Posts Tagged New York

New York Times: Steam Big Picture public beta starts Monday

Last August, we found out that Steam’s Big Picture interface would be moving into its beta phase “soon,” but we never expected it would be, like, soon. It is Valve after all, and our cold, dark hearts weren’t never figured that Big Picture’s public beta would be happen in our lifetimes, let alone on Monday, September 10, like the New York Times says.

For those of you who haven’t been following this song’s bouncing ball, allow us to refresh your memory: Steam’ Big Picture interface is a custom UI designed specifically to make Valve’s all-encompassing digital storefront more user-friendly on televisions. It’s being designed with controller-based navigation in mind and would represent Valve’s first primordial step into the living room. Whether Monday’s testing is truly public or invitation based like its Community beta remains to be seen.

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Google starts new feature to remind friends’ b’day

NEW YORK: Google has started a new feature on to remind its users about the birthday of any of their Google+ friends.

The reminders will appear on instead of Google’s social networking site Google+.

In a Google+ blogpost, Google’s Irene Chung said “starting today (August 28), you’ll see a reminder on when someone in your circles has a birthday! From there it’s easy to share a fun message, photo, or video with the birthday gal or guy.”

Chung said at first birthday reminders would only be seen for people searching in English on

“We’ll be rolling this feature out gradually over the next few days,” Chung said.

The feature can be seen on top right corner of the The birthday notification comes with a “Say happy birthday” link where users can leave a message for their friends.

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How Big Data sprung into the mainstream

This has been the crossover year for Big Data – as a concept, as a term and, yes, as a marketing tool. Big Data has sprung from the confines of technology circles into the mainstream.

First, here are a few, well, data points: Big Data was a featured topic this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, with a report titled ‘Big Data, Big Impact’. In March, the federal government announced $200 million in research programmes for Big Data computing.

Rick Smolan, creator of the ‘Day in the Life’ photography series, has a new project in the works, called “The Human Face of Big Data.” The New York Times has adopted terms in headlines like ‘The Age of Big Data’ and ‘Big Data on Campus’.

And a sure sign that Big Data has arrived came just last month, when it became grist for satire in the “Dilbert” comic strip by Scott Adams. “It comes from everywhere. It knows all,” one frame reads, and the next concludes that “its name is Big Data”.

The Big Data story is the making of a meme. And two vital ingredients seem to be at work here. The first is that the term itself is not too technical, yet is catchy and vaguely evocative. The second is that behind the term is an evolving set of technologies with great promise, and some pitfalls.

Big Data is a shorthand label that typically means applying the tools of artificial intelligence, like machine learning, to vast new troves of data beyond that captured in standard databases. The new data sources include Web-browsing data trails, social network communications, sensor data and surveillance data. A combination of the data deluge and clever software algorithms open the door to new business opportunities.

Google and Facebook, for example, are Big Data companies. The Watson computer from IBM that beat human ‘Jeopardy’ champions last year was a triumph of Big Data computing. In theory, Big Data could improve decision-making in fields from business to medicine, allowing decisions to be based increasingly on data and analysis rather than intuition and experience.

“The term itself is vague, but it is getting at something that is real,” says Jon Kleinberg, a computer scientist at Cornell U niversity. “Big Data is a tagline for a process that has the potential to transform everything.” Rising piles of data have long been a challenge.

In the late 19th century, census takers struggled with how to count and categorise the rapidly growing US population. An innovative breakthrough came in time for the 1890 census, when the population reached 63 million. The data-taming tool proved to be machine-readable punched cards, invented by Herman Hollerith; these cards were the bedrock technology of the company that became IBM.

So, the term Big Data is a rhetorical nod to the reality that “big” is a fast-moving target when it comes to data. The year 2008, according to several computer scientists and industry executives, was when the term ‘Big Data’ began gaining currency in tech circles. Wired magazine published an article that cogently presented the opportunities and implications of the modern data deluge.

This new style of computing, Wired declared, was the beginning of the Petabyte Age. It was an excellent magazine piece, but the ‘petabyte’ label was too technical to be a mainstream hit – and inevitably, petabytes of data will give way to even bigger bytes: exabytes, zettabytes and yottabytes.

Many scientists and engineers at first sneered that Big Data was a marketing term. But good marketing is distilled and effective communication, a valuable skill in any field. For example, the mathematician John McCarthy coined the term ‘artificial intelligence’ in 1955, when writing a pitch for a Rockefeller Foundation grant. His deft turn of phrase was a masterstroke of aspirational marketing.

In late 2008, Big Data was embraced by a group of the nation’s leading computer science researchers, the Computing Community Consortium, a collaboration of the government’s National Science Foundation and the Computing Research Association, which represents academic and corporate researchers.

The computing consortium published an influential white paper, ‘Big-Data Computing: Creating Revolutionary Breakthroughs in Commerce, Science and Society’. Its authors were three prominent computer scientists, Randal Bryant of Carnegie Mellon University, Randy H Katz of the University of California, Berkeley, and Edward D Lazowska of the University of Washington. Their endorsement lent intellectual credibility to Big Data.

Rod A Smith, an IBM technical fellow and vice president for emerging Internet technologies, says he likes the term because it nudges people’s thinking up from the machinery of data-handling or precise measures of the volume of data.

“Big Data is really about new uses and new insights, not so much the data itself,” Smith says. IBM adopted Big Data in its marketing, especially after it resonated with customers. In 2008, Smith’s team put up a website to explain the Big Data theme, and the site has since been greatly expanded. In 2011, the company introduced a Twitter hashtag, ‘#IBMbigdata’. IBM has a Big Data newsletter, and in January it published an ebook, ‘Understanding Big Data’.

Since its founding in 1976, SAS Institute, the largest privately held software company in the world , has made software that sifts through databases, looking for nuggets of value. SAS, based in North Carolina has seen many a marketing term in its field, including “data mining,” “business intelligence” and “data analytics.”

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Facebook has new email address for phishing scams

NEW YORK: Facebook has created an email address for people to report scams. The address is phish(at) Anyone even those who aren’t on Facebook can use it to report malicious emails that pretend to come from Facebook.

Known as phishing, such emails attempt to get passwords and other information by pretending to come from a legitimate business. Because many people use the same passwords at banking and other sites, someone who gets account information for Facebook can log on elsewhere.

Facebook Inc. says scams tend to contain information that’s more vague than what’s in legitimate emails from Facebook.

Facebook says it will report scams to outside security companies and notify blacklists that Internet companies keep to block malicious websites. It will also prevent users from posting such links on Facebook.

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Google, Boingo offer New York free summer Wi-Fi

NEW YORK: Google and wireless Internet group Boingo said on Monday that they would offer free Wi-Fi access over the summer months in many parts of New York City, including some busy subway stations.

“Big Apple visitors and New York straphangers on the go can stay productive, update their status and surf online while avoiding data overage charges and network congestion via Boingo’s Wi-Fi networks from June 25 through September 7, 2012,” a statement from the two firms said.

Starting Monday, access will be free hotspots at six subway stations and other locations across Manhattan, under the “Google Offers” promotion.

Cliff Hopkins, director of marketing at Google Offers, said, “We’re excited to bring free Wi-Fi to subway stations and Boingo hotzones in Manhattan. People can surf the Internet, or discover great local deals from Google Offers, while they’re waiting at the subway platform or enjoying summer in the Big Apple.”

Boingo Wi-Fi is expected to be available in 36 New York subway stations by the end of the year and in more than 270 over the next five years.

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