Sunday, 31 July 2016

TripAdvisor aims to make the airline passenger experience more transparent

TripAdvisor Airlines_b680x306

By Marisa Garcia, FlightChic

DATE Airlines have long relied on awards and recognitions from industry watchers and major publications to reassure customers of the quality of their products and services, in very much the same way that professional critics and ratings firms have put their seal of approval on restaurants and hotels for decades.

But the rise of the internet has disrupted that ‘expert-review’ dynamic. The active participation of consumers on ratings sites which evaluate everything from films to books to consumer goods to services, and of course travel, suggests that today’s consumers trust popular opinion over ratings which could be perceived as an extension of marketing and advertising (a.k.a ‘the experience is the marketing’).

TripAdvisor Flights
TripAdvisor is now looking to shake up the airline industry the same way it has hotels, by launching airline reviews. The sixteen year old travel review site has accrued over 350 million individual travel reviews covering 6.5 million hotels, restaurants and attractions and has now expanded its TripAdvisor Flights service to let customers grade and review airlines around the world in much the same way that they would review a night’s stay somewhere.

These reviews are then combined with an external rating of the amenities on a particular route, such as the type of seat offered and whether there are power ports and wi-fi available to flyers, to give it an overall ‘FlyScore’ which will rate the quality of an itinerary on a 1 to 10 scale.

Consumers can sort their flight search results by price, duration, the ‘FlyScore’, or a blend of factors categorised by TripAdvisor as “Best value of time and money.”  TripAdvisor expects to refine the system, introducing further enhancements this year.

According to The Economist, “History suggests the firm has a good chance of making an eventual impact. If it does reach its potential, it might just encourage flyers to change their buying behaviour. If customers are willing to pay, say, $30 more for a seat rated as excellent compared with one that is terrible, then maybe airlines will pull out of their race to the bottom. A world in which carriers compete for the quality of the reviews they receive, as well as the price they offer, would be a better one.”

Early adopters
Already, a mix of full service and low-cost carriers from around the world – including Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Cebu Pacific, HK Express, Air Canada, AeroMexico, SWISS, Aer Lingus and Transavia – have embraced TripAdvisor’s new metrics.

Transavia, for example, sees new opportunities to connect with customers in the enhanced TripAdvisor platform, and encourages its customers to share honest feedback about their flight experience at the end of their journey.

“Open and transparent communication plays an important role in this and this option allows our customers to write a review in an easy way. With airline reviews on TripAdvisor we can engage with our customers even more, since we will answer questions in the reviews when necessary,” says Paul de Raad, Head of Marketing and eCommerce at Transavia.

Time for Transparency
Bryan Saltzburg, TripAdvisor’s General Manager Global Flights, believes now is an ideal time for airlines to show transparency in their products and to improve how consumers’ compare and shop for flights. “Over the years, the in-flight experience has changed dramatically—in some ways for the better, in some ways for the worse. We know our users tell us it is not always easy for travellers to find the best options by just looking at the baseline price of a flight,” Saltzburg says.

“We’re uniquely solving that problem by surfacing candid traveler reviews and photos, detailed amenities information and tools to find the lowest fares all on one site empowering flyers to pick the best itinerary for their trip.”

Transparency of the passenger experience is also a major driver behind Airbus’ new AirSpace cabin concept.

As Airbus VP Cabin Marketing Ingo Wungetzer puts it: “In today’s connected world, there is tremendous information transparency for consumers, literally at their fingertips and this is also coming to the air travel industry. Passengers are increasingly expecting to know the details of the on-board experience and openly share their experiences in social media in order to find the best value. So naturally it’s important for us that also passengers, not only experts, understand our cabin philosophy, and that flying in an Airbus is directly associated with significant advantages.”

TripAdvisor is not the only platform which has grown from the desire to give flyers what could be perceived as more “objective metrics” to help inform their bookings decisions.

RouteHappy has built a business around gathering and compiling comprehensive data sets about airlines’ products, with combined cabin experience ratings reflected as ‘Happy Scores’.

Like any other review of an experiential product, there is a subjective element to this objective scoring, but the company has established standards to calculate these experiential factors, applies them universally, and it could be argued, gives more refined and defined data to justify its scoring.

RouteHappy’s approach has been more collaborative, and focused on delivering the company’s data to the supplier sites through integration subscriptions.

The company is working various distributors and platforms including with Expedia, Google, Kayak, Skyscanner, Farelogix, and Sabre.

With airlines, like Cathay PacificQantas, Delta and United, RouteHappy goes beyond data integrations to helping deliver a rich product content platform which showcases the airlines’ products and services.

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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Motorola Confirms That It Will Not Commit To Monthly Security Patches

If you are planning to purchase the Moto Z or a Moto G4 smartphone, be prepared to not see security updates rolling out to your phone every month -- and in a timely fashion. After Ars Technica called out Motorola's security policy as "unacceptable" and "insecure," in a recent review, the company tried to handle the PR disaster, but later folded. In a statement to the publication, the company said: Motorola understands that keeping phones up to date with Android security patches is important to our customers. We strive to push security patches as quickly as possible. However, because of the amount of testing and approvals that are necessary to deploy them, it's difficult to do this on a monthly basis for all our devices. It is often most efficient for us to bundle security updates in a scheduled Maintenance Release (MR) or OS upgrade. As we previously stated, Moto Z Droid Edition will receive Android Security Bulletins. Moto G4 will also receive them.Monthy security updates -- or the lack thereof -- remains one of the concerning issues that plagues the vast majority of Android devices. Unless it's a high-end smartphone, it is often rare to see the smartphone OEM keep the device's software updated for more than a year. Even with a flagship phone, the software update -- and corresponding security patches -- are typically guaranteed for only 18 to 24 months. Reports suggest that Google has been taking this issue seriously, and at some point, it was considering publicly shaming its partners that didn't roll out security updates to their respective devices fast enough.
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Tuesday, 26 July 2016

NWM: An X11 Window Manager Written In Node.js

In case you ever wanted to have a Node.js window manager, there's now one that works for X11 environments that works on Chrome OS, Debian, and friends...

Read the full article here by Phoronix

Omnitone: Spatial audio on the web

Spatial audio is a key element for an immersive virtual reality (VR) experience. By bringing spatial audio to the web, the browser can be transformed into a complete VR media player with incredible reach and engagement. That’s why the Chrome WebAudio team has created and is releasing the Omnitone project, an open source spatial audio renderer with the cross-browser support.

Our challenge was to introduce the audio spatialization technique called ambisonics so the user can hear the full-sphere surround sound on the browser. In order to achieve this, we implemented the ambisonic decoding with binaural rendering using web technology. There are several paths for introducing a new feature into the web platform, but we chose to use only the Web Audio API. In doing so, we can reach a larger audience with this cross-browser technology, and we can also avoid the lengthy standardization process for introducing a new Web Audio component. This is possible because the Web Audio API provides all the necessary building blocks for this audio spatialization technique.

Omnitone Audio Processing Diagram

The AmbiX format recording, which is the target of the Omnitone decoder, contains 4 channels of audio that are encoded using ambisonics, which can then be decoded into an arbitrary speaker setup. Instead of the actual speaker array, Omnitone uses 8 virtual speakers based on an the head-related transfer function (HRTF) convolution to render the final audio stream binaurally. This binaurally-rendered audio can convey a sense of space when it is heard through headphones.

The beauty of this mechanism lies in the sound-field rotation applied to the incoming spatial audio stream. The orientation sensor of a VR headset or a smartphone can be linked to Omnitone’s decoder to seamlessly rotate the entire sound field. The rest of the spatialization process will be handled automatically by Omnitone. A live demo can be found at the project landing page.

Throughout the project, we worked closely with the Google VR team for their VR audio expertise. Not only was their knowledge on the spatial audio a tremendous help for the project, but the collaboration also ensured identical audio spatialization across all of Google’s VR applications - both on the web and Android (e.g. Google VR SDK, YouTube Android app). The Spatial Media Specification and HRTF sets are great examples of the Google VR team’s efforts, and Omnitone is built on top of this specification and HRTF sets.

With emerging web-based VR projects like WebVR, Omnitone’s audio spatialization can play a critical role in a more immersive VR experience on the web. Web-based VR applications will also benefit from high-quality streaming spatial audio, as the Chrome Media team has recently added FOA compression to the open source audio codec Opus. More exciting things like VR view integration, higher-order ambisonics and mobile web support will also be coming soon to Omnitone.

We look forward to seeing what people do with Omnitone now that it's open source. Feel free to reach out to us or leave a comment with your thoughts and feedback on the issue tracker on GitHub.

By Hongchan Choi and Raymond Toy, Chrome Team

Due to the incomplete implementation of multichannel audio decoding on various browsers, Omnitone does not support mobile web at the time of writing.

Read the full article here by Google Open Source Blog

Nintendo loses billions in value after 'Pokemon Go' truth bomb

Pokemon Go is an unprecedented success, but Nintendo recently admitted it won't directly profit from the augmented reality game, leading to a loss of $6.7 billion in Nintendo's market value on Monday. Nintendo's market value rose by $7.5 billion on July 11th, just after Pokemon Go went public and became an instant, massive hit across the globe. Since its launch, Pokemon Go has added nearly $12 billion to Nintendo's market value, meaning today's dip, while sizable, isn't a total disaster for the company.

Nintendo published a letter to investors on July 22nd offering a reality check on the company's involvement in Pokemon Go: Namely, it didn't develop or publish the game. Instead, Nintendo has a 32 percent stake in The Pokemon Company, the business that markets and licenses the Pokemon franchise to outside developers. The Pokemon Company will receive licensing fees and compensation for collaborating with developer Niantic on Pokemon Go, and Nintendo will see just a sliver of that revenue.

"Because of this accounting scheme, the income reflected on [Nintendo]'s consolidated business results is limited," the company wrote. Nintendo said it would not modify its financial forecast.

On Monday, the first trading day after its letter went public, Nintendo's stock fell as much as 18 percent. It's the steepest hit to the company's shares since 1990, Bloomberg reports.

Many people associate Pokemon with Nintendo, and for good reason: The company has published the games since their inception in the 1990s and it owns a third of The Pokemon Company itself. However, Nintendo simply didn't have a hand in developing or publishing Pokemon Go, as we noted in our previous reports on the company's stock boosts. Nintendo and Google did invest roughly $30 million in Niantic as it worked on Pokemon Go.

Nintendo will produce and distribute the Pokemon Go Plus accessory, a plastic wearable that connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth, and then lights up and vibrates when players encounter PokeStops or Pokemon in the wild. Pokemon Go Plus will cost $35 and Nintendo had already rolled any potential revenue from the peripheral into its financial forecast ending March 31st, 2017.

Via: Reuters

Source: Bloomberg

Read the full article here by Engadget

Friday, 22 July 2016

NVidia rilascia VRFunhouse in modalità OpenSource


NVIDIA ha annunciato di aver rilasciato in modalità OpenSource VR Funhouse, definito “il più avanzato gioco in realtà virtuale del mondo”.

Ironia della sorte il gioco inizialmente sarà … [Visita il sito per leggere tutto l’articolo]

Read the full article here by Linux Feed

Secret Formula Behind No Man’s Sky’s Endless Worlds

The Onion Omega2: The Latest Router Dev Board

A few years ago, the best way to put a device or project online was by hacking a router. With an inconspicuous Linksys WRT54G held onto a project with baling wire, anything can connect to the Internet. A lot has changed in a few years, and now those routers are development boards themselves. The latest of these is the Onion Omega2, a follow-up crowdfunding campaign to the very popular original Omega. Now, this tiny dev board is faster, more capable, and now it’s giving the Raspberry Pi Zero a run for its money.

The original Onion Omega was released last year with specs you would expect from an Internet of Things development board designed upon a chip for a cheap router. The original Onion used an Atheros AR9331 SOC running at 400 MHZ, had 64MB of RAM and 16MB of storage – enough to run a lightweight Linux distro – and also included USB, 802.11b/g/n, and a handful of GPIOs and a single UART. The Omega2 is a vast improvement over the original Omega, featuring a CPU that is 45% faster. The upgraded version of the Omega sports twice as much RAM, twice as much storage, and a MicroSD slot. This enables some Linux distros with a little more oomph behind them, and of course the SD card allows for local storage.

The original Onion Omega was funded through a crowdfunding campaign, with a single Onion Omega and dock available for a pledge of $19. Taking a lesson from the C.H.I.P. and the Pi Zero, the team at Onion have slashed the price. The Omega2 is only five dollars. If you want more RAM, storage, and an SD card socket, that price goes up to $9 USD. That’s amazing, and just goes to show how far hardware designed to service the Internet of Things has come in just a few short years.

Filed under: Crowd Funding

Read the full article here by Hack a Day

Google makes smartphone comic book reading easier with machine learning

EC to audit Apache HTTP Server and Keepass

The European Commission is preparing a software source code security audit on two software solutions, Apache HTTP server and Keepass, a password manager. The source code will be analysed and tested for potential security problems, and the results will be shared with the software developers. The audits will start in the coming weeks.

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Thursday, 21 July 2016

Windows File System Proxy: FUSE for Windows

WinFsp is a set of software components for Windows computers that allows the creation of user mode file systems. In this sense it is similar to FUSE (Filesystem in Userspace), which provides the same functionality on UNIX-like computers. Interesting project. They also provide details on how it works: WinFsp consists of a kernel mode FSD (File System Driver) and a user mode DLL (Dynamic Link Library). The FSD interfaces with NTOS (the Windows kernel) and handles all interactions necessary to present itself as a file system driver to NTOS. The DLL interfaces with the FSD and presents an easy to use API for creating user mode file systems. It's open source, using the AGPLv3 license.

Read the full article here by OSNews

Google is making it harder to root Android 7.0 Nougat

Rooting Android remains very popular with a certain crowd of users, but fact of the matter is for most folks it is an unnecessary hassle. I have gone through the pros and cons of hacking the operating system in previous articles, so I will not discuss them again here, but suffice to say that both the software and the hardware have matured so nicely that the vast majority of people can be perfectly happy with their new smartphone or tablet as it comes out of the box. Google has been somewhat permissive with regards to rooting, but, behind closed doors, it has… [Continue Reading]

Read the full article here by Betanews

Google's DeepMind AI has cut data center electricity usage by 15 percent

Artificial intelligence is frequently associated with sentient computers, bots and the like. But in the real world, AI is being put to a far wider range of uses. DeepMind, Google's AI division has been instrumental in slashing energy consumption in data centers. Lying at the heart of the internet, data centers are huge electricity gobblers, and anything that can be done to reduce usage is to be welcomed. DeepMind has reduced consumption in Google's data centers by an impressive 15 percent, helping the company to do its bit for the environment. DeepMind has used a number of approaches to help… [Continue Reading]

Read the full article here by Betanews

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Pixels Are Driving Out Reality

An article on Motherboard today investigates the reasons why people didn't go "oh-my-god, that was awesome" looking at the CGI-based scenes in the recent movies such as Independence Day: Resurgence, Batman v Superman and X-Men: Apocalypse. Though the article acknowledges that this could be the result of some poor-acting, spotty storyline, or bad editing, it also underscores the possibility that this could be the aftermath of a "deeper mechanism that is draining all substance from our cinematic imaginary worlds?" The author of the article, Riccardo Manzotti to make his case stronger adds that the original Alien movie was able to impress us because what we saw was strongly linked to actual life. From the article: The humongous spaceship Nostromo -- a miniature model -- provoked awe and respect. When the creature erupted from Kane's abdomen -- a plaster model encased in fake blood and animal entrails -- people were horrified. The shock was registered on the faces of the actors, who, per Ridley Scott's direction, weren't told ahead of time that the moment would include a giant splatter of blood. "That's why their looks of disgust and horror are so real," producer and co-writer David Giler said. Manzotti further argues that some of the modern movies haven't left us awe-inspired because there is just too much CGI content. Compared to 430 computerized shots in the original Independence Day movie, for instance, the new one has 1,750 digitized shots. "People have been looking at pixels for much too long," the author argues, adding: Our imaginary world has been diluted and diluted to the point that, so to speak, there is no longer even a stain of real blood, love, and pain. Nowadays, when spectators see blood, they see pixels. [...] VR and augmented reality and the steady pace of CGI have pushed the process of substitution of reality to a higher level. At least, movies were once made using real stunts and real objects. Now, the actual world is no longer needed. The actual world, which is the good money, is no longer required. The virtual world, the bad money, is taking over. Yet, it lacks substance. The author makes several more compelling arguments, that are worth mulling.
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Intel ChromeBooks Can Now Run Wine and Steam

"With Google Play and Android app support hitting Chromebooks, it's now possible to run Windows applications/games on Chromebooks via CrossOver For Android," reports Phoronix. Slashdot reader grungy writes: The first Intel ChromeBooks have access to the Play Store now, and the Android version of Wine apparently runs on them... Pictures show the Steam client running, and a clip of a D3D game. Of course, the Play Store is only available on the ChromeOS developer channel so far, but that should change later this year. CrossOver for Android also hasn't been officially released, but Thursday CodeWeavers' president blogged excitedly that "we are staring at a Leprechaun riding on the back of a Unicorn while taking a picture of a UFO. We are running CrossOver through Android on a ChromeBook running a Windows based game launched from the Steam client. THIS HAS NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE...EVER!!!"
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