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Archive for March, 2013

Twitter’s is only seven this month

March 28, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Dr Search, Search Clinic, Social Media, Social Networking, Technology Companies, Twitter, Uncategorized

Twitter celebrates its seventh birthday this month with 200 million users worldwide- who now send an average of 400 million tweets every day.Twitter's is only seven this monthThe service, originally called “stat.us” and then “twittr”, was launched in 2006 by Jack Dorsey.

He says he was inspired by signing up to blogging service Live Journal in 2000 and spent the next six years refining his idea for “a more ‘live’ LiveJournal. Real-time, up-to-date, from the road”.

Now people use Twitter to campaign, share and discuss news, fundraise, propose marriage, challenge authority – and try to catch the eye of teen heart-throb Justin Bieber, who at time of writing has more than 36 million followers.

On Twitter everyone is so accessible – you can tweet anyone. With Facebook, you have to be friends with them first.

The problem with Twitter – which is the power of Twitter – is that you are publishing into the world. It’s out there with the same power whether you have one follower or whether you have three million followers.

The joy of Twitter is that it’s a stream, you step into it, you step out of it.

You can look at the world in terms of before and after Twitter. Before Twitter, from a consumer standpoint, lots of news and information services were out there, but we hadn’t really been deep into the mobile-app revolution.

In the world after Twitter, suddenly people have access to real-time news and information.

Twitter bites

• Each message posted on Twitter can be up to 140 characters long, including web addresses, user names and hashtags
• There are 200 million active Twitter users worldwide
• Every day 400 million tweets are sent every day
• It took three years, two months and one day for the first billion tweets to be sent
• There are 10 million users in the UK, and 80% of them access Twitter via their mobile phones
• Of Twitter’s global users, 60% check the service on their phones
• Some 40% of Twitter users choose not to write any tweets themselves, but use the platform to follow news and interests

Botnet system steals millions of dollars from advertisers

March 26, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: AdWords, Computers, Cyber Security, data security, Ecommerce, Hackers, Pay Per Click, Pay Per Click Advertising, Search Clinic, Search Engine Marketing, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

A network of thousands of computers which stole millions of dollars from advertisers by generating fake advert viewings has been discovered.Botnet system steals millions of dollars from advertisersBritish web analytics firm Spider.io claims the “Chameleon” botnet is made up of 120,000 home PCs and costs advertisers £3.9 million per month.

Spider.io said that Chameleon simulated clicks on adverts on over 200 sites.

The firm said the botnet was responsible for up to nine billion false ad views every month.

Websites that show display ad receive money when an ad is viewed, in what is called cost-per-impression advertising. It works by money being paid when an ad impression is viewed, and advertisers selling a product or a service pay the website owner a fixed amount each time their ad is viewed.

The ads are typically placed by advertising networks that act as middlemen – the network places the ad on the publisher’s site and the advertiser pays the network and the publisher.

Advertisers use clicks and mouse movements over ads as leading indicators of visitor intent – meaning that the users being shown ads are more likely to buy a product or sign up to a new service.

So if a malicious programme generates clicks or mouse traces, then advertisers will be encouraged to buy more ad space.

Spider.io said that about 95% of the hijacked machines were in the US.

“This particular botnet is being used to emulate human users surfing the web, mimicking normal browsing sessions and normal ad engagement,” said the firm’s chief executive Douglas de Jager.

“It is difficult to imagine why one would run this type of botnet across a cluster of 202 sites other than to commit display advertising fraud.

“Unfortunately, we can’t be sure precisely which of the financially motivated parties is behind this. It could perhaps even be a single person within one of the companies, unbeknownst to others at this company.”

He added that the company was able to spot the botnet thanks to a very specific behaviour of the infected computers.

“The bots subject host machines to heavy load, and the bots appear to crash and restart regularly,” he said.

“When a bot crashes the concurrent sessions end abruptly; upon restart the bot requests a new set of cookies. These crashes and idiosyncratic site-traversal patterns are just two of the many bot features that provide for a distinctive bot signature.”

“Advertising networks – not the advertisers themselves – need to work harder at identifying the difference between a genuine user clicking on an ad, and a compromise computer that has been turned into a click-fraud bot.”

 

Number of people in UK games industry employment increases

March 21, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Gaming, internet, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, Website Design

A new report by video games industry trade association Tiga has found that both employment and investment in the UK sector increased in 2012.Number of people in UK games industry employment increasesBy the end of the year there were 118 more studios and 336 more creative staff than there had been in 2011. Studios also invested £427 million in games.

The rise in employment figures followed a three year period of decline in staff numbers, said the report.

Tiga said the rise of mobiles and tablets had provided a boost.

“The sector’s return to growth has been driven by three factors,” said Tiga chief executive Richard Wilson.

“Firstly, the increasing prevalence of mobile and tablet devices have created a growing market for games: studios are setting up to meet this demand. Secondly, the closure of big console based studios has been followed by an explosion of small start up companies.

“Thirdly, the advent of games tax relief, which Tiga was instrumental in achieving, is already stimulating growth.”

The games tax relief initiative was introduced in the March 2012 budget and is due to be implemented next month.

A similar scheme already exists in the UK film industry and is due to run until 2015.

British productions with a budget of £20 million or less can apply for a 25% rebate on any new games productions.

Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone launched

March 19, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Dr Search, mobile phones, Samsung, Search Clinic, smart phones, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Samsung has launched a new smartphone- Galaxy S4 which allows users to control its 5in screen using only their eyes.Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone launchedThe Galaxy S4 follows on from last year’s S3, a product that sold over 40 million units worldwide.

Analysts widely regard Samsung to be the biggest challenger to Apple’s dominance of mobile products as the Galaxy S4 will be rolled out globally at the end of April.

The company’s head of mobile communications, JK Shin said 327 mobile operators in 155 countries will carry the handset.

In the UK, Vodafone, Three, Orange, T-Mobile and EE have all announced plans to offer the device on their networks.

Through a series of role-playing scenes, the South Korean firm demonstrated the phone’s key features.

Much was made of the device’s ability to be controlled without touching it- using “Smart pause”, the user can pause a video by looking away from the screen.

Additionally, the “Smart Scroll” software analyses the user’s eyes and wrist to scroll through emails and other content.

In another scene, depicting a backpacker in Shanghai, the phone was shown to translate English text into Chinese speech – before translating Chinese speech back into English text.

The dual camera feature makes use of the device’s front and rear cameras simultaneously, blending the pictures together to make sure the picture taker is not “left out”.

The rear has a 13 megapixel camera, while the user-facing camera captures pictures at 2 megapixels.

The phone weighs 130g, and is 7.9mm thick – making it slightly lighter and thinner than the S3.

The device uses Samsung’s HD AMOLED technology, giving the S4’s screen – which is marginally bigger than the S3’s – a resolution of 441 pixels-per-inch.

As predicted by several industry experts before the event, most of the presentation focused on the phone’s software rather than hardware.

As well as the “touchless” technology, the company also introduced the Samsung Hub – a multimedia storage facility that can be shared across multiple Samsung devices.

Google to shut it’s Reader RSS news feed service

March 14, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, EReaders, Google, internet, Social Media, Social Networking, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, Website Design

Google is to shut down its Reader RSS news feed service in July as usage has declined.Google to shut it's Reader RSS news feed serviceA petition to save the service, which aggregates news content from web feeds, had 25,000 signatures in a few hours.

Experts say shutting Reader is part of Google’s plan to migrate more people to its social media service, Google+.

Google said in its official blog: “There are two simple reasons for this – usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we are pouring all of our energy into fewer products.”

It added users and developers who wanted to use alternatives could export their data, including their subscriptions over the next four months, using its Google Takeout service.

Google Reader launched in 2005, when Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds were a new way to keep tabs on favourite websites and blogs.

The news of its demise has led to a debate about the service on Twitter. Some said its launch had effectively destroyed other RSS competitors.

Security consultant @cortesi tweeted: “Google – a destroyer of ecosystems”.

In his blog, he added:” “Google destroyed the RSS feed-reader ecosystem with a subsidised product, stifling its competitors and killing innovation.  It then neglected Google Reader itself for years, after it had effectively become the only player.”

Now, he said, Google wanted people to experience their favourite websites in a more social way and was seeking to migrate its aggregation platforms to its social media service.

“This has been on the cards for a while. It is part of Google’s strategy to shift people to Google + and other social tools,” he said.

But Chris Wetherell, one of Reader’s chief engineers, told tech news site GigaOm it had been “doomed to fail from the very beginning because Google “never really believed in the project”.

Mobile phone insurance complaints hit record numbers

March 12, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Search Clinic, smart phones, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

A record number of complaints are being made about mobile phone insurance.Mobile phone insurance complaints hit record numbersThe Financial Ombudsman Service says it dealt with around 600 between April 2011 and 2012 and upheld 69%.

But it is expecting a 25% increase on that figure when the numbers for the current financial year are gathered at the end of this month.

However, it says those complaints are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to people unhappy with their insurance provider.

Martyn James form the Financial Ombudsman Service said: “We uphold more complaints about mobile phone insurance than virtually any other product we look at.”

“It’s round about three-quarters of all the cases we see.”

The Association of British Insurers says the complaints only represent a tiny percentage of people who have mobile phone insurance and that it’s working hard to bring that number down.

Google criticised for Ivory ads

March 08, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Ecommerce, Google, Search Clinic, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Results, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Campaigners have criticised Google for encouraging the poaching of elephants by running advertisements promoting ivory products.Google criticised for Ivory adsThe Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) says more than 10,000 ads about ivory were running on Google’s Japanese shopping site.

They have written to the internet giant asking for their removal.

The claim was made at the meeting of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) taking place in Bangkok.

EIA says that they have been monitoring advertising in Japan for a long time, looking for evidence of whale products being promoted for sale. They found more than 1,400 of these types of ads.

But when they carried out a similar search for ivory ads on Google’s wholly owned Japanese shopping site, they found more than 10,000.

The vast majority, more than 80% were for “hanko”, a Japanese name seal that people use to sign official documents. The stamps are often inlaid with ivory lettering.

The campaigners say the ads are contrary to Google’s own policies which don’t allow the promotion of elephant or whale products. And the EIA says they are contributing to elephant poaching across Africa.

“We were really shocked to be honest, to find that one of the world’s richest and successful technology companies with such incredible resources had taken no action to enforce their own policies, especially given that elephants are being slaughtered across Africa to provide these trinkets for the public in Japan.” said EIA’s Allan Thornton.

Google acknowledged that these type of ads violated their own terms. In a statement they said: “Ads for products obtained from endangered or threatened species are not allowed on Google. As soon as we detect ads that violate our advertising policies, we remove them.”

EIA says that they wrote to Google on 22 February to inform them of the problem but they have received no response as yet. They say that the adverts are still up and running.

“I don’t know what’s going on in Google,” said Allan Thornton.

“They are considered a progressive company who are interested in environmental issues, but they seem to have made some pretty serious mistakes by letting whale and ivory products be sold on their Google Japan site,” he added.

Dealing with the ivory issues is one of the key tasks for this meeting of Cites in Bangkok.

The sale of elephant tusks was banned back in 1989. But elephant welfare groups say around 30,000 elephants a year are still being killed to meet the demand for trinkets and carvings that are often sold to tourists in countries like Thailand.

The internet has given a huge boost to the ivory business. Last year, another investigation by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) found over 17,000 ivory products on sale on Chinese websites.

EU Commission’s IT shortage- despite 26 million unemployed

March 06, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Dr Search, Ecommerce, internet, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Despite record EU unemployment, the European Commission has launched a “grand coalition” to address the region’s IT skills shortages.EU Commission's IT shortage- despite 26 million unemployedDigital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes told delegates at the CeBIT exhibition that the EU’s competitiveness is “under threat” if it cannot fill the expertise gap.

The shortages come at a time of high unemployment across Europe, she added, calling for greater awareness of IT career opportunities.

Together with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, Ms Kroes said that 1 million euros (£860,000) will be invested into the coalition.

“This coalition is not about reinventing the wheel. It should be about building on existing success,” she said.

“I want people to be open in their commitments, join forces where they see the chance, and recognise we need to do things differently.

“Quite simply, facing hundreds of thousands of unfilled vacancies, we cannot continue as we were; and we must all do our bit.”

The commission’s own figures suggested that there will be 900,000 vacancies for IT-related roles by 2015. There are currently about 26 million people unemployed across Europe.

The number of “digital jobs” – jobs based around IT – is growing by about 100,000 every year, yet the number of skilled IT graduates is failing to keep pace.

Jose Manuel Barroso launched the digital jobs coalition

Ms Kroes said she now wants to have companies move “from ‘wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if’ to, ‘here’s-what-we-are-going-to-do’.”

The commission highlighted several new initiatives already taking places, including Telefonica’s investment in start-ups, and Cisco’s pledge to train 100,000 people to install smart-meters into homes.

The commission’s proposals include simplification of the certification system, making it easier to prove what skills a graduate has, regardless of the EU country in which they have worked or studied.

Technology skills shortages have been cited as a pressing problem for several companies which rely on highly-skilled engineers to further their development.

In January, Google chairman Eric Schmidt announced that his firm was to contribute to a scheme to give schools 15,000 free microcomputers.

The British Raspberry Pi devices will also be used to encourage young children into learning coding skills.

Paypal predicts the end of passwords

March 04, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Cyber Security, data security, Dr Search, Ecommerce, Hackers, Personal Security, smart phones, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

The days of the tiresome password may be numbered- according to Paypal.Paypal predicts the end of passwordsThe fact is that the way we users typically deal with having multiple passwords for our online accounts makes us too vulnerable to spyware, phishing and identity theft.

Many of us rely on the same password, while many more of us only use three or four passwords.

Ideally, the best password would be at least 16 characters with capitals, numbers and special characters – but you’d never remember it.

So the industry is looking to ditch passwords, and is turning to a variety of solutions, such as voice recognition, key stroke analysis and finger print identification.

Payments firm PayPal is one of those leading the changes, and president David Marcus says the aim is to make the whole process seamless.

“Like magic, you’ll be authenticated, and the payment will go through. We want to move away from passwords, and get to embedded fingerprint scanners on mobile phones.”

“You’re going to start seeing that type of experience later this year, with a mass roll-out in the year to come.”

Earlier this month, PayPal, Lenovo and others announced the formation of the Fido Alliance (Fast Identity Online) to change the way online security checks are carried out.

The idea is that users will be able to select the type of authentication that suits them best – from fingerprint scanning to USB tokens.

“The best protection is the one you don’t see – it’s the one that happens in the background, that verifies your identity accessing your own data,” says Mr Marcus.
‘Untapped potential’

For PayPal, solving the password security problem is important because so many people now use it to make purchases – it has 125 million customers in more than 190 countries.

“You shop offline more than you shop online, but in most of these transactions mobile is involved now,” says Mr Marcus.

“As the offline market is 17 times bigger than the online market, there is still huge untapped potential for us.”

The key driver for this has been the way in which customers are increasingly using phones, tablets and other handheld devices to make purchases.

Last year, PayPal recorded $145 billion (£95bn) in total transactions, of which $14 billion were via mobile devices, says Mr Marcus.  “But the year before it was less than $4 billion.

All of which should be welcome news for those of us who continually have to email our online retailers for new passwords, because we’ve forgotten the one we asked them for the last time we tried to buy something from them.

Raspberry Pi and small computers encourages new engineers

March 01, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Customer Service, Dr Search, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

The Raspberry Pi has announced that more than a million of them have been sold since orders started being accepted on 29 February 2012.Raspberry Pi and small computers encourages new engineersIn the same way that people buy a smartphone to browse on the move, if they want to try their hand at coding, they opt for the Raspberry Pi or one of its rivals.

The prices of these small form factor machines varies widely but all these gadgets can, with a little help from a few add-ons and peripherals, do anything that used to require the services of a fully functioning, and quite hefty, desktop PC. They start at just £23.

There were two main reasons for the emergence of small PCs- one aesthetic and one technical.

The aesthetic reason was that computers had begun emerging from spare rooms and box-rooms and were taking up residence in living rooms. In some of those cases, people did not want a “beige box” squatting on their carpet, he said. Far better to have something small and unobtrusive.

Those machines being used in front rooms and other places were not “replacements” for the family PC but “were going where the need was felt”.

The technical trend is linked to the driving force of the computer world: Moore’s Law.

Coined by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, this economic law states that the number of transistors that can be placed on a chip for the same cost will double roughly every two years. More transistors in a smaller space typically translates to more power.

Chip development, memory density and a host of other technological innovations meant that now small does not mean puny.

It’s matured thanks to the growing move to portable computing, which emphasised low power components.

Less power going in means less heat coming out and removes the need for fans and other devices to cool the hot chips and other components doing all the hard work.

Many of the components found in small form factor PCs were more commonly found in phones, tablets or laptops.

For instance, the chip at the heart of the Raspberry Pi is more usually found in a handset. Similarly, hard drives and other components used in small machines from Dell, Apple and many others were initially developed for use in laptops.

Increasingly, PC box shifters relied on Intel and other component makers to do the innovation for them. This reduced their risk and left them less exposed should they back a trend that did not catch on with consumers.