Altabel Group's Blog

Archive for January 2012

There are many opinions about Google’s new privacy policy among bloggers, journalists and friends. After studying all of them I have some questions left: Is Google’s new strategy of replacing separate policies for each application with one shorter policy — one which allows them to share our data across all those applications with no way to opt out short of pulling out of Google’s ecosystem completely — simply a matter of adding user (and vendor) convenience, or a gross violation of our privacy? And if the latter, is it so egregious that those of us who are invested in that ecosystem should consider pulling out?

This last option — which is currently the only one available to those who truly object to Google’s new policy — could be very difficult, especially for Android users. And most especially for those who have recently invested in Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus Smartphone, which is pretty much useless outside of the Google net verse.
I must admit, the idea of being completely unable to opt out of specific privacy issues has me very troubled. My immediate reaction is to read Google’s policies, check out some of the more knowledgeable commentators on the subject, and if I find that I do agree with those privacy activists who believe that Google has stepped too far over the line, to join those hoping to pressure the company to alter its new policy.

Google’s new Privacy Policy will go into effect on March 1, 2012. It specifies what information Google collects, how it uses that information, the control users have over their information, accessing and updating personal information, and which information Google will share. The only applications that will not be part of this policy are Chrome and Chrome OS, Books and Wallet.

Google Terms of Service, which will also go into effect on March 1, 2012, includes the clause “Google’s privacy policies explain how we treat your personal data and protect your privacy when you use our Services. By using our Services, you agree that Google can use such data in accordance with our privacy policies.” There is a general explanation of Google’s policies and principles. The latter states explicitly, “If you continue to use Google services after March 1, you’ll be doing so under the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.”

Google’s applications and products have become an important resource for a large number of people. Their new policy has just been announced, and has over a month to be put into effect. Things can go several ways at this point: Google could simply stick to its guns and hope that the resulting fallout will only be a bit of bad publicity and a relatively few lost users. But if enough Google users become uneasy, Google could back off (the way Facebook has several times over the last few years), at least in it’s “all or nothing” opt-out policy. It will be interesting to watch.

Best Regards,
Kristina Kozlova
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Overall, there was very little “outstanding announcement” to report from CES 2012. It isn’t just one of those years in which we see radical changes. The largest firms (like Microsoft) didn’t participate at all. In fact it was a year when existing technologies just improved significantly in their features, performance, aesthetics, capabilities, and we saw a lot of focus on cost, as the sign of the times.

Nevertheless the use of cloud computing has gone from few and far between to pretty much anything and everything. CES 2012 shows that shift in no uncertain terms.
The rise of the retail cloud has reached critical mass as everything from DVD players to TVs, from car entertainment to alarm clocks, comes with some sort of cloud service to support that device.

For example, Mercedes-Benz announced a new cloud-connected dashboard computer called Mbrace2 that provides access to 3G cellular-connected apps such as Facebook and over-the-air software updates. Ford and Toyota are following up with their own cloud-based systems, providing both driving utilities and entertainment.

Other uses of the cloud are more utilitarian, such as providing storage and processing power for mobile devices, which is old news. But now the same computing models are being used for most entertainment devices in your home, even kitchen appliances that provide “smart grid” features such as the ability to transmit their energy usage and cycle down during peak loads. Pretty much anything that costs more than $100 comes with its own Wi-Fi radio these days.

It’s interesting how cloud computing has seeped into consumer electronics over time. The ability to add streaming from services such as Netflix to your DVD or TV has been around for a while, but that same cloud is now providing an application development platform for third parties and the ability to store many gigabytes of data. In other words, they are morphing from simple website abstractions to true platforms.

What’s driving the rise of the retail cloud is the desire to be more innovative than the competition, which is critical to the success of these companies. The biggest factor is the revenue potential: Once upon a time you got your $200 from a customer by selling a new gadget, and that was that until it wore out or was obsolete. Now you can also sell a subscription to a cloud system for many years to come, gaining double or more the revenues as from the device itself. That profit motive, coupled with users’ embrace of connected technologies (all those iPhones and Android devices), is what will power the retail cloud for years to come.

Kind Regards,
Lina Deveikyte
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Social Media is a tool on the Internet. It is not a business. Like any tool, it can be used to enhance and promote an enterprise if you have a niche, a target market, a business plan and ambition. Let’s have a look at the preferences of LinkedIn community.

«I wanted to be flippant and say “all of them” but that’s not true and it wouldn’t be helpful. Pick the right tool (social media platform) for the job (communicating with people who might want to know) and you’ll have a better chance of reaching them. At this moment, my primary toolkit includes LinkedIn, Quora, Twitter, my blogs, my mailing list, Facebook.»
Erica Friedman,
Social Media Optimizer

«I pass the following experience on to others in the belief they may benefit from a similar approach:
In order to manage high volume of inquiries in federal government contracting, I set up a Google blog as an extension of my volunteer work that blossomed into a web site ($10 a year to buy and convert it from a blog to a domain in my name) containing the basics of entering and succeeding in the venue as well my books and articles on the subject for download via Box Net (also a free application). The idea was to refer clients to article links at the site to avoid repeating myself over and over to new business clients and still keep myself available for specific inquiries and problems. I linked everything together on “Linked In” and began answering questions at the “Answers” feature there as well as registering at many of the free applications for networking web sites on the Internet to see how that could benefit my work. Twitter, BlogCatalog, Facebook, Widgetbox, Friendfeed, Ning and similar free applications served my site well.
The Adsense Feature added cash flow. Roughly 30% of my clients began coming via Linked In or Linked In related networking.
The result has been heavy traffic, good efficiency in supporting in excess of 4000 counseling cases over the last 5 years and virtually no expense to me as a volunteer working for a non-profit organization.»
Kenneth Larson,
MicroMentor Volunteer and Founder “Smalltofeds”

«I normally use Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Sometimes I also use Pinterest and Google+.
You shouldn’t just share your content on these social media, but also others content. If you want to build relationships and generate leads with social media, you need share others content more than you share your own content. Other social media you could use to share content are Stumble Upon and Tumblr. These two social media are getting really popular. »
Mitt Ray,
CEO Social Marketing Writing

«It depends on your audience and the goals of the services/products that you intend to support.
I used Facebook as kind of a catch-all account because it has the most laid back aspects and it is where most people are. I use LinkedIn for the professional side and make sure that I have a business page. The personal page has done much more for me than my business page.
I have a blog to keep my name up front. And finally Twitter to support it all. Basically, anything I tweet posts on LinkedIn and Facebook.»
Tom Brown,
Social Media Specialist

«I use a networked approach to share content. Each network has a different readership and I cater the phrasing of the posting and the type of content to what that group wants to hear. For example, sharing a quick link and a catchy title on Twitter reaches a wide array of businesses and if it gets re-shared I can reach a lot of people I don’t know yet. On Linkedin I tend to share only business information that would be of use to my clients or potential clients and I phrase it in a business friendly way. On Google+ there is an advantage in creating circles for very narrow niches and posting information specifically targeted to the people. On this network it’s even more important to share unique information, not re-sharing what everybody has already seen. On Facebook I share more fun stuff because it gets shared more and so it keeps my Edgerank up on my Facebook page. Most of my followers are in the same industry as I am (Social Media consulting) so it’s easy to add information there that is fun, yet relevant and we all share each other’s links.»
Janet Fouts,
Social Media Coach

All in all primarily you shouldn’t think about which tools to use, but where your audience is. If they are on a mailing list, or a forum, you’d better go there. If they are on Twitter, or LinkedIn, you must be there. The point is to be where the people who might care about a topic are, just as the point of picking a tool in the hardware store is not which hammer is the best, but what task you need to do.

Best Regards,
Kristina Kozlova
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

During the course of 2011 Windows8 was presented to the. Could the current proposed – ‘Windows 8’ – provide the basis for major future changes to Microsoft SharePoint?
SharePoint has been an enormous success for Microsoft in recent years.
Let us take a speculative look at three areas where SharePoint can learn from Windows 8.

The User Interface
One of the features proposed for Windows 8 which has tremendous potential for SharePoint is the ‘Metro’ interface: a user-friendly, touch-screen and highly visual navigation system for which special ‘Metro apps’ can be produced to enable specific user activities. The Metro interface is probably one of the biggest areas of change in Windows 8. Optimized for touch screens, this new way of using Windows is clearly inspired by the “Windows Phone 7″ user interface. “Metro apps” will be a new breed of Windows application, sitting separately from things like Office and Photoshop, and developed using what are seen as more traditionally web-based technologies like HTML5 and JavaScript. Users will interact with them in a much more visual manner, even on non-touch devices, and Microsoft is assuming many users will make the permanent shift away from the current Windows desktop interface.
Implications for SharePoint are twofold. Firstly, Metro apps aren’t a huge logical leap on from web parts. Could Metro apps form the basis of a “next generation” web part? Could approved Metro apps even run natively on SharePoint? Certainly this could give Microsoft a head start if it did decide to create a SharePoint specific store. Changing the underlying architecture of web parts to something more web based would open up the developer base to a wider audience and bring the technology inline with the majority of other similar widget platforms available.
Secondly, the Metro interface (the idea of functional hubs, full bleed canvases and the typeface) is very likely to inspire the general direction of the SharePoint 2012 interface. How much of this is practical to implement is currently only known to Microsoft. SharePoint will surely retain its current content management system elements, elements that many users customize to provide the exact look and feel they require. On the other hand, the out of the box site templates are starting to feel tired and the administrative interfaces didn’t really change after the 2007 release. Whatever the outcome, there is certainly an appealing argument for Windows 8, Windows Phone 7 and SharePoint 2012 to share a common look and feel.

The “Windows Store”
Could the launch of the Windows store for Metro apps and other software influence the similar launch of a new SharePoint store where web parts and third party add-ons could be purchased?
The Windows store is set to be the key digital distribution platform for Windows, likely offering both Metro apps and more traditional Windows software. Seen as a direct response to the Apple Mac software store, and of course inspired by the original iPhone app store, this feature will probably change forever how Windows software is purchased and maintained.
The next version of SharePoint seems almost certain to feature a similar offering. Two elements of the current SharePoint experience make this likely. Firstly, SharePoint is extremely well supported by third party suppliers and developers. A whole host of add-ins and tools are already available for purchase, and it would make perfect sense to centralize the distribution of this software. Secondly, one of SharePoint’s key features, web parts, makes almost the perfect store item. Web parts are generally small pieces of software, tightly focused in functionality and low in price. They are very much the app of the SharePoint world.

The “Ribbon” Interface
A respected commentator envisages a greater use of the Microsoft ribbon in any new SharePoint version; in the same way that the ribbon is expected to be integral to Windows 8…
Yes, the Microsoft ribbon can already be found in SharePoint 2010, but SharePoint 2012 will surely see it used to a much greater extent. The often controversial ribbon, which debuted as part of Office 2007, was used sparingly in Windows 7 but forms a more integral part of Windows 8. It is now integral to the operating system as part of Windows Explorer. Whilst this hasn’t been met with universal acclaim by those that have used it, Microsoft looks unlikely to backtrack.
As a result I expect to see the ribbon used much more extensively in the next version of SharePoint. Settings screens and central administration are obvious candidates for an overhaul. It would also seem likely that its use for list, and in particular web part, configuration will see an improvement.

Thank you for attention and you are always welcome with your comments!

Best regards,
Elvira Golyak
Altabel Group – professional software development

It’s well known that Android is fragmented or, as Google CEO Eric Schmidt contends, “Differentiated.” In a bid to codify design principles for the operating system’s look and feel, Google unveiled Android Design at CES 2012.

This website seeks to help app developers create apps with a more uniform look and feel for Android 4.0, also known as “Ice Cream Sandwich.”
“[Google] definitely wants to have a uniform look. They never have provided a style guide before,” Melissa Skrbic-Huss, creative lead at Amadeus Consulting, told LinuxInsider.
“This is Google’s attempt to try and rein in the craziness of how Android apps look,” said Al Hilwa, a research program director at IDC.
The major issue with Android’s fragmentation “is the loss of brand identity,” he told LinuxInsider. “If you call a device an Android device, what does that mean?”

The Android Design website goes into great detail. Among other things, it spells out Google’s creative vision, design principles, style, themes, typography, patterns, gestures, building blocks, and switches and dialogs.
Google has three overarching design goals for its core apps and the Android OS at large.
One is that apps should be sleek and aesthetically pleasing on multiple levels, with crisp, meaningful layout and typography, and clear, fast transitions. The experience should be “magical,” Google said.
The second is that the apps should be intuitive and easy to use, without overwhelming users with too many choices.
Third, the apps should empower people to try new things and use the apps in inventive new ways while feeling personal.

The Android Guide is Google’s attempt to inject a level of standardization in Android’s look and feel. Google is probably trying to resolve some of developers’ complaints about Android.
Developers have to worry about differences in the UI of different versions of Android, differences in hardware specs, and differences in the versions of Android that run on various hardware platforms, Simon Khalaf, president and CEO of Flurry, told LinuxInsider.
“Software and applications are the fuel of an ecosystem, and software developers make that fuel,” he pointed out.
Fragmentation enabled the rapid pace of R&D development — “a key factor in Android’s success,” according to Hilwa — but the problems with the OS “will become more prominent to the extent that the market matures and the growth rates flatten.”
Schmidt’s discussion of fragmentation “is evidence that it’s an issue for the brand and the platform,” he argued.

Kind Regards,
Lina Deveikyte
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

According to Statcounter numbers and charts, Google Chrome should be the number 1 browser in the world as soon as this year. Let’s see what LI members think about this prediction.

«No. Good old IE has plenty of mileage left yet, and because it is a “known platform” will continue to be a standard in much of the business world for at least a few years yet.»
Bernard Gore,
Project & Change expert

«According to statistics available, it is unlikely that IE will be knocked off the top spot in 2012, even though Chrome has seen a meteoric rise in usage in 2011.
In Jan 2011, IE accounted for 46% of all Internet browsing, by Dec this had dropped to 38.65%.
Meanwhile, Chrome rose from 15.68% in Jan to 27.27% by Dec, trouncing Firefox into third place with its market share changing from 30.68% in Jan to 25.27% in Dec.
Other browsers, including Safari and Opera remain minnows in comparison. Mobile browsers (which are not included in the figures above) doubled from 4.3% in January to 8.03% in December.
However, it should be acknowledged that these statistics are far from an accurate representation of the true market share of the various browsers, as the statistics are usually taken from a small range of web site visitors and often visitors’ browsers cannot be sniffed by the methods in use. Remember that there are a huge number of corporate users of IE around the world that will continue to use IE for the foreseeable future.»
Glenn Reffin,
Experienced Graphic and Web Design Professional

«Yes. Although I prefer Firefox, I do believe that Chrome will make it to the top by mid-2012. IE is terrible and makes web design tougher because it does not conform to new and updated HTML or CSS.»
Nina Churchill,
Owner of Fresh View Concepts

«While Chrome is an outstanding browser, it will not be #1 in 2012 due to the simple fact that the vast majority of Internet users, contrary to conventional wisdom, are not particularly savvy with regards to the Internet and technology. Most users are people who don’t care about browser wars. They simply want to be able to check their Facebook accounts and e-mail and Twitter and… Well, you get the point. Until Chrome gets must-have features that even your mother or grandmother are asking about, Chrome will remain #2 at best.»
Christian Zimmerman,
Desktop Engineer Team Lead at Nelnet, Inc.

«Not sure what it will look like in 2012. I will say I haven’t used IE in over a year or more. Chrome get’s on my nerves sometimes; but I have tried them all and found Chrome to be the lightest without sacrificing great options. »
Tony Rappa,
Nugget Training Advisor

Google Chrome only launched at the end of 2008, but with close integration and added features for people using Google’s ubiquitous suite of web tools such as Gmail, Google Docs and the like, the exciting benefits that will surely come as a result of Google+, and Google throwing oodles of cash at promoting the product, Microsoft and Mozilla must be seriously concerned. Agree?

Best Regards,
Kristina Kozlova
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

As shipments of Android phones reached 206 million in 2011, Google’s mobile OS captured 46 percent of the global market, easily making it the largest Smartphone platform, according to Taiwan’sMarket Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC).

Such growth paves the way for Android to carve out a 50 percent slice of the market in 2012, says MIC. Though Android will retain its firm lead, the market will also be dominated this year by Apple’s iOS with a 19 percent share and Microsoft’s Windows Phone with a 13 percent share.

Looking at the major Smartphone makers, MIC sees Samsung in the lead with a 21.7 percent share, followed by Apple with 18.7 percent. HTC share will rise to 10.9 percent. But Nokia and RIM will face a rough climate with their shares dropping to 15.6 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively.

Overall, Smartphone shipments could hit 614 million this year, a 36 percent jump from the 452 million shipped last year, estimates MIC. For now, Smartphone owners account for only around 14 percent of all mobile subscribers around the globe. But as lower-priced smartphones reach consumers, especially in emerging markets, that percentage will grow to 17 percent this year and 40 percent in 2016.

Looking to eke out more global business, the major Smartphone vendors focused on emerging markets last year. With a varied lineup of smartphones, Samsung has gained strong traction among emerging nations. Apple expanded its sales channels in more emerging countries, capturing healthy sales in China but also targeting South American markets such as Brazil.
Though HTC’s core consumer is in North America and Europe, the company had also grabbed more business in China. RIM has been doing well in areas such as Indonesia, which rely heavily on text messaging. And Nokia is hoping for success with Windows Phone launches in India and China during the first quarter of the year. Still, North America remains the most lucrative market. North America may only represent 15 percent of feature and Smartphone units shipped globally, but due to the high proportion of high-end Smartphone sales, it constitutes 40 percent of total smartphones sold by value.

Kind Regards,
Lina Deveikyte
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development


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