Is your social status too low to score a free pass to American Airlines’ Admiral’s Club? Social ranking company Klout is offering a new way to boost your score: sharing opinions on the subjects in which you already have some influence, and using the data to help answer questions on Bing.
In an expanded partnership with Microsoft, Klout will bring answers from its new “experts” service to the top of Bing search results. The integration, which builds on a partnership that began last year when Microsoft invested in Klout, brings crowdsourced answers to queries that search engines have long struggled to answer. And it points to growing ambition for the much-maligned Klout, which is expanding its network of “influencers” beyond those with a…
The story sounded far-fetched: OLPC researchers, working with a team of technicians in Ethiopia, created a special “hut” covered in solar panels where the children of a few distant towns could go to recharge some toys they were given. The toys were boxed Motorola Xoom tablets and every child between the age of four and eight got one. The researchers were expecting the children to play with the boxes and potentially open them in the first week but instead they turned them on in less than an hour and a few months later were modifying the settings and singing ABC songs. It was, at once, a triumph of technology and of the human capacity to learn.
The hut became a focal point for the town’s children and the kids loved their tablets so much that they slept with them. One kid would learn how to launch a Disney movie and the others would follow. Another kid learned how to unlock the built-in camera. It was a form of viral education that we see, under the surface of many childhood interactions, ever day. They learned without learning.
We first heard this story last week in Boston when we were touring the MIT Media Lab and it sounded too good to be true. The thought that children cut off from education by dint of their physical location were able to learn, without teachers, the rudiments of English and how to manage a complex tablet device, was wild. Luckily MIT’s in-house magazine, Technology Review put together a very nice story about the project and I have to say I’m impressed.After several months, the kids in both villages were still heavily engaged in using and recharging the machines, and had been observed reciting the “alphabet song,” and even spelling words. One boy, exposed to literacy games with animal pictures, opened up a paint program and wrote the word “Lion.”
The experiment is being done in two isolated rural villages with about 20 first-grade-aged children each, about 50 miles from Addis Ababa. One village is called Wonchi, on the rim of a volcanic crater at 11,000 feet; the other is called Wolonchete, in the Great Rift Valley. Children there had never previously seen printed materials, road signs, or even packaging that had words on them, Negroponte said.
I’ve been down on the educational value of “throwing” electronics at kids for years. However, this example of a positive outcome is inspiring. Sadly, these children would presumably have no education at all if they didn’t receive these tablets and the fact that they far surpassed the researcher’s expectations proves, categorically, that modern technology has moved from the realm of the technical to the realm of what can be called conversational. I’m reminded of William Gibson’s comment on going to the movies for the first time.But I remember being taken to my first film, either a Disney animation or a Disney nature documentary (I can’t recall which I saw first) and being overwhelmed by the steep yet almost instantaneous learning curve: in that hour, I learned to watch film. Was taught, in effect, by the film itself. I was years away from being able to read my first novel, and would need a lot of pedagogy, to do that. But film itself taught me, in the dark, to view it. I remember it as a sort of violence done to me, as full of terror as it was of delight. But when I emerged from that theater, I knew how to watch film.
What had happened to me was historically the result of an immensely complex technological evolution, encompassing optics, mechanics, photography, audio recording, and much else. Whatever film it was that I first watched, other people around the world were also watching, having approximately the same experience in terms of sensory input. And that film no doubt survives today, in Disney’s back-catalog, as an experience that can still be accessed.
Reading a book, he wrote, was hard. It required years of education and training and a concentration that many children don’t possess. But, thanks to advances in technology, he and every other child can understand a film, or in this case, a tablet. The skills needed to open a Xoom, turn it on, and play with it have been subsumed deep within the technology. In short, the tablet hides complexity so completely that anyone with a finger and a good head on their shoulders can learn from it. This is a triumph but it is double-edged. On one hand it creates a grave disconnect between the nuts and bolts of the OS and the user and on the other hand it encourages projects like the Raspberry Pi which aims to bring the bare metal back into computer interaction.
Teachers are important. Technology, thankfully, can replace some of their skills. I doubt that dropping a dozen tablets on a remote village in Ethiopia or – and this is true – rural Georgia is the end of our responsibility to these children. It is, however, a promising beginning.
Read the rest of the piece here. Being down on OLPC is fashionable recently, but it’s clearly working.Related Posts:
Chinese manufacturing company PCH International has announced its 2011 full year results – reporting a big rise in revenue and record profits off the back of strong demand for smartphones, tablets and ereaders. The company, which has its corporate headquarters in Cork, Ireland and operational headquarters in Shenzhen, China, designs and makes consumer electronics in partnership with PC makers and consumer electronics brands.
PCH International reported a 72 percent increase in revenue for the year — to $ 710 million — while gross profit for the year totalled $ 70.7 million, an increase of 46.6 percent year-on-year, translating to a net profit of $ 17.9 million. EBITDA amounted to a record $ 24.5 million — a 37.9 percent year-on-year rise.
Commenting on the results, CEO Liam Casey pointed to the company’s focus on supply chain and speeding up time-to-market for its customers’ products as key factors contributing to its growth
We operate in a very fast-paced and dynamic industry and we are working with the world’s top brands and world’s best entrepreneurs. This means we have to continuously adapt to offer our customers the best possible services. PCH is revolutionizing traditional supply chain models, and as a result we continue to dramatically shorten the time-to-market for the latest products on the market.
Our continued focus during 2011 facilitated not only strong growth for PCH but also continued success for our customers. We recognize the opportunities to further scale the business and are investing heavily during 2012 to ensure that PCH continues to expand our service offerings, expand the geographies in which we operate, deepen our skillset and most importantly to deliver peace of mind to our customers. We are very excited by the opportunities that lie ahead of us.
Last year PCH raised $ 30m in funding from a combination of existing and new investors — taking its total investment pot to-date to circa $ 77 million. It also launched its own business accelerator program — called PCH Accelerator – to partner with startups on projects including Intuitive Automata’s heathcare robot, Autum.Related Posts:
Google has been testing an expanded search that includes Gmail results ever since August, and it’s been enough of a hit that the company is swinging for the fences with an expanded test. The new version lets Gmail members find Calendar appointments and Drive files through the autocomplete results in the search box. Visit the main Google page and the results won’t be quite as broad, but they’ll include both the previous trial’s Gmail infromation as well as Drive — thankfully, tucked to the side rather than dominating the main page. Any individual, English-literate Google fans can join the new trial to get early access and find that long lost spreadsheet in the cloud.
Dell’s PC business has continued to struggle in the second quarter: the company just reported that consumer revenues have fallen to $ 2.6 billion, a 22 percent decrease compared to the same period last year. Overall revenue is said to be $ 14.5 billion, an 8 percent drop that Dell attributes to the troubled economic climate and a dip in desktop and mobile computing sales. That lines up with analysis we saw earlier this month when Canalys predicted that hardware shipments from both Dell and HP would take a major hit — a stark contrast to the booming tablet market.
The company’s enterprise segment was easily the highlight of the quarter, growing 6 percent year over year to $ 4.9 billion and representing 34 percent of Dell’s consolidated…
With Windows 8 now fully cooked and prepared for shipping, Microsoft is turning its attention to enlightening us on some of the more granular details of how the new operating system works, such as search. It’s posted a preview of its Windows 8 Bing app this week, where it walks us through the typical process of carrying out a search. Suggested search terms pop up almost as soon as you start typing your query, and they’re apparently highly sensitive to current news trends, with a search start of “Ry” bringing up suggestions about Ryan Lochte, the US Olympic gold medal winner.
More notably, the results are laid out in a horizontally scrollable grid, making for big, finger-friendly targets that don’t require great precision to tap on. Also…
Congratulations to the Winners of our July 2012 Draw for first prize of €100 and second prize of €30. You’ll have to watch the video to see who won;) And for everyone who hires a Tradesman and provides feedback in May, June or July there will be a competition later to win a Samsung Galaxy Tab Wifi and 3G worth over 600euro!! So be sure to www.tradesmen.ie to get 4 Quotes Fast from Rated Tradesmen!” Cheers Oliver Dempsey www.tradesmen.ie 26th July 2012 Video Rating: 0 / 5Related Posts:
Microsoft and Nokia are taking their continued collaboration a step further, incorporating the Finnish company’s mapping back-end to offer expanded and improved traffic results in Bing Maps. Nokia’s system will be powering the traffic results in 24 different countries, including the United States, the UK, Italy, France, and Germany. Not only does the switch bring traffic coverage to countries that didn’t already have the capability, but it also adds traffic tracking for side streets in the US. The use of Nokia’s geocoding services in several countries will also improve the quality of Bing’s turn-by-turn directions. The changes are simply the latest benefit to hit Bing since the two companies decided to partner; both systems began using a…
Regional network MetroPCS has announced total revenues of approximately $ 1.3 billion for Q1 2012, up from $ 1.2 bilion in the last quarter and up seven percent from the same period in 2011. Users on contract now total 9.5 million, with 16 percent of them making the move across to a smartphone. Net income has, however, dropped 63 percent since Q1 2011, with cost per user up 16 percent compared the same period last year. MetroPCS puts down to “retention expense” and the roll-out of its 4G network. The fifth biggest US carrier added over 131,000 new subscribers, but growth continues to slide — it’s down from 190,000 in Q4 2012. On the positive side, users are creeping onto the carrier’s 4G network, with 580,000 LTE subscribers nowmaking up six percent of its total subscription base — regardless of those creeping costs for unlimited data.
Continue reading MetroPCS announces Q1 2012 results: total revenues up, new subscriber growth shrinks
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Today TiVo announced its earnings for Q4 2011 and the full year, however the most interesting note was word of a few new boxes on the way. From the sound of things, the company will deliver a four stream transcoder similar to the one we saw demonstrated at CES (pictured above) capable of dishing out video to multiple devices (phones, tablets, etc.) within the home simultaneously. Also on the way is an IP set-top box coming to retail that sounds very much like the TiVo Preview multiroom extender, however it could include access to internet video services as well. As mentioned on Tech of the Hub, CEO Tom Rogers’ statements indicate the transcoder will enable both live streaming and DirecTV Nomad-style sideloading of recorded content for offline viewing. More concrete are its positive numbers from the partnership with Virgin Media in the UK, and progress on a plan for Pace to develop TiVo-compatible set-top boxes for cable operators here and abroad. The Comcast partnership is also apparently progressing, with VOD access in beta trials and preparing to launch “soon” in the San Francisco area.
Gallery: TiVo network transcoder hands-on
Continue reading TiVo releases Q4 results, announces transcoder and IP set-top box on the way
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