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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Who's Trigger Boston Marathon Bombings

A day has been gone but no one has any clue on who's trigger the Boston Marathon bombings. Boston police still have few answers. That hasn't quieted the speculation.

Law enforcement officials don't have any official suspects in Monday's twin bombings at the finish line of the Boston marathon. And President Obama specifically urged people not to speculate on who's behind the attack, which killed at least three people, including an 8-year-old boy, and wounded more than 100 others, including several amputations.


"We still don't know who did this or why," Obama said Monday night. "People should not jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. But make no mistake. We will get to the bottom of this. We will find out who did this. We will find out why they did this. Any individual or responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice."

1. Islamist jihadists

This theory was inevitable in the worst attack on U.S. soil since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and it gained some initial credence from a New York Post report that a 20-year-old Saudi national had been picked up as a "person of interest." Police quickly threw cold water on that report, but then Boston TV station WABC reported that police are "searching for a darker skinned or black male with a black backpack and black sweatshirt, possibly foreign national from the accent of the individual."

Another anonymous law enforcement official "notes that the manner of the attack suggests it may have been Al Qaeda inspired — if not Al Qaeda directed," says Christopher Dickey at The Daily Beast. That's because the construction of the bombs — gunpowder with ball-bearings and other shrapnel to maximize the damage — is similar to a bomb recipe shared by Al Qaeda "on its internet manuals for terrorist attacks."

Of course, not everyone is convinced. "Horrific as this obviously was, it doesn't seem big enough" for an attack by Arab terrorists.

2. Right-wing militia types

This theory, too, was inevitable. And most proponents point to the date — Patriots' Day — as a clue. Residents of Massachusetts and Maine celebrate Patriots' Day by taking the day off of work and re-enacting the first battles of the American Revolution.

"But in recent years, Second Amendment activists and anti-government modern-day militia members have tried to co-opt the holiday, which also roughly marks the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing."

It's also "wise in these cases to remember that the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City and the bombing at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 were carried out by Americans who espoused extreme right-wing causes,"

There's also the fact that the Boston Marathon fell on tax day this year, and the last mile of the race "was dedicated to Newtown victims,"

3. The government

"False flag" attack proponents wasted no time blaming the government for staging the Boston explosions to achieve their own ends,

Why were the loud speakers telling people in the audience to be calm moments before the bombs went off? Is this another false flag staged attack to take our civil liberties and promote homeland security while sticking their hands down our pants on the streets?

But the inevitable Boston marathon "truthers" will have a hard time with this conspiracy theory. There were too many cameras and witnesses to "concoct a really compelling conspiracy theory," and the real-time fact-checking on Twitter has decimated the bad information that conspiracies need to thrive.

4. A criminally insane lone wolf

There's also the possibility that this attack was perpetrated by some "local nutcase,"

"I guess I am right now leaning in that least conspiratorial direction." Unfortunately, in our "open and free society," people can cause massive destruction with a few well-placed bombs. There's a decent chance the Boston marathon attackers were "motivated by simple revenge of some kind, or by nothing but the disease in someone's brain."

@ Global Info Center

Monday, April 15, 2013

Choosing A Payment Gateway

If you accept donations online, conduct a web-based business, or even if you just have a traditional store but also allow customers to order online, then your website will need a way to securely accept customer payments. The technological means for doing so is usually referred to as a “payment gateway.” Nearly all web-based businesses use a third-party service provider for these payment gateways, rather than try to build them themselves. Because there are so many options for a business owner to choose from, it’s helpful to understand the ways that the payment gateway service providers may differ, in order to be able to choose between them.

Fees

The first thing you are likely to look at is the fee structure for a given service provider. Most charge some mix of a flat or monthly fee, plus a per transaction fee that may be a flat fee plus a percentage, or simply a percentage fee. Unless you’re switching from to a new payment gateway service, and you have a history of online transactions with customers, it can be difficult to know exactly what your transaction volume is likely to be. It’s therefore important to choose a provider that makes it easy to switch to a higher or lower volume fee structure in order to keep your costs as low as possible.

Ease of Integration

Because the actual payment processing will occur on the service provider’s web servers, it will be necessary to integrate the payment processing with your website. In many cases the easiest solution is to select a provider where you send your customer to their website at the point it becomes necessary for the customer to enter credit card information, and the service provider sends them back to you once the transaction is complete. Keep in mind you’ll also need to make sure that any payment gateway provider you are considering can integrate with your website’s shopping cart software. The easier a provider makes it to integrate, the better.

Recognizability and Reputation

You may want to consider the recognizability and reputation of a particular payment gateway provider. Most web shoppers will be familiar with PayPal, some will be familiar with Amazon Payments and Google Checkout, and fewer may be familiar with some of the other services. Users want to be ensured that their personal data is securely being collected and sent across the internet.

Brandability

You may wish to consider whether a payment gateway service allows you to include your logo or other branding on the customer payment page. This might give your customers an additional level of comfort when they are sent to another site to complete a transaction. Also consider if the payment gateway provides a way to accept payment without having to leave your website.

Quickness of Payment Back to You

Finally, consider the stated practices of each payment gateway service for remitting payment back to you. Look for providers that have a very fast turnaround time, and do a little web research to see if other businesses have experienced any problems with receiving payment, or with chargebacks from customers.

Now What?

By taking these various factors into account, you’ll increase your chances of finding a payment gateway service provider that you’ll be able to work with for a long time into the future.

@ Global Info Center

Netbook Is Dead

Although the slow death of the PC has been widely discussed by technology pundits recently, there is also another, lesser known victim of Apple’s iPad market dominance.

The netbook, which was originally intended to fill the low-cost niche between fully loaded laptops and smart phones, is dying an even quicker death than the PC according to IHS iSuppli market research statistics via Electronista.


Netbooks debuted in 2007 and were an immediately a popular product “because they were optimized for low cost, delivering what many consumers believed as acceptable computer performance,” states IHS senior principal analyst Craig Stice via the Los Angeles Times. According to the IHS statistics, netbook sales were at their height in 2010, with 32.14 million units shipped reports Electronista.

Last year the number of units shipped dropped to 14.3 million. The IHS report predicts that a total of 3.97 million netbooks will ship in 2013, which is a 72 percent decline from the previous year. However, the bad news for the netbook market doesn’t stop there. The market research firm forecasts a paltry 264,000 netbooks shipped in 2014, followed by the complete disappearance of the netbook by 2015.

As the IHS analyst points out via the Los Angeles Times, “netbooks began their descent to oblivion with the introduction in 2010 of Apple’s iPad.” However, netbook sales have declined even faster than PCs since the devices are being made obsolete by multiple types of products. Netbooks are being squeezed out of the market by higher-priced tablets, as well as lower-priced smart phones.

Perhaps Steve Jobs said it best when he introduced the iPad in 2010. As quoted by Electronista, Jobs stated, “The problem is: netbooks aren’t better at anything. They’re slow, they have low-quality displays, and they run clunky, old PC software.”

Apple shipped 22.9 million iPads in the quarter that ended last December and claimed 51 percent of the global tablet market in 2012 according to IDC statistics cited by Bloomberg.

@ Global Info Center

North Korea Heat Up Nukes

In the remote Alaska wilderness, some 3,800 miles from Pyongyang, North Korea, the United States' last line of defense against a nuclear warhead from North Korea or Iran stands ready to attack.

Fort Greely, Alaska, a World War II-era Army base that was reopened in 2004, is America's last chance to shoot down a missile from overseas that could be carrying a nuclear weapon. Its underground steel and concrete silos house 26 missile interceptors that have, in tests, a 50 percent success rate.


The 800-acre base is located some 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks, in the looming shadow of Denali. It is one of only two missile defense complexes in the country. The other, Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, houses four interceptors that are used for testing and "backup," according to defense officials.

In March, as the North Korean crisis began to heat up, President Obama ordered another 14 interceptors be sent to Greely, bringing its arsenal to 44 from 2017.

Concern about North Korea heightened this week when the Defense Intelligence Agency released a document that concluded with "moderate confidence" that North Korea might have a nuclear weapon that's small enough to be placed on a ballistic missile. But the agency also said the reliability of a North Korean missile would be low.

Baidu Is Now On Google Backyards

About six miles south of the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif., is the town of Cupertino. And that's where Chinese search company Baidu is opening a new office that will be home to something called The Institute of Deep Learning.


There, Baidu will be trying to build computers that mimic the human brain, thinking and learning like humans do, reports Wired's Daniela Hernandez.

Baidu is certainly not alone in the quest for more human-like computers. Google is obviously working on this too. About five months ago, Google nabbed one of the world's best-known advocates in the area of artificial intelligence when it hired legendary "futurist" Ray Kurzweil as its director of engineering.

Kurzweil is working on a similar project for Google. “We want to give computers the ability to understand the language that they’re reading," Kurzweil explained in an interview with Singularity Hub.

Baidu's research team leader Kai Yu is pretty straightforward about why the Chinese company chose Cupertino: he's trying to keep talented engineers out of Google's grasp.

“In Silicon Valley, you have access to a huge talent pool of really, really top engineers and scientists, and Google is enjoying that kind of advantage,” Yu told Hernandez.

This isn't the only Google-like project Baidu is working on either. Earlier this month, it confirmed rumors that it is developing a Google Glass-like wearable computer code-named ‘Baidu Eye’, the Next Web reported. It also said it has no plans yet to launch it as a consumer product.

@ Global Info Center

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Low Cost iPhone Is Here

Apple's lower-cost iPhone is a lock for this year, says Topeka Capital analyst Brian White.

White has been touring Asia for the last two weeks passing along all the gossip he's hearing. We would be hesitant to characterize any of it as much more than gossip. Supply chain sources can be fickle, and inaccurate. But it's still fun to hear what's being talked about.


That said, the cheap-iPhone has been rumored for a long time, and numerous analysts and reporters have all said it's coming this year.

White's sources lead him to believe it's announced in June, sold in July. He expects it to have a screen that's the same size as the iPhone 5. But, he expects it to have a curved plastic backing made out of colored plastic.

He's anticipating a price point of $400, which isn't all that low-cost, but would help with Apple's margins. The normal iPhone is costs $650 and up

@ Global Info Center

Died Playing Chicken

A teen has died playing chicken with trains on Thursday, in what appears to be a tragic yet unnecessary accident.

The 15 year old, Austin Price, was reportedly playing on the train tracks with two friends in Alameda County. They were apparently playing chicken with trains, standing on the tracks until the trains were close and then jumping out the way at the last minute.

However, the Hayward youth mistimed his escape when one northbound Capitol Corridor train came down the tracks, and he was struck by the train at about 6 p.m. on Thursday.

The student community at San Lorenzo High School has been shocked by his tragic death, and have commented that he will be remembered as a kind, caring and sweet boy who always put others before himself.

Alameda County Sheriff's Deputy, April Luckett, has explained that the other two teenagers were unhurt in the accident.

The local community has reported that many students from the San Lorenzo School as well as many in the local community walk near the train tracks, and it is not uncommon for the children to hang out near them. Although some have expressed concerns that it was a tragedy waiting to happen, no action had been taken yet, and now it appears it is too late for the 15 year old victim.

School Principal Tovi Scruggs has said, "It's an ongoing concern. Tragedies don't happen frequently, but we know the tracks are not staying empty," according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

Another student at the school has also explained that students play chicken "all the time" on the train tracks. Grief counselors have attended the school to help students struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.

Here is a video news report into the tragic death at San Lorenzo High School:

Plane Crash In Bali

All 108 passengers and crew survived after a new Lion Air jet crashed into the ocean and snapped into two while attempting to land Saturday on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, injuring up to 45 people.

The injured were taken to several different hospitals for treatment, but there appeared to be no serious injuries, said airport spokesman Alfasyah, who like many Indonesians uses only one name. There were three foreigners on board — two Singaporeans and a French national — all of whom suffered slight injuries.


TV footage showed police and rescuers using rubber boats to evacuate the 101 passengers and seven crew members. The Boeing 737 could be seen sitting in the shallow water with a large crack in its fuselage.

Officials initially said the plane overshot the runway before hitting the water, but a spokesman for Lion Air, a low-cost carrier, said at a news conference that the plane crashed about 50 meters (164 feet) ahead of the runway. The weather was cloudy with rain at the time of the incident.

"It apparently failed to reach the runway and fell into the sea," said the spokesman, Edward Sirait.

He said the Boeing 737-800 Next Generation plane was received by the airline last month and was declared airworthy. The plane originated in Bandung, the capital of West Java province, and had landed in two other cities on Saturday prior to the crash.

"We are not in a capacity to announce the cause of the crash," Sirait said, adding that the National Safety Transportation Committee was investigating.

Those on board recalled being terrified as the plane slammed into the water Saturday afternoon.

"The aircraft was in landing position when suddenly I saw it getting closer to the sea, and finally it hit the water," Dewi, a passenger who sustained head wounds in the crash and uses one name.

"All of the passengers were screaming in panic in fear they would drown. I left behind my belongings and went to an emergency door," she said. "I got out of the plane and swam before rescuers jumped in to help me."

Rapidly expanding Lion Air is Indonesia's top discount carrier, holding about a 50 percent market share in the country, a sprawling archipelago of 240 million people that's seeing a boom in both economic growth and air travel. The airline has been involved in six accidents since 2002, four of them involving Boeing 737s and one resulting in 25 deaths, according to the Aviation Safety Network's website.

Lion Air is currently banned from flying to Europe due to broader safety lapses in the Indonesian airline industry that have long plagued the country. Last year, a Sukhoi Superjet-100 slammed into a volcano during a demonstration flight, killing all 45 people on board.

Indonesia is one of Asia's most rapidly expanding airline markets, but is struggling to provide qualified pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and updated airport technology to ensure safety.

Lion Air, which started flying in 2000, signed a $24 billion deal last month to buy 234 Airbus planes, the biggest order ever for the French aircraft maker. It also gave Boeing its largest-ever order when it finalized a deal for 230 planes last year. The planes will be delivered from 2014 to 2026.

Monday, April 1, 2013

iOS versus Android: The Battle Begins

In the aftermath of the release of the Samsung Galaxy S4 last week, and Apple’s marketing backlash, the iOS vs Android arms race has hit a milestone. Android is growing faster than ever, in terms of both their market share and the revenue they pay out to app marketers. Apple’s marketing has taken on a decidedly ‘attacking’ tone. ‘There’s iPhone. And then there’s everything else’ is clearly mirroring the phrase, ‘Here’s the best, forget the rest’. It’s about time, for an infographic on the iOS vs Android feud as it stands now. Which is the best platform for app marketers? Let’s consider some factors, or scroll down to view the infographic right away.

Smartphone and tablet market share

Some contests seem to have been won by Android categorically. Last month, the worldwide smartphone market share figures stood at 69.2% (Android) and 22.1% (iOS). These current figures are actually more in Apple’s favor than the October figures (75% and 15%), due to the release of the iPhone 5. But now the S4 is here, it’s likely we’re going to see the gap widen again.

On other counts though, iOS is the reigning champion. While Android also takes the lead in terms of tablet market share and smartphone app downloads, albeit with smaller margins, iOS is far, far ahead in terms of tablet app downloads; which must be due to the fact that there are over 275,000 optimized for the full-size iPad and iPad mini.

iOS vs Android app revenue and monetization

It is also a widely known and inescapable fact that, on the whole, iOS apps monetize much better than Android apps. The type of user that iOS attracts (and nurtures) are high earning and very engaged users. But that’s not to say the situation isn’t changing for Android.

While iOS pays out four times as much revenue to app marketers than Android, app revenue growth is growing five times more rapidly on Android. But will it stay this way so that Android can catch up and even overtake iOS? This remains to be seen, as we watch the battle of the platforms progress.

The life of the app marketer

In terms of the day-to-day of marketing apps on the respective platforms, iOS is a less fragmented platform with higher app marketing costs but greater profits for advertisers. It is also much easier and more predictable to carry out iOS App Store ranking boost campaigns due to the ranking algorithm being more heavily weighted on download volumes than an intransparent selection of factors. On Android, we see a more complex and fragmented reality for app marketers.

The following infographic to compare iOS and Android in terms of market share, user demographic and app marketing.


There’s a myriad of points on which you can compare the two platforms, and on reflection I think the conclusion must be this: both are winners in their own ways. Highly democratic I know, but that is how it is. Final words: Compare everything and identify and support the platform that’s right for your app.

What are your thoughts on current status quo of the arms race between iOS and Android?
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