Tag Archive | "News"

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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Best iOS apps for August 2013

Top 5 Stock Market Apps for iOS

Best iOS apps for August 2013I found some great stock market apps for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. These apps help with managing your portfolio, researching stock picks and getting real time market news. Some have technical analysis features and let you do virtual trading try out investment strategies. Check out my iOS apps of month for August, 2013:

  • StockWatch for iPhone
  • Real-time Stock Tracker + Alert
  • StockTouch for iOS
  • Thomson Reuters News Pro for iOS
  • Stock Wars – Virtual Investing
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Boston_App.jpg

Government Thought Leadership with Bill Schrier

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


While attending the 79th Annual APCO Expo and Conference in Annaheim, California, I had the opportunity to sit down with industry thought leader, Bill Schrier, (@BillSchrier)who is now with the Office of the CIO for the State of Washington. Washington has been a progressive state with technology, and Bill drove much of that Thought Leadership during his tenure there.

FLETCH: Hey, it’s Fletch with the Avaya Podcast Network and we’re here at APCO in Anaheim, California. We’re sitting down with someone that I follow quite a bit on Twitter and the ‘websphere’ and that’s Bill Schrier who is now with the Office of the CIO with the State of Washington.
Welcome to the podcast, Bill.

BILL: Thank you, Fletch. Glad to be here.

FLETCH: It’s absolutely an honor for me to finally sit down with you after all these years. We talk from time-to-time but this is a great opportunity to get some really interesting stuff out there. Next Gen 9-1-1 is happening. The conference at APCO is all about Next Gen 9-1-1 and you and I were just talking about Next Generation 3-1-1 and how those applications might actually be paving the road for what we’re going to be doing in public safety.

BILL: Absolutely right. There’s a ton of exciting stuff that’s going on with 3-1-1 around the country. Of course, 3-1-1 is not universal. There are only larger cities and counties I think have it but nevertheless, 3-1-1 is kind of paving the way for Next Generation 9-1-1 and it’s use of applications, video and images.

FLETCH: And we’ve talked about Boston for example. They’re using an app to report potholes, right? So that’s taking data from the cellphone, that’s additional data, something that we’re talking about and it’s putting that information into the 3-1-1 center.

BILL: That’s right. I forgot the name of the Boston app actually that actually uses the accelerometer in the iPhone so it knows if you’re going over a pothole and then tries to report it. Boston’s also got something called Citizen Connect and the Citizen Connect interface is directly with their 3-1-1 System. Citizen Connect is where you can, as a citizen in Boston, I take a photograph for example of a missed garbage pickup or downed stop sign or a dead animal on the street or a street light out, send the photograph into a report and it goes right into Boston’s Constituent Relationship Management System and then can be dispatched to city workers. So Citizen Connect is kind of a cool app as well.

Boston_App.jpg

FLETCH: So you could also start tracking metrics, which I think is really important. If you’re going to have an app, you’ve got to track the metrics.

BILL: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, I think we need to get to with things like Citizen Connect with 3-1-1. It’s just like tracking a package for FedEx or UPS where you actually know the date timestamp of when the call came in, when it was triaged, when it was dispatched to a crew, when the crew got there, when the thing was fixed and then you’ve even sent an email or somehow otherwise contact the citizen and say, “Is it really fixed and was it fixed to your satisfaction?”

FLETCH: You were the CTO for the City of Seattle. What do you think was your biggest accomplishment there?

BILL: Well I think one of the biggest accomplishments was open data. We actually have that at Seattle now and Seattle was one of the first cities who actually do this, something called Data.Seattle.Gov and we’ve put out a whole bunch of data sets. We’ve exposed government data, data that the governments are collecting about building permits or crimes or 9-1-1 calls or whole hosts of other things on Data.Seattle.Gov for anyone to see.

FLETCH: That’s what Next Generation is really becoming all about, the big data. We’re looking at lots and lots of big data. One thing that came out just recently right here at Southern California was the big data that they looked at around 9-1-1 calls and the accuracy of the location on that. Did you happen to see that report?

BILL: No. I didn’t actually.

FLETCH: The CalNENA Chapter actually used Public Safety Networks, and what they did was they collected all of the call data from Cellular 9-1-1 calls and whether they received Phase I or Phase II data at the end of the call. And what they showed over the last 2 years a decrease in location accuracy mainly because of the saturation of cellphones and people making calls inside the buildings. The report didn’t cover that, that’s my assumption based on the data. But this is a perfect example where we’ve got to start looking at this big data. It’s more than just, “9-1-1 What is your emergency?”

BILL: Yeah. Absolutely right. Especially when you consider the fact that not only is your iPhone or Smartphone potentially a huge data collector for a number of different data points. But vehicles are getting automated as well. Vehicles already collect a lot of data although it isn’t necessarily stored but what’s going on in the vehicle. But the National Transportation Safety Board just a couple of weeks ago started to publicly push car manufacturers to collect a lot more data and actually create connected vehicle networks where vehicles might talk to each others as they’re driving down the street to help improve traffic safety.

FLETCH: What you have right now is the information the telematics that OnStar can to collect from your vehicle when you overturn in the median. The DeltaV, what occupants were sitting etc., I heard they [the DOT] could predict, based on some studies, with 80% accuracy what the injuries are. Imagine getting that data right through the ESI Network, the Next Gen 9-1-1 Network to the Healthcare System; Fire up the helicopter, and get Dr. Bob off the golf course. That’s one of the use cases that I talk about for Next Gen 9-1-1. Again, all focused on big data.

BILL: Exactly. As a matter of fact, Kevin McGinnis as you might know is on the First Responder Network Authority, a FirstNet Board Member, will describe that in detail when he’s talking. How that could vastly improve EMS especially in rural areas where it might take 20 minutes for the accident to actually be discovered and then 20 minutes or 30 minutes for the ambulance or the medic unit to actually get there.

FLETCH: Yeah. You know rural America really is a problematic area for public safety for those exact reasons. They don’t have the population therefore they don’t have the technology and that just puts people at risks. So now, if you live in a big city here in a high rise, your cellphone doesn’t work for 9-1-1 yet, everybody is dropping their wired landline. So you can see where this is beginning to be a really big problem and we need a little more guidance on it.
What are you doing for the State of Washington now? You are with the Office of the CIO?

BILL: Well, I’m the FirstNet point of contact which means that I will actually work with police and fire chiefs and mayors and utility directors not just in State Agencies but across the state to help prepare for FirstNet construction in the state. Another significant job I’ve got is with Data.WA.Gov, the open data set for Washington State which has got 500 or 600 data sets and I’m trying to evangelize putting more government data out or open that data up. And that actually could be just a grasp for the application developers to develop apps to actually better show citizens what’s happening with their state government.

FLETCH: And there’s a lot going on with data here at APCO too you mentioned?

BILL: Yes. As a matter of fact, tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday afternoon and this isn’t a common knowledge yet but will be by the time the Podcast is broadcast, APCO is going to host the Data Jam. So APCO has actually invited developers and they’ve actually worked with Whitehouse Office of Science and Technology Policy on this. They are inviting developers from around the region here in Southern California to come to a Data Jam and actually look at some of these open data sets from across the country and see what sort of applications they might be able to design or develop. They would better expose public safety information either the responders or the citizens.

FLETCH: Really cool stuff. You know, we’re kind of really lucky. You and I got to watch the Telecommunications Industry grow and explode, we’ve got to watch the internet grow and explode and now we’re watching Next Generation Emergency Services grow and explode. It’s really some exciting times and I’m glad to know you Bill, and I really appreciate you sitting down with me. You always have a great view of the world as its going and I find you very, very interesting.

BILL: Thank you, Fletch. It’s very enjoyable to be with you today.


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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Instagram Wants Third-party Apps to Take ‘Insta’ and ‘Gram’ Out of Their Names

Instagram is stepping up to defend its popular brand name. The mobile photo sharing app recently updated its brand guidelines letting app developers know that they are now banned from from using the words “insta” and “gram” in their own app names.

Instagram has already started sending out email messages to “insta” and “gram” app developers with a request to change their names. The updated brand guidelines also require that the Instagram logo cannot be modified in any way, or fully used to represent another app.

This is not great news for popular insta-whatever or something-gram apps that have thousands or even millions of users. There are tons of extremely popular apps out there — like Instacanvas and Webstagram — which have been using these words right from the beginning to build their own brand, but this is the type of thing that can happen when you build an app that is almost entirely dependent on the users and activity from another popular app or social network.

You can read Instagram’s fully updated brand guidelines right here.

Photo © Getty Images

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Fun with Supply and Demand, Oil Prices Edition…

Contrary to what some people appear to think, gas prices are not set by politicians and are instead the result of the forces of supply and demand. This is good news in a lot of ways, but it’s also bad news when the supply is in fact determined by often unstable political regimes.
Source: About.com


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Facebook Tweaks its News Feed

Once again Facebook is changing the news feed seen by more than a billion users worldwide.

The network announced two changes this month. The first gives older stories a second chance at being viewed in someone’s news feed if they missed it the first time it was shown because they didn’t scroll down far enough. The second gives greater weight to each user’s 50 most recent interations on Facebook when deciding what to show in their stream of updates.

The changes may seem contradictory because one emphasizes recency while the other de-emphasizes it, but they are designed to work together, and both highlight the growing complexity of the algorithm Facebook uses to decide what to show people.

Perhaps most interesting were the statistics Facebook released profiling a typical news feed:

  • At any given time a user visits Facebook, they typically have 1,500 items from friends– posts, photos, actions taken and so forth — eligible to be shown in their feed.

  • Facebook typically selects only 300 of those items to include in the feed; the rest get hidden.
  • Before the latest two changes, people, on average, only read 57 percent of the stories/posts they were shown, and missed 43 percent of them.

The changes are designed to increase the number of stories people read, Facebook said. You can read the official announcement in the company’s blog for business, or check out this history of the Facebook news feed for perspective on how it’s evolved.

Source: About.com


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Public Safety Networks Report

E911 Location Failures – What’s up?

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


The popular belief is:

[When you dial 911, your call ends up in a massive modern control room like environment that could be easily mistaken for NASA with all the latest bells and whistles that tells the 911 call taker exactly who you are, what you're calling about, and your precise location]

Right?

Well, that might be the way it works on TV and in the movies, but the fact of the matter is the majority of 911 centers or PSAPs in the United States (about 80% of them in fact according to NENA) are only 2 to 4 answering positions. While the large “mega-centers” do exist in cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, they are certainly the smallest percentage.

Likewise there’s a mass misperception by the general public on the technology that a 911 call taker has at their fingertips. To those of my readers that are in the industry, it’s no great secret that the only “information” that is received on a 911 call is a telephone number, and the local equipment uses that phone number to query the telephone company database for the subscriber information resulting in the address. While that’s technology that is useful for residential fixed endpoints such as land lines where a telephone number equals a physical street address, that method of location discovery is completely useless for a device that is mobile by nature such as a cellular telephone.

Since cellular phones can be used anywhere in the country, when they make a 911 emergency call the number that is displayed initially at the 911 center, is a special number that is actually representative of the tower that is handling the call. This is known as “Phase I” location reporting. This number is called a pANI (pseudo Automatic Number Identification). While this provides the 911 call taker with a very general area that the call is coming from, it is initially used for determining what 911 center needs to get the call. All cellular calls, that’s right ALL OF THEM, initially arrive at the 911 center with Phase I location information.

While the call taker is working the call, about 8 to 15 seconds later, the 911 equipment makes a second query on the pANI number received, and by this time the cellular network should have been able to determine a more precise location of the caller, and returns that information along with subscriber data in what is called Phase II location information. Depending on the technology used to locate the device, the information is also assigned a reliability or accuracy score.

When the planets are all in alignment, and the 911 gods are shining down upon the network, this can produce fairly accurate location information, and in fact the FCC mandates that carriers provide this level of location accuracy on a certain percentage of calls. Now that you have the background information, here’s the earth shattering news that was published earlier this week in a letter to Acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn by CalNENA president Danita L. Crombach, ENP.

The letter cites several alarming factors that came to light after a study of real-time data over a two-year period by public safety analytics company Public Safety Network. The data focused on the amount of cellular phone calls that had received Phase II data by the completion of the call.

The report focused on four areas within the state, San Francisco, San Jose, Bakersfield and Ventura County and noted that statewide, 45% of wireless 911 calls lacked Phase II data, with some areas such as Ventura County lacking that critical location information on more than 50% of the calls. Was it a particular carrier worse than the others? Not really, although some were better and some were worse the problem was consistent across all five major carriers (AT&T, Metro PCS, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon) and the report shows that even under the best scenario accuracy never surpassed 64% in December 2012.

Public Safety Networks Report

There’s quite a bit of speculation why these numbers indicate the problem is getting worse. While no specific hard analytical data was collected to define the root cause of the problem, it’s generally accepted among experts in the industry that to specific phenomena contribute to the problem. The first is the fact that cellular device saturation in the United States is estimated to be at 103%, meaning a device for every person in the country, plus a little. That first factoid directly leads to the second, where people are using their devices more and more inside of buildings and what the report calls “urban canyons”.

iStock_000002375961Small.jpgThe urban canyon actually has two negative effects on cellular location discovery. The first is the fact that GPS signals typically need to be what’s called “line of sight” and therefore do not penetrate steel and concrete rendering them ineffective indoors. The second problem affects the backup location discovery mechanism typically used known as TDOA (Time Delay on Arrival). In layman’s terms, this is the time it took for the signal to travel between the transmitter (the cell phone) and the receiver (the cell tower). Given that radio waves travel at the speed of light, the distance between the two becomes a simple mathematical calculation. Using this information from two or more cellular towers, and old-fashioned radio triangulation can be used to pinpoint a transmitter’s location with surprising accuracy. Unfortunately cellular radio waves “bounce” off of buildings and do not travel in a direct line. These signal reflections, if severe enough, can actually increase the distance traveled skewing the calculation.

Bottom line, more people are carrying cell phones, therefore more people are making 911 calls from their cell phones, and people are within buildings during the work day. Add all of that together, and you come up with a decrease in accuracy statistic. Not because the problem got worse, but because more people are using the problematic method.

Now while this specific report covers California, one would imagine that this same phenomenon exists in every major metropolitan city across the US. So while communication habits have drastically changed with the multitude of smart devices now available at our fingertips, if we’re going to continue to enjoy an accurate level of public safety communications, the Federal Communications Commission is going to need to step in, and as the report states, “issue all necessary orders” to correct this problem.

So just bring this into full circle, if you have an enterprise PBX, and you feel that your cellular phone is a suitable replacement to addressing E911 within the enterprise, based on the information in this report you may want to think that over again.


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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Facebook is Working on Its Own PayPal-like Mobile Payment Service

Mobile ecommerce is growing, and Facebook knows it. The massive social networking site is reportedly testing its very own payment service for mobile in-app purchases, similar to what companies like PayPal, Amazon and Google have started offering in order to satisfy the growing mobile shopping trend.

For the initial testing phase, Facebook has teamed up with men’s fashion site, JackThreads, as its first pilot partner. Customers will be able to access their credit card information stored in their Facebook accounts to make in-app purchases, bringing a one-click solution to mobile online shopping through Facebook and eliminating the need for every customer to plug in every piece of their billing information to place their order.

There’s been no word on whether or not Facebook will expand its pilot test to include more ecommerce partners, or whether it will surely launch publicly in the future. With over one billion active monthly users, there’s no doubt that this is a huge and very lucrative opportunity for Facebook, and if launched, PayPal could most certainly take a direct hit.

After All Things D reported the news first thing this morning, Facebook responded with the following statement: “We continue to have a great relationship with PayPal, and this product is simply to test how we can help our app partners provide a simpler commerce experience. This test does not involve moving the payment processing away from an app’s current provider.”

Photo © Dana Hoff / Getty Images

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PEDs still lost in Dominican translation

Aside from Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, the list of players suspended in the Biogenesis scandal showed that another glaring trend continues. Players from the Dominican Republic are continuing to use performance-enhancing drugs — or at least getting caught — at a much higher average than the typical MLB player. Of the 13 players suspended last week, eight are Dominican. On Opening Day rosters in 2013, Dominican players represented 10.4 percent of the players in the majors. So far in 2013, according to Fox News Latino, 15 of the 44 players suspended for steroids in the minors are Dominican.

It’s not a new story, by any stretch. Just a few years it seemed to be more of a cultural issue, as many of the Dominican minor-leaguers who were hit with suspensions seemed to not know what they were taking, according to a 2009 ESPN.com report. And it’s attributable to a culture where prospects — almost always poor — are desperate to get off the island with a pro contract. They’ll do practically anything to get there with help from their advisers (“buscones”), and steroids are more easily available there than in the United States.

“If I’m going to make millions by putting something in my body, then I’m going to do it. So what if I get suspended 50 games, I just made millions,” said Eduardo Ferreira of the Academia de Beisbol, to the Toronto Star, about the thought process players go through. “The alternative is I stay dirt poor.”

Said author David Fidler to Fox News Latino: “We’ve been making these arguments for years – we need to go after this buscones system hard. … We can’t regulate in the Dominican Republic. But Major League Baseball has the power to tell the teams what to do. They haven’t done it. They’ve dragged their feet.”

The buscones aren’t the only problem, however. The fact that players are still trying to get away with it is perhaps the most troubling aspect of the scandal. Dominican players such as Jhonny Peralta and Nelson Cruz weren’t on the Biogenesis list just trying to get into pro ball. They’re established major leaguers who were looking for their next big contract.

It angers Dominican stars such as David Ortiz — himself fingered for PED use earlier in his career, a charge he denies.

“Dominican players, we are hundreds and hundreds, not just 12. Because they caught some players using PEDs, that means everybody is using it? No. That’s wrong. Everybody makes a choice,” Ortiz said to the Toronto Globe and Mail.

It’s clouded the legacy of Dominican players in baseball as well. The country of 10 million people has the greatest concentration of big-league talent of anyplace in the world. But ranking the top 10 players from the country is difficult these days because of the tarnished legacies of players such as Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramirez and Bartolo Colon.

Cleaning up the process of signing players from the Dominican — perhaps including them in the draft — would seem to help. But this scandal is showing that keeping teenagers away from PEDs certainly isn’t the only uphill battle MLB faces.

Related: Top 10 players all-time from Dominican Republic; Players accused of PED use

Source: About.com


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Two of the five best stock market Android apps for 2013 are JStock and USA TODAY Portfolio Tracker.

Best Stock Market Apps for Android

Two of the five best stock market Android apps for 2013 are JStock and USA TODAY Portfolio Tracker.This month’s picks for the best Android apps are stock market apps.  I’m really impressed with how far these apps have come over the past couple of years, although the hardware that runs them is largely responsible for all the capabilities you’ll get with one or more of these.  Of course, you get quotes (some are real time) and news, but now you can stream video, have access to international exchanges and use technical analysis tools.  Your brokerage may offer a great a app, so these are really best for those who want to consolidate their portfolio information from multiple brokerages in one place, or as a supplement to fill any gaps your brokerage’s app may have.

My picks for the best Android stock market apps for 2013 are:

  • Bloomberg for Smartphone
  • USA TODAY Portfolio Tracker
  • JStock Android – Stock Market
  • TheStreet Mobile
  • Stock Market Live Wallpaper

Image: JStock Android – Stock Market and USA TODAY Portfolio Tracker

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