Tag Archive | "Social"

Shared Photo Albums Are Coming to Facebook

Anyone with a Facebook account has probably experienced the joy of logging in to Facebook and seeing their News Feed plastered with newly uploaded individual photo albums from friends the day after attending a social event. But for some reason, shared photo albums on Facebook haven’t become a thing until now.

Mashable reported on Monday that Facebook users will soon be able to create shared photo albums with up to 50 contributing friends. Each contributor will be allowed to upload a maximum of 200 photos each, meaning that shared photo albums should hold up to 10,000 photos.

Of course, privacy settings will still be manageable on shared photo albums. Albums can be shared with the public, with the friends of each contributor, or just with the contributors themselves.

Facebook has already begun rolling out the new shared photo album feature across English user accounts on Facebook for desktop, and will expand to its roll out to international accounts thereafter.

As of May 2013, it’s been estimated that over 200,000 photos are uploaded to Facebook every minute.

Photo © William Andrew / Getty Images

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Source: About.com

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Instagram, Vine, Netflix and Others Knocked Out by Amazon Server Glitch

It’s a bad day for digital consumers when you aren’t able to spend at least a few minutes mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed, only to find out later that you can’t even watch your favorite TV series on Netflix either. Were you affected by yesterday’s Amazon server issues?

Some of the most popular websites and apps were thrown offline after Amazon Web Services experienced problems around 4 p.m. ET on Sunday. Instagram was among the first to be hit, later followed by Netflix, Vine, Airbnb, IFTTT, Flipboard and several others.

  • Watch Vine videos online with these 7 Vine viewers

Amazon confirmed there was an issue with one of its Virginia-based data centers, and most sites were brought back online after about 30 minutes of downtime. That’s plenty of time for the entire social web to start panicking.

This wasn’t the first time a big chunk of the web had been taken down by Amazon’s cloud-based network, and it likely won’t be the last. If and when it does happen again, take it as an opportunity to shut off your smartphone/laptop/tablet for at least an hour or two and go do something offline.

Photo © Getty Images

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Source: About.com

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Obamacare Card Calls are Scams

Watch out! A flood of scammers are exploiting the national state of confusion over the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – to steal your credit card, Social Security, and bank account numbers.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), consumers need to just hang up on telemarketers claiming to be “from the government” offering “Obamacare cards,” and even threatening jail time for people who do not buy health insurance.

The scammer’s call might go like this:

“Good morning. I’m calling from the government. We’re about to send out national Obamacare medical cards for the new Affordable Care Act. You’re one of the lucky people to get yours first, so I just need to confirm your name, address and phone number. Oh, and your bank account number, too…”

With the information these telephonic goons are trying to get out of you, they can: charge your existing credit cards, steal from your checking account, open new credit card, checking, or savings accounts, write fraudulent checks, or take out loans in your name.

As the FTC warns, “The government and legitimate organizations you do business with already have the information they need and will not ask you for it.” No agency of the federal government makes unsolicited phone calls or sends unsolicited email to citizens.

In a related scam targeting Medicare enrollees, scammers claiming to be “from Medicare” tell consumers that Obamacare requires them to report their personal financial information in order to keep getting benefits. They may even claim that Obamacare is replacing Medicare, which of course, is not true.

The truth is that the Affordable Care Act does not affect the benefits of current Medicare enrollees.

And It Will Only Get Worse

The FTC expects the volume of Obamacare-related scams to grow even larger with the approach of the October 1, 2013 deadline for the opening of the state insurance exchanges required by the Affordable Care Act.

To help uninsured Americans buy insurance from the exchanges, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will employ “navigators” trained to explain coverage options and help consumers get the most affordable policy that will meet their specific health care needs.

The Obama administration has made $54 million in grants available for organizing and training the navigator, who must be trained and certified before being allowed to assist consumers.

However, Lois Greisman, associate director of the FTC’s division of marketing practices told the Washington Post, “What we’re very likely to see is (fake navigators saying), ‘For an upfront fee we can help you,’ but there shouldn’t be an upfront fee, it should be free.”

Greisman told the newspaper the FTC would advise consumers on how tell real navigators from scammers as soon as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services finalized certification standards for navigators.

Also See:
Congress Gets an Obamacare Break
Latest Text Message Scams: Don’t Text Back

Source: About.com

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Simplicity Tops Mid-Year Review of 7 Communication Trends for 2013

Panel of Experts
Reviewing Top 2013 Projections
Sees Simplicity and Customer Experience Driving Transformation

With the first half of the year complete, now is a good time to look back at our December 2012 projections for 2013 Top Communications Trends and see how they have evolved and which are really propelling growth in communications solutions. For each of the last four years a team of Avaya experts has been asked to identify telecom trends for the upcoming year.

As the experts look back on their projections, simplicity and the harnessing of technologies to create the best customer experience are dominating in 2013.

The seven trends called out at the beginning of the year were:

  1. Simplified complexity drives the agenda. Business leaders have widely welcomed the transition from proprietary to open systems as an avenue to reduced costs, streamlined technology environments and exciting new communications capabilities. But simplification hasn’t been such a simple matter for IT departments, which have the job of integrating advanced applications into existing systems.
  2. Video changes business and customer expectations. With each generation of users more exposed to and comfortable with video than the previous one, it is destined to be increasingly integral to daily life. This transition is presenting huge opportunities for businesses to interact with customers, partners and employees in rich new ways.
  3. Real-time analytics help fine-tune the customer experience. Even companies with relatively small contact centers can generate millions of events a day while larger centers can generate billions. Businesses are increasing their investments to tap into this big data.
  4. Businesses face the private-or-public cloud decision. A key question such organizations will consider as they evaluate the potential of the cloud is what type of cloud offering best meets their needs–a public cloud, where they share resources with other enterprises; a private cloud solution which resides within the corporate firewall; or a virtual private cloud, which is a dedicated portion of a public cloud.
  5. Communications support goes proactive. Businesses that invest in communications solutions and underlying support services are more interested in avoiding problems than having them solved. Yet for a variety of reasons, reactive problem solving has been the industry’s support model over time–until now.
  6. Managed services hit an inflection point. Businesses increasingly will forego the expense of in-house IT staff for support purposes, instead turning to managed services providers for those capabilities.
  7. Mobile muscles in. The next productivity boost will come through the integration of unified communications capabilities with mobility to enhance employee collaboration and customer support in new and innovative ways.

In taking a new look at the top seven with half the year behind us, the experts believe that the seven trends for 2013 remain on target, but there are some very interesting insights into how they see them evolving.

In the case of simplified complexity (#1), the experts agreed this trend is very hot and has become more tightly coupled with Cloud (#4) and Managed Services (#6) trends. With enterprise-owned and in-house managed solutions all the solution complexity is owned by the enterprise. By leveraging Managed Services and to a greater degree a Cloud-based offer, solution complexity is pushed off to the services vendor. This frees up the enterprise to focus on core competencies and greatly simplifies their IT infrastructure.

Also becoming more prevalent, in different forms on different continents, is the move towards video, as mentioned in trend #2. Our experts pointed to the rapid adoption of video by retailers to increase reach by using video-enabled kiosks and ATMs that extend the branch experience. In Europe video is now being used to minimize traditional contact center problems, such as language and culture barriers, that might have caused backlash. The language, inflection, and body language that can be conveyed by agents over a video connection have proven much more pleasing to customers than non-native language audio only interactions. Customers are also leveraging video in their personal life with applications, such as Skype and FaceTime. This increasing video familiarity paves the way for leveraging video to better serve customers, proving that a picture can tell a thousand words.

The growth of the real-time analytics trend (#3) is leading many companies to consider a methodical approach to evaluating their own data collected through day-to-day transactions. Once a company starts to see the benefits of effective data mining, they move from low hanging fruit projects to more in-depth initiatives. Contact center owners are moving from ensuring they deal with the sheer quantity of customer interactions to how they maximize the quality of the customer contact across multiple channels (social media, e-mail, video, etc). Detailed real-time analytics enables this move towards quality by diving deeper into the data and parsing details of the customer interaction to truly ensure the customer is happy on multiple levels.

As touched on previously, simplicity is figuring prominently as businesses face the private-or-public-cloud decision trend (#4). As one expert stated, the private or public cloud decision is less a question of choice “but how to implement a cloud solution in an environment (public, private, hybrid) that meets the needs of different parts of a customer’s business.” Smaller-sized companies that can easily move to a cloud model because of their less complicated system/applications are where we have seen the most acceleration. Large companies are still moving to cloud and managed services, but at a slower rate due to the complexity of their infrastructure (many systems integration to a wide array of applications, etc.) leading to greater issues in deciding what moves to a cloud vs. what must stay on site (technical or security issues) .

The trend of communications support going proactive (#5) is one that our company has leveraged to drive increased value to our customers. By embedding intelligent agents in our infrastructure we have been able to greatly enhance the speed and completeness of issue resolution for our customers. At the same time reducing the number of support requests we need to field.

The path to Cloud can have several steps. Each providing increased simplicity for a company. One step is to leverage Managed Services (#6). Driven by demand for better TCO, this trend is one of our most dominant and still going very strong as we venture into the second half of 2013.

Rounding out the top 7 trends of 2013 is mobile which has been on our list for several years and is starting to see maturity in some sub-segments. For several years, companies have been struggling with the delicate balance between rolling out BYOD vs. the security risks and costs that come with a more open mobile architecture. This trend is now maturing to the point that even the most conservative of banks are adopting BYOD policies and some industries such as retail or education have become primarily mobile.

One sub-segment of mobile that is still developing is the use of mobile status to inform effective customer experience management. Contact centers can benefit from knowing the status of the customer they are servicing by providing a different interaction or information based on where their mobile device indicates they are located (e.g. home vs. hospital). While this is a great feature, we are still early in evolution of service providers providing valuable user location. In this space, the team of experts sees a variety of sub-technology trends, including the geotagging of phone calls that leads to routing and prioritization in contact centers.

How do these trends align with how your year is unfolding and what 2014 might offer?

As in previous years, we greatly appreciate your feedback and engaging conversations with our clients, industry analysts and global IT leaders that help drive the next set of trends.

Where do you feel the industry is vs. the 7 Communication Trends for 2013, or other big trends projected for 2013?

Follow me on Twitter Pat_Patterson_V

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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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Retirement Crimes

There was an interesting article in the Washington Post the other day, about a man named Eugene Weatherford who was sentenced to prison and ordered to pay more than $345,000 in fines for illegally cashing the Social Security checks and annuity payments made to his deceased mother. Some people try to get away with that kind of thing for a month or two after the death of a parent, but people soon learn that those funds must be paid back. This guy did it from 1999 to 2012, so he’ll be paying back the money he took, and serving a year plus a day of jail time.

Lately, I have been obsessed with the Netflix original series, Orange is the New Black. (If you aren’t watching it, start! You will be obsessed too.) It’s about a woman who goes to prison for what she believes is a harmless crime committed 10 years ago. After binging on the entire series (OK, binging on the entire series twice), it has me thinking how easy it is to make a stupid decision and get yourself locked up. I’d never given it much thought before, but even people who consider themselves “normal” or “good people” can make questionable calls. Perhaps Weatherford started this scheme because he needed the income and had no other choice, and his greed got the best of him. One thing to know about Social Security: you can’t cheat the system. The Feds mean business.

Source: About.com

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Is Gmail’s New Inbox Hurting Open Rates?

Several weeks ago, I took Friday off to go to Busch Gardens with my daughter and her friend. The only business I needed to attend to was to make sure my email newsletter went out. As I sat by Mach Tower checking my email, I didn’t see the newsletter. I was sure I scheduled it. Had I forgotten to confirm it? That’s when I noticed the option for “Social” and “Promotions” in Gmail. Clicking on promotions, I discovered the newsletter.

My first thought was concern. How many people who use Gmail would notice that the newsletter was sent to the “Promotions” tab? How would that effect the open rates of my newsletter? I went back to check open rates since March and found no significant changes. Whew. Email is such an important part of my business, I worried how this change would impact me. Fortunately, my Gmail subscribers seem to have figured it out and are reading the newsletter as usual.

Still, the change is new enough, that it’s something I’ll continue to monitor. Over at About.com’s Online Business/Hosting, you can read an interview with Denise Keller, COO of Benchmark Email that discusses the possible implications of Gmail’s inbox changes.

What about you? Has the changes in Gmail effected your business?

Source: About.com

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Students Can Now Take Advantage of LinkedIn’s New University Pages

Just in time for the new school year, LinkedIn has announced its new University Pages feature to help connect graduating high school students with appropriate colleges and universities.

Higher educational institutions are now able to set up their own profiles, allowing students to browse through background information, check out what alumni members are doing, explore related career opportunities and join featured groups. Each page is designed to offer prospective students a social network savvy way to match their career interests with the best college or university.

  • How to use LinkedIn

Students will be able to use the page to connect and chat directly with university alumni through their respective University Page. Any student with a LinkedIn account may use it as a helpful tool for answering questions or requesting specific information about a particular program, campus, career path or anything else.

Over 200 colleges and universities have started working on their pages already, which will be operated by their own staff to serve past, current and future students.

Photo: Screenshot of LinkedIn.com

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Skype Logo

Windows 8.1 to Include 20 New Apps Including Skype

Skype LogoMicrosoft’s next rendition of Windows 8 is approaching with 20 new apps including Skype, a popular communications tool.

Skype integration has been a developmental strategy for Microsoft over the past year or so. In the coming year, Skype itself will likely gain improvements as well, particularly for use in organizations.

  • Skype for Windows 8 – What is Skype?
  • What’s All the Skype Hype?
  • Microsoft Lync’s Increased Integration with Skype
  • The New Skype in the Workspace Tool – Free!
  • Check Out Skype Video Messaging for iOS, Android, Mac
  • Social Media and Collaboration Apps for Windows Phone 8

(c) Image Courtesy of Microsoft

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Source: About.com

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King.com discontinuing five titles

Social Gaming On the Rise

Gaming continues to grow more social online, even as the industry has its fits and starts.

King.com discontinuing five titles
King ends titles

Last week, a popular game developer on Facebook, King, announced it was discontinuing five titles on the sprawling social network starting in September. They were mostly older games that never took off, such as Bubble Saga, according to Inside Social Games.

Microsoft also announced it’s closing its gaming marketplace called Games for Windows Live Online Store, a place where gamers could shop online but which also never caught on. Microsoft tied the store into such titles as Dawn of War and Dark Souls. The company said it will continue to support game titles tied into Games for Windows Live Online, but it’s closing the store part of the service.

Online gaming, though, continues to grow like crazy. See our list of the top online game sites, along with our review of casual game super-aggregator, Y8.com.

Source: About.com

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