Is Android The New Windows?

My guess is, it is.

A bit of background on my perspective. 

Before the advent of pervasive Windows,Computing was weird – software was coupled with hardware in a hard to use expensive and complex UX.

Post Windows, the hardware playing field was levelled. Basically, all OEM’s were forced to think about design, battery life, processing power, GUI and UI to differentiate their offering.

Brands like Dell, HP and now Lenovo have used different product and marketing methodology to carve their niches.  But any wise buyer knows that these machines are all the same, given the specs are the same.

This wisdom is pervasive now, apart from the total PC noob who still buys stuff by the brand and not the specs.

Enter Android.

Android equalises a highly differentiated mobile phone marketplace by taking away the software layer, forcing phone vendors to focus on hardware core.

However, current market leaders like Samsung have used fancy marketing to make the brand larger than life. So much so if you have a Tecno phone or Forme phone with higher specs than Samsung you are bound to look uncool.

In time people will learn to think less about the brand and software dynamics and focus on phone specifications.

Disney’s MagicBand: Admission ticket, room key and payment method, all-in-one wristbands.

Disney's MagicBand: Admission ticket, room key and payment method, all-in-one wristbands.

MagicBands and cards are secure all-in-one devices that allow you to effortlessly access the plans and vacation choices that you’ve made with My Disney Experience.

MagicBands are colorful, waterproof wristbands—resembling a watch or bracelet—that you can quickly and easily touch to a sensor called a touch point. Cards work in a similar fashion, but physically resemble a plastic credit card or driver’s license. Both MagicBands and cards allow you to travel lighter throughout your vacation.

You can use your card or MagicBand to:
Unlock the door of your Disney Resort hotel room.
Enter theme and water parks (with valid admission).
Check in at FastPass+ entrances.
Connect Disney PhotoPass images to your account.
Charge food and merchandise purchases to your Disney Resort hotel room (only available during your hotel stay).

Its Come to This…

Its Come to This...

Twitter’s Sophomore Album: New Music Strategy To Focus On Conversations, Partnerships

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Twitter has ditched its dedicated #Music app, the product of the acquisition of We Are Hunted, a social music discovery startup. But that doesn’t mean it’s dropping out of music altogether – the company has new plans for music tie-ins according to the Wall Street Journal , but it’s going to focus more on partnerships, conversations and supplementary content rather than on the music itself.

With #Music, Twitter was aiming to be a jukebox-style destination, with support for full streaming through partnerships with Spotify and Rdio. But with its new approach, which the WSJ says will be rolled out sometime this week, the focus will less on accessing the actual music, and more on music conversations and content including “bite-sized” music videos from partner Vevo. Other partners for the new plan will include SoundCloud, the music sharing network, and also potentially Beats Music, the Internet radio spin-off from the popular headphone…

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Airport stores winter coats while passengers head to warmer climates

Germany’s Frankfurt Airport is no stranger to these pages thanks to its customer service innovations. We recently wrote about its confiscated goods recycling scheme, which enabled passengers with disallowed goods to put them to good use while also donating to local charities.

Now that the weather is colder in the country, the airport is at it again — solving the problem of increasingly full hand luggage compartments by allowing customers to use its Winter Coat Storage Service.
The winter means it’s cold in the Northern Hemisphere and many holidaymakers will be wrapping up as they head to the airport, only to pack away their bulky coats once they reach their warmer destination. Not only is this a hassle while enjoying a trip, but the limited overhead compartments for storing hand luggage also become overfull in the winter months. Taking inspiration from a similar service at Incheon International Airport in South Korea, Frankfurt began operating its Winter Coat Storage Service in October, and it will run until the end of April 2014. Customers pay a fee of EUR 0.50 per day for the check-in program, but will be able to forget about their cumbersome coat and enjoy their holiday.
Although not the biggest initiative, the Winter Coat Storage Service is a small detail that will add a little extra comfort during their time both at the airport and onboard their flight. Are there other small ways airlines can improve their customer service?


I Used To Worry About The Future

Originally posted on A Post-Academic in NYC:

I got a part-time non-academic job. Again. Readers of this blog will know that I have made several attempts to escape the adjunct grind. For a while, I temped for a Fancy Wall Street firm where I accidentally ate someone else’s salad .

Once, I worked at a non-profit foundation for a few days. I was doing the job that a trained monkey could do. (At least they had one of those fancy European espresso machines!) Aside from being dead bored all day, I had to endure the fact that my boss was about twelve years old. If you want to feel ancient, try doing the bidding of children. It’s quite illuminating.

A couple of summers ago, I spent a few weeks on the top floor of a Manhattan high rise working for a hedge fund. I joined an army of women answering the phones and making copies for…

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K. The Most Annoying Reply

Originally posted on A Little Bit of Everything:

I hate in when people text me back with “K”. Like how the fuck am I supposed to respond to that shit?

If you’re going to text me first, at least try to keep the conversation going. Saying words like “LOL” “OH” “AH”. Well damn, do you ever say anything else?

Worst thing is that it took me 5 long minutes to type and there’s that 2 minutes of thinking so all in all it’s roughly 7 minutes of my time spent and all I get back is “K”?!!

I understand that it depends on who you are talking to. But seriously people, not everyone is your best friend.

I do it too occasionally, but that is when I’m annoyed or when the person I’m talking to doesn’t expect any other response except for my confirmation which could be done by “Okay”.

Dang people, expand your vocab. “K” is not…

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What Do Germans Do Waiting For Traffic Lights?

Popcorn Time Is Hollywood’s Worst Nightmare, And It Can’t Be Stopped

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Imagine for a moment if Napster were cloned hundreds of times. If there were a NapsterStanford, a NapsterMIT, or a Napster for your high school completely independent from, yet just as powerful as, the original. Imagine what would have happened if Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker had released the source code, allowing any developer to essentially copy and build upon his software. Imagine if Napster were open source.

The RIAA would have fought a war on a thousand fronts. And lost.

Video piracy is on the verge of having its Napster moment. A piece of software appeared last week called Popcorn Time. It makes watching pirated movies as easy as firing up Netflix. Everything is free. There’s no mess or fuss — you press play.

Popcorn Time makes it as easy to watch pirated content as Napster did to download songs. It’s a nightmare for Hollywood.

The creators…

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M-Pesa is The Very Boring Tip of a Very Big Iceberg

Originally posted on Campaign for Boring Development:

Celebrating the success of M-Pesa , Safaricom’s cel-phone based payments platform from Kenya, is the stuff of development cliché by now. Less often noted is the odd fact that similar services, though they’ve been introduced in most African markets, have failed to take off in anything like the way M-Pesa did back home.

What the iPhone did to stupid time-wasting games, M-Pesa can do to all kinds of financial services in Africa.

This McKinsey analysis shows revenue for mobile operators from phone-based payments could nearly double in Africa just by bringing other countries’ mobile payment penetration to the level of Kenya’s.

The potential is obvious. “54 percent of adults in sub-Saharan Africa make one or more long-distance payments in a given month,” the report says, citing a Gallup survey. We’re talking three-quarters of a TRillion dollars being remitted around the continent each year, 60% of it in cash. (And people…

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Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody Explained

Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody Explained

MasterCard dives deeper into mobile with in-app payments, C-SAM acquisition

Originally posted on Gigaom:

MasterCard(s ma) wants to tap the growing economy within mobile applications. At Mobile World Congress on Sunday, the financial transaction titan plans to announce new capabilities to its MasterPass digital payments service that will let developers embed a bevy of different mobile payments option into smartphone apps.

The company will also announce at MWC that it is acquiring C-SAM, a digital wallet maker MasterCard invested in back in 2012 and whose technology it has been using since. C-SAM is the transactions provider behind Isis, the near-field communications (NFC)-powered payments service of Verizon(s vz), AT&T(s t) and T-Mobile(s tmus). The company also processes mobile payments in Japan, Mexico, Singapore and Vietnam.

The new MasterPass service builds on work MasterCard started last year to put one-click purchasing in the browser through cloud-based credentials, as well as last week’s announcement that it is bringing payments capabilities to more NFC Android smartphones

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AOL Sells Winamp And Shoutcast For $5-10M To Radionomy, Takes 12% Stake In Belgian Digital Audio Startup

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Returning from the brink of death , music services Winamp and Shoutcast are now officially with a new owner: Digital audio business Radionomy has acquired the both media player and radio platform from AOL. We understand from a reliable source that it is a cash and share deal, worth between $5 million and $10 million, with AOL taking a 12% stake of Radionomy in the process.

Recall that AOL paid some $80 million for Nullsoft, owner of Winamp and Shoutcast, in 1999.

AOL’s stake will be a financial, not a strategic, investment, I’ve been told.

We had been hearing different reports of a deal in progress or a while now — resulting in a stay of execution for both Winamp and Shoutcast after AOL originally intended to shut them both down by December 20, 2013.

While one of our early reports noted that Microsoft was in the mix, that turned…

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The irrational rationality behind Facebook’s $16 billion acquisition of WhatsApp

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Another day and another acquisition — and another one that is jaw dropping and seemingly insane.

Less than a week after Japan’s Rakuten acquired Viber for $900 million, Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced that he is buying WhatsApp for a whopping $16 billion in cash and stock. Add another $3 billion for WhatsApp employees may get over next few years in restricted stock, and this becomes a $19 billion company.

When I think about the deal, it actually makes what investor Paul Kedrosky calls “ridiculously rational” sense. It keeps WhatsApp out of the hands of Google and most importantly takes out an aggressive competitor for “attention” from the market.

Facebook is going to end up competing with apps like Line and WeChat in many markets for the consumer’s mobile minutes and WhatsApp gives the Menlo Park based company a strong competitive weapon. While potential monetization remains…

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Top Cloud Channel Trends for 2014 (Part 5 of 5)

Originally posted on CloudTalk:

Here it is: the final installment of our Top Cloud Channel Trends for 2014. If you missed any of the previous four trends to watch for this year, here’s a quick recap:

1. Trend #1: More Smaller Cloud Service Providers Will Fail and Shut Down in 2014
2. Trend #2: The Hybrid IT Environment Will Become the New Norm
3. Trend #3: Cloud Services Sales Training Will Go Mainstream
4. Trend #4: Virtualization in the Cloud Will Accelerate in 2014

Renee Bergeron, VP Managed Services and Cloud Computing, Ingram Micro

Renee Bergeron, VP Managed Services and Cloud Computing, Ingram Micro

Trend #5: The Addressable
Market is Expanding
In today’s fast-paced IT environment, it’s easy to forget the fact the cloud is still a relatively new opportunity for the channel. Just four years ago, Gartner’s research noted that 98% of all cloud revenue was between SMBs and cloud providers with only 2% benefitting the channel. Fast forward to 2013 and we saw 20% of cloud revenue going…

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5 utility industry trends to watch this year

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Last year brought about a number of interesting developments in the energy industry. Based on what we saw through the lens of our company’s 90+ partnerships with utilities across eight countries, here are five key trends we’ll be watching closely in 2014.

1. Energy efficiency policies continue to spread worldwide

The introduction of new energy efficiency policies and regulations was widespread in 2013 — and that momentum appears poised to continue around the world in 2014.

Honeywell & Opower smart thermstat website

Honeywell & Opower smart thermstat website

More than half of US states have now officially enacted quantitative energy efficiency targets, and around 30 states offer concrete incentives to utilities that drive reductions in energy demand. Yet even more states have instituted a framework for severing the tie between utility energy sales and revenue, thereby removing the disincentive for utilities to help electric and gas customers lower their bills. Mississippi and Louisiana are the latest…

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Blackouts, dust and poor connectivity — why Kenya’s BRCK router requires a different approach

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Kenya’s Ushahidi is best known for its pioneering crowdmapping efforts, but right now the company is busy finishing off its BRCK router, a fascinating device that’s designed for rough use in sub-Saharan Africa. As posts on Vice and TechRepublic explain, the $199 router has its own battery for coping with blackouts or bush use, it can automatically hop between Ethernet, Wi-Fi and mobile broadband as its source, and it’s set up to act as a hub for “internet of things” sensors. BRCK got crowdfunded last year and a recent blog post from the team explains some of the challenges of engineering such a device in Kenya.

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Telerivet helps African entrepreneurs power their businesses through SMS

Originally posted on Gigaom:

We’re no strangers to interacting with businesses through the internet and mobile apps in the U.S., but in developing regions that’s not a luxury most people have. In countries like Tanzania, Rawanda and Somalia, most people’s sole means of communication is a basic feature phone, so if you’re business wanting to communicate with your customers digitally, you pretty much have one choice: SMS.

But for San Francisco startup Telerivet, SMS is plenty to work with. It’s designed a low-cost cloud-based SMS management system and Android(s goog) app that lets businesses and non-governmental organizations turn an ordinary smartphone into a messaging gateway. Through that gateway a company’s customers, clients and employees can access data through simple SMS messages.

Connected Africa

I had to chance to chat with Telerivet CEO and co-founder Joshua Stern, who definitely has a unique story behind his company. Like many Silicon Valley startups, it began with a computer…

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Google Acquires SlickLogin, The Sound-Based Password Alternative

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

SlickLogin has been acquired by Google, just five months after launching at TechCrunch Disrupt.

Word of the acquisition is confirmed by a notice on the company’s site, where they say that they’ll be joining Google in their efforts to “make the Internet safer for everyone”. We’ve also confirmed this news with Google.

Exact details of the deal are still under wraps. As always, we’re digging for more.

The idea behind SlickLogin was, at the very least, quite novel: to verify a user’s identity and log them in, a website would play a uniquely generated, nearly-silent sound through your computer’s speakers. An app running on your phone would pick up the sound, analyze it, and send the signal back to the site’s server confirming that you are who you say you are — or, at least, someone who has that person’s phone.

Or, to get slightly more wordy… here’s…

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Microsoft Launches Smart Visual Studio Add-On For Code Snippet Search

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Whether you are a seasoned programmer or a beginner, chances are you spend a lot of your time looking for code snippets on Stack Overflow and similar sites. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, after all. Now, a team from Microsoft Research in Cambridge wants to streamline this process and bring it into the IDE. The team today launched the Bing Code Search add-on , which directly integrates code snippet search for C# (with other languages coming later) into Visual Studio.

What’s important here is that this isn’t just a basic search tool. Instead, you can ask queries using natural language (“how to read files line by line”). The tool’s language processing and search is powered by Bing, and everything runs on Azure.

The team has indexed snippets from Stack Overflow, MSDN, Dotnetperls and CSharp411. All the snippets in the index were automatically checked to ensure they compile…

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