Tag Archive | "competition"

Luma Camera logo

Instagram Snaps Up Luma

Mobile video startup Luma Camera has been purchased by Instagram, the company announced yesterday. It’s yet another sign that the rivalry between Facebook’s Instagram and Twitter’s Vine is heating up.

Luma Camera logo

Luma created a mobile app for capturing and sharing videos that used proprietary image-stabilization technology. The company said the app will continue to be supported through Dec. 31, but is no longer available for new downloads. TechCrunch, which first reported the sale, explains Luma’s technology in more detail.

Twitter’s Vine, meantime, announced in a tweet this week that its mobile video app has reached 40 million users and continues to grow, despite the formidable competition it got this summer when Instagram launched a competing short video feature for mobile phones.

Twitter launched Vine in January as an iPhone app which allows users to shoot videos of up to six seconds and automatically loops them to play over and over. Instagram’s videos, by contrast, can be up to 15 seconds long.


  • Instagram video tutorial
  • Vine video tutorial
Source: About.com

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Pandora to Ditch 40-hour Listening Cap on Free Mobile Music Streaming

Good news for Pandora listeners. That 40-hour-per-month listening cap that was announced back in February is being lifted so you can start enjoying unlimited music streaming once again starting on September 1st.

The cap announced six months ago was actually the second one Pandora put in place in order to cope with increasing royalty costs. CFO Mike Herring said that other cost-controlling techniques like skip limits have allowed the company to lift the listening cap, and improved relationships with advertisers mean that those unlimited free listening hours can still be monetized.

  • List of apps for music streaming

When the second cap was announced earlier this year, Herring noted that listening usage dropped by around 10 percent. While he doesn’t expect a massive spike in listening hours once the cap is removed for the second time, usage is hoped to increase.

Pandora is one of the top Internet Radio services online today, but with Apple’s iTunes Radio moving into its territory along with other popular music streaming services like Songza, and even paid apps like Spotify and Rdio, it’s unclear whether or not Pandora will be able to keep its top spot among the competition.

Photo © Pandora Media, Inc.

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Will You Get “Slammed” by Obamacare?

A reader writes:

I am scared to death of Obamacare and what it means to me and my family. So far, the promise of lower premiums is not happening in my state because of lack of competition. I expect to get slammed the first of the year, according to everything I’m hearing. I will find out soon enough what the damage is.

Actually, you can find out now. Get familiar with the health care exchanges. You can find out today what subsidies you might be eligible for. You can also see if your insurance plan provides the 10 essential health benefits mandated by the Affordable Care Act.  Find out all the deadlines in When Does Obamacare Start?

As for what happens to you in January, it all depends on your current income. Here’s a way to estimate now what you will pay with Obamacare if you purchase insurance through the exchanges. How Can I Get an Estimate of My Costs Now?

Related Articles

  • How to Get Obamacare
  • How Does Obamacare Work?
  • 5 Obamacare Definitions You Need to Know


Source: About.com

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Will You Get “Slammed” by Obamacare?

A reader writes:

I am scared to death of Obamacare and what it means to me and my family. So far, the promise of lower premiums is not happening in my state because of lack of competition. I expect to get slammed the first of the year, according to everything I’m hearing. I will find out soon enough what the damage is.

Actually, you can find out now. Get familiar with the health care exchanges. You can find out today what subsidies you might be eligible for. You can also see if your insurance plan provides the 10 essential health benefits mandated by the Affordable Care Act.  Find out all the deadlines in When Does Obamacare Start?

As for what happens to you in January, it all depends on your current income. Here’s a way to estimate now what you will pay with Obamacare if you purchase insurance through the exchanges. How Can I Get an Estimate of My Costs Now?

Related Articles

  • How to Get Obamacare
  • How Does Obamacare Work?
  • 5 Obamacare Definitions You Need to Know


Source: About.com

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Google Glass Hackathon Offers Games and Glimpses into Future of Collaboration

From Friday to Sunday in the SOMA district of San Francisco, techie workspace rental firm Citizen Space hosted a Google Glass Hackathon. The event held there turned out to be the largest gathering of Glass Explorers (the name Google gives those who have purchased Glass) to date,. some 30 or so Glass-wearing futurists donated their hardware to the competition. They were joined by developers for the three-day competition, and together the group turned out an impressive 17 unique apps for businesses and consumers alike.

The victors of the three-day hackathon were an ingenious team that made Frogger for Glass. Their winning app incorporated Glass’ accelerometer, which turned your physical movement into the game controls. Hopping moves your frog forward across the road in Frogger Glass. A programming choice that wowed the audience during final presentations and had them downloading the app afterwards. Second place went to Plant Something, an augmented reality app which allows you and other Glass wearers to grow virtual plants at real locations. Third place went to Connected Glass, which was a platform that allowed developers to create peer to peer connectivity with Glass and your other mobile devices so you could control Glass through your smartwatch or smartphone.


Even though they didn’t take away a prize, there were other teams that were equally impressive. Standouts included Vitals on Glass, whose team brought to the drawing board one of the more ambitious and marketable apps with a medical hack. The Vitals on Glass app displays vital signs data from surgical patients wearing a ViSi mobile wireless monitor to a surgeon wearing Glass.This fully operational software taps into the fast-growing remote and wireless patient monitoring market, which is expected to double by 2016.

The second standout of the weekend was Powercast, a hack for displaying and controlling PowerPoint presentations using Glass and Google’s new $35 Chromecast device. Darshan Shankar presented his final version of Powercast, and the results were stunning: Shankar showed how he could view a Powerpoint on his Glass or on an external monitor or screen with a Chromecast inserted into it, as well as move around the slides by swiping his Glass or wirelessly-connected smartphone. The problem with this? Chromecast’s SDK is still in Beta and developers aren’t supposed to be hacking it just yet. Shankar’s chances of winning may have been hindered because he created a hack that he can’t go out and market yet. Still, he explained it was only a matter of time before the ban was lifted and he could spread Powercast to the Glass masses.

And that seemed to be a key deciding factor at the hackathon. The winning hacks were not only fully operational and utilized more parts of Glass than just the display, but were also immediately accessible. Glass Frogger already has a website up and running for people to download the game on Glass and other mobile devices. So while the future was on display, the future that was immediately accessible was rewarded.

While Frogger stole the show, Vitals and Powercast do show immense promise in bringing Glass to industries as a tool when it becomes available next year. While Google wants Glass to revolutionize consumer tech, it’s hard to imagine non-early adopters to latch onto such futurism. Reports of it being goofy looking and an intrusion of privacy make it a hard sell. However industries are jumping onto the Glass developer bandwagon.

Glass wouldn’t be the first consumer marketing tech to find more love in business. Microsoft’s Kinect had a lukewarm reception among gamers, but has become popular outside of that world: whether it’s to turn it into a 3d scanner, to train a robot to be a jedi, or improve a nuclear power plant’s safety. In fact the healthcare field was one of the first to jump onto the Kinect bandwagon, something that we’re seeing with Glass. Vitals on Glass isn’t the only team who thinks Glass could have a future saving lives, and certainly won’t be the last. And Powercast is tapping into a predicted trend of hands-free tech in the workplace. Even if the general public balks at Glass, hackathons and industries will bring it to the forefront of the future as a cutting edge tool. Which means someday soon you may have the pleasure of downloading the One-X app for Glass.

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Which Big Brother Jury Member Do You Want to Return to the Game?

On Thursday night we’re in for another Big Brother 15 twist as one of the jury members will return to the game. A competition will be held to determine which one of the four will be coming back. This type of twist has been done before, but never so late in the game.

Since we don’t know for sure who will be evicted before this competition takes place, I’ve included both Helen and Spencer in the poll.

Let’s just hope that whoever returns will actually make some sort of difference to the game itself instead of returning and then walking right back out the door next week. Big Brother hasn’t had a lot of success in the returning player department so far after all.

Source: About.com

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‘Top Model’ Guys and Girls Makeovers

'America's Next Top Model' Cycle 20 Guys and Girls Models

Tonight’s episode of America’s Next Top Model is must-see-TV, as it features one of the most anticipated episodes of the season: the makeovers.

Every cycle, ANTM contestants are given Tyra Banks approved makeovers. As soon as the hairdressers arrive the drama begins. Usually one girl refuses to cut her hair or accept the suggested styling. Others can’t stop crying about their new looks.

This year offers a new twist because Cycle 20 (Guys and Girls edition) pits men and women against each other in the model competition.

So how will the guys respond to their makeovers?

The makeovers are often a pivotal moment on Top Model and many girls have been given their walking papers because of how they responded to their new looks.

In particular, models have reacted poorly when their long hair gets chopped off. Even though they should see it as a compliment. Tyra always saves the most drastic cuts (i.e. shaved bald) for models with the fiercest features.

My advice–including to “accept your makeover with grace”–in How to Become America’s Next Top Model still holds true even though it was written with the traditional female models in mind.

Spoiler Alert. If you want to get a sneak peak at the makeovers, check out these before and after photos of America’s Next Top Model Cycle 20 finalists.

Photo © CW.

Source: About.com

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‘Top Model’ Guys Raise Ratings

America's Next Top Model logoSo far, it looks like America’s Next Top Model is on the right track with it’s new cycle, the Guys and Girls Edition.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the two-hour 20th cycle premiere had 1.6 million viewers, the reality show’s best season premiere ratings since 2011. It even gave the CW its best Friday numbers in more than a year.

This season’s war of the sexes is just the latest attempt to revive Top Model‘s ratings.  Cycle 19′s “College Edition,” represented a complete overhaul of the modeling competition following the firing of three longtime cast members.

Top Model has positioned the inclusion of male models as an opportunity to “explore” the impact of gender on the modeling experience. But so far it seems more a chance to photographs half naked men.

Not that I’m complaining.

America’s Next Top Model airs Fridays on CW at 9/8 Central.

Photo © CW

Source: About.com

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Hey Avaya! – WTF!

This Avaya CONNECTED Blog
is also available as an MP3 Audio File

A few weeks back, my colleague Guy Clinch, mentioned in his Avaya Connected Blog that there were some folks out there, that were spreading rumors that Avaya was exiting the Public Safety Business. While this is in no way true whatsoever, the rumor has persisted, and there are still a few jilted lovers out there that are trying to capitalize on it.

iStock_000002919063Small.jpgFortunately, Avaya operates in a true open ecosystem, and we have nothing to hide in our solutions and integration. On the other hand there are plenty of “wanna be” folks out there, that are banking on cops being cops, and not IT folks. But treating the Public Safety IT professional like a unknowing teenager going to the mechanic for the first time, is a dangerous game to play. “Sounds like you got a Sperry shaft going bad there, I’d get that replaced before it effects the springer valves and forces you to replace the whole hydraulic Gleason valve! Good thing I can do that for you for about $1500 . . . .cash”

Lipstick on the Pig
There has always been a fair level of mystique around Emergency Networks, but their operation is actually quite simplistic. Generation X has grown up around the internet, and understands technology much better than the Baby Boomers. This is why RFAI never really took off for NG9-1-1. All it did was deliver yesterday’s outdated ANI/ALI over an IP interface. Not much value there, just like you haven’t seen many Rotary Dial IP Phones.

Over the years that Avaya has been involved in public safety, both on the Nortel and the Avaya side of the house, one of the main FUD points (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) that was used by the competition was that “you don’t want a commercial call center answering critical life safety communications. That stuff is great if you’re selling insurance policies online, but were talking about people’s lives here!”

That is absolutely true; at least the part that says “we’re talking about people’s lives here”. You see, Avaya has been at the heart of the contact center business for decades, since it’s inception really, and in fact has been the primary developers of many of the current Work Force Optimization enhancements being deployed today. We took “Call Centers” and made them “Contact Centers” adding in database integration, we took those and made them “Collaboration Centers” bringing in multi-media and realtime communications. We have taken the worlds largest, most critical networks, hardened them, flattened them, and delivered resilient and reliable communications well beyond the 5 9′s demanded by many. Adding in multi-media communications like video, text and speech analytics that have taken these high volume collaboration environments to the next level. So while the legacy Public Safety vendors try to figure out, for the first time ever, how to get this done, Avaya has been quietly tweaking it’s existing capabilities to improve the workflow of Public Safety critical communications.

I’ll be the first to agree that typical call center telephone calls are about account balance inquiries and package delivery expectations or frequent flyer bonus mile programs are nowhere near as critical as someone having a heart attack or reporting their home is on fire. But at the same time, Avaya solutions understand how to deal with these ‘mass call events’ that often cripple the existing 9-1-1 network because of it’s poor point to point design. Utilizing advanced analytics of the additional data and contextual information delivered with a caller, intelligent routing choices can now be made utilizing the resources available in the network. Precious seconds previously wasted making routing and resource decisions manually will become a ting of the past, and the exact reason why a hardened communications infrastructure is absolutely critical at the core of any life safety communications network.

In the communications world, we measure a systems functionality, or horsepower, iStock_000019923878XSmall.jpgwith a rating called BHCC, or Busy Hour Call Completion. This is a measurement of how many calls a system can handle, assuming unlimited trunking, from a processor horsepower perspective. During the years of the “PBX Wars”, a systems BHCC was touted like a professional wrestler shows off his championship belt prior to a match.

As systems grew in size, Avaya and Nortel, used to slug it out each and every year trying to bump that number as high as it would go. The last I checked, the BHCC rating was an amazing 400,000.

Why is this important to public safety? That’s a simple question to answer, and a statistic you wont find published by the others. You see the latest trend, in what I categorize as “boutique PSAP providers”, is to include in their solution an IP-based PBX handling the call processing. Primarily, this is done for two reasons: cost and physical footprint.

From a cost perspective anybody can download the Asterisk IP PBX or one of it’s derivatives. It’s available for free on the Internet, and it actually performs quite a few advanced telephony functions. But that is not what worries me. My concern is that, since it is open source code, hackers on the planet can also have this same software on their laptop, and in their labs, and on the top of their list of sites that they want to try to penetrate. Also, if you can even find it, the BHCC rating is measured at about 100, compared to a resilient and reliable call processing platform measured at 400,000 BHCC. That’s a huge difference

With that, I’ll turn the question right around to those in the industry slinging FUD. “Would you want open sourced software that has been around for more than a decade in the hacker community running the middle core network of your emergency communications system?” Would you want that system to drop to it’s knees with as little as 100 simultaneous calls pumped into it?

Given the recent headlines where 9-1-1 systems have been failing and off line recently, I would think that most legislators and their voters would have a slight problem with that. To compound that problem, vendors are not able to hide behind a veil of secrecy. Tomorrow’s next generation emergency communications systems will have to be connected intelligently to the public network in order to retrieve all of this multi media rich information that will be coming down the pipe.

Consolidation is nothing to be feared
Emergency communications topologies are going to radically change with the deployment of NG9-1-1 networks. One major change that will happen, that is terrifying to many network administrators, is the dreaded “consolidation” of networks. Typically that gets people running for the hills, collecting ammunition for their shotguns, digging trenches and hunkering down for a long dragged out fight.

However in public safety, consolidation can actually be a very good thing. When a disaster hits, it will typically always be larger than what you can handle. And whether you have to bring in additional personnel from home, call them in off of patrol on the streets, or utilize the services of other agencies that are close by, you have a problem with communication over disparate systems, accountability, and a network nightmare to try to manage.

Since the early 1980s, the Internet has existed, and has been open for nearly everyone to connect with everyone else. While we all started off with just a few emails per day, we quickly became immersed in our communications, and added in new modalities such as instant messaging, videoconferencing, and any other peer to peer communication session you can think of. From a networking perspective, the core companies of Avaya and Nortel pretty much built the Internet backbone. It’s a technology that is directly in our wheelhouse, and we lead the industry in thought leadership around new technologies like Shortest Path Bridging. In fact during the world’s largest temporary networking event, INTEROP Las Vegas, the INTEROP Net core was running all on Avaya gear.

More than just the back room
While INTEROP was certainly cool, and the Avaya network operated flawlessly in a real time communications environment, the 9-1-1 center of the future, it’s going to require much more diligent call handling, or what we call skills -based routing to effectively deal with traffic into the system.

Most centers don’t have this problem today as the typical emergency call center is only 2 to 4 positions. In the small environments you don’t have the large mass of call takers with specific capabilities, in a small center it’s just you and a couple of other people. “Hey Susan, grab the stolen bicycle report on line 2. I’ve got a medical dispatch I’ve got to give to Barbara, and I’ve got an active shooter call.

NG9-1-1 is much more than texting to 9-1-1 and getting that message to the dispatcher. It’s about upgrading and advancing the public safety network so that “virtual consolidations” can happen at a moments notice, based on dynamic events and needs. It’s about taking the intelligence available in the network, as well as from the origination and points, and using that big data to make intelligent call handling decisions.

One of the best examples that I can give, and one that was acknowledged by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai during the FCC super storm Sandy hearings in New Jersey and New York City, is that while calls to 9-1-1 were failing, as the system quickly became overloaded, you could pick up the very same telephone, and reach the airlines to check on the status of your flight as well as available options.

It’s a lot more than answering your call in the exact order it was received.
It’s about providing situational awareness at multiple levels.
It’s about using that situational awareness to make either automated, or manually assisted decisions when there is too much data to process manually and mentally.

It’s why we designed computers to begin with. Not to replace us, but to help us by enhancing our decision-making capabilities. That’s what next-generation 9-1-1 is REALLY about.

Want more Technology, News and Information from Avaya? Be sure to check out the Avaya Podcast Network landing page at http://avaya.com/APN . There you will find additional Podcasts from Industry Events such as Avaya Evolutions and INTEROP, as well as other informative series by the APN Staff.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading the Avaya CONNECTED Blog on E9-1-1, I value your opinions, so please feel free to comment below or if you prefer, you can email me privately.

Public comments, suggestions, corrections and loose change is all graciously accepted ;-)
Until next week. . . dial carefully.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Fletch911


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Next Generation 9-1-1 is quickly becoming more and more of a reality in the Public Safety world each and every day, and many of the industry technology partners are asking Avaya “WTF?” you know . . . “What are The Facts?”

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Coca-Cola Homepage

7 Secret Coca-Cola Formulas to Successful Content Marketing

Here at Avaya, we’re focused on helping you be more successful today than you were yesterday. To that end, we’re constantly searching for insights to share with you about current business trends in communication, social media and the way technology is improving the bottom line.

This past week, Avaya’s social media team in Santa Clara spent the afternoon at BlogWell, a one-day conference for communication professionals sharing best practices and emerging trends. Speakers included executives at Coca-Cola, Whole Foods, Intel, Xerox, Citrix and others.

Coca-Cola, in particular, stood out as a company pushing the envelope on social media and branded editorial content. Coke recently revamped its corporate homepage, and is focusing its efforts on hiring journalists to help them produce a daily digital magazine. The effort is less than a year old, and is already yielding positive results.

Coca-Cola Homepage

The company’s stock chart and mission statement are buried elsewhere on the site, which instead offers up video on Tom Brokaw’s life tips for teenagers, a feature piece on a cold water surfing town in British Columbia and elevator etiquette. This content is wrapped in red and white, under the banner of Coca-Cola Journey, the company’s 9-month-old experiment in digital publishing.

So what’s driving Coke’s resurgent interest in editorial content?

The company is embracing its role as a storyteller, said Ashley Callahan, Coca-Cola’s manager of digital communications and social media.

“We’re building a network of [Coca-Cola Journey] editors,” Callahan said. “We really think of Coca-Cola like an international news market with bureaus. We’re based in Atlanta, but we’re in 207 countries. We have a lot of public affairs and communications folks in all of those markets, so we’re meeting with them and relying on them to tell us what stories they have, what stories we should be sharing and telling, and in response, sharing our stories as well.”

She offered up 7 major strategies her team employs when creating original content:

#1: It’s not always an article

Corporate blogs can be a little dry, with an endless parade of articles touting new products and features. Coca-Cola’s products don’t change much, so their content team had to look beyond traditional articles: Adopting photo slideshows, videos, infographics, songs and other bite-sized content packages designed to be shared socially.

“Just as long as it’s interesting and tells a story and draws the viewer in,” Callahan said. “Many times, the content is there and the real challenge is to craft it and create something interesting. We like to say, ‘Take the ordinary and make it extraordinary.’”

#2: Apply the water cooler test

Ask yourself, does this story grip me on a personal level? Callahan asked the audience to consider whether the story was so compelling they’d tell their friends and family about it.

The water cooler test is a related idea: How would you tell a coworker the story over the water cooler? If the story makes you want to go to sleep, chances are, you won’t do a great job getting your readers excited about it, either.

“If you think you’d still share it with a friend or family member, you probably have a good piece of content and should keep pursuing it,” Callahan said.

#3: Surprise sells

“A lot of times, writing is boring,” Callahan said. “It’s very predictable. We kind of know what’s going to happen. So I always ask people in our company to try to react to things as a human being and not so much as an employee. Is there something surprising that caught you off guard?”

The best stories, Callahan said, teach us something new, or cause us to think about the world in a new way. Writing surprising truths is an ambitious goal for Coca-Cola’s writing team, and Callahan makes sure to capitalize on it whenever she sees those truths cross her desk.

#4: Make data-driven decisions

More than 1 million people per month visit Coca-Cola Journey, roughly one out of four doing so on a mobile device. In the 9 months since the new site launched, people have consumed 23.8 million pages of content, shared that content 54,000 times and left 8,500 comments.

The company tracks those metrics through the Brightspot content management system, Google Analytics, Gigya and other proprietary tools to deliver something it calls the Expression of Interest score–studying, essentially, the popularity of specific topics.


Callahan and her team watch their metrics like an online news organization, tweaking coverage to reflect their readers’ interests. When they began tracking metrics, they found the top inbound search term was “Coca-Cola cake,” linking to a recipe containing 6 tablespoons of Coca-Cola.

Inbound search terms also gives her marketing team information about what people are actually interested in, helping them make informed decisions about new campaigns.

#5: Own the medium

Coca-Cola is a massive company–it estimates it sells 1.8 billion servings of beverages every day worldwide–and it has a lot of stories to tell.

Before the advent of the Internet, the company relied on traditional news reporters to tell those stories.

With Coca-Cola Journey, the company instead controls the medium and the message, which goes out to more than a million people per month. Sustained, creative social media campaigns help Coca-Cola grow that audience on a daily basis.

The company’s internal goal is to triple its readership on Coca-Cola Journey by 2018.

#6: Use that medium to react in a crisis

In late January, the New York Times published a guest opinion article by American history professor Grace Elizabeth Hale entitled “When Jim Crow Drank Coke.” The article claimed Coca-Cola avoided marketing to black Americans in the early 20th century, and only did so after facing renewed competition from Pepsi.

Callahan said the company reacted quickly to this emerging brand crisis, asking their chief historian to respond on Coca-Cola Journey.

“The lengths taken by Dr. Grace Elizabeth Hale to try to link the history of America’s favorite and most inclusive drink–Coca-Cola–to racism are both absurd and appalling,” Coca-Cola Chief Historian Phil Mooney wrote the next day.

Mooney’s response garnered media attention, resulting in links back to the company’s website.

#7: Think like a newsroom

Roughly half of Callahan’s team has a journalism background, and they apply traditional editorial standards and ethics in their work. Callahan is a journalist herself, having worked as a television reporter in North Carolina, Salt Lake City and Atlanta before joining Coca-Cola in early 2012.

The traditional measures journalists use to weigh a story’s importance–chiefly, does it educate and delight–are directly applicable in the world of content marketing, she said.

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