whatsapp facebook
August 29, 2016

Sharing data with Facebook: a turning point for WhatsApp?

Many of us imagined that sooner or later it would have happened: despite a bigger protection of users’ privacy – thanks to end-to-end messages encryption – WhatsApp has started to share personal data from its users with Facebook, which in 2014 bought the Instant Messaging app for about $20 billion.

The popup that is appearing in these hours when starting Whatsapp informs that many users’ information – the operating system, the screen resolution, the telephone operator, the phone number and the frequency with which the user opens WhatsApp – will be collected and shared. The aim, says WhatsApp, is to allow Facebook to provide users of the social network with most targeted advertising or, if you prefer to see it from another perspective, to offer advertisers more information for profiling potential customers.

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instant messaging
August 25, 2016

Some facts about Instant Messaging…

We all daily use Instant Messaging softwares or websites, including our indoona. We do it to communicate quickly and easily with friends and family and share files and documents. We are so used to using the chat – via PCs and smartphones – that probably we don’t remember anymore when we started to chat and what was “our” first chat service.

Where did it all start? Here are some interesting facts about the history of instant messaging, many years before the rise of Whatsapp, indoona and their “brothers”:

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fake viral videos
August 3, 2016

From news hoaxes to online hoaxes: the rise of “fake” viral videos

A few days ago the Australian company Woolshed admitted it created eight fake viral videos which in the last two years have been viewed over 205 million times on Youtube, and received more than a half million likes on Facebook. The feature of these videos is that until now many people have deemed them authentic and this was the reason for their overwhelming success. Among the eight videos there is that of the girl who was almost struck by lightning, that of another girl pursued by a bear while snowboarding, the boy who dives into the sea with a GoPro on the head and comes close to a white shark and that of a couple of hunters attacked by a lion.

None of these videos was authentic (many experts already had expressed strong doubts about their authenticity) but all have become viral and were shared by several online publications: most often without even a preliminary check, in other cases, however, it was the debate about their authenticity that created virality and increased the number of shares.

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Rio 2016 hashtags
July 28, 2016

Rio 2016 and the battle over Olympic hashtags

On the eve of Rio 2016, the United States Olympic Committee has “declared war” on companies which are not part of the official sponsors of the Olympic Games, warning them not to publish on their social accounts pictures in some way related to the Olympics or containing Olympic logos/brands (such as the five rings) or images linked to the Olympic team of the United States. In addition, the committee also warned companies from using the official terms and hashtags of the Olympic Games and the US Olympic team. In other words, commercial entities may not use the USOC’s trademarks in pictures and tweets using hashtags such as #Rio2016 or #TeamUSA because they would be “non-authorized Olympic-related advertising“.

The warning is mainly directed to companies that sponsor athletes but which are not among the official sponsors of the Rio Olympics. A few days ago we saw a prime example of this imposition when the apparel company Oiselle, sponsor of the Olympic Trials 800 meters’ winner Kate Grace, posted some pictures of her on Instagram. The U.S. Olympic Committee immediately informed Oiselle that the posts – which cointained the words “Rio” and the logo of the Olympic games – “violated USOC trademark guidelines” and requested Oiselle to take down all pictures of Grace and other Oiselle athletes competing at the Trials.

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facebook internet access
July 26, 2016

Facebook and the clash between Internet access & Internet freedom

A few days ago Mark Zuckerberg announced that “Aquila” (Eagle), the drone he has been working on for more than a year, has successfully completed its maiden flight, staying aloft for 92 minutes, about three times the time programmed by the test designers. This is a first success in the Facebook project to bring Internet access in rural areas of the planet through a fleet of drones that radiate the signal to ground.

The idea of ​​the social network from Palo Alto is to use the technology of UAVs to bring the Internet to people in hard to reach areas (mountains, remote regions etc.) through movable flying “radio links“. The drone used for the test has a wingspan of 40 meters, weighs 400 kg and is powered by solar panels installed on the wings: the goal is to make “Aquila” fly non-stop for three months, accumulating daytime the solar energy it takes to fly even at night. Each “drones squadron” will consist of a lead drone who receives the Internet signal from the ground and retransmits it to others drones. Each drone can cover an area of ​​50 kilometers in diameter and provide “tens of gigabits per second”.

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online streaming service
July 20, 2016

The Netflix effect: how Online Streaming Services are changing TV

Netflix, the popular online streaming service, announced that it added slightly less than 1.7 million new subscribers during the second quarter of 2016, despite a forecast of 2.5 million new users. The growth in last year’s same period was about 3.30 million. This slowdown is due in part to its recent price increase that caused a lot of subscribers to sign off. Netflix, which literally has changed the way we watch TV, is – in fact – facing growing competition on the SVOD (Subscription Video on Demand) front from tech firms like Amazon (Prime Video) & YouTube (Red) and traditional TV networks such as Time Warner, HBO, CBS and NBC, which have added internet streaming services to their cable and broadcast offers.

Streaming video currently represents over 60% of all Internet (mobile and fixed) traffic and some analysts predict that it will grow to 85% before 2020. In the US, 70% of families watch TV shows and movies online, with 64% paying for the content. In a few years the way we watch “TV” has changed radically and it is interesting to note that the same video streaming universe is already heading for some changes of no small importance.

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Google Data Center
July 14, 2016

20 Beautiful Photos of Data Centers across the World

Every day hundreds of millions of people use social networks and messaging, mail & cloud services to send files, share links, photos and to store data. Social media and internet companies have to handle every second a huge amount of data to make webpages load faster, messages arrive instantly and make files available. Petabytes of data move across hundreds of thousands of servers gathered in different data centers in the world. Many server farms are built in cold regions where free cooling is available via access to naturally cold water and cold air. For example, Facebook has recently built a data center in Luleå, Sweden.

This gallery features stunning photos from data centers across the world. Enjoy! / continue reading

Pokemon GO Augmented Reality
July 13, 2016

A new beginning for Augmented Reality?

Four days after its debut on the market, Pokémon GO, the new video game for smartphone developed by Nintendo, has already surpassed the dating app Tinder in total number of downloads on Android devices in the US and is poised to pass the number of Twitter daily users. What is the reason for this incredible success? No doubt the fact that the game allows players to catch Pokémon exploring the real world, thanks to the so-called Augmented Reality, the mechanism by which fictional digital elements are added to the images of reality, displayed by the smartphone camera.

Basically, the app allows anyone to run into Pokémon specimens (among the most famous: Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Charmander etc) to try to capture them and earn points. The success of the app – which in just four days broke all records for download and use – is certainly due to the popularity and affection that Pokémon has achieved over the years (many of those who now play Pokémon GO are the same who watched them on TV as children) but mostly it is due to the idea of ​​intelligently leverage Augmented Reality to make it a mass market technology.

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emoticons emojis
July 8, 2016

Communication beyond emoticons: the power of Emojis

In a previous post we have shown that written communication has changed a lot over the last years thanks to the new technologies: when we write emails and chat we tend now to use a lot of punctuation to clarify the tone of the text and avoid misunderstandings. We also resort to emoticons and, for some time, also to emojis: the latter are ideograms and smileys used in Japanese electronic mobile messages since the late 1990s and recently adopted by Apple, Android and various social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. The word Emoji (絵文字) in japanese means “picture character”.

The great success of emojis is mainly due to three factors: they are more visually appealing than emoticons (which are composed of punctuation marks, numbers and letters), they are easier to insert into the text (they consist of a single character) and furthermore for some years they have been incorporated into Unicode, the international standard system for indexing characters and standardizing them across different electronic platforms. This means that the emojis that join Unicode standard can be used and displayed without problems on the major operating systems and instant messaging softwares that adhere to Unicode consortium.

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July 6, 2016

Driver assistance systems & Self-driving cars: technical issues and ethical dilemmas

The car accident which  May 7 caused the death of ex Navy Seal Joshua Brown is the first incident in the world involving a Tesla Model S car with with the semi-automatic guidance system “Autopilot” activated. The NHTSA, the US authorities for road safety, has opened an investigation to verify the software functioning system, which did not “see” a truck that crossed the road and, consequently, didn’t activate the car’s brake. Despite the general bewilderment and some journalistic simplifications we should do some clarity by explaining the differences between driver assistance systems (such as the Tesla Autopilot) and real self-driving cars.

Tesla and the Autopilot

The driver assist systems are not automatic pilots: they are computer softwares that simply allow drivers to drive better and more safely. The NHTSA classifies them in five levels of complexity. Most of them merely recognize road markings and sudden obstacles. Other, through dedicated sensors and the control of accelerator, brakes and steering, are able to maintain or change the car lane autonomously, to make it brake, to make it vary the speed and to make it enter and exit from a parking lot (“summon”). The Tesla Autopilot system includes all these features and is ranked at level 2. In addition to Tesla currently only Mercedes-Benz offers advanced semi-autonomous driving systems.

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