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IBM Watson Analytics Enters Public Beta

You may remember Watson, the IBM computer that plays Jeopary and has some pretty impressive features. For a time, IBM farmed out this "brain" to companies for analytics, human-computer interactions and more. Now, Big Blue is offering this machine up for general use to beta users and they'll be able to harness the power of this machine, the database and the logic- for free.

Users of Watson Analytics feed in their own raw data, say, in the form of a spreadsheet, which the service then crunches with its own statistical analysis to highlight associations between different variables. It saves execs from needing to know how to write their own scripts or understand statistics in order to derive meaning from their data.

Source: ZDNet

Windows vs. Chromebooks - The $200 Battle

Over the past couple years Chromebooks have been selling like hotcakes in the ~$200 notebook market, Microsoft is trying to change that with the emergence of ~$200 Windows notebooks that pack a whole bunch of extras into an already affordable package.

One of the newest Windows offerings is the HP Stream 11 that comes with Windows 8.1 and costs $200. Included with the HP Stream 11 you get a free year of Office 365 and 1TB of Microsoft OneDrive storage. In addition to all of that you'll even get another $25 bucks to spend at the Microsoft store which pretty much gives you $100 bucks of extras on a $200 laptop. 

Head on over to the WSJ to see what they thought about the HP Stream 11 and how it compares to other Chromebook offerings.

It really does sound like one of those too-good-to-be-true, shopping-network deals, minus, of course, the “four easy installments” plan and “Call right now!” instructions. But this isn’t even a holiday special or a clearance deal. It’s Microsoft’s new strategy to try to destroy Google ’s low-cost, cloud-based Chromebooks.

In fact, recouping some of the low-end laptop market is so important to Microsoft, the company worked with H-P to price the Stream to undercut the most popular Chromebooks, which are typically $250 to $350.

Rovio makes cuts

Rovio (makers of Angry Birds) has had some pretty good times in the past couple years but yesterday's announcement that they will be laying of 110 people (14% of their workforce) is probably a sign that the Angry Birds fad has died down. Angry Birds was released in 2009 and has remained very popular for quite some time. Wired has the story.

Rovio has confirmed that 110 people will lose their jobs as the Angry Birds maker also shuts down its game-development studio in Tampere. The layoffs, first announced in October, amount to about 14 percent of the company's workforce.

It had been expected that Rovio would make 130 people redundant but after a round of consultations this number has now been reduced. Rovio said that as a result of the redundancies "several positions" have been opened for internal applications. The actual number of employees out of work will depend on how many new internal positions are filled.

On a side note, remember when Zynga offered $2.25 Billion dollars in 2011 to buy Rovio? I'm pretty sure the guys at Rovio are working on a time machine to go back to 2011....


Google wants to kill CAPTCHA

Google has announced that they are working on a plan to introduce security measures that will allow websites to verify you are human (and not a computer) without the need for a CAPTCHA test. CAPTCHA is that annoying picture with a couple words jumbled together that you need to decipher and enter in the box below before you are allowed to pass. Most likely you've got stuck on one at some point as they've become more and more complex, yet haven't provided all that great security. Google's new plan is to use intuitive tests to prove you aren't a computer and let you pass without having to try 10 times to decipher a puzzle. Vox has the full story over here.

Lots of websites force you to decipher a weirdly stretched, nonsensical string of letters and numbers and type them into a box when logging in or making a purchase. This is called CAPTCHA, and it's an attempt to confirm that you're a human, not a computer program. Thankfully, it might soon be a thing of the past.

Sony Pictures got hacked

Sony Pictures has been making the news for the past few days after hackers got their hands on sensitive company data that contained everything from salaries, scripts, background checks on employees, and scores of other personal information. It was originally thought that hackers made off with 40GB's worth of data but new reports are estimating that it could have been more like 100TB's worth of data that was stolen. This is a tough break for Sony and especially their employees who are now having their information uploaded for public viewing. Gizmodo has more details on what happened.

It's time to take a moment of silence for Sony Pictures, because more startling revelations about leaked information just came out and employees are starting to panic. BuzzFeed raked through some 40 gigabytes of data and found everything from medical records to unreleased scripts. This is probably the worst corporate hack in history.

Psy broke YouTube

It's probably been a few months since you thought about Psy and his "hit" Gangnam Style but apparently his YouTube hit is still racking up the views. Gangnam Style has hit 2,147,483,647 views which is amazing, however, YouTube never thought anyone would get that many and it broke their 32-bit integer counter (2,147,483,647 is the max it would count). YouTube has of course fixed this now and Gangnam Style can continue on towards 3 billion views. NME has the details.

YouTube have had to upgrade the technology used to count the number of views a video receives following the continued popularity of psy's 'Gangnam Style'.
The video, which was first uploaded to the video site in July 2012, has surpassed the figure that staff at the website ever thought possible. In a blog posted on Google+ it was explained that by crossing the 32-bit integer mark, 'Gangnam Style' has forced a change in the way views are counted. 

Cool Science Video of the Day

This is very cool and very simple. Make an electric "train" with some copper wire, magnets and a battery. Nifty stuff!


Steam Takes on Twitch

Steam has just rolled out their new "Steam Broadcasting" service where you can stream your game and tune in and watch your friends play. This is still a beta feature, but it looks like they are shaping up to take on Twitch.tv and push this content seriously. I think this is all just positioning themselves for when their actual Steambox ships (Vaporware), and will quickly fall by the wayside. If you want to check it out, make sure you are signed up for the "Beta" Steam client and broadcast (and watch) away!

How do I start & stop my broadcast?
When you're playing a game and someone starts watching, you automatically start broadcasting. When you end the game your broadcast ends.

Source: Steam

Android Lollipop Usage Numbers

Android 5.0 Lollipop was one of the most anticipated Android releases ever and as you'd expect, people have been flocking to it. Not really. Even though Android 5.0 has been out a few weeks now for Nexus devices, other device manufacturers are always a bit slow to get it tweaked and roll it out. As such, there is less that 0.1% percent of all Android devices running 5.0, but that will likely change in a big way next month. I've got Android 5.0 installed on both my tablet and phone - and it's been flawless for me.

Android Usage

Source: DroidLife

Indiegogo Offers Crowdfunding Insurance

Anymore, it's all too often that crowdfunding project fail and sometimes the scumbags only intention was to take your money and run. Since we've seen a few project fail and the backers were scammed, the willingness of people throwing their money at strangers has dwindled. Less projects are getting backed and this extra caution is hurting developers. Indiegogo wants to help give you some piece of mind and is offering "insurance" guaranteeing you get your money back - should the project fail. Of course, this will cost you just a little bit more.

The company is testing an ‘Optional Insurance’ fee that provides a refund if backers do not receive the final product within three months of the estimated delivery date. Indiegogo insurance is being tested on one project at this point — stress-management wearable Olive — where it offers potential peace of mind for a $15 fee on top of the product’s $129 backing price.

Source: TechCrunch

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