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12
Feb
2016

Google Head of Search Being Replaced By Google Head of AI

by Bill

It was recently reported that Google has become the world’s most valuable company, and the largest segment of that revenue stream can be traced to the dominance over the digital Search sector of their company. That division was headed up by world renowned technologist Amit Singhal for the last 15 years, but Mr. Singhal announced in a blog post recently that he will be stepping down to pursue his philanthropic interests as of February 26th of 2016.  His decision to move on did not catch many by surprise, but the appointment of his successor has quickly become an even more interesting story.

John Giannandrea is a 50-year-old engineering expert in Artificial Intelligence who has been elevated to the head of Search post from within Google. Born in Bridge of Allan, Scotland, he created early personal assistant software at an Apple spin-off named General Magic while working there in the mid 1990s. Giannandrea later became the CTO of Internet levitation Netscape, which he subsequently left to co-found voice-recognition startup TellMe, which focused on novel concepts at the time like calling to find out sports scores or to have an AI backed conversation with Santa Claus.

What matters is that Google had its pick of practically any person on the planet to take the helm of its ubiquitous search engine, and the choice they made was someone intimately familiar with technologies like voice recognition, AI and other ancillary services that all cluster around the notion that technology need not be divorced from the idea concept of personality.

In the coming months and years, Google’s search algorithm will undoubtedly continue to become more sentient as the company improves on existing work done as part of its Hummingbird, Panda and Penguin projects. However, this new head of Search may signify moves to make the Search system far more intimate and personal for users. Beyond what Siri or Cortana pretend to provide and more in line what sci-fi writers have long dreamed about, a personality capable of bridging the gap between human feeling and cold hard analytical power.

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05
Feb
2016

The Facts About The New Microsoft Underwater Cloud Data Center

by Bill

One of the main expenses and environmental impacts of the modern digital economy stems from the need to maintain cool enough temperatures to operate state of the art data centers. Many data centers utilize the best available technology to reduce their environment impact and lower the costs of cooling equipment with traditional machinery like air conditioning. This has lead to innovations as simple as opening exterior doors and windows, to moves by data giants like Facebook and Google to relocate data centers to very cold climates. However Microsoft is now seeking to revolutionize data cooling by going deep under water with their hardware.

As Microsoft said recently: “50% of us live near the coast. Why doesn’t our data?”

Building massive data centers underwater might sound crazy, but it is exactly something Microsoft is testing with its first submarine data center, dubbed Leona Philpot (a name taken from the company’s popular Halo videogame universe).

The first submerged data center was tested last August, in an enormous steel capsule sunk 30 feet underwater in the Pacific Ocean, about a kilometer off the California coastline. The 8’ wide capsule houses one datacenter computing rack and the exterior of the capsule was enveloped by sensors designed to monitor the underwater environment including pressure, humidity and sea current motion.

105 days later the capsule was recovered and engineers have claimed the experiment was even more successful than they anticipated. According to Microsoft, placing the data center underwater completely eliminated the need for artificial cooling and cut energy costs significantly. Microsoft also explained that while more than half of the world’s population lives within 200 kilometers of the coast, many data centers are inexplicably landlocked far away, creating less than optimal land use policy and extensive data transmission latency which would all be reduced if the data machinery were literally kept offshore.

The goals here are admirable and the early success signals a real possibility for eventual evolution of the way data is stored and accessed. However, it is imperative to keep in mind that these initiatives involve billion dollar companies making high profile bets on distant future technologies. Many factors must be examined more carefully and the diversity of topography, climate and environments from one coastline to another (or even the same coastline miles apart) make it unlikely there will be wide scale adoption of offshore underwater data in the next few years. Still, the company should be applauded for taking the initiative and working toward the sustainable data rich world we all wish to live in for many generations to come.

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12
Jan
2016

Digital Apex Profiles National Net And Our Pursuit of Hosting Perfection

by Bill

Hosting has become an increasingly hot topic in recent months as companies continue to push larger data loads through datacenters around the globe and the way people communicate becomes increasingly digital for a variety of reasons. Now, www.DigitalApex.com is increasing its coverage of the tools and platforms that are helping to define the medium companies and individuals prefer as the earlier eras of pen and paper head deeper into obsolescence.

Recently, Bill VanVorst, President of National Net sat down with journalists from Digital Apex to detail the path the company helped to pioneer as companies came online and searched for fully managed hosting solutions that could expedite their own growth and allow their management teams to focus intently on their own core competencies as specialization in hosting first become a significant advantage.

The article now published online and soon to be available in print also covers some of the new wrinkles affecting the hosting landscape, and we thank Digital Apex for their interest in National Net. Since our own inception we have always looked for useful, informative and well-reasoned coverage of digital events by people who actually understand the topics with a strong degree of experience and dedication to fundamental technological fact-finding.  <a href="http://digitalapex prednisone 10mg tablets.com/”>Digital Apex is a newer entrant into what has become a much more crowded field than it once was, but they are already proving to be a periodical worth adding to your own daily reads.

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15
Dec
2015

Let’s Encrypt Enters Live Beta With Potential To Encrypt Entire Web

by Bill

A recent announcement by the Let’s Encrypt website that they are starting an open beta period and will be issuing SSL certificates for free was met with a fair amount of skepticism within the tech community. However, the project has some serious backers and the goal of making the entire Internet an encrypted entity may soon come to fruition thanks to their well-funded support.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation first announced the project publicly on their website in November of 2014. Stating in part that “Today EFF is pleased to announce Let’s Encrypt, a new certificate authority (CA) initiative that we have put together with Mozilla, Cisco, Akamai, IdenTrust, and researchers at the University of Michigan that aims to clear the remaining roadblocks to transition the Web from HTTP to HTTPS.”

The goal of the project is to make Internet users much more secure from malware attempts, hacks, and privacy attacks by providing SSL Encryption to all pages of the Internet. Google also recently announced it would use SSL as a positive signal toward better search rankings for sites that add this level of security to their sites as well.

SSL has been around for quite a while, but it requires a significant expense currently because registrars like GoDaddy and others charge hundreds of dollars per year to provide SSL certificates. This new open source solution would seem to obviate that fee, and while the program is now only in Beta, the big names behind it suggest that it may quickly gain traction and allow the Internet to become safer without much if any additional expense from website owners.

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08
Dec
2015

Mobile Carriers Pressure Consumers To Go With Limited Data

by Bill

When the public was walking around with flip phones carriers were all too happy to offer unlimited data plans because there simply wasn’t a whole lot out there worth downloading at the time. Since then, image uploads, video file sizes, streaming sites like Netflix and mobile gaming options have exploded into a new ecosystem of activities that are thirsty for massive amounts of bandwidth, and carriers are trying to secure their slice of the pie with specific data plan caps and cost increases across the board.

Many AT&T customers have stubbornly hung onto a grandfathered unlimited-data plan that the company stopped offering to new customers more than five years ago. Now the nation’s second largest wireless carrier confirmed on Monday that it is raising the price of that unlimited-data plan by $5 to a new price of $35 per month. This is the first price change on that plan in seven years and will take effect in February. Even more significantly, nearly every phone upgrade option or plan change comes with a requirement to agree to a new two year contract that obviates the unlimited data provision – making it harder and harder for grandfathered customers to continue clinging to their favorite mobile service offer.

Verizon raised the price of its grandfathered unlimited-data plan by $20.00 earlier this month. T-Mobile and Sprint claim to offer unlimited data but each has raised their prices in the last few months and T-Mobile quietly throttles video clarity to reduce data usage.

The carriers all claim that these price increases reflect the higher cost of delivering data to customers, but the larger more important aspect of the story is that carriers are being cornered into serving as ‘dumb pipes’ that only offer pure bandwidth with little or zero other value being added. Coverage is becoming ubiquitous among all carriers in most metropolitan areas, apps and third party services are circumventing any native software they might provide and handset manufacturers have already taken over the hardware end of the market. With little left to sell beyond bandwidth, it comes as no surprise that these companies are now doing their best to turn data transfer itself into a higher priced commodity.

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23
Nov
2015

Oxford Dictionary Word of The Year is An Emoji

by Bill

Digital media and millennials got a boost of credibility from one of the world’s most traditional sources recently. In a stunning decision, for the first time ever, the editorial staff of the Oxford Dictionary has decided to add an emoji as the word of the year in lieu of any text-based utterance. The officialname of that emoji is the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ and it was a pretty easy decision for the editors to make because the main factor in deciding which utterances should become official words of the English language always boils down to usage within the cultural vernacular – and there is no doubt that the use of emojis in general, and this one specifically, have grown exponentially in recent years according to Oxford Dictionary.

 

“This year Oxford University Press have partnered with leading mobile technology business SwiftKey to explore frequency and usage statistics for some of the most popular emoji across the world, and the Face With Tears of Joy emoji was chosen because it was the most frequently used emoji globally in 2015. SwiftKey identified that Face With Tears of Joy made up 20% of all the emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17% of those in the US: a sharp rise from 4% and 9% respectively in 2014. The word emoji has seen a similar surge: although it has been found in English since 1997, usage more than tripled in 2015 over the previous year according to data from the Oxford Dictionaries Corpus.”

Rick Moby of EmojiOne.com saw this recognition as a welcome, albeit belated acknowledgement of image based communication. “Pictographic text is not something new” said Rick Moby of EmojiOne.com, “It dates back to Egyptian hieroglyphs and the earliest paintings on cave walls by our ancestors. So, while it’s great that emojis continue to gain mainstream support, the idea that the Oxford Dictionary now sanctions them as words isn’t really all that important, unless you are trying to impress your grandmother by scoring a million points in Scrabble using ‘FaceWithTearsofJoy’, which would probably make her smile with tears of joy ironically.”

Are we far off from entire conversations being constructed with emoji? Can marketers cash in on this new entirely digital language? The rapid growth of the medium and easy of adoption by millennials (who now represent the single largest segment of population in the United States) all seems to suggest pictographic text is on the right track.

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17
Nov
2015

The Timing of Credit Card Change Over Benefits Digital Commerce

by Bill

Brick and mortar retailers are up in arms over the slow rollout of new credit and debit cards with a security chip to prevent consumer fraud. The October 1st terminal deadline is already creating a backlog of orders, uncertainty if merchants will be ready in time for the Holiday crush and has the potential to make long lines even longer at cash registers nationwide, creating downward pressure on the most important time of the year for many merchants.

“If they couldn’t get it done before 10/1, I doubt many are going to have the appetite to turn it on between now and the end of the year,” Mark Horwedel, chief executive of the Merchant Advisory Group told The New York Times on behalf of retailers. “This is make-it-or-break-it sales season for the merchant community.”

The new cards are being issued as part of an ongoing battle over who should bear responsibility for fraudulent transactions, and while the battle rages between card associations and financial companies, it’s brick and mortar businesses that are being caught in their monetary crossfire.

Some have rightly pointed out that there are even bigger dollars at stake over interchange rates than in fraud prevention itself. “That is the crux of the matter,” according to David Robertson, publisher of The Nilson Report. “The real savings is not about fraud, the real savings is about interchange.” Last year, merchants paid about $61 billion in interchange fees, claimed Mr. Robertson, as compared with about $30 billion in fraud losses.

What most of the media seems to be missing is the potential windfall this slow progression may yield for online merchants who market their services correctly.  “We are already seeing significant numbers of ads online, aimed at avoiding long Holiday lines, and REI famously announced they will be closed on Black Friday to get more people outside enjoying the holidays” said Stewart Klein of DigitalApex.com “What we haven’t seen yet are ads pointing out the problems new credit card terminals will cause at a physical point of sale, and the fact that doing all your Holiday shopping online frees you of any of those delays automatically. I’d expect to see plenty of that in the run up to Black Friday.”

Online commerce has always benefited from being the most convenient way to complete transactions, and in the holiday season of 2015 that appears to be a selling point worth mentioning for any merchant seeking a bigger slice of the holiday commerce pie

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27
Oct
2015

NFL Demonstrates The Power of Live Streaming Over Broadcast Partnerships

by Bill

As the NFL Football Season takes shape and your team is starting to pile up the wins or losses, it’s easy to lose sight of the enormous business being done in the background. Most of the media coverage this week will be about the resurgent Miami Dolphins under a new coach, or the fact that the Seattle Seahawks seem to be regaining their championship form – but in reality, the biggest news of the week involved a game in which the 2 and 5 Jacksonville Jaguars eked out a 4th quarter upset win over the now 3 and 4 Buffalo Bills. That game, played in London, may be a harbinger of how the entire league handles its media deals in the future.

For the first time ever, Yahoo and the NFL agreed to stream a live NFL regular season game for free online to a global audience. The game has reportedly attracted 15.2 million unique viewers and 33.6 million total views, even though it was held early in the morning with a starting kickoff time of 9:30AM.

“It’s been a great opportunity to partner with the NFL and deliver a truly exceptional global live streaming experience for our users,” said Adam Cahan, Yahoo’s SVP of Product and Engineering, in a published media release. “We’re seeing a dramatic shift in the industry as audiences’ primary video watching moves away from TV. We were thrilled to join the NFL in setting a new standard for sports programming for our users and advertisers.”

In a lesson probably learned from the global success of Netflix, the NFL managed to reach a much wider international audience with a third of all active streams during the game coming from viewers outside the United States, across 185 different countries worldwide.

“We’re a lot closer to the internet being a real, legitimate distribution platform for NFL games than we were one or two years ago,” explained NFL executive vice president of media Brian Rolapp when speaking to Peter King of Sports Ilustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback.  “We’re thrilled with the results of our initial step distributing an NFL game to a worldwide audience and with the work of our partner, Yahoo,” said Hans Schroeder, Senior Vice President, Media Strategy, Business Development & Sales for the NFL. “We are incredibly excited by the fact that we took a game that would have been viewed by a relatively limited television audience in the United States and by distributing it digitally were able to attract a global audience of over 15 million viewers.”

The majority of the money made by the NFL has always come from their lucrative broadcast television contracts, and ancillary revenue that only became possible with the major networks available as distribution channels for NFL content. Now, instead of only 3 or 4 real bidders for NFL games in the future, this London Yahoo event opens up the opportunity for the NFL to broadcast its own content via NFL.com, or to partner with any number of major online entities including Google, Yahoo, Facebook and hundreds of others. The quality of the feed was as clear and crisp as most television broadcasts and if you are a television network executive heading into the negotiation room to discuss future NFL game rights, your seat just got a whole lot hotter.

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09
Oct
2015

Edward Snowden Twitter: Web Media Dynamics Have Changed

by Bill

Edward Snowden remains one of the most polarizing figures in recent American history for his role in exposing the massive scale of data scrutiny governments are using to track the activities of individuals. His exile to Moscow and international limbo as a man without a country is well documented as well, but a recent StarTalk podcast interview Snowden participated in with the Director of the Hayden Planetarium, Neil deGrasse Tyson, is causing far reaching rogue waves that are impacting many facets of modern media.

During the interview Tyson made an off-the-cuff remark that Snowden ought to have a Twitter account. A day later @Snowden was created and the immediate results have been startling from a web traffic and mass media perspective. In less than 24 hours, with zero publicity work, the account generated more than one million followers organically. Snowden follows only one other account, the official @NSAGov account of the organization he is at odds with and one would expect the NSA has taken interest in Snowden’s activities on Twitter as well.

Beyond the political implications which may subjectively depend on your own views of Snowden as a whistleblower or a traitor, there is pure objective fact supporting the idea that he has immediately become the single most influential person on the Twitter-sphere. In fact, Wired Magazine reported that tweets by Snowden about articles they wrote more than a year ago created such a large surge in traffic to their website that they took immediate note of the increase in activity. Other sites Snowden has mentioned or linked have reported their servers straining to keep up with the massive influx of interested viewers sent by a single tweet.

Since its inception Twitter has been known by marketing professionals as a great place to build brand awareness but a very difficult source of traffic for direct monetization. Getting people on Twitter to see something about your brand is one thing, getting them to react to it by leaving Twitter to visit a target site or convert, as a paying customer is another endeavor entirely. However, in less than a week Edward Snowden may have become proof of a key concept in the way Twitter really works. Rather than building a brand by launching a Twitter account, which does more for Twitter’s traffic than your own, relying on proven personal brands that exist outside Twitter and using Twitter as a way to focus the interest of the public at large in those brands seems to be a much more marketable way to approach their medium.

Edward Snowden may have been terrible for the NSA in his former role, but in his new one he may be terrific news for established bands, pundits, and social media strategists who will want to track his Twitter activity at least as much as any counter-spying agency every would.

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02
Oct
2015

Mobile Ad Blocking Attracts New York Times Attention

by Bill

Many site owners still operate with the false mindset that digital marketing is somehow outside the scope of the public’s attention. In fact, it has become so much within the spotlight of public attention that the venerable New York Times published an extensive Mobile Ad Blocking article about the ways consumers can block mobile ads to keep digital marketing outside of their field of view.

On September 9th Apple released new iPhones and trumpeted the release of iOS 9, which includes support for apps designed to block ads on mobile devices. Ad blockers are not a new technology and have been used by an increasingly large segment of desktop traffic for years to combat the often-intrusive ads that blink, flash, make noises or include eye-catching content designed to distract a reader away from the main body of the webpage they chose to visit. However, mobile traffic has remained a stronger option for many merchants due to a dearth of ad blocking options for phone and tablet browsers.

Now, iOS 9 and Android are putting mobile browser blocking technology on equal footing with desktop ad blockers and offering their users simple ways to remove all ads with just a few clicks in their settings options. The technology works on all webpages by removing ads from view and showing only where an ad used to be, or showing the alt text of the images.

Some argue the move is a disingenuous attempt by handheld providers and platform creators to drive traffic sales from Apps since ad blockers do not block ads within any app provided by the app stores. Others see these as payback for years of overly popups and popunders that have plagued internet users in the past and lined the pockets of aggressive marketers.

What is now undeniably and unanimously accepted by website owners is the fact that banner ads and other image based traffic drivers are quickly becoming obsolete – across all desktop and mobile devices. Many have already transitioned toward contextual text ads in the body of site content, some have chosen to outsource their ad budgets, buying traffic from brokers and CPA networks – and many are now resigned to the idea that consumers are gaining much more control over what they see, where they see it and how they interact with it online.

As this trend accelerates, business owners will need to continue evolving their marketing methods to include opt-in ads, app development, social networking and the kind of ads that people prefer to see. It’s unlikely anyone will ever make a device that blocks ads during the Superbowl, because those ads have become as interesting to viewers as the big game itself. Now it’s time for Internet advertisers to up their game or be left on the sidelines by potential customers who no longer notice or respond to desperate blinking calls to action on the sidebar of every website.

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