Apple's iOS 8 Update Causes More Problems for System

Posted in News on 25 September 2014
Apple has put a stop to its update for the problem-plagued iOS 8 after the new version — meant to repair problems on the new operating system — proved just as problematic.
Crittercism reported, as of Monday, iOS 8’s crash rate was 3.3 percent, that’s about 65 percent more than iOS 7 when it had reached the same point of being on the market. Users were reporting a variety of issues ranging from connectivity issues to slow performance in Safari, CNnet reported.
So, in a bid to battle those issues, Apple launched the iOS 8 update. The update, which became available Wednesday, was quickly shelved after further problems were being reported by users who downloaded it.
The update resulted in some users losing connectivity to cellular networks while others said their Touch ID feature — enabling them to unlock their phone via their fingerprint — wasn’t working anymore.
Apple, Business Week reported, was advising users to continue using iOS 8 as it continues to try and determine what went wrong with Wednesday’s update, referred to as iOS 8.0.1.
“We are actively investigating these reports and will provide information as quickly as we can,” Trudy Muller, a spokeswoman for Apple, said in a statement. “In the meantime, we have pulled back the iOS 8.0.1 update.”
Such snafus can be costly.
Frank Gillett, an analyst with Forrester Research, told Business Week problems such as these prompt many questions in the public.
“That’s the danger with all these updates: if you get it wrong, it goes wrong big, bad and fast,” he said. “There’s a fundamental question of how it got out in the first place.”


EU Could Launch Investigation Into Google's Non-Search Services

Posted in News on 24 September 2014
It looks like Google is in even more hot water with the European Commission after the agency received a number of new complaints against the search engine firm.
European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told a European Parliament hearing that Google is no longer in trouble with the EU just for its search practices — it is now accused of diverting Internet traffic as well.
“We have received complaints on the possible diversion of Internet traffic towards Google services which are not search services, so this is a possible third investigation concerning Google,” Almunia was quoted by Reuters.
Almunia said the investigation into Google’s actions could result in an even bigger case against the technology titan than that against Microsoft, which was involved in a 10-year battle with EU regulators and was slapped with more than $2.8 billion in fines.
The new complaints against Google come just weeks after it was revealed that the firm’s tentative settlement with the European Commission had fallen through. European Union regulators have since asked Google for more concessions to address concerns it is using its monopoly of the market to give its own products and services prominence over that of its competitors. The deal was to bring an end to the four-year anti-trust investigation into Google’s search practices.
If Google is unable to satisfy the EU with its next round of concessions, the company could be slapped with a $5-billion fine.
Almunia, in February, said the proposal obtained from Google “after long and difficult talks” addressed the Commission’s concerns, but feedback from Google’s rivals changed the minds of the Commission members. “Very, very negative” feedback was received from competitors such as Microsoft, Expedia, Oracle and Nokia.
Google spokesman Al Verney said Google is continuing “to work with the European Commission to resolve their concerns.”
The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, began probing Google’s search methods in November of 2010 after receiving a number of complaints from companies that allege the technology firm rigs search results in its favor.


BlackBerry Passport Now Available for Purchase

Posted in News on 24 September 2014
BlackBerry has officially debuted its Passport Smartphone — and the device is available for purchase via or Amazon.
The Passport is a squat, 4.5-inch screen phone with a small, three-level keyboard. It will retail for $599, without contract in the U.S., $699 in Canada, £529 in the U.K. and 649 Euros in France and Germany.
“As we set out to design BlackBerry Passport, we were guided by a simple yet challenging idea – to set aside the limitations of traditional design and to instead simply build a device that fundamentally changes the way business professionals get work done on their Smartphone,” said CEO John Chen. “The BlackBerry Passport was created to drive productivity and to break through the sea of rectangular-screen, all-touch devices.”
The design was indeed inspired by actual passports. The shape and size, the company said, makes the Passport portable enough to tuck into one’s pocket and use on-the-go.
“Utilizing premium, robust materials such as Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for the display and forged stainless steel for added strength, BlackBerry Passport will provide the durability business professionals require in a Smartphone,” the company said in a press release.  
“The large square screen is optimized for viewing and creating content, and will make everyday tasks like reading and writing emails, reviewing and editing documents, web browsing, and map navigation, more comfortable and effortless. The BlackBerry Passport includes the industry’s first touch-enabled keyboard with gestures that make typing, editing and navigating more efficient and accurate.”


Google to Spend $773M to Open Netherlands Data Center

Posted in News on 24 September 2014
Google, over the next four years, will spend $773 million constructing a data center in the Netherlands for its European operations.
The company, in a blog post, said the data center is scheduled to be operational in the first half of 2016 and fully operational the following year. There are to be 150 employees in various roles such as IT, engineering and security.
“This will be Google’s fourth hyper-efficient facility in Europe,” head of data center community relations in Europe William Echikson said in a blog post. “Importantly, demand for Internet services remains so strong that the new building does not mean a reduction in expansion elsewhere. Our expansion will continue in Dublin in Ireland, in Hamina in Finland, and in St. Ghislain in Belgium. Our existing rented data center facility in Eemshaven also will continue to operate.”
The new center will have the latest designs in cooling and electrical technology. It will be free-cooled — meaning it will take advantage of natural assets like cool air and grey water to keep the servers cool.
“Our data centers use 50 percent less energy than a typical data center — and our intention is to run this new facility on renewable energy,” Echikson said.
The Eemshaven center will be the fourth “hyper-efficient” facility Google has opened in Europe. The company opened its first European data center in 2007 and, since then, has been on the lookout for supportive communities with the necessary land, workforce, networking, choice of power and other utilities including renewable energy supplies.


More Than 10M iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus Devices Sold Over Weekend

Posted in News on 23 September 2014
Apple has set a brand new record with the sale of its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices over the weekend.
The Cupertino company announced today it had sold more than 10 million Smartphones in the three days since it launched the devices Sept. 19. It did not breakdown sale numbers for each device, however.
“Sales for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus exceeded our expectations for the launch weekend, and we couldn’t be happier,” said CEO Tim Cook. “We would like to thank all of our customers for making this our best launch ever, shattering all previous sell-through records by a large margin. While our team managed the manufacturing ramp better than ever before, we could have sold many more iPhones with greater supply and we are working hard to fill orders as quickly as possible.”
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are currently available in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K., France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico and Singapore and will be available in more than 20 additional countries beginning Sept. 26. By the end of the year, the new iPhones will be available in 115 countries.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are the first Apple Smartphones to boast larger screens at 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch respectively. The devices sport curved edges, a thinner design than previous models and a new tool to make it easier to use the phone with just one hand.
The new iPhones come with the all-new 64-bit A8 processor which offers faster performance, less battery drain and the ability to play console-class 3D games. The devices also sport an upgraded eight-megapixel rear camera and are available in silver, gold and space gray.
In the U.S., contract-free prices for the iPhone 6 are $649 for a 16GB unit, $749 for 64GB and $849 for 128GB sizes. In Canada the phones are at least $100 more expensive with pricetags of $749, $859 and $969. Prices in the U.K. are £539, £619, and £699.
The iPhone 6 Plus is priced at $749, $849, and $999 in the US; $859, $969 and $1,079 in Canada and £619, £699, and £789 in the U.K.


Using Great Web Design to Support Your SEO Efforts

Posted in Tips on 22 September 2014
One of the most common mistakes you can make with your SEO is waiting until after your site is designed to consider what’s best for your site’s rankings. Great design starts from a foundation of understanding your core user. When you always keep this ideal customer in mind, design and SEO form a union that is rock solid for all your marketing efforts.
There are many design trends these days, and each of them have their own SEO challenges. Whether you choose responsive, HTML5, or parallax design, or any hybrid thereof, considering your SEO needs as you create or re-launch your site is imperative.
Great design isn’t just about creating a beautiful and intuitive experience, it also involves stellar usability, solid and secure architecture, and a site that is accessible across all screens and media devices. Master these elements, and your SEO will naturally follow suit.
Deciding Which Type of Design is Right for Your Business
Let’s dissect the three major site design options these days, along with their related SEO pros and cons.
First, there’s the ever-popular responsive option. Responsive design means your site will adjust based on the size of the screen the user is accessing your content on. Instead of a native mobile site, responsive uses the same core look and feel across all platforms. It creates uniformity and consistency, but inhibits your ability to tailor a design for each screen option.
It’s the most popular option for a reason, however; Google recommends responsive design. SEO is solid with this option because responsive does not dilute your URL strength by requiring different variations. Users access your site through one URL, and it then adjusts based on the device used. This allows you to ramp up external backlinks and track SEO strategies for a single domain structure, which can vastly simplify your efforts.
The biggest con with responsive is that it forces you into a one-size-fits-all strategy. There’s no opportunity for mobile-centric keywords, no creating a custom-made navigation structure for small screens. If this is a blessing rather than a creative limitation, responsive is a fantastic option for your site.
Parallax sites have been all the rage lately; they consolidate content onto a single page, or a very compact site structure. From a user perspective, this is golden, and many businesses report much higher conversion rates when they shift to a parallax strategy. If you have a strong and clear story to tell about your business, you can walk users through this vision in a much more impactful way on a single page.
From an SEO perspective though, parallax has serious challenges. You’ll find it a lot more difficult to rank for a variety of keyword phrases, and with just a single page or compact site, there’s far less for Google to evaluate and crawl. That said, if you incorporate a parallax strategy into a multi-page site, you can indeed have the best of both worlds.
Finally, there’s the controversial HTML5 option. Often heralded as the next big thing in web development, the hindrance with HTML5 is it can be a beast to program correctly. The versatility and sure power is off the charts though, and if you require complex functionality, HTML5 can handle it. The trick of this from an SEO perspective involves JavaScript, which is required for a lot of the whiz-bang features. Google and company often have issues crawling this kind of content, which means your content is essentially unreadable. The solution, should you choose to take the time and effort, is to create a static version of the JavaScript heavy content too. That gives users the fabulous animated option, and search engines get access as well.
Designing Pages that Woo People and Search Engines
As you look at your site with an eye towards usability, remember that simplicity and intuitive design are integral to a successful offering. Getting creative on your navigation category terms, as an example, may feel like you’re adding flair and personality, but ultimately, if you’re confusing users and search engine bots, you just won’t flourish.
These days, a less is more strategy is also proving fruitful. It used to be that a myriad of categories provided more searchable content and opportunities for keyword variances. This is shifting, however, and savvy SEO professionals are recommending a more streamlined and focused site structure.
If you already have a site that you’re looking to improve upon, here’s a tip to determine how the design of each page is fairing. Look at your bounce rates, and compare them to the keywords that are most applicable. If you find that there’s an abundance of traffic funneled from keywords that just don’t seem relevant to the page, you’ve uncovered a smoking gun. Your job in those cases is to tailor the content on each page to match the interest of the incoming traffic. Master the process of giving people what they want, and your SEO will catapult.
Whichever design trend you chose, educate yourself on the SEO challenges and benefits as early in the process as possible. If you’ve already launched your site and are working backwards, use the bounce rate strategy as a first step to SEO domination. As long as you have a clear view of who your site serves, you can always improve the overall experience.


Next Android System Encrypts Data By Default

Posted in News on 22 September 2014
Data encryption will be automatic for new Android users this fall.
As Google prepares to launch the new Android L operating system, it has been announced the system — much like the recently-announced Apple iOS 8 — will be encrypting data by default. The move is expected to provide Android users with an extra level of security, something needed considering the amount of data most people keep on their personal devices.
Oddly, as reported by Tech Times, the default encryption is a smart move but not the first time Android users could have their data highly protected.
Android has been offering encryption on certain devices for the past three years, but it has not been by default and most users are not aware of the option.
In an official statement, Google explained, “For over three years, Android has offered encryption, and keys are not stored off of the device, so they cannot be shared with law enforcement. As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won’t even have to think about turning it on.”
Google and Apple have both been pushing for more security since the Edward Snowden leak last summer. That need for increased security has become even more heightened in the wake of the recent leak of dozens of nude photos of celebrities.


Why Did Microsoft Buy Minecraft?

Posted in News on 18 September 2014

Even for a tech titan, $2.5bn is a lot to pay for a gaming platform. But Microsoft sees Minecraft as an investment for its future.

It’s fashionable these days for enormous American technology firms to spend exorbitant sums buying smaller, edgier companies. Amazon bought the video-game streaming service Twitch for $970m in August, Facebook acquired the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset for $2bn in July, Apple got down with the kids with its $3bn purchase of Beats headphones in May, while Google has been on an M&A spree since February 2010, buying one company on average every fortnight.
While it’s tempting to see these as nostalgic attempts to reconnect with their own days as young, energetic companies out to change the world, the explanation is almost certainly harder-headed. So what does Microsoft want with Swedish developer Mojang and its product Minecraft, a lego-inspired online game?
It’s profitable
The simplest explanation is often the correct one. With 54m copies sold and another 100m downloaded, Minecraft is a multi-platform gaming phenomenon, and this translates to the bottom line. The game, which allows enormous freedom to create buildings and objects within its virtual world, brought Mojang over $100m in profits last year.
But on its own, this can’t be the reason for the purchase. Even if the profits from Minecraft continue to rise, as they have since it was created in 2009, the game is unlikely, possibly unable, to become much bigger than it already is. And at $100m a year it would take 25 years for Microsoft to recoup the cost of purchase.
It’ll bring in fresh blood
When Apple bought Beats, the firm made a point of saying how in many respects it was paying for the genius and connections of Beats’ bosses Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre, as much as for the headphones business itself. It makes sense – if they created one super-successful business for themselves, they can do it again for you.
This is clearly not the case here, however. Although most of the Mojang team will join Microsoft’s games division, founder and creator Markus 'Notch' Persson is leaving big business altogether. ‘I'm not an entrepreneur,’ he said. ‘I'm not a CEO. I'm a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.’
One of those opinions that may have rubbed Microsoft up the wrong way related to his price tag. Back in 2012, he joked it was $2bn. 'Give me two billion dollars,' he tweeted, 'and I'll endorse your crap'.
It’ll boost Xbox
Minecraft is the most popular online game on Microsoft’s Xbox console, with more than 2bn hours of play logged in the past two years. While Microsoft has promised to continue supporting Minecraft on rival platforms such as Sony’s Playstation 4, it’s possible the firm will provide subsequent console versions of the game exclusively to Xbox.
But again, this wouldn’t justify the purchase. It would help Xbox gain market share, but it would also cost Microsoft profits from Minecraft’s sales elsewhere. Besides, boss Satya Nadella has said that Xbox is a valuable asset, but not core to the business.
It’ll help Windows Phone
This is the most plausible explanation. Microsoft is desperate to establish itself in the mobile market, of which its Windows Phone has only a 2.5% share. Minecraft is extremely popular on mobiles, being the top paid-for app on both Google Play and iOS Store in the US. At present, however, it is not on Windows Phone, as Mojang’s Persson claimed it wouldn’t be worth the effort.
Clearly, this will change, and Windows Phone will gain access – and later, possibly priority access - to Minecraft’s loyal gamers.
Whichever is the real reason, Microsoft’s purchase is still a gamble. The gaming market is notoriously fickle, and for any of the above benefits to be worth Microsoft’s investment, Minecraft will need to retain its popularity for at least the next five years.



IBM Launches Free Analytics Site

Posted in News on 18 September 2014
IBM has created a crystal ball for companies, but there’s no way of knowing if it will be a success.
Launched Tuesday, a new Watson Analytics tool is available at no charge for companies to upload data to and, in return, receive insights to where the company is headed and what may be in the future. The idea behind the project is to give companies without data analysts a program that works for them.
“This is an analytic journey and we’re dealing with people with varying skill sets,” Marc Altshuler, vice president product management for business analytics, told ZDnet.
The freemium model works on desktops, Android and iOS. The model is only one possible tool with IBM still determining costs and fees for more advanced models. While the current free model is available, IBM’s ultimate goal is to have companies ask for more analysis and pay for the more advanced models.
Forbes reported IBM will put sample data on the Watson Analytics site to assist users. The site will also feature tutorials and guides so users will quickly learn how to both supply their data but, also, understand it once it is analyzed.
The site is also protected with IBM’s cloud security support.
However, the free aspect of the site does have a limit. Companies using the site will, in time, reach a cap in space and, if they want to continue, will have to pay to upgrade to one of the next levels.


Frugl makes the move into Europe with German Acquisition

Posted in News on 17 September 2014
Frugl, the UK based start-up launched six months ago as an event discovery app for Londoners on a budget has acquired Tickethelden, the Munich-based last-minute ticketing solution. Tickethelden is one of a number of investments made by founder Tim Schumacher since his exit from Sedo in 2012. The year-old ticketing company has an active user base of roughly 100,000 mostly 20-30 year olds spread across Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg and Munich.
The purchase will enable Frugl to launch in Germany with an existing customer base as well as a large audience on Facebook.
Suzanne, founder and CEO of Frugl, says “We have been looking for the right opportunity to bring Frugl to the German market and this opportunity with Tickethelden was too great to resist and now gives us the perfect reason to launch in Germany quickly.”
“We are delighted that we have found a strong international partner in Frugl and Suzanne, whose expertise will drive the last-minute ticketing success-story in the future.” says Tobias, CEO of Tickethelden.
Final negotiations took place at last week’s European Pirate Summit in Cologne, and the deal was signed shortly thereafter.


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