Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Social media is a security threat: Expert

BANGALORE: Social networking sites are a threat to national security as they are used as tools for drug trafficking, money laundering and match-fixing, said N Balakrishnan, associate director of Indian Institute of Science.

Speaking at the inauguration of a national conference on cyber space security on Friday, he felt social networking sites are also used to spark communal tension. When such messages turn viral, they can harm the nation's social fabric, he said.

Citing last year's Northeast exodus when false messages were spread using fake IDs, triggering panic, he said automated machines can send thousands of tweets without human intervention.

Balakrishnan alleged that China is taking advantage of botnets in its anti-India campaign. Botnets are networks of malicious software that are used to control computers without the owners' knowledge.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Facebook to buy mobile messaging app WhatsApp for $19 billion

Facebook Inc will buy fast-growing mobile-messaging start up WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock, as the world's largest social network looks for ways to boost its popularity, especially among a younger crowd.

The acquisition of the hot messaging service with more than 450 million users around the world stunned many Silicon Valley observers with its lofty price tag.

But it underscores Facebook's determination to win the market for messaging, an indispensable utility in a mobile era.

Combining text messaging and social networking, messaging apps provide a quick way for smartphone users to trade everything from brief texts to flirtatious pictures to YouTube clips - bypassing the need to pay wireless carriers for messaging services.

And it helps Facebook tap teens who will eschew the mainstream social networks and prefer WhatsApp and rivals such as Line and WeChat, which have exploded in size as mobile messaging takes off.

"People are calling them 'Facebook Nevers,'" said Jeremy Liew, a partner at Lightspeed and an early investor in Snapchat.

WhatsApp is adding about a million users per day, Facebook co-founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg said on his page on Wednesday.

"WhatsApp will complement our existing chat and messaging services to provide new tools for our community," he wrote on his Facebook page. "Since WhatsApp and (Facebook) Messenger serve such different and important users, we will continue investing in both."

Smartphone-based messaging apps are now sweeping across North America, Asia and Europe.

"Communication is the one thing that you have to use daily, and it has a strong network effect," said Jonathan Teo, an early investor in Snapchat, another red-hot messaging company that flirted year ago with a multibillion dollar acquisition offer from Facebook.

"Facebook is more about content and has not yet fully figured out communication."

Even so, he balked at the price tag.

As part of the deal, WhatsApp co-founder and chief executive officer Jan Koum will join Facebook's board, and the social network will grant an additional $3 billion worth of restricted stock units to WhatsApp's founders, including Koum.

That is on top of the $16 billion in cash and stock that Facebook will pay.

"Goodness gracious, it's a good deal for WhatsApp," Teo said.


Shares in Facebook slid 5 percent to $64.70 after hours, from a close of $68.06 on the Nasdaq.

Facebook said on Wednesday it will pay $4 billion in cash and about $12 billion in stock in its single largest acquisition, dwarfing the $1 billion it paid for photo-sharing app Instagram.

The price paid for Instagram, which with just 30 million users was already considered overvalued by many observers at the time.

Facebook promised to keep the WhatsApp brand and service, and pledged a $1 billion cash break-up fee if the deal falls through.

Facebook was advised by Allen & Co, while WhatsApp has enlisted Morgan Stanley for the deal.

Source: TOI

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Will Chrome OS and Android dominate the 2014 Linux desktop?

Android phone and tablet users have now become accustomed to the immense functionality and level of comfort that the platform offers
Linux is poised to grow even big in 2014. People across the globe are now willing to try Linux and open source, embracing the goodness of the medium with arms wide open. The popularity of Linux desktops has increased like never before with each day. 2014 will be no different!
When you give it a thought, it's ironical that the likes of Google would introduce Linux to the broader desktop market. But that's the way it is, not that we are complaining! What really sparred the growth of Linux at the first place was the very terrible response to Microsoft's Windows 8.
It's not everyday that you see traditional Windows users sifting through alternatives. Apple might have been one, but sadly that didn't happen! It's at times like these that Chrome OS and Android grab the limelight. Of course, users of traditional distros like Ubuntu or Linux Mint might beg to disagree.
Chrome OS and Android Desktop are not one hundred per cent perfect, being attached to Google makes them liable for privacy concerns, however the fact of the matter still remains they have enough fire power to pull the rug from beneath Microsoft's feet.
Meanwhile, Android phone and tablet users have now become accustomed to the immense functionality and level of comfort that the platform offers, therefore, it's only a matter of time that they would dump Windows from their desktops, switching on to the obvious.
At the same time, regular Linux desktop distros like Fedora and Linux Mint should not be left behind. They are only just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to desktop distributions and are immensely wonderful in their own right.

Source: CIOL

Friday, February 14, 2014

How Indians have contributed to technology

Satya Nadella's elevation as CEO of Microsoft marks the acme of global corporate leadership attained in recent years by first generation Indian immigrants. While Indra Nooyi at Pepsico, Vikram Pandit at CitiBank (who has since stepped down), Ajay Banga at Mastercard, and Anshu Jain at Deutsche Bank have already scaled the dizzy heights, Nadella's ascension was a landmark event given Microsoft's high profile and its close association with India, fuelled in part by a large section of its workforce being of Indianorigin. (The figure of 33 per cent Microsofties being of Indian origin is hyperbolic; it is less than 10 per cent, and from what Bill Gates told this correspondent several years back, it is about 20 per cent in the engineering division.)

The story of India's/Indian/Indian-American contribution to technology is not new; it goes back at least couple of decades, possibly more. Back in the 1990s, when I was working on a book that was eventually titled The Horse That Flew: How India's Silicon Gurus Spread Their Wings, a librarian who was helping me with research would pull my leg about India having invented zero ("THE zero,'' I'd correct her), as we scoured the archives for stories about Indians in the science and technology fields. The idea for the book was triggered by then "hot male'' Sabeer Bhatia's sale of Hotmail to Microsoft for $ 400 million. Shortly before that, Vinod Dham had been instrumental in launching the Pentium chip, and Ram Shriram (who would later fund Google and become a billionaire) was a key figure in Netscape, the early browser favorite. Years before, Narendra Singh Kapany had done pioneering work in fiber optics, C. Kumar Patel was recognized for cutting edge work on lasers, Arun Netravali led the team that developed high-definition television (HDTV), and Praveen Chaudhari held patents for the erasable read-write compact discs, the kind you burned music on a generation back. I chronicled several such stories in my book.

However, Indians in the management and corporate side of things was a different deal altogether. There was the inevitable talk of a glass ceiling, and it was rare that an Indian went on to become CEO of a company, although several, like Vinod Khosla, Umang Gupta, and Kanwal Rekhi, had founded companies and even helmed them briefly. White-dominated America was leery of showing a minority face at the helm. It was only in the nifty noughties (2000 onwards) that things began to change, in keeping with the changing demographics and ethos of the US itself, and the self-belief and critical mass Indians attained, riding on the exploits of the pioneers.

In 2004, Surya Mohapatra, an alumnus of Sambalpur University and Regional Engineering College-Rourkela, his Odiya accent untainted by decades in the US, was appointed CEO of Quest Diagnostics, a Fortune 500 company. Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi, who went to one of her first interviews in the US in a sari after her professor advised her to "be yourself,'' was elevated at PepsiCo in 2006. Nagpur-born Vikram Pandit at Citibank, Francisco D'Souza, son of an Indian diplomat, at Cognizant, and Adobe System's Shantanu Narayen, like Nadella a Hyderabad native, all scaled the top in 2007. Ravi Saligram at OfficeMax and Sanjay Mehrotra at SanDisk would make the grade by the end of the decade, when there were at least ten CEOs of Indian origin in the Fortune 500. The numbers compared favorably with Blacks (six CEOs), Hispanics (eight), and other Asian-Americans including Chinese, all of whose population was several times larger than that of Asian-Indians in the US.

There were several reasons attributed for this success by a number of experts I spoke to. They ranged from the Indian comfort with English and ease with numbers, to the fact that most Indian immigrants came from the relatively creamy layer of Indian society (although several achievers spoke to me about the tough grind they went through in India, from studying by candle light to walking miles to school). It all boiled down to hard work, initiative, and a hunger for success, topped off with some luck, in an American ecosystem that recognized merit better than in India.

But fundamentally, it also went back to a society that manages the paradox of at once being religious and superstitious and at the same time fostering a scientific temper and a spirit of inquiry; or at a higher level, balancing science and spirituality. For instance, India is very familiar with Swami Vivekananda and his epic tour of America to address the Congress of Religions in Chicago in 1893. Less well known is Vivekananda's extensive engagement, pursuant to his interest in science and spirituality, with Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, the pioneers of all things electric.

A decade or so later, a young man named Gobind Behari Lal, a nephew of the Indian nationalist Lala Hardayal, left India to come to the University of California-Berkeley, on a scholarship. Following his post-doc, he joined Hearst Newspapers as a "science writer,'' the first time the designation was used in an American newspaper. In a career that lasted more than half a century, he interviewed such formidable scientific titans as Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi and Max Planck, winning a Pulitzer Prize (1937) on the way, the first for an Indian-American (Jhumpa Lahiri would come decades later, much after Lal died in 1982). His work inspired a generation of Indian-Americans who streamed into the sciences and technology.

Little of this was known in India, which on account of its own constricting policies and a lack of opportunity, gave up some of its best and brightest to the US, which on its part used its immigration policy to attract them. From 1965 onwards, when immigration rules were relaxed for Indians, more than a million educated Indians have streamed into the US for "higher studies,'' many of them staying behind to become "Indian-Americans,'' and often, particularly in case of their children, just "Americans.'' Few who have been in the US for more than 20-25 years and who have taken US citizenship bear any allegiance to India, and many of them find the media hysteria in India over their achievements quite cringe-worthy.

Source: Times of India

Thursday, February 13, 2014

IT will grow faster next fiscal: Nasscom

MUMBAI: IT industry body Nasscom has forecast that Indian IT-BPM exports will grow 13%-15 % in 2014-15 to touch $97- $99 billion. It represents a possible rise from the 13% growth for this year (to $86 billion ), signaling an improved economic outlook and rise in global technology spending. 

Together with the domestic market, the sector is expected to touch $130 billion in revenue in 2014-15 , an addition of $13-14 billion over this year. (BPM or business process management is the term that Nasscom now uses for BPO or business process outsourcing ). 

Nasscom president R Chandrashekhar said that the global IT-BPO spending is projected to grow at 4.5% in 2014, outpacing global GDP growth of 3.7%. "The IT industry has remained a powerhouse because it is not stationary and has kept adapting to newer opportunities. While global sourcing is growing at twice the size of worldwide IT spends, the Indian IT industry's growth is even faster," he said. 

The domestic market this year however was a disappointment with revenues remaining flat at $32 billion. It's expected to grow by 9-12 % to Rs 1.25 lakh crore-Rs 1.28 lakh crore in 2014-15 , way below the projection for exports. "Slowdown in decision-making , rupee volatility and upcoming elections have impacted discretionary IT spending," Chandrashekhar said. 

He was speaking on the eve of Nasscom's flagship annual event, the India Leadership Forum (NILF) 2014. The threeday event begins on February 12, and will bring together over 1,000 companies and attract over 1,500 delegates from 31 countries. It's the 22nd edition of the event. 

Nasscom vice-chairman and executive vice-chairman of Cognizant R Chandrasekaran said the industry is well on track to meet its projection of clocking $300 billion in revenues by 2020. 

Nasscom said social, media, analytics, cloud (SMAC) technologies are reshaping businesses and this component is expected to contribute anywhere between 5-10 % of the sector's revenue. 

Krishnakumar Natarajan, chairman of Nasscom, said the entrepreneurial ecosystem would energize the next wave of growth. "With 1,200 startups emerging in the country, they are infusing energy and innovation across sectors including e-commerce, education and healthcare. India could become the global hub for digital transformation ," he said. 

The IT industry employee base is expected to cross 3 million with an addition of 1.66 lakh in 2013-14 . Women number 1 million. Nasscom said hiring has shifted from capacity to skill-oriented employment as companies focus on non-linear revenue models that make a business impact. 

Courtesy: Times of India

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

15 helpful apps to help women make the most of your life

Here are 15 helpful apps to help women make the most of your life
Planning & Organization
Let's start with the basics. From organizing your shopping list, to finding that article you've been meaning to read, and even helping you plan what to wear, here are three apps you should download.

• Dark Sky (Weather App)
How many times have you dashed out the door on a perfectly sunny day, only to find the weather take a turn for the worse, at the worst possible time? Dark Sky is an app designed to help you track changing weather conditions, and even offers alerts and an at-a-glance summary of what the weather will be like for the next hour and through the day.

• Pocket (Web Bookmarking App)
In today's digitally connected world, it's easy to find great content on your phone, while standing in line at the store, or waiting for a friend at a restaurant-but once you put your phone down, it's not always easy to find that great article, or video again. Pocket is a smart bookmarking app that lets you save the content you find for later, and it works across just about any platform and device. You can even view your saved content without an internet or data connection.

• AnyList (Shopping List App)
If you're looking for a pure, simple shopping list that won't clutter-up your calendar or coupon space, AnyList is a straight-forward, easy-to-use/read free app that lets you create a private shopping list for any store your heart desires. You can also choose to share specific lists with your roommates, friends, or kids, and the lists will update live so you can shop more efficiently.

Getting It Together
No woman is a superhero in every subject. Here are three apps to help you manage your finances, monitor your credit, and find (and even finance) your next home.

• Mint (Budgeting App/Service)
All the single ladies know how important it is to manage money. Take the mystery out of your spending and your financial goals with Mint, the service that helps you track your spending, set a budget, and get a good understanding of where you are financially.

• Credit Sesame (Credit & Finance App/Service)
What you don't know can hurt you, especially when it comes to your credit score. Credit Sesame is a helpful service that can give help you know, monitor, and understand your credit and loans in one place, for free. They even offer tools and advice to help you find the best mortgages and loans.

• Realtor.com (Real Estate App/Service)
While Craigslist may have helped you find your living situation in college, Relator.com is all about helping you find a home that fits. Whether you're looking to rent an apartment, or own a house or condo, this easy-to-use app can show you the most accurate, up-to-date listings in your desired budget and area, for free. Bonus: Realtor.com updates its listings faster and more frequently than "other" real estate apps, giving you a competitive advantage.

Out & About
From locating key services around you, to finding a cab in a crowded city, or even conversing in another language, here are three apps to help you as you're out and about.

• AroundMe (Location App)
Sometimes it's nice to know where the nearest bank, gas station, theater, or hotel is. AroundMe is a great app for helping you quickly find what you're looking for, so you can get on with your day.

• cab4me (Transportation App) 
Have you ever wanted to hail a cab, without the inconvenience of standing on a corner, waving your arms like a princess in peril? Cab4me is a free app that helps you locate a nearby cab and coordinate your pickup time and location. The app works with cab companies in its database, and even runs an online search for you, if you happen to be in an area not yet covered.

• Google Translate (Language Translation App)
This free, instant translation service can help you quickly communicate wherever, with whomever. Whether you want to speak, type, or write in any of its 70 languages, this app breaks through communication barriers, and it's a must-have for travelers.

Health & Lifestyle
Staying active is an important part of single women's lives. Here are three apps to help you stay mentally sharp, physically fit, and well-informed.

• Lumosity (Brain Fitness App)
While it may be tempting to check out your favorite social network the next time you have a free minute with your phone, consider Lumosity, the free app designed to help you work out your brain. Improving memory, problem-solving abilities, and attention span, Lumosity's challenges are scientifically created to give your brain a workout that feels like fun.

• 7 Minute Workout Challenge (Workout App)
Since going to the gym on a regular basis can be a daunting commitment, try this simple, 7 Minute Workout Challenge app ($1.99). The app features 12 high-intensity exercises designed to maximize results in a small amount of time. It's like a personal trainer in your pocket.

• Kindle (Reading App)
The Kindle reading app lets you buy a book or magazine once and read it anywhere. The app works on just about any device, and lets you highlight and bookmark key passages.

While it's great to focus on the positive side of life, as a single woman, it's important to have a network and a plan in place for those times when things don't go according to plan. Here are three apps to help you stay safe, monitor your kids, and get the help you need in emergency situations.

• Circle of 6 (Personal Safety)
Sometimes, when things go wrong, you need something a little more proactive and personal than 911. Circle of 6 is a great "staying safe" app for women, that helps you create a social support structure to prevent violence and, in the event that something happens, quickly get the appropriate help. From asking a friend to call you to "interrupt" a bad date, to sending a blast to your 6 primary friends with your immediate contact information, and even calling the cops or a national help hotline at the push of a button, Circle of 6 is a quick way to get the help you need, wherever you are.

• MamaBear (Child-Monitoring App)
For any parent, it's not always easy to keep track of where your kids are and what they're doing. For single moms, this can be even more difficult. MamaBear is a customizable app for parents that will help you with everything from finding your kids on a map, to knowing who they're hanging out with, and even if they're speeding. It also lets you track them across social networks.

• ICE Standard with Smart911
Imagine that you're in a car accident or a disaster scenario and you're unconscious, or unable to speak to emergency responders. Let your cell phone do the talking for you with ICE Standard, the number one emergency information app on iTunes. This app turns your phone's lock screen into your emergency contact information, and can even include personal and medical information so you can be identified in the event of an emergency.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Google unveils videoconferencing box for businesses

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA: Google is introducing a videoconferencing box designed to make it easier and less expensive to hold face-to-face business meetings even if the participants are scattered in different locations. 

The device, called 'Chromebox For Meetings', goes on sale for $999 on Thursday in the US and will be available in the coming weeks in Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Spain, France, Australia and New Zealand. 

The $999 price includes technology support for the first year. Customers needing support after that will have to pay $250 annually. Chromebox For Meetings is being sold by Dell, Hewlett-Packard and AsusTek, all of which already sell an assortment of gear to corporate customers and government agencies. 

Google said the box contains everything needed to set up a videoconferencing system that can connect people in up to 15 different locations. The company said someone simply needs to connect the device to a display screen and follow the instructions step by step. 

The videoconferencing kit relies on several existing Google products: the Chrome operating system based on the eponymous web browser; the technology running Google's free Hangouts video chat system; and a suite of applications that the company has been selling to businesses for several years. 

Most of Google's previous forays in corporate markets have been aimed at competing with Microsoft's Office software and Windows operating system. With the expansion into business videoconferencing, Google is attacking products made by Cisco and Polycom. 

The introduction of the new Chromebox also underscores Google's commitment to continue stamping its brand on a variety of gadgets, just a week after announcing plans to sell its Motorola Mobility smartphone business to Lenovo for $2.9 billion. Google bought Motorola in 2012 with aspirations of building it into an influential player in the growing smartphone maker, but the deal turned into an expensive mistake.

Courtesy: Times of India

Friday, February 7, 2014

What makes Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella different from Steve Ballmer

Right from the start, new Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella is showing that he will operate differently from predecessor Steve Ballmer. On his first day leading the world's largest software maker, Nadella exuded an understated calm during a less than 20-minute webcast for customers and employees.

Rather than the customary press conference, the 46-year-old used the event to introduce himself and take questions from Microsoft Vice President Susan Hauser. The first line in his memo to employees started with "today is a very humbling day for me." That contrasts with Ballmer, who for 14 years as Microsoft CEO was famous for his oversized personality. Ballmer, 57, once jumped out of a cake at Microsoft's 25th anniversary party at Seattle's Safeco Field and ran through the crowd giving highfives as if he'd won the Super Bowl.

In a memo to employees Tuesday, Ballmer said he was "pumped." If jarring, the change in style will be one of the advantages of choosing Nadella as Microsoft's third CEO, said David Yoffie, a professor at Harvard Business School. Ballmer's aggressive salesmanship during the boom days of the personal-computer industry exemplified how Microsoft became the world's most valuable company.

Now the software maker needs a new approach as it plays catch-up in areas including tablets, smartphones and cloud services. "Nadella's obviously a deep technologist, and he's going to bring that back to a Microsoft that hasn't had it in the CEO office for years," Yoffie said.

Product-focused CEO
Nadella's low-key manner is also a sign of a changing of the guard in technology, as larger-than-life founders and near-founders such as Ballmer leave the scene. Microsoft isn't the only technology company that has hired a product-focused CEO in recent years. Yahoo recruited engineer Marissa Mayer from Google in 2012 to be CEO, while networking-equipment maker Juniper Networks recently appointed Shaygan Kheradpir, who had built networks for Verizon Communications and others, as CEO.

"This industry goes through cycles, and we're in a cycle where customers are looking for new products," Kheradpir said. "It's not a sales or a marketing thing right now." Microsoft's decision to forego a press conference on Nadella's ascension may also be an effort to show that "the business isn't about one person or personality," said Carol Blymire, a communications consultant . "Maybe we've come to the end of the era of the rock star technology CEO."

Basketball, Cricket
The differences between Ballmer and Nadella begin with their backgrounds. Nadella is an engineer with degrees in electrical engineering and computer science , as well as an MBA that he earned by taking weekend classes after he had started at Microsoft. Ballmer is an Ivy League educated businessman who specialised in sales and marketing.

The dissimilarities extend into the their interests. Ballmer is known as a ferocious defender and rebounder on the basketball court. Nadella lists poetry as an interest and one of his favourite sports is cricket. "He's a thoughtful, quiet leader who rallies people around him," former Microsoft Chief Financial Officer John Connors said of Nadella. "He works harder than anybody . He'll make the tough calls but he's very urbane and civil."

Ballmer's changes
Ballmer has made some changes in the past year that will help Nadella, said Will Poole, a former Microsoft vice president. Last year, Ballmer discontinued a review system he had implemented that ranked each person in every work group on a bell curve, an approach that forced some employees to behave more politically.

Ballmer also pushed through a major reorganisation in July to break down walls at Microsoft. Rather than run their own discrete businesses, top executives now oversee functional areas, such as software and hardware engineering. Ballmer's strained relationship with Wall Street also leaves Nadella plenty of room for improvement, said Daniel Ives, an analyst with FBR Capital Markets.

Nadella will still work with Ballmer in the boardroom, where both are directors. Having Ballmer there may make it complicated for Nadella to undo major initiatives from his predecessor, Yoffie said. "Communicating with his board will be as challenging in some ways as all the other challenges he'll face with the external world," Yoffie said of Nadella.