Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Saudi Vision 2030

"Saudi Vision 2030": What it Means to Investors
By James Garrett Baldwin
It is perhaps the boldest set of economic reforms since the Saudi Kingdom was founded in 1932. After decades of weak reforms yielded barely recognizable benefits to the nation, the country is trying to do something that few anticipated it could.
Saudi Arabia is diversifying its economy away from oil revenues in order to bolster economic growth and meet its significant social spending obligations outlined in recent years. With oil prices falling significantly over the last year-and-a-half, the nation needs to find ways to increase investment in the nation. Roughly 70% of the country’s revenue in 2015 came from oil production. Profitability fell as oil prices declined, generating a near $100 billion budget deficit (for more, read How Cheap Oil Will Hurt the Saudi Arabian Economy.)
At the center of this economic liberalization is a long-term strategic plan called “Saudi Vision 2030.” Outlined today by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud, the goal is to shift the oil-producing giant into the 21st century and bolster investment in the country in order to spur alternative revenue streams. The Prince argues that the nation does not require oil production to survive, something that will be critical in the future as nations move toward more alternative forms of energy (for more, read Why Saudi Arabia Just Issued $10 Billion in Bonds (JPM)).
The reforms are quite bold. Here’s a list of several key points from the Prince’s announcement.
First, the Saudi Kingdom plans to float roughly 5% of shares in its state-owned oil giant Aramco. The prince says that floating just one percent of the company would create the largest IPO in market history, as the firm is valued between $2 trillion and $3 trillion (for more, read A Saudi Aramco IPO? Why You Should Steer Clear).
The Prince said the country plans to use money raised through the IPO to establish a sovereign wealth fund, which would be used to fund new investments in other industries. The value of the fund? The Prince is aiming for $2 trillion.
The fund would contribute to the larger goal of economic diversification. The nation plans to invest mining and to bolster its military production. The country is one of the world’s three largest arms purchasers, and domestic development could be a boon to its private sector.
Perhaps most intriguing is the liberalization toward women in the economy, a much welcome action from human rights, worker rights, and women’s rights groups. The nation will provide measures to increase Saudi women in the domestic workforce. According to the International Labor Organization, just 18.6% of Saudi women hold jobs in the Saudi economy.
Finally, the nation plans to establish a new visa system that will bolster its long-term workforce.
Saudi Arabia’s bold “Saudi Vision 2030” is a remarkable overhaul of decades of investment and structural policy. By diversifying its economy away from the oil sector, the nation aims to be a hub of innovation and investment for decades to come and to reestablish its strength in the Middle East as an economic powerhouse.
For more, read Saudi Aramco: An IPO for the World's Largest Firm?
Read more: "Saudi Vision 2030": What it Means to Investors | Investopedia
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Friday, April 22, 2016

Commercial Cloud a $10 Billion a Year Business

Microsoft: Commercial Cloud a $10 Billion a Year Business

By Pedro Hernandez  |
Following Amazon, Microsoft declares that its commercial cloud portfolio now contributes $10 billion in revenue to the software giant's bottom line.
Microsoft announced mixed third-quarter fiscal 2016 results April 21, but one figure is likely to stand out among IT watchers. The company revealed that its annual commercial cloud revenue has crossed the $10 billion mark, up from $9.4 billion the previous quarter.Microsoft follows Amazon in revealing that the cloud has lifted its fortunes beyond that major milestone. In an April 5 letter to shareholders, Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, said Amazon Web Services (AWS), the e-tailing giant's cloud computing unit, was "bigger than was at 10 years old, growing at a faster rate, and—most noteworthy in my view—the pace of innovation continues to accelerate—we announced 722 significant new features and services in 2015, a 40 percent increase over 2014."According to Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, enterprises are flocking to his company's cloud."Organizations using digital technology to transform and drive new growth increasingly choose Microsoft as a partner. As these organizations turn to us, we're seeing momentum across Microsoft's cloud services and with Windows 10," said Nadella in a statement.
Microsoft reported non-GAAP revenues of $22.1 billion last quarter, a 6 percent year-over-year decline but in line with Wall Street estimates of $22.09 billion. Net income was $5 billion, or 62 cents per share, falling short of analyst expectations of 64 cents a share.Business software continues to perform strongly for Microsoft. Largely driven by offerings like Office 365 and Dynamics CRM and ERP, the company's Productivity and Business Processes segment generated $6.5 billion in sales, a 1 percent year-over-year increase, or 6 percent using constant currency calculations that account for currency fluctuations.Backed by the company's massive Azure cloud computing infrastructure, the Intelligent Cloud segment grew revenues by 3 percent (8 percent in constant currency) to $6.1 billion. A bright spot is Microsoft's cloud-based mobile device management (MDM) offerings, which have doubled their customer base in a year to 27,000.Things are more turbulent over at More Personal Computing, which encompasses Windows, devices, Xbox Live and search advertising. Signaling a persistent decline in the PC market, Windows OEM Pro revenue declined 15 percent as businesses hold off on commercial PC purchases. On the other hand, consumer Windows OEM revenue climbed 15 percent.Surface devices are strong sellers for the company, with over $1.1 billion in sales during the quarter. Microsoft's Windows smartphones continue their freefall with a 46 percent year-over-year decline in sales on a constant-currency basis. All told, the More Personal Computing segment saw its revenues climb 1 percent to $9.5 billion.While Windows Phone isn't faring well against Apple's iPhone and a galaxy of Android devices, Microsoft has other avenues to explore in its quest for success in the mobile space."They have quickly pushed their mobile reach with their new device-agnostic strategy, and even though they still have twice as many users using Microsoft services on PCs versus smartphones, the mobile segment is the growth area," Hannu Verkasalo, CEO of Verto Analytics, said in a research note sent to eWEEK. "Microsoft has four significant digital brands with more than 100 million unique users monthly in the US. Skype is still big, with 84 million unique U.S. users, and OneDrive has started to compete with other cloud storage services."

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Vivaldi Web Browser

Vivaldi Web Browser

  • PROS
    Highly configurable. Fast. Compliant with Web standards. Excellent tab implementation.
  • CONS
    Can get cluttered if you enable all of its tools. No Reading mode or Share button. No syncing or mobile versions.
    Vivaldi brings customizability and geekiness back to the Web browser. Despite being in its infancy, the program shows a lot of promise.
BYMICHAEL MUCHMOREThe Web browser world has been expanding lately. The biggest recent splash was made by Microsoft's Edge, which comes with its new Windows 10 operating system. And the browser dubbed Brave (still in beta) from Mozilla's ex-CEO has been making waves of its own, not always in a good way. Enter Vivaldi, the brainchild of Opera Software's founder and former CEO, Jon von Tetzchner. Vivaldi owes its existence to von Tetzchner's dissatisfaction with the available browsers, which are increasingly similar and stripped down. Vivaldi, by contrast, is intended to be the most customizable, feature-packed browser available. The software is still in its infancy, but after testing it, I came away with the impression that it's off a darned good start. It's very usable, and standard browser features and innovations alike are well implemented, in a clear, efficient, and intuitive way.
Setting Up
Vivaldi is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. The Windows version (which is what I tested) is a mere 38MB download that installs in seconds. You can choose from dozens of languages in the Advanced setup. The customization starts right from the time you first run the browser: A short wizard takes you through light and dark color schemes, tab-bar position (top, either side, or bottom), and start page backgrounds.
When you want to further customize the browser, the Settings dialog offers a wealth of options, and one welcome aspect of it is that any interface change you make immediately appears in the browser window. For example, you can click a button to display standard menu choices (File, Edit, and so on) across the top of the browser window, and the instant you click the button, the menu appears.
InterfaceVivaldi borrows some interface basics from Opera and Edge, with large, simple buttons, a menu that drops down from the browser's logo button at top left, and a collapsible toolbar, by default along the left rail. Not only do you get the standard back and forward buttons, but there are also fast-forward and rewind to take you to the beginning or end of a session on a particular site. Two things Vivaldi lacks that I find indispensable in browsing today's Web are a reading view and share buttons like you get in Edge and Firefox.
Vivaldi Tab Preview
Tabs. Vivaldi has one of the best implementations of tab customization, and most of its special tab functions can be turned off if you prefer. You can place tabs at the top, bottom, or either side of the browser window. Like Edge, Vivaldi shows site thumbnails when you hover the mouse cursor over a tab, and you can stack (or group) tabs by dragging one on top of another. One of the coolest capabilities is tab tiling, which lets you show sites side by side or in a grid within one browser window. It's surprising that other browsers don't offer this view, considering the prevalence of widescreen monitors.
You can also choose the behavior when opening a new tab: Should it appear at the end of the tab set, next to the currently active one, or next to tabs from the same site? You choose.
Vivaldi makes it easier to see which tab is active if you have a lot open, since the active one is the color of the site scheme while the rest are off-white (you can change that behavior to the opposite if you prefer). Like Edge and Firefox, Vivaldi even shows you which tabs are making noise, and a right click lets you mute them. You can even hibernate background tabs, if you want all inactive tabs to stop taking up bandwidth.
The Tab Sessions feature offers a way to save a set of tabs for later use. Most browsers let you do a similar thing with bookmark or favorites folders, but the Vivaldi feature is a bit more accessible, from the File/Save Open Tabs as Session option. You can name a session and then get back to it from the Open Saved Session command.
One tab function, however, available in the other major browsers, is missing in Vivaldi: You can't pull a tab out of the main browser window to create a new one. You can, however, drag them back and forth to reposition them.
Address Bar. Even this browser staple shows thought and extra functionality. I approve of the separate address and search bars, which are like those in Firefox. Entering a Web address is different from searching, and if you search on something that appears to the browser to be a URL, say it includes a period and some letters at the end, it hinders finding what you want. This also means you can choose among search engines with a dropdown. I suspect that the big platform's browsers combine the two so that everything you type is sent to their search engine. Another cool, techie feature of the address bar: When you load a page, it displays a progress bar with the size of data being download and number of items on the page to be downloaded.
Web Panel. A nifty interface feature is Web Panels, which lets you keep a site, usually a reference site like Wikipedia, pinned to a side panel. You access and add Web Panels from the left-side toolbar, which harks back to Opera and also offers buttons for bookmarks and downloads. In a neat trick, it uses the mobile version of a site, if one's available, so it won't look bad in the narrow panel.
Web Notes. The Notes feature lets you annotate a website, with the option to add a file or screenshot. Unlike Microsoft Edge's Annotation feature, though, Web Notes doesn't let you mark up and highlight the webpage or share to social networks, online storage, or email. But Vivaldi notes are saved and associated with the active page.
Panel and Speed Dial in Vivaldi
Bookmarks and Speed Dial.  Bookmarking is a strength of Vivaldi's, as well: You can access bookmarks from side-panel buttons, from the bookmark bar, or from the Opera-esque Speed Dial, which shows up on new tabs with helpful suggestions of sites to visit. Speed Dial is what you see by default when opening a new empty tab. You can move Speed Dial tiles around to taste, and when you add one, Vivaldi shows suggestions based on your browsing.
You can also create folders of tiles, but Vivadi's tiles don't offer live, app-style functionality like Opera's. But you're not locked into a particular search provider bar as you are in Opera; in fact, the Speed Dial page in Vivaldi doesn't offer a search bar, which really isn't a problem since you've got one at the top of the browser window at all times.
Mouse Gestures. Another tool inherited from Opera is Mouse Gestures, which let you do things like closing tabs or reloading pages by holding down the right mouse button and dragging in a pattern. The Setting page for this shows animations of the actions, and you can click the right and then the left mouse button to go back. All the standard browser keyboard shortcuts also work.
Extensions. Vivaldi offers all the extension capability of Google Chrome, and you actually get extensions for it from Chrome's extension gallery. I tried adding the LastPass extension (one I rely on). The extension appeared next to the search box and worked just as expected.
Performance and CompatibilitySince Vivaldi is built on top of Chromium, the code that powers Google's browser, it inherits much of Chrome's speed and compatibility. I had no trouble browsing to any type of content, including things like Facebook Live Video, Apple iCloud, WhatsApp Web, AsanaThe New York Times, and financial sites. Like Chrome, Vivaldi has built-in Flash and PDF viewing capabilities. Results
As expected, Vivaldi scored 521 on—the same score as Chrome on the same system. The test endeavors to measure standards compatibility by testing that HTML5 features are recognized by the browser, but doesn't verify that the features arecorrectly implemented. The table to the right shows how the current crop of browsers fares.
Performance tests tell a similar story. I tested on the Surface Pro 3$789.00 at Amazonwith a Core i5-4300U CPU and 8GB RAM, clearing all browser's caches, quitting all other apps, and removing all extensions. I kept the tablet PC plugged in and ran each test five times, threw out the highest and lowest results and averaged the rest.
Browser Benchmarks
Performance is most easily and repeatably measured by JavaScript benchmarks, such as Google Octane and JetStream. As expected, Vivaldi mirrors the performance of Chrome and Opera pretty closely on the standard JavaScript benchmarks, since they're all build on the same rendering code. Microsoft's PenguinMark tests graphics hardware acceleration, and for some reason Vivaldi falls well short of Chrome on this one, though it still tops Firefox. The venerable Internet Explorer does well on this one, too, but is way behind in the other JavaScript tests.
JavaScript does run most of the client-side interactive functionality in websites these days, but keep in mind that browser performance involves more than just what shows up on these synthetic JavaScript benchmarks: Loading webpages has multiple components aside from JavaScript. HTML and CSS parsing, network interaction, prioritization of which content is loaded first, prefetching, handling mouse moves, DOM events, painting the window with content, and caching strategies all play roles. Unfortunately, Vivaldi inherits Opera's slower startup time, but most people can spare 4 seconds to get their browser of choice loaded.
Is Vivaldi a Classic?It's always good to see more choice and innovation in Web browsers, and Vivaldi certainly offers much to those who want to use a lot of tabs and fine-tune their Web browsing experience with exactitude. This version is just the start, and Vivaldi's creators promise a steady stream of new features, including syncing, mobile apps, and an email reader. We can't wait to see what new features will turn in in Vivaldi, but in the meantime, our Editors' Choice Web browser is the also-customizable, but more mature, Firefox.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Google awards $20 million

Google awards $20 million to 29 innovative disability nonprofits

The Center for Discovery is developing the indieGo wheelchair add-on that converts any manual wheelchair into ...
The Center for Discovery is developing the indieGo wheelchair add-on that converts any manual wheelchair into a powered chair. View gallery (4 images)
Google has announced 29 winners of its Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities, which it launched in May last year to invest in non-profit organizations using technology to increase independence for disabled people around the world. The organizations will receive US$20 million in grants.
Google launched the challenge with an open call to global non-profits, seeking to find organizations that were developing "transformative technologies for the billion people around the world with disabilities." It received ideas from over 1,000 organizations in 88 countries.
In picking the winners, Google says it planned to provide resources to support their missions and investment to help them scale. Each winning organization has committed to open-sourcing their technology, so as to ensure that the help it can provide can be shared.
Google has picked out four winners by way of example. To begin, it has awarded $1.125 million to the Center for Discovery for its development of the indieGo wheelchair add-on that converts any manual wheelchair into a powered chair. The device is aimed at providing the mobility and freedom of a powered wheelchair at around one-seventh of the average cost.
The Perkins School for the Blind has been awarded $750,000 for its work tackling the "last 50 feet problem," whereby GPS can help direct blind people not just to an area, but to a precise point. The organization is creating an app via which navigation tips can be crowdsourced and logged in a standard format so as to help blind people find specific points.
A $1 million award has gone to Miraclefeet, which partners with local healthcare providers around the world to help children born with clubfoot. Its grant will go to providing support for families via SMS, using software to monitor patient progress and training to local clinicians online.
Finally, a $400,000 was awarded to Ezer Mizion and Click2Speak to help people with high cognitive function but impaired motor skills to better communicate. Their partnership is aiming to develop an affordable, flexible and customizable on-screen keyboard that provides hands-free operation.
All 29 projects that have been awarded grants through the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities can be seen online.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Vivaldi Desktop Browser Makes Debut

Vivaldi Desktop Browser Makes Debut — Boasting Customization, Tab Stacks

Vivaldi modern-classic-poster-2
The Vivaldi 1.0 desktop browser has officially launched after 14 months in beta.
The new browser, from former Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner, is a bid to give Internet users an alternative to browsers from big companies such as Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari. It is is available to desktop users running the Windows, Mac or Linux platforms.
According to a Vivaldi press release, the browser was built in response to “vocal grumblings that browsers including Chrome, Firefox and Safari do not serve users.”
von Tetzchner says Vivaldi was “built with the user in ind.”
“We set out on a mission to make web browsers powerful again,” he said. “So Vivaldi 1.0 is both a throwback and a look ahead. It’s a Modern Classic’ designed to help our users get the most out of all the time they spend with their browser. Millions of people have already agreed that they want a better browser, one that puts them in control. Everything we build is in service of the user. We have no investors and their agendas to dictate our progress. There’s no exit strategy and we’re here to stay. All we want to do is give people a browser they’re proud to use and that we’re proud to call Vivaldi.”
Vivaldi’s features include:
Tab Stacks: If you are a multi-tab user, Vivaldi offers the ability to drop tabs on top of each other to create a stack to reduce clutter.
Tab Stack Tiling: If you have a big screen, Vivaldi offers the ability to tile tab stacks to see multiple pages at the same time might come in handy.
Sessions: This enables you to save your favorite set of tabs as a session for later retrieval.
Notes: You can mark quotes to save as a notes and the browser will remember which site you were on and allow you to take screenshots.
Quick commands: Access open tabs, bookmarks, history, settings and more through a command interface.
Mouse gestures and keyboard shortcuts: “Mouse gestures turn a flick of the wrist into almost any action in the browser,” the company says. “Keyboard shortcuts do the same with simple key combinations.”
Personalized: Vivaldi adapts to you with “more than one million different ways to make Vivaldi your perfect browser.”
Vivaldi can be downloaded for free from

Friday, April 08, 2016

Cyber fraudsters reap $2.3 billion

Cyber fraudsters reap $2.3 billion through email wire-transfer scams

Businesses have lost billions of dollars to fast-growing scams where fraudsters impersonate company executives in emails that order staff to transfer to accounts controlled by criminals, according to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Losses from these scams, which are known as "business email compromise," totaled more than $2.3 billion from October 2013 through February of this year, the FBI said in an alert issued this week, citing reports to law enforcement agencies around the globe.
The cases involved some 17,642 businesses of all sizes scattered across at least 79 countries, according to the FBI alert posted on the website of the agency's Phoenix bureau.
Law enforcement and cyber security experts have been warning that business email compromise was on the rise, but the extent of losses has not previously been disclosed.
Cyber security experts say they expect losses to grow as the high profits will attract more criminals.
"It's a low-risk, high-reward crime. It's going to continue to get worse before it gets better," said Tom Brown, a former federal prosecutor in Manhattan.
The FBI's alert said that fraudsters go to great lengths to spoof company email accounts and use other methods to trick employees into believing that they are receiving money-transfer requests from CEOs, corporate attorneys or trusted vendors.
"They research employees who manage money and use language specific to the company they are targeting, then they request a wire fraud transfer using dollar amounts that lend legitimacy," the alert said.
It said they often target businesses that work with foreign suppliers or regularly perform wire transfers.
The size of the losses vary widely from case to case.
Austrian aircraft parts FACC said in January that it lost about 50 million euros ($55 million) through such a scam. In Arizona, the average loss ranges from $25,000 to $75,000, according to the FBI.
The FBI said in its alert, which was dated Monday, that it has seen a 270 percent increase in identified victims and exposed loss since January 2015.
Brown, who now runs the cyber investigations unit with Berkeley Research Group, said that the potential consequences of the breach of an email account are sometimes not immediately apparent to victims.
"This shows that even the hack of an email account can cause significant financial loss," Brown said.

Barcelona City Guide – Interactive City Guide

Barcelona City Guide – Interactive City Guide