Category Archives: Twitter

How to reach Parallels Support

Parallels Support team guest author: Dineshraj Yuvaraj If you’re new to Parallels, you might be interested to know that we offer 24/7 support. This blog will show you the available options. Depending on the product you are using, Parallels offers a variety of options to reach support, including Twitter, Facebook, Forum, phone, email, and chat. […]

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Twitter acquires machine learning start-up Magic Pony

Twitter has stepped up its efforts in the machine learning arena after announcing the acquisition of visual processing technology company Magic Pony.

While the company claims machine learning is central to the brands capabilities, it has been relatively quiet in the market segment in comparison to industry heavy weights such as IBM, Google and Microsoft. This is the third acquisition the team has made in this area, reported to be in the range of $150 million, following the purchase of Whetlab last year and Mad Bits in 2014, compared to Google who acquired Jetpac, Dark Blue Labs and Vision Factory, as well as $500 million on DeepMind, all in 2014.

“Machine learning is increasingly at the core of everything we build at Twitter,” said Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO. “Magic Pony’s machine learning technology will help us build strength into our deep learning teams with world-class talent, so Twitter can continue to be the best place to see what’s happening and why it matters, first. We value deep learning research to help make our world better, and we will keep doing our part to share our work and learnings with the community.”

The acquisition follows Twitter’s announcement last week advertisers will now be able to utilize emoji keyword targeting for Twitter Ads. Although a simple proposition in the first instance, the new features did open up the opportunity for machine learning enhanced advertising solutions.

Magic Pony, which was founded in 2014 and currently has 11 employees, was acquired to bolster the visual experiences that are delivered across Twitter apps. The team will link up with Twitter Cortex, the in-house machine learning department, to improve image processing expertise.

The technology itself makes use of the abilities of convolutional neural networks to scale-out an image. By taking the information in a picture, the technology imagines a larger and more in-depth image by scaling out the detail which it sees. Much in the same way a human can imagine the rest of a car by seeing the door, the technology learns lessons from previous experiences and applies logical decisions moving forward.

Magic Pony itself was initially supported by investment from Octopus Ventures who have seemingly found a specialty in finding promising AI start-ups. Prior to Magic Pony being acquired by Twitter, Octopus Ventures invested it Evi which was acquired by Amazon in 2012, and SwiftKey which was acquired by Microsoft this year.

“Today marks a great day for the Magic Pony team,” said Luke Hakes, Investment Director at Octopus Ventures. “We’re proud to have believed in the concept early on and to then have had the privilege of joining their journey. The technology Magic Pony has developed is revolutionary and pushes the boundaries of what is possible with AI in the video space.

“The UK continues to grow as the ‘go-to’ place for companies looking to build best in breed AI technology – Octopus has been fortunate to work with the founders of three companies in this space that have gone on to be acquired, with Evi and Amazon, SwiftKey and Microsoft, and now Magic Pony and Twitter. We are excited for the Magic Pony team, but also to take what we have learnt on the last three journeys and help the next generation of entrepreneurs lead the way in the on-going AI revolution.”

Machine learning front and centre of R&D for Microsoft and Google

Dear Future Im Ready, message on paper, smart phone and coffee on tableMicrosoft and Google have announced plans to expand their machine learning capabilities, through acquisition and new research offices respectively, reports

Building on the ‘Conversation-as-a-Platform’ proposition put forward by CEO Satya Nadella at Build 2016, the Microsoft team has announced plans to acquire Wand Labs. The purchase will add weight to the ‘Conversation-as-a-Platform’ strategy, as well as supporting innovation ambitions for Bing intelligence.

“Wand Labs’ technology and talent will strengthen our position in the emerging era of conversational intelligence, where we bring together the power of human language with advanced machine intelligence,” said David Ku, Corporate Vice President of the Information Platform Group on the company’s official blog. “It builds on and extends the power of the Bing, Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Windows platforms to empower developers everywhere.”

More specifically, Wand Labs adds expertise in semantic ontologies, services mapping, third-party developer integration and conversational interfaces, to the Microsoft engineering team. The ambition of the overarching project is to make the customers experience more seamless by harnessing human language in an artificial environment.

Microsoft’s move into the world of artificial intelligence and machine learning has not been a smooth ride to date, though this has not seemed to hinder investment. Back in March, the company’s AI inspired Twitter account Tay went into melt-down mode, though the team pushed forward, updating its Cortana Intelligence Suite and releasing its Skype Bot Platform. Nadella has repeatedly highlighted artificial intelligence and machine learning is the future for the company, stating at Build 2016:

“As an industry, we are on the cusp of a new frontier that pairs the power of natural human language with advanced machine intelligence. At Microsoft, we call this Conversation-as-a-Platform, and it builds on and extends the power of the Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Windows platforms to empower developers everywhere.”

Google’s efforts in the machine learning world have also been pushed forward this week, as the team announced dedicated machine learning research based in the Zurich offices, on its blog. The team will focus on three areas specifically, machine intelligence, natural language processing & understanding, as well as machine perception.

Like Microsoft, Google has prioritized artificial intelligence and machine learning, though both companies will be playing catch-up with the likes of IBM and AWS, whose AI propositions have been in the market for some time. Back in April, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in the company’s earnings call “overall, I do think in the long run, I think we will evolve in computing from a mobile first to an AI first world,” outlining the ambitions of the team.

Google itself already has a number of machine learning capabilities incorporated in its product portfolio, those these could be considered as relatively rudimentary. Translate, Photo Search and SmartReply for Inbox already contains aspects of machine learning, though the team are targeting more complex and accurate competencies.

Elsewhere, Twitter has announced on their blog advertisers will now be able to utilize emoji keyword targeting for Twitter Ads. This new feature uses emoji activity as a signal of a person’s mood or mind set, allowing advertisers to more effectively communicate marketing messages minimizing the potential for backlash of disgruntled twitter users. Although the blog does not state the use of machine learning competencies, it does leave the opportunity for future innovation in the area.

Snooper’s charter a potential disaster warns lobby of US firms

security1The ‘snooper’s charter’ could neutralise the contribution of Britain’s digital economy, according to a representation of US tech corporations including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo.

In a collective submission to the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill Joint Committee they argue that surveillance should be “is targeted, lawful, proportionate, necessary, jurisdictionally bounded, and transparent.”

These principles, the collective informs the parliamentary committee, reflect the perspective of global companies that offer “borderless technologies to billions of people around the globe”.

The extraterritorial jurisdiction will create ‘conflicting legal obligations’ for them, the collective said. If the UK government instructs foreign companies what to do, then foreign governments may follow suit, they warn. A better long term resolution might be the development of an ‘international framework’ with ‘a common set of rules’ to resolve jurisdictional conflicts.

“Encryption is a fundamental security tool, important to the security of the digital economy and crucial to the safety of web users worldwide,” the submission said. “We reject any proposals that would require companies to deliberately weaken the security of their products via backdoors, forced decryption or any other means.”

Another area of concern mentioned is the bill’s proposed legislation on Computer Network Exploitation which, the companies say, gives intelligence services legal powers to break into any system. This would be a very dangerous precedent to set, the submission argues, “we would urge your Government to reconsider,” it said.

Finally, Facebook and co registered concern that the new law would prevent any discussion of government surveillance, even in court. “We urge the Government to make clear that actions taken under authorization do not introduce new risks or vulnerabilities for users or businesses, and that the goal of eliminating vulnerabilities is one shared by the UK Government. Without this, it would be impossible to see how these provisions could meet the proportionality test.”

The group submission joins other individual protest registered by Apple, EE, F-Secure, the Internet Service Providers’ Association, Mozilla, The Tor Project and Vodafone.

The interests of British citizens hang in a very tricky balance, according to analyst Clive Longbottom at Quocirca. “Forcing vendors to provide back door access to their systems and platforms is bloody stupid, as the bad guys will make just as much use of them. However, the problem with terrorism is that it respects no boundaries. Neither, to a greater extent, do any of these companies. They have built themselves on a basis of avoiding jurisdictions – only through such a means can they minimise their tax payments,” said Longbottom.

Box, Docker, eBay, Google among newly formed Cloud Native Computing Foundation

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation is putting Linux containers at the core of its definition of 'cloud-native' apps

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation is putting Linux containers at the core of its definition of ‘cloud-native’ apps

The Linux Foundation along with a number of enterprises, cloud service providers , telcos and vendors have banded together to form the Cloud Native Computing Foundation in a bid to standardise and advance Linux containerisation for cloud.

The newly formed open source foundation, a Linux Foundation collaborative project, plans to create and drive adoption of common container technologies at the orchestration level, and integrate hosts and services by defining common APIs and standards.

The organisation also plans to assemble specifications to address a “comprehensive set of container application infrastructure needs.”

The members at launch include AT&T, Box, Cisco, Cloud Foundry Foundation, CoreOS, Cycle Computing, Docker, eBay, Goldman Sachs, Google, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Joyent, Kismatic, Mesosphere, Red Hat, Switch Supernap, Twitter, Univa, VMware and Weaveworks.

“The Cloud Native Computing Foundation will help facilitate collaboration among developers and operators on common technologies for deploying cloud native applications and services,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation.

“By bringing together the open source community’s very best talent and code in a neutral and collaborative forum, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation aims to advance the state-of-the-art of application development at Internet scale,” Zemlin said.

The central goal of the foundation will be to harmonise container standards and techniques. A big challenge with containers today is there are many, many ways to implement them, with a range of ‘open ecosystems’ and vendor-specific approaches, all creating one heterogeneous, messy pool of technologies that don’t always play well together.

That said, the foundation expects to build on other existing open source container initiatives including Docker’s recently announced Open Container Initiative (OCI), with which it will work on building its container image spec into the standards it develops. Google also announced that the foundation would henceforth govern development of Kubernetes, which reached v.1 this week, over to the foundation.

“Google is committed to advancing the state of computing, and to helping businesses everywhere benefit from the patterns that have proven so effective to us in operating at Internet scale,” said Craig McLuckie, product manager at Google. “We believe that this foundation will help harmonize the broader ecosystem, and are pleased to contribute Kubernetes, the open source cluster scheduler, to the foundation as a seed technology.”

Ben Golub, chief executive of Docker said while the OCI offers a solid foundation for container-based computing many standards and fine details have yet to be agreed.

“At the orchestration layer of the stack, there are many competing solutions and the standard has yet to be defined. Through our participation in the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, we are pleased to be part of a collaborative effort that will establish interoperable reference stacks for container orchestration, enabling greater innovation and flexibility among developers. This is in line with the Docker Swarm integration with Mesos,” Golub said.

Adobe under renewed pressure to kill Flash following security issues

Much of the world's digital video content is still served up on Flash

Much of the world’s digital video content is still served up on Flash

Adobe Flash, the video and graphics platform that was once almost ubiquitous across computing devices is coming under increasing pressure after a series of security vulnerabilities, reports

Such has been the severity of these vulnerabilities that Mozilla has added all versions of Flash to the block list for the Firefox Browser. In addition the new Chief Security Officer of Facebook used Twitter to call for Adobe to announce an end-of-life date for Flash.

This probably marks the end game for a piece of software that was once considered central to the consumption of multimedia content, both on PC and mobile. The first and probably most damaging Emperor’s New Clothes moment was in 2010 when the late Apple boss Steve Jobs addressed a furore around Apple’s diminishing support for Flash.

An Adobe-affiliated blogger has even gone so far as to demand Apple screw itself, and Jobs saw fit to put the Apple view forward.  Among Jobs’ criticisms of Flash was its security, saying: “Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009. We also know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash. We have been working with Adobe to fix these problems, but they have persisted for several years now. We don’t want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash.”

A couple of years later Android followed suit and the industry on the whole has been looking to reduce its exposure to Flash ever since, with tech such as HTML5 being of significant assistance in this regard. The writing appears to be on the wall for Flash, and it will be interesting to see if Adobe is capable of pulling the plug on it in a sensible and dignified way.

Twitter nixes firehose partnership with DataSift

Twitter is consolidating its grip on data analytics and resellers using its data in real-time

Twitter is consolidating its grip on data analytics and resellers using its data in real-time

Twitter has suspended negotiations over the future use of the social media giant’s data with big data analytics provider DataSift, sparking concerns the firm plans to shut out others in the ecosystem of data analytics providers it enables.

In a recent blog post penned by DataSift’s chief exec and founder, Nick Halstead, the company aimed to reaffirm to customers that’s its business model “never relied on access to Twitter data” and that it is extending its reach into “business-owned data.”

But, the company still attacked the social media giant for damaging the ecosystem it enables.

“Our goal has always been to provide a one-stop shop for our customers to access all the types of data from a variety of networks and be able to consume it in the most efficient way. Less noise, more actionable results. This is what truly matters to companies that deal with social data,” Halstead explained.

“The bottom line: Twitter has seriously damaged the ecosystem this week. 80% of our customers use technology that can’t be replaced by Twitter. At the end of the day, Twitter is providing data licensing, not processing data to enable analysis.”

“Twitter also demonstrated that it doesn’t understand the basic rules of this market: social networks make money from engagement and advertising. Revenue from data should be a secondary concern to distribution and it should occur only in a privacy-safe way. Better understanding of their audiences means more engagement and more ad spend from brands. More noise = less ad spend.”

DataSift was one three data resellers that enjoy privileged access to Twitter’s data in real-time – Gnip, which is now owned by Twitter, and NTT Data being the other two.

The move to strengthening its grip over the analysis ecosystem seems aimed at bolstering Gnip’s business. A similarly-timed post on Gnip’s blog by Zach Hofer-Shall, head of Twitter more or less explained that the Gnip acquisition was a “first step” towards developing a more direct relationship with data customers, which would suggest other firehose-related negotiations may likely sour in the coming months if they haven’t already (BCN reached out to NTT Data for comment).

Some have, reasonably, hit out at Twitter for effectively eating its own ecosystem and shutting down third party innovation.  For instance Steven Willmott, chief executive of 3Scale, an API services vendor, said shutting down firehose access will result in niche verticals being underserved.

“While it makes sense at some level to want to be closer to the consumers of data (that’s valuable and laudable from a product perspective), removing other channels is an innovation bust. Twitter will no doubt do a great job on a range of use-cases but it’s severely damaging not to have a means to enable full firehose access for others. Twitter should really be expanding firehose access, not restricting it”

Julien Genestoux, founder of data feed service provider Superfeedr, said the recent move to cut off firehose access is not very different from what Twitter did a couple years ago when they started limiting the 3rd party client’s API accesses, and that Facebook often does much the same with partners it claims to give full data access to.

“The problem isn’t the company. The problem is the pattern. When using an API, developers are completely surrendering any kind of bargain power they have. There’s a reason we talk about slave and master in computer science. API’s are whips for web companies. This is the very tool they use to enforce a strong coupling and dependence to their platform,” he said.

While Twitter seems to be severely restricting the data reseller ecosystem it’s also redoubling its efforts to capture the hearts and minds of the enterprise developer, with coveted access to its data being placed front and centre. Twitter is working with IBM to make its data stream available to Big Blue’s clients, and in March this year IBM said it has over 100 pilots in place that see the company working with enterprises in a range of verticals to create cloud-based services integrating Twitter data and Watson analytics.

IBM says over 100 enterprises creating Twitter-integrated cloud services

Twitter and IBM are jointly deliver solutions leveraging IBM's technology and consulting expertise with Twitter's vast data troves

Twitter and IBM are jointly deliver solutions leveraging IBM’s technology and consulting expertise with Twitter’s vast data troves

IBM said it has over 100 pilots in place that see the company working with enterprises in a range of verticals to create cloud-based services integrated with Twitter. The move comes months after the two companies inked a deal that would see Twitter make its data stream available to Big Blue’s clients.

IBM said the move enables social data-enabled application development via Bluemix, and the ability to combine predictive analytics and Watson services with Twitter data in compelling ways.

The company also said it has over 4,000 service professionals well-versed in Twitter data integration who are on hand to help enterprises integrate Twitter in their applications

“So much of business decision making relies on internal data such as sales, promotion and inventory. Now with Twitter data, customer feedback can easily be incorporated into decision making,” said Chris Moody, vice president of data strategy at Twitter. “IBM’s unique capabilities can help businesses leverage this valuable data, and we expect to see rapid demand in retail, telecommunications, finance and more.”

Glenn Finch, global leader of big data & analytics for IBM Global Business Services said: “The unprecedented partnership between IBM and Twitter helps businesses tap into billions of real-time conversations to make smarter decisions. Through unique expertise, curation and insights Twitter data is now able to inform decision-making far inside organizations”

IBM and Twitter originally announced the collaboration, which focuses on three distinct areas, in October last year, making IBM one of just a handful of companies to have full access to Twitter’s entire data stream.

Twitter offered up its data for developers to integrate into their big data applications built on IBM’s Watson Developer Cloud or Bluemix.

IBM and Twitter said they would jointly develop enterprise applications that integrate Twitter data with IBM’s customer engagement solutions (ExperienceOne) that help users map sentiment behaviour in real-time.

And the companies also planned to jointly develop solutions for specific industries such as banking, consumer products, retail, and travel and transportation, with IBM throwing its vast consulting resources behind the effort.

How 360° Student Relationship Management Could Benefit Your Educational Institution

If you run a higher educational institution, your student is your customer. Surprising as it may sound, consider this: the focus of most initiatives in your institute needs to be the student. Starting from attracting them to join your institute, to the way their association with you is managed, you could achieve desired results if you plan your strategy keeping the student in the spotlight.

IT can play an essential role in helping you manage student relations. A Student Relationship Management (SRM) framework can help you forge a better connection with your students, keep you aware of any reasons that could cause dissatisfaction or churning and provides mechanisms to address such situations at the earliest.

Challenges to be addressed by an SRM Solution

Some of the challenges faced by higher educational institutions are:

  • Improving student enrolment and retention

  • Encouraging a lifelong learning process, including alumni engagement

  • Bringing about pricing optimization for education companies to make higher education affordable for the student yet profitable for the provider

  • Motivating the creation of educational products and services

  • Building and maintaining the brand image across all channels of publicity

  • Engaging and retaining staff

Other than the students, it is the faculty who play a very important role in establishing the reputation of an institution, which, in turn, attracts the required students. An efficient 360° SRM system would consider the goals of all the stakeholders and incorporate them in a student-centric manner.

SRM Systems Incorporate Changing Roles and Experiences

All the stakeholders, including students, faculty and administrative personnel go through a range of experiences in association with the institution.Beginning from when they enter the institute as strangers to the sense of belonging them cultivate over time; they would need to be treated differently according to their changing role. A seasoned vendor such as HCL Tech would ensure that these changing roles and functions are also a part of the provided system. This means that any situations that require intervention, such as a dissatisfied student who may be thinking of leaving the institution, would definitely have an addressing mechanism. If the design accounts for all such cases, hardly any scenario would remain truly “unexpected”.

SRM Solutions Harness Social Media

The management bodies of educational institutions would definitely be aware of the reach of social media among students. You can now harness the might of this medium in a positive manner. A service provider like HCL Tech could help you with using a popular platform like Facebook or Twitter to actively engage with an existing and prospective student population. For example, a Facebook page could be a medium used by the institution for such interaction. Social media apps used along with pattern recognition mechanisms may also be used.

Choosing HCL Tech to implement your 360° Student Relationship Management System is an important step, as it ensures that you receive a comprehensive, modern and efficient solution. All the building blocks including the data layer, CRM services, data analytics and social ecosystem, including mobile apps, would beput in place for you. All you need to do is to build on them further and operate them efficiently to ensure the success of your institution’s student relations strategy.

To know more about the topic please read the whitepaper presented by HCL Technologies.

How Businesses Can Use the Number Three Social Network (and Do You Know Which It Is?)

Pinterest is a social bookmarking site that allows users to create a visual, online pinboard with images they love organized around topics of their choice by category. It’s the fastest growing social media site in history, the third-largest network after Facebook and Twitter and has over 25 million members and 10 million unique visitors a month, nearly three-quarters of them women.

Karen Leland, author of the new book “Entrepreneur Magazine’s Ultimate Guide to Pinterest for Business,” has created a comprehensive and easy-to-use guide to hitting the road running and quickly making Pinterest into a valuable source of prospects, promotion and profits.

“Great business brands are about telling compelling, congruent stories, and Pinterest is at its core about storytelling in pictures,” says Leland. “Pinterest has tapped into this visceral lover of visuals, and no small business, entrepreneur or corporation can afford to miss the boat on bringing what they offer beyond words and into images.”

Following her own advice resulted in this infographic: