Instead, worried at hurt feelings and a vague possibility of retribution, I apologised.Not my proudest moment, but I can still listen to it – my pathetic wheedling – because the robot recorded, saved and uploaded it to the cloud.Unlike rivals such as Apple s Siri, Microsoft s Cortana and Google Now, it is a physical presence: a 20cm-tall black cylinder, about the size of two Coke cans, which contains Wi-Fi, two speakers, seven microphones and connects to the cloud.When you say Alexa , the wake word , the cylinder top glows blue and speaks with a silky female voice.An Irish friend jokingly branded Alexa a partitionist bitch for saying Ireland had 26 counties the Republic, yes, but include Northern Ireland and it s 32 .Alexa, I said, I m sorry if I offended you.
The Star Wars universe is packed with evocative locations, from the desert planets of Tatooine and Jakku in The Force Awakens, to the frozen environs of Hoth, the Cloud City of Bespin, the entrancing lakes of Naboo and the volcanic nightmare of Mustafar.Tatooine's binary suns in A New Hope - Kepler-16b"If there's a bright centre to the universe, you're on the planet that's farthest from," says Luke Skywalker in A New Hope.Actually, it's our solitary Sun that's the odd one out here; astronomers reckon that about 80% of stars are multiple-star systems, which means that worlds with two, three or even seven sunsets are the norm.Multiple star systems are everywhere you look; next time you're outside in clear night skies, look north to find the second star in from the tip of the handle of the Plough/Big Dipper and you'll notice that it's an obvious double star.However, the bigger star Mizar is actually four stars while smaller star Alcor is two, all gravitationally bound.
We looked at the big picture and distilled the 2016 Exponential Manufacturing conference into the four big themes we saw emerge during the event.Dale Doughtry, CEO and founder of Maker MediaCrowdfunding platforms are fueling the entry of these low-cost machines, like the Makerarm, which raised nearly half a million dollars on Kickstarter, and is the first complete digital fabrication robotic arm that mounts to a desktop.Robotics expert and director of Columbia University s Creative Machine Labs, Hod Lipson, projected how these advances in AI and robotics will converge to create fully resilient and adaptive cloud-connected factories in the future.Shree Bose took this route with Piper, a computer kit for kids to learn engineering through the game Minecraft and the grand prize winner of Google s Global Science Fair.Bose said she only built one scrappy prototype of Piper before beginning the Kickstarter campaign.Hagel said the economy is splitting into two parts—products and services are fragmenting into smaller and smaller pieces, while the platforms knitting them together are getting bigger.
And despite the overflow of data available to marketers today, some still struggle with identifying who you are.In her blog post, Principal Marketing Manager for HubSpot's optimization team Pamela Vaughan defines personas as fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers.Taryn Collins, content manager and Web editor for cloud platform Acquia, points out that personas are representations of real customers while segments are groups of actual customers that share similar traits.In a blog post, Gartner's VP of Content Publishing Heather Pemberton Levy writes that personas are built from a combination of the following data points:Demographic income, geography, level of education, age Psychographic values, opinions, interests, aspirations, attitudes, and lifestyles Ethnographic observations of customers in their daily routines Transactional historical customer relationship data, first- and third-party purchase data, post-sale services Behavioral: engagement across channels Buffer Content Crafter Kevan Lee also encourages marketers to check their site analytics for traffic trends; do some social listening to see what problems or concerns customers are talking about; conduct surveys to learn about customers' goals, values, and pain points; and collect feedback from other departments, like customer service.Once marketers obtain this information, Lee says they should stitch it together to bring the persona to life.There's no perfect number of personas one needs to create, but Levy says four to eight is typical.
Photo: Nora TamHong Kong companies and financial services institutions lag behind the US and Europe in cybersecurity measures as little emphasis is placed on security from a board-level perspective, according to industry experts.He said the banking sector in Hong Kong had lagged in their uptake of cloud technology adoption.Darren Argyle, chief information security officer of UK-based financial technology firm Markit, believes that Hong Kong banks and companies fall behind the US and Europe in beefing up cybersecurity even as the number of cyberattacks have been on the rise globally.He added that companies often view security as a cost of doing business, as cyber criminals increasingly target corporations in their attacks.CEOs of financial companies are now starting to ask what technology is in place which assures that they can respond adequately during a breach, he said.One way to mitigate the skills gap in Hong Kong is for the government to invest heavily in cybersecurity and related security start-ups, thereby encouraging more Hongkongers to pursue a career in security, he said.
Android Auto may be all about burying the car company's infotainment system under a familiar Android UI from your phone, but Hyundai is showing off a new, more seamless integration.In the vehicles with Android Auto that Hyundai has on the market, the only mention of the automaker you'll find is the "Return to Hyundai" button which takes you back to the native UI.That shows your most recent driving score, a figure calculated based on how economical you are, whether you slam on the brakes or slow smoothly, how aggressively you accelerate, and how long you leave the car running idle.That creates a geofenced zone outside of which, if the car is taken, you'll get a push-notification warning on your phone.First of all you need to have a newer version of Android Auto than is currently on the market; that's because the APIs Hyundai is relying upon aren't supported in the existing version.Though the car is connected - it has a built-in LTE modem - and can communicate things like your driving score and maintenance issues with the cloud, the custom menus won't show up in the Android Auto interface unless your phone is plugged in too.
Yesterday Runa Capital, a venture investment firm operating globally from its offices in Moscow, London and San Francisco, announced that it has closed its second fund, Runa Capital Fund II, having raised $135 million.As a result, Runa has $270 million under management, taking into account its first fund, which also amounted to $135 million.The firm declined to disclose any information about the new fund s backers.Focusing on Series A and B investments in the USA and Europe, Runa Capital Fund II targets companies with high ambitions on the global market, essentially in the fields of complex enterprise software and cloud applications, education, public services, finance and health.The new fund logically follows our development over the past years,  said Dmitry Chikhachev, Managing Partner at Runa Capital.We will support those who aim to gain significant shares on highly competitive markets.Runa Capital Fund II — which began operating two years ago — has already made 13 investments, coming in addition to the first fund s 30 portfolio companies.Launched in 2010 by Sergei Beloussov, Ilya Zybarev and Dmitry Chikhachev, Runa Capital I initially focused on Russia.The fund progressively expanded its scope to investing globally, following a strong invest-abroad trend among Russian venture capitalists.Over the past few years Runa — which Dow Jones Venture Source ranked among the top three European funds in 2015 — has invested significantly in Californian and Western European startups.Most recently, Runa led a $5.6 million round for SchoolMint, a leading provider of mobile and online enrollment systems for US public, charter and private schools.
Our primary family digital photo library now at 50,000 photos , for example, still lives on our desktop as well as in the cloud , as do our Quicken finances, TurboTax taxes, and other critical files.Throw in innovative new small form factor desktops like Intel s Skull Canyon NUC and you have people who may not have considered desktops giving them a serious second look.That number is expected to eventually fall below half, but in many business environments, a fixed, large computing device is still very much an asset.The most compelling and newest demand for desktop PCs, however, is being driven by virtual reality.They still provide the best experience for a wide variety of consumer and business computing applications, and for that reason, will continue to hold an important place among technology solutions for some time to come.Bob O Donnell is the founder and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a technology consulting and market research firm.
The breakthrough involves phase-change memory PCM which IBM has successfully achieved storing three bits of data per cell for the first time, compared to previous demonstrations of storing one bit per cell.PCM is much more durable than flash – it can last something like 10 million write cycles compared to the average flash USB stick which endures around 3,000 write cycles – and it's way faster, coming closer to DRAM performance, but with one big difference: it doesn't lose data when switched off like DRAM.Significant cost reductionDr Haris Pozidis, manager of non-volatile memory research at IBM Research, commented: "Phase change memory is the first instantiation of a universal memory with properties of both DRAM and flash, thus answering one of the grand challenges of our industry.The new memory tech could have implications across a range of uses, including providing blazingly quick storage for cloud and IoT applications, and boosting performance of the likes of machine learning.Businesses could see entire databases stored in PCM enabling ultra-fast querying, and of course this will also make a major difference to smartphones.IBM envisions hybrid applications with PCM running alongside traditional flash storage in a phone, but with the OS stored in the PCM so when you switch your phone on, it loads almost immediately and you're staring at your home screen before you've had time to bat an eyelid.
It will let users add live-updating spreadsheets to documentsCredit: QuipQuip, a Silicon Valley startup that s taking on the giants of the productivity software market, announced a major update to its spreadsheet capabilities Wednesday that s aimed at bringing its service more in line with Microsoft Excel.The service s spreadsheets now include features like the ability to merge cells, validate data and filter information in a sheet.These updates are key to helping Quip compete with its biggest rivals in the cloud productivity suite space: Microsoft s Office 365 and Google Apps for Work.That means the executive summary of a report can have the same data in a spreadsheet table and in a paragraph, because they re linked together.Taylor estimates they make up 80 percent to 90 percent of the users in a company.Of course, Quip s competitors aren t standing still.
It will let users add live-updating spreadsheets to documentsCredit: QuipQuip, a Silicon Valley startup that s taking on the giants of the productivity software market, announced a major update to its spreadsheet capabilities Wednesday that s aimed at bringing its service more in line with Microsoft Excel.The service s spreadsheets now include features like the ability to merge cells, validate data and filter information in a sheet.These updates are key to helping Quip compete with its biggest rivals in the cloud productivity suite space: Microsoft s Office 365 and Google Apps for Work.That means the executive summary of a report can have the same data in a spreadsheet table and in a paragraph, because they re linked together.Taylor estimates they make up 80 percent to 90 percent of the users in a company.Of course, Quip s competitors aren t standing still.
Among his many abilities is to tengyun , or mount a cloud and fly.The company we re introducing today is called Zhubajie .Scaling up the platform and innovating our products involved a strong element of trial-and-error along the way, said Zhu Yueming, founder and CEO of Zhubajie.Zhu Mingyue, founder and CEO of Zbj.com photo from Zhubajie But Zhu soon found that mere product innovation was not sufficient, as users tended to avoid paying commission and leave the platform once they privately set up contacts.Its major projects fall in three categories: graphic design, web construction, and marketingEmployers can publish a task in either a rewards system, where a best solution is chosen from all submissions, or in a bidding system, where a service provider is chosen for its qualifications and rate before the service is provided.Similar to Witkey, where users share knowledge, share experience, and purchase services and information, Zhubajie used to have three major income sources: commission, ad revenue, and membership fees.The program will negotiate with 120 cities and cover 36 of them within this year, and the company will establish a VC fund to support local enterprises.To build trust between customers and the platform, Zhubajie offers online services called Fuwubao , which guarantees that money is transferred effectively, and that compensation is available should a contract be breached.The platform now has over 15 million users, among which 10 million are service providers and five million are domestic and overseas employers, creating revenue of RMB 7.5 billion in 2015.Top photo screened from Zhubajie s official site Zbj.com
Photo courtesy Samuel, Son & Co. We ve got about 600 sales professionals and right now I couldn t accurately tell you who is doing what and where in this organization.The company also worked closely with Oracle and Deloitte to ensure payroll processes conformed to Canadian standards, managed differing payroll cycles, and complied with payroll regulations for both union and non-union employees.For example, we have 22 different vacation plans in our Canadian workforce and 12 different 401 k retirement plans in the US with limited difference between them—why?I see huge value in putting more decisions and activity into the hands of the employees and line leaders, he says.For example, if the company deadline for entering information on annual pay increases coincides with testing of the next bundle of code, Busch s team needs to build a timeline that accommodates both deadlines rather than just pushing off testing, as had been the practice with upgrades to on-premises software.Once all data is on the same platform, Busch eventually wants to present the consolidated data in a dashboard allowing executives to easily compare workforce and productivity data points across the company s operating sites.
Android Pay can be used at any wireless payment point so if it supports your contactless card or Apple Pay then you re good to go with Android Pay.Google s new contactless payment service joins an increasing number of apps and services including Samsung Pay and PayPal which are trying to encourage people to move away from using their conventional bank cards as a means of paying.Recently released Android smartphones should come with Android Pay pre-installed but if you think you re missing out you can always head over to the Google Play Store and download the app separately from there.While many of the big players are in there it s hard not to notice the glaring omission that is Barclays.If you have multiple Google Accounts in Android Pay: At the top left of the app, touch your name, then choose the account you want to add a card to.While both are equally secure not all Android phones have this hardware advantage that Apple s products do so Google had to find an alternative solution.
This is Google s way of moving beyond the Cardboard headset introduced two years ago.There will be a headset, a controller, and many smartphones that work with Daydream.Google is now working with Samsung, HTC, LG, Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE, Asus, and Alcatel on phones that meet the Daydream spec, and the first phones will become available this fall, Google VR head Clay Bavor said today at the Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California.The controllers, which have their own specification, will also become available this fall.There will be Daydream-compatible apps from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CNN, HBO Now, Netflix, NBA, Hulu, MLB.com, IMAX, and Lionsgate, Bavor said.Developers can start building apps for it in the newest Android N developer preview, Bavor said.Games will become available from EA and others.Google has fleshed out Cardboard with support for the Unity gaming engine and made it work with Google apps like Street View and YouTube.And in a striking move, Google recently reassigned Amit Singh from the top post in its Google for Work business Apps, Chromebooks, Google Cloud Platform to the VR business, where he is now vice president of business and operations.While companies like Facebook and HTC took plenty of time and got everything in order before launching VR hardware, Google moved quickly to release the simple and low-cost Cardboard that required an Android phone in June 2014, just three months after Facebook announced its acquisition of Oculus VR.Cardboard has gained momentum since then and even got a remodel after a year.Most recently, Engadget and Gizmodo cofounder Peter Rojas published a tweet indicating that Google is working on Android VR and that it would be less powerful than the Vive or Rift.While desktops can provide power to VR systems, Google doesn t have the leadership that Microsoft and Apple do with Windows and OS X, respectively, and one could argue that mobile is a higher priority than desktop company-wide at Google.
At its I/O 2016 developer conference today, Google announced an expansion of Firebase, its service for helping developers build apps for Android, iOS, and the Web.Now the company has decided it s time to turn Firebase into a true Google service.Jason Titus, head of Google s developer product group, told VentureBeat his team has been working with a wide range of developers to gather feedback on other major pain points for app development.A new C SDK beta is also available.On top of Firebase s existing features, Realtime Database, User Authentication, and Hosting, Google is adding tools to help developers build faster, improve app quality, acquire and engage users, and monetize apps.Crash Reporting also works with Audiences so you can tell if users on a particular device, in a specific location, or in any other custom segment are experiencing a specific problem.After an app has launched, Firebase offers the following growth features:Dynamic Links is by far the most interesting.Test Lab still does the same thing: helps developers find problems in their app before their users do, using automatic and customized testing on real devices hosted in Google data centers.Firebase Storage isn t a rebranding, though the new feature is powered by Google Cloud Storage.For the four paid products Test Lab, Storage, Realtime Database, and Hosting , Google has simplified the pricing to:So, what exactly are you paying for?
At its Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California, today, Google is announcing a new tool for developers to use if they d like their applications to integrate with Google Classroom, a cloud service for handling assignments, coursework, and grades.Learning tools can focus on creating great content, and use Classroom to manage the workflow for assignments created with their content.And the existing Classroom API is getting more powerful — it will be able to work with the Google Drive folder for a given course.Applications can use this new functionality to store files in the same Drive folder as the rest of the resources in a class, or use course groups to manage file sharing permissions, Kupershlak wrote.The enhancements come as other companies strive to make their core products more widely relied upon in the education sector.In March Apple launched a Classroom app for iOS alongside the release of iOS 9.3, and in April Microsoft launched an app called Classroom in preview for Office 365 Education customers.Earlier this month Dropbox, which competes with Google Drive, launched an Education tier.Google has gained share with its Chromebooks, which lean heavily on cloud storage that companies provision through Google Apps for Education.
Google has begun to build its own custom application-specific integrated circuit ASIC chip called tensor processing units TPUs , Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said today at the Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California.The name is inspired by Google s TensorFlow open source deep learning framework.When you use the Google Cloud Platform, you can take advantage of TPUs as well, Pichai said.Specialty hardware — sort of taking a cue from the holographic processing unit HPU inside Microsoft s HoloLens augmented reality headset — will not be the only thing that will make the Google public cloud stand out from market leader Amazon Web Services AWS .Also, over time Google will expose more and more machine learning APIs, Pichai said.Our goal is to lead the industry on machine learning and make that innovation available to our customers, Google distinguished hardware engineer Norm Jouppi wrote in a blog post.Building TPUs into our infrastructure stack will allow us to bring the power of Google to developers across software like TensorFlow and Cloud Machine Learning with advanced acceleration capabilities.Machine Learning is transforming how developers build intelligent applications that benefit customers and consumers, and we re excited to see the possibilities come to life.
Big data-as-a-Service, or BDaaS, is a way of accessing analytics tools or information from an outside provider.This can help organisations to gain insights into the meaning of data so that they can gain competitive advantage by improving customer relationships and business decision making.BDaaS is designed to help businesses to free up resources by taking advantage of tools that are being provided by an outside organisation.Like SaaS, BDaaS is a form of managed service that often relies upon cloud storage in order to provide data access to both the outside analytics company and the company that owns the information.The area has gained increased interest over the past couple of years as companies have looked to leverage their data in a way that doesn't create costly overheads and rely upon a complex installation and integration process.Simply put, BDaaS is an ideal way to remove the tech complexity from doing data analytics, leaving the business to focus on simply using the data insights to improve its performance.
Encryption, corporates have heard of itEnterprises are routinely storing corporate password files in the cloud through Microsoft s OneDrive backup technology.OneDrive is the most common Office 365 application, with 79.1 per cent of organisations using it, according to a study by cloud control tech vendor Skyhigh Networks.Businesses and employees are still taking a relaxed approach to document security, especially when you consider the high frequency of threats, said Hawthorn.This percentage will only increase as OneDrive becomes more tightly integrated to the rest of the suite.Hawthorn concluded that the need for employee training is particularly acute in heavily regulated industries such as financial services or healthcare, two of the biggest users of Office 365.The study found that the occurrence of Office 365-related threats is common, 71.4 per cent of companies have at least one compromised account each month, 57.1 per cent have at least one insider threat and 45.9 per cent have at least one privileged user threat.
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