Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Stephen Hawking unveils 'life changing' new voice technology in London

Stephen Hawking has spoken of the 'life changing' new technology he and Intel have developed over the past three years

Professor Stephen Hawking has unveiled a new communications platform which he hailed as "life changing".
Speaking at an event in London, Professor Hawking said “We are pushing the boundaries of what is possible”, and claimed that without the new platform he would not be able to speak today.
“Medicine has not been able to cure me, so I rely on technology to help me communicate and live,” he said. “The development of this system has the potential to improve the lives of disabled people around the world and is leading the way in terms of human interaction and the ability to overcome communication boundaries that once stood in the way.”
Computing giant Intel offered to help Professor Hawking with his computing and speech synthesiser in the mid-nineties, and he approached the company several years ago to help modernise his current communication system.
Lama Nachman, Principle Engineer at Intel, said the new system had been developed over the past three years, and is hooked over Professor Hawking's glasses and onto his cheek. Motion in the cheek is detected through an infra-red sensor, allowing him to select a letter of the alphabet, which in turn triggers numerous word suggestions.
"We're able to speed up some of the common tasks he does on his machine by about 10 times," she said. "Stephen was looking for something very familiar, that is similar to his current interface but much more effective."
One of the problems Professor Hawking encountered with his previous system was that his word-per-minute rate was decreasing. Intel decided to reduce the amount of characters needed to be typed in order to complete full words, and were approached by British software application developers SwiftKey to help tailor the system to his needs. Their text prediction technology means Professor Hawking now needs to type fewer than one in five of the letters for the words he uses.
The new platform has been designed to mimic Professor Hawking's current system exactly, featuring a near-identical user interface, and communicates with the current speech synthesiser.
"My old system is more than 20 years old, and I was finding it very difficult to continue to communicate effectively and do the things I love to do every day," Professor Hawking said.
"This new system is life-changing for me, and I hope that it will serve me well for the next 20 years."
Pete Denman, user experience designer at Intel Labs, praised Professor Hawking for allowing the company "unprecedented access" into his life, allowing the team to watch hours of video of him working, as well as travelling with him and seeing him relax.
SwiftKey produced a bespoke language model by analysing Professor Hawking's lectures, books and unpublished documents, which now continually adapts to his writing style the more he interacts with it.
Intel said they planned to make the system open-source and free for users.
Article appeared in The Telegraph on 12:17PM GMT 02 Dec 2014 and was written by Rhiannon Williams.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Snapchat - It finally happened.

I still don't know if parents comprehend what this really means. Parents really need to not let their children, teenagers especially, use this app. Users are led to believe their picture will "explode" or "disappear" at a user defined time period; say 5 minutes. Well it does from the person they send it to, but its stored in a database and connected to their name, email, and any other social media they associate with their account, permanently.

Snapchat videos and pictures stored on a third party website posted online

Images from up to 200,000 teenagers leaked on to internet after users lured into saving images on Snapsaved.com

jennifer lawrence
It is suspected that those behind the Snapchat scam are linked to the people responsible for the collection and posting of nude photos taken by hundreds of celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence. Photograph: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
Videos and pictures of as many as 200,000 teenagers posted via the Snapchat service and stored on a third-party website have been put online, apparently by the same people who were behind the posting of nude celebrity photos in August.
The photos and videos were captured after some users of Snapchat – a mobile phone app which allows people to send photos to each other but which delete themselves within seconds of being viewed – were tempted into using a site called “Snapsaved.com”. That offered to let them use the service on a website on a desktop computer, rather than just on a mobile phone.
But the site appears to have been maliciously saving the users’ login details and storing the photos and videos that were posted. An app called Snapsave, which offers similar functionality but whose developer says it only stores photos on the user’s mobile phone, is not believed to be involved.
By getting a user’s username and password, the site could authorise itself to Snapchat’s servers, and receive or send pictures they viewed through it but could also store it without the knowledge of the user or Snapchat.
It is suspected, but not so far proven, that those behind the scam are linked to those responsible for the collection and posting in August of personal and often nude photos taken by hundreds of celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence and Kim Kardashian. The celebrity photo leak began with discussions on one of the 4chan discussion forums, and the latest photos have also come via 4chan leaks.
After warnings appeared on the bulletin board 4chan on Friday that the photos would be leaked, a site went live on Sunday offering 13 gigabytes of content which was said to have been captured from users.
Observers said that anyone downloading the files could be breaking child pornography laws if any of the pictures includes unclothed pictures of children under 16 even if the child took them.
One user on the Reddit discussion forum  said that the leak dubbed “The Snappening” did not live up to its billing. He called it “13GB of low resolution garbage. Mundane, boring shit like “check out my new hat!” or “heehee my shoes are so silly!”.
But he added that there were also “maybe 100MB of actual nudes” in photo and video form.
In a statement, Snapchat said that: “We can confirm that Snapchat’s servers were never breached and were not the source of these leaks. Snapchatters were victimised by their use of third-party apps to send and receive Snaps, a practice that we explicitly prohibit in our terms of use precisely because they compromise our users’ security.”
While Snapchat was apparently secure in this case, it was the subject of a hack last year in which 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers were stored by a site called SnapchatDB, which says it captured them by hacking a weakness that then existed in the program.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Social Media Facts

Below are 4 facts regarding Social Networks and how they can have an impact on your business:

  1. Companies that blog get 55% more web traffic and 70% more leads than those that don't.
  2. Companies with 51 to 100 Twitter followers generate 106% more traffic than those with 25 or fewer.
  3. The average company saw a 185% increase in traffic after crossing 1,000 Facebook likes.
  4. US Internet users spend 3X more time on blogs and social networks than on email.
Don't you think it's time we talk about your company's position in the Social Arena?

The above facts come from HubSpot.com as of July 20, 2014.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Server Maintenance

We will be performing some updates on the web servers this weekend. There will be brief periods of downtime while the servers reboot.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

New Anti-Spam Appliance In Place

Most of you have noticed by now that we have added a new anti-spam appliance to our email service, Mail Foundry.

Just like when we installed the Barracuda, everyone had to "train" their account by either whitelist or mark as spam. Mail Foundry has a similar training regime.

If you would like to take control of your Mail Foundry account and start eliminating unwanted spam, please contact us at your convenience and we will provide you with login credentials. Another blog entry will be added that walks you through setting up new anti-spam filters.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Clearwater Pool and Spa in Bel Air, MD Launches v3.0 of Their Website

Clearwater Pool and Spa on Churchville Road in Bel Air, MD has been a THUD Client since 2002. Since they started installing and renovating above-ground and in-ground pools, they needed to showcase their craftsmanship, pool design options, and the overwhelming satisfaction from their customers.

Their 3rd website showcases all of this and more. Did you know Clearwater Pool and Spa sells and installs gas, pellet and wood stoves? Their prices are very competitive with the local stove selling shops and they can have them installed sooner than their competitors most of the time.


Friday, January 24, 2014

THUD Launches Executive Coffee Service's New Site

THUD and Executive Coffee Service have been working with each other since 2009. We built a nice website for them and updated it over the next 4 years to keep it current with their business. The Request A Free Trial was a success and helped them grow their business via the Internet.

Today we launched a brand new, state of the art website for Executive Coffee Service. The site was built using ASP, Javascript, JQuery, and CSS3. Not only is the site visually engaging, the back-end will have this site optimized in the search engines even better than it was previously.

THUD has already started, and is nearly complete with an online ordering system for their Clients. With the new site and the coming of the online ordering system, Executive Coffee Service will see an increase in their sales volume, as well as an increase in their operating efficiency.

You can see their new site at www.excoffee.com.