A Google spokesperson told CNET that engineers decided to hold back the feature because of software problems discovered in the final testing phase.
Apparently, “multi-language support is complicated stuff and they found some bugs during their final testing phase that they wanted to fix before making the feature generally available,” the spokesperson said. The feature is now expected to ship later this summer.
Originally announced at the same time as Google I/O last week, but not as part of the I/O announcements, the feature would allow a multilingual Google Now user to select up to seven languages to support in addition to the default language on their device. You could then choose to use any of the languages to ask Google Search questions and set reminders in Google Now.
While Microsoft has moved to Office 365 and Office for iPad, Mac users are still stuck with Office 2011.
The new Microsoft is still saddling the Mac with old software.
For those who don’t know, Office 2011 is the latest and greatest Microsoft Office suite for the Mac. Problem is, it debuted way back in October 2010.
“Office for Mac 2011 launched in October 2010. Office 2013 for Windows launched in January 2013. A long time has passed, not just since Office for Mac 2011 launch, but also since Office 2013 for Windows was launched,” writes MacWorld and others.
Remember October 2010? That’s when the first-generation iPad was in stores.
Fast forward four years and Microsoft now offers Office for iPad. Problem is, if you’re an individual and pay for the full version — which gets you an Office 365 subscription — then install Office on a Mac (you can install Office 365 on up to 5 devices), you actually don’t get Office 365, you get the 4-year-old Office 2011.
And what’s Microsoft’s stopgap to allow some semblance of a cloud-connected Office on the Mac for individual users? An app called document connection. A far cry (described here as an “amazingly bad hack”) from Office 365.
It would be nice to have Office 365 work on my MacBook just like it does on my Surface Pro 3 (another one of the devices I have installed it on).
After all, the whole point of the cloud (for me, at least) is to have the same access to the same data no matter where you are or what the hardware platform is. You know, like Google Docs.
The larger point is that OS X — while maybe not as important as iOS and the iPad — is still pretty important. So, Microsoft risks making Office even more irrelevant than it already is for the Mac crowd.
I’ll give the new Microsoft under CEO Satya Nadella the benefit of the doubt and presume that a cloud-centric Office is coming later this year. But I can’t help but wonder if it’s too late.
Some 689,003 lucky Facebook users were unwittingly part of an experiment in which their news feed was altered to make it more or less positive. Was this ethical?
Remember those days when your lover pretends to be in a bad mood just to see how you’ll react?
It seems that your most intimate virtual friend has been doing the same thing. No, not that virtual friend to whom you bare all late at night. I’m talking the other virtual friend to whom you bare all throughout the day — Facebook.
Recently, I wrote about a study in which people who were confronted by happier Facebook posts ended up writing happier Facebook posts too.
As with most research, this had mostly humorous elements. One can’t deduce that just because someone has written a cheery Facebook post, they are themselves cheery. However, these researchers — from Cornell, Facebook, and UC San Francisco — seemed keen on doing so.
What has now emerged, however, is that the “participants” in this study had no idea they were participating. More importantly, they had no idea that their news feeds were being manipulated to manipulate their emotions.
Some, though, are questioning whether this sort of research is remotely ethical. The idea that Facebook and its academic cohorts had the specific intention of making some of its users miserable is a thought to behold.
Could they be sure that none of these unwitting guinea pigs were in an emotionally vulnerable state already?
As the Atlantic reports, Susan Fiske, a Princeton psychology professor who edited the study, admitted she had qualms.
She said: “I was concerned until I queried the authors and they said their local institutional review board had approved it–and apparently on the grounds that Facebook apparently manipulates people’s News Feeds all the time… I understand why people have concerns.”
Its a touching logic. Because Facebook is always messing with your News Feed, why worry if it’s messing with your mind?
I contacted Facebook to ask whether the company thought the researchers’ approach marginally underhand. I also asked whether these results might assist in the creation of certain types of advertising.
After all, if you can actively change your customers’ moods to the negative, you might also offer them the precise commercial pick-me-up to make them feel better.
Adam D. I. Kramer, a member of Facebook’s core data science team and a co-author of the study, addressed concerns about study in a Facebook post Sunday afternoon.
“The reason we did this research is because we care about the emotional impact of Facebook and the people that use our product,” Kramer wrote. “We felt that it was important to investigate the common worry that seeing friends post positive content leads to people feeling negative or left out. At the same time, we were concerned that exposure to friends’ negativity might lead people to avoid visiting Facebook. We didn’t clearly state our motivations in the paper.”
However, once a brand name has become vaguely known, there’s a deep peril in rechristening. Which is why some might be troubled by the notion that the Microsoft Surface might soon be known as the Microsoft Lumia.
Why would Microsoft even consider such a thing? Is it because it wants the Nokia folks it bought to feel a little better about themselves? Is it because the Lumia name has a slightly more positive air than Surface?
Or might this rumor be bunkum?
It emerged from Evleaks. In this case, the whole rumor reads: “Microsoft is reportedly in the final stages of licensing the Nokia brand, for the purpose of calling the handsets ‘Nokia by Microsoft.’ Furthermore, say goodbye to Surface, and hello to Lumia, as the tablet lineup faces brand streamlining.”
I’d struggle with being asked in a bar what my lovely phone is and answering: “Oh, it’s a Nokia by Microsoft.” It’s not quite Acqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani, is it?
Microsoft, though, is confronted by a troubling set of choices. “Nokia” is a name far more readily associated with mobile than “Microsoft.” Yet Evleaks emitted a rumor earlier this year that the Nokia brand would be eliminated entirely.
The most likely truth is that no decision has been made and various factions are attempting to influence new CEO Satya Nadella as to the beauty of their own ideas.
I contacted Microsoft to see whether the company might comment on any potential renaming. A spokesperson told me definitively: “Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation.”
It would be odd for a product that is avowedly different, like the Surface, to be suddenly given a name that already carries its own associations.
Ultimately, though, the purchase of Nokia had its own strategic reasons, ones that don’t readily fit in neat branding buckets.
The problem is that, in the interim, it’s hard for Microsoft to keep consumers’ minds on its products when competitors with more-defined brands are doing very well.
Facebook announced Thursday it’s been pushing back against a bulk set of search warrants requesting private data from its user accounts since last summer.
In a blog post, the social media network announced a court in New York requested personal data for 381 users, including photos and private messages. The company argued the request was unconstitutional, but the courts prevailed and the information was turned over.
This information is just coming to light now as Facebook filed an appellate brief Friday in an attempt to force the government to return the data it had seized and retained. Facebook says the government responded by moving to unseal the warrants and all court proceedings, allowing the company to notify the users their information had been taken.
Only 62 of the 381 people who were subjected to the searches later had charges brought against them in a disability fraud case. The government still has the data from more than 300 affected users who were never charged.
But the most surprising revelation made by Facebook in its announcement today is that the bulk warrant request is one of the largest it has ever received. The post said it “by far the largest we’ve ever received — by a magnitude of more than ten.” That means the bulk search warrant requests Facebook has responded to in the past have never affected more than 38 people.
Chris Sonderby, Facebook’s deputy general counsel, tells me in his four years with the company, the largest search warrant request he had seen before this one had been for about 30 people. Facebook then appealed that request, and the size of the request was then narrowed down to just one person.
Sonderby also said Facebook “scrutinizes” all government requests it receives. He said these requests were also unusual because they asked for almost all of the users’ information. He said requests differ on a case by case basis, but Facebook often is able to get the government to limit its request to specific information or a certain time period. Facebook was unsuccessful in limiting the size of the request or the amount of data in this case, he said.
Facebook users have repeatedly questioned the amount their personal data is subjected to government searches without their knowledge. Although the company now provides a report of government requests to the public, it initially dragged its feet on making such disclosures.
Thursday’s revelation applies only to search warrants, typically used by law enforcement authorities like police. According to a Facebook’s transparency report, between July and December 2013 in the United States the company responded to a total of 5,814 search warrant requests that affected 9,122 users. The company reports data was produced in 84.81 percent of these cases.
Although Facebook was able to get the gag order lifted this time and reveal this large search, it still faces strict limits in disclosing requests the government makes for national security purposes through the FISA courts. These are the types of requests that came under scrutiny in the wake of former government contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks about the National Security Agency surveillance programs.
Due to federal laws, the company is required to disclose the number of FISA orders it receives in increments of one thousand. It also requires Facebook to wait six months for disclosing those numbers, so the most recent data currently available is from January to June 2013.
During this time, Facebook received fewer than 1,000 FISA content requests that affected between 5,000 and 5,999 users. Those are broad ranges that don’t give the average Facebook user a good idea of how many people are actually affected by these requests.
Facebook provided a timeline of the legal motions it filed in court, and it’s clear that the company tried very hard to not disclose its users data. The request first came in July, and Facebook pushed back until December when it had to comply with the order in the face of potential criminal penalties. The company continued to fight for its customers until June, when the government finally allowed it to notify them.
In its post Facebook noted “there is still more work to do” as government requests should be “narrowly tailored, proportionate to the case, and subject to strict judicial oversight.”
Just as Facebook has more work to do when it comes to pushing the government to return the information it sought under the search warrants especially for the more than 300 people who weren’t charged, it also has more work to do when it comes to making disclosures about requests the government makes for national security reasons.
Although today’s news shows the scope of the search warrants the company receives, it’s important that the public one day has a better understanding of how frequently Facebook receives all types of government information requests.
At a women in technology panel that closed out Google I/O, the tech titan says that it will pay for “thousands” of women and minorities already in tech to advance their skills.
SAN FRANCISCO — Google’s putting its money where its diversity isn’t. A new initiative announced at Google I/O will pay for three months of continuing education for women and minorities in tech.
In conjunction with its third annual women techmakers panel, which this year focused on women working on robotics projects at Google, the tech titan said it was partnering with Code School to provide thousands of paid accounts for free. According to a blog post by the CEO of the for-profit online school for programming, Gregg Pollack, Google will pay for three months free for select women and minorities already in tech to expand their skills.
One thousand people will receive free accounts directly, while the unnumbered remainder, estimated to be in the thousands, will be given by referral. People interested who did not receive a code from Google can apply here.
Pollack, who noted that only a quarter of IT jobs are held by women and only 3 percent of scientists and engineers are African-Americans, said that the statistics were “sobering.”
“Together, our goal is to invest in women and minorities so they can continue developing their technical skill sets,” he said.
“We shouldn’t feel guilty about our biases, we should wake up and do something about them,” Smith said.
By Google’s own admission, its efforts to hire women and minorities have fallen far short. Women make up only 17 percent of Google’s tech employees, according to Google’s recently-published diversity report, while African-Americans and Hispanics comprised only 1 percent and 2 percent respectively of Google’s tech workers.
Google I/O has improved in recent years. Of its 6,000 or so attendees, it went from 300 women in 2012, the first year of the women techmakers panel, to around 1,000 this year.
The panel had advice for the standing-room only audience of several hundred people. Nest vice president of technology Yoky Matsuoka, Google X hardware engineer Gabriella Levine, and Google X systems engineer Jaime Waydo talked about their histories building robots prior to working for Google, and what drove them to robotics in the first place.
“It’s almost completely impossible for a robot to do this even today,” said Matsuoka, wiggling her fingers. But, she added, it was important to focus on solving specific problems. Matsuoka, who joked that she got her start in robotics by wanting to build a robotic tennis partner that would let her win when she was tired, said she was motivated by answering, “How can we enable people who’ve lost their movement?”
“Try crazy ideas,” said Levine, who used her background fighting forest fires, and the lack of robotic aids that could be useful there, to build snake-based water robots to help clean up environmental disasters. “Some will fail, but you’ll learn and maybe solve the world’s big problems.”
Waydo, who worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the Mars rover Curiosity before a frustrating detour into the medical world that finally lead to Google X’s self-driving car project, said that it was important not to get dejected by frustrating results.
“How you tune an answer across no good answer,” and adaptability, Waydo said, is important to success.
Putting it in a language I/O developer attendees could understand, Smith concluded that they were in the process of “debugging inclusion.”
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