01 March 2012

The News - News

The News - News

3 New Tools Bring Machine Learning to Masses

Posted: 29 Feb 2012 03:20 AM PST

Machine learning, the secret ingredient to most large scale websites has made it to a place of high demand since 2010, especially with the increased need for data scientists, but this need has encouraged a host of new platforms that promise to support it.
Low level platforms have paired with big data and are trying to make machine learning more available to firms who can't afford it as well as to those who can't find unemployed data scientists (or doctorate-holders in computer science and math).

The O'Reilly Strata conference to be held today will be showing a number of such platforms, which help the masses understand machine learning.

Here are some of the tools which (according to ReadWriteHack- a channel of ReadWriteWeb) will be prominent at the conference.


SkyTree Server
What a user will need to run this tool:
Know-how about statistics and machine learning
What it's priced at: $2,999 for 4 cores per year (free version can process up to 100,000 rows of data)

The idea behind this product is to allow users access to very high learning systems that produce accurate results. Modeling machine systems usually requires a high-level development tool such as Matlab or R, which have their own procedural development cycles. SkyTree Server aims at disrupting this cycle and introducing more well known languages such as Python and C in the place of the high-level development tool in a way that produces acceptable results. One of the advantages in using the SkyTree system is that the user has on-hand access to the machine-learning algorithms applied.


What user will need to run this tool:
tolerance for only-tree-view type of models for machine learning
What it's priced at: $0.05 per credit (amount of data determines number of credits)

BigML offers cloud-based machine learning solutions that allow just about any business perform ML (Machine Learning) functions. Data is fed in text format, and the service makes sure the system has a high tolerance level for real world unstructured data. The service cleans up the data, formats it, and makes predictions based on decision tree models for machine learning. (Note: this is the only model of machine learning supported by BigML).

Largest Public University in the U.S. Adopts Digital Textbooks

Posted: 29 Feb 2012 03:11 AM PST

digital text book US

As California State University (CSU), the largest public university system in the US, starts renting digital textbooks to students, the indisputable dominance of printed textbooks in US schools may be crumbling.

Erik Fallis, spokesperson for the chancellor’s office of the CSU, told Xinhua Monday that digital textbooks have won the preference of professors and students with their rich video, audio and animation contents and interactive functions such as note-taking and highlighting.

The CSU has announced partnerships with publishers including Cengage Learning, CourseSmart and Follett and will provide more than 5,000 of the most popular e-textbooks at discounted prices as part of a digital textbook rental programme that covers the whole school system.

According to Fallis, beginning in the fall, students at the CSU can start renting digital versions of texts — e-textbooks — and save 60 percent or more on book fees, compared with purchasing the same text in new printed version.

By renting the e-textbooks, students will have access to the digital material for the length of an academic term and also have the option to print out the material.

E-textbooks can be rented conveniently by CSU students through their campus bookstore supported by the three publishing partners.

Once rented, e-textbooks and other digital materials can be accessed online or off-line through laptops, desktops, tablets and various other devices.

It’s up to the professors now whether they will use print textbooks or digital ones in their courses, Fallis said.

The university, along with its partners, will provide training opportunities for the teaching staff on interactive capabilities of the e-textbooks to help improve learning outcomes of students.

CSU’s digital rental programme is one facet of the system’s Affordable Learning Solutions Initiative which was launched in 2010 and aimed at providing students with more affordable course materials while offering greater access to no-cost or low-cost academic content for faculty under the principles of choice, affordability and accessibility, said the university’s website.

Under the initiative, the CSU have saved students approximately $62 million this school year by providing lower and no-cost print and digital alternatives to textbooks. With the wider implementation of the e-textbook programme, the figure is expected to increase to almost $118 million, the website added.

As the largest system of senior higher education in the United States, the CSU has approximately 427,000 students and 43,000 faculty and staff on its 23 campuses.

According to the National Association of College Stores, in the US, digital textbooks are expected to account for 10 percent to 15 percent of course materials sold in the fall of 2012, representing a 500 percent year-on-year increase in market share.

Price differences for e-books vary depending on publisher and demand. At a Northwestern University bookstore, a new printed microeconomics textbook costs $94 while its digital alternative is more than 30 percent cheaper at $62.

Currently textbooks in prints still dominate the market, but statistics collected by the Pew Research Center, a Washington based think tank, indicate the market is poised for a digital textbook revolution.

According to Pew’s recent study on tablet ownership, the share of adults in the US owning tablets or e-book devices nearly doubled from 10 percent to 19 percent from November to mid-December last year and bumped up again to 29 percent in mid-January this year.
Source: IANS

10 Most Searched Luxury Brands

Posted: 29 Feb 2012 03:01 AM PST

DLG and Luxury Society have ranked 50 most searched luxury brands on search engines in America for the year of 2011. DLG, a International company which evaluates the digital success of luxury brands, combined with Luxury Society, online community of luxury executives did the study and found that the automotive brands leads the list by being in six positions out of top 10 brands.
"This is actually the first time that such powerful, yet seemingly basic, information is being made available. The combination of Digital Luxury Group's digital expertise and Luxury Society's industry understanding and reach will finally make it possible to regularly inform luxury brand executives about the performance and attractiveness of their brands online in the US," says Phillipe Barnet, Managing Director of Luxury Society.
The top 10 brands which made it into the list are:

Bavarian Motor Works aka BMW tops the list by being most searched brand online. BMW is a German Automobile company founded in 1917, based in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It is a motorcycle and engine manufacturing company as well. It also produces Mini Marque and is the parent company of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. 56 percent of BMW-brand vehicles produced are powered by petrol engines and the remaining 44 percent are powered by diesel engines. 27 percent of these petrol vehicles are four-cylinder models and about 9 percent are eight-cylinder models. In U.S., BMW X3, X5, X6 are the most popular and available models. BMW's motorcycle brand is known as BMW Motorrad. BMW in India was established in 2006 as a sales subsidiary in Gurgaon. The Brand Trust Report of India Study ranked BMW as the most trusted brand in India in 2011.

Audi AG is a German automobile manufacturer which produces from Supermini to Crossover SUVs. These cars are manufactured in various body styles and price ranges, marketed under Audi brand, positioned as the premium brand within the Volkswagen Group. Audi is based in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, Germany. The company name 'Audi' is based on the surname of the founder August Horch, which means 'listens' in German, which derived into Audi later. Audi's tagline is 'Vorsprung durch Technik', meaning 'Progress through Technology', but it has a updated tagline 'Truth in Engineering' in the U.S. The most popular models of Audi are Supermini (A1), Compact Crossover SUV (Q3, Q5), Full-size Crossover SUV (Q7) and Executive Car (S6, S7 S8).

Coach is a luxury American leather goods company. Coach was founded in 1941 in New York City by Gail Manufacturing Company. Coach is best known for ladies handbags as well as items such as luggage, briefcases, wallets and other novelty accessories. Earlier Coach used to innovate and make matching shoes, pens, key fobs and eyewear. In 1980, the company changed its name yet again to Coach Leatherware Company, Inc. Coach has teamed up with famous artists to create limited edition collections. Hugo Guinness, artist and illustrator has produced a collection of art-inspired leather and canvas illustrates bags and accessories for men in 2012. Tony Duquette, award winning jewelry designer has joined Coach after that.

Chanel S.A. is a French fashion house founded by Gabrielle Chanel. It specializes in luxury goods like haute couture, ready-to-wear, handbags, perfumery, and cosmetics among others. Gabrielle earned the name "Coco" while working as a singer in a café in France. She renovated the fashion industry by introducing the Jersey to women's wear which is an elegant, classy and has practical designs. Contemporary Fashion has stated about Coco that, "She dressed the modern woman in cloths for a lifestyle." Coco had various other major successes which chaged the fashion industry, including the 'Chanel suit' composed of knee length skirt and trim, boxy jacket, traditionally made of woven wool with black sewing trim and gold buttons.

Louis Vuitton
'Louis Vuitton Malletier' aka 'Louis Vuitton' is a French Fashion house founded in 1854 by Louis Vuitton himself. It's products ranges from luxury trunks and leather goods to ready-to-wear, shoes, watches, jewellery, accessories, sunglasses, and books. It is one of the leading international fashion houses. It's products can only be found in standalone boutiques, lease departments in high-end department stores, and through the e-commerce section of its website. According to a study conducted by Millward Brown in 2010, Louis Vuitton is the world’s 29th most valuable brand and is still continuing to be the same. The brand is estimated to be worth of $19 billion. Comtemporary Fashion talks about LV as, "the craftsmen line up the leather and canvas, tapping in the tiny nails one by one and securing the five-letter solid pick-proof brass locks with an individual handmade key, designed to allow the traveler to have only one key for all of his or her luggage".

Hilton Hotels
Hilton Hotels & Resorts is an international hotel chain which includes many luxury hotels and resorts. The group was formerly known as Hilton Hotels. This chain of hotels was founded by Conrad Hilton and now owned by Hilton Worldwide Hilton hotels. The first hotel of this group was called Dallas Hilton situated in Dallas Texas. This brand of hotel is one of the company's flagship brands and one of the most powerful and recognizable hotel brands in the world. The company emphasizes on both business travel and leisure travel. There are more than 530 Hilton branded hotels across the world in 78 countries across six continents.

Lexus is the luxury vehicle division of Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corporation. It was first introduced in U.S. in 1989. Lexus is a global brand now. The Lexus marque is marketed in 70 countries and territories worldwide. Lexus is based in Nagoya, Japan. It originated from a clandestine flagship sedan project, code-named F1, which began in 1983. Lexus vehicles are the most reliable brand in U.S. since 1995, according to a study done on 53,000 users based on Vehicle Dependability Survey. Lexus has scored consecutive top ratings in the Auto Express since 2002. Lexus has ranked among the ten largest Japanese global brands in market value.

Mercedes Benz
Mercedes Benz is a division of the German manufacturer Daimler AG. Daimler AG is a automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks manufacturers brand. The most popular models in U.S. are Hatchback A-Class, Sports Utility Vehicles G, GL, GLK Class, Luxury Tourer Vehicle R-Class, Roadster S, SL Class and Multi Purpose Vehicle Viano. The unique models till dates are Benz Patent-Motorwagen (1886), Daimler Motor Car (1886), Benz Velo (1894), Mercedes 35 hp (1901). Mercedes Simplex (1902), GP Mercedes (1908), Blitzen Benz (1909), Mercedes Grand Prix Racing Car (1914), and Benz 10/30hp (1921).

Acura is the luxury vehicle division of Honda Motors. It is marketed as a luxury car and is available in U.S., Canada, Hong Kong, Mexico, China and recently in India. It was launched in the year 1986. Though its sales in the U.S. were immensely good upon its introduction, its sales went down during the late 2000s. Acura is more than just a pretty car as it focuses on functions and not just looks. It has very contemporary features, like – iPod-integrated audio systems, automatic climate control and hands-free Bluetooth interface. In 2009 and 2010, it was the only car to have received a 5-star crash safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It also won the prestigious ALG Residual Value Award during the same period. So, an Acura provides great customer value, be it a new or an old one.

Cedilla is a trademark of Leblon Holdings LLC. It is among the top renowned liqueurs in the world. It provides an eclectic variety of spirits, ranging from classy wines to bubble beers. Its spirits are made from Açai, the 'Berry that cries.' Liquors by Cedilla are made from the pulp of this fruit, manufactured at Maison Leblon in Minas Gerais, Brazil. TheSambazon Açai berries are hand-picked from Amazon region of Brazil. These spirits have an aromatic blend of berry, spice and chocolate. These can be consumed directly or can provide great company to mocktails and cocktails. As these berries are highly nutritious, some people prefer having alcohol made from them. The letter 'C' in Cedilla resembles a glass of wine and indirectly symbolizes alcohol.

6 Best Web Browsers

Posted: 29 Feb 2012 02:51 AM PST

Selecting a web browser is a difficult task for many especially when there are many sophisticated ones around, each offering lightning speeds, high security and many add-ons.

In order to find the best browser, ComputerWorld tested the latest versions of six widely used desktop and laptop browsers on speed, safety, extra features and extension benchmarks. The results were interesting with a surprise third place winner RocketMelt 0.9, which is almost new and comes integrated with Facebook.

Here are the rankings of six browsers.


#6 Apple Safari 5.1.2

Safari came in the last position

Safari is a simple and adequate browser with solid security features. It didn't score well on speed benchmarks but performed well with Windows machines. Organizing Safari without iCloud is troublesome. With the integration of browser sandboxing in Apple's new Lion OS, the safari now has more security tools and features. It also came last in HTML5 testing.

Good: Solid security Network, Fastest mobile synchronizing while using iOS devices

Bad: Slow in loading pages built with HTML5 and JavaScript


#5 Opera 11.61

Opera came in fifth position.

If you are looking for speed, this is the best browser for you. The beautiful feature in opera is "widgets"- light applications from games to RSS feeds, which runs on your desktop as separate programmes. The browser also has another tool called Opera Turbo, which compress the web pages to few bytes and enable easy browsing for users with slow internet connection. On the other hand, it is not much customizable and the interface takes a little time to getting used to.

Good: Quick loading, unique browsing experience with widgets.

Bad:  Low in security options, not HTML5 friendly.


#4: Internet Explorer 9

IE9 won the fourth position.

The browser from Microsoft was always lagging behind its rivals. But with the introduction of new features including the ability to block sites from collecting data on your browsing habits and the new Application Reputation app, which scans and warns about the downloads for malicious files, the browser finally overcome some of its rivals. It also has inbuilt cross-site scripting protection, which blocks scripts from suspicious websites. It came second in the HTML5 benchmark test, but finished last in processing JavaScript.

Good: Security features, faster HTML5 processing

Bad: Tab management, no themes and automated bookmark sync.


#3: Facebook RockMelt 0.9

RockMelt, the not so popular browser surprisingly finished third.

It looks similar to chrome as it is built on Google's chromium framework. The browser is completely integrated with Facebook and has many features to make the social-fans happy. A strip located on the browser will display your Facebook friend's icons and their availability to chat. Within the browser, you can also choose apps for different websites that notify you of a newly posted comment. By signing in through Facebook, your bookmarks and settings are automatically synchronized through the Facebook account among computers and iOS devices that use RockMelt app, as the browser collects your browsing habits. It processed HTML5 faster than Chrome but many extensions that work on Chrome didn't function in RockMelt.

Good: Automatic sync among computers, Make "Facebooking" easy, JavaScript and pages load smoothly.

Bad: Facebook sign-in required to use the complete features of this browser, little number of add-ons and extensions.


#2: Mozilla Firefox 10

The most Versatile browser, finished second.

Firefox is a feature-filled browser and with the new version, it became more beautiful, with a simplified interface, which can be customized in many ways. The big advantage of Firefox is the thousands of add-ons, but with the addition of more add-ons, the browser tends to perform slowly.  It finished first in HTML5 tests and third in loading JavaScripts. But it was little slower in loading web pages.

It will work with any security software and has a good pop-up filter, malware protection and support private browsing. The best feature is it will allow you to collect tabs into manageable groups like work, home etc which will come handy in many situations.

Good: Thousands of add-ons, excellent HTML5 performance

Bad: Slow page loading, too many add-ons slow down the browser.


#1: Google Chrome 17

Chrome turned out to be the overall best in browsers.

Chrome won the first place with its superb performance, ease of use, vast number of add-ons and extensions. It came first in the JavaScript and speed tests and it has many features other browsers lack. Its tabs are run as separate processes, so if one crash, it won't affect the rest of the browser. It can translate any language into an understandable form with the help of Google Translate and is one of the most secured browsers as it is sandboxed. It can be customized in many ways with a number of themes, apps and extensions and unlike other browsers, you don't have to restart Chrome after installing each apps. The main thing Chrome lacks is an integrated RSS reader.

Good: Fast loading, lets you close the broken or crashed pages without restarting browser, secured

Bad: Plain design, no integrated RSS reader

World’s Richest Countries

Posted: 29 Feb 2012 02:33 AM PST

If wealth is the power then Qataris have the most as Qatar is the richest country in the world. Forbes ranked the world's richest countries based on their gross domestic product (GDP) at purchasing power parity per capita, the value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given year. Qatar was followed by Luxemburg and Singapore.

The list of the richest countries of the world includes:


1. Qatar:

The Persian Gulf emirate with a population of 1.7 million people ranks as the world's richest country per capita. Thanks to a rebound in oil prices and its gigantic natural gas reserves. Adjusted for purchasing power, Qatar booked a probable gross domestic product per capita of more than $88,000 for 2010.

Qatar has the third-largest reserves of natural gas in the world, and the country has invested heavily in infrastructure to liquefy and export it and to diversify its economy. Qatar has attracted multinational financial firms to the country, as well as satellite campuses of U.S. universities. The government is pouring money into infrastructure, including a deepwater seaport, an airport and a railway network, all with an effort to make the country a better host for businesses and the 2022 World Cup.


2. Luxembourg:

The second place is taken by Luxembourg. The country has a per capita GDP on a purchasing-power parity basis of just over $81,000. Luxembourg with half a million people became a financial hub in the latter half of the 20th century, partly due to strict banking secrecy laws that earned it the reputation of a tax haven.


3. Singapore:

Singapore is the third richest country in the world. The city-state thrives as a technology, manufacturing and finance hub with a GDP (PPP) per capita of nearly $56,700.

The country has one of the highest per-capita GDP in the world. In addition, its port infrastructure and skilled workforce, which is due to the success of the country’s education policy in producing skilled workers, is also essential in this aspect as they provide easier access to markets for both importing and exporting, and also provide the skills needed to refine imports into exports.


4. Norway:

Norway ranks fourth on the list. Norway's petroleum accounts for nearly half of exports and over 30 percent of state revenue. It is the main contributor to its PPP-adjusted GDP per capita of nearly $52,000.

The country is also one of the largest gas exporters of the world. Shipping has also long been a support of Norway’s export sector, but much of the country’s economic growth has been fueled by an abundance of natural resources, including petroleum exploration and production, hydroelectric power, and fisheries. Norway has a very high standard of living compared to other European countries and has a strongly integrated welfare system. Norway is the world’s second-largest gas exporter and its position as an oil exporter has slipped to ninth-largest.


5. Brunei:

Brunei is the fifth wealthiest country in the world. It has a GDP (PPP) per capita of about $48,300. The country is rich due to its extensive petroleum and natural gas fields.

Brunei Darussalam’s economy has been dominated by the oil and gas industry for the past 80 years, and the hydrocarbon resources account for over 90 percent of its exports and more than half it's GDP. The country currently has the second highest GDP per capita in the Southeast Asian region and is the fourth largest oil producer in the region and ninth largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in the world.


6. United Arab Emirates:

The United Arab Emirates took the sixth position on the list. UAE looks to its oil and gas for about 25 percent of its GDP, which is nearly $47,500 per capita (PPP).

Though the UAE is becoming less dependent on natural resources as a source of revenue, petroleum and natural gas exports still play an important role in the economy, especially in Abu Dhabi. A gigantic construction boom, an expanding manufacturing base, and a thriving services sector are helping the UAE diversify its economy.


7. United States of America:

United States is the seventh wealthiest country in the world. The country has a per capita GDP on a purchasing-power parity basis of just over $46,000. The U.S. is the largest trading nation in the world and its three largest trading partners as of 2010 are Canada, China and Mexico. The country has maintained a stable overall GDP growth rate, a moderate unemployment rate, and high levels of research and capital investment.

The U.S.A remains the world’s largest manufacturer, representing a fifth of the worldwide manufacturing output. Of the world’s 500 largest companies, 133 are headquartered in the United States. It is also one of the world's largest and most influential financial markets.


8. Hong Kong:

Hong Kong is the eighth richest country in the world.  The country is dependent on international trade and finance. The GDP (PPP) per capita of Hong Kong is estimated to be $45,944.

As one of the world’s leading international financial centers, the country has a major capitalist service economy characterized by low taxation and free trade. Hong Kong's economic strengths include a sound banking system, virtually no public debt, a strong legal system, ample foreign exchange reserves and rigorous anti-corruption measures.


9. Switzerland:

Switzerland ranks ninth on the list. The GDP (PPP) per capita of the country is $41,950. The country has one of the world’s most stable economies.

The country's policy of long-term monetary security and political stability has made Switzerland a safe haven for investors, creating an economy that is increasingly dependent on a steady tide of foreign investment. Due to the country’s small size and high labor specialization, industry and trade are the keys to Switzerland’s economic livelihood. The country has achieved one of the highest per capita incomes in the world with low unemployment rates and a balanced budget.


10. Netherlands:

Netherlands is the tenth wealthiest country in the world. The GDP (PPP) per capita of the country is over $40,900. The country's main industries include agriculture, metal, and engineering products.

The country's government plays a very active role in maintaining a high standard of living for its citizens. Unemployment is also low because thousands of people have simply dropped out of the labor force and are living on government benefits. The country is a model of liberal social policy and lenient economics.

Australia ranked eleventh on the list of the world's richest countries while Austria ranked twelfth. Ireland, Canada and Kuwait took the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth position respectively.