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Monthly Archives: June 2015

29
Jun
2015

Google Plans To Turn Payphones Into Wi-Fi Hotspots Globally With Intersection

by Bill

Google Co-Founder Larry Page announced that Google is launching a new startup named Sidewalk Labs by acquiring two companies behind the recent New York City LinkNYC initiative. The initiative is designed to convert old pay phones into free public Wi-Fi hubs. Immediately after acquiring both companies, Google merged them into one entity with a singular purpose. To bring Wi-Fi to everyone, everywhere, for free, by utilizing existing infrastructure points in cities, nationally and eventually globally.

Control Group was providing the interface of the new hubs, while Titan was overseeing the advertising and marketing that pay for the project. Now under the same Google flag, the new venture is named Intersection and will begin to utilize everything from pay phones to bus stops as it’s underlying technology base.

“The vision really is to make cities connected places where you can walk down any street and have access to free ultra high speed Wi-Fi,” said Dan Doctoroff, the former CEO of Bloomberg and former deputy mayor of New York City, who now heads up Sidewalk Labs. “The possibilities from there are just endless.”

Right now in the United States roughly 55 million people don’t have access to high-speed broadband according to FCC reports. Many are in rural areas not yet targeted by Intersection, but once the main population hubs and major cities are sorted out it would be a logical next phase to work outward toward more rural areas as well.

“We think a lot about equity, and here we have a project that’s going to bring connectivity to people for free and fulfill the needs of government to generate revenues,” Doctoroff said. “That’s one of the beauties of doing something in New York first,” he says. “What happens here is seen everywhere.”

As mobile device proliferation and market penetration continues to expand each year, the necessary connectivity has lagged behind in many places as for-profit entities continue to find ways to block municipal Wi-Fi efforts and other attempts to make the world an ‘always on’ environment. Google has a lot to gain by having everyone connected all the time, and Intersection is another step toward that goal.

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18
Jun
2015

Google Trends Goes Real Time

by Bill

Trending newsWhen Google launched its GoogleTrends.com service in 2012 it was a somewhat useful way to see what people had been searching for and talking about recently. The problem was that all too often it was only able to look back into the recent past for stories and topics that had already become stale. Now the service is getting a much-needed upgrade and it may soon become the premier place to find out what the world has on its mind. The functionality hasn’t changed at all, but Google Trends now tracks stories in real time, giving anyone access to what the Internet wants to know in the present moment.

As of today, you can watch minute-by-minute information coming in from more than 100 billion searches taking place via Google during each month and Trends also utilizes the information available from Google News and YouTube, for a much more robust view of what people want to know and why they want to know it.

Some insiders see this as an attempt to leapfrog Twitter, which had become the go-to source for up to the minute discourse. “Social media data focuses on what people are talking about publicly,” said Steve Grove, head of Google’s News Lab Search. In many ways, data goes a layer deeper than that, to what people are really interested in. When you’re searching, you’re not really editing yourself. You find out what people are really interested in. It’s very real, very raw, very personal,” Grove told a Wired reporter.

As information becomes more plentiful and easier to sort or search, there is an increasing desire to keep that data fresh. Google Trends is now an exceptional tool for finding the freshest data about the public mindset, and something many National Net clients might use to generate content, publicity or marketing campaigns that resonate with their audience effectively.

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12
Jun
2015

Office of Personnel Management Security Breached By Hackers

by Bill

Data SecurityThe Office of Personnel Management is the government’s Human Resources department and it was recently disclosed that their database has been hacked by an outside party. The government had said the breach exposed personal information of approximately four million people including Social Security numbers, birthdates and addresses of current or former federal workers – but a new report shows that the hackers (who are believed to be from China) may have also accessed SF-86 forms which are documents used by government officials to conduct background checks for worker security clearances.

SF-86 forms disclose a lot of additional information including things like friends, spouses and other family members as well as each applicant’s past interactions with foreign nationals, and in the case of high security clearance individuals that information might be a serious cause for concern outing foreign operatives and making them vulnerable in their own country.

There are also questions about the actual number of people affected by the breach with Bloomberg now reporting that the original figure of four million may actually be a lot closer to 14 million individuals including current and former federal employees along with many contractors dating all the way back to the 1980s.

A story like this has a strong chilling effect, and it should. Even with the full power of the federal government behind it, the OPM Security system was breached and sensitive data was extracted. While NationalNet follows all of the industry best practices and maintains the most current security protocols possible, we also acknowledge that the world currently exists in an environment that makes virtually any bit of data accessible to entities that are clever and persistent enough to access it. Data security in 2015 is as much about strategy as it is about technology. Keeping sensitive files offline unless online versions are necessary, moving data, partitioning it and continually taking steps to change the way things are stored or where they are stored is an essential component of a strong defense. Leaving it all in one place, neatly assembled together and using the same security measures without evolving them over time is begging to be breached – whether you are the federal government or any private commercial business.

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03
Jun
2015

Google I/O 2015: Big Tech Announcements and App Changes

by Bill

When Steve Jobs was at their helm, Apple developer conferences were always the biggest show of the year for most developers, but since his passing many have started looking toward the Google I/O conference for innovative milestones. The 2015 conference is turning out to be filled up important announcements and a shift away from Apps… so here is a primer on the things you might want to keep on eye on as you move your own sites forward.

Android M will be replacing Google Lollipop and it brings some important upgrades. For example, Chrome will now be in all your Apps, the new software allegedly improves battery life and has USB-C support, Google Now is also on Tap to make it even more accessible, there is a new Google Photos app with free online storage and the company is continuing its crusade to bring developing countries online by adding offline maps and chrome to its platforms.

This comes at a time when Google is also investing heavily in home automation with Nest, Brillo and Weave creating a new layer of connectivity for developers to build tools that help manage all of your lights, temperatures, locks and more via secure WiFi or Bluetooth connections.

However, pundits are most interested in the way Google seems to be shifting its direction away from individual apps and back toward the web. So much of the conference centers on the improvements being made to Google Now. A system that essentially cannibalizes the data from individual apps you would normally want to open and pushes that same data into web based features that you are already using already. As an example, why would you open up and app to find the nearest open gas station if Google Now can seamlessly include that information when you want to know it? Google has invested heavily in creating an engine that can determine what you want, when and where you want it so it can predictively present data that you need right now… without having you go and get it yourself.

Of course that opens the Pandora’s box of debates about whether Google is doing this to help its app creating partners or to steal their work and use it as its own content for the purpose of driving more traffic to its own web-based ubiquitous ads. From a consumer perspective, a web that brings you information without making you find it may sound like a great thing… but for the people creating that data and having it presented in other ways by Google without much in the way of shared monetization… it may be a sign of hard times to come – especially if Google manages to keep people on the web where it is so dominant and away from the independent apps many companies are now creating as stand-alone products.

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