Google expands its African initiatives

Alphabet is committing to training another 1 million students under its Digital Skills for Africa program in the next 12 months, the company said at events in Lagos, Nairobi, and Johannesburg.

The commitment follows the company’s 1 million mark milestone reached today and follows the opening of Google’s Launchpad Accelerator for African startups earlier this month — tracking a growing presence by the global internet services firm on the continent.

Debuted in April 2016 with a goal of training 1 million within a year, Digital Skills for Africa offers online and face to face instruction to individuals and small businesses through 14 partners across 27 African countries. Anyone can register for free and set an individualized plan across three primary categories: business development, career advancement, or basic internet use. Users can choose from 89 courses across 23 topic areas and earn badges and certificates for successful completion.

“Across Africa…one of the things that hold people back from taking advantage of the web is a lack of understanding on how to use digital tools,” said Bunmi Banjo, Google’s Growth Engine and Brand Lead for Sub-Saharan Africa. “We are providing training to young people and business owners to succeed however, they define success for themselves―finding a job, growing a business, starting on email,” she told TechCrunch.

To meet the goal of another million trained, Google will add countries and regions to Digital Skills for Africa in 2017. It will include more offline versions of online training materials for low net access areas. Google will also offer instruction in new languages, such as Swahili, IsiZulu, and Hausa. Digital Skills for Africa will also increase its partner network for in-person instruction. Current partners include organizations like the eMobilus technical institute in Kenya and vocational training company Centrum Learning in Nigeria.

 As for Google’s overall Africa presence, it now has country heads in core economy nations such as South Africa (Luke Mckend), Nigeria (Juliet Ehimuan), and Kenya (Charles Murito). The Launchpad Accelerator―which offers 6 months of equity free Google startup support with two weeks in Silicon Valley―is now accepting Africa applications.

Google provides financial and capacity support to five African tech hubs in Kenya (iHub), South Africa, Ghana, and Uganda, and Nigeria (CCHub). The company has also begun programs and partnerships to overcome Africa’s internet access and connectivity challenges. Despite progress on mobile phone ownership and ICT infrastructure over the last decade, the continent remains one of the world’s most digitally disconnected. Though some countries, such as Kenya and South Africa, have attained high usage, Africa’s internet penetration lingers at less than one- third of the continent’s estimated 1.2 billion people.

In 2016, Google entered a licensing pact with South African startup Onyx, which plans to manufacture Android smartphones on the continent. In several African countries, the company also offers its “Add to Offline” option for YouTube video playback with little to no connectivity.

Though Google could not provide overall traffic data, African search activity has increased significantly in recent years, a spokesperson confirmed. Statistics are available for popular search terms across Africa’s largest economies, providing insight on the interest palette of the continent’s growing online community.

In 2016, Nigeria’s top Google person search was for Donald Trump. South Africa’s most searched term was Pokémon Go. Kenyans were most keen on football, googling “Euro 2016” more than any other topic last year.

Twitter announces partnership with FilmFare, Jio

Micro-blogging website Twitter announced a partnership with Jio Filmfare Awards through Twitter Amplify, a content sponsorship package that will enable the brands to extend their presence to targeted social media audiences in India.

The first Twitter Amplify deal in the entertainment industry in India, @Filmfare will broadcast exclusive curated content live from the Twitter Blueroom on February 18, an hour before Jio Filmfare Awards’ television telecast.

“Our collaboration with Filmfare will give fans a sneak peek into exclusive content that they can engage with on Twitter while viewing the content on television,” Viral Jani, Head of Entertainment, Twitter India, said in a statement.

The broadcast will include a special show live on the website from the #BlueRoom with filmmaker Karan Johar and Filmfare editor Jitesh Pillaai. It will be hosted by digital creator and comedian Abish Mathew.

“The idea is to enhance the digital footprint of the Filmfare brand with this first of a kind partnership for any awards property in India,” added Deepak Lamba, CEO, Worldwide Media that owns Filmfare.

Cloud Computing for Businesses: 4 Solutions to Try Today

Cloud computing has a number of appealing benefits, which is why Intuit predicts that 80 percent of businesses will have adopted the tech by 2020. It has been shown to lower costs by decreasing power usage, IT requirements, rack space, and more. It also allows employees to collaborate more effectively and from anywhere, which is just the flexibility businesses need in today’s device driven workforce.

To stay ahead of the curve, you need to start thinking about how you can harness the benefits of the cloud. The following cloud solutions are some of the most popular for businesses. Employ one or more of these solutions and your business can start benefiting from increased mobility, flexibility, and savings.

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Dropbox for Business

Arguably the most popular cloud solution, Dropbox is widely used by individuals and businesses looking for convenient (and free) storage. Dropbox for Business isn’t free, but it has more business features than the standard Dropbox download. It comes with a full terabyte of storage and a host of business features, such as advanced collaboration tools, user management, and unlimited file recovery.

One of the most challenging aspects of cloud computing is what to do if your data is lost. Cloud computing isn’t more dangerous to your data than hard drive storage; in fact, it may be safer if you consider it’s not vulnerable to disasters, such as a fire or hurricane. You’ll still want to back up any and all data you save, and if a hard drive does become damaged you can recover the lost or damaged files with hard drive recovery, which is a service designed to recover data from SSDs, external hard drives, and broken laptops or desktops.

Here’s more of what you can do with Dropbox:

  • Share media with clients, partners, and customers
  • Use it like a shared server
  • Share travel documents
  • Collect information
  • Collaborate with remote employees
  • Test new applicant’s skills

Intuit QuickBooks Online Plus

Cloud-based accounting has some serious benefits, and is widely touted as an intelligent financial move for growing small businesses. Your financial information can be accessed anywhere, but is kept secure on Intuit’s servers. There’s a number of convenient features, including hands-free data entry, synced transactions (PayPal, American Express, etc.), and there’s less paperwork to contend with. Everything is neatly organized in the app, and even your clients can use it to stay on top of their book.

VoIP: Cloud-Based Phone Solutions

Cloud-based phones are yet another example of how cloud tech can save you money. These systems only require that you pay for the services you’re actually using, and there’s less expense for hardware and software. Plus, “the vender takes responsibility for delivery, maintenance, and support of the system,” says Wired.com. Wired warns that there are drawbacks including connectivity dependency; if your Internet goes down, your phone system won’t work so it’s smart to have a backup in place.

OpenDrive for Storage and Management

OpenDrive combines your need for storage with your need for advanced management solutions. The business plan includes data storage, sync and backup features, data management, user management, and projects and workflow management. It supports Microsoft Office, so if you use PowerPoint, Word, or Excel to conduct business, there is synchronicity here which provides your business with greater efficiency, collaboration, and organization.

Most of the above-mentioned solutions offer some version of a free trial. Take advantage of these offers to ensure your business subscribes to the best cloud solution available. Not all are created equal and not all will be perfectly suited to your business. Do some research, test out the capabilities, and then subscribe to the solution that best suits your organization.

You Can Finally Vote on the New Emoji You Want to See Next

You Can Finally Vote on the New Emoji You Want to See Next

The Internet’s obsessed with new emoji: pitching them, petitioning for them, arguing about their exact designs and details. But regular users have rarely had a way to be part of the notoriously complicated emoji-proposal process – at least until now.

Tuesday, the app maker EmojiXpress launched a website called EmojiRequest, which’ll serve as a sort of “We the People” for emoji fans. The site lists a number of oft-requested characters and invites users to up-vote their favourites; if enough people vote for a character, EmojiXpress will sponsor a full, technical proposal and submit it to the Unicode Consortium on their behalf.

As far as PR stunts go, this one’s pretty great – certainly it brings your average user closer to the process of creating new emoji. The consortium, which is in charge of standardizing and approving computer texts, doesn’t act on every proposal it receives, but it does review every proposal with the potential of passing them up/on. And EmojiXpress proposals will theoretically have a leg up, because the votes serve as a demonstration of future use and the company is itself a member of the consortium.

You don’t need a middleman to petition Unicode, of course – anyone can submit a proposal. But the process is complex and technical, typically too involved for your average dino lover. The proposal must explain point by point, for instance, what makes the proposed emoji distinctive and how it fits into the existing set, as well as document the multiple meanings of the character and quantify how many people are expected to use it.

Once all that’s in, the screening process has only just begun: It usually takes years for a proposal to make its way through Unicode’s various committees and working groups, and from there to the latest version of the Unicode Standard, and from there – maybe, eventually! – to your phone.

For the record, the EmojiRequest front-runners as of this writing are “hush” face, “fingers crossed,” “in love” face, “swearing” face, “exploding” face and “hungry” face. Also near the top are some perennial favorites, like the marijuana leaf, frowning poop, giraffe and pancake.

If any of those seem essential to your online communications, you can vote for them atwww.emojirequest.com. EmojiRequest is also taking submissions via its contact form, with plans to introduce more voting options in the near future.

Instagram Opens Snappy New Events Channel

Instagram last week announced a new Explore video channel that gives users an easier way to find and watch events.

Instagram Opens Snappy New Events Channel

The channel aggregates videos from concerts, sporting events and more, and its personalization features flag events that might be a good match for users’ individual interests.

The new channel initially will be available only to U.S. users.

“One of the fundamental limitations of Instagram is that you only see content from people you explicitly follow,” said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research.

“The timeline is strictly limited to people you’ve chosen to see — with the exception of ads,” he noted.

“One of the challenges is always how to get people to see and engage with content from additional users,” Dawson told. “The Explore tab has always been a way for Instagram to do this, and adding event-driven content to the tab provides new ways for people to find additional content they might be interested in.”

Instagram Events

Similar to Snapchat

To social media watchers, Instagram’s event channel looks very familiar.

“With the rollout of the event channel, Instagram is once again borrowing a page from Snapchat’s playbook,” said Andreas Scherer, managing partner at Salto Partners.

“This feature is eerily similar to Snapchat’s Discover channel,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has been open about its attitude toward Snapchat, noted John Carroll, a mass communications professor at Boston University.

“Instagram has been open and transparent about the fact that they’re ripping off Snapchat, “. “It isn’t something Instagram is trying to hide or run away from.”

Fighting Brand

Facebook has influenced Instagram’s copycat strategy, maintained Salto’s Scherer.

“Previous attempts by Facebook to buy Snapchat failed. Now it is using Instagram as a fighting brand, copying the most successful concepts of Snapchat’s platform,” he explained.

There are significant differences between the event features in the two platforms, though, noted Jackdaw’s Dawson.

“There’s some overlap with Snapchat’s featured Stories, so you could argue there’s a little homage being paid here,” he said, “but both the implementation and motivation are different.”

By adding features similar to Snapchat, Instagram is protecting its user base of 500 million monthly users, observed Michael Inouye, a principal analyst at ABI Research.

“Instagram doesn’t want its users leaving because of features it doesn’t have,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Better Personalization

One area where Instagram’s event channel may have a leg up on Snapchat is in personalization algorithms.

“Events highlighted to users will improve as the user interacts with videos, specific people posting them, or locations,” explained Gerrit Schneemann, a senior analyst with IHS Markit.

“Instagram is then able to surface content it thinks will match the user’s interests better, making it easier for the user to find content they are likely to like,” he told TechNewsWorld.

The introduction of the event channel is part of a larger Facebook strategy, Schneenann added.

“Video is central to Facebook’s road map — the company has said so repeatedly,” he pointed out. “Instagram is another part of Facebook where video can increase the time users spend on the platform, opening the stream of videos as a the perfect vehicle to integrate video advertising.”

Built on Video

Social media is all about engagement, and “video is more engaging than simple updates,” BU’s Carroll noted.

“This is all about keeping people on your platform, engaging them with content, and delivering them to advertisers. Social media and mobile media are really built on video at this point,” he said.

“In the last six months, Instagram has seen video viewing increase by 150 percent,” Carroll pointed out, and “in the next six years, mobile video viewers will double to 2 billion. This is a huge growth area for these platforms.”

The What and Why’s of Cloud Computing

What is cloud computing and why would anyone want it? That is the question of any professional wondering why they should place their important files in external sources via an intangible are known as the cloud. Cloud computing stores files and programs online rather than on a desktop. Users can locate those files and programs in an online environment. There are three major benefits to this setup.

Savings

Cloud computing saves money. With a typical computer setup, you’re paying for the computers, servers, backup servers, programs and technical support. Those charges start the minute you set up an office space. You may even buy extra, getting prepared for every possible minuscule amount of growth. Compare that to the setup costs of a cloud computing environment: you pay for computers and the programs and storage you need. Backups are handled off-site. You can get technical support for the software from the provider. There’s less equipment, less possibility for damage and off-site backup. You receive this these benefits with a smaller start up cost.

Reliability

Off-site servers store multiple copies of the same information so nothing gets lost and you are always connected. This is called redundancy, and cloud computing has made redundancy an art form. If one server goes down, a user is sent to the next server and life goes on. Different services provide different levels of redundancy. Look at a cloud computing services to get an idea of the resources available. ExpoTechInc.com also outlines the different types of cloud service.

Scalability

Cloud computing grows with your company. Think of the earlier example of a startup company buying extra in preparation for growth. Maybe it’s because they expect to grow quickly or are buying in bulk. Whatever it is, they are spending more money on something they don’t currently need. Cloud computing is scalable. You can buy what you need and then buy more without having to rework your current setup. Your needs can drop again, and your cloud computing service – and cost – can drop too. These changes to your service can happen in minutes.

Cloud computing offers more technology and more professionals while requiring less space and less money. That is cloud computing, and that’s why many want it.

Retrieve Saved Documents from Hard Drives using EaseUS Data Recovery Software

Losing data from disk drives or flash drives can be a difficult experience, because in today’s technical age, everyone has a sizable digital footprint and there, our data is what defines us at a very basic level. If you lose all your data in a hard drive, while you may lament the loss of your movies or music, the fact is that they can be acquired again. What cannot be acquired at any cost are the documents and pictures that you yourself created which were stored in your device. It is the loss of this data that hurts most users the most, as it might be the product of years of hard work.

Fortunately, there have been software available on the internet for quite a while now that allow you to retrieve data from secondary storage devices that might seem like they’re gone forever. One such software that has gained excellent reviews in the recent past is EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard. The software allows for a very usable and simple graphic user interface that can be used even by untrained professionals to retrieve data.

Lost data can be of various types, and the way of retrieving them varies in accordance. Here are a few varieties of lost data and how they can be recovered. The good thing about word files is that they are easily recoverable, compared to, say, a large MPEG or AVI file.

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  1. Word documents saved over

This has happened to all of us at some point in life; accidentally writing over an important Microsoft word document and saving it, and then realizing that the information in the original file is gone. You’ll be pleased to know that EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard has a simple mechanism which, when utilized, can recover word document saved over.

  1. Recover files from flash drive

If you are in the habit of storing your documents in a flash drive instead of a hard disk drive – indeed, many of us prefer this as a medium, since it’s more portable and allows us to access our data from various sources. However, given how prone they are to viruses and corrupt drivers, everyone who uses a flash drive has faced data loss at some point. The EaseUS data recovery software allows you to recover files from flash drive, not just from hard drives. This is a rare functionality, since flash and magnetic storage are completely different devices for memory storage.

To go a bit further on recovering your files from a flash drive, the process is quite simple and easily done. You simply have to insert your flash memory in a USB socket on your computer; now, whether you lost your data because of a formatting or an accidental deletion or a virus infection, chances are that your data is still there, with just the memory code tables being deleted. With EaseUS, USB data recovery is simple and efficient and can be done at the expense of a few clicks. A basic version of the software is available for free.

Google’s new invention to make wearing specs easier

google-glass-foldable-enterprise-edition

Wearing spectacles and keeping them in place, especially while doing physical work such as running, would be much easier now — thanks to Google’s latest patent.

The patent outlines a system built into a wearable device like Google Glass, that uses motors and motion detectors to automatically tighten or loosen the spectacles’ arms depending on what the wearer is doing, Quartz reported. In Google’s idea, the new spectacles would have an actuator — a little motor for controlling movement — in each arm that could bend the arms in or out as needed, rather like the way a bendy straw works.

ALSO READ: Google Glass ‘Entreprise Edition’ to be durable, foldable and waterproof

When the spectacles detect that their wearer is bobbing up and down at an increased rate — while running, for example — the arms contract to grip the wearer’s head. The actuators could also help solve the one-size-fits-all approach that many spectacles have to fitting — if the specs are too wide for someone’s face, the actuators could automatically resize them so that they fit snugly.

Google Reportedly Seeks Access to Documents Held Back by CCI

As the CCI readies to begin its hearing into the alleged anti-competitive practices of Google, the Internet major has demanded access to certain documents held back by the watchdog to prepare a “thorough response” and is believed to have sought more time to make its submissions.

Google, which has been accused of abusing its market dominance in ranking of its Internet search results, has sought two months’ time to make its submissions in this high-profile case, sources said.

The extension has been sought on the grounds that some documents that were used by the Director General’s Office, the investigation arm of the Competition Commission of India (CCI), during the probe have not been provided to the company. Such documents include certain submissions made by third parties, sources said. Google is believed to have been found in violation of certain competition norms by DG in its probe. When contacted, a Google spokesperson said, “As we continue to review this report, we have requested that the CCI provide access to documents and other information referred to in the report but not provided to us, to allow us to prepare a thorough response.”

The CCI has powers to maintain confidentiality with respect to the submissions made in a particular case. With Google seeking more time, the hearings as well as a final decision on this long-drawn case may take even longer. While there has been no official word on the content of the DG probe report, Google had earlier said it is reviewing the report from the CCI’s ongoing investigation.

As per the norms, DG’s report is not binding on the CCI and final decision in this long-running case would be taken by the seven-member Commission headed by Chairman Ashok Chawla. The DG report is believed to contain comments and inputs from a host of entities present in the Internet business including some well-known ecommerce firms and web portals. While submissions from some of them appear to suggest violations on part of Google, others have sided with the US-based global giant.

“We are currently reviewing this report from the CCI’s ongoing investigation. We continue to work closely with the CCI and remain confident that we comply fully with India’s competition laws,” the Google spokesperson had said in August. It has been alleged that Google manipulated its search results apart from imposing discriminatory conditions on advertisers, among others.

Last month, Chawla had said the Commission would take some time before a final decision is taken in this case. “The process is fairly lengthy, it is a quasi judicial process. We have to hear the parties involved and then decide. It will take quite sometime,” he had said.

The CCI, which first received a complaint against Google back in 2011, has been looking into allegations that the company abused its dominant position in the search engine space for well over three years.

Yahoo Marketing Chief Kathy Savitt Leaves for Entertainment Studio

Yahoo said Friday that marketing chief Kathy Savitt is leaving to take a job heading a digital team at television and film industry studio STX Entertainment.

Savitt played a high-level role in efforts by Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer’s to revive the aging Internet pioneer and her departure could signal a larger shake-up taking place at the company.

“We can confirm that Kathy Savitt has decided to leave the company,” a Yahoo spokesperson said in reply to an AFP inquiry.

“We appreciate her contributions to Yahoo over the past three years and wish her well.”

Yahoo declined further comment.

Savitt will start next month as president of a digital team at STX and be responsible for “helping the studio fulfill its ambition of becoming a true creative haven for the world’s top entertainment talent,” the company said in a release.

STX was established early last year and described itself as “a fully-integrated motion picture, television, and digital content studio.”

“Viewers are in control and each film or show has to earn its space in their time on its own merit,” Savitt said in a release.

“What we are doing at STX hasn’t been done before; we are creating a new way for audiences to access meaningful stories, from wherever they are.”