Member's Blog
The End Of The Smartphone Era Is Coming Print E-mail
Written by Malek   
Friday, 23 November 2012 00:41

 

You've heard that Google is working on computerized glasses. They're called Google Glass, and developers can already buy them.

 

It turns out Microsoft is working on something similar. It filed some patents on the project and Unwired View dug them up.

There's a big difference between what Microsoft is working on and Google Glass, though.

The most recent word out of Google is that Google Glass isn't going to use "augmented reality" – where data and illustrations overlay the actual world around you.

Google Glass is actually just a tiny screen you have to look up and to the left to see.

Microsoft's glasses seem to utilize augmented reality. In a patent illustration we've embedded below, you can see that the glasses put data on top of a live action concert and a ballgame.

Both gadget concepts are very interesting. 

Lots of people disagree with me, including other BI writers, but I think something like Google Glass or whatever Microsoft is working on could end up replacing the smartphone as the dominant way people access the Internet and connect to each other.

First off: something has to. Disruption is inevitable.

Secondly: The trend is obvious.

Computers have been getting smaller and closer to our faces since their very beginning.

First they were in big rooms, then they sat on desktops, then they sat on our laps, and now they're in our palms. Next they'll be on our faces.

(Eventually they'll be in our brains.)

By the way, you can bet that if Microsoft and Google are working on computerized glasses, so is Apple and Jony Ive.

 


 
Feast On These Thanksgiving Social Media Facts [INFOGRAPHIC] Print E-mail
Written by Malek   
Thursday, 22 November 2012 16:57

 
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest – How Social Sharing Will Boost Cyber Monday Shopping [INFOGRAPHIC] Print E-mail
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Written by Malek   
Wednesday, 21 November 2012 23:46

 
How To Be Happy At Work [INFOGRAPHIC] Print E-mail
Written by Malek   
Tuesday, 20 November 2012 17:02

Most people spend the majority of their lives at work. So what makes people happy at their jobs? City and Guilds, a vocational training organization, did a survey which found that the most important things were getting along with colleagues, doing something that feels worthwhile, and control over duties and workload.

The survey found that gardeners and florists were all the way at the top in terms of happiness. Bankers and IT professionals, despite larger paychecks, were the least happy. It's broken down in this infographic:  



 
40 Engineers Worked 14-Hour Days, 7 Days A Week To Get Obama Reelected—Here Is Their Story Print E-mail
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Written by Malek   
Sunday, 18 November 2012 20:54

 

The Obama campaign's technologists were tense and tired. It was game day and everything was going wrong.

Josh Thayer, the lead engineer of Narwhal, had just been informed that they'd lost another one of the services powering their software. That was bad: Narwhal was the code name for the data platform that underpinned the campaign and let it track voters and volunteers. If it broke, so would everything else.

They were talking with people at Amazon Web Services, but all they knew was that they had packet loss. Earlier that day, they lost their databases, their East Coast servers, and their memcache clusters. Thayer was ready to kill Nick Hatch, a DevOps engineer who was the official bearer of bad news. Another of their vendors, PalominoDB, was fixing databases, but needed to rebuild the replicas. It was going to take time, Hatch said. They didn't have time.

They'd been working 14-hour days, six or seven days a week, trying to reelect the president, and now everything had been broken at just the wrong time. It was like someone had written a Murphy's Law algorithm and deployed it at scale.

They'd been working 14-hour days, six or seven days a week, trying to reelect the president, and now everything had been broken at just the wrong time.

And that was the point. "Game day" was October 21. The election was still 17 days away, and this was a live action role playing (LARPing!) exercise that the campaign's chief technology officer, Harper Reed, was inflicting on his team. "We worked through every possible disaster situation," Reed said. "We did three actual all-day sessions of destroying everything we had built."

Hatch was playing the role of dungeon master, calling out devilishly complex scenarios that were designed to test each and every piece of their system as they entered the exponential traffic-growth phase of the election. Mark Trammell, an engineer who Reed hired after he left Twitter, saw a couple game days. He said they reminded him of his time in the Navy. "You ran firefighting drills over and over and over, to make sure that you not just know what you're doing," he said, "but you're calm because you know you can handle your shit."

The team had elite and, for tech, senior talent — by which I mean that most of them were in their 30s — from Twitter, Google, Facebook, Craigslist, Quora, and some of Chicago's own software companies such as Orbitz and Threadless, where Reed had been CTO. But even these people, maybe *especially* these people, knew enough about technology not to trust it. "I think the Republicans fucked up in the hubris department," Reed told me. "I know we had the best technology team I've ever worked with, but we didn't know if it would work. I was incredibly confident it would work. I was betting a lot on it. We had time. We had resources. We had done what we thought would work, and it still could have broken. Something could have happened."

In fact, the day after the October 21 game day, Amazon services — on which the whole campaign's tech presence was built — went down. "We didn't have any downtime because we had done that scenario already," Reed said. Hurricane Sandy hit on another game day, October 29, threatening the campaign's whole East Coast infrastructure. "We created a hot backup of all our applications to US-west in preparation for US-east to go down hard," Reed said.

"We knew what to do," Reed maintained, no matter what the scenario was. "We had a runbook that said if this happens, you do this, this, and this. They did not do that with Orca."

THE NEW CHICAGO MACHINE vs. THE GRAND OLD PARTY

Orca was supposed to be the Republican answer to Obama's perceived tech advantage. In the days leading up to the election, the Romney campaign pushed its (not-so) secret weapon as the answer to the Democrats' vaunted ground game. Orca was going to allow volunteers at polling places to update the Romney camp's database of voters in real time as people cast their ballots. That would supposedly allow them to deploy resources more efficiently and wring every last vote out of Florida, Ohio, and the other battleground states. The product got its name, a Romney spokesperson told NPR , because orcas are the only known predator of the one-tusked narwhal.

Orca was not even in the same category as Narwhal. It was like the Republicans were touting the iPad as a Facebook killer.

The billing the Republicans gave the tool confused almost everyone inside the Obama campaign. Narwhal wasn't an app for a smartphone. It was the architecture of the company's sophisticated data operation. Narwhal unified what Obama for America knew about voters, canvassers, event-goers, and phone-bankers, and it did it in real time. From the descriptions of the Romney camp's software that were available then and now, Orca was not even in the same category as Narwhal. It was like touting the iPad as a Facebook killer, or comparing a GPS device to an engine. And besides, in the scheme of a campaign, a digitized strike list is cool, but it's not, like, a game-changer. It's just a nice thing to have.

So, it was with more than a hint of schadenfreude that Reed's team heard that Orca crashed early on election day. Later reports posted by rank-and-file volunteers describe chaos descending on the polling locations as only a fraction of the tens of thousands of volunteers organized for the effort were able to use it properly to turn out the vote.

Of course, they couldn't snicker too loudly. Obama's campaign had created a similar app in 2008 called Houdini. As detailed in Sasha Issenberg's groundbreaking book, "The Victory Lab," Houdini's rollout went great until about 9:30am Eastern on the day of the election. Then it crashed in much the same way Orca did.

In 2012, Democrats had a new version, built by the vendor, NGP VAN. It was called Gordon, after the man who killed Houdini. But the 2008 failure, among other needs, drove the 2012 Obama team to bring technologists in-house.

With election day bearing down on them, they knew they could not go down. And yet they had to accommodate much more strain on the systems as interest in the election picked up toward the end, as it always does. Mark Trammell, who worked for Twitter during its period of exponential growth, thought it would have been easy for the Obama team to fall into many of the pitfalls that the social network did back then. But while the problems of scaling both technology and culture quickly might have been similar, the stakes were much higher. A fail whale (cough) in the days leading up to or on November 6 would have been neither charming nor funny. In a race that at least some people thought might be very close, it could have cost the President the election.

And of course, the team's only real goal was to elect the President. "We have to elect the President. We don't need to sell our software to Reed told his team. But the secondary impact of their success or failure would be to prove that campaigns could effectively hire and deploy top-level programming talent. If they failed, it would be evidence that this stuff might be best left to outside political technology consultants, by whom the arena had long been handled. If Reed's team succeeded, engineers might become as enshrined in the mechanics of campaigns as social-media teams already are.

We now know what happened. The grand technology experiment worked. So little went wrong that Trammell and Reed even had time to cook up a little pin to celebrate. It said, "YOLO," short for "You Only Live Once," with the Obama Os. 

When Obama campaign chief Jim Messina signed off on hiring Reed, he told him, "Welcome to the team. Don't fuck it up." As Election Day ended and the dust settled, it was clear: Reed had not fucked it up.

The campaign had turned out more volunteers and gotten more donors than in 2008. Sure, the field organization was more entrenched and experienced, but the difference stemmed in large part from better technology. The tech team's key products — Dashboard, the Call Tool, the Facebook Blaster, the PeopleMatcher, and Narwhal — made it simpler and easier for anyone to engage with the President's reelection effort.

The nerds shook up an ossifying Democratic tech structure and the politicos taught the nerds a thing or two about stress, small-p politics, and the meaning of life.

But it wasn't easy. Reed's team came in as outsiders to the campaign and by most accounts, remained that way. The divisions among the tech, digital, and analytics team never quite got resolved, even if the end product has salved the sore spots that developed over the stressful months. At their worst, in early 2012, the cultural differences between tech and everybody else threatened to derail the whole grand experiment.

By the end, the campaign produced exactly what it should have: a hybrid of the desires of everyone on Obama's team. They raised hundreds of millions of dollars online, made unprecedented progress in voter targeting, and built everything atop the most stable technical infrastructure of any presidential campaign. To go a step further, I'd even say that this clash of cultures was a good thing: The nerds shook up an ossifying Democratic tech structure and the politicos taught the nerds a thing or two about stress, small-p politics, and the significance of elections.

YOLO: MEET THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN'S CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER

If you're a nerd, Harper Reed is an easy guy to like. He's brash and funny and smart. He gets you and where you came from. He, too, played with computers when they weren't cool, and learned to code because he just could not help himself. You could call out nouns, phenomena, and he'd be right there with you: BBS, warez, self-organizing systems, Rails, the quantified self, Singularity. He wrote his first programs at age seven, games that his mom typed into their Apple IIC. He, too, has a memory that all nerds share: Late at night, light from a chunky monitor illuminating his face, fingers flying across a keyboard, he figured something out. 

TV news segments about cybersecurity might look lifted straight from his memories, but the b-roll they shot of darkened rooms and typing hands could not convey the sense of exhilaration he felt when he built something that works. Harper Reed got the city of Chicago to create an open and real-time feed of its transit data by reverse engineering how they served bus location information. Why? Because it made his wife Hiromi's commute a little easier. Because it was fun to extract the data from the bureaucracy and make it available to anyone who wanted it. Because he is a nerd.

Yet Reed has friends like the manager of the hip-hop club Empire who, when we walk into the place early on the Friday after the election, says, "Let me grab you a shot." Surprisingly, Harper Reed is a chilled vodka kind of guy. Unsurprisingly, Harper Reed read Steven Levy's Hackers as a kid. Surprisingly, the manager, who is tall and handsome with rock-and-roll hair flowing from beneath a red beanie, returns to show Harper photographs of his kids. They've known each other for a long while. They are really growing up.

As the night rolls on, and the club starts to fill up, another friend approached us: DJ Hiroki, who was spinning that night. Harper Reed knows the DJ. Of course. And Hiroki grabs us another shot. (At this point I'm thinking, "By the end of the night, either I pass out or Reed tells me something good.") Hiroki's been DJing at Empire for years, since Harper Reed was the crazy guy you can see on his public Facebook photos. In one shot from 2006, a skinny Reed sits in a bathtub with a beer in his hand, two thick band tattoos running across his chest and shoulders. He is not wearing any clothes. The caption reads, "Stop staring, it's not there i swear!" What makes Harper Reed different isn't just that the photo exists, but that he kept it public during the election.

He may be like you, but he also juggles better than you, and is wilder than you, more fun than you, cooler than you.

 
Breaking Down The Religious Makeup Of The 113th Congress Print E-mail
Written by Malek   
Saturday, 17 November 2012 00:41

 

 

The Pew Forum on Religion released its latest report this morning, Faith on the Hill: The Religious Composition of the 113th Congress.

 

Next term, the U.S. will see its first Buddhist Senator, the first Hindu member of the House of Representative and the first member of Congress to describe her religion as “none." In fact, the first Hindu member of the House, Tulsi Gabbard, won the seat vacated by Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who ran and won her race for Senate and will be the aforementioned first Buddhist member of the Senate.

Catholics fared the best on November 6, picking up five new seats.

Protestants, Catholics and Jews are all overrepresented in Congress, compared to the religious makeup of U.S. adults. 56.4 percent of Congress is Protestant, as opposed to 48 percent of the U.S. population. 30.4 percent of Congress is Catholic, but Catholics only make up 22 percent of the U.S. And although Jews only make up two percent of the U.S., they are represented in Congress by three times that amount. Mormons were overrepresented, but just by 0.8 percent.

This neat graphic outlines the religious composition of the House and Senate of the upcoming 113th Congress:



Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/religious-makeup-of-the-113th-congress-2012-11#ixzz2CR69FBh3

 
Abraham Lincoln, Comedian-in-Chief Print E-mail
Written by Malek   
Friday, 16 November 2012 23:52

 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Lincoln, the man who nurtured the nation through a bitter civil war and courageously issued his Emancipation Proclamation, also authored a book of jokes for public amusement.  Of course, he predated the Friar's Club, but had it existed he might be considered for membership.  Lincoln's jokes covered a wide arrange of topics, but his appearance was perhaps the most common subject. Lincoln is famous for being one of the least-attractive presidents in history. When he was accused of being two-faced in his dealings he quipped, "If I had another face, do you think I'd be wearing this one?"

Lincoln was filled with quips, jokes, and anecdotes, and he frequently made them in dark situations. Before sharing a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation with his cabinet, he allegedly read from a book of jokes which prompted criticism. Lincoln answered it by explaining, "If I can't laugh, I would die."  Indeed, Lincoln had a tremendous weight on his shoulders, perhaps more than any other president in American history. When Lincoln was sworn into office, states were seceding from the Union to form the Confederacy. It was Lincoln who was compelled to order the relief of Fort Sumter, which sparked the first shots of the Civil War. He then presided over a five-year clash where Americans killed one another in numbers not seen before or since.

His enemies at home also continually conspired against him, working to usurp him from power and to promote competing agendas. He was blasted for the Emancipation Proclamation, from both allies and adversaries. Allies who thought he did not go far enough and enemies who accused him of going too far.  Lincoln remarked about this saying, "you cannot please all of the people all of the time."

Lincoln's dry wit and humor covered every subject, even faith. "When I see a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees."  Despite his humor, Lincoln was the right man for the job at the right time. We was a tough president with a thick skin and a sharp wit. These served him well until his assassination while watching a play - "My American Cousin" which was, incidentally, a comedy.

 
How much you should worry about your paycheck in 2012 Print E-mail
Written by Malek   
Thursday, 15 November 2012 23:42

With all the drama and uncertainty surrounding the pending Fiscal Cliff, all consumers really want to know is how much they should be worrying about their own paycheck.

The reality is that every single one of the 160 million wage earners in the U.S. could be impacted if these tax changes go through –– just not exactly all to the same degree. 

To help, payroll and tax software specialist Symmetry Software has created a new tool that gives you a clear picture of how your paycheck will look on both sides of the cliff. 

Click the image in this post to be taken to the tool. Read on if you're curious as to how it actually works.

-To see the potential increase in the amount of federal tax that will come out of a paycheck, select a filing status from the Form W-4 (single or married,) and the number of federal allowances claimed.

-Hover the mouse over the bar that corresponds to the approximate income level.

-Check the summary window to see the estimated impact the fiscal cliff could possibly have on the amount of federal taxes withheld from a paycheck.


With all the drama and uncertainty surrounding the pending Fiscal Cliff, all consumers really want to know is how much they should be worrying about their own paycheck.

The reality is that every single one of the 160 million wage earners in the U.S. could be impacted if these tax changes go through –– just not exactly all to the same degree. 

To help, payroll and tax software specialist Symmetry Software has created a new tool that gives you a clear picture of how your paycheck will look on both sides of the cliff. 

Click the image in this post to be taken to the tool. Read on if you're curious as to how it actually works.

-To see the potential increase in the amount of federal tax that will come out of a paycheck, select a filing status from the Form W-4 (single or married,) and the number of federal allowances claimed.

-Hover the mouse over the bar that corresponds to the approximate income level.

-Check the summary window to see the estimated impact the fiscal cliff could possibly have on the amount of federal taxes withheld from a paycheck.



Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-fiscal-cliff-affects-paychecks-2012-11#ixzz2CL0yb039
With all the drama and uncertainty surrounding the pending Fiscal Cliff, all consumers really want to know is how much they should be worrying about their own paycheck.

The reality is that every single one of the 160 million wage earners in the U.S. could be impacted if these tax changes go through –– just not exactly all to the same degree. 

To help, payroll and tax software specialist Symmetry Software has created a new tool that gives you a clear picture of how your paycheck will look on both sides of the cliff. 

Click the image in this post to be taken to the tool. Read on if you're curious as to how it actually works.

-To see the potential increase in the amount of federal tax that will come out of a paycheck, select a filing status from the Form W-4 (single or married,) and the number of federal allowances claimed.

-Hover the mouse over the bar that corresponds to the approximate income level.

-Check the summary window to see the estimated impact the fiscal cliff could possibly have on the amount of federal taxes withheld from a paycheck.



Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-fiscal-cliff-affects-paychecks-2012-11#ixzz2CL0yb039
 
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