Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Five Android apps that will teach you new skills in your spare time

By Brandon Vigliarolo | November 1, 2016, 7:35 AM PST

There are always a few moments during the week spent staring at a smartphone to kill time. Why not learn something in those spare moments with these five Android apps?

Whether you're laid over at the airport, stuck on the subway, or eating lunch there's no reason for those bits of idle time to be wasted. There are a bunch of smartphone apps on the market that can help you learn new skills and most lessons can be done in no time at all.

Here are five educational apps for Android that can help you make the most of your idle time by teaching you something new or strengthening the skills you already have.
Khan Academy

Khan Academy is one of the original internet learning hubs, and its Android app is an excellent extension to this large-reaching platform.

You can watch videos, subscribe to classes, search for content, and do most everything you can do on the Khan Academy website.

Content on Khan Academy leans toward STEM topics, but there's also some other stuff as well: economics, entrepreneurship, and plenty of humanities topics are covered as well. Plenty of the videos that form the basis of classes are short—about 10 minutes in length—making Khan Academy a perfect educational distraction when you're on the go.

edX is all about delivering courses and certificate programs from leading universities. Marketing from Wharton, data science from Microsoft—even philosophy of mind from MIT is available.

Its Android app allows users to get course content on

The end of the corporate network is coming

By Patrick Gray | November 1, 2016, 10:55 AM PST

General Electric recently announced it may "disconnect" as many as 5,000 sites from its corporate network. Is the idea of a secure, corporate network for employees past its prime?

Corporate networks have been a staple of IT departments since the dawn of IT as a corporate function, and it has been assumed that if you have employees, you'll need to provide a secure internal network for them to get their work done. However, many companies like GE are rethinking this strategy, and providing their employees with connections to the public internet rather than a secured network. Here are some of the reasons behind these moves.

The Internet is now the de facto network

I remember when I was first granted access as an employee to the mysterious entity called "the Internet." Multiple forms were completed and duly signed by various supervisors, and I had to have special proxy and monitoring software installed on my company desktop to search AltaVista and be granted an internet email address. With the rise of globally dispersed workforces, telecommuters, and mobile workers, most companies have provided means to access key software and services over public networks for years. In fact, with my last employer I never connected to the physical corporate network, using the internet for everything from email access to cloud-based tools to get work done.

As companies increasingly prepare applications for access from anywhere, a distinct "company network" seems a bit anachronistic, and in many cases presents an administrative burden, as IT must maintain secure server networks, firewalled "DMZ" networks, and semi-secure employee networks that offer little benefit when the tools for external connectivity are already in place.

Physical security really isn't

One of the major drivers for maintaining a corporate network was the theory that it offered additional security. If someone had already made it into your physical facility, a network jack that offered relatively unfettered access to company resources seemed sensible. However, that theory has long been debunked by anything from physical hacking attempts to

How Obama will pass his Twitter account to next president, and what you can learn from it

By Conner Forrest | November 1, 2016, 11:01 AM PST

The White House recently came up with a transition strategy for presidential social media accounts and other properties. Here's what your business can learn.

As President Obama prepares to leave the Oval Office in 2017, part of his transition strategy will include handing over the ownership of social media accounts and certain websites. On Monday, the White House released a blog post detailing that digital transition, and there are a few best practices that enterprises can glean from it.

As noted by the post, Obama is the first president to leverage various social media platforms, securing the handle @POTUS on Twitter, and engaging with online video through Facebook and YouTube as well. These accounts, as well as new platforms like We The People that debuted during Obama's tenure, are just some of the assets that will come under the new president when he or she takes office.

"This digital infrastructure is an asset not just for the next president but

Apple may be addressing biggest problem with new MacBook Pro

By Conner Forrest | November 1, 2016, 7:05 AM PST
A new report from KGI Securities said that Apple may be dropping prices on its new MacBook Pro line and adding a 32GB RAM option in late 2017.

When Apple unveiled its latest MacBook Pro line in late October, there was one glaring problem with the listed specifications—the RAM tops out at 16GB. For an average user, that should be more than enough, but for power users (the target market for the machine), it may fall short.

However, according to a report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that was obtained by AppleInsider, this may only be a temporary problem. In the report, Kuo predicted that the second half of 2017 will see a refreshed MacBook Pro line that will include price cuts and a 32GB RAM option.

The memory option is dependent on the release of Intel's Cannonlake processors, Kuo said. If the Cannonlake processors don't ship in time, Apple would likely have to use the Intel Coffee Lake processors and would still be limited to a 16GB option, AppleInsider reported.

Kuo's report notes that the switch to USB-C and the limited memory options seem to be a disappointment to users, and he predicted that older MacBook demand would remain steady through mid-2017. However, in late 2017, when he predicted the prices will fall and the memory options will expand, he said he expects the demand to increase. This will

15 Essential Questions Asked in Top iOS Interviews

>Recently I’ve been interviewing iOS developers for a senior dev position at a fellow consultancy.
It is not an easy task to evaluate the level of knowledge and experience of another developer. You need to put aside your own subjective judgement and what is the most important - shut up and listen.

After going through several rounds of such interviews here are the questions I typically ask:

  1. What was the latest version of iOS you worked with? what do you like about it and why?
  2. Have you worked with Swift? What do you like about it? What you don’t like?
  3. How memory management is handled on iOS?
  4. What do you know about singletons? Where would you use one and where you wouldn't?
  5. Could you explain what is the difference between Delegate and KVO?
  6. How do you usually persist data on iOS?
  7. How do you typically do networking?
  8. How do you serialize data on iOS (JSON from the web or local app data to Core Data and other storages) ? 
  9. What design patterns do you know and use on iOS?
  10. What is Autolayout?
  11. How do you handle async tasks?
  12. How do you manage dependencies?
  13. How do you debug and profile things on iOS?
  14. Do you code review?
  15. Do you test your code? What do you do to make your code testable?
Let’s go through each of them individually to get a sense what answers for each tell us about the interviewee.

1. What was the latest version of iOS you worked with? What do you like about it and why?

The purpose of this question is to inquire if the interviewee actually keeps up with the latest development from Apple.

Expected answer: he/she tells you what the latest version of the system is and what he/she has worked with lately. And tells you about one of the new features of the system that he/she is excited about (i.e. I love new multitasking on iPad because it’s going to make user experience way better and opens up a lot of opportunities for us developers to build new cool things, etc.).
2. Have you worked with Swift? What do you like about it? What you don’t like?

This question will

Delete unused Android apps now, or risk a security nightmare

By Jack Wallen | October 31, 2016, 12:27 PM PST

Your Android device most likely contains unused apps that could still use data or fall prey to vulnerabilities. The solution to this potential security problem: delete those apps.

Quick! Open your Android device, go to the App Drawer, and count the number of apps you no longer use that are still installed. Now go back through that list of apps you no longer use and find out which ones are no longer maintained or which suffer from long-standing malware vulnerabilities.

Done? Didn't think so.

You may have forgotten that you installed a particular app from a third-party source—and yet, there it sits in your app drawer, waiting for you to use it. Was it sitting in the background, all this time, collecting data and sending it to a nefarious destination? According to Cheetah Mobile, malware accounts for up to 1% of all applications installed every day. That means there's a 1% chance that your device has been compromised by malware.

One percent isn't much, but it's not zero.

All of a sudden, keeping track of your Android apps from a security perspective is no longer such an easy task. But this challenge does come with a purpose to illustrate a single point: Uninstall unused apps on your device. It's simple and elegant, yet the advice so often falls on deaf ears.

It's so easy to forget them

According to Google 25% of installed apps are either never used or used immediately and then forgotten. Also, the average Android app loses 77% of daily active users within the first three days of an app being installed and 90% within the first 30 days. After that magic 30 days, chances are you will have forgotten you ever installed the app.

And the thing is, we are creatures of habit...even with our mobile devices. We use the apps we use and beyond that...everything else is easily forgotten.

This is especially true of apps like home screen launchers. Most often this type of app is installed without an associated icon in the App Drawer; because of this, it's very easy to forget you ever installed the app—out of sight, out of mind. In fact, the only time you

Tor: The smart person's guide

By Dan Patterson | October 31, 2016, 12:15 PM PST

This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about Tor, the onion router web browser that allows users to access the Dark Web and other encrypted websites.

When privacy is outlawed, only outlaws will have privacy. And digital outlawswill probably use Tor. An acronym for 'the onion router', Tor is a free web browser and suite of open source software that enhances user privacy by encrypting web packets and browsing activity.

Tor is complex, yet easy to install and operate. The tool is widely used by reporters, political dissidents, hackers, and Dark Web profiteers to communicate anonymously. Tor enabled the Arab Spring, is used by millions of Chinese users to skirt the Great Firewall, and helps sources and whistleblowers safely share vital information with reporters. Conversely, the encrypted browser also allows hackers to snoop safely, and has helped illicit Dark Web markets flourish.

TechRepublic's smart person's guide is a routinely updated "living" precis loaded with contemporary information about about how the onion router works, who Tor affects, and why privacy-enhancing software is important.
Executive summary
What is it: Though Tor is built on the Firefox open source protocol, it's actually actually a number of integrated technologies. The browser itself carefully mitigates common web tracking tools like cookies and analytics systems. The Tor network is composed of thousands of servers around the world. When a user browses with Tor, web activity and packets are bounced through each server, obfuscating the originating and destination IP address.
Why it matters: As web privacy erodes the Tor foundation argues that the platform helps preserve free speech free thought.
Who it affects: From activists to hackers to Dark Web surfers, many users depend on Tor to protect their identity, and often their lives. Companies and consumers may need Tor to protect sensitive web actions.
When it's happening: The tech powering the onion router was

DDoS defenses emerging from Homeland Security

By Evan Koblentz | October 31, 2016, 9:53 AM PST

Public, private, and academic researchers are working on new ways to combat distributed denial-of-service attacks. The recent large-scale attacks are making them even more determined.

Government, academic, and private-sector officials are collaborating on new ways to prevent and mitigate distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, based on research years in the making but kicked into high gear by the massive takedown this month of domain name system provider Dyn.

The largest attacks in summer 2015 were about 400 gigabits per second, but September 2016 saw an attack on security blogger Brian Krebs of more than 600Gbps, while Dyn said its own attack may have exceeded 1.2 terabits per second. Government-led research is focusing on the 1-terabit range but with systems that can scale higher, which is already needed due to the proliferation of vulnerable Internet of Things devices too easily commandeered by malicious hackers.

But it means there's a ton of job security for Dan Massey, a computer science Ph.D. serving as program manager for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency Cyber Security Division. Massey in August 2015 began evaluating and funding new anti-DDoS efforts at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), private companies, and universities, which share the goal of getting innovative techniques into commercially feasible pilot projects no later than summer 2018. Some are already underway, Massey and others said.

Funded projects include attack information sharing methods from the University of Southern California, University of California-Los Angeles, and University of Oregon; the latter implements a unique peer-to-peer method of letting networks share information about traffic patterns. Colorado State University is making a way to distribute the task of packet filtering and intelligence gathering; the University of Delaware and others including IBM are focusing on identifying new kinds of attacks; and the University of Houston is looking at on-demand network capacity for handling attacks when they hit. In addition, Waterford, Va.-based Waverley Labs and the Cloud Security Allianceare working on whitelisting methods to make a network only accept approved traffic. NIST is collaborating with the University of California-San Diego to determine whether the software for stopping DDoS attacks would hurt network performance.

Other anti-DDoS measures are already common for large companies, such as load balancing so that different parts of a network can pick up the slack if others go down, having multiple DNS providers for the same reason, and educating end users on safe internet usage, security experts at Akamai, Radware, and certification specialist (ISC)2 said. It's unclear why the

We could lose the internet, warns security researcher Dan Kaminsky

By Michael Kassner | October 31, 2016, 9:30 AM PST

Well-known security researcher Dan Kaminsky suggests how to save the internet by modeling cybersecurity after the NIH.

"The internet is not a safe place right now, and, more importantly, the tools we're using to interact with it are relatively broken," warns Dan Kaminsky in a podcast with O'Reilly's Courtney Nash. As evidence, a large percentage of Americans are starting to back away from the internet due to security and privacy fears. "We shouldn't be surprised," adds Kaminsky in this CyberScoop column. "At this point, who hasn't gotten a disclosure notice, a replacement credit card, or dealt with something worse?"

More to the point, Kaminsky adds, "We could lose this internet."

If you are wondering why you should even pay attention to Dan Kaminsky—cofounder and chief scientist of WhiteOps, a security consultancy—he has a track record of uncovering fundamental flaws with the internet and the technology behind it. For example, Kaminsky discovered a vulnerability in the Domain Name System (DNS) that allowed attackers to redirect unsuspecting internet users to alternative malicious web servers.

Use the National Institutes of Health as a model

However, there is good news. Kaminsky believes if we work together, it is possible to save the internet. As to how, Kaminsky writes, "I firmly believe we need something akin to

How to add Google Drive folder shortcuts to your Android homescreen

By Jack Wallen | October 28, 2016, 1:33 PM PST

If you'd like to have home shortcuts to various Google Drive folders on your Android homescreen, check out how to do it.

Google Drive power users, you can get quite a bit of mileage out of having quick access shortcuts to various folders on your Google Drive account. With certain homescreen launchers, you could easily create shortcuts to various locations; however, with some newer launchers (especially the Google Now Launcher), that ability has vanished. So, what do you do?

Fortunately, Google had the foresight to include this feature in the latest releases of the Google Drive Android app. The feature isn't exactly obvious, but once you know how it's done, you'll be shaking your head at how easy it is to add these shortcuts to your homescreen. When you use the feature, you'll find it's a quick way to access your work folders while on the go—no more navigating through Google Drive's folder hierarchy.

Believe it or not, the feature is hiding in plain sight. Here's what you have to do.
Open the Google Drive app.
Navigate to the parent directory housing the

Why big data leaders must worry about IoT security

By Mary Shacklett | October 28, 2016, 1:08 PM PST

The security risks associated with IoT devices cannot be ignored. If your big data plans include IoT devices, follow these four steps to reduce your chances of a security breach.

A series of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks powered by the malware botnet Mirai on October 21, 2016 disabled Dyn, the domain name system provider for hundreds of major websites, including Netflix, Twitter, and PayPal. The malware infected and spread through systems with the help of hacker-compromised web-connected cameras and digital recorders in consumer households, and security experts expressed their concerns about new threats from home electronics and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Big data leaders should take particular notice of this recent attack, because it highlights why security needs to be top of mind when incorporating IoT into analytics projects.

Research firm Gartner projects that 26 billion IoT devices will be installed by 2020. These IoT devices and sensors will be connected to freight containers, facility alarms, data centers, HVAC environmental monitoring equipment, hospital operating rooms, etc., and companies will be expected to do something with the information collected from these devices.

IoT applications that are already in the field include smart meters used by electric and gas utilities. Estimates are that by 2020, there will be over 900 million of these smart meters installed globally, with Asia leading the transition to smart energy grids, followed by Europe and North America. The cost of installing these smart meters is over $100 billion, but the projected financial benefits will reach $160 billion. So the return on investment (ROI) is there, but what else do companies have to worry about?

With smart meters, we're looking at millions of devices with physical exposure and the ability to inject software attacks from multiple points of entry. To a greater or lessor degree, this IoT exposure also applies to manufacturing, logistics, and other companies operating IoT devices at the edges of enterprises, and even to highly centralized companies where malware could leak in through an IoT-monitored HVAC or environmental monitoring device.

More about IoT security attacks and vulnerabilities

In December 2015, 30 of 135 power substations in the Ukraine were taken out for

How to get KeepPass password protection on Android with Keepass2Android

By Jack Wallen | October 28, 2016, 12:12 PM PST

If you're looking for a best-in-breed password safe for Android, look no further than Keepass2Android.

Almost daily, the list of passwords you must retain gets longer. On top of that, some of those passwords simply are not (nor should be) memorize-able. When you have too many passwords to remember, or when a password reaches a point beyond that of possible memorization, your best bet is employ a password safe.

Within the realm of password safes, there are many applications that are ready to serve you. The one that is often considered the best is the open source KeePass tool. Unfortunately, there is no official version of KeePass for Android. However, there are apps, based on KeePass, that do an outstanding job of protecting passwords. One such app is Keepass2Android.

Keepass2Android has a feature list that should easily convince you this is the password safe to meet your mobile needs:
Read/write support for KeePass 2.x .kdbx files
Integrates with nearly every Android browser
QuickUnlock allows you to unlock your database once with your full password and re-open it by typing just a few characters
Access files from the cloud or the web
Integrated Soft-Keyboard for

How to connect Dropbox to WPS Office on a supported Chromebook

By Jack Wallen | October 28, 2016, 11:10 AM PST

If you need to easily work with documents locally and in the cloud on your Chromebook, see how to do so with a Google Play supported device, WPS Office, and Dropbox.

For some users, the Chromebook isn't an option because they believe it exists entirely in the cloud. With the latest iteration of Chrome OS (on certain devices), that has become a completely outmoded idea. Now that Google is rolling out Android app support for more and more Chromebooks, it is absolutely possible to take the devices back from the cloud and work locally. Although it is has been possible to achieve this from the start by working offline, people weren't happy until they had their hands on a standard locally-running/saving app.

That time has come. Now that you can run Android apps on Chrome OS, the likes of WPS Office can be added to the Chrome OS arsenal of productivity apps. The best part is you can link WPS Office to your Dropbox account and work both out of and in the cloud. Let's install WPS Office and

Experts share their cybersecurity horror stories

By Dan Patterson | October 28, 2016, 9:16 AM PST

Computer hacker silhouette of hooded man with binary data and network security terms
Leo Lintang, Getty Images/iStockphoto

"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."

The hooded hacker hunches over a clacking keyboard, face illuminated by the dim and flickering glow of a monitor. He punches a button and executes the code. He lurks in the dark. He's a monster with the power to annihilate people, governments, and companies.

For most people, the archetypical anonymous and malcontented hacker is as mythological as ghosts and goblins. For enterprise companies, SMBs, and government agencies, however, hackers and hacking teams represent a terrifying threat. According to a recent ZDNet report, the average corporate hack costs companies $4 million. Hacking can can also damage a brand and expose employees and customers to privacy risks.

Cybersecurity experts warn that large-scale, coordinated cyber-strikes targeted at essential infrastructure, like last week's Dyn DDoS attack, could cost the economy billions of dollars in lost productivity and potentially harm individuals.

We spoke with several cyber-defense executives about cybersecurity worst-case scenarios. Each executive—CTO and SVP of customer care and co-founder of security analytics company LogRhythm, Chris Petersen, CEO and Chairman of RedSeal, Ray Rothrock, Corey Williams, Senior Director of Products and Marketing of Centrify, and Domingo Guerra, co-founder and president of Appthority—expressed cybersecurity concerns about the burgeoning IoT market, vulnerabilities with the electric grid, and mobile malware.

When attacked, TechRepublic ordinarily advises companies to follow damage-mitigation best practices. In the spirit of Halloween, however, let your fears run wild with these hacking horror stories.

Could someone die or be injured from a hack?
Chris Petersen: Someone could absolutely be killed from a hack, and it is possible someone already has been. We've known for years that medical devices are vulnerable and could be taken over by a malicious actor operating within a hospital's network, who could easily tamper with life support or drug infusion systems, killing someone in the process. What is unique about hacking as a weapon though, is that a killing blow can be thrown from thousands of miles away. If someone hasn't already been assassinated via a targeted hack, it is only a matter of time.
Ray Rothrock: Unfortunately, yes. Car hacking has been demonstrated. Shutting down power to a hospital can threaten lives. Network-connected healthcare devices can be misused. IoT is a new frontier with new risks - the things we're putting on the internet range from convenience devices for comfort and lighting to life-sustaining devices like pacemakers and other medical implants.
Corey Williams: Wearables are deceptively private. Owners may feel that due to their ongoing proximity to the body, they're less likely to fall into the wrong hands. However, hackers don't need to take physical possession of a device to exploit a hole in security. The best news is that solutions already exist that can easily wrap wearables into the identity management picture.
Domingo Guerra: While most hacks aren't life threatening, successful hacks have been executed on a pacemaker, a radiation machine (to give higher than prescribed doses), IV drip therapy devices, etc. Naturally, any attack that alters the operation of life-dependent devices or doses of life-saving drugs puts people at risk of death.

What is the real-world, material threat of a cybersecurity hack?
Ray Rothrock: Exactly the same as the results of Stuxnet. A purely digital attack, carried on a USB stick, caused an industrial controller that had control of a real-world spinning centrifuge to misbehave. A purely digital disruption caused cracking and failure of real equipment processing real Uranium. These are well engineered attacks. In the west, we have nuclear power facilities, fuel processing plants, oil refineries, chemical plants handling toxic substances, dry cleaning facilities, even old-world manufacturing plants dealing with paints and carpets, and the noxious chemicals that go with them. Any and all of these include digital devices that can cause real world damage if connected to a network that is not resilient.
Corey Williams: For example, the Springfield, Illinois, water utility hack from Russia in 2011 destroyed a primary water pump. The hackers stole the usernames and passwords from a third-party vendor that maintained the control software for its customers, and then used those credentials to gain remote access to the utility's network and reconfigure the pump for

Microsoft stops sales of Windows 7 Pro, Windows 8.1 to PC makers...It's all Windows 10

After extending deadline by two years, Microsoft sticks a fork in the world's most popular operating system.

Microsoft today quietly put an end to sales of Windows 7 licenses to computer makers, marking a major milestone for the seven-year-old OS.
According to Microsoft’s rules, the Redmond, Wash. company stopped selling Windows 7 Professional or any version of Windows 8.1 to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) as of Oct. 31.
The end of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 left only Windows 10 as a long-term choice for OEMs that pre-load Windows on their wares.
The original end-of-sales deadline for Windows 7 Professional was to be Oct. 31, 2014—two years after the launch of Windows 8—but early that year Microsoft broke with practice and only called for an end to consumer systems. It left open the cut-off for Windows 7 Professional, saying it would give a one-year warning before it demanded that OEMs stop selling PCs with that edition.
Organizations with enterprise licensing agreements and Software Assurance—the annuity-like program that provides additional rights—may continue to purchase new PCs, then downgrade the OS from the already-installed Windows 10 to Windows 7 if they want to keep using the older edition.
And new Windows 7 Professional PCs won’t vanish immediately; OEMs will be allowed to use what licenses they have in stock.
For example, Dell’s online store today still listed 17 different notebook configurations equipped with Windows 7 Professional. The same goes for smaller computer sellers, like Puget Systems, an Auburn, Wash. custom PC maker: Such shops can continue to build new Windows 7 Professional PCs until their supply of licenses dries up.
Microsoft pulled the plug on Windows 7 even though it remains the most popular operating system on the planet. Windows 7 has lost about a fifth of its user share since the mid-2015 launch of Windows 10, but according to U.S. analytics vendor Net Applications, it powered 48% of all personal computers in October, more than twice Windows 10’s share.
Windows 7 support is to continue until January 2020, giving users just over three years to migrate to another operating system.

Twitter is failing despite bright minds and millennials

Twitter is failing despite bright minds and millennials

Image Credits: REUTERS
The market today is dominated by millennials. They have short attention spans. If there’s an industry report out there, it would highlight changing consumer patterns that in a big way justified the rise of social media networks such as Twitter. 140 characters, no nonsense. Makes perfect sense.
Ideally, if these reports did make sense, and Twitter appealed to the current demographic profile online, it should’ve been a runaway success. But reality is very different. Facebook seems to rule the social media world. Even Instagram, despite being late entrant with a focus on visual expression is more successful than Twitter.  So what is it, that didn’t work with Twitter?
Twitter and Facebook on the stock market are poles apart. Image: Google Finance
Twitter and Facebook on the stock market are poles apart. Image: Google Finance
Reports could be bollocks
That’s a quick way to analyse the developments. Research folks come up with reports that present a case for a immense business potential and opportunity. Twitter began at a time when consumers still used the text messaging service on mobile devices. Data consumption blew to proportions beyond expectations. Till the day we could very comfortably say that SMS is dead. Services such as WhatsApp and other OTT services clearly have surpassed SMS in terms of use. The primary reason is telcos continued to charge on SMS per message. In the age of the Internet, there’s no real reason to use it, unless you’re one of those weight-loss businesses who needs to spam 200 users daily. But then, you’d probably exploit the FUP on SMS anyway.
Ex Twitter CEO Dick Costolo
Failure top down
I remember BlackBerry and Nokia. Both were company with a vast fan following. And there’s no doubt, their current situation is all thanks to failure on part of the respective leadership. This seems to be the case with Twitter. And the cracks seem to have developed a couple of years ago. First, the then CEO Dick Costolo resigned. Soon after there were a couple of reports when Twitter ended up laying off employees in tranches. Since investor sentiment is critical, most of these developments are hushed. Today, the VP of APAC at Twitter, Rishi Jaitly, said he was moving on to newer opportunities.
A huge list comprising alumni from the likes of Google were employees at Twitter. They certainly don’t come cheap. They probably are very capable bright minds and skilled in their respective fields. Yet, the exodus of people at Twitter continues. Either they’re asked to go, or they’d simply start looking out for new opportunity. Like Jaitly, they may sugar coat it with ‘new opportunity, same mission.’
It’s natural. It’s happened at BlackBerry, Yahoo, Nokia, and almost every company that has eventually sold off or wound up.
Image Credits: Reuters
Image Credits: Reuters
The struggle to stay relevant
I can’t help but reiterate how instead of thriving, Twitter is fighting a battle to stay relevant. On Twitter, the vocal crowd is now indifferent to the medium itself. There used to be a time when social media debates got vocal. Those in favour of Twitter would look down at those who preferred Facebook. Both are indifferent now. It’s kind of clear. Numbers matter right?
Facebook rules the game when it comes to number. Be it earnings from advertising, or sheer users, Facebook has an edge at any given point in time. The newer innovations at Twitter were supposed to be live video via Periscope, or short looping video which came in the form of Vine. After flirting for a long while, Twitter has dumped Vine. And is curious with Periscope. While Facebook seems to have nailed it with Live.
That’s video. In addition, when it comes to advertising, brands can’t do much with Twitter beyond sponsored trends, sponsored tweets and may be a few cards here and there. Consumers may not necessarily care about any of these, but brands also increasingly plan Twitter into their larger campaigns to have a balance and generate short time buzz. When it comes to consistent driving of sales online, it’s back to the old rules. Anything but Twitter. The next time you browse through Amazon or Flipkart in search of that pair of Nike shoes, you’re more likely to see a follow up ad on Facebook rather than Twitter. And it’s not an isolated preference.
What’s unique about Twitter from a marketers point of view is trends. The only thing brands and advertisers, or communication strategists ever cared about Twitter was Trends. Depending on whether a particular campaign trended in Mumbai, India, or the World, brand executives get a louder pat on their back. No one ever expected a surge in sales via Twitter. Unfortunately, for Twitter, that makes its criticality in the advertisers options just nosedive.
Twitter HQ. Image: Twitter
Twitter HQ. Image: Twitter
Twitterati took more than they gave
Twitterati on the other hand, are busy fighting with each other. Right vs left. Democrat vs Republican. Unlike Facebook, again, where we’re busy watching cat and dog videos. Sigh, my Twitter bio says that I love dog videos. But I end up sharing more of those on Facebook rather than Twitter! That explains quite a bit.
Twitter has created quite a few personalities, just like YouTube or Facebook. Similarly, Vine also has a few stars. That’s the service they axed. They retained Periscope for now. But Vine’s gone. A piece in Billboard talks about how Vine stars made a last ditch effort to save the platform turned feature, but in vain.
So the next time someone tells me about millennials and all that this generation stands for as the basis for new business opportunity, I’m going to give them the reference of Twitter as my counter.

LG V20 may be launched by November-end for Rs 49990: Report

LG V20 may be launched by November-end for Rs 49990: Report

Back in September, LG launched the V20 smartphone running on Android Nougat. While Nougat is already available as a free upgrade on some Googlesmartphones under the Nexus brand, the V20 is the first with Nougat out of the box. Other phones aren’t likely to get Nougat for a while as individual phone makers and wireless carriers have to tweak and test the new software first. Now, Gadgets360 reports that the device is all set to it Indian shores by end of November. It is likely to be priced at Rs 49,990.
The LG V20 sports a 5.7-inch QHD IPS display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels. According to LG, it will offer high-quality audio playback and recording, with reduced background noise thanks to the onboard Hi-Fi Quad DAC and an HD audio recorder. The V20 will come with a dual-camera setup at the back where one lens comes with a 16MP resolution and f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilisation and laser auto focus. The second lens is an 8MP wide-angle camera with a 135-degree lens. On the front, there’s a 5MP camera with 120-degree wide-angle.
LG V20 will come powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor coupled with 4GB of RAM. It gets 64GB onboard storage, which is expandable up to 2TB via microSD card slot. A 3,200mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 completes the package.

Huawei Mate 9 to run on Kirin 960 chipset; will have curved display variant too

Huawei Mate 9 to run on Kirin 960 chipset; will have curved display variant too

Image: iChagezone, Weibo
Chinese smartphone maker Huawei has announced that it will be launching its upcoming flagship – the Mate 9 – with its most powerful chipset onboard – the HiSilicon Kirin 960. The device is expected to be launched in Germany on 3 November.
The flagship phone is expected to come in two variants – the regular Huawei Mate 9 which will have a flat display, and the Huawei Mate 9 Pro which will come with a curved display. While the Mate 9 will come with 5.88-inch display with FullHD resolution, the Mate 9 Pro will sport a 5.5-inch AMOLED curved display. Both devices are expected to be running Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box along with Huawei’s EMUI skin atop it.
The HiSilicon Kirin 960 chipset was announced quite recently and it is built on the 16nm FinFET process. It has an octa-core processor comprising four Cortex A73 cores clocked at 2.4GHz and four Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.8GHz. In terms of graphics, you get ARM’s Mali G71 MP8 GPU – making it the first chipset to be using this GPU.
According to Huawei, Kirin 960 offers 15 percent performance boost over the Kirin 950. It also supports double data speeds as compared to the Kirin 950. The Kirin 960’s Mali G71 MP8 GPU is expected to offer around 180 percent faster performance in gaming says Huawei. It provides Vulkan support. The Kirin 960 offers Cat 12 LTE donwload speeds and Cat 13 LTE upload speeds.
The Huawei Mate 9 and Mate 9 Pro are expected to come with dual rear cameras having 12MP and 20MP sensors. They will be paired with dual tone LED flash unit. You will get 4GB RAM + 64GB ROM storage variants, but some advertising material also hints at a 6GB RAM + 256GB ROM variant as well.
In terms of design, the Mate 9 is expected to be similar to Mate 8. There will be a finger-print scanner at the back.
Evan Blass has tipped the price of the high end Mate 9 Pro to be around $1,300 (approx Rs 87,000). Blass claims that the camera of the Mate 9 Pro will feature 4x optical zoom as well.
We shall find out the truth on 3 November.

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