Category Archives: Business
We’ve heard the rumors for weeks, and seen leaked versions during an Android developer’s Google+ Hangout and in one employee presentation. But now Google Drive, Google’s 5GB cloud-storage service, is official.
Announced on the company blog Tuesday, the service will integrate with Google Docs and will allow you to access files from anywhere and collaborate on documents with colleagues.
Google Docs is built right into Google Drive, which means you can work with others in real time on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Once you’ve shared content with someone else, you can add and reply to comments on anything (PDF, image, video file, etc.) and you’ll receive notifications when other people comment the items you’ve shared.
One interesting feature of the service is smart tagging, which allows you to tag items stored on your drive. So if you’ve uploaded a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge to your drive, the next time you perform a search for the bridge, your photo will show up along with other results.
Google Drive also uses image recognition — so if you drag and drop photos from your recent vacation into Drive, you can later search for locations you’ve visited and those photos will show up.
Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, Drive can also recognize text in scanned documents. That means if you’ve scanned in a page from an old book, for instance, you can search for words in that document.
When it comes time to access your files, the service can open a variety of different files types – 30 of them to be exact – within your browser, regardless of whether or not you have the required software installed. Supported file types include PDFs, HD video, and images from Illustrator and Photoshop.
You can install Drive on your Mac or PC , and use the service via an app on your Android phone or tablet. Google also has plans for an iOS app in the future. Blind users can access Drive with a screen reader.
Google is offering all users 5GB of storage on the service for free. If you need more than the 5GB, then it is offering several tiers of storage options.
You can choose to upgrade to 25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month or 1TB for $49.99/month. When you upgrade to a paid account, your Gmail account storage also expands to 25GB.
- Free storage for you: Google Drive to arrive today (hazimsos.wordpress.com)
Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, describes himself as an “Internet defender.”
When the technology community rallied together in opposition of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), Rep. Issa was at the front lines of Congress fighting to kill the bill. And as a former electronics company CEO, he’s one of the few Congressman who seem to “get it” when it comes to technology (Fun fact: Rep. Issa lent his voice to the alarm system for the ultra-sleek Dodge Viper).
Mashable spoke with Rep. Issa about his crusade against SOPA, his alternative plan for protecting intellectual property (the OPEN Act, hosted by the Madison Project) and what he sees on the horizon for technology and politics.
Good morning Chairman Issa, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. First question: What do you credit most with the defeat of SOPA?
“Time. More than anything else, the time it took for Wikipedia to gets its board to agree to the blackout and the momentum built that led to 7,000 websites responding (to SOPA). The reason I gave you that answer is because we don’t always have time. Time was the enemy of the people who tried to rush SOPA through the House.
“We started with four people who were adamantly against (SOPA). We lost every early vote, but we won time for the Internet (community) to react. In our business, sometimes we have to brag about our defeat. We lost every single vote in the markup, but we took days of their time — and that became one of our tactics to help let people know just how radical this bill was.”
Do you think the tech community can rally once again if it feels threatened by a new piece of legislation?
“It can, but you don’t always get the time to figure out the impact of a bill. There are steps being taken by a number of technology companies to hire lobbyists and have more eyes and ears in D.C. to find out what’s being earmarked into bills at the last minute when there really may only be a few hours’ warning (before a technology bill is passed).”
Tell us about the OPEN Act, your alternative intellectual property bill.
“I think every country has a right to protect its internal intellectual property. If you go to Russia and you try to stop piracy of American movies, that’s beyond the ability of U.S. law. If I hold a copyright in the U.S., I should have protections against internal piracy and external piracy. Our courts can already protect us against internal piracy.
“The only thing that needed to be addressed by SOPA is this: What if [people in another] country were pirating from the U.S.? The OPEN Act applies only to [people in other countries] that have been found to be violating U.S. copyright after a trial. Under [the OPEN Act], after that trial it would enable other means to be used but not the draconian means, like DNS blocking, that SOPA called for.
“Our view is that if you follow the money and prevent companies like Mastercard, Visa and PayPal from allowing the sales of pirated content, it doesn’t close off the Internet but it does stop these foreign traffickers.”
The debate around SOPA and other technology bills doesn’t divide neatly along party lines. Do you think technology issues are, in a way, bipartisan?
“Intellectual property and how we deal with that is always bipartisan … Sen. Wyden (D-Ore.) was particularly helpful in this entire debate, he brought his own version [of an intellectual property bill] to the Senate floor. [Rep. Jared] Polis [D-Colo.] was great to have as somebody else who knew the Internet and what it could do.”
You put the draft version of the OPEN Act online for the public to read and comment upon. Do you think that kind of transparency is the future of politics and technology?
“I do believe it is the future. Congress has to be willing to fund it. The Madison project had to be done at an external site because that kind of interactive exchange isn’t allowed under the House’s firewall rule, so we went to an outside storage facility.
“We don’t like to call the people who make the rules in the House and the Senate “Luddites,” but they’re pretty close. They’re very ultra-conservative on what (new technologies) they’re willing to adopt. Congress only went to Outlook Web a year ago — and it was still only a belt-and-suspenders type of access … our whole infrastructure is built around not getting hacked rather than getting access.
“The technology systems in the House are quite archaic, and if you’re dealing with members that have been around for a long time, it’s harder to adopt new platforms than if you’re in the private sector and more comfortable with new platforms. A big part of the House’s bandwidth is actually used for an off-site redundancy, which duplicates every one of our sites for Outlook and all of our servers. We use so much bandwidth for that, I’m still fighting to get (Voice over IP) telephones installed in the House.”
Chairman Issa, thank you again for taking the time out of your schedule to speak with Mashable today.
“Thank you. My message to the 7,000 websites that blacked out last January and other members of the tech community: How would you react if you only had 24 hours to react to a bill? There’s no system that would guarantee they would know and react in that short a period.”
Thanks to the efforts of 13,000 volunteers worldwide, Twitter is now available in Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu, according to a company blog post. Twitter had been working on translating and localizing these right-to-left languages since January 25.
These languages posed unique challenges for Twitter. To overcome technical barriers, Twitter’s engineering team had to build a new set of special tools to ensure that these tweets, hashtags and numbers would behave as their counterparts in left-to-right languages.
Not only that, but some of these languages are spoken — and therefore will be tweeted — in locations where Twitter is officially blocked.
Twitter was a recognizable force in the Arab Spring — but given that there wasn’t yet an Arabic interface, most of the users who tweeted from those regions did so in non-native languages.
And Twitter’s numerous volunteer translators for these right-to-left languages —from Lebanese teenagers to Egyptian college students to IT professionals in Iran and Pakistan, among others — live in these areas as well. “Their efforts speak volumes about the lengths that people will go to make Twitter accessible and understandable for their communities,” the company said in its blog post.
Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu join Thai as the only right-to-left languages in Twitter’s translation center. Their incorporation means the service is now available in 28 languages.
Invitations sent to journalists read: “We have something you really have to see. And touch.”
While not officially confirming the product’s launch, the message was accompanied by an image showing what looked to be an iPad touchscreen.
The iPad range, which first launched in 2010, has sold more than 50 million units worldwide.
It is not yet known when the new device will be available for sale.
Last year, sales of the iPad 2 began in the US nine days after the launch announcement – which also took place in March.
Microsoft will announce details for the consumer versions of Windows 8 at an event in Barcelona on Wednesday evening.
The tablet market – just like the smartphone market – has been subject to intense patent wars, chiefly between Apple and its key challenger Samsung.
The global research department of HSBC has released a report predicting the rise and fall of the world’s economies in the next 40 years.
The world’s top economy in 2050 will be China, followed by the United States. No surprises there – since China’s reforms in the 1980s, economists have said it’s not a question of if, but when, China’s collective economic might will top the U.S.
But among the smaller, developing nations, there are several surprises by HSBC prognosticators:
* By 2050, the Philippines will leapfrog 27 places to become the world’s 16th largest economy.
* Peru’s economy, growing by 5.5% each year, jumping 20 places to 26th place – ahead of Iran, Columbia and Switzerland. Other strong performers will be Egypt (up 15 places to 20th), Nigeria (up nine places to 37th), Turkey (up six spots to 12th), Malaysia (up 17 to 21st) and the Ukraine (up 19 to 45th).
* Japan’s working population will contract by a world-top 37% in 2050 – yet HSBC economists predict it will still be toward the top performing economies, dropping only one spot to the 4th largest economy. India will jump ahead of Japan to 3rd on the list.
* The big loser in the next 40 years will be advanced economies in Europe, HSBC predicts, who will see their place in the economic pecking order erode as working population dwindles and developing economies climb. Only five European nations will be in the top 20, compared to eight today. Biggest drop will be felt northern Europe: Denmark to 56th ( -29), Norway to 48th ( -22), Sweden to 38th (-20) and Finland to 57th (-19).
HSBC 2050 list of top economies (change in rank from 2010)
1) China (+2)
2) U.S. (-1)
3) India (+5)
4) Japan (-2)
5) Germany (-1)
6) UK (-1)
7) Brazil (+2)
8) Mexico (+5)
9) France (-3)
10) Canada (same)
11) Italy (-4)
12) Turkey (+6)
13) S. Korea (-2)
14) Spain (-2)
15) Russia (+2)
16) Philippines (+27)
17) Indonesia (+4)
18) Australia (-2)
19) Argentina (2)
20) Egypt (+15)
21) Malaysia (+17)
22) Saudi Arabia (+1)
23) Thailand (+6)
24) Netherlands (-9)
25) Poland (-1)
26) Peru (+20)
27) Iran (+7)
28) Colombia (+12
29) Switzerland (-9)
30) Pakistan (+14)
“If we step away from the cyclicality, there are two ways economies can grow; either add more people to the production line via growth in the working population, or make each individual more productive,” the report says.
In other words, demographics – the size of your working population – along with the opportunities to flex that muscle help determine long-term economic trends. Big factors on the back half of that equation: Education opportunities, democratic governments or strong rule of law (a caveat that explains China and Saudi Arabia’s high placement).
“We openly admit that behind these projections we assume governments build on their recent progress and remain solely focused on increasing the living standards for their populations,” the report says. “Of course, this maybe an overly glossy way of viewing the world.”
Chief factors that may derail economies moving forward, the report says: War, energy consumption constraints, climate change, and growing barriers to population movement across borders.
- Britain could hold on to its place in the world after all (telegraph.co.uk)
- India remains most challenging country for Expats! (trak.in)
- Saudi Arabia warned of ‘women explosion’ – Emirates 24/7 (arabicvideotranslation.wordpress.com)
- HSBC says it may quit London (zokimag.wordpress.com)
- UK economy will be biggest in Europe in 4 decades, say experts (dailymail.co.uk)
- World economy to slog in 2012 (currentindiaaffairs.wordpress.com)
- The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: HSBC Holdings, Wynn Resorts, Wal-Mart, UBS AG and NYSE Euronext (prnewswire.com)