Google unveils new logo at turning point in company’s history

First they changed their name, now they’ve changed their logo. Googleintroduced a new sans-serif and slightly toned-down four-colour logo on Tuesday in the biggest redesign since 1999.

Google said the new design would soon be seen across all its products. Google’s homepage introduced the redesign with an animation that wiped away the old logo and drew the new one.

“Google has changed a lot over the past 17 years – from the range of our products to the evolution of their look and feel. And today we’re changing things up once again,” the company said in a blogpost.

The company said the redesign was meant to reflect the way that people interact with Google products across many different platforms, apps and devices.

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“It doesn’t simply tell you that you’re using Google, but also shows you how Google is working for you. For example, new elements like a colorful Google mic help you identify and interact with Google whether you’re talking, tapping or typing. Meanwhile, we’re bidding adieu to the little blue ‘g’ icon and replacing it with a four-color ‘G’ that matches the logo.”

The logo has undergone many, mainly small, changes in its history. The colours have changed, 3D letters have been flattened, and an exclamation point came and went in 1999.

The move comes just a month after a major restructuring of the company was unveiled. Google is now owned by Alphabet, a holding company created by founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to separate their money-making search engine company from the loss-making, “moon shot” projects like robot cars, medical research and internet-delivering balloons.

Ericsson’s next-gen LTE targets faster mobile networks and IoT

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Ericsson is working on LTE with faster upload speeds, as well as using unlicensed spectrum to speed up downloads and customizing the technology for Internet of Things applications.

The Swedish telecom equipment vendor is showing off some of the developments at the CTIA Super Mobility conference next week in Las Vegas.

5G will likely be one of the hottest topics at CTIA, but LTE still has lots mileage left — after all, the first two letters stand for Long Term. And it’s a lot easier to upgrade an existing network than roll out a new one.

One of the more contentious upgrades is using unlicensed spectrum for LTE. Detractors fear it will affect Wi-Fi performance, which uses the same frequencies.

To prevent that from happening, a number of methods are being developed to make LTE play well alongside Wi-Fi. At CTIA, Ericsson is demonstrating LTE-U (Unlicensed) Fair Sharing, which continually monitors the radio environment to determine the overall average channel availability.

The company is also showing LTE at speeds up to 600Mbps with the help of carrier aggregation and better signal encoding. Carrier aggregation, which is part of LTE-Advanced, allows networks to devote more resources to some users by treating two or more channels in the same or different frequency bands as if they were one.

Because of the amount of spectrum needed, not all operators will be able to offer 600Mbps.

The work that’s been done to increase bandwidths has so far focused on faster download speeds. Using some of the same technologies, attention is now being turned to speedier uploads, as well.

Using carrier aggregation on the uplink along with improved encoding allows the bandwidth to be increased from 75Mbps to 150Mbps.

Users are becoming more dependent on cloud-based storage, and are also uploading bigger images and videos to social networks, so higher upload speeds will be welcomed.

However, future LTE networks are also being developed to work better with the Internet of Things. A new version called  LTE Category 0 is much slower than current networks, but that’s fine since most IoT apps don’t need lots of bandwidth. The upside is that the cost of devices drops and battery lives can be extended to 10 years and more.

To show what’s possible, Ericsson has teamed up with chipmaker Sequans to demonstrate a prototype network and device.

All the LTE upgrades are part of Ericsson’s Networks Software 16A and 16B. They will be used on indoor and outdoor base stations and become available next year.

Wikipedia bans 381 user accounts for dishonest editing

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Editors of the English version of Wikipedia have blocked 381 user accounts for editing articles on the online encyclopedia despite being secretly paid to do so by various interests.

The  editors also deleted 210 articles created by the accounts. Most of these were generally promotional in nature and were related to businesses, people in business or artists. The articles had biased information, unattributed material and potential copyright violations, the Wikimedia Foundation that runs Wikipedia said in a blog post Monday.

The foundation said it believed the edits were made by one coordinated group because of their similarity.

Wikipedia has been struggling for a long time against so-called sockpuppet accounts, which often can be multiple accounts used by a single editor to mislead and deceive other editors. Content in the encyclopedia is created, edited and maintained by a large number of voluntary editors, but the model has proven to have limitations, including allowing the editing of information by people who are secretly paid to do so by external interests.

In 2013, for example, it said that an investigation by the English Wikipedia community into suspicious edits and sockpuppet activity had found that a large U.S. consulting company had created, edited, or maintained thousands of Wikipedia articles for paying clients. The firm had used concealed user accounts, Wikimedia said.

The 381 accounts now blocked by Wikipedia’s volunteer editors were charged with “undisclosed paid advocacy”.

In June last year, Wikimedia changed its terms of use to ban editing for pay, without disclosing an employer or affiliation, on any of its websites.

Editors of Wikipedia are now required to disclose their employer or client or any affiliation from which they receive a compensation. Such editors with a conflict of interest are advised not to edit articles in which they would have an interest as a result.

Wikipedia editors are referring to the current case as Orangemoody after the first sockpuppet identified in the investigation.

PayPal.Me Peer-to-Peer Payments Service Launched

PayPal on Tuesday announced the rollout of a new peer-to-peer payments service called PayPal.Me. The service is an easy method to get back the money users had lent, or start a collection drive.

The new PayPal.Me peer-to-peer payments lets users easily name their amount and share a personal link to get paid back. “PayPal.Me makes requesting money from groups of friends, family and colleagues suddenly so much easier and faster. Rather than following up individually, you can email your PayPal.Me link to co-workers to chip in for an engagement present for another co-worker. Or stop asking each of your fellow bridesmaids for bachelorette party payments and just send a group text message with your PayPal.Me link,” said the company’s post.

For instance, a link can be named as paypal.me/ndtvgadgets and can then be sent to groups of friends, family and colleagues using email, instant messenger, social media post, blog, or website. The recipients can then open the link on a wide variety of devices, fill in the amount they want to pay (which was due) and click on send, after which the particular amount is then deducted from their PayPalaccount and is transferred on to the sender’s account.

The PayPal.Me service for now is available in 18 countries – the US, UK, Germany, Australia, Canada, Russia, Turkey, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria.

The company, according to its recent survey, said that “adults worldwide are owed more than $51 billion in IOUs (unpaid, small debts) from friends and family[…]These billions of dollars go unclaimed simply because people hate spending the time to chase down debts, and have those awkward face-to-face conversations. That same study found that over 50 percent of Americans find it awkward to ask their friends or family to pay them back. But PayPal.Me changes everything about getting paid back.”

PayPal last month teamed up with BlackBerry, the smartphone maker, to allow peer-to-peer (P2P) payments where the conversation is already happening in the BBM app. Using the service, BB10, Android and iOS users can send money securely with PayPal straight from their BBM app. For sending money via BBM, users will have to tap on the “Send Money” icon in the app and connect a PayPal account. You can start sending money once the receiver (whom you intend to send money to) also connects their PayPal account to BBM.

Centre Launches Smart National Mobility Card Initiative

To enable seamless travel by different metros and other transport systems besides retail shopping and purchases, the Centre launched a Smart National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) model on Tuesday.

The card will do away with the need to carry separate cards for banking and transit requirements.

“Union Minister for Urban Development M. Venkaiah Naidu has approved the ‘EMV Open Loop Card with stored value’ in this regard, the ministry said in a statement.

Following an unsuccessful effort in the past to come out with such an inter-operable mobility card, a committee was set up last year by the urban development ministry under the chairmanship of its additional secretary.

The committee, after an extensive study of various models being followed across the world, has recommended the EMV Open Loop Card with stored value based model.

“This Smart Common Mobility Payment Card addresses the deficiencies associated with other cards being used in Singapore and other countries. This card meets travel needs based on stored value of money and can be used for travelling by any means of transport and also enables account based retail applications,” the statement said.

The urban development ministry has decided to task the National Payments Corporation of India with indigenous development and management of clearing and settlement of payments, simulating cards, terminals and network, a support base of vendors for providing certified tools, cards, terminals and other services.

Naidu has directed the ministry officials to ensure time bound and coordinated progress in this regard by various agencies to ensure early introduction of Smart Mobility Cards.

He has also asked that states be informed of this initiative for taking appropriate action for integration of other systems with the new smart card.

Twitter Reportedly Testing New Photo, Video Editing Tools

It appears as if Twitter is testing new photo and video editing tools with limited users. The new photo and video editing tools were tipped by several celebrities, including Taylor Swift and Pharrell Williams, with their tweets during MTV’s Video Music Awards.

Twitter’s, Lara Cohen, Director of Entertainment Talent, seemingly confirmed that some photo and video tools were being tested by these celebrities in a tweet where she said, “OMG @taylorswift13 with these new photo tools.”

So far, there is no word what are the exact tools that Twitter is currently testing but by looking at the shared images by celebrities, it looks like soon users will be able to add stickers, doodles, text, and more in images and videos before sharing them on Twitter.

Additionally, Twitter on Monday shared a blog on the commencement of the US Open 2015 where some tennis players can be seen sharing images on Twitter with stickers, text, and other editing tools tipping that the company is expanding its testing to include more users.

One of the possibilities, TechCrunch points is that the micro-blogging website might be testing a new standalone app for images and video sharing apart from the main Twitter app. So far, users can only filter and crop images before sharing on Twitter.

It’s worth noting that Twitter added native video sharing support to its app earlier this year. The Twitter app allowed users to capture, edit and share videos. The feature allowed sharing videos of about 30-seconds or less in length.

Twitter recently brought its ‘Pin Tweets’ feature to apps. Initially launched as a Web-exclusive, ‘Pin Tweets’ feature allowed users to pin a tweet to the top of their profile. The company confirmed that the feature has started gradually rolling out to its Android and iOS mobile apps.

Google life sciences group to wage war on diabetes

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Google may still be working on a name for its recently spun off life sciences group, but the division already has a foe: diabetes.

On Monday, Google said the chronic disease will be the first illness the life sciences division focuses on as it becomes a separate business under the new Alphabet holding company.

The search giant also wants to digitize how people manage their diabetes and is partnering with drug maker Sanofi to develop technologies that could aid in that process.

Diabetics use mobile apps, medical devices and even pieces of paper to record food intake, log blood sugar levels, track fitness activities and determine medication doses, Google said. Given the hassles of using these unintegrated methods, only around half of diabetics achieve their target glucose levels, according to a study from The New England Journal of Medicine that was cited by Google.

The medical consequences of not managing diabetes include heart disease, stroke and nerve damage.

Since the partnership is new, neither Google nor Sanofi could say exactly how the search giant’s technology could be used by the pharmaceutical company. The goal, though, is to use Google technology including sensors, wearable devices and analytics tools to give doctors and patients more insight into how to better manage diabetes.

For example, the technology could help explain to a physician why a person’s glucose level has spiked for several days or provide real-time information related to a patient’s insulin dosage or diet.

Google Life Sciences chief Andy Conrad [cq] told Bloomberg smart insulin and measurement devices could come out of the partnership.

The deal’s financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Google’s life sciences group has made other forays into diabetes research. The company is working with drug company Novartis on creating a contact lens that uses tears to measure a person’s blood sugar levels. Earlier this month, Google and medical device maker Dexcom said they would collaborate on creating a small sensor that would continuously monitor a person’s glucose levels and be connected to the cloud.

Once part of the secretive Google X research lab, the life sciences unit became its own company under a massive reorganization at the search giant. A name hasn’t been selected for the new venture.

Facebook Intends To Crack Down On Video Piracy

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Facebook has seen an massive increase in videos on its site over the last year, with the increased video popularity it has also seen an increase in video piracy.

The company has now announced that it intends to crack down on video piracy and the company will introduce new tools to try and tackle piracy.

At the same time, we’ve heard from some of our content partners that third parties too frequently misuse their content on Facebook. For instance, publishers have told us that their videos are sometimes uploaded directly to Facebook without their permission. This practice has been called “freebooting,” and it’s not fair to those who work hard to create amazing videos. We want creators to get credit for the videos that they own. To address this, we have been exploring ways to enhance our rights management tools to better empower creators to control how their videos are shared on Facebook.

You can find out more details about exactly what Facebook has planned to tackle piracy on their site at the link below.

Harvard Launches ‘Virtual Classroom’ for Students Anywhere

The newest classroom at Harvard’s business school has no desks or chairs. Instead, the professor teaches facing a towering digital screen that stretches from wall to wall, filled with the live video feeds of up to 60 students tuned in from their computers.

In the futuristic classroom, housed in a television studio 2 miles from campus, class plays out like a giant video conference.

Students can jump in to ask questions or respond to their classmates. The professor can stop a lecture to quiz individual students, or send the group a quick online poll.

The project, called HBX Live, is a departure from the genre of online courses that are recorded in advance to be taken later.

Here, Harvard sought to create a live, online replica of its campus classrooms.

“With one difference of course, which is we collapse geography,” said Bharat Anand, a business professor and faculty chairman of HBX, a digital initiative at the school.

At a recent test of the technology, alumni connected to the room from Thailand, New Zealand and the Philippines.

“That’s something we’ve never, ever done before,” Anand said.

This school year, Harvard will use HBX Live to teach its business students when they disperse on global study trips in January, and to host virtual research presentations.

Eventually, the school will consider creating new online programs taught primarily through the room, Anand said.

Although the technology isn’t widespread, experts said, some other schools have experimented with the concept of a live web-based classroom.

At Yale University’s business school, students around the world can take online courses taught through video conferences.

The University of California San Diego created a computer program that puts students in a virtual world, like a video game, where they can take seminars and interact.

“People have been trying to do video conferencing in education for a long time, going back to the ’80s,” said Frank Vahid, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Riverside, and co-founder of the online-education company zyBooks.

Technology improvements have boosted that pursuit in recent years, Vahid said, both in the classroom and in the business world.

“Certainly in the corporate world, the quality of web conferencing has become very advanced,” he said.

Although the idea isn’t entirely new, Harvard put a twist on it by approaching the project like a live television production.

To learn the trade, school officials visited NBC Sports studios in Connecticut and studied reality TV shows.

The school hired a production crew that sits in a control room above the studio, broadcasting the class to students with the cinematic polish of a cable news show.

Crew members toggle between dozens of cameras trained at the professor, lingering only a few seconds on each angle. One worker roams around the professor with a hand-held camera, aiming to give students a sense of movement.

“We’re trying to create a constant energy as well as feed off what the professor says,” said Peter Shaffery, who was hired to be the technical director of the project.

Harvard hasn’t disclosed how much it spent on the classroom and its crew.

Leaders of the business school said HBX Live is a big step as the school dives into online education, but stressed that it’s just one of several offerings.

“It’s really cool in isolation, but really the way to think about it is in context with other initiatives that we’re pushing,” said Youngme Moon, a senior associate dean.

The school also recently unveiled an online program on business basics, along with other courses geared toward executives.

Harvard plans to hold about 100 sessions in the TV studio over the next year, hoping that professors will find new uses for it, too, Anand said.

“It’s almost like we’re building an infrastructure,” he said, “and now we’ve just got to let the imagination run.”

Smart Fortwo Cabrio offers Power Drop Top

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The smart fortwo coupe has been around for a long time now and is popular with city drivers looking for a small and maneuverable car. The fortwo isn’t exactly roomy, but it offers a fuel-efficient way to get around when needed. Smart has announced that it will be rolling out a new fortwo cabrio version soon. The cabrio brings a drop top to the tiny car family and it will debut in Frankfurt next month.

The first of the smart fortwo cabrio models will hit dealer show rooms in February 2016. That will put the convertible in dealer showrooms while winter is still in full effect. Buyers who want t tiny convertible can order starting in mid-November. At least you shod have the car in time for warm spring weather.

The tritop folding soft top will drop back at the press of a button in 12 seconds. The roof bars left behind when the top is down can be removed and stored in a cubby in the trunk. The small car measures 2.69M L x 1.66M W x 1.55M H. The top will come in blue denim, red, or black colors with a grey headliner. The most powerful engine is a 90hp 3-cylinder that can be mated with a manual or dual clutch auto transmission.