About Productivity, Social Networks and everything else I'm interested in

Month: October, 2012

PayPal Wants to Limit Your Legal Rights Against Them, Here’s a Way Around That


Amazon reportedly in talks to buy TI’s mobile chip division

http://res3.feedsportal.com/images/emailthis2.gif Amazon is reportedly looking to bolster its mobile device division by purchasing the smartphone chip division of Texas Instruments.

via AppleInsider | news http://appleinsider.com/articles/12/10/15/amazon-reportedly-in-talks-to-buy-tis-mobile-chip-division

Article: Report: Apple to hold iPad mini media event on October 23

Report: Apple to hold iPad mini media event on October 23


∞ Set default address to iCloud.com


A reader sent a note today letting me know that you can now set the default email address in your iCloud account to @mac.com, @me.com or @icloud.com. I don’t know how long it’s been like that, but I hadn’t noticed it before.

Just sign-in to iCloud, open the Mail app and go to Settings > Composing.

via The Loop http://www.loopinsight.com/2012/10/09/set-default-address-to-icloud-com/?utm_source=loopinsight.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+loopinsight%2FKqJb+%28The+Loop%29

Social Network Analytics & Visualization « Next generation BI

Social Network Analytics & Visualization « Next generation BI.

An explanation of a Facebook network. Visualized with Gephi.

With links to SNA courses on the web.



Big data politics: Why you can’t outrun campaigns by avoiding the TV


If you think you can avoid the ceaseless barrage of political ads by merely avoiding the television at all costs and keeping your telephone silenced, think again. Politicians and their campaign managers know you too well, and they know you have to consume content somewhere. They’ll be damned if they’ll let a little thing like the internet get in the way of letting you get to know them just as well.

An ancient history lesson

We call it big data in the age of the ubiquitous web, but the truth is that politicians have been amassing attachés on potential voters for at least a decade. Some experts credit the strategy to Bill Clinton’s reelection team in 1996, which decided to focus its efforts on winning over swing voters rather than the entire electorate. George W. Bush took it even further, narrowing his focus down to swing-voter Republicans so as to maximize resources even more efficiently. All of this required a tremendous amount of data mining to figure out who these people were, where they lived and what they cared about.

Fast-forward to 2008, and the Barack Obama campaign took the process to another level thanks to its well-executed web campaign. In the process of raising about half a billion dollars online, the campaign gathered around 13 million email addresses and 5 million friends across the social media landscape. After mining this data and combining this stuff from voter-registration records, the team was able to identify the cream of the crop in terms of potential voters and deliver them a personalized campaign experience — everything from organizing rides to polling places to phone calls addressing specific points people had raised online.

You might have noticed by looking at the names associated with these efforts that running a data-driven campaign works. Managing large teams of volunteers, paying for television ads and otherwise running a major campaign is expensive business (save for those dirt-cheap and annoying robo-calls). Knowing who to target lets campaigns spend their valuable resources in the right places and avoid wasting money trying to win over individuals staunchly on the other side or unlikely to actually get out and vote.

The age of big data

As it has with business though, particularly on the web, the age of big data has changed political campaigns yet again. Heading in the 2012 election, for example, President Obama has more than 20 million Twitter followers and his Facebook page has more than 29 million “likes.” Mitt Romney lags considerably behind — with less than 2 million Twitter followers around 9 million “likes” — but still has access to a lot digital data.

Thanks to technologies such as Hadoop, campaigns are able to store more data — and more types of data (think of all that unstructured social media data) — than ever before and process it en masse. Not only does this help with targeting individuals or groups, but it could also help with longer-term strategies such as where to schedule rallies and what issues to discuss at them. As feelings toward issues change, regular analyses of ever-expanding data sets should reflect those changes and let candidates shift their strategies accordingly.

This ad created specially for you

Of course, all this additional data means more than just knowing what issues matters. It also means just knowing you, period. What you drink, the car you drive, where you shop — they’re all pieces of a digital profile that lets politicians make sure they put their messages in front of the right people. It’s a process called microtargeting, and it’s very real — especially online.

Bryan Gernet

Bryan Gernet, CEO of Resonate Insights, explained to me recently how his company goes about serving billions of targeted web ads to its growing stable of political customers. In 2008, he said, neither presidential candidate spent very much money advertising online, but Resonate is presently involved in about 100 campaigns, with clients that include campaigns, political action committees and other special interest groups. At present, he said, Resonate has about 250 terabytes of behavioral and opinion data; it runs a 110-node Hadoop cluster and a 300-billion-row database.

All that data feeds predictive models based on mountains of data gleaned from surveys, web behavior, demographic information and other sources to deliver specific ads to specific web users. Resonate’s algorithms take into account 300 million “decision nodes” to in order to model all the attributes of each user, and they deliver each user the best-possible ad from a collection of a client’s pre-manfactured ads. So, a socially conservative independent will see a different ad compared to a fiscally moderate liberal or a centrist independent with a laser focus on job creation as the election’s most-important issue.

Things are only going to heat up. Gernet says he foresees candidates in future election cycles doing a lot more with custom videos targeting specific voter segments, as well as putting a much bigger emphasis on how to deliver optimal ads on tablets and smartphones.

Joe Lichtenberg, VP of edge computing for Mirror Image Internet, sees a lot of his company’s clients implementing what he calls “dynamic creative optimization,” and wouldn’t be surprised to see this approach make its way into politics. Essentially, that means advertisers create templates that can be populated with custom content on the fly to fit each web user’s specific profile. Already, startups such as DataPop and BloomReach have built businesses around this practice for customizing web site content and ads on search engines.

Mirror Image hosts application logic for customers, including Resonate, on geographically dispersed edge servers so it can calculate incoming data and deliver content in real-time without requiring it to hit a centralized server somewhere.

Does it work?

The great thing about doing this type of targeting online is that campaigns can get pretty clear evidence of whether it works. Gernet said his company can track traditional metrics such as clickthroughs and length of time engaged in pre-roll video before skipping it and getting to the featured video. Thanks to the cookie-tracking policies on candidates’ web sites, it could be relatively easy to track whether site visits or other actions follow the consumption of personalized content. Resonate will even engage in some online polling to gauge effectiveness.

And while studies suggest that voters are turned off by the idea of being targeted — some respondents even say they’d be less likely to vote for a candidate who targeted them — it might not matter too much in the long term. For one, these personalization algorithms are complex and marketers are smart, so voters won’t necessarily know when or why they’re being targeted. Another reality is that how voters feel and how they vote doesn’t always go hand-in-hand, which is why negative ads persist despite rather widespread contempt for them.

If the data says microtargeting works, there’ll be no escaping campaign ads without a serious curtailment in the amount of data web sites, mobile apps and other platforms can collect about users. Until that happens, though, all our online activity just creates a smorgasbord of personal data upon which candidates are more than happy to feast. So, you tax-hating, gun-toting, gay-rights-supporting swing voter, get ready to know why both candidates have your back in 2016.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock user iQoncept.

via Filter RSS feeds http://gigaom.com/data/big-data-politics-why-you-cant-outrun-campaigns-by-avoiding-the-tv/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OmMalik+%28GigaOM%3A+Tech%29

Article: Online passwords: keep it complicated

Online passwords: keep it complicated


Do Not Disturb


I’m loving these articles that Dave Caolo is putting together. This one is on how to use the Do Not Disturb feature on the iPhone.

∞ Read this on The Loop

via The Loop http://52tiger.net/using-apples-do-not-disturb-for-iphone/?utm_source=loopinsight.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+loopinsight%2FKqJb+%28The+Loop%29

How the World’s Largest Bakery Puts Execution Before Strategy


In today’s world, all companies need to be able to function in chaotic, unpredictable business environments. Emerging multinationals already know how to do that — it’s what they’re used to. Take Bimbo, the world’s largest bread baker. The company, founded in 1945 by a Spanish immigrant to Mexico, uses execution excellence to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances and customer preferences.

Initially seeking low-cost and relatively unsophisticated ways to grow, the firm expanded its operations throughout Latin America in subsequent decades. It made its first U.S. acquisition in 1996, thanks in large part to a focus on optimal efficiency in oven utilization and delivery routes. By 2012 it had swallowed up more than a dozen U.S. firms, including the bakery divisions of Weston Foods and Sara Lee.

Bimbo’s executives understand that in a low-margin business like theirs, execution is crucial. Profits depend heavily on getting the right amount of highly perishable products to stores at the right moment and at a reasonable cost. In many markets, “stores” are mainly mom-and-pop outlets scattered many miles from one another over poor roads. To make such customers profitable, Bimbo searches relentlessly for ways to eliminate waste and increase the efficiency of its operations.

The same approach served Bimbo well when it acquired the bakery division of Sara Lee, the huge U.S. food, beverage, and personal-care company. For years, sales for Sara Lee’s bread business had been declining because of what we see as a lack of focus on maintaining high standards in execution. Success would have entailed continual improvements in production and distribution efficiency, but the company did not choose to pursue that approach. In 2010 Sara Lee sold the bread business to Bimbo, which applied its execution focus to the business.

Bimbo’s leaders are continually on the road, looking for ways to improve the productivity of its 100 plants on three continents, its huge truck fleet, and other operational elements. For instance, it uses tricycle delivery bikes in urban areas of China where streets are too narrow for trucks, a practice it first implemented in Latin America. At the same time, all of its trucks are equipped with sophisticated computer systems to optimize delivery routes.

As Bimbo has expanded, it has adapted to consumer trends and local preferences, creating niches all over the world. Even in China, a country in which bread is little more than a culinary footnote, Bimbo has found a responsive customer base among young, urban consumers, successfully offering individually wrapped snacks such as beef rolled in bread.

If there is a vision at Bimbo, it’s chief executive Daniel Servitje’s insistence on keeping “a firm grip on the day-to-day realities” of operations. Many emerging multinationals maintain a similar focus on execution. Often, the only way for those companies to compete with their better-capitalized rivals in the developed world is to keep costs very low through a combination of operational excellence and cheap labor. Bimbo’s choice to focus more intently on execution than on detailed planning suggests that the company’s leaders understand the danger of becoming encumbered by rigid internal rules about which markets to target and how — rules that have prevented developed-world multinationals from moving more quickly into the booming markets of the developing world. Instead of getting bogged down in planning, Bimbo takes chances, experiments, gets market feedback quickly, and does what’s needed to improve its value proposition to customers.

Bimbo is just one example of an emerging-market multinational that is demonstrating a surprising ability to surmount business challenges that developed-world companies have avoided or given up on. Unencumbered by complicated or calcified rules about which markets to focus on and how to grow, these firms are achieving success by executing first and analyzing later, pursuing headlong expansion, and embracing turbulent markets.

This blog post was excerpted from the authors’ article “Execution as Strategy” in the October issue of the magazine.

via HBR.org http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/10/how_the_worlds_largest_bakery_puts_execution_before_strategy.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+harvardbusiness+%28HBR.org%29

Keyboard Maestro and the automation mindset


Keyboard Maestro always sounded like a useful app, but I wasn’t sure how I would ever use it. Now that I have it, I keep finding new ways to use it.

I think Keyboard Maestro is perhaps one of the more difficult apps to explain, because how I use it might vary greatly from how you use it, but once you get to know how it works and some of the things it can do, maybe you’ll see how you might use it.

Some simple use cases for Keyboard Maestro

At its simplest, Keyboard Maestro can do things like TextExpander where you type a few letters and have it expand to a much larger message, but that’s really a narrow view of what it does. In fact, I prefer to use TextExpander for those sorts of uses. I use Keyboard Maestro for more complicate situations.

For example, have you ever tried to add a bunch of iOS apps to an iTunes library, only to have iTunes warn you that some of the apps already exist? If you have, you know what follows. Each time iTunes finds a duplicate application, it will stop everything and ask if you want to replace the app until you press “OK” and then it will continue. Keyboard Maestro can wait until iTunes asks and then answer for you. I once left iTunes running like that and went to lunch, letting Keyboard Maestro do the menial work for me.

Keyboard Maestro can trigger events to happen when an app quits or when it launches. For example, when SuperDuper launches, Keyboard Maestro automatically unmounts my Time Machine backup (because I don’t want Time Machine to interfere with SuperDuper). When SuperDuper quits, Keyboard Maestro unmounts the SuperDuper clone (otherwise Spotlight tends to find apps and files on both drives) and remounts my Time Machine drive.

When I am using Microsoft Word and have an open document, Keyboard Maestro automatically saves the file for me every 3 minutes, so I never have to worry about losing work.

Mac OS X supports customizable keyboard shortcuts for menu items, but they have to include the Command key (⌘). With Keyboard Maestro, I can assign any keyboard combination I want, and if I accidentally use the same keyboard combination twice, Keyboard Maestro will pop up a menu and let me choose between the two of them.

Putting several steps together

As I mentioned, the key (no pun intended) to using Keyboard Maestro is to start getting into the mindset of thinking “Could I automate this?” whenever you find yourself doing something repeatedly.

For example, I access a database of journal articles that are available to download as PDFs. I recently discovered that if I email those articles to myself, the database will include all of the citation information necessary. But emailing them is a bit of a pain. Each time I find an article I have to click on the ’email’ button, which triggers some JavaScript which reveals a place where I can enter my email address. I have to type my email address, then I have to copy the title of the article into the Subject: line, then I have to check the box to say that I want the email to be “plain text plus the attachment”, then I have to hit the ‘Send’ button. Once it is sent, I have to click ‘Continue’ to dismiss the alert that tells me the email was sent, and then I have to go back to the previous page in my browser history.

All told there were twelve steps involved for each article, and some of those steps had multiple keystrokes involved, such as ‘type my email address.’ (Actually I was typing my Send To Dropbox email address, so the PDF and the email body with the citation would also get saved.)

With Keyboard Maestro, once I decide that I want to save an article, I simply press one keyboard combination, and it does all of the necessary steps. It even brings me back to the previous page so I can continue searching. Not only does Keyboard Maestro do these s steps approximately 100 times faster than I could, it never accidentally misspells my email address, or hits the ‘tab’ key three times instead of two times, or forgets to check the box that says ‘Yes, include the PDF in the email.’

The end result is that I have more time to spend doing what I want to do (looking for interesting articles) and don’t have to spend any time or mental energy on the boring, repetitive, easy-to-make-a-mistake parts.

Do you install a lot of applications?

As someone who tests a lot of software, I find myself running Installer.app a lot. Anyone who does this a lot knows that there are usually about 5-6 different screens that you have to go through from start to finish.

  1. Click install
  2. Click Continue
  3. Click Agree (to the EULA)
  4. Click Continue Installation
  5. Wait for it to finish
  6. Click Close

If you’ve done that often enough, you know that you can press ‘Enter’ and ‘Tab’ (or Shift + Tab) to get through those, but it’s a lot faster to have Keyboard Maestro do it for you. (You’ll still have to enter your password manually, so don’t worry about accidentally opening an installer and having something bad happen.)

Do you make backups?

I make backups of my calendar and contacts information every week. Well, at least I always intend to. But, well, if it relies on me remembering to do it, I probably won’t do it.

With Keyboard Maestro I can schedule this backup to happen automatically. So now, every Monday at 9:00 a.m. I get a Growl alert which says “Backing up Contacts” (which alerts me that it’s about to happen so I don’t accidentally interfere with it), then the Contacts app opens, and Keyboard Maestro selects File » Export » Contacts Archive… presses ‘Save’ when prompted, and then quits Contacts app.

Then the entire process repeats with BusyCal.

The whole process takes a few seconds, and all I have to do is wait.

(Speaking of automation, I won’t even mention that those backups are automatically saved to a particular folder using Default Folder X, and that once they are saved, Hazel automatically zips them and moves them to Dropbox. Oops. Well, maybe I’ll mention it just a little.)

Automation reduces annoyance

Computers are great, but sometimes we have to do things that are repetitive and boring. Computers should be doing those repetitive and boring things for us. Keyboard Maestro makes it easy to get your computer to do some of those annoying things for you. All you have to do is figure out the parts that can be automated, and then sit back and watch as your computer works for you. OK, so Keyboard Maestro isn’t exactly a robot butler, but it’s still a step in the right direction.

A demo is available from the Keyboard Maestro website, a full license is US$36. While that may seem like a lot to the “Apps should be $1! Or free!” crowd, those of us who value our time and satisfaction will see it as money well spent. Download the trial and spend some time with it. Don’t dismiss it because there’s a learning curve. Start small and figure out some little ways to use it, and then watch as you develop the automation mindset. Once you get used to thinking this way, you’ll wonder why it took you so long.

Keyboard Maestro and the automation mindset originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 01 Oct 2012 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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via TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog http://www.tuaw.com/2012/10/01/keyboard-maestro-and-the-automation-mindset/