Mar 31, 2016

ESG Benchmark: Superior Performance on AWS Exhibited by ClustrixDB | @CloudExpo @Clustrix #Cloud

Clustrix unveiled the results of its benchmark test performed by ESG. Tested against two competing database services, the firm found that ClustrixDB delivered the best performance handling high-value transaction volumes. This offers particular benefits to organizations that anticipate high growth and/or have a high financial stake in their database’s ability to process thousands of simultaneous transactions accurately – such as those in ad tech, gaming, e-commerce or IoT.

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by via Latest News from Java IoT

Challenges with Big Data for the Internet of Things | @ThingsExpo #IoT

The biggest challenge to IOT is thus big data that requires an infrastructure that is capable of processing billions or more data points each second. If you thought e-commerce revolutionized the retail industry over the past two decades, something much bigger is coming over the next ten years and that is the Internet of Things (IoT). By deploying sensors and network connectivity to everyday physical objects like cars, refrigerators, television and buildings, it is possible to remotely connect, manage and engage with these entities in ways that are not possible today.

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Eleven2 Launches Sister Company GoCatty a Hosting Company for Cats

Eleven2 specializes in virtual premium servers, enterprise servers, reseller hosting, shared web hosting, and domain name registration services.
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Sibername Launches Pre-Registrations For .MOM Domain Name Extension

The new domain name will be released on May 3rd 2016 11:00 AM EST. ... MOM is a new domain name that's not just for mothers. ... an online presence, with website creation tools, business e-mails and no-cost hosting, to grow their ...
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Canadian dollar weakens into month-end after posting earlier five-month high

Canadian dollar weakens into month-end after posting earlier five-month high
Reuters Canada - 1 hour ago
TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar weakened slightly against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday, turning lower on month-end transactions after strong domestic data helped drive the currency to a five-month high earlier.
CANADA FX DEBT-C$ strengthens to 5-month high on solid GDP data - Reuters

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
Canadian dollar weakens into month-end after posting earlier five-month high

Low Canadian dollar advantage overrated: Jubinville

Low Canadian dollar advantage overrated: Jubinville
Manitoba Co-operator - 3 hours ago
The low Canadian dollar relative to the American is seen as a competitive advantage for Canadian grain exporters since grain exports are priced in American dollars.

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
Low Canadian dollar advantage overrated: Jubinville

TSX rises 39 points; Canadian dollar retreats

TSX rises 39 points; Canadian dollar retreats
Times Colonist - 57 minutes ago
TORONTO - The Canadian dollar dipped in early trading, but North American stock markets were slightly positive. The loonie was at 77.23 cents US, down 0.52 of a cent from the Wednesday close.

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
TSX rises 39 points; Canadian dollar retreats

What Is at the Center of Your Digital Architecture? By @TheEbizWizard | @CloudExpo #Cloud

Instead of thinking of the IT environment as being divided into apps, middleware, data, servers, or other IT-centric concepts, the entire enterprise must think about customer journeys and how the various customer interactions (‘moments’ in the vernacular) string together to provide the customer experience each customer desires. The end result, of course, is maximizing the business key performance indicators, including profitability, revenue per customer, and the lifetime value of each customer. We just arrived at these goals by a different path than we’re used to.

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Why Financial Service Companies Should Care About Application Performance By @SmartBear | @CloudExpo #Cloud

Historically, financial services have always been the early adopters and pioneers of advanced technology. I am talking about financial services in an all-inclusive sense - which encompasses a broad range of institutions that manage money, including credit unions, banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, accountancy companies, consumer-finance companies, stock brokerages, investment funds, and more.

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Canadian dollar at high point of year above 77 cents US

Canadian dollar at high point of year above 77 cents US
CBC.ca - 19 minutes ago
"Strong Canadian data, in tandem with broad-based U.S. dollar weakness as market participants continue to reassess the Fed's rate hike timeline, have been the main drivers of this Canadian dollar rally," according to Rahim Madhavji, a currency trader ...
Canadian Dollar Jumps to 8-Month High After Growth Accelerates - Bloomberg

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
Canadian dollar at high point of year above 77 cents US

Canada's Trudeau says not talking down Canadian dollar

Canada's Trudeau says not talking down Canadian dollar
Reuters - 41 minutes ago
March 31 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday that he is not talking down the Canadian dollar in acknowledging that a lower exchange rate benefits certain sectors of the country's economy.

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
Canada's Trudeau says not talking down Canadian dollar

The Essential DevOps Terms You Need to Know By @XebiaLabs | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps

New to the DevOps world and looking to get a grip on some of the industry’s key terms? Search no further. This short list of Essential DevOps Terms will serve as a foundation from which you can build your understanding of the industry’s tools and methodologies. A precursor to Devops; Agile is a software development and, more broadly, business methodology that emphasizes short, iterative planning and development cycles to provide better control and predictability and support changing requirements as projects evolve.

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Internap Expands OpenStack-Powered Bare-Metal IaaS Footprint | @CloudExpo @Internap #Cloud

Internap Corporation has expanded its OpenStack-based bare-metal Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering, AgileSERVER 2.0, to its data centers in Amsterdam, Dallas and Santa Clara, Calif. Launched in 2015 out of Internap’s New York Metro data center in Secaucus, N.J., AgileSERVER 2.0 is now available in four locations globally, enabling enterprises and devops teams running mission-critical applications and big data workloads to build scale-out infrastructure environments that are higher performing and more cost-effective than commodity public cloud platforms.

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Canada's GDP report crushed estimates, and its dollar is near an 8-month high

Canada's GDP report crushed estimates, and its dollar is near an 8-month high
Business Insider - 24 minutes ago
Canada saw its strongest monthly gain in three years as January's GDP rose 0.6% from December. This was twice economists' estimates of 0.3%.

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
Canada's GDP report crushed estimates, and its dollar is near an 8-month high

Tag Management: A Digital Analyst’s Best Friend

Tag managers can assist in collecting valuable data about visits to your website. Here at CFPB, we use Google Tag Manager (GTM), which is a free tool that works in tandem with Google Analytics to record and send data on how users interact with your website on an aggregate level, including which pages they view, where they click and what they download. It requires one line of code to be added to your site. Once GTM is up and running, you create tags, or tiny bits of code that record and send data, which go straight to Google Analytics (or an ever-growing list of other user interfaces). If you need any help getting started, we can give you guidance!

An illustration of the Google Tag Manager tool on a laptop.

GTM gives you the power to add a multitude of tags, built-in code (like Crazy Egg, Clicktale, etc) and custom code without having to involve a developer, or wait to have your changes published. You don’t have to worry about tags being hard-coded into a page. And, with the GTM Debugger, your changes can be tested before they go live.

What to Track

Tags can be created for something simple, like recording pageviews, to something complex, like adding custom tracking on a tool within your site. Below are a couple of tags that my team uses that are the most helpful for us, and could be helpful for you. Email us if you’d be interested in learning how to set these up!

  • A composite of 2 screen captures from Google Tag Manager: an example of an internal link tag at the top, and a report showing the amount of time spent on 9 events at the bottom.Link clicks, downloads, button clicks, and form submits: These are some simple things to track site-wide that will give you a lot of insight right off the bat. That means you need one tag to track all internal link clicks, and another tag to track all downloads. To the right is an example of how our internal link tag looks in the GTM user interface.
  • Time on page: For anyone who has reached the ‘blog’ predicament, where a user will come to your page, get the information he or she is looking for, and leave without doing anything else, here is your answer. Before, this user would be considered as ‘bounced’ in Google Analytics and how long they stayed would remain a mystery. Now, you can set up a ‘time on page’ event, which will fire at different time intervals. For example, you can have a tag fire after a user has been on a page for 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, etc. Not only will this improve your bounce rate, but it will also make your time on page metric in Google Analytics more accurate!
  • Scroll tracking: You can use this as a way to figure out a good ‘sweet spot’ for where you should put your most important material on the page, or to figure out where users are dropping off. This tag can also record how long it takes users to get a certain length down the page, so you can learn how users are interacting with your site. This data will come through in Google Analytics events, as shown on the right.
  • Custom Dimensions: Using custom dimensions is a way to pull out data that’s more specific to your pages. For example, we have a blog section in our site, which is sectioned by category. We’re not able to get the category directly from the dimensions we’re given on Google Analytics, so we created one of our own.
  • ???: Let us know if you have created a useful tag that should be shared, we’d love to hear it!

The DataLayer!

Say you’ve found something that you would love to track, but can’t, because there’s no built-in variable that lets you do so. Using the DataLayer can help with this issue, and can expand your tracking capabilities. If you’re interested in utilizing this, reach out to our team and we can show you how!

About the Digital Analytics Team
The Digital Analytics Team over at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been using Google Tag Manager for all their analytics needs for over a year. We are passionate about Web analysis and data, and want to share our knowledge with others who are looking for a simple and easy tool for your analytics needs. If you have any questions, or would like to know more, feel free to contact us via email.


by via DigitalGov

Faster-as-a-Service: Speed Is Now Your Most Important Feature By @Catchpoint | @CloudExpo #Cloud

Just ask VC Fred Wilson. He says, “Speed is more than a feature. Speed is the most important feature. If your application is slow, people won’t use it.” So if you’ve been wondering why speed has appeared in every ad and on every website and product, there’s your answer. These days, it really doesn’t require much to prove that speed is the most important feature of your service; just pay attention to your surroundings one day. Take notice of the person next to you complaining that the mobile site they’re trying to use won’t load, or your cubicle buddy who is ready to throw their laptop out of the window because the tool their trying to use is down—it won’t take long before the idea clicks.

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What is the role of a hosting and domain name registration London company?

If you want to take your business online or if you want to have a personal blog, the first step is domain name registration. Domain name is nothing but ...
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Canadian Dollar Hits Highest Level Yet This Year, Thanks To Fed's Dovishness

Canadian Dollar Hits Highest Level Yet This Year, Thanks To Fed's Dovishness
Huffington Post Canada - 9 hours ago
TORONTO - The Toronto stock market advanced for a third-straight session and the Canadian dollar hit its highest level of the year as investor sentiment remained positive following the latest comments from the U.S.

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
Canadian Dollar Hits Highest Level Yet This Year, Thanks To Fed's Dovishness

Announcing @MobiDev_ to Exhibit in New York | @CloudExpo #IIoT #WebPerf

SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobile software company with over 200 developers, designers, quality assurance engineers, project managers in house, specializing in the world-class mobile and web development.

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Mar 30, 2016

Bulk email sender SendGrid targets US$100 million revenue by 2017

The idea of SendGrid was born in 2009 when co-founder Isaac Saldana noticed that his Web developer friends needed bulk email services for their ...
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Sibername Launches Pre-Registrations for .MOM domain name extension

MOM is a new domain name that's not just for mothers. ... with website creation tools, business e-mails and no-cost hosting, to grow their business and ...
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Morneau says economy will benefit from weak Canadian dollar over time

Morneau says economy will benefit from weak Canadian dollar over time
Toronto Sun - 2 hours ago
NEW YORK - Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau on Wednesday said it may take more time for the country's economy to reap the benefits from a weaker Canadian dollar as domestic manufacturers adjust to its impact. "Positive effects of the lower dollar ...
Trudeau's economics show us life under Labour - Telegraph.co.uk

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
Morneau says economy will benefit from weak Canadian dollar over time

Canadian dollar rally has run its course

Canadian dollar rally has run its course
News.Markets - 3 hours ago
Since January, the Canadian dollar has been having a fine old time; its rally boosted by hopes that the dive in commodity and oil prices is all but over and fed by promises that the new left-leaning government in Ottawa would give the economy a good ...
CANADA FX DEBT-C$ strengthens to a 12-day high as oil rallies - Reuters
Commodities price collapse hurting Canadian incomes, BoC official says - The Globe and Mail (subscription)

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
Canadian dollar rally has run its course

Canada's Morneau says economy will benefit from weak Canadian dollar over time

Canada's Morneau says economy will benefit from weak Canadian dollar over time
Reuters Canada - 17 minutes ago
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau on Wednesday said it may take more time for the country's economy to reap the benefits from a weaker Canadian dollar as domestic manufacturers adjust to its impact. "Positive effects of the ...

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
Canada's Morneau says economy will benefit from weak Canadian dollar over time

Canadian Dollar: Economist Issues Dire Report for Canadians

Canadian Dollar: Economist Issues Dire Report for Canadians
Profit Confidential - 20 minutes ago
This will likely impact the Canadian dollar. Steve Keen, a professor of economics who writes for Forbes, pointed to Canada as one of seven countries in the world that will face that crisis, along with China, Australia, Sweden, Hong Kong, and Norway ...

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Canadian Dollar: Economist Issues Dire Report for Canadians

US Dollar to Canadian Dollar Resuming Downside, 1.2832 Watershed in Sight

US Dollar to Canadian Dollar Resuming Downside, 1.2832 Watershed in Sight
Pound Sterling Live - 25 minutes ago
The USD/CAD pair has resumed its short-term down-trend by falling below the 1.2922 lows of March 18. The release of crude oil inventory data for the International Energy Agency on Wednesday March 30, showed a deeper-than-expected fall in inventories, ...
USD/CAD: Trading the Canadian GDP - Forex Crunch

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US Dollar to Canadian Dollar Resuming Downside, 1.2832 Watershed in Sight

The Data Briefing: An Interview with USAJOBS on New Changes to Their Data Services

The Office of Personnel Management released a new look and functionality to USAJOBS in February. I recently contacted Michelle Earley, the USAJOBS Program Manager, to ask about the changes to USAJOBS and the data it provides.

Screen capture of the desktop version of the U.S.A. Jobs website homepage

1. What are the priorities this year for the USAJOBS team and the site?

“The priorities for this year include:

  • Unifying the experience
  • Incorporating a comprehensive content strategy to transform the readability of the website
  • Improving the Job Opportunity Announcement (Represents the agency)
  • Improving the User Profile (Represents the job seeker/applicant)
  • Improving Search, which is the mechanism that brings together the job seekers and agencies

USAJOBS hopes to continue to act as a trusted public service career platform that creates a responsive and transparent experience for its users. USAJOBS will help applicants identify exciting opportunities to join the government that best match their unique capabilities.”

The Map Search page of the U.S.A. Jobs website shows a data visualization map of the globe with 8,521 available positions worldwide on March 29, 2016.

2. What kind of data is available in USAJOBS that would be of interest to app developers?

“One kind of data that is available in USAJOBS that would be of interest to app developers would be the Job Opportunity Announcements API. USAJOBS continues to explore its data sets and is working to publish future aggregated data sets towards the end of the calendar year 2016. We want to deliver raw data, as well as data visualizations, that describe how job seekers, applicants and agencies use the USAJOBS website.”

3. How did you use OPM’s Innovation Lab and design thinking to create the new USAJOBS data visualizations?

“We leverage the Innovation Lab at OPM to facilitate human-centered design research, design architecture and Web design to create new visualization tools that are being utilized in the Agency Talent Portal. They have helped us to gain a deeper understanding of the needs of our users and have supported a more holistic approach to Web design that allows USAJOBS to more accurately represent and meet those needs.”

Screen capture of the mobile version of the U.S.A. Jobs website homepage on an Android smartphone.

4. Any plans to update the USAJOBS mobile app?

“No, USAJOBS has moved away from the mobile app and has transitioned to a fully integrated responsive website. The responsive website allows users to interact with the website directly on their phones and smart devices, and the display adjusts to the device screen per its specifications.”

5. Any plans to include data such as badges in USAJOBS applications?

“While there are currently no active badges in USAJOBS, this is something that the design team is exploring further—especially in light of the emphasis to recruit and attract cybersecurity talent. The design team will consider this functionality when we work on the user profile and resume features.”

6. What will USAJOBS look like in 2020?

“In 2020, USAJOBS will continue to operate in an agile environment that makes iterative improvements that best represent the needs of the users and the federal government. The hope is to continue innovating and always working towards improvements.

It is USAJOBS’ ambition to serve as the connector to match job seekers with the right jobs so agencies can reduce mission critical gaps by efficiently hiring and on-boarding the right talent to fill vacancies. Also, our vision is to create a career management platform for new talent to identify their fit in the federal government as well as shape career paths for existing federal employees.”

USAJOBS is probably one of the most used and visited sites of the federal government. What I find especially interesting is how the USAJOBS team used human-centered design to not only improve the look and functionality of the site, but also the way data is delivered through APIs and data visualizations. Thanks to Michelle Earley and the USAJOBS team for great work and for sharing their vision of the new USAJOBS.

Each week, The Data Briefing showcases the latest federal data news and trends.

Dr. William Brantley is the Training Administrator for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Global Intellectual Property Academy. You can find out more about his personal work in open data, analytics, and related topics at BillBrantley.com. All opinions are his own and do not reflect the opinions of the USPTO or GSA.


by Bill Brantley via DigitalGov

Pension plans and the Canadian dollar dilemma

Pension plans and the Canadian dollar dilemma
Benefits Canada - 14 minutes ago
For many Canadian pension investors, the Canadian dollar has been a source of tremendous volatility in recent years. After reaching a post-financial crisis high of $1.06 in July 2011, the loonie followed a more or less steady slide, down to just below ...

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
Pension plans and the Canadian dollar dilemma

Implementing the Mediator Design Pattern in Angular 2 By @YFain | @CloudExpo #Cloud

In any component-based framework you’ll need to implement component communications. The main principle is that components should be loosely coupled hence reusable hence testable. The mediator design pattern allows you to arrange component communications via “the man in the middle” so a component A never communicates with the component B directly. If a component needs data, someone will provide the data via bindings to the component’s input properties. Who’s this someone?Ain’t no business of the component. If a component needs to provide some data to the external world, it’ll emit events (with the data payload). Emits to whom? Ain’t no business of the component. Let whoever needs the data listen to the events from this component.

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Mar 29, 2016

Low Canadian dollar could help summer festival

Low Canadian dollar could help summer festival
News1130 - 36 minutes ago
Although crude oil and the Canadian dollar's value have rallied in the past month, analysts still say they are both low enough that industries such as tourism will feel a positive impact this summer.

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
Low Canadian dollar could help summer festival

Canadian Dollar Exchange Rates are Forecast to Surge on Stronger GDP

Canadian Dollar Exchange Rates are Forecast to Surge on Stronger GDP
Exchange Rates UK - 11 hours ago
The Canadian Dollar (CAD) exchange rate remains in mixed spirits as Brent crude continues to languish below $40 per barrel, held down by the rather gloomy mood that has gripped markets on Tuesday morning.
USD CAD Forex Analysis Ahead of NFP and Oil Data - Nasdaq

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
Canadian Dollar Exchange Rates are Forecast to Surge on Stronger GDP

Nigeria loses N10b annually hosting domain names offshore

Nigeria is losing not less than N10 billion yearly through hosting its country code Top Level Domain, dotng domain names outside the country, the ...
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Canadian dollar and business outlook

Canadian dollar and business outlook
Western Producer (subscription) - 5 hours ago
WINNIPEG, March 29 The Canadian dollar weakened against its US counterpart in early activity on Monday, tracking losses in crude oil.

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
Canadian dollar and business outlook

USAGov’s Step-by-Step Guide to Making Snapchat Stories As Accessible As Possible

One of the biggest things we take into account whenever we consider launching on a new social platform is how we can make the information we share through that tool as accessible as possible.

In its current form, Snapchat isn’t a highly accessible platform. This isn’t a problem that’s unique to Snapchat. Many emerging technologies are not up to government accessibility standards, which poses a challenge for the innovative agencies that want to adopt them.

USA.gov's Snapchat logo

However, after seeing the explosive growth of Snapchat over the years, we decided it was time to figure out how to address these accessibility issues, so that government agencies could use the app.

Here’s our step-by-step guide for improving Snapchat accessibility.

  1. Plan your Snapchat story with accessibility in mind. Use the platform to tell a succinct story. We recommend storyboarding it before you start, just like you would if you were creating a video. See if the story makes sense from beginning to end and if it clearly communicates the information you’re trying to get across
  2. Once you’ve created your story, download it in its full form from the Snapchat app. To do that, swipe to the right from the main photo screen. You’ll see your story at the top. Tap the three dots next to “My Story” and click the download arrow. This will save a video file to your phone enabling you to save the Snap story for your records management purposes.
    USA.gov Snapchat app Stories screen
  3. Now comes the fun part: Editing this video file for accessibility. You’ll need to create a captioned audio description and voiceover for the video. This will require some basic audio-recording and video-editing software.
  4. Record your audio first. Make sure the person recording the voiceover speaks slowly and clearly to describe what is happening in the video for those with limited vision.
    USAgov Snapchat screen capture of audio recording software
  5. In the video-editing software, lay down your audio track and then drop your Snapchat video file on top of it. Edit as necessary until your audio and video sync.
    USAgov Snapchat screen capture of video editing software
  6. Export your completed video file and share it with the world. Make sure to include captions and a text transcript for screen readers. Now people who can’t access your content through the Snapchat app will still be able to experience what you’re sharing.
    USA.gov Snapchat screen capture of YouTube player as an alternate option for viewing

You can check out our Snapchat stories in real-time on Snapchat (our username is USAGov or follow using the snapcode below) or you can watch our more accessible versions on YouTube.

This post was originally published on the USAgov blog by Jessica Milcetich, who manages social media for USAGov.

If you haven’t already, be sure to register your social media accounts, mobile apps, and mobile websites with the U.S. Digital Registry. You can also check DigitalGov’s Resources to read about Improving the Accessibility of Social Media in Government and the Federal Social Media Accessibility Toolkit.


by Andrea Sigritz via DigitalGov

Google Will Rank ‘Mobile-Friendly’ Sites Even Higher Beginning in May

Last year Google began changing their search ranking algorithm to direct mobile users to mobile-friendly sites, and they recently announced that beginning in May they will be implementing an update to focus even more exclusively on boosting mobile-friendly sites.

Screen capture of the "why make a website mobile-friendly section" on the Google Developers website.

In the announcement, Google encourages website owners to test their sites using the Mobile-Friendly Test and Webmaster Mobile Guide, to learn how to improve your site for mobile friendliness.

Previously we’ve covered how to prepare for “Mobilegeddon” (an industry term for the Google mobile-friendly shift) for government agencies. This is a crucial priority as our mobile audiences are growing by leaps and bounds.

One new solution Google is pushing for sites to move more mobile-friendly the new AMP mobile framework. The open source platform is built to compete with Facebook’s proprietary “Instant Articles” performance platform and to help improve the mobile experience for people using mobile devices, where performance can sometimes be lacking due to cellular network latency and device memory limitations.

Screen capture of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project homepage


by Will Sullivan via DigitalGov

Web Hosting And Domain Name Registration

Apply, or post a similar freelance job: Hosting Raja, A Leading and reputed Website Hosting & Domain Registration company in India, offering worl ...
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Nigeria loses NGN 10 bln to foreign domain hosting

Nigeria is losing NGN 10 billion yearly from Top Level Domain (ccTLD), dotng (.ng) names hosted outside the country. The head of the Nigeria Internet ...
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Virtusa Recognized for Big Data and Analytics IT Services | @BigDataExpo @VirtusaCorp #BigData

Virtusa Corporation has been named an Aspirant on Everest Group’s recent report: HealthcarePayer Big Data and Analytics IT Services – Service Provider Landscape with PEAK Matrix™ Assessment 2015. In this report, Everest Group analyzed the capabilities of 18 IT service providers specific to big data and analytics IT services for the global payer industry. The research report, published in November 2015, provides an objective, data-driven comparative assessment of service providers based on their overall delivery capability and market success for payer big data and analytics IT relationships. The leading providers were mapped to Everest Group’s Performance, Experience, Ability, Knowledge (PEAK) Matrix to showcase their strengths in specific areas.

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Mar 28, 2016

Praise! Tech Initiative Offers Low-Income Churches and Non-Profits Free Websites

We provide free websites, domain registration, and hosting. https://t.co/ ... Grace Church Websites give churches the opportunity to build a free ...
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USD/CAD – Loonie Higher After Oil Recovers

USD/CAD – Loonie Higher After Oil Recovers
MarketPulse (blog) - 6 hours ago
The Canadian dollar had a positive start of the trading week as U.S. data was softer and the price of energy recovered during the North American trading session.

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
USD/CAD – Loonie Higher After Oil Recovers

USDCAD: Canadian Dollar Tests Support at 1.3180

USDCAD: Canadian Dollar Tests Support at 1.3180
Economic Calendar - 8 hours ago
The Canadian dollar strengthened against its US counterpart on Monday as economic data weighed on the greenback, while the Canadian finance minister is optimistic that deficit spending will spur more economic growth.

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
USDCAD: Canadian Dollar Tests Support at 1.3180

Taking Back IT - DevOps I Bimodal IT By @CHarrold303 | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps

In my previous posts I have been talking about the issues with DevOps as seen from the Operations side; the cultural changes needed and the reality of the challenges that are faced getting there. As a firm believer in the idea that you "never present a challenge without a possible solution" it's time we talked about one of the ways to start building towards true Operationalized DevOps.

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Nigeria loses N10bn annually, hosting domain names offshore

Lagos – Nigeria is losing not less than N10 billion yearly through hosting its country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD), dotng (.ng) domain names ...
by via Google Alert - DOMAIN REGISTRATION HOSTING

Canadian dollar and business outlook

Canadian dollar and business outlook
Western Producer (subscription) - 6 hours ago
WINNIPEG, March 28 The Canadian dollar strengthened against its US counterpart on Monday, as crude oil prices gained, and tepid US data kept the greenback from advancing against the loonie.

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
Canadian dollar and business outlook

Optimize DevOps | @CloudExpo @IsomorphicHQ #IoT #DevOps #Microservices

DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of complex UI widgets that behave differently in desktop vs. mobile context, and described the API and code structures that enable these capabilities.

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Canadian dollar moves up, TSX slips a little

Canadian dollar moves up, TSX slips a little
Times Colonist - 13 minutes ago
The Canadian dollar loonie was trading at 75.84 cents US on Monday, up 0.31 from Thursday's close before the long weekend.

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
Canadian dollar moves up, TSX slips a little

Weekly Top 10: Mapping the DevOps Journey | @DevOpsSummit @ElectricCloud #DevOps

2016 is shaping up to be the year of DevOps in the mainstream, as enterprises across every industry – from FinServ and Retail to Automotive and Telecom – adopting DevOps practices. However, many still have lingering questions about what this DevOps thing is and the best ways to begin implementation. Continue reading to learn best practices on how to map your DevOps journey and what DevOps trends are permeating in the software delivery world. More experienced in your DevOps practice? There are still plenty of stories for you about compliance and the increasing complexity of the CIO role. As always, stay tuned to all the news coming from @ElectricCloud on DevOps and Continuous Delivery throughout the week and retweet/favorite to get your top news items featured in our weekly recap!

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Canadian dollar strengthens as economic data weighs on greenback

Canadian dollar strengthens as economic data weighs on greenback
bnn.ca - 20 minutes ago
The Canadian dollar strengthened against its U.S. counterpart on Monday as economic data weighed on the greenback, while Canada's finance minister was optimistic that deficit spending will spur higher domestic economic growth.

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
Canadian dollar strengthens as economic data weighs on greenback

Infrastructure as (Someone Else’s) Code By @DMacVittie | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps

We are rapidly approaching a world where the bulk of datacenter day-to-day operations are automated. The major application provisioning tools are integrating with infrastructure vendor APIs to give operations the power to control and monitor the datacenter – including things like SAN and networking gear – through their systems. To my mind this is a very cool development, but before we rush headlong into this world, let’s have a frank discussion about the nature of infrastructure, the nature of these integrations, and the nature of hackers. Because it’s never all sunshine and unicorns, and automation is no exception.

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Canadian dollar up, TSX down following long weekend

Canadian dollar up, TSX down following long weekend
Times Colonist - 4 minutes ago
The Canadian dollar loonie was trading at 75.79 cents US on Monday, up 0.26 of a cent from Thursday's close before the long weekend.

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Canadian dollar up, TSX down following long weekend

Iron.io Delivers New Job Processing Solutions | @CloudExpo @getIron #Cloud

Iron.io has debuted three new solutions that give modern enterprises greater flexibility and control as they build and scale apps. These solutions – for data processing, file processing, and extract, transform, load (ETL) – combined with a rich feature set, empower enterprises to reliably scale their Docker-based jobs on any cloud, including hybrid environments. Additionally, Iron.io announced Project Kratos, which will enable enterprises to run AWS Lambda functionality in any cloud provider, as well as on-premise, eliminating vendor lock-in. Iron.io is currently seeking project members, who will provide input and feedback as the project is developed. Project members will have the option of becoming beta users.

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Nike’s Journey to Microservices – Getting to Production Fast | @ThingsExpo #IoT #Microservices

Nike is an organization that understands the shift driven by trends like the Internet of Things, where technology becomes an integral part of product value. Fitness is a key area where IoT wearable technologies combined with new apps will become differentiating factors that influence which new sports shoes and clothes we buy.

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SUSE OpenStack Cloud 6 Now Available | @CloudExpo @SUSE #Cloud

SUSE® has announced the general availability of SUSE OpenStack Cloud 6, the latest enterprise-ready technology for building Infrastructure-as-a-Service private clouds with less stress on IT staff and resources. Based on the OpenStack release Liberty, SUSE OpenStack Cloud 6 delivers high availability enhancements and non-disruptive upgrades for future releases, along with Docker and IBM z Systems mainframe support to make it easier to move business-critical applications and data to the cloud. In addition, SUSE is offering new OpenStack training and certification for deployment and operation of OpenStack private clouds.

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Trend Micro Finalizes Acquisition of TippingPoint | @CloudExpo @TrendMicro #Cloud

Trend Micro International has announced the close of an agreement to acquire TippingPoint from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). Trend Micro TippingPoint solutions are immediately available to bring customers comprehensive threat intelligence and protection for current and zero-day vulnerabilities and exploits. “We are very excited to see this agreement come to fruition as it demonstrates our ongoing commitment to enterprise security,” said Eva Chen, CEO, Trend Micro. “With the addition of TippingPoint, Trend Micro provides customers with the unmatched ability to respond to known and unknown threats, exploits and vulnerabilities across the entire attack lifecycle. Trend Micro is now in a unique position to deliver these integrated, layered capabilities to address the complex network security challenges facing global companies today.”

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The Largest #WebRTC Resource Launched By @ThingsExpo | #IoT #RTC

SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here

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Weekly Top 10: Continuous Improvement and Innovation By @Anders_Wallgren | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps

This week’s top 10 reminds us that there is always room to be continually improving and adapting. For example, the CIO role is becoming more involved with the digital transformations of organizations. CIOs should be focusing their teams on collaboration to breed innovation and implementing a service-centered approach to design to keep business booming and customers satisfied. Our weekly round-up covers several other areas to be thinking about to keep your company on top of the game – like how to keep your software testing relevant and why employees need to be Agile now more than ever.

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Broadvoice and @Metaswitch Build Geo-redundant Solution in the Cloud | @CloudExpo #Cloud

Network software provider Metaswitch Networks® has announced that Broadvoice has gone live with a multi-state, geo-redundant configuration of Metaswitch’s clustered MetaSphere Multiservice Telephony Application Server (MTAS) in the cloud. “With this further investment in Metaswitch’s world-class technology and support services, we are doubling-down on our success to ensure that we are best positioned for taking advantage of NFV while securing our network against potential disasters, including earthquakes,” said Jim Murphy, CEO of Broadvoice. “We are committed to providing a best-in-class communication platform to our channel partners and customers. All of our hosted voice customers have been seamlessly migrated to the new platform, affording them unrivalled redundancy and reliability while giving us the ability to easily flex and scale our services to our customers’ demands, at any location.”

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British Pound to Canadian Dollar: Brexit Softens GBP, Crude Oil Weakens CAD

British Pound to Canadian Dollar: Brexit Softens GBP, Crude Oil Weakens CAD
Exchange Rates UK - 1 hour ago
Confidence in both the Pound (GBP) and Canadian Dollar (CAD) was dented this week as Brexit fears resurfaced and Brent crude slipped back below the $40 per barrel mark, due to higher-than-forecast US crude inventories.

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British Pound to Canadian Dollar: Brexit Softens GBP, Crude Oil Weakens CAD

Why Organizations Need to Bridge the Gap Between Dev and QA By @SmartBear | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps

Over the years we've seen a push in the software industry for tighter release schedules and a more agile development process. As a result, departments that used to function independently in a waterfall development environment are now working more closely together in an accelerated release environment. What does this mean for the relationship between development and QA? Folks in Dev and QA are part of a symbiotic relationship that's critical to put out a high-quality product quickly. Teams that are able to bridge the gap between these departments will have a real advantage.

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The Needs and Visions of a Cloud Ecosystem | @CloudExpo @FalconStor #Cloud

“Our customers see PaaS and IaaS as cost-saving models to be applied based on specific project needs, noted Steve Ahlgrim, Business Development Manager at FalconStor, in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff. “Depending on their level of IT expertise and staffing, PaaS can be the most cost effective solution.”

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The Content Corner: Code is a Tool, Content is the Solution

It seems of late that the focus on coding and technology within the federal space has become out of balance with that of good, solid content. As I believe I have said before with regard to user experience, great technology with poor content is still worthless. Amazing code that delivers poorly written or designed content still can’t help the user. And there is no code that I know of that can make bad content better for the user, aside from the algorithmically-derived content previously discussed.

Illustration showing a web page on a laptop, surrounded by bubbles with the names of different web development languages; HTML5, CSS, XML, etc.

elieli/iStock/Thinkstock

In instances where the user’s need is primarily a content-based solution (an answer to a question, for example) technology is of minor importance. Plain text could work. And in many instances, design with a focus on how the content is displayed is still more important than the underlying code.

Coding is Still Important

I want to make clear that coding and technology are of course extremely important. Without it no one would be able to read this column and I would only be able to write it with a pen and pad. And as pointed out this month, there are federal agencies across the board using code and technology to deliver better and more efficient solutions and products to the citizenry. Several examples the president mentioned during his recent appearance at SXSW include:

I remember the analog FAFSA process, and the improvements made to that alone deserve a commemorative monument. But aside from the digitized form, a content strategy and a focus on the user’s needs also help reduce questions and improve the financial aid process.

And all the efforts to share code and leverage that efficiency via Github, for example, are a great step forward for the federal government, but even a significant focus on content relates to APIs and syndication. Again it’s heavy on code, but without efficient, helpful content, no one is going to want to share or consume it.

Content is More Important

We have to remember that code is a tool that we use to deliver content. It is easy to get caught up in the cool and flashy new languages or platforms, just as it is easy to think an elaborate content management system (CMS) can solve all your problems. But that CMS is not a content strategy nor is it a guarantee of good content. It can help you improve your content’s accessibility and shareability, but the content still has to be clearly written, clearly focused, and strategy-driven.

I’m very happy that organizations such as Code for America and our own 18F have made great strides towards making coding “cool”. The future of delivering the best services possible to our citizens rests heavily on a tech-savvy government, and code places a huge role in that. But maybe I am feeling left out or I’ve missed the equal focus on making “creating good content” just as cool and important. Perhaps we’ve fallen into a common trap and content is taken for granted or we assume it is just writing words and not the messy, complicated task that it really is.

So how can we inspire people to design better content in equal, or dare I say, a greater number than we inspire to code? One way is to show off the beauty of code and content working together in tandem, to make sure that the technology being used and the content being provided exists only to service a specific goal or need of the user.

Screen capture of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's information microsite for Zika Virus.

An example that I admittedly call attention to frequently is the work CDC is doing with their content syndication. One reason it’s a personal favorite is that it’s a wonderful example of technology allowing critical, well-considered content (Zika virus micro sites, for instance) to be dispersed to more users with greater efficiency. It’s that essential equilibrium between code and content that we need to be cognizant of and be sure that content never becomes less important than code

You’ve just finished reading the latest article from our Monday column, The Content Corner. This column focuses on helping solve the main content issues facing federal digital professionals, including producing enough content and making that content engaging.


by Tyrus Manuel via DigitalGov

Canadian dollar's drop triggers warnings from top C-Suite executives

Canadian dollar's drop triggers warnings from top C-Suite executives
bnn.ca - 18 minutes ago
However, 79 per cent of respondents believe the beat-up dollar, which hit a 2016 low of US$0.6808 on January 20, will put Canadian companies at higher risk of being targeted in a takeover over the next year. And more than half of executives (54 per ...

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
Canadian dollar's drop triggers warnings from top C-Suite executives

Crazy Domains taps Canaccord for IPO

Australia's No.1 domain registration and hosting company, Crazy Domains, is set to join the growing list of tech companies making a run at the ...
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12 Brackets Extensions That Will Make Your Life Easier

Brackets is a great source code editor for web designers and front-end web developers. It has a ton of useful features out of the box. You can make your Brackets experience even better by using extensions.

These Brackets extensions will help make your web design and front-end web development workflow a little easier.

1. CanIUse

Quickly see the current level of browser support a certain web technology has without leaving Brackets. This extension sources its data from Can I use.

CanIUse

2. HTML Skeleton

HTML Skeleton helps you set up your HTML files quickly by automatically inserting basic markup such as the doctype declaration, <html>, <head>, <body>, etc.

HTML Skeleton

Related: A Generic HTML5 Template

3. HTML Wrapper

Rapidly mark up a list of text into list items (<li>), table rows (<tr>), hyperlinks, (<a>), and more with HTML Wrapper.

HTML Wrapper

4. Brackets Icons

This is a super simple extension that adds file icons in Brackets’s sidebar. The icons are excellent visual cues that make it much easier to identify the file you’d like to work on.

Brackets Icons

5. Autoprefixer

Automatically and intelligently add vendor prefixes to your CSS properties with the Autoprefixer extension. It uses browser support data from Can I use to decide whether or not a vendor prefix is needed. It’ll also remove unnecessary vendor prefixes.

Autoprefixer

6. JS CSS Minifier

This extension will remove unneeded characters from your JavaScript and CSS files. This process is called minification, and it can improve your website’s speed.

JS CSS Minifier

7. CSSLint

This extension highlights CSS errors and code-quality issues. The errors and warnings reported by this extension are based on CSS Lint rules.

CSSLint

8. Emmet

Emmet is a collection of tools and keyboard shortcuts that can speed up HTML- and CSS-authoring.

Emmet

9. Lorem Ipsum Generator

Need some text to fill up your design prototype? The Lorem Ipsum Generator extension helps you conveniently generate dummy text. (And if you need image placeholders, have a look at Lorem Pixel or DEVimg.)

Lorem Ipsum Generator

10. Beautify

This extension will help keep your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code consistently formatted, indented, and — most importantly — readable. An alternative option to check out is the CSSComb extension.

Beautify

11. Simple To-Do

Make sure you don’t forget your project tasks by using the Simple To-Do extension, which allows you to create and manage to-do lists for each project within Brackets.

Simple To-Do

12. eqFTP

Transferring and syncing your project’s files to your web host or server requires FTP or SFTP, but such a fundamental web development feature doesn’t come with Brackets. To remedy the situation, use the eqFTP extension, an FTP/STFP client that you can operate from within Brackets.

eqFTP

How to Install Brackets Extensions

The quickest way to install Brackets extensions is by using the Extension Manager — access it by choosing File > Extension Manager in Brackets’s toolbar.

Brackets Extension Manager

If I didn’t mention your favorite Brackets extension, please talk about it in the comments.

Jacob Gube is the founder of Six Revisions. He’s a front-end developer. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

Related

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5 Games That Teach You How to Code

The post 12 Brackets Extensions That Will Make Your Life Easier appeared first on Six Revisions.

Mar 27, 2016

Maximize SaaS Revenue | @CloudExpo @_ANEXIA #IoT #SaaS #IaaS

SaaS companies can greatly expand revenue potential by pushing beyond their own borders. The challenge is how to do this without degrading service quality. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Adam Rogers, Managing Director at Anexia, will discuss how IaaS providers with a global presence and both virtual and dedicated infrastructure can help companies expand their service footprint with low “go-to-market” costs.

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The Ultimate Mobile Performance Testing Checklist | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps

To conduct complete mobile performance testing, a process that will allow you to consistently deliver an exceptional application experience to mobile users, make sure you hit every point on our ultimate mobile performance testing checklist. By now, hopefully you're well aware of the importance of mobile performance testing. It's essential for your organization to test for mobile users whether or not you have a dedicated mobile application.

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Pivot3 Unveils Edge Protect Hyperconverged Appliance | @CloudExpo @Pivot3Inc #Cloud

Pivot3 has announced the availability of Edge Protect, a hyperconverged SAN storage solution for mid-sized and remotely distributed surveillance applications. Edge Protect delivers enterprise-class IT capabilities on off-the-shelf x86 server hardware, enabling users to realize the benefits of highly efficient shared storage and built-in failover without the complexity or cost typically associated with infrastructure based on separate servers and SAN storage.

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In Defense of Java By @AppDynamics | @DevOpsSummit #Java #DevOps

So we have an eBook, The Top 10 Java Performance Problems, that we tweet out from time to time. Without exception, a few people reply with some version of “the problem is you’re using Java.” Java, apparently, is constantly criticized, and people have been predicting its demise for some time. Sure, it’s not as cool, flexible, or fun as some of the newer, more dynamic languages such as Python, Node.js, or Ruby, however, Java remains an important language for applications everywhere.

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Online sales in border town slows with weak Canadian dollar

Online sales in border town slows with weak Canadian dollar
Bristol Herald Courier (press release) (blog) - 28 minutes ago
BLAINE, Wash. (AP) - Fewer Canadians appear to be ordering products online and having it shipped to Washington state as the Canadian dollar weakens against the U.S. dollar. The Bellingham Herald reports (http://goo.gl/yDdy1b ) that it had been popular ...

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
Online sales in border town slows with weak Canadian dollar

AWS Database Migration Service Now Available to All Customers | @CloudExpo @AWSCloud #Cloud

Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), has announced that the AWS Database Migration Service, a fully managed service that allows customers to migrate their production Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, MariaDB, and PostgreSQL databases from on-premises datacenters to AWS with virtually no downtime, is now available to all customers. Customers, including global enterprises and startups from a range of industries, used the AWS Database Migration Service preview to move more than 1,000 databases to the AWS Cloud since January 1, 2016. Many of these customers also used the AWS Schema Conversion Tool to switch database engines and break free from the cost and complexity of old guard commercial databases. To learn more about the AWS Database Migration Service, visit https://aws.amazon.com/dms.

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GSX Solutions to Define the Next Generation of Performance Monitoring | @CloudExpo #Cloud

For a company in the IT sector, a 20-year anniversary signifies that we have experienced and endured so many radical changes in the industry. We have witnessed the era in which mainframes were challenged by minis, which were then themselves challenged by PCs. Then came the age of software, then something called the Internet, and now another something called the cloud. Every time, we thought that nothing more could be invented, another massive change would take place. If we are still here and thriving after 20 years, it is a testament to our ability to realize that things will always be constantly changing, and that we must adapt to new worlds.

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Bringing Agile to the Next Level By @XebiaLabs | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps

I finished my last post with the statement Agile will be applied on a much wider scale in the near future. Within governmental organizations, industry, startups, on a personal level, you name it, but how? In my next posts I will take a deep dive in this exciting story lying in front of us in five steps: Step I: Creating Awareness & Distributing Agile Knowledge Change is a chance, not a threat. Understanding and applying the Agile Mindset and toolsets will help everyone riding the wave of change with more pleasure and success. This is the main reason why I’ve joined initiatives like Nederland Kantelt, EduScrum, Wikispeed and Delft University’s D.R.E.A.M. Hall.

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Big Data, IoT and Blockchain: Ready to Follow the Yellow Brick Road? | @ThingsExpo #IoT

Disruption. You can’t have a discussion today about business or technology without the term entering the conversation. I think it’s become an unwritten rule. It’s almost as if no one will take you seriously unless you’re talking about business disruption. Or how disruptive technologies can be used to advance business and provide a competitive edge. Take Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT). Both rank highly on the list of disruptive technologies. As with most technologies, there are areas of great synergy that ultimately provide a yellow brick road to real business value. (See my recent blog Big Data, the Internet of Things, and Russian Nesting Dolls

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Value of Canadian dollar tied to commodity prices

Value of Canadian dollar tied to commodity prices
North Shore News - 5 minutes ago
The commodity bear market that began in 2011 has not been kind to the Canadian dollar, but the epic collapse in the price of oil which started in 2014 has been downright nasty.

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Value of Canadian dollar tied to commodity prices

Mar 26, 2016

Customer Loyalty: The Big Data Disintermediation Cure By @Schmarzo | @BigDataExpo #BigData

I recently wrote about the two D’s of Big Data: Disintermediation and Disruption. As I stated in that blog: Across multiple industries, startups are coupling new big data technologies and new sources of data with advanced analytics (data science) to uncover new customer, product, operational and market insights in order to disintermediate existing customer relationships and disrupt existing business models.

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Solutions for Application Producers | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps

Flexera Software is the leading provider of next-generation software licensing, compliance, security and installation solutions for application producers and enterprises. Our next-generation software licensing, compliance and installation solutions are essential to ensure continuous licensing compliance, optimized software investments and to future-proof businesses against the risks and costs of constantly changing technology.

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Cloud Networking Adoption Drives Record 2015 Revenue and EPS | @Cloud @AristaNetworks #Cloud

Arista Networks, Inc. (NYSE: ANET), has announced financial results for its fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2015. Revenue of $245.4 million, an increase of 41.5% compared to the fourth quarter of 2014, and an increase of 12.8% from the third quarter of 2015. Non-GAAP gross margin of 64.0%, compared to non-GAAP gross margin of 67.4% in the fourth quarter of 2014 and 65.5% in the third quarter of 2015. GAAP gross margin of 63.6%, compared to GAAP gross margin of 67.1% in the fourth quarter of 2014 and 65.2% in the third quarter of 2015.

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Continuous Delivery: The Atlassian Way By @WeeksTweets | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps

Sonatype's Mark Miller catches up with Ian Buchanan at Atlassian to discuss DevOps leadership, ChatOps, and usage of tools in the continuous delivery pipeline. Ian discussed his experiences at Atlassian, including continuous delivery, ChatOps, and use of tools like Bamboo, Nexus, Puppet, and Datadog.

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Who’s Your Betamax of IoT Standards? | @ThingsExpo #IoT

In the world of IoT/IIoT an explosion of standards has fallen upon us. While we all can agree that standards are what binds our current communication infrastructures together, it does take time for the victorious standard to rise to the top of adoption. Some of us remember the battle that arose in the video tape arena between VHS and Betamax. While Betamax's claim to fame was the superior picture, VHS had the longer recording time and a larger backing from the industry. In the end VHS won. And who can remember the tale of HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray, token-ring vs 10Base-T or WiMax vs LTE?

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Mar 25, 2016

Thanks For Ruining Another Game Forever, Computers

In 2006, after visiting the Computer History Museum's exhibit on Chess, I opined:

We may have reached an inflection point. The problem space of chess is so astonishingly large that incremental increases in hardware speed and algorithms are unlikely to result in meaningful gains from here on out.

So. About that. Turns out I was kinda … totally completely wrong. The number of possible moves, or "problem space", of Chess is indeed astonishingly large, estimated to be 1050:

100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

Deep Blue was interesting because it forecast a particular kind of future, a future where specialized hardware enabled brute force attack of the enormous chess problem space, as its purpose built chess hardware outperformed general purpose CPUs of the day by many orders of magnitude. How many orders of magnitude? In the heady days of 1997, Deep Blue could evaluate 200 million chess positions per second. And that was enough to defeat Kasparov, the highest ever ranked human player – until 2014 at least. Even though one of its best moves was the result of a bug.

200,000,000

In 2006, about ten years later, according to the Fritz Chess benchmark, my PC could evaluate only 4.5 million chess positions per second.

4,500,000

Today, about twenty years later, that very same benchmark says my PC can evaluate a mere 17.2 million chess positions per second.

17,200,000

Ten years, four times faster. Not bad! Part of that is I went from dual to quad core, and these chess calculations scale almost linearly with the number of cores. An eight core CPU, no longer particularly exotic, could probably achieve ~28 million on this benchmark today.

28,000,000

I am not sure the scaling is exactly linear, but it's fair to say that even now, twenty years later, a modern 8 core CPU is still about an order of magnitude slower at the brute force task of evaluating chess positions than what Deep Blue's specialized chess hardware achieved in 1997.

But here's the thing: none of that speedy brute forcing matters today. Greatly improved chess programs running on mere handheld devices can perform beyond grandmaster level.

In 2009 a chess engine running on slower hardware, a 528 MHz HTC Touch HD mobile phone running Pocket Fritz 4 reached the grandmaster level – it won a category 6 tournament with a performance rating of 2898. Pocket Fritz 4 searches fewer than 20,000 positions per second. This is in contrast to supercomputers such as Deep Blue that searched 200 million positions per second.

As far as chess goes, despite what I so optimistically thought in 2006, it's been game over for humans for quite a few years now. The best computer chess programs, vastly more efficient than Deep Blue, combined with modern CPUs which are now finally within an order of magnitude of what Deep Blue's specialized chess hardware could deliver, play at levels far beyond what humans can achieve.

Chess: ruined forever. Thanks, computers. You jerks.

Despite this resounding defeat, there was still hope for humans in the game of Go. The number of possible moves, or "problem space", of Go is estimated to be 10170:

1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

Remember that Chess had a mere fifty zeroes there? Go has more possible moves than there are atoms in the universe.

Wrap your face around that one.

Deep Blue was a statement about the inevitability of eventually being able to brute force your way around a difficult problem with the constant wind of Moore's Law at your back. If Chess is the quintessential European game, Go is the quintessential Asian game. Go requires a completely different strategy. Go means wrestling with a problem that is essentially impossible for computers to solve in any traditional way.

A simple material evaluation for chess that works well, where each type of piece is given a value, and each player recieves a score depending on his/her remaining pieces. The player with the higher score is deemed to be 'winning' at that stage of the game.

However, Chess programmers innocently asking Go players for an evaluation function would be met with disbelief! No such simple evaluation exists. Since there is only a single type of piece, only the number each player has on the board could be used for a simple material heuristic, and there is almost no discernible correlation between the number of stones on the board and what the end result of the game will be.

Analysis of a problem this hard, with brute force completely off the table, is colloquially called "AI", though that term is a bit of a stretch to me. I prefer to think of it as building systems that can learn from experience, aka machine learning. Here's a talk which covers DeepMind learning to play classic Atari 2600 videogames. (Jump to the 10 minutes mark to see what I mean.)

As impressive as this is – and it truly is – bear in mind that games as simple as Pac-Man still remain far beyond the reach of Deep Mind. But what happens when you point a system like that at the game of Go?

DeepMind built a system, AlphaGo, designed to see how far they could get with those approaches in the game of Go. AlphaGo recently played one of the best Go players in the world, Lee Sedol, and defeated him in a stunning 4-1 display. Being the optimist that I am, I guessed that DeepMind would win one or two games, but a near total rout like this? Incredible. In the space of just 20 years, computers went from barely beating the best humans at Chess, with a problem space of 1050, to definitively beating the best humans at Go, with a problem space of 10170. How did this happen?

Well, a few things happened, but one unsung hero in this transformation is the humble video card, or GPU.

Consider this breakdown of the cost of floating point operations over time, measured in dollars per gigaflop:

1961 $8,300,000,000
1984 $42,780,000
1997 $42,000
2000 $1,300
2003 $100
2007 $52
2011 $1.80
2012 $0.73
2013 $0.22
2015 $0.08

What's not clear in this table is that after 2007, all the big advances in FLOPS came from gaming video cards designed for high speed real time 3D rendering, and as an incredibly beneficial side effect, they also turn out to be crazily fast at machine learning tasks.

The Google Brain project had just achieved amazing results — it learned to recognize cats and people by watching movies on YouTube. But it required 2,000 CPUs in servers powered and cooled in one of Google’s giant data centers. Few have computers of this scale. Enter NVIDIA and the GPU. Bryan Catanzaro in NVIDIA Research teamed with Andrew Ng’s team at Stanford to use GPUs for deep learning. As it turned out, 12 NVIDIA GPUs could deliver the deep-learning performance of 2,000 CPUs.

Let's consider a related case of highly parallel computation. How much faster is a GPU at password hashing?

Radeon 7970 8213.6 M c/s
6-core AMD CPU 52.9 M c/s

Only 155 times faster right out of the gate. No big deal. On top of that, CPU performance has largely stalled in the last decade. While more and more cores are placed on each die, which is great when the problems are parallelizable – as they definitely are in this case – the actual performance improvement of any individual core over the last 5 to 10 years is rather modest.

But GPUs are still doubling in performance every few years. Consider password hash cracking expressed in the rate of hashes per second:

GTX 295 2009 25k
GTX 690 2012 54k
GTX 780 Ti 2013 100k
GTX 980 Ti 2015 240k

The latter video card is the one in my machine right now. It's likely the next major revision from Nvidia, due later this year, will double these rates again.

(While I'm at it, I'd like to emphasize how much it sucks to be an 8 character password in today's world. If your password is only 8 characters, that's perilously close to no password at all. That's also why why your password is (probably) too damn short. In fact, we just raised the minimum allowed password length on Discourse to 10 characters, because annoying password complexity rules are much less effective in reality than simply requiring longer passwords.)

Distributed AlphaGo used 1202 CPUs and 176 GPUs. While that doesn't sound like much, consider that as we've seen, each GPU can be up to 150 times faster at processing these kinds of highly parallel datasets — so those 176 GPUs were the equivalent of adding ~26,400 CPUs to the task.

Even if you don't care about video games, they happen to have a profound accidental impact on machine learning improvements. Every time you see a new video card release, don't think "slightly nicer looking games" think "wow, hash cracking and AI just got 2× faster … again!"

I'm certainly not making the same mistake I did when looking at Chess in 2006. (And in my defense, I totally did not see the era of GPUs as essential machine learning aids coming, even though I am a gamer.) If AlphaGo was intimidating today, having soundly beaten the best human Go player in the world, it'll be no contest after a few more years of GPUs doubling and redoubling their speeds again.

AlphaGo, broadly speaking, is the culmination of two very important trends in computing:

  1. Huge increases in parallel processing power driven by consumer GPUs and videogames, which started in 2007. So if you're a gamer, congratulations! You're part of the problem-slash-solution.

  2. We're beginning to build sophisticated (and combined) algorithmic approaches for entirely new problem spaces that are far too vast to even begin being solved by brute force methods alone. And these approaches clearly work, insofar as they mastered one of the hardest games in the world, one that many thought humans would never be defeated in.

Great. Another game ruined by computers. Jerks.

Based on our experience with Chess, and now Go, we know that computers will continue to beat us at virtually every game we play, in the same way that dolphins will always swim faster than we do. But what if that very same human mind was capable of not only building the dolphin, but continually refining it until they arrived at the world's fastest minnow? Where Deep Blue was the more or less inevitable end result of brute force computation, AlphaGo is the beginning of a whole new era of sophisticated problem solving against far more enormous problems. AlphaGo's victory is not a defeat of the human mind, but its greatest triumph.

(If you'd like to learn more about the powerful intersection of sophisticated machine learning algorithms and your GPU, read this excellent summary of AlphaGo and then download the DeepMind Atari learner and try it yourself.)

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via Coding Horror http://blog.codinghorror.com/thanks-for-ruining-another-game-forever-computers/

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