When George Osborne’s team advised the chancellor to join Twitter in an effort to, no doubt, show how in touch with the people he was, they probably thought it was also a nice way of distracting people form the harsh realities of the budget he was due to deliver.
The plan seemed to be working, with thousands of Twitter users abusing Osborne on the site, and numerous memes sprouting to mock and ridicule the chancellor.
While this was all fun and games, the serious side of Twitter has since come forth to prove what a hazardous tool it, and the web in general can be, after The Evening Standard accidentally posted details of the budget online before Osborne had even begun speaking.
An over zealous member of the team’s Twitter account put the paper’s front page splash out, and although it was hastily deleted – oh, can you imagine the scramble for the delete button? – once it was online there was no hope of saving the situation.
I wish to apologise for a very serious mistake by the @eveningstandard earlier which resulted in our front page being tweeted.— Joe Murphy (@JoeMurphyLondon) March 20, 2013
As we’ve seen many times before, the internet seem ephemeral but the reality is very different and once something is hosted online, especially via Twitter, it’s very hard to stop that information going viral. It’s as good as impossible, really.
For Osborne, the leak could even cost him his job as former chancellors have fallen on their sword for similar incidents, and there would be a delicious irony if Osborne’s downfall was caused by Twitter, in a roundabout way, on the very day he joined the site.
Raspberry Pi’s quest to boost UK manufacturing got a further fillip this week as its distributor RS Components revealed it is moving production to Wales from China.
RS Components is in the process of setting up a move to Sony’s UK plant to manufacture the bare-bones Linux board. The RS move swiftly follows Element 14’s announcement on Friday that it has successfully moved to 100 percent UK production for its Raspberry Pis.
Glenn Jarrett, global head of product marketing at RS, told V3, “We are starting to move manufacturing into the UK, and while our aim is to ultimately move all production to the UK, dual location production in China will continue for the foreseeable future.”
RS was unable to share further information on how many UK jobs will be created from the project, and what proportion of its Raspberry Pis will initially be made in the UK compared to China.
Nevertheless, the RS move was warmly welcomed by Raspberry Pi’s Liz Upton.
“We're very pleased to hear the news. It's great for British manufacturing, and it's something that can make a huge impact on the individual people who will be employed to build the Pis,” she said.
“Manufacturing in South Wales has taken such a hit in the last few decades. I'd love to think that we're doing something to show that actually, there's no reason to offshore if you're building electronics in the UK.”
Upton also dismissed the assumption that building products in the UK added too much cost to the process and resulted in a higher price tag for buyers.
“It costs us the same to build a Raspberry Pi in South Wales as it does in China,” she noted.
“And it makes life a lot easier for the Foundation; if we ever need to visit the factory, we can just hop in the car.”
On Friday, Pi distributor Premier Farnell announced that all its boards were now being built out of the same Sony plant in Wales that RS will soon move into.
Premier’s Element 14 manufacturing division started the process in September, creating around 30 new jobs to supply 30,000 boards per month up to an initial order of 300,000. On Friday, Premier announced the end of China manufacturing.
Based on these timescales, RS Components could move to a 100 percent UK build by October, if it goes for a similar seven-month transition period.
Have you ever wished your life was a little more like Dave Lister's from long-running sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf? Clearly, the good folks at Cambridge University and Toshiba Research have as between them they've developed a life-like floating head avatar, which they hope will make it easier for people to converse with computers.
The digital personal assistant system, dubbed Zoe, displays emotions such as happiness, anger and fear, and can change its voice to reflect the emotion it is supposed to convey.
“This technology could be the start of a whole new generation of interfaces which make interacting with a computer much more like talking to another human being,” professor Roberto Cipolla, from the Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, said.
According to tests carried out by the researchers, people found it easier to recognise the emotions conveyed via the disembodied head than they did a human's.
The researchers had overlaid a wire model with the face of former Hollyoaks actor Zoe Lister, recording her facial expressions and voice when conveying different emotions.
Just over half of volunteers could recognise the intended emotion when shown the talking avatar without sound; those that had the audio track but no visual clue got 68 percent of the emotions spot on. But when volunteers had both video and audio, they recognised 77 percent of the emotions – higher that the 73 percent managed by a group shown footage of the actor.
“In the future, we will be able to open up computing to far more people if they can speak and gesture to machines in a more natural way. That is why we created Zoe - a more expressive, emotionally responsive face that human beings can actually have a conversation with,” Cipolla added.
The actor doesn't seem to have been phased by her avatar displaying more recognisable emotions that her, judging by her tweets today.
Future Zoe says, 'Good Morning!' (In a happy voice)— Zoe Lister (@ZoeLister) March 19, 2013
Ultimately, the team behind the system believe it will be possible to let users utilise images of their own faces, to make communications even more personal.
A further advantage of the system, they claim, is that it requires relatively little processing power or memory, opening up the possibility it could be deployed on smartphones, as a text message alternative.
Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg has been named most popular chief executive, according to a Glassdoor study.
Glassdoor reported that Mark Zuckerberg had a 99 percent approval rating among his employees. Zuckerberg's approval rating jumped over 10 percent from 2012. Other tech chiefs to make the top 50 included Larry Page, Tim Cook and Larry Ellison.
The Facebook chief's approval rating jumped 14 percent from 2012 to 2013. Zuckerberg's approval rating was only 85 percent last year. The increase in popularity could be attributed to the fact that Facebook had not gone public as of last year's study results. Or it could just be that Mark Zuckerberg has fired everyone who disliked him.
Another interesting note is that Tim Cook's approval rating dropped year-over-year. The Apple chief executive's rating dropped from 97 percent to 93 percent over the course of the last year.
Google's Larry Page also ranked highly, according to Glassdoor's study. The high powered executive ranked as the 11th most popular chief this year. His 95 percent approval rating stayed consistent over the course of last year.
Less loved, but mostly liked, executive Larry Ellison rounded out the top 50. Oracle's founder was ranked the 46th most well-liked chief executive with an 82 percent rating. In comparison, Ellison's former employee (and current nemesis) Salesforce founder Marc Benioff had a 94 percent approval rating.
One executive to not make the top 50 this year was Microsoft's head Steve Ballmer. Redmond's resident chief executive also failed to make Glassdoor's list in 2011.
16 Mar 2013
Researchers with Sophos recently spotted a scam which aims to con users out of hundreds of dollars by tricking them into purchasing a Google Glass headset that they'll never get.
The scam is one of an increasingly common series of malware, phishing and fraud operations which play on the public lust for news and product information. We've seen it before on everything from the iPhone to the London Olympics. Cybercriminals will prey on anything that is drawing public interest, and they will use social engineering and search engine optimisation tactics to get their pages high on search results.
So, is there a technology to combat this? Is there a system which can deliver news without the danger of running afoul of an attack site? It turns out that there is, and it's a technology that is hurting for users in the worst way.
RSS feeds offer a safe and convenient way to find the latest news and information without the risk of attack in most circumstances. Users can subscribe to feeds from their favourite sites and get a constantly-updated list with the latest headlines. This will allow users to get information from trusted sources and, unless the sites themselves are compromised you will not have to worry about any attack.
Unfortunately, RSS is also threatening to go the way of the CD-ROM and dial-up modems. Users are abandoning their readers and Google recently said that it would give up work on its Reader brand.
Perhaps, however, RSS readers can get new life as trusted sources of news for end users and the security-conscious.
Microsoft has provided a detailed account of a new mobile payment system it hopes could make a splash on its Windows Phone platform, enabling users to pay for goods without even lifting a finger.
Mobile payments are rapidly becoming a key battleground for smartphone makers, with Google touting its Wallet system, while the newly unveiled Samsung Galaxy S4 boasts the inclusion of Visa's payWave system.
But while the herd is looking at near-field communications as a means to conduct a transaction – for example, swiping ones phone over a reader – Microsoft researchers have been exploring whether it might provide the gateway for paying without the hassle of fumbling for your handset. They call it Zero-Effort Payment [pdf].
According to Stefan Saroiu, from Microsoft Research, who developed the system alongside colleagues, ZEP would also allow retailers to deliver more personalised customer service, such as offering frequent buyer discounts, without forcing the customers to carry a loyalty card.
The system works by integrating Bluetooth technology with the face recognition technology built in to its Kinect gaming system. The Bluetooth system detects when a user signed up to the service has entered a shop, with the face recognition system used to identify a customer that is waiting to pay.
The Bluetooth system can discern when a participating customer enters a shop, but it cannot identify individual customers queuing at the checkout.
Likewise, face recognition systems are not yet accurate to quickly and accurately identify individuals when faced with thousands of possible choices.
“Fortunately, the Bluetooth system narrows the set of potential identities to just those standing within wireless range,” the researchers wrote in a newly published paper describing their system. “The combination of these two technologies lets our solution meet its speed, cost, and accuracy goals.”
To double down on accuracy, the system presents cashiers with a choice of four possible faces, displayed on a tablet housed near the till. They simply pick the right face when the customer is ready to pay.
The system then emails the customer with confirmation of the purchase, including a 10-second video, in case they wish to dispute the transaction.
Microsoft has been testing the system at one of own cafeterias, as well as on a coffee stand at its TechFest conference. Both trials presented different challenges: the TechFest one had hundreds of potential customers looming into view; while the cafeteria trial had a slower stream of customers, but was conducted over four months. In both cases, the system worked a treat, and there were no cases of disputed transactions.
“Across our two deployments, 274 customers made 705 purchases, and we received no complaints about the wrong customer being billed,” the researchers boasted.
That said, there's still some way to go before we see the system on Windows Phone – even if that's the ultimate aim. The trials were conducted using specially built key fobs. This allowed the researchers to prove the system works, as well as ensuring that it could run without consuming too much battery life.
NEW YORK: Weeks of rumours and speculation came to an end Thursday when Samsung unveiled its long-awaited Galaxy S4 device to a huge crowd at Radio City Music Hall in New York, and V3 was live on the scene to take it all in.
It was a launch event with all the trappings of a Broadway musical - including set changes, a live orchestra and dance routines - and plenty of bombast from the executives on stage.
In fact, given the pomp and circumstance, it's surprising Samsung didn't reel in a bigger name than Will Chase (Ed - who?) to compere the event - especially given the raft of high-profile celebrities lining up to partner with tech firms in recent years.
Back to the event and the young boy featuring in the recent teaser ads made several appearances throughout the night and it soon became clear why young Jeremy was selected as the "Secret Messenger" - he's something of a tap dance phenomenon.
His on-stage routine was used to help demonstrate some of the S4's impressive video features like Stream On Video, which depicts multiple moments in the routine on screen at the same time.
He was also heard to coo, "It's my favourite colour!" off-stage, suggesting the device would come in a raft of shades and hues, but as it turns out it's only available in Black and White at launch, which will be 26 April in the UK.
After the somewhat nauseating presentation was over, crowd control barriers were set up to keep an increasingly antsy crowd at bay while we waited patiently (yeah right) to get our chance to play with the device.
Once the barrier was lifted, it was pandemonium - everyone wanted their hands on this thing and V3 managed to get a few precious minutes to try it out, before the baying crowd behind us was too much to bear.
Pre-show buzz about a 5in screen proved to be true - the S4 has a nice, big, bright screen, more tablet-like than phone. It's also very thin and lightweight in hand.
The presentation made a point of showing S4 with its S3 predecessor in a side-by-side on-screen comparison to demonstrate how sleek the S4 has become and the difference was noticeable.
Despite pre-launch reports the phone might be made of plastic and speculation it could feel cheap, it actually has a polycarbonate shell that doesn't feel at all inferior.
Plus, it scrolls extremely fast. And another suspected feature, Smart Pause, allows you to stop a video simply by looking away from the screen. In short, there are a lot of great features packed into this device and it'll be interesting to test them out more fully in a full review in the future.
Other cool features include the camera improvements Samsung has brought with the S4. These features include Dual Camera, which allows a user to simultaneously take photos with the 13MP rear and 2MP front cameras and blend them together.
In other words, never again will one person be missing because they had to stay behind the camera. S4 owners can add themselves to an image in something like a thought bubble.
Users can also play around with special effects for this bubble, such as turning it into a fish bowl or a postage stamp. We didn't get a chance to try these features out but they could well prove enticing to snap-happy creative types.
The S4 will also let you add sound to an image and even delete extraneous people and objects you don't want in your photos. But reports of a 3D camera were greatly exaggerated. And there was no mention of Samsung Orb, which allegedly allows users to take 360-degree panoramic images.
The in-car and translator features are also intriguing - they eliminate the need for maps, as well as learning nine languages. This also sees Samsung ramping up its fight against Apple by taking on its Siri voice control assistant.
In short, then, the S4 and its launch seems to have lived up to the hashtag #TheNextBigThing.
The device itself was received like a genuine star, and it could well be a defining moment in the 2013 smartphone market. No doubt Apple has plenty up its sleeve but for now the spotlight belongs to Samsung.
We can't wait to get our hands on the device away from a baying mob of other journalists and fans and get a chance to really put the device through its paces.
Author: Lisa Lacy
15 Mar 2013
Samsung and Google have become the perfect partners. Using the Android OS, Samsung has quickly become a smartphone making powerhouse. The combination of Google's OS and Samsung's ever-growing hardware line has allowed Samsung to sell a slew of handsets.
The successful pairing easily reminds one of the Intel and Microsoft relationship that propelled those two firms to PC market dominance. Using the Windows OS, Intel was able to move PCs with its chips in mass. The pairing allowed Microsoft to bring its OS to the world while giving Intel all it needed to succeeded as a hardware maker.
In much the same way, Samsung has moved phones while Google has received ad dollars from the world's use of its mobile OS.
Now with the colossal release of the S4 the Samsung and Google pairing looks to be on an even quicker road to bliss. With a huge marketing push by Samsung the latest Android handset looks to be on the verge of even passing the iPhone.
That's a big deal for both firms. For Samsung, it means they are the champs of the mobile world. While for Google, it means people start seeing Android as iOS's equal.
Of course, there could be problems down the line between the two technology power couple. For one thing, Samsung is starting to want a piece of Google's ad dollars. There is a fear in Google-land that if the S4 takes over the market Samsung will think it deserves a bigger cut of the money made on Android.
Samsung even created its own fall back plan if Android doesn't work out called "Tizen". The Intel/Samsung built mobile OS has quietly been hyped up by Samsung over the past few years.
It could eventually end up using Tizen as a fall back if things with Android begin to go south. The scariest thing about a potential OS switch is that Samsung looks to have the fan base and tools to take some Android users with it.
With Samsung's growth in the market it may quickly be upsetting the balance for Google. The Galaxy brand is getting bigger than Android and that is scary for Google. Only time will tell what happens between the two firms, but following the release of the S4 Google has to start treating Samsung like an equal.