouraged to place welcome signs outside and hold so-called "Pokeparties" for players - one is planned for Christ Church in Stone, Staffordshire, on Friday evening.

One Pokemon player, Matthew Newbold, 22, from Peterborough, tweeted:"Pokemon go makes me such a better person. Had a charity coffee on my hunt for Pokemon at the church."

Pokemon Go City Road Methodist Church

Image captionCity Road Methodist Church in Birmingham has become a virtual gym for Pokemon Go players

However, the Church also warned of the potential danger to young people playing the game.

"Whilst we would encourage churches to engage with those playing the game, be they adults or children, we also understand the concerns that the NSPCC have raised with regards to keeping children safe.

"Our first priority as a Church should be to provide a safe place for children and vulnerable adults with regards to Pokemon Go," said its guidance.

Not only Anglican churches are involved. Earlier this week, City Road Methodist Church in Birmingham signed up to become one of the real-life locations used as "gyms" in Pokemon Go, where users can train virtual monsters.

It has put up a sign saying: "Jesus Cares About Pokemon Gamers".

Correction 18 July 2016: This story has been amended to clarify that Church of England churches did not "sign up" as Pokestops but were encouraged to welcome Pokemon Go players who visited them.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 19th Jul 2016

For better or worse, Pokemon Go has become an enormous international phenomenon in a very short time.

The augmented reality game is causing many players to venture out to places they would not normally go in search of their onscreen prey. But it's also making some non-believers wish they could escape to another planet to get away from all the hype.

Players in the US, Australia and Germany have already been making the most of their free time and now more gamers can get involved following its UK release.

Many of them have been using the hashtag #PokemonGoMadeMe to reveal where the quest to populate their Pokedex has taken them.

Tommy Campbell tweet:

Image copyrightTWITTER

Tweet: Pokemon made me walk more in one day than I have in a year

Image copyrightTWITTER/PIXELFISH34

But others sigh that if so many grown adults are spending so much time running around with their phones chasing Pidgies, Squirtles and Weedles, then human civilisation may well have peaked.

Tweet: Pokemon Go Made Me realise that society is doomedImage copyrightTWITTER/LEFTYGUITAR1

Tweet: Pokemon Go Made Me lose faith in humanity

Image copyrightTWITTER/TODDWHAINES

Even some enthusiasts themselves admit they have lost track of everything else. Jobs are at risk.

Dyego EVanz tweet: #PokemonGoMadeMe find new opportunities

Image copyrightTWITTER

As are relationships.

Tweet: Pokemon Go Made Me single very single

Image copyrightTWITTER/RYANBROEMS

There's a sense that some important things are being left to slide.

Bindu Nair tweet:

Image copyrightTWITTER

Though for real-life pets the picture is mixed.

Truth B Told tweet:

Image copyrightTWITTER

Tweet: Pokemon Go made me clean cat litter tray

Image copyrightTWITTER/ODDNMACABRE

And one animal shelter in Indiana has had the bright idea of inviting Pokemon players to take rescue dogs along for the walk while they are searching for Pikachus.

Another unanticipated consequence of the game's popularity is that there has been a spike in searches for kilometre to mile conversions in the wake of the game's success, according to Google Trends. Units are measured in kilometres, which presents a challenge for those not raised in a metric world with no in-game setting which allows users to change measurements.

One thing looks certain for the time being: people can't get enough of Pikachu and friends - even if their phones can.

Euphraxia tweet:

 

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 19th Jul 2016

News that Cambridge technology darling ARM is being bought by a Japanese corporate for somewhere around £25bn leaves us with precious few businesses which have the potential to bully the likes of Apple, Amazon and Alphabet.

Most of us have ARM hardware in our pockets or bags

There has been a lot written about so-called “unicorn” companies – those which are worth £1bn or more and are thought to be disruptive and dominant enough to go on to big things. However, there is one thing being worth £1bn, and another £100bn.

For a long time, US corporates with deep pockets and big ambitions have been pretty adept at hoovering up British entrepreneurial talent – either as a way of removing competition or effectively buying innovation off the shelf.

From Google’s acquisition of DeepMind in 2014 for £400m or the purchase of SwiftKey by Microsoft for £174m earlier this year, acquisitions of promising British companies have been on the rise. However, with each passing deal, we lose the chance to see whether one could go on to become the acquirer itself – and truly stake a claim on the global business stage.

It’s commendable that a UK-based company has been sold for billions rather than millions, and ARM has made incredible progress in becoming the de-facto microchip choice for mobile phone makers globally, but it now joins the likes of fellow Cambridge enterprise Autonomy in becoming a “what if”.

What if ARM hadn’t signed on the dotted line with Softbank? Could it have gone on to diversify into new areas, close game-changing deals itself and become a bulging corporate worth more than £100bn. We'll never really know now – even if the company is not re-shored to Asia.

ARM’s history dates back to 1990, when it was set up as a joint venture between Apple, Acorn Computers and VLSI Technology. It then went on to float on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in 1990 – becoming a member of the FTSE 100 a year later. In 2008, the business made history by shipping its 10bnth processor chip.

It’s a tour de force when it comes to homegrown talent, showcasing just what has come to exemplify the area in and around Cambridge – what has become know as “Silicon Fen”.

Its other Silicon Fen trailblazer, Autonomy, caused shockwaves in the market when it was bought by Hewlett-Packard for around £8bn in 2011. That deal has since gone down in history as one of the most poisonous in history – with Hewlett-Packard claiming that bosses at Autonomy over-inflated revenues to drive up the sale price.

Autonomy and HP row threatens to sour one of Britain’s great entrepreneurial success stories

Let’s hope that ARM does not become an Autonomy, a business which will probably now be better remembered for courtroom battles between stubborn executives.

There is also something to be said about the deal's context within the fallout of the Brexit vote. Had this deal been closed a month ago, it would have cost Softbank four billion yen – rather than the 3.5bn it is set to fork out. With the pound at its weakest against the US$ for 30 years, does this then mean that other promising British technology companies are sitting ducks?

So what do the experts thing? John Haynes, head of research at Investec Wealth & Investment, has commented: “The announcement of an agreed bid for ARM by Softbank of Japan is the clearest illustration possible of the consequences of the current global currency volatility. Assuming the bid price, Softbank is paying over 25 per cent less in yen terms compared to over a year ago to acquire this crown jewel of UK, and indeed global, intellectual property."

Dan Ridsdale, analyst at Edison Investment Research, added to this by saying: "An increase in inbound M&A was one of the obvious consequences of Brexit and weakened sterling, but few expected it to manifest itself so quickly or at so large a scale."

David Blacher, head of technology, media and telecommunications at business advisers RSM, was more chipper, and concluded: "There may be some shock in some quarters about the loss of ARM’s independence, and dismay that the UK is failing to establish its own tech giants to rival the likes of Google and Apple, but the mood music from the acquirer suggests they are committed to growing the UK business, and this could be good news for the wider UK tech scene in the longer term."

It's perhaps apt that one of ARM's early driving forces, Herman Hauser, came out and told the BBC he was pretty "sad" about the new development.

Speaking with the BBC, he said: "ARM has been the proudest achievement in my life, and this is a very sad day for me – and I think a sad day for technology in Britain.

"It is the loss of independence, ARM is really the last British company that has global reach. It is in 95 per cent of mobile phones and has 400 licences, which are all the semiconductor companies in the world. 

"It gave Britain real strength and it was a British company that determined the next generation architecture that is going to be used in all the next generation phones and now, more importantly, in the next generation of the Internet of Things. That determination of what comes next for technology will not be decided in Britain anymore, but in Japan."

Source: realbusiness.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 19th Jul 2016

Japan's SoftBank has confirmed that it intends to acquire the British chip maker ARM Holdings for £24.3 billion ($32 billion).

ARM said its board would recommend the all-cash deal to shareholders.

SoftBank will pay £17 a share for ARM — 43% more than ARM's closing share price on Friday and 41% more than ARM's all-time-high closing share price.

The deal, first reported by the Financial Times, is believed to be the largest-ever acquisition of a European technology business. It comes just weeks after the UK voted to leave the European Union and will be seen by many as a sign that the UK is still a good place to do business.

Founded in 1990, the Cambridge-based company designs microchips for a variety of smartphones including Apple's iPhone. But its chips also have the potential to be used in an increasing range of other devices that are starting to come online, from cars and kettles to TVs and fridges.

Shares in ARM jumped as much as 44% on Monday morning in the UK after the announcement.

While the multibillion-dollar acquisition deal sounds impressive, many will most likely see it as another UK tech champion taken out by overseas competition.

ARM shares

Investing.com

SoftBank said it intended to "preserve" the ARM organisation, including ARM's existing senior management team, brand, partnership-based business model, and culture.

It added that ARM would remain headquartered in Cambridge after the deal, saying it expected ARM's 3,000-strong workforce to at least double in size over the next five years.

Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of SoftBank, said in a statement:

"We have long admired ARM as a world renowned and highly respected technology company that is by some distance the market-leader in its field. ARM will be an excellent strategic fit within the SoftBank group as we invest to capture the very significant opportunities provided by the 'Internet of Things.'

"This investment also marks our strong commitment to the UK and the competitive advantage provided by the deep pool of science and technology talent in Cambridge. As an integral part of the transaction, we intend to at least double the number of employees employed by ARM in the UK over the next five years.

"SoftBank intends to invest in ARM, support its management team, accelerate its strategy and allow it to fully realise its potential beyond what is possible as a publicly listed company. It is also intended that ARM will remain an independent business within SoftBank, and continue to be headquartered in Cambridge, UK.

"This is one of the most important acquisitions we have ever made, and I expect ARM to be a key pillar of SoftBank's growth strategy going forward."

Stuart Chambers, the chairman of ARM, said: "This is a compelling offer for ARM shareholders, which secures the delivery of future value today and in cash. The board of ARM is reassured that ARM will remain a very significant UK business and will continue to play a key role in the development of new technology."

It was unclear whether the new government would endorse the deal or try to block it on Monday morning.

But Philip Hammond, the UK's new chancellor, welcomed the news, hailing it as the "largest ever investment from Asia into the UK."

"Just three weeks after the referendum decision, it shows that Britain has lost none of its allure to international investors," he said. "Britain is open for business — and open to foreign investment."

He added: "Softbank's decision confirms that Britain remains one of the most attractive destinations globally for investors to create jobs and wealth. And as ARM's founders will testify, this is the greatest place in the world to start and grow a technology business."

Dan Ridsdale, analyst at Edison Investment Research, said: "An increase in inbound M&A was one of the obvious consequences of Brexit and weakened sterling but few expected it to manifest itself so quickly or at so large a scale.

"ARM has always traded at a significant premium rating because it's competitive position in its core market is so secure and because growth is locked in as the company's IP penetrates new domains — such as Automotive and IOT. The company's dominant position and IP business model also mean that there is no obvious cap on how far margins can expand. However there is a psychological limit on how far the multiple can expand on the public markets. There may be some cost synergies, but In paying this multiple, SoftBank is, primarily pricing-in much more of the growth from these new applications that the markets have ever been prepared to do."

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 18th Jul 2016

Image copyrightAFP

Terrorism, like Europe, is an issue that has dominated British politics for decades. I woke up on Friday morning expecting to hear the seismic fallout from Brexit monopolising the headlines yet again. I was shocked when I heard the latest news from Nice - that so many men, women and children had been horrifically mowed down by a terrorist driving a lorry.

I was shocked but not surprised, given that the so-called Islamic State has encouraged such attacks by individuals, who don't need a bomb or a gun to carry out slaughter on such a scale. Here in the UK the killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby heeded the same call using a knife. The difference is that one of Lee Rigby's attackers was on MI5's radar while the Nice lorry driver was not on France's equivalent - its "S" list of suspects.

Mass casualty attacks, as France, Belgium and the UK know only too well, are the perpetual nightmare that governments fear - a nightmare that becomes all too real when intelligence fails to detect them.

Since the London bombings of a decade ago, Britain has managed to avoid such a mass attack. But statistics show it has been a close-run thing. Forty terrorist plots have been disrupted since 2005 - including seven in the past 18 months.

Reporting on terrorism and political violence as I have done for more than 40 years has few silver linings. "Don't you ever get depressed?" is a question I'm often asked. The honest answer is "yes" - and Nice only underlines it - however, I still try to make sense of what invariably seems senseless. But there is some good news, although I hate to tempt fate by saying so.

Police search the lorry driven by the Nice killerImage copyrightAFP

Image captionFrench police search the lorry driven by the Nice killer

It's no accident that this country has not yet endured a Paris, Brussels or Nice. Britain's defences against terrorist attack depend not just on the watery buffer of the English Channel and our non-membership of Schengen - Europe's border-free area. Crucially they also rely on the way in which intelligence is now intimately shared between all the agencies: the Security Service (MI5), MI6, GCHQ - and the police. This is the key to keeping Britain safe - although it's by no means guaranteed.

In stark contrast, the situation across the Channel is very different. France has six intelligence agencies - and they're decidedly not joined up, as the failures to detect the Paris attacks in January and November last year clearly illustrate. As I discovered when I investigated the November attacks, there was a fatal lack of communication and co-ordination both before and during those attacks. As a result, this month's French Parliamentary inquiry recommends the establishment of a single overarching agency to improve intelligence sharing - similar to America's National Terrorism Centre, or the UK's Joint Terrorism Assessment Centre (JTAC). The inquiry concludes: "The multi-layered, cumbersome intelligence apparatus was like an army of soldiers wearing lead boots."


From Our Home Correspondent

Peter Taylor's report features on this week's From Our Home Correspondent, broadcast on Radio 4 at 13:30 on Sunday 17 July. He also be discussing the Nice attacks on Sunday Morning Live at 10:00 on BBC One.


But effective intelligence-sharing in the UK didn't happen overnight - as the history of combating Irish and Islamist terrorism shows. In many years of covering the conflict in Northern Ireland, I lost count of the number of times I was assured that intelligence-sharing had never been closer and the IRA was on the run. Both were fictions. In the mid-1970s, I remember one Northern Ireland Secretary, Roy Mason, boasting that he would squeeze out the IRA like a tube of toothpaste. Martin McGuinness and some of his former IRA comrades now at Stormont bear testimony to the fiction.

In the aftermath of 9/11, I was still hearing that intelligence-sharing between the police and MI5 had never been closer - but it wasn't. Take this example.

Early in 2004, MI5 surveillance officers were monitoring a cell that was plotting to attack targets in London and the south-east of England. They followed suspects on the fringes of their investigation nearly 200 miles up the M1 to West Yorkshire - and noted the addresses in the Leeds area where they ended up.

To my great surprise, I discovered that MI5 didn't immediately notify West Yorkshire Police Special Branch that the suspects were on their patch. I was subsequently told by two senior West Yorkshire officers - independently and on different occasions - that this was common. The Security Service did not routinely share such detailed operational intelligence with the police. I later had sight of the MI5 officers' log that recorded the journey and confirmed what I'd been told.

The omission was a fatal error. Two of the suspects turned out to be Mohammed Saddique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer. They were the leaders of the four suicide bombers who murdered 52 people when they attacked London's transport network on 7 July 2005 - known as 7/7. To be fair, MI5 was monitoring dozens of cases and several thousand potential suspects at the time and had to prioritise targets and resources.

A policeman stands at the memorial to 7/7 in Hyde ParkImage copyrightAFP

Image captionA policeman stands at the memorial to 7/7 in Hyde Park in 2015

7/7 was a tragic wake-up call. In its aftermath, structures were put in place to ensure that intelligence was properly shared. Five Regional Counter Terrorist Units were set up across the country. But the change in attitude was as important as the change in structure. Previously, I had been told by my sources in West Yorkshire that its officers were never allowed inside MI5's inner sanctum. Its door was permanently locked.

All that has dramatically changed. The Security Service and local counter-terrorism police officers now work closely together and share all intelligence. The barriers are down. MI5's door is open. This shared intelligence is then passed upwards to the pinnacle of Britain's counter-terrorist pyramid where it's sifted and analysed by MI5, MI6, GCHQ and the police at their weekly meetings in MI5's London headquarters. A further benefit of shared intelligence is that the agencies and police - both at home and abroad - now all work from a single list of targets - the contents and length of which are a closely guarded national secret.

These are the hard-learned lessons that have kept Britain relatively safe for the past decade. But, as the intelligence services and the police here are at pains to point out, there is no guarantee that it will always be so.

Nice is a grim warning to all of us.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 13th Jul 2016

Evernote

Image copyrightEVERNOTE

Image captionNotes-in-the-cloud app Evernote is increasing its prices

Evernote has restricted the use of the free version of its note-taking app and raised prices for the paid-for ones.

The company said the moves would help it invest in new features.

But it faces a backlash from users unhappy at being limited to synching notes across two devices - rather than an unlimited number - unless they pay.

Microsoft, Apple and Google all offer competing services that do not place this constraint on members who do not pay a subscription.

Microsoft's OneNote may be the biggest beneficiary, as it recently introduced a data migration tool for Windows users wanting to make the switch.

"The economics of Evernote didn't make sense until this point as most users had no real incentive to move to a premium subscription," said Ben Wood, from the tech consultancy CCS Insight.

"So, I'm unsurprised this has happened. The big question is does this approach stack up in terms of getting enough people to pay these prices?"

Evernote recently announced it had about 200 million customers.

EvernoteImage copyrightEVERNOTE

Image captionEvernote pitches itself as being the "have it everywhere" note-keeping service

'Reap the benefits'

Part of the Evernote's appeal is that if a user adds or updates a note on one device, the change appears on all the other machine they use the app on.

Restricting this to just two computers still allows people to trial the service, but limits its utility.

The company's chief executive highlighted that, unlike some rivals, Evernote did not rely on adverts to top up its profits.

"Our goal is to continue improving Evernote for the long-term, investing in our core products to make them more powerful and intuitive while also delivering often-requested new features," Chris O'Neill blogged.

"But that requires a significant investment of energy, time, and money.

"We're asking those people who get the most value from Evernote to help us make that investment and, in return, to reap the benefits."

The subscription fees for "plus" and "premium" subscriptions - which offer different amounts of online storage - have both risen by about 40%, taking them to $34.99 and $69.99 respectively (£29.99 and £44.99 in the UK).

Since taking charge last year, Mr O'Neill has also cut jobs, dropped support fornon-core services and shaken up Evernote's leadership team as part of efforts to boost sales and prepare for a flotation.

The latest move marks a sharp contrast with the strategy of the company's previous chief executive.

Phil LibinImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionPhil Libin thought Evernote could profit from selling add-on products

"Unlike most freemium models, which are basically try to monetise you really, really early, we look at a user and we say we have the rest of your life to make money from you," Phil Libin told the BBC in 2013.

"Every month that you stay, you're getting friends into it and you're more likely to start paying and soon you're more likely to buy other [add-on physical] products. So, the free part of Evernote is the main part."

'Basically useless'

The California-based company has created a forum to discuss its changes.

Several users praised the service, but there were also many complaints.

"I wonder how much more revenue will be generated by this increase versus how much they will lose from users like myself leaving permanently," wrote Owen Finn.

Josh Serrano said: "Limiting to two devices is insane."

OneNoteImage copyrightMICROSOFT

Image captionMicrosoft makes a virtue of the fact that all OneNote users can synch their documents to an unlimited number of devices

Several tech writers were also critical.

"An Evernote free basic account is now basically useless," wrote Gizmodo's Gerald Lynch.

"Looks like rival Google Keep... is about to get a massive influx of new users."

Security blogger Troy Hunt said: "Know what people really like? Taking something they've used for years, then crippling it unless they pay."

But Techcrunch's Devin Coldewey suggested many long-time users of the app might want to hold tight.

"The increased pricing may cause some short-term frustration and a few people jumping ship, but as many of us have found, a service that works for us and into which we've poured years of data is generally worth keeping around," he said.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 13th Jul 2016

Facebook 'hack' victim exposes passport scam

Facebook logoImage copyrightREUTERS

Facebook user Aaron Thompson has exposed an online thief who gained access to his account simply by sending the support team a fake passport to unlock the account.

It granted the "hacker" access to Mr Thompson's personal and business Facebook pages.

Mr Thompson shared his experience on news site Reddit when he realised he was locked out of his accounts.

Facebook later restored them to him and apologised.

The social network decline to comment.

But the BBC understands that the decision to accept the fake ID was a mistake that violated the firm's internal policies.

Offensive photo

Mr Thompson, from Michigan in the US, was made aware of the chain of events that led to the hack in an email from Facebook, headed: "Description of the issue you're encountering."

It included this request: "Hi. I don't have anymore access on my mobile phone number. Kindly turn off code generator and login approval from my account. Thanks."

In fact that email had not been sent by Mr Thompson but by the hacker. He did not have access to Mr Thompson's email address or passwords.

Facebook replied with a message, advising the impostor to send a photo or scan of their ID to "confirm you own the account".

That scanned image was also forwarded to Mr Thompson's email account with the response: "Thanks for verifying your identity. You should now be able to log into your account."

Once the hacker had gained access to the account, he removed all the administrators for the sites and sent Mr Thompson's fiancee a picture of his genitals.

Mr Thompson wrote on Reddit that he was "pretty devastated" when he realised what had happened.

"It's blatant harassment," he said.

At that point, he picked up the email conversation with Facebook, attempting to inform them that he was in fact the owner of the account and that previous emails and the passport ID had not been sent by him.

"Please look further into this, it will be easy to see the account has been hacked. They sent a fake ID to Facebook's help team to reset the email, and password," he wrote.

Mr Thompson also reached out to Facebook via Twitter and received a response from its security communications office Melanie Ensign.

He responded: "You need to make sure it can never happen again. Your security policy needs to be examined and fixed."

Following the publication of his Reddit post, Facebook restored all his accounts.

Mr Thompson later offered the social media giant some security advice.

"This hacker was able to submit this request and hack the profile in four hours, all while I was sleeping. I didn't even have time to see that someone was requesting this. There was no notification on Facebook, no notification on my cellphone.

"Given the severity of the theft of information if someone were to hack into your account, I think Facebook should freeze the account to see if the owner does eventually use the original email or phone number to get back into the account."

He also pointed out that if a request comes from a "suspicious IP address that seems unrelated with the normal IP of the account", it should not be accepted.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 13th Jul 2016

It's one of those internet phrases that have seeped into everyday usage.

Newsreaders tell us a story is trending, editors tell their staff they want interviews to trend and activists want their causes to trend.

The goal for many news organisations today is to have their content shared so widely, so quickly and across so many platforms that it takes on a life of its own, achieving a sort of uber-ubiquity and eventually the hallowed status of "viral".

But how did asking "what's trending?" become such a pervasive online trend?

Facts v Feelings

To get to the roots of trending you have to go back to late 2006, when a group of engineers in the US state of Virginia, founded a company called Summize.

At first glance the start-up's website looked like any other search engine. But while Google and Bing focused on facts and figures, Summize was being more touchy-feely.

"We had a premise that real-time summarisation and sentiment analysis were important - looking at how people feel about a given topic," recalls its co-founder and former chief scientist Abdur Chowdhury.

"Often, we can pull out an exact date like when was Abraham Lincoln born - it's very factual - but [not] how do you feel about the weather?

"Or how do you feel about this political topic or that?"

In the mid-noughties, social media sites were still a bit of a novelty, so for answers to those questions Summize first turned to more traditional sources of online opinion including product reviews and blogs.

Summize

Image captionAn early example of search topics within the Summize system.

Mr Chowdhury and Summize's chief executive Jay Virdy soon noticed that when it came to opinions, there was one site that was fast becoming a global repository: Twitter.

They directed their technology at the platform and quickly saw results.

"Within six weeks we were doing over a million queries a day," Mr Chowdhury says.

"The hot thing at that time was the iPhone. You could see everyone's opinion and what they were saying about the iPhone in real-time."

Summize data centre

Image captionSummize's data centre was relatively small in the firm's early days

Once it became clear that Twitter's content and Summize's technology were a good fit, a union between Twitter's 12 employees and Summize's six was inevitable, added Mr Chowdhury.

In 2008, Twitter acquired Summize and in the process users finally got the ability to search within Twitter.

Trending and hashtags soon followed.

Growing up

Mr Chowdhury became Twitter's chief scientist and although he cannot recall exactly when or who coined the term, he remembers well the moment he realised trending was going to be big.

Twitter and Summize logos

Image captionTwitter and Summize joined forces in 2008

"I was taking the train and I said: 'Let's see if we can put together an algorithm to really figure out what people are talking about,'" he said.

"And so I started pulling out the people, places and nouns that were being discussed on Twitter."

Mr Chowdhury stressed that his original algorithm concentrated on spikes in the conversation.

"People are always talking about Apple or McDonald's or the BBC, but what you really want to know is did that deviate?" he explained.

"Is it way more than expected?

"As I'm taking the train ride and I'm watching the nouns coming out, I start to see Rome, Prague, London, Moscow.

"What I realised is that I was watching the Olympic torch runner run through Europe. It was at that moment I realised that trends - this ability to extract what's new and interesting happening in real-time - was going to be a thing."

Buzzfeed trending topics

Image copyrightBUZZFEED

Image captionAn example of Buzzfeed's trending topics section.

Mr Chowdhury welcomes the fact that trending has broken out of Twitter and been embraced by other sites. However, he feels a little of his original vision has been lost along the way.

"Trending today seems like someone looking for interesting content to push up at the top, not necessarily something that the large majority of people want to talk about at the moment," he said.

The columnist and magazine editor Ann Friedman writes about journalism and technology. She says that trending has opened mainstream media's eyes to stories that would otherwise have been missed.

"I'm not so pleased with the trending era that I think every trending topic should be the equivalent of front page news, but I think editors tend to miss some things - they're not the most diverse group and stuff like trending topics and hashtags can really bring something to their attention," she said.

"I like to see reporters pushed by readers. To me that's good for journalism."

In September 2011 Abdur Chowdhury left Twitter after what he called an "amazing experience".

But his contribution has not been forgotten.

Last month, on the day of Twitter's 10th anniversary, Chowdhury got a personal and very public thank you from the man who'd bought Summize eight years previously.

"Thank you @abdur for being the coolest scientist I know and for building Twitter search and Trends," posted the social network's chief executive Jack Dorsey.

 

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 13th Jul 2016

I've heard of Pokemon. Is it a thing again?

Yes - Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game on smartphones.

It uses your GPS. You play by walking around the real world catching cutesy little virtual monsters like Pikachu and Jigglypuff in places near your phone location and training them to fight each other.

The monsters in it were first popular in the 1990s when they started on the Nintendo Game Boy. Trading cards were a huge hit in school playgrounds well before Minecraft and even before Tamagotchis, but after yoyos and, well, marbles.

Pokemon has been out on Game Boy and DS, it's been a cartoon programme and it's been a low-tech trading card game, but this is the first time it's been a smartphone game.

Dave Lee, tech reporter: Pokemon Go is a monster mobile hit

  • Pokemon = pocket monster
  • Pokestop = landmark
  • Pokeball = a supply that you can throw to capture Pokemon for training
  • Gym = a location where Pokemon battle each other
  • Pikachu = the most famous Pokemon and an icon of Japanese culture

people in Pikachu costumes onstage in JapanI

mage copyrightAFP

Image captionThese people are dressed up as Pikachu, a fast-moving Pokemon with electric powers

How can I get my hands on the game?

On the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play (Android). It's free but as with other free games, there are things to buy with real money once you're in the game.

It's out in Australia, New Zealand and the US and will be released in Japan soon, but people in the UK have to wait for some time yet.

So many people have been using it that the servers have been crashing. That's why the makers Niantic Inc - a spin-off of Google's parent company Alphabet Inc - are holding off on rolling it out all across the world for now.

two men standing next to each other and playing on their phones

Image copyrightAP

Image captionThese brothers admitted that they had never gone downtown for pleasure in their hometown until they downloaded Pokemon Go

What's the weirdest thing that's happened someone playing it?

Oh, take your pick...

An American woman found a dead body while she was looking for a Pokemon in a river near her home. Police said the man had died within the last 24 hours and no foul play was suspected.

Four people were arrested after they used the game to lure players to remote places and then rob them at gunpoint. In response, the makers of Pokemon Go have said people should "play with friends when going to new or unfamiliar places" and "remember to be safe and alert at all times".

The anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church in the US is the location of a gym in the game, and players planted a pink "Clefairy" Pokemon called Love is Love there. The church has responded with a series of social media posts calling the Pokemon a sodomite.

There have also been plenty of reports of people falling over and grazing or cutting themselves because they're not paying attention to what's in front of them while they play.

EPA

Image copyrightEPA

Image captionThe world you see on your Pokemon Go screen corresponds to the world you see around you

Should I worry about my privacy?

Some people have pointed out that because it works in real time, if you are close to another player in the game you can probably see them in real life.

When you sign up to play, you allow Niantic Labs to use your location and share it through the app.

This is similar to what all social networking apps ask for, but while you can turn the location functionality off with the likes of Facebook and Twitter, doing the same for Pokemon Go is going to make you less able to actually play the game.

Has the game been successful so far?

Hasn't it just!

It's added more than $7bn (£5.4bn) to Nintendo's value by virtue of shares in the company rallying since it was released.

The game has dominated gaming charts in the US and it seems to be capturing two markets - the teens who are "catching em all" for the first time, and the people in their late 20s and early 30s who remember it all from the first time round and fancy a little nostalgia.

screengrab of Pokemon cartoon from 1997

Image copyrightAPImage captionThis is what Pikachu looked like in 1997 when it was first on TV

 

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 12th Jul 2016

Microsoft's Azure IoT Suite and Cortana Intelligence Suite expected to boost operational efficiency for airlines

Rolls-Royce engines

Microsoft has signed a deal with aeroplane engine maker Rolls-Royce that looks like a textbook demonstration project for the Internet of Things (IoT). Microsoft's cloud-based IoT and analytics platforms will be used to improve efficiency for airlines by diagnosing problems with jet engines.

Rolls-Royce will adopt Microsoft's Azure IoT Suite and Cortana Intelligence Suite to quickly diagnose potential faults in engines fitted to aircraft in service around the globe.

Information on engine health, air traffic control, route restrictions and fuel use will be collected from hundreds of sensors inside the engines, and analysed to detect any operational anomalies or signs of developing faults.

Airlines will be able to use the data to cut fuel use, fly on more efficient routes and ensure they have the right replacement parts in the places they are needed most, Microsoft said.

One of the promises of the IoT is that it will enable new business models, and the new capabilities will become an important part of the Rolls-Royce TotalCare programme, which is based on earning revenue when aircraft fly, rather than when engines are serviced.

It is expected to deliver a one per cent saving on fuel, which may not sound much but could equate to $250,000 per aircraft per year, according to Microsoft, leading to substantial savings for airlines.

Azure IoT Suite has been generally available since September as a collection of services running on Microsoft's Azure platform. It includes the Azure IoT Hub serviceto connect to devices in the real world and gather data, along with storage and analytics services.

Cortana Intelligence Suite, previously Cortana Analytics, was announced earlier this year as a platform that combines machine learning and analytics with what Microsoft calls "cognitive services" to go beyond analytics alone. This is also delivered from Microsoft's Azure cloud.

"We are excited to bring our Azure platform and suite of digital technology to the aerospace market and support a world leader such as Rolls-Royce," said Çağlayan Arkan, Microsoft's general manager for the manufacturing and resources sector.

"Aircraft engines are hugely valuable assets and we want to help Rolls-Royce ensure they stay flying as much as possible. When we combine our skills with those of Rolls-Royce and its customers we have a powerful solution."

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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