Facebook users vexed by sound on autoplaying videos – here’s how to stop it

Facebook’s long-dreaded update that switches on sound for autoplaying videos by default is starting to roll out causing users to lash out on social media. Here’s how to turn it off.

First Facebook rolled out autoplaying videos in the News Feed on its app by default, causing users to complain about the increased data consumption from their mobile plans. Now those same autoplaying videos will start pumping out sound in a feature, as one user put it, “literally nobody asked for”.

The feature was announced in February, but has only been slowly rolling out to users showing an in-app alert when updated, with some of the earliest complaints to be found around May. By June users were revolting:

(@ow)

Literally nobody asked for this pic.twitter.com/9dM1aJelUe

July 16, 2017

Owen Williams ⚡️

During Facebook’s announcement of the feature in February, product manager Dana Sittler and engineering manager Alex Li said: “As…

Interview: Flexjet CTO, Greg Johnson, on challenges of re-designing fractional providers’ app

Interview: Flexjet CTO, Greg Johnson, on challenges of re-designing fractional providers’ app

Flexjet has recently released its new app for their customers, allowing owners to fully manage their account with the fractional ownership company, from booking flights to placing catering requests.

Corporate Jet Investor spoke to Flexjet’s chief technology officer, Greg Johnson, to understand more about the app and how it is helping their customers get the most from their fractional ownership.

Corporate Jet Investor: Have customers been asking for an app?

Johnson: We had an app before, so this is more like a Version 2.0 – a complete overhaul. But customers have been asking for more functionality, and to be able to do a lot more from the app.

Corporate Jet Investor: How long has it taken to redevelop?

Johnson: The app took nine months to redevelop, which included a lot of testing to make sure we had a very smooth launch. The data and the core operating systems were already in place, so it was mainly a challenge of creating the user-interface.

Corporate Jet Investor: Is this being driven by customer experience rather than the aim of cutting customer service costs?

Johnson: This is 100% about improving the customer experience. If you want to add a passenger to your next flight whilst in a meeting, you now can, in an easy and discreet way. The app also means that clients are never more than a button away from talking to their account manager. Cost savings didn’t really enter the equation. We’ve been experiencing exponential growth so cost saving isn’t really necessary at this point – so it really is all about the service.

Corporate Jet Investor: A lot of charter brokers have launched apps saying that they offer end-to end bookings without any phone contact. As a fractional you are probably better placed to do this than a charter company, but do you see this happening soon? (For example, a customer booking and flying by only using the app.)

Johnson: Some of our customers will do this without…

Trump’s Plan to Make Government IT Great

government-information-technology

The American Technology Council, which President Donald Trump established this spring by executive order, has four years to rebuild the federal government’s information technology structure.

A massive reboot of both hardware and software will be necessary to bring government computers up to modern standards. The effort will force many government agencies to shift years of floppy disk and other outdated storage technologies to current cloud storage systems, and to adopt big data and machine learning solutions.

The ATC is comprised of cabinet members and top officials of related agencies. Both the executive order and the ATC it created terminate on Jan. 20, 2021.

The ATC, which is headed by Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner, met last month to set an agenda for collaborating with industry leaders to forge a new technology plan.

The ATC’s goal is to promote the secure, efficient and economical use of information technology to achieve its mission. Toward that end, the federal government must transform and modernize its information technology operations and the systems it uses to deliver digital services, according to the executive order.

Council members will coordinate advice to the president on technology policies and processes. The council is tasked with coordinating the vision, strategy and direction for the federal government’s IT reboot.

Two major impediments could hinder full achievement of the president’s IT goals, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

“First is the sheer complexity of the federal government’s IT assets, systems and management,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “The second is the compartmentalized culture of many or most federal departments and agencies.”

Is an IT Reboot Needed?

An IT reboot is not necessary, suggested King, who favors expanding what the Obama administration started instead. The previous administration’s accomplishments include appointing the first U.S. chief technology officer, and bringing greater order and innovation to federal agencies’ IT efforts.

Consideration of those ongoing efforts was “curiously absent during the ATC meeting,” said King.

“Rebooting, or starting all over again, rather than building on that solid, existing foundation, is likely to waste time and money,” he warned

There is a clear need for the ATC initiatives, according to Brian Chappell, senior director at BeyondTrust, who cited a recent survey of federal IT managers.

An overwhelming majority of federal IT managers (81 percent) said that the federal government’s aging IT infrastructure had a significant impact on their agencies’ cybersecurity risk, Chappell told the E-Commerce Times.

“It is statistics like this that make initiatives like the American Technology Council essential in starting the drive toward not only modernizing the federal government and the services it provides, but also — and more importantly — improving the safety of U.S. citizens and government staff using those services.”

Deja Vu All Over Again

Budget concerns are a major barrier to system modernization, said Tami Gallegos, federal manager at BeyondTrust.

Eighty-one percent of survey participants mentioned budget as a major roadblock, she pointed out.

Sixty-nine percent of the respondents expressed concern about losing information during the conversion, which would have a negative impact on their ability to achieve their missions.

“This is a very complex proposition that will require talent and expertise across several technology cycles to get the job done,” Gallegos told the E-Commerce Times.

Enterprise-focused IT vendors, including those involved with the ATC, should be able to offer valuable solutions to many of the federal government’s IT infrastructure problems, said Pund-IT’s King. However, it will take more than a few months to develop, design and deploy replacements for such massively complex systems.

“A notable shift in the political landscape due to the 2018 mid-terms and the 2020 election could result in a new Congress and/or a new president starting the process all over again,” he said.

Repeal and Replace Gov IT?

Information technology dynamics have changed dramatically in the last few years, according to Craig McCullough, vice president of U.S. federal sales at Commvault. The need to introduce new applications more quickly and in dramatically larger volumes has altered the interaction between IT operations and the organizations that they support.

Hybrid cloud, virtualization, big data analytics and machine learning have provided new options to deliver those applications and derive new value from the information they produce.

“If you are willing to consider doing things in a different manner, the results can be remarkable,” McCullough told the E-Commerce Times, “so a reboot in how the federal government does infrastructure technology is a necessity.”

Modernizing the current IT infrastructure and shedding legacy architectures will require a much more data-centric philosophy, he noted. It will be…

Dorry Kordahi, CEO of DKM Blue shares his lessons in leadership

Dorry Kordahi, CEO of DKM Blue shares his lessons in leadership

Building a business is tough and running a successful one is a long-haul endeavour, writes Dorry Kordahi, CEO of DKM Blue.

Dorry Kordahi is Managing Director and Co-founder of DKM Blue Global, a multi-award-winning promotional marketing and corporate clothing company. Author of several books including Power To Act.

Exploring and testing my beliefs. The climb begins

My climb began 16 years ago with a business plan that looked like pages from a doodle pad. Just 3 pages, virtually illegible to all but me. I was in Europe when I scratched out these ideas. I’d done a few different things in my life, with varying degrees of success, but I realised that the field I loved and wanted to pursue was promotional merchandise.

My industry training exposure to merchandise came from working for a family company in Sydney, but spending time overseas made me want to prove that, at the age of 26, with no academic qualifications, money or help, I could become a success in the industry. With that clear in my head, I booked a flight back from Europe the next day and registered my company, DK Management, as soon as I arrived.

Dorry Kordahi, CEO of DKM Blue

My first Australian office was in my parents’ backyard shed, and while still there I decided to open another office – the all-important one in Shanghai. Of course, China was a different, harder culture in which to operate, especially for a start-up like me. But I sensed that success there would prove pivotal.

As it was, it became a cornerstone for my business. Had I not succeeded in this area, things might have turned out quite differently, but I was very hungry for success and determined to follow my gut instincts. Today we call that entrepreneurship.

I didn’t realise I was behaving entrepreneurially when I took on 4,000 established competitors in Australia. To me, they were stuck with old-fashioned attitudes that had given my chosen industry a down-market image. I could also see they didn’t have a clue about customer service. Attitude and customer service were the 2 things in which my company was going to excel – the next 2 cornerstones.

Within a few years, I was turning over 3 times the median of my competitors and had moved to my first proper commercial premises. The climb had begun in earnest.

Sustaining and diversifying. Staying on the peak

It may sound obvious, but business is about…

The buzz of Queensland’s energy: David Smales, CEO of Energy Queensland

The buzz of Queensland’s energy: David Smales

There’s no doubting the buzz surrounding Energy Queensland. Apart from the new name, which automatically conjures up images of light and warmth, the merged government companies of Energex and Ergon Energy are now Australia’s largest distributor of electricity.

Covering 1.7 million square kilometres, stretching from Tweed Heads to Torres Strait and from Brisbane to Birdsville, the company employs around 7,400 staff based in 100 locations. Its wavy green-and-yellow logo reflects the elasticity of the sunshine state, characterised by stunning, rugged coastlines and enormous expanses of arid outback.

The 2016 merge eliminated duplication in areas of administration, shared services, boards, management and corporate costs and is expected to save the government more than $500 million over the next 5 years. Based in Townsville, Energy Queensland is led by CEO David Smales, who boasts an impressive record in blue-chip energy companies, including Origin, and Drax and Centrica in the UK.

He began his 30-plus-year career as a 16-year-old apprentice working in the power industry, moving through junior positions to leadership roles in energy companies, completing an MBA en route. He’s a leader who keenly appreciates that his responsibility is more than just connecting Queenslanders to power; it’s also understanding the emotional connection.

David Smales CEO of Energy Queensland
David Smales, CEO of Energy Queensland

It’s dealing with the devastation a flood, cyclone or drought can bring to an area 7 times the size of Great Britain, with more than half its near 5 million population living outside the greater metropolitan area of its capital, Brisbane. Cyclone Debbie was one such force of nature. An overwhelming Category 4, she struck Queensland in March this year, leaving more than 60,000 Queenslanders without power.

However, Energy Queensland was ready for the carnage Debbie would trigger, and preparation began days before she hit land. “We put in a phenomenal amount of additional effort,” David remembers. “We have great technology these days…

Major Tech Firms Pressure FCC to Stay the Net Neutrality Course

net-neutrality

The Internet Association, which represents 40 of the United States’ leading technology companies — including Facebook, Google, Amazon and others — on Monday filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission, urging it to maintain Net neutrality regulations enacted during the Obama administration.

The rules have created a level playing field that has helped fuel innovation in the broadband Internet space, according to IA, and any attempt to unravel them could have a disruptive impact on the industry.

Good for the Economy?

The 2015 Net neutrality rules not only were upheld in a 2016 court decision, but also have helped spur investment in the tech sector, notes the filing, submitted by Internet Association President Michael Beckerman and General Counsel Abigail Slater. The rules also helped accelerate a critical new cloud computing economy that would be hurt if they should be overturned.

“Clear rules of the road have given edge-based apps and services the certainty needed to attract investment and growth without being concerned about ISPs acting as gatekeepers,” states the IA document, “and the growth of these services has driven demand for faster and better broadband access,” which has led to continued ISP investment and broadband subscriptions.

The 2015 rules, which prevent ISPs from blocking, throttling speeds or biasing Web traffic, have come under intense scrutiny since new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai outlined plans in an April speech to roll back the regulations as part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to loosen government control over various business entities.

Investment has increased since the Net neutrality rules were enacted — including a 5.3 percent, or US$7.3 billion, increase in telecom investment by publicly traded companies, along with a 56 percent, or $89.9 billion, increase in cable investment since 2009, the Internet Association reported.

Implementation Is Key

Major…

Akridge CTO Tommy Russo On The Growing Demand For Strong, Secure Office Connectivity

Akridge CTO Tommy Russo On The Growing Demand For Strong, Secure Office Connectivity

In a digital-dependent economy, office tenants expect a reliable internet connection. For commercial landlords and developers, connectivity has become an essential part of the tenant experience. Standards like WiredScore’s Wired Certification, a commercial real estate rating system that empowers landlords to understand, improve and promote their buildings’ digital infrastructure, have emerged to ensure offices are ready for the needs of modern tenants.

A recent report from CBRE found 90% of owners and property managers rank advanced communications as their most important selling point after more traditional real estate deal-makers like location, price and parking. The importance of connectivity will only continue to rise, as data production is expected to be 44 times greater in 2020 than it was in 2009.

Akridge Chief Technology Officer Tommy Russo has seen firsthand the shifting priorities for commercial tenants. Since joining Akridge in 1997, Russo has been a leader in providing connectivity services to the developer’s clients. At The Homer Building, a Wired Certified Platinum property in D.C., Russo installed the nation’s first complete neutral-host, in-building wireless system in a multiclient building.

Bisnow: In today’s market, what are your tenants’ top three demands regarding their office space?

Russo: Clients are asking for efficient floor plans, connectivity and amenities. From a connectivity perspective, everyone is demanding fiber. Copper no longer satisfies their needs. Clients want speed, access to the fastest providers and, ideally, multiple options from which they can choose. That’s one of the reasons why we pride ourselves on having multiple ISPs servicing properties like The Homer Building and 1200 17th St. NW in D.C. The amenities that today’s clients want often vary from client to client. That said, they are focusing more and more on communal…

Can Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co’s (CTO) Debt Pose A Serious Problem For The Company?

While small-cap stocks, such as Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co (AMEX:CTO) with its market cap of USD $311 Million, are popular for their explosive growth, investors should also pay heed to their balance sheet to judge whether the company can survive a downturn. The significance of doing due diligence on a company’s financial strength stems from the fact that over 20,000 companies go bankrupt in every quarter in the US alone.

Apart from a major industry-downturn like in the energy sector, it can be anything from natural calamity; political unrest; economic collapse; labor-strike; supply-chain disruption; or even a major factory breakdown, which may test a company’s financial resilience. These factors make a basic understanding of a company’s financial position of utmost importance for a new investor. Here are a few basic checks that are good enough to have a broad overview of the company’s financial strength.

How does Consolidated-Tomoka Land’s operating cash flow stack against its overall debt?

At the end of the day, a company must pay bills and salaries, and must be able to invest in lucrative projects through cash. Firms have a certain amount of control over revenue recognition, which makes an analysis of its operating cash flow even more important. For Consolidated-Tomoka Land the ratio of operating cash flow to overall debt stands at 28.7%. This means that total debt is well covered by annual operating cash flow. I reckon an operating cash flow of at least 20% of overall debt for a company to be in a good financial shape.

Consolidated-Tomoka Land (AMEX:CTO) Historical Debt Jul 19th 17

Consolidated-Tomoka Land (AMEX:CTO) Historical Debt Jul 19th 17

Does CTO’s cash and short-term assets cover its short-term commitments?

There are many problems that come unannounced. For instance, a hurricane or even labor strikes. In 2011, a Tsunami and earthquake in Japan had wiped out a significant chunk…

IT LIFE: Ronan Kelly, ADTRAN CTO

Ronan Kelly, ADTRAN CTO and President of the FTTH Council, takes us through his career in IT and experience with networks

What is your role and who do you work for?

My role with ADTRAN is the CTO for EMEA and APAC.

How long have you been in IT?

I have been engaged in technology throughout my career, which spans over 25 years now. My early roles focused on the electronic repairs of early internet access equipment, like dialup access concentrators.

What is your most interesting project to date?

Fortunately I have a long list of fascinating projects that I have been engaged in throughout the years, however my time spent with startup telecom operator Smart Telecom was definitely the most interesting to date. In Smart we were constantly breaking industry norms. We deployed so many disruptive and innovative services, all with a tiny passionate team who wanted to change the face of the Irish telecoms market.

Ronan Kelly Adtran CTO
What is your biggest challenge at the moment?

Education. The broadband access world is changing. A new paradigm is emerging which brings the benefits of software defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV) to broadband access networks.

Right at this moment in the broadband access space, it is reminiscent of the late 1990’s when multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) technologies were beginning to emerge. Many recognised the potential of the new approach, but equally many others struggled to understand or see the opportunity.

This was compounded by a scarcity in engineering resources that understood the new approach. Roll forward 20 years and we now have the same situation with SDN & NFV technologies. There is a large task ahead for the industry in driving awareness of the real potential, and educating the broader engineering resources so that they can deploy and maintain these disruptive approaches.

What technology were you working with 10 years ago?

TMO Background Mode Interview with the CTO of It’s Borrowed Joe Moreno

Joe Moreno is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, a former U.S. Marine officer, a former Apple software engineer for nine years, and is now the Chief Technical Officer of ItsBorrowed.com. In high school, influenced by his father, Joe decided to join the Marines. He was also very much into computers and became a Marine programmer, working on production systems. Later, after the academy, he became a supply & logistics officer, and his skills caught the attention of Apple in 1998. He was virtually hired on…