October 24, 2014

Ford to Add Pedestrian Detection to Its Cars
Like other automakers, Ford is also experimenting with more complete automation. Its bigger Detroit rival, General Motors, plans to offer a Cadillac by 2017 that can drive automatically on freeways. But Ford’s new system also reflects a more incremental and cautious approach, in contrast to Google, which has committed to delivering full autonomy. Google’s latest prototype vehicles originally came without a steering wheel and didn’t feature brakes that were operable by its human passengers, although it was forced to add such controls so it could legally test the cars on the road.

Congratulations Hadoop, You Made It–Now Disappear
That’s not to say that there will no longer be a need for geeky technologies like Pig and Sqoop and Flume–or for Teradata, EMC, or Oracle, for that matter. In fact, Cloudera just announced partnerships with the first two. And there’s more geeky technology on the horizon, particularly with Apache Spark, which is gathering huge momentum among developers and ISVs because it enables them to build big data analytic workloads without the complicatedness of first-gen Hadoop. But even if Spark and the rest help abstract away some of the underlying complexity, the complexity is still there under the covers.

Be Careful! Backups Can Bite You!
Every time you perform a backup in SQL Server, you must specify the target media for the backup. This is called a media set. It is called a set, because you can specify multiple backup devices. A media set is an ordered collection of backup devices (tapes, disk files or Azure Blobs) that contains one or more backup sets. A backup set is the content that is added to a media set by a successful backup operation, striped between the backup devices in the media set.The problem lies with the backup and restore operations. Before I explain what happened, let me give you a brief explanation of the way SQL Server handles backup operations…

The Role of the Technical Architect in Development
Responsibility for the quality and effectiveness of code is, of course, shared by the whole team; however, an architect needs to challenge the team and help it to implement even better code which meets industry standards. This can be achieved by evangelising and promoting good practises (SOLID, KISS, DRY), tools (FxCop, StyleCop), metrics - or just by giving a good example in doing regular development tasks. This last aspect is very important because it helps the architect to stay close to the team and technical nuances as well as allowing him to double-check how well the proposed design materialises in code.

7 Big Data Blunders You're Thankful Your Company Didn't Make
Big data, especially the right data, has the potential to completely transform how companies communicate with their customers and fans. With new technology and tools like sensors and beacons, we can track every aspect of a customer’s online and offline interaction with a brand, and use that data to customize and curate content and promotions. Many customers are willing to share their data with brands in return for personalized experiences and offers that offer value while still being respectful of personal boundaries.  In a recent survey by SDL, 79% of respondents said they’re more likely to provide personal information to brands that they “trust.”

AVG adds identity services to Cloudcare platform
The latest addition - identity-as-a-service (IDaaS) - is designed to provide managed service providers with an option of secure sing-on to monitor and manage their customers. Mike Foreman, AVG's general manager, SMB, said that it was responding to market needs, "to help MSPs grow their businesses further by enhancing the levels of protection and control built in to their customer services". “We know that with the rapid adoption of mobile, BYOD and Cloud applications customers will require additional expertise from partners to help control and manage all their users’ applications and data. We are listening," he added.

World's Wireless Record Breaks 40 Gbit/s
"We have designed our circuits with very high bandwidth, greater than 30 GHz, in an advanced semiconductor process -- 250 nanometer DHBT [double heterojunction bipolar transistor] with four metal-layers offered by Teledyne Scientific of Thousand Oaks, Calif.," Zirath told us. The team has been working on this invention for over a decade, finally pulling all the pieces together this year. "We started research on millimeter-wave transceivers about 12 years ago. We have also been focusing on high-data-rate transmission research for over six years. Over these years of hard work, we have gradually built up a knowledge base from many people's results.

Will Free Data Become the Next Free Shipping?
Those rising costs mean companies trying to deliver products or services to mobile devices face an extra hurdle: Not only do they have to sell potential users on the idea, they also have to convince them it’s worth the hit to their data plans. A new service launching this week called Freeway allows users of AT&T smartphones to access a number of sites, including StubHub.com and Expedia.com, data free. Users of the app, which is made by a Seattle-based company called Syntonic, can also watch a trailer for the independent film “Frank vs. God” without it counting against their data plan.

Who Makes Your Health IT Decisions?
Modern IT governance embraces this by placing key IT decisions in the hands of those clinical and operational partners. If your chief medical officer, your chief nursing officer (CNO), your director of patient financial services, and your health information management director have the final say about your IT budget, it changes the game. Now they have to understand the value of IT and choose the initiatives that make sense. Your CIO and IT staff have to translate IT arcana into language that makes operational sense and generate questions that have operationally focused answers. This isn't wasted time. It's critical engagement work that makes sure that scarce organizational dollars wind up in the right place and in the right hands to drive the mission of the health system.

Going beyond the PC and the tablet: How to be authentically digital
We're already starting to use elements of machine learning in our day-to-day lives, with cloud scale AIs adding context to our device interactions. Both Google Now and Microsoft's Cortana are able to use location as a tool for adding context to a query - so what if we could use that context in a digital workflow? It's easy to imagine a near future hybrid of Storyteller and Sway, where our building site surveyor is photographing work in progress on a building retro-fit. He takes a series of photographs, which are automatically wrapped as a report using real-time speech recognition to convert his spoken notes into captions.

Quote for the day:

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." -- African Prover

October 23, 2014

Generic pagination in C# for .NET WebAPI
The idea is really simple, and it's not a lot of code, but it's guaranteed to save you time in your next .NET WebAPI project. It's built with Entity Framework in mind, but it will work with any IQueryable collection. We use IQueryable because at the time of pagination, you should not have executed your query yet in most cases. Otherwise you would be fetching the full list of items before just returning a few of them, rather than fetching only those few to begin with. Of course if you need to fetch the whole list (to perform a calculation on each result perhaps) you can do that as well and simply cast the list AsQueryable() when you pass it to the pager.

How to Design for Discovery
Disruptive vendors focus on providing tools that facilitate discovery by design; they provide tools and technology solutions that make the end user more independent. Yet, self-sufficiency doesn’t happen in a silo. True discovery tools provide users the ability to connect to large volumes of new data and easily join different data sets together to filter, query, and visualize to explore data in detail without choking the system or relying on IT. Navigating the “new breed” of truly disruptive discovery tools means we must concentrate first and foremost on the elements that make a tool designed for discovery – with a robust, agile IT-independent and user-centric approach that has better access to data, agile high-performance,

Abandoned subdomains pose security risk for businesses
The risk to website owners depends on what can be done on a third-party service once a domain is pointed to it. If the service allows users to set up Web pages or Web redirects, attackers could exploit the situation to launch credible phishing attacks by creating rogue copies of the main website. In an attack scenario described by Detectify, a company might set up a subdomain for use with an external support ticketing service, but later close its account and forget to delete the subdomain. Attackers could then create a new account with the same service and claim the company’s subdomain, which already has the needed DNS settings, as their own, allowing them to set up a fake website on it.

Capitalizing on the data driven revolution
Despite the potential of big data, managing the massive amounts of data generated by customers and enterprises can be overwhelming. CMOs are constantly hearing about how they must use data to evaluate their marketing campaigns, operations managers are well aware that the use of data can optimize their supply chain, and finance executives are clamoring for ways to use analytics to realize cost savings. However, many organizations don’t know where to start or are stuck at an unsatisfactory halfway point.

Gmail’s New Inbox App Puts the Important Stuff on Top
Like-kind messages are grouped together in bundles so you can easily sort through a collection of messages quickly. The “social” and “promotions” tabs found in Gmail are default bundles in Inbox. You can tap into a “promotions” bundle, glance over all the companies who’d like to sell you stuff, and if nothing jumps out at you, swipe the entire collection of emails away and out of your view (doing this can archive or delete your emails in both Inbox and Gmail, depending on how you set up the app). The goal is that you’ll be able to open Inbox up and see a stream you can quickly browse through, acting on what you want and discarding the rest.

Happy 10th Birthday, Selenium
Selenium as a technology is now 10 years old. ThoughtWorks is proud to have created and open-sourced what is now the defacto-standard for cross platform cross browser web-app functional testing. We’re also proud to have released it as open source for the greater good. In honor of its 10th birthday, we put together the below timeline. Here’s to another 10 successful years.

U.S. national security prosecutors shift focus from spies to cyber
As part of the shift, the Justice Department has created a new position in the senior ranks of its national security division to focus on cyber security and recruited an experienced prosecutor, Luke Dembosky, to fill the position. The agency is also renaming its counter-espionage section to reflect its expanding work on cases involving violations of export control laws, Carlin confirmed in an interview. Such laws prohibit the export without appropriate licenses of products or machinery that could be used in weapons or other defense programs, or goods or services to countries sanctioned by the U.S. government.

Lessons in cybersecurity launched for schoolchildren
Ken Mackenzie, head of at Sedgehill School, said that presenting students with the opportunities to expand their digital skills was one of the key reasons why the school signed up. “Students at our school may live in London but they don’t necessarily experience London in the same way that students from more affluent backgrounds would. We feel computing is a particular strength at the school and we work hard to make sure we are presenting students with a full range of opportunities.” However, Mr Mackenzie also stressed that, aside from enhancing digital skills, the focus on careers was one that appealed to the school.

Sweat and a smartphone could become the hot new health screening
Heikenfeld says future applications for the patch could involve drug monitoring. "A lot of drug metabolites come out of sweat, so by using this technology, doctors can help patients take drug dosages more evenly. Our current methods, often based on age or body weight, are extremely crude when you think about all the side effects listed on the warning labels." "Ultimately, sweat analysis will offer minute-by-minute insight into what is happening in the body, with on-demand, localized, electronically stimulated sweat sampling in a manner that is convenient and unobtrusive," Heikenfeld concludes in the article.

Regulation on cloud security may spur SaaS use in health care
"The role of government is to move toward that transparency and data sharing," he said. Governments could also pass legislation that gives people more access to the data companies have collected on them and the ability to control it, such as correcting wrong information, said Ralph Zottola, CTO of the research computing division at the University of Massachusetts. "People are smart and are willing to participate but they need to feel they're not being abused," he said. This applies to all industries, not just health care, he said.

Quote for the day:

"A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and those who are doing well to do even better." -- Jim Rohn

October 22, 2014

8 cutting-edge technologies aimed at eliminating passwords
In the beginning was the password, and we lived with it as best we could. Now, the rise of cyber crime and the proliferation of systems and services requiring authentication have us coming up with yet another not-so-easy-to-remember phrase on a near daily basis. Is any of it making those systems and services truly secure? One day, passwords will be a thing of the past, and a slew of technologies are being posited as possibilities for a post-password world. Some are upon us, some are on the threshold of usefulness, and some are likely little more than a wild idea.

The Software-Defined Data Center: Translating Hype into Reality
Software-defined technologies are driven by virtualization, an abstraction layer which uses hypervisors and virtual machines to organize and manage workloads in new ways. Provisioning virtual resources with software makes it easier to scale applications and use hardware efficiently. Software-defined networking holds the promise of reducing costs by shifting network management task to commodity servers rather than expensive switches. It’s a new world, with major implications for infrastructure. Virtual machines make it easier to move workloads from one location to another, a capability that unlocks a world of possibilities.

'Internet of things' data should be 'treated as personal data', say privacy watchdogs
"When purchasing an internet of things device or application, proper, sufficient and understandable information should be provided," the declaration said. "Current privacy policies do not always provide information in a clear, understandable manner. Consent on the basis of such policies can hardly be considered to be informed consent. Companies need a mind shift to ensure privacy policies are no longer primarily about protecting them from litigation." The declaration outlined the DPA's backing for new technology that accounts for privacy by the way it has been designed. The concepts of 'privacy by design' and 'privacy by default' "should become a key selling point of innovative technologies", it said.

Why You Should Kill Your Employee of the Month Program
While rewards and recognition programs are designed with the good of employees, teams, and the company in mind, they tend to backfire for a simple reason. When you raise one person up on a pedestal, it leaves others below on the ground. And some of those left behind may feel resentful. Perhaps they contributed to the effort that's being recognized, or even came up with the original idea. Maybe they were part of a team that facilitated a key component to the successful outcome, but it happened behind the scenes where you couldn't see it. The point is, when you single someone out as the hero, it can make others who are just as worthy feel like goats.

Addressing 5 Objections to Big Data
Big data is all the rage these days. It has transitioned from just a hype word that people liked to throw around to sound smart to a technology that’s completely changing the world. Still, people try to minimize the importance of big data. Whenever something good comes around, there are people that will try and fight it. That can surely be said about big data. There are numerous objections to big data and what it can do, but most of these objections are unfounded and can easily be refuted by those who understand the big data industry. Let’s take a look at five common objections to big data and the responses for each one.

Back to the Future was right: a working hoverboard will be available in 2015
The big catch is that the Hendo can only hover over some types of metal. At the Arx Pax office, we hovered over a floor and half pipe covered in copper. That’s because the board generates a magnetic field. When there is a sheet of metal underneath, it is powerful enough to push the board upward (it’s the same technology as a Maglev train). The developer kit can support up to 40 pounds. The Hendo board can support up to 300 pounds, with support for 500 pounds planned for the future. It only dipped for a fraction of a second when I hopped on.

Keep calm and plug the holes
With network monitoring and analysis in place, you need to think about how best to make use of the data. Don’t be too quick to throw it out. Network analysis tools have gotten a lot better than what was out there in the ’90s and early 2000s. It’s easier now to sift through huge amounts of data in a relatively short amount of time. When a zero day is published, that data can be useful for taking a look back at what had been happening prior to the zero day being published. You also need to have workarounds in place so that you’re not entirely dependent on outright fixes when zero days pop up.

The Untapped Potential Inside Social Media, Analytics (Part 2 of 2)
Grady, the social media analytics and enterprise search sales manager at Information Builders, has worked on social media analytics, search-based business intelligence, mobile applications, predictive analytics, and dashboard design in his 15 years at the company. He blogs about social media, business intelligence and more. Grady recently spoke, along with Fern Halper, TDWI's research director of advanced analytics, at a TDWI Webinar on "Social Media Analytics – Getting Beyond Tracking the Buzz."

Will Your Next Best Friend Be A Robot?
The glum robot is named Takeo, and by the end of the play, it’s clear he is not the only one with problems. The man of the house is unemployed and pads around barefoot, a portrait of lethargy. At one point, his wife, Ikue, begins to weep. Takeo communicates this development to his fellow robot Momoko, and the two discuss what to do about it. “You should never tell a human to buck up when they are depressed,” says Takeo, who himself failed to buck up when the man attempted to cheer him with the RoboCop theme song earlier. Momoko agrees: “Humans are difficult.”

Java Sleight of Hand
Every now and then we all come across some code whose behaviour is unexpected. The Java language contains plenty of peculiarities, and even experienced developers can be caught by surprise. Let’s be honest, we’ve all had a junior colleague come to us and ask “what is the result of executing this code?”, catching us unprepared. Now, instead of using the usual “I could tell you but I think it will be far more educational if you find it by yourself”, we can distract his attention for a moment (hmmm.... I think I just saw Angelina Jolie hiding behind our build server. Can you quickly go and check?) while we rapidly browse through this article.

Quote for the day:

"In a number of ways Open Data improves society - for one it can grow GDP" Chris Harding, The Open Group