This Week in Technology [ June 21 – June 28, 2014 ]

June 21 - 28, 2014
June 21 – 28, 2014
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Have a Nexus 5 or new Nexus 7? You can get Android L now

Unlike in the past when Google used to release the finished versions of Android, now Google is releasing beta versions called developer previews. The company announced Android L – for now it is called L but in a few months the name could change to something sweeter like Lemon Cake or Lollipop or Ladoo – at Google I/O two days ago. The developer preview of Android L is now available for download for Nexus 5 and Nexus 7.

This means if you have a Nexus 5 phone or Nexus 7 (2013) Wi-Fi tablet, you can download the relevant OS file from Google servers and install them on your device. Sounds simple enough? Well yes. But still the whole process is not all that simple for average consumers. The complexity, we suspect, is by design. Google doesn’t want less tech-savvy users to use preview versions of Android. These versions are meant for developers.

But if you are curious about Android L and wants to try it out, follow the steps here to get this version of Android that most of the consumers will only get by the end of this year.

How to install Android L: The method tested using Nexus 5 and Windows 7 PC

Step 1: Download the relevant Android L OS file from Google site (http://developer.android.com/preview/setup-sdk.html)

Step 2: Open developer options on your Nexus 5 phone. These options are hidden. So go to Settings > About Phone and then tap on the build number 7 times. Once you have done that, you will find developer options in your Settings menu.

Step 3: Open developer options and make sure USB Debugging is ticked.

Step 4: Check if your computer has the relevant drivers required for Nexus 5. If not, download the drivers from here and install (http://developer.android.com/sdk/win-usb.html)

Step 5: Make sure you have ADB and Fastboot Installed. For this, follow the steps from here (http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2317790)
Step 6: Connect your phone to computer and open ADB (it will open in a command window). Type adb reboot bootloader. Your phone will go into recovery mode. Check the screen and see that for Bootloader status it shows unlocked.

Step 7: Most likely your phone will have the locked bootloader. To unlock it, type fastboot oem unlock. Then follow instructions on your phone screen. This will unlock bootloader as well as do a factory reset of the phone.

Step 8: Disconnect and reconnect your phone to PC. You may have to go into settings again, reveal developer options and select USB debugging.

Step 9: Unzip the Android L file you had downloaded. Create a new folder with an easy to type name like Android and put all the files in it. Then put this folder into Minimal ADB and Fastboot Folder which is in your computer’s program folder.

Step 10: Hold SHIFT key and right click on the Minimal ADB and Fastboot folder. From the menu, select “Open Command Window here”.

Step 11: With your phone connected, type adb reboot bootloader.

Step 12: Navigate (use CD to change directories) to the folder where Android L files are stored.
Step 13: Type flash-all in the command window.

Step 14: Sir back and relax. If you have done everything right, Android L will be installed on your phone. It will take up to 10-15 minutes though. The boot part especially takes a lot of time.

Additional notes: The preview versions are likely to have bugs so once you install the Android L you may find a few things not working in your phone. Installing Android L will delete all your data on the phone, so back up or save photos, music, files or any other data before installing the OS.

Source: 🙂

The Technology Behind the World Cup’s Advanced Analytics

SportsTech1

During Sunday’s 2-2 World Cup draw, the American forward Clint Dempsey, who scored one of two goals against Portugal, ran a total of 9,545 meters, with a top speed of 28.33 km/h over the course of 26 sprints. That wasn’t the top speed of the match, however, a title held by US defender Fabian Johnson, who reached an impressive 32.98 km/h.

Over the course of the match, detailed statistics, including dozens of other data points—the Americans ran a total of 110,299 meters, compared to the Portuguese side’s 106,520 meters, for example—are collected for every player on both teams, and displayed for television audiences worldwide, as well as posted to the FIFA website.

The system FIFA employs to grab the data, called Matrics, was built and deployed by an Italian firm called Deltatre at each stadium in the World Cup, and involves the use of several technologies and manual inputs from a large crew to deliver the real-time stats.

“The real value is that it’s live,” Tomas Robertsson, Deltatre’s North American commercial director, told me over the phone. “The extensive data set in real time provides on site heat maps and attacking zones, as well as distance run, passes completed, and many other statistics.”

Stats from Sunday’s US-Portugal match.fifaStats

The 2014 introduction of goal-line technology was a great leap forward for the international tournament; a technology that’s supposed to mitigate damn clear injustices such as Frank Lampard’s goal that the refs didn’t see. But it’s just one piece of high-tech gear that’s deployed at every area in the World Cup.​

Robertsson explained that the system works like this: Three HD cameras in various locations at each arena use image recognition to recognize the 22 players, three referees, and the soccer ball. The system tracks the XYZ coordinates of each of the objects, and then relays the information to a multi-screen, digital workstation where 74 people pour over the data on-site, aided by another 20 back in Italy.

The reason Deltatre uses cameras to optically track everything is that soccer players have resisted adding tracking technology into their equipment—such as their shoes—despite it being possible for some time.

A Deltatre Matrics operations center
A DELTATRE MATRICS OPERATIONS CENTER

On top of the cameras, the company has written algorithms that calculate passing stats, ball possession, and other statistics, totaling 350 in all. When the tracking information is relayed to a terminal, a human operator watching a slightly delayed version of the match validates each action before its sent live to the web or TV.

The image recognition technology isn’t entirely automatic. At the beginning of each match operators have to tell the machine which team is which color—and the color of the refs’ shirts—as well as manually input each player on the pitch. While the match is getting played out, the tracking system knows which team has touched the ball because a person with a video game controller hits a button for the corresponding team.

Unlike many other sports, Robertsson said that soccer isn’t a stats heavy game, but the information gleaned from the system can still be pretty useful in determining player performance. For example, it’s much easier to determine player fatigue simply by looking at the numbers.

Off the field, most of the teams at the World Cup use some kind of system to analyze each match to a similar level of detail, but after the fact. The collected data is analyzed by coaches and trainers to help ensure that teams are working at their peak potential.

Who’s using all our bandwidth?

Bandwidth is the total amount of information that can flow through the various rivers, streams and other tributaries of the Internet; it’s not a measure of speed, but of capacity. In the early days of the Internet, this bandwidth was dedicated primarily to education and research, but with the birth of a truly commercial Internet in 1995, bandwidth limitations became a much more serious issue as the public began to explore the Information Superhighway.

Today, entertainment and social media account for the lion’s share of bandwidth consumption. Streaming video giant Netflix accounts for more than a third of total bandwidth usage in North America during peak hours, and the combined tweets, Facebook posts and other social media output of active users make up almost 30% of all social media bandwidth use. And with peak usage outgrowing normal Internet usage by nearly ten percent, Internet traffic is likely to breach the “zettabyte threshold” sometime in 2015 (a zettabyte is equivalent to 1,000 exabytes, or one million one-terabyte hard drives).

The increasing importance of mobile computing has also altered our demand for bandwidth. As of 2013, nearly one in three website visits were made from mobile devices.

With a world of zettabytes and always-on mobile devices just around the corner, one thing’s for sure: as more and more entertainment, business and educational content moves from the physical realm to the Internet, the demand for bandwidth—and devices ready to use it—will only increase.

Bandwidth

Everything You Need To Know About IOS 8

It’s official, we are getting a new iOS, and you are going to love the smarter, faster, family-centric and health-focused iOS 8. This version comes with great sharing options: Family Sharing which lets you share purchases made by family members, iCloud Drive, fo easier file syncing between mobile and desktop devices and Handoff… just scroll all the way to the end to find out what it is all about.

iOS 8

Also available in this latest mobile OS version from Apple is Quicktype, a smarter predictive text engine, gestures for navigating through Mail, a more interactive Notification Center and awesome photo-editing features for photography lovers.

While we wait until iOS 8 becomes available this fall, here’s a sneak peek into everything you need to know about iOS 8.

With the new iOS 8, the notification center is now more dynamic. You can do more straight from the notification center without opening apps such as replying SMSes, liking a photo you are tagged in on Facebook, accepting or declining calendar invitations and more.

Mail

In Mail, you can now use swipes to mark an email as read, flag it, or delete the email. Drafts can now be swiped down and “stored” temporarily while you work on something. Just retrieve the draft when you want to continue working on it. Mail is also now more intuitive: it recognizes important data such as a phone number, flight confirmation or reservation and prompts you to add the data to a calendar event or your Contacts.

Spotlight

Spotlight on OS X Yosemite has gotten plenty powerful and apparently the iOS 8 version is getting some of the same features. Spotlight searches now pull up suggestions from Wikipedia, news sites, nearby places, movie showtimes and suggested websites. It also works on Safari, iTunes, iBooks and the App Store.

Contacts

Double tapping the Home button will give you access to your favorite and recent contacts fast. You can then just call, text or FaceTime your contacts straight from the menu, or you can contact them via the new features found on Messages.

2. Messages Gets Pumped Up

Messages on iOS 8 is looking a lot like Whatsapp on steroids. For starters you are getting group messaging functionality so you can add or remove people from conversation threads, and even name these threads for better organization.

Hate typing? Just tap-to-talk or send an video or audio message on Messages. You can receive and send audio messages just by holding up your iPhone to your ear.

You can also share your location for a selected period or indefinitely with your buddies in group chat like Nearby Friends on Facebook, and make some messages self-destruct like on Snapchat. Want to be left alone for a presentation or a meeting? Put the thread on a Do Not Disturb mode for some peace and quiet.

3. Quicktype – A Smarter Way To Text

iOS 8 is getting a new keyboard, equipped with a predictive technology called Quicktype. It doesn’t just predict spellings, it predicts answers in a way that “communicates” your communication style. Basically, it learns how you type to a person (your mom or your colleague) or on an app (on email or on Facbeook) and suggests words based on how you interact with or on those entities (informal or black-tie formal).

For those concerned with privacy, Quicktype will learn all of this solely on the device, meaning that it doesn’t need to be connected to the Internet to do so. What you type on your device stays on your device.

This predictive text engine is available in 14 countries, falling back on common phrases and words used in that particular region.

4. Take Control Of Your Health

It is the age of wearable tech and fitness apps and with HealthKit on iOS 8, Apple is taking it a step further and ensuring that your health is completely in your hands. With the new Health app for users and the HealthKit for developers, you can now choose to store your blood group or allergies right on your lock screen, or share or transmit vital information about your health to your family doctor or fitness trainer in real-time.

And with the HealthKit, developers can just integrate their hardware with the Health app rather than new hardware from scratch. Imagine having a your medical health report with you at all times – well now, it is happening.

5. Edit, Sync And Share Photos

Photos will now be integrated with iCloud in its very own iCloud Photo Library. Every photo you take with an iOS device will be available on all other connected devices, edits included. The photos can be accessed and downloaded from any device in full resolution.

Photos also now has smart editing tools – it auto-straightens, gives you ideal crop sizes, and automatically adjusts lighting and color levels with easy controls. Not to worry if you are really into perfecting your photos, there is still the option to manually fine-tune these pre-selected adjustments.

All changes will be synced, and made available for easy search according to location, time period and name.

6. Keep It Within The Family

Now this is a long time coming. You can now use family sharing to share purchases from iTunes, iBooks and the App store that your family members have made with the same credit card.Sharing is allowed to up to 6 family members and best of all any purchase made on any of the connected devices will automatically prompt the credit card owner for permission.

If you are not keen on purchasing and sharing apps, Family Sharing also lets you share family photos, calendars, events, reminders, family friends and even each other’s location infoacross all connected devices.

7. Continuity, Hands-Off

On top of Photos and Family Sharing, iOS 8 comes with a new iCloud Drive feature which allows us to share pretty much anything (presentations, PDFs, documents, files) between iOS and Mac OS X through cloud technology. Edits are synced and you no longer have to import, copy or transfer files from one device to another.

Better yet, iOS 8 comes with Handoff, a new feature that lets you pick up and continue working on a file as and when you switch devices. This works with Mail, Safari, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar and Contacts.

With this you can start writing an email on your iPhone and finish off on your Mac, or reply SMS or take calls you receive on your iPhone, while on your Mac.

This simple hack gives your Windows XP five more years of updates!!!

With a simple registry hack, you can net yourself five more years of official Microsoft updates for your aging Windows XP machine. Microsoft, though, says you really shouldn’t do it — and that you ought to be a good little boy and “upgrade to a more modern operating system” instead.

Microsoft technically ended support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014.

But if you were a big company or government with lots of money, Microsoft offered to continue supporting your XP machines — and then, when a zero-day vulnerability was found, Microsoft fixed that, too. And now, it seems there’s an easy way to gain five more years of support.

How to give Windows XP five more years of updates

Fire up regedit. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\WPA\. Create a newKey called PosReady. Right click the new key and add a new DWORD with the value 1. That’s it. Now head along to the Windows Update website and you should see a bunch of updates.

This simple hack tells Windows Update that your computer is running Windows Embedded POSReady, rather than Windows XP. POSReady, which as the name suggests is for point-of-sales cash registers, is a variant of Windows XP that was released in 2009 — some eight years after Windows XP was first released. Most people are not entirely sure why Microsoft released a variant of Windows XP about six months before the release of Windows 7, but there you go. POSReady will be supported until April 2019.

Windows XP updates just magically appear if you perform a simple registry hack [Image credit: ZDNet]

Should you use Windows XP for five more years?

This is what Microsoft has to say about this rather ingenious little hack:

We recently became aware of a hack that purportedly aims to provide security updates to Windows XP customers. The security updates that could be installed are intended for Windows Embedded and Windows Server 2003 customers and do not fully protect Windows XP customers. Windows XP customers also run a significant risk of functionality issues with their machines if they install these updates, as they are not tested against Windows XP. The best way for Windows XP customers to protect their systems is to upgrade to a more modern operating system, like Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.

In short, you use the updates at your own risk.

However, Windows Embedded POSReady is really similar to Windows XP. It makes sense, if you think about it: Windows XP already has the software, driver, and developer support… so why shake things up? Why make the barcode scanner manufacturer target some arcane platform, when Windows XP is already a tried and tested entity? If you’ve ever taken a peek behind the counter, they even look like desktop PCs in many cases.

Windows-Embedded-POSReady-2009-640x325

But just because these POSReady updates will probably work with your Windows XP machine doesn’t mean you should do it. Yes, Microsoft has a vested interest in getting you to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8 — but, to be fair, unless you have a really important reason for sticking with XP, it really does make sense to upgrade to Windows 7.

If you do use the hack, don’t assume that your XP machine will be safe from exploits. There’s also every chance that, one day, one of the updates will make your system unbootable. A much better alternative, if you don’t want to work out the money for Windows 7 or 8, is to try out Linux.

How to use the Visibility API

Browser tabs have revolutionized the way we browse the Web, but they’ve given us an tricky problem: developers can’t tell if the tab their site is displayed in is being viewed.To solve that problem we have the Visibility API, which allows us to test whether the browser content can be seen, and respond accordingly. It’s ideal for sites that play music for example, to pause the playback whilst the user is away. The Page Visibility API comes with several properties:

  • document.hidden: This property returns true if our page is hidden from the user. If it’s minimized or in a different tab.
  • document.visibilityChange: This will trigger every time there is a change in the visibility of your page.
  • document.visibilityState: This will tell you if your website is visible, hidden or in pre-render state.

These simple properties go a long way to allowing us to detect how a user is interacting with our site. Browser support for this feature is good. All modern browsers support it, and you only really need the -webkit-prefix for Android and Blackberry browsers. Let’s take a look at the code we need:

var hidden, state, visibilityChange; 
if (typeof document.hidden !== "undefined") {
    hidden = "hidden";
    visibilityChange = "visibilitychange";
    state = "visibilityState";
} else if (typeof document.webkitHidden !== "undefined") {
    hidden = "webkitHidden";
    visibilityChange = "webkitvisibilitychange";
    state = "webkitVisibilityState";
}

As you can see, we test whether document.hidden is undefined and then assign variables based on the result. (This technique was first implemented by Sam Dutton back when there were a lot of prefixes to concern ourselves with. Next, we need to listen for changes in the visibility state, which we do with a listener:

document.addEventListener(visibilityChange, function() {
 // Code to manipulate the document    
}, false);

Now we’re listening for a change and running a function each time it occurs. We can do anything we like inside that function; for the purposes of demonstration we’ll change the message on the page:

document.addEventListener(visibilityChange, function() {
    if(document.visibilityState == hidden) {
        document.title = ' Where are you going?';
    } else {
        document.title = 'Oh good you are back.';
    }        
}, false);

This code doesn’t affect the page when it first loads, only if the user changes the visibility of the page. If you want to set a different message as soon as the page loads you’d use something like:

document.title = 'Default Title';

Just by adding this the page will use this as default and then change the title according to the visibility state.