4 Google Features You Should Try Out

googleGoogle is better known as a search engine but it has evolved over the years and now has a number of features some people are not aware of.

Here are a few of them:

The first feature is “Google Definitions” and all you need to do to use this feature is simply type “Define” then “the word” for example it could be Define Technology.

Next you would see is a top box with a standard dictionary definition and as much information as possible about that word including parts of speech.

Next is “Google Translations” a useful tool to help you understand other languages easily. All you need to do is type translate along with the “word” to your preferred “language”.

As an example you may try translate “Love” to Hausa” and it will give you the result as SO. So you can see, this is super useful feature for frequent travellers or language enthusiasts.

Another tool is Google Conversions. Simply type the conversion you want to do and you will get the result instantly. For example, you can type “Convert 10,200 Megabytes to Gigabytes” and it will give you the result.

Public Data Explorer” has tons of information on public statistics which makes it useful for students and researchers.

For example, you can go there and search for say “Life Expectancy in Nigeria” and the results will pop-up.

However, some results on Nigeria are quite outdated and it requires relevant Government agencies reaching out to Google with newer data and statistics.

Tech Trends: Developing A Cyber Security Framework In Nigeria

Cyber SecurityThe Founders of Digital Encode, Oluseyi Akindehinde and Adewale Obadare have emphasized the importance of cyber security in the development on Nigeria.

Both men were guests of Channels Television’s InfoTech show, Tech Trends.

Akindehinde said that the population of Nigerians who are internet users has made it important that there is a system that protects these citizens.

“We need to take it beyond the pockets of organisations that are looking at it from the perspective of the realm they operate it. We need to address it at a national level.

“I say this on the back of what has been happening recently in Nigeria,” he said, citing the accusations of hacking between political parties leading to the 2015 election.

His partner, Adewale Obadare, said that while the exposure to the internet is very high in Nigeria, the level of awareness of Nigerians about cyber security is really low.

He explained the reasons behind their decision to set up a cyber security outfit and the need for Nigeria to pay more attention to this field of Information Technology.

In this interview, they gave expert analysis of the possibility of developing a cyber security framework in Nigeria.

We Will Shut Down Unregistered Management DeveIopement Institutions – CMD

cmdThe Centre for Management Development CMD had said it would soon clamp down on management development institutions and consultants who have not registered with the government.

Director General of the Centre, Mr Kabir Kabo Usman told journalist in Abuja that only 48 registered institutions and 200 management development consultants across the country are qualified to build man power capacity for Nigeria’s public and private sector.

Mr Usman also said that the centre would soon embark on a nationwide tour of Management Development Institutions MDI and consultants with a view to giving further accreditation to qualified institutions and individual, while flushing out quacks from the market.

The CMD is a government parastatal under the Ministry of National  Planning, created to provide managerial and technical capacity and training for Civil Servants since 1973.

He added that in line with the government’s decision to restrict oversea training for civil servants, the centre would strengthen indigenous management training institutions and consultants as well as flushing out impostors from the market.

Following this, there is however mixed feelings among technical and management development experts on the decision of the government to restrict oversea training for staff.

The Federal Government spends about 16 million dollars each year for oversea training of staff.

 

Facebook’s Service Disrupted For Some Users

Illustration photo of a Facebook error message in a computer screen in SingaporeFacebook Inc, the world’s number one social network, suffered a service disruption on Friday that made the website unavailable to some users.

Some visitors to the site were greeted with a message that read: “Sorry, something went wrong. We’re working on getting this fixed as soon as we can.” It was not immediately clear how widespread the disruption was.

Facebook, which has 1.32 billion monthly users, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Windows 8 Hits 100 Million Sales, Tweaks For Mini-tablets In Works

Microsoft Corp has sold 100 million Windows 8 licenses in the six months since launch, roughly in line with the previous version, but wants to combat sputtering interest in its flagship software with a substantial update to make it easier to use, and compatible with smaller tablets.

Windows 8 is the first Microsoft operating system primarily designed for touch commands, but it has failed to capture consumers’ imaginations or make a dent in a tablet market dominated by Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics.

“Is it perfect? No. Are there things we need to change? Absolutely. We are being very real about what needs to change and changing it as thoughtfully and quickly as we can”, said Tami Reller, co-head of Microsoft’s Windows unit at the company’s Redmond, Washington headquarters last week, where she announced the latest Windows sales figure, a number made public on Monday.

Microsoft will be rolling out an update to Windows 8, provisionally code-named ‘Windows Blue’, by the end of this year, Reller said. Details of the update will be released in the next few weeks.

Although Microsoft has sold 100 million Windows 8 licenses since launch on October 26, matching Windows 7 sales three years previously, it looks unlikely that the new system will see progressively rising demand, as Windows 7 did, hitting 240 million sales in its first year.

Microsoft’s last Windows 8 sales update was in early January, when it broke 60 million, suggesting only around 40 million license sales in the last four months, well below Windows 7’s average sales rate.

Windows 7 was helped by the fact that it replaced the generally unpopular Windows Vista, whereas Windows 8 has confused many potential customers with its new-look ’tile’-based start screen and the omission of the traditional ‘start’ button.

“The learning curve is real, and we need to address it,” said Reller. “We’re not sitting back and saying, they will get used to it.”

Reller did not say whether the ‘Blue’ update would restore the start button, but she said Microsoft would pay more attention to helping customers adapt.

“We’ve considered a lot of different scenarios to help traditional PC users move forward as well as making usability that much better on all devices,” she said.

TOUCH LAPTOPS

Consumer alienation, and the lack of affordable touch-laptops that can make full use of Windows 8, has held back computer sales, according to industry tracker IDC. PC sales had their sharpest drop on record in the first three months of this year, plummeting 14 percent.

Reller hopes that new machines from firms including Lenovo, ASUS and Hewlett-Packard will change that this year.

“We know customers like touch laptops, but they are also price sensitive,” she said. “Our partners (hardware makers) have to bet on volume, so that they get price breaks, and get that moving into the (retail) channel.”

Microsoft is also tweaking Windows 8 to make it compatible with smaller seven and eight inch tablets, which would allow hardware makers to compete in the fastest-growing segment of the tablet market against Apple’s iPad mini, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, Google Inc’s Nexus 7 and Amazon.com Inc’s Kindle Fire.

Reller declined to comment on whether Microsoft would make a smaller version of its own Surface tablet.

Microsoft has not made much of an impression in the tablet market so far, notching only 900,000 Surface sales in the first quarter, according to IDC, compared with 19.5 million iPad sales and 8.8 million Samsung tablet sales.

Overall, Reller hopes the ‘Blue’ update and a slew of attractive touch-laptops will fire up interest in Windows machines in all forms.

“I believe that touch will be mainstream in consumer laptops,” said Reller. “I think we’ll be pleased with the progress we’ve made by ‘back to school’ and by holiday (year end), we’ll be at this tipping point where we will say, ‘Now I see it’.”

Microsoft shares closed at $33.75 on the Nasdaq, after hitting their highest level since January 2008 earlier in the session, as the S&P 500 reached an all-time high.

Youth Flock To Mobile Messaging Apps, May Be Threat To Facebook

Create personal profiles. Build networks of friends. Share photos, videos and music.

That might sound precisely like Facebook, but hundreds of millions of tech-savvy young people have instead turned to a wave of smartphone-based messaging apps that are now sweeping across North America, Asia and Europe.

The hot apps include Kik and Whatsapp, both products of North American startups, as well as Kakao Inc’s KakaoTalk, NHN Corp’s LINE and Tencent Holdings Ltd’s WeChat, which have blossomed in Asian markets.

Combining elements of text messaging and social networking, the apps provide a quick-fire way for smartphone users to trade everything from brief texts to flirtatious pictures to YouTube clips — bypassing both the SMS plans offered by wireless carriers and established social networks originally designed as websites.

Facebook Inc, with 1 billion users, remains by far the world’s most popular website, and its stepped-up focus on mobile has made it the most-used smartphone app as well. Still, across Silicon Valley, investors and industry insiders say there is a possibility that the messaging apps could threaten Facebook’s dominance over the next few years. The larger ones are even starting to emerge as full-blown “platforms” that can support third-party applications such as games.

To be sure, many of those who are using the new messaging apps remain on Facebook, indicating there is little immediate sign of the giant social media company losing its lock on the market. And at a press event this week, the company will unveil news relating to Android, the world’s most popular smartphone operating system, which could include a new version of Android with deeper integration of Facebook messaging tools – or possibly even a Facebook-branded phone.

But the firms that can take over the messaging world should be able to make some big inroads, investors say.

“True interactions are conversational in nature,” says Rich Miner, a partner at Google Ventures who invested in San Francisco-based MessageMe, a new entrant in the messaging market. “More people text and make phone calls than get on to social networks. If one company dominates the replacement of that traffic, then by definition that’s very big.”

Facebook spokespeople declined to comment for this article, citing this Thursday’s planned announcement.

Facebook’s big challenge is reeling back users like Jacob Robinson, a 15-year old high school student in Newcastle upon Tyne in the U.K., who said the Kik messaging app “blew up” among his friends about six months ago. It has remained the most-used app on his Android phone because it is the easiest way for him to send different kinds of multimedia for free, which he estimated he does about 200 times a day.

Robinson said he trades snapshots of his homework with friends while they stay up late studying for their exams — or not.

“We also stay up in bed with our phone all night, just on YouTube searching for funny videos, then you quickly share it with your friends,” he added. “It’s easy. You can flip in and out of Kik.”

Facebook “has really started to lose its edge over here,” said Robinson, who found his interactions on Facebook less interesting than his real-time chats.

Waterloo, Ontario-based Kik has racked up 40 million users since launching in 2010. Silicon Valley entrants in the race include Whatsapp, funded by Sequoia Capital, and MessageMe, launched earlier this month by a group of viral game makers. MessageMe has received seed-stage funding from True Ventures and First Round Capital, among others, and claimed 1 million downloads in its first week.

Meanwhile, Asian companies are producing some of the fastest-growing apps in history. Tencent’s WeChat boasts 400 million users – far more than Twitter, by way of comparison – while LINE and KakaoTalk claim 120 million and 80 million users, respectively. Both have laid the groundwork to expand into the U.S. market.

MOBILE WAVE

The growth in the messaging apps reflect the dramatic shift in Internet usage in recent years, as Web visits via desktop computers have stagnated while smartphone ownership and app downloads have skyrocketed.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has publicly called Facebook a “mobile company” to emphasize the company’s priorities. Last year, he splashed $1 billion for photo-sharing app Instagram, which has remained red hot, while Facebook also launched its own Messenger app, offering a suite of smartphone communication tools.

Still, Facebook has also been forced to play defense. Earlier this year, the company cut off its data integration with a young startup called Snapchat and then mimicked its feature with a new messaging tool called Poke, which sends messages that self-destruct. It has also shut off its integration with messaging apps like MessageMe and Voxer.

At the same time, Facebook has also hired graphic artists to draw emoticons and graphics for Messenger that emulate features of the wildly popular Asian apps like LINE, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Dave Morin, an early Facebook employee who left to found the “private” social network Path in 2010, said he recognized last summer the critical role of messaging functions in smartphone apps, and quickly began working to incorporate them.

Since Path released a new version of its app earlier this month, the number of Path’s daily users has risen 15 percent, which Morin attributed to the new messaging features.

“What’s the number one reason why people have this thing?” said Morin, holding up his iPhone. “It’s to call, to text, to communicate.”

Messaging, Morin added, is “the basis for the mobile social network.”

PLATFORM THREAT

While established social networks move to incorporate messaging features, the new-wave messaging apps are looking to grow into social networking platforms that support a variety of features and enable innovations from outside developers.

“The tried and true approach for a social network is first you build a network, then you build apps on your own, then you open it up to third party developers,” said Charles Hudson, a partner at early stage venture capital firm SoftTech VC.

The moves mirror Facebook’s younger days, when its user growth and revenues were boosted by game publishers like Zynga Inc, which made popular games like FarmVille for the Facebook platform.

In the South Korean market, for instance, eight of the top ten highest grossing Android apps are games built on top of KakaoTalk. Tencent announced in November that it would introduce a mobile wallet feature enabling payment for goods with WeChat. And Tencent also makes money in China by using the app’s location data to displaying nearby merchants’ deals to potential customers.

If the messaging apps reach a certain scale, they could form networks that rival Facebook’s “social graph,” the network of user connections and activities that enable highly targeted delivery of content and advertising.

“The folks on your address book are very different from your Facebook friends and your LinkedIn contacts, and that’s a natural place for a very powerful graph to be created,” said Jim Goetz, a partner at Sequoia Capital.

Ted Livingston, the 25-year old chief executive of Kik, said he developed the capability for his service to support external features in November, and he plans to open the platform to outside developers in the near future.

Livingston said Kik and Whatsapp were “in a race to see who’s the first to build a platform.”

Whatsapp, which has been the most widely downloaded communication app for both iOS and Android in recent months, according to analysis firm App Annie, has been profitable by selling subscriptions to its service for $1 a year. Although it has remained mum about its platform plans, the company has been rumored to be in talks with Asian game publishers about hosting games, according to news reports in South Korea.

Goetz declined to address the reports, saying only that because it relied on a subscription business model, Whatsapp did not need to sell games or ads to make money.

Still, he said, the Whatsapp team “spends a lot of time thinking about the developer community.”

DEAL POTENTIAL

Established social networking giants could also swoop in for the upstarts – and Facebook has demonstrated its appetite for acquisitions.

Indeed, investors are eyeing a round of potentially lucrative buyouts resembling the series of deals involving group messaging applications in 2011.

Facebook acquired group messaging app Beluga in March of that year, enlisting its founders to help build its own stand alone app, Messenger, which launched six months later.

In late 2010, First Round Capital, an early stage venture capital firm, invested in GroupMe, a group messaging startup that was sold to Skype just fifteen months after it launched.

Kent Goldman, a First Round partner who has backed MessageMe, said it was unlikely that the market in the long term could support numerous independent messaging startups, which by their nature become more powerful as they grow larger.

“You don’t want to be the smallest one when the music stops,” he said.

Apple Buys Silicon Valley Startup WiFiSlam

Apple has acquired a Silicon Valley startup, WiFiSlam, which makes mapping applications for smart phones.

Apple confirmed the acquisition, but declined to give details. The news was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal, which quoted a person familiar with the matter as saying that Apple paid around $20 million for the company.

“Apple acquires smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” an Apple spokesman told Reuters.

WiFiSlam develops technology that provides indoor tracking and similar services. Big tech companies such as Apple and Google have been racing to provide more and better map applications for users. Google’s application, Google Maps, is widely accessed on Google’s Android platform and rival Apple’s rival iOS platform.

Amazon Launches Cloud Player App For iPad And iPad Mini

Amazon today launched its Cloud Player app for the Apple iPad and iPad Mini, expanding the online retail giant’s footprint for its music streaming programme.

According to cnet.com, the app allows customers to stream or download music stored in Amazon’s cloud, play music already stored on the device, and manage or create playlists.

A quick check by CNET shows iPad users also can purchase songs from Amazon through the Safari Web browser like they can on iPhones and iPod Touches. In the past, iOS users were able to access Amazon’s apps but weren’t able to purchase items from Amazon. That’s largely because of an Apple rule designed to make sure it gets its 30 per cent cut on all sales apps generate.

We’ll bring you more update on it as it comes.

Getting its Cloud Player on as many devices as possible is important for Amazon’s strategy. While the company makes its own hardware, it makes more money from selling books, music, movies, and other products and services. While iOS users can’t purchase items directly from Amazon’s apps, being able to access the content via Apple devices at least broadens Amazon’s potential user base.

“Our goal is to make Cloud Player the most widely compatible cloud playback solution available, giving our customers the ability to buy their music once and enjoy it everywhere,” Steve Boom, vice president of digital music for Amazon, said in a press release.

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Google’s Schmidt To Sell 3.2 Miilion Shares

Google Inc Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt is selling roughly 42 percent of his stake in the Internet search company, a move that could potentially net the former chief executive a $2.51 billion windfall.

Schmidt, 57, will sell 3.2 million shares of Class A common stock through a stock trading plan, Google said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.

The plan, which Google said would give Schmidt “individual asset diversification and liquidity,” allows Schmidt to spread trades out over a period of one year to reduce the market impact.

Shares of Google were down $4.11 at $781.26 in after-hours trading on Friday.

A Google spokeswoman would not comment on why Schmidt is selling the shares at this time.

Wedbush Securities analyst James Dix said Schmidt’s stock sales did not worry him or signal a loss of confidence in the company by Schmidt.

“I’d be more worried if the current CEO or CFO sold a lot of their stake,” said Dix.

Schmidt, who served as Google’s chief executive until 2011, currently owns roughly 7.6 million shares of Class A and Class B common stock. The shares represent 2.3 percent of Google’s outstanding stock and roughly 8.2 percent of the voting power of Google’s stock.

The fact that Schmidt will still own a significant amount of shares after the sales means he’ll have a good deal of “skin in the Google game,” said Needham & Co analyst Kerry Rice. But he said it could hint at Schmidt playing a less central role within the company going forward.

“My speculation is that Eric’s relationship with Google is evolving,” said Rice. “I would assume that as he decides he wants to diversify away from Google – both his career and financially – he’s got ideas of what he would like to do with some of his funds.”

Schmidt, who helped turn Google into the world’s No.1 search engine during his decade as CEO, handed the reins to Google co-founder Larry Page in April 2011.

As executive chairman, Schmidt has been particularly involved in government relations, taking a leading role in the company’s discussions with antitrust regulators in the United States and the European Union. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission ended its investigation into Google last month without any action. Google has offered to change some of its business practices to appease European competition regulators.

“As Google moves to maybe more tactical battles, as opposed to the strategic battles it’s been waging with the government, once those are concluded, maybe his role can be lessened,” said Needham & Co’s Rice.

Schmidt has also made headlines apart from Google. In January, Schmidt traveled to North Korea with former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson for a “personal” trip. The trip was criticized by the U.S. State Department as ill-timed – coming weeks after North Korea conducted a rocket launch in violation of U.N. Security Council sanctions.

Shares of Google are trading at all-time highs, finishing Friday’s regular session at a record closing price of $785.37. At that price, Schmidt’s share sales would be worth $2.51 billion.

Google said that Schmidt entered into the stock trading plan in November.

Schmidt was ranked 138 on the Forbes list of global billionaires with a net worth of $6.9 billion in March 2012.

Given Schmidt’s changed role at the company and the amount of his wealth tied up in Google’s stock, it was not unreasonable for him to diversify his holdings, said Wedbush Securities analyst Dix.

“As good as Google stock is, it isn’t as good as cash if you actually want to buy something,” he said.

Facebook’s Mobile Ad Revenue Doubles In Fourth Quarter

Facebook Inc. doubled its mobile advertising from the previous quarter as the world’s No. 1 social network expanded its business aggressively onto handheld devices.

But the growth trailed some of Wall Street’s most aggressive estimates.

Extending its reach on mobile devices is crucial as more and more of its 1 billion-plus users begin to access its network via smartphones and tablets.

The company’s overall advertising business grew at its fastest clip since before its May 2012 initial public offering, helping the company’s revenue expand 40 percent and surpass Wall Street targets.

Shares of Facebook were flat at $31.24 in after-hours trading on Wednesday, regaining ground after falling more than 8 percent immediately after the numbers were released.

“Overall solid quarter but maybe high expectations going into the quarter,” said Aaron Kessler, an analyst with Raymond James.

Facebook said its mobile business accounted for 23 percent of total ad revenue, compared to 14 percent in the third quarter.

Anonymous Group Hacks US Government Website

Hackers claiming to be from the activist group “Anonymous” have hacked a US government website in response to the death of Aaron Swartz, an internet activist, who committed suicide two weeks ago.

Activists embedded a video statement on the homepage of the United States Sentencing Commission, an agency of the US government.

The statement referred to the death of Mr Swartz, an internet activist who apparently killed himself in January.

“Two weeks ago, Aaron Swartz was killed, because he faced an impossible choice. He was forced into playing a game he could not win.”

Mr Swartz, aged 26, was facing hacking charges and is believed to have committed suicide.

His federal trial was due to be held next month. If found guilty, he could have faced up to 35 years in prison.

Following his death, Mr Swartz’s family released a statement blaming “intimidation” and “prosecutorial overreach” from the criminal justice system.

‘Operation last resort’

The attack on the website was scheduled to begin at midnight eastern standard time, according to documents that appear to have been posted online by Anonymous activists.

Later on Saturday the website was not functioning.

The United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) is responsible for issuing sentencing guidelines for US federal courts.

The hackers, who had labelled the attack “Operation Last Resort”, said the site was chosen for symbolic reasons.

“The federal sentencing guidelines… enable prosecutors to cheat citizens of their constitutionally-guaranteed right to a fair trial, by a jury of their peers and a clear violation of the 8th amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishments,” the video statement said.

The statement also suggested the hackers had sensitive information relating to a number of US judges that may be made public.

There have been numerous attacks by hackers operating under the Anonymous banner in recent months.

On Thursday two British men were jailed after taking part in attacks on payment services including Paypal, organized by Anonymous.

Government websites of the UK and other countries have also been the subjects of attacks.

 

Twitter Launches Advertising Services In Middle East

Twitter Inc. on Sunday launched an advertising service in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as the social media firm seeks to exploit a tripling of its regional subscriber base following its widespread use during the Arab Spring protests.

Digital advertising is relatively undeveloped in the region, accounting for an estimated 4 percent of its total advertising spending, tech-savvy population and rising Internet penetration points to significant potential for growth.

“The two are interconnected – the rapid growth of our user base with the timing of why we want to help brands connect with that audience,” said Shailesh Rao, Twitter vice-president for international operations.

Twitter does not provide a regional breakdown of its more than 200 million users worldwide, but Rao said its MENA subscriber base had tripled in the past 12 months.

The company has recruited Egypt’s Connect Ads, owned by Cairo-listed Orascom Telecom Media and Technology, to launch advertising initially in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Twitter Inc. has named Pepsi and Saudi telecom operator Etihad Etisalat (Mobile) as confirmed clients.

Twitter says the products it promotes typically has an audience response rate of 1 to 3 percent, significantly higher than traditional advertising rate of 0.1 to 0.5 percent.

“Social media advertising is totally different because it relies on what people say. It’s about two-way, not one-way, communication,” said Mohamed El Mehairy, Connect Ads managing director.