With all the talk about the Scottish independence referendum and a lot riding on it for SNP leader Alex Salmond, it’s hardly surprising the party is to use the latest technology to help secure a Yes vote. They say they are to set up a ‘top spec’ website, with the party updating its voter and elections data management system, and will use smartphone technology.
The nationalists have also released its referendum consultation as an e-book, though whether that will make it lighter reading is another matter.
They say they will be using cutting-edge IT and communications technology to run the most effective campaign in Scottish political history. It is due to launch its campaign in May after updating its data management system.
While the SNP is focussing on a hard hitting web presence we wonder if activists will still be knocking on doors and plodding the streets up here in Scotland to get the citizens on side. They have said they want to involve ordinary people around the country. And with the ballot not planned to be held for more than two and a half years, it could be a long slog.
Meanwhile the referendum consultation eBook is the first UK administration to make an official paper available for digital download. Your Scotland, Your Referendum is now available for free on iPad, iPhone and Kindle, and will act as a pilot scheme for future digital distribution to improve access to public files and drive down print costs. It means people can read it on the go and get involved in the debate.
This sounds like a smart move, as the document is also available in the more tradition and less eco friendly formats of hard copy in the post and through website download. It should reach more people and will be an interesting exercise for future campaigns.
Cabinet Secretary for Parliamentary Business Bruce Crawford (pictured above) said: “The aim of the Your Scotland, Your Referendum consultation is to involve as many people as possible in the debate on Scotland’s future, as we look forward to the biggest decision in this country for more than 300 years.
“So far, many thousands of people and groups have accessed the consultation document via our website, or using a hard copy sent out by the Scottish Government, and thousands have then taken the time to respond and contribute to this exciting debate.
“But we want to encourage even more people to have their voice heard about how the referendum should be run, and we are looking at doing that in even more innovative and sophisticated ways.
“That is why, from today, the consultation document will be made available as a free download to devices such as the iPhone, iPad and Kindle as an eBook that people can read on-the-go and at a time that suits them – a first for a government publication in the UK.
“I hope that this is the first of many documents to be published in this way, and I hope that this exciting step will help widen the scope of our ongoing debate to include as many people as we possibly can.”
Technology industry commentators are divided over Google
history in any one of its services to augment any other in displaying
personalised results and advertising. Some have moved swiftly to wipe all their
web history off their computers whilst others have welcomed the move to
introduce relevant advertising on a free service with many benefits.
On Google’s official blog Director of Privacy Alma Whitten explains
the changes saying: “Our privacy policies have always allowed us to combine
information from different products with your account – effectively using your
data to provide you with a better service. However, we’ve been restricted in
our ability to combine your YouTube and Search histories with other information
can make more of your information available to you when using Google.
“So in the future, if you do frequent searches for Jamie Oliver, we could recommend Jamie Oliver videos when you’re looking for recipes on YouTube – or we might suggest ads for his cookbooks when you’re on other
“The new policy doesn’t change any existing privacy settings or how any personal information is shared outside of Google. We aren’t collecting any new or additional information about users. We won’t be selling your personal data. And we will continue to employ industry-leading security to keep your information safe.”
But, the European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding attacked the move saying she had doubt over whether it was legal. She said that the obligation to protect personal data formed a key plank of European treaties.
She said that if people gave up their privacy it should be a decision they make with all the facts made available to them. It has been reported that millions of Britons
who use Google smartphones were told they were unable to avoid radical and
The news has prompted a privacy campaigner to sue for the £400 cost of his device. Alex Hanff, from Lancaster, has filed a test claim at the small claims court in the hope other users of the popular Google Android mobile operating system will follow suit.
More and more of us are turning to reading on tablets and other mobiles with digital ebook sales reported to have doubled in the last year. That’s good news for writers looking for audiences who can’t get in through the publisher route.
But mainstream publishers are seeing a huge rise in their ebook sales too, despite the fact that prices to the reader appear to have risen. Digital ebooks accounted for 12% of revenues at publishing giant Penguin last year. And across the book business in the UK, there were 78 top 10 best-sellers last year, which grew overall profits by 5% to £111 million in 2011.
Since the beginning of 2008, digital downloads of apps and ebooks across Penguin have totalled approximately 50 million, with revenues from ebooks now accounting for 20% of all sales in the United States.
And if you want to know what we have been reading: Kathryn Stockett’s The Help was Penguin’s best-selling title across the US selling five million copies in print and digital in its third year since publication.
Whilst in the UK, Jamie Oliver’s 30-Minute Meals and Dawn French’s A Tiny Bit Of Marvellous were among two of the top five titles last year.
One of the advantages of publishing textbooks digitally is that you can update content at will, rather than wait for the next edition to be published.
Meanwhile the digital library services provider Overdrive has just announced the acquisition of Booki.sh, the cloud ebook platform developed by Inventive Labs.
And you could find out if your local library is lending out ebooks – some of the more switched on to the technology world have started doing that.
Computer giant Apple, manufacturer of iPads and iPhones has
been booted off an annual top 10 list of consumer “superbrands” with
battery maker Duracell and paint company Dulux taking top positions this year.
But it is good news for British brands which make up half of
the top 20 this year, with the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Doulton and Wedgwood.
In the survey of 2,000 adults, including marketing experts,
business professionals and British consumers, Apple dropped out of the top 10
brands that had the most influence over consumers, the survey by Superbrands,
revealed, as it fell nine places from ninth to 18th position.
Car manufacturer Mercedes Benz took fourth place, followed
by the BBC; Jaguar was up one place to number nine, while Royal Doulton held
In another list of Business Superbrands, Rolls-Royce topped
the league beating Google and British Airways. Here Apple did better moving up
one place into fourth.
Foreign-owned technology brands including Nokia and
BlackBerry didn’t make the top 20.
So, Google was top in the technology stakes in both lists.
It is an interesting mix with luxury item producers such as Rolex and
Rolls-Royce jockeying for position with the likes of Coca Cola and technology
Consumer Superbrands 2012 Business Superbrands
Consumer Superbrands 2012 Business Superbrands 2012
1. Rolex 1.Rolls-Royce Group
2. Coca-Cola 2. Google
3. Google 3. GlaxoSmithKline
4. Mercedes-Benz 4. Apple
5. BBC 5. British Airways
6. BMW 6. Virgin Atlantic
7. Duracell 7. London Stock Exchange
8. Dulux 8. Bosch
9. Jaguar 9. Visa
10. Royal Doulton 10. PricewaterhouseCoopers
One of the world’s biggest image providers has launched an API targeted at website publishers and promising quick access to the stock photo agency’s vast collection.
Connect by Getty Images is designed to allow publishers to access, search, and use the company’s vast collection of stock photography and search meta data associated with them; making you far more likely to find a Getty image with its meta-tagging.
In announcing the new API, Getty said it already has more than 40 customers using Connect, including ad agencies and publishing platforms.
The Connect API is free for Web site publishers to use, but customers who want to use Getty’s imagery have to pay for it of course. And it is now technically easier for website publishers and bloggers to choose a Getty image.
The announcement from Getty said Connect by Getty Images is an innovative new content distribution service that allows customers and business partners to integrate Getty Images’ core functionality and robust content and metadata directly within their publishing tools, products and services through use of the company’s powerful and flexible API. Through Connect by Getty Images, companies can enhance and expand their offerings to further serve their customers’ needs; more efficiently manage workflows and costs, and generate revenue through constantly refreshed content.
“Connect makes it easy for customers and partners to integrate Getty Images’ tremendous breadth of content, our rich-set of metadata and industry leading search within their platform, products, services, and applications,” said Jonathan Klein, Co-Founder and CEO of Getty Images. “
The platform is a comprehensive, customizable and scalable solution that enables
businesses to improve their products, streamline workflows, reduce storage costs and launch compelling new services.”
Getty describes itself as a global company offering the broadest selection and highest quality creative and editorial content to well over 1 million customers, Getty Images designed Connect to be customizable and scalable for a wide variety of customer needs
The company creates and distributes still imagery, video and multimedia products, as well as other forms of premium digital content, including music. Its work appears in
newspapers, magazines, advertising campaigns, films, television programs, books
and Web sites around the world.
The company says you can use an image for a small fee. We did a quick navigation and an example of a Getty image for web use for up to five years, with no exclusivity, that we looked at was priced at £750.
There are currently around 14 billion devices connected to the internet worldwide, including laptops and mobile phone and it is estimated by networking company Cisco that this will almost quadruple to 50 billion by 2020.
Cisco’s study also claimed that between 2011 and 2016 the amount of mobile data traffic will grow at a compound annual rate of 78 per cent as the number of mobile devices connected to the internet exceeds the number of people on Earth in four years’ time. The United Nations estimates that world population will reach 7.3 billion by 2016. By that time, according to Cisco there will be more than 10 billion devices, generating global mobile data traffic of 10.8 exabytes per month.
The company also said that there will be more than 7 billion mobile devices globally by 2015, and that a greater use of video will mean total internet traffic will more than quadruple by 2014. It expects that ‘machine-to-machine’ communication, rather than mobile phones or laptops, is expected to play a greater role in the future.
Workers would increasingly take their own devices, such as phones or laptops, to work. Users are believed to be increasingly productive if allowed to use their own technology and using their own equipment also eases having to spend time transferring data.
The claims were made at Cisco’s international conference, Cisco Live, in London where it demonstrated a new type of video conferencing, bringing different users on to the same ‘virtual set’ and announced a new wifi router.
Machine-to-machine connections are also increasing and by 2016 are expected to reach 2 billion, Cisco said. They include GPS systems in cars, tracking systems, meters to record energy consumption and retail payment solutions in London cabs or on flights.
The wireless networks urgently need more spectrum to keep up with demand. Devices are our desires.
Filesharing website The Pirate Bay could be blocked in the UK after the High Court in London ruled that the site breaches copyright laws on a massive scale. Mr Justice Arnold ruled that The Pirate Bay and its users unlawfully share copyrighted music.
By June we should know if the court will order ISPs to stop their customers from accessing The Pirate Bay, which in turn has 3.7m users in the UK and 30m worldwide.
The filesharing site is believed to have made $3m in advertising in October last year by making 4m copies of music and films available. Record companies and music groups claim that The Pirate Bay ignored repeated requests to stop making available copyrighted music.
The judge said that The Pirate Bay take no steps to prevent infringement but actively encourage it and treat any attempts to prevent it (judicial or otherwise) with contempt.
The high court action follows a blocking order made against the Newzbin2 website, after a judge found it infringed copyright on a grand scale. This set the precedent for rights holders to force ISPs to block access to a number of high-profile filesharing sites in the UK, using the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the British Phonographic Industry, which represents the music groups in the UK will apply to have the site blocked and therefore prevent further harm to creative industries. He said the site defrauds musicians and causes huge damage to the music industry and wider creative industries.
It is not the first time that The Pirate Bay has been in the courts. In April 2010, The Pirate Bay co-founders were found guilty in a Swedish court of allowing internet users to infringe copyright. They were collectively ordered to pay a £4.3m fine. But the court had no luck applying the files and sentences. This led the judge in the High Court, where the website’s owners were not represented, to suggest there was little point in trying to get the site’s proprietors into a British court.
It seems that using the name The Pirate Bay is so blatant it is sticking up two fingers to the record industry and the artists.
But the ruling has angered campaigners for digital rights who fight against controls on what we do online; who say this is just another form of censorship. The Open Rights Group says the ruling will have no effect on serious infringers, nor will it help boost the creative industries.
Tweeting or Facebook posting less than complimentary comments about the boss are landing more and more employees in hot water, and at worst, losing them their jobs. It’s a bad time to risk losing employment but some people just can’t resist having a whine online. But the boss can legally sack disloyal staff who go public.
And posting on social media sites can cost job applicants a position before they even get in the door as candidates are often vetted through these sites. There is some protection as candidates can demand to see what data was used in the recruitment process, but proving this could be an issue. So-called Facebook ‘friends’ could put the kybosh on applicants’ chances by tagging them in inappropriate photos, such as a fun night out. Even privacy settings might not protect from this.
Comments about work colleagues or practices are a no no, as it paints a negative picture of the business. Among those who have lost their jobs were the teenager who moaned about being bored and the Apple worker who criticised his iPhone. There have been an increasing number of cases of employees being sacked for gross misconduct. And using an employer’s computer is asking for trouble as staff’s input can be legally tracked at work.
Staff must be informed of their employer’s IT policy so they are aware of the rules. There must be no blurring over the permitted use of social networking sites at work.
For those in the public sector the stakes of using social networks are very high. At least two police officers have been sacked, seven have resigned and 150 faced disciplinary action after posting inappropriate photos or comments on Facebook in the past four years. Evidence of harassment, befriending of victims, racist comments and even details of sensitive police ops were found.
In all, 187 complaints were made against officers over their use of Facebook, with nine being given final written warnings, 47 given written warnings and one given a formal warning.
However, perhaps one of the most inappropriate uses of Facebook was the employer who sacked a café worker through a Facebook message. That’s as bad as being jilted by text.
Barclays Bank is the first in the UK to launch a system through which its customers with smartphones can make payments through their mobile numbers. The Barclays Pingit system is also targeting customers of other banks, to use the app,
It uses a smartphone app to activate person-to-person cash transfers of up to £300. Users who have an account with Barclays – and from this month anyone with a UK bank account – can download the app, link it to their phone number, and then send cash to anybody who has linked their mobile number to their account.
Mind you, the UK is years behind other countries in introducing mobile money transfer. In Kenya, the M-Pesa mobile money transfer system was launched five years ago. In Africa the majority of people have a mobile phone but only a minority have a bank account
And in Europe there are many ways of spending money through your mobile phone, such as paying for parking. Now your mobile phone number can become the key to your bank account rather than your bank account number. The scheme works through a database of UK mobile numbers linked to bank accounts, which customers opt into.
To pay someone the user keys in the mobile number of the recipient, may include a 30-character message (makes tweets look like War and Peace) and sends an SMS. At the other end, the app can be downloaded. The transfer reverts if it is not claimed within a day. There could be a bit of a worry of sending the cash to the wrong mobile – it’s easily done.
Although there are bound to be teething problems and issues around data security, it is a given that other banks will follow with their own versions of mobile phone banking. And where the banks offer services, the fee rises follow.