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Santa tracked by Google, Microsoft

Posted by pakin On December - 25 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

SAN FRANCISCO – Google and Microsoft had their virtual eyes on Santa Claus and his gift-laden sleigh on Thursday.

Each of the rival technology giants continued their separate Internet holiday traditions that allow children, no matter how grown up they might be, to track Santa online as he makes his way around the world on Christmas Eve.

“Google’s Santa Tracker launches today — And it’s time to follow the jolly man’s sleigh,” the California-based Internet firm said in a blog post playfully penned in rhyme.

“The elves have been working hard for this night, Santa’s village is abuzz — tonight’s the big flight.”

The santatracker.google.com website includes an animated map and a running tally of the number of gifts delivered.

Microsoft once again partnered with the North American Aerospace Defense Command on an interactive website at noradsanta.org where Santa’s reindeer-drawn sleigh can be seen making its way over countries around the world.

NORAD’s involvement began 60 years ago when a wrong telephone number printed in a newspaper advertisement resulted in children calling for Santa.

The commander on duty that day had staff provide callers with updates on Santa’s location and the tradition evolved into the NORAD Santa-tracking website.

“Throughout the year, we can be pretty cynical,” Matthew Quinlan, marketing director for Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, said in a blog post.

“But this is one moment where we can see things again through a child’s eyes, and it gives us a fresh sense of wonder.”

The NORAD Santa-tracking website includes games and allows people to ask Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant software, where Santa is at any given moment.

Microsoft kicks off #WeSpeakCode campaign

Posted by pakin On March - 11 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Microsoft (Thailand) in collaboration with the National Council for Child and Youth Development (NCYD) and Change Fusion launched on Wednesday the latest initiatives in the YouthSpark #WeSpeakCode campaign in a region-wide effort to make code a second language in Thailand and Asia Pacific.

By the end of 2015, the campaign aims to inspire 20,000 Thai youngsters to try coding and realise their potential in today’s digital world of today.

The #WeSpeakCode campaign is part of Microsoft’s YouthSpark programme, a global initiative to empower young people to do more and achieve more in their lives by providing them with access to technology skills and a better education as well as helping them find jobs or to start their own businesses.

Last year thousands of enthusiastic young people across the region, Thailand included, had their first taste of learning basic coding skills, while many others took up more advanced challenges through hackathons and coding for social good.

This year, the campaign encompasses a series of coding activities including the #WeSpeakCode ThunderClap initiative, Social Media Contest and a major coding event scheduled for March 21.

Microsoft eyes low-end smartphone users

Posted by pakin On February - 18 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Microsoft Corp has launched low-end smartphones powered by Windows 8.1 in Thailand for the first time to compete with Chinese players gaining significant market share.

Chinese mobiles and mobile operators’ house brands have been gaining in popularity due to their prices, especially for users looking to migrate to third-generation (3G) smartphones from second-generation technology, said Samarn Takort, head of technical sales at Microsoft Devices Thailand.

He said the latest Nokia Lumia was the company’s first affordable model, priced below 3,000 baht.

“We believe 9 million mobiles in the country still use wireless 2G,” he said.

The Lumia 435 Dual Sim is priced at 2,990 baht, while the Lumia 532 costs 3,590 baht. Microsoft is also offering exclusive features such as pre-installed Microsoft Office, cloud storage and Skype, a value of 1,000 baht, for free on these models.

“This segment could have one of the highest growth rates this year, about 30% of the overall handset market,” Mr Samarn said.

He expects Thailand will see sales of 20-25 million new mobiles overall this year, of which 15-20% will be basic phones. But basic users will eventually decline as the regulator forces operators to migrate all 2G subscribers to 3G.

Head developer Jirapat Janjerdsak said Microsoft Devices planned to encourage local software developers to develop applications to be compatible with its upcoming Windows 10 operating system. Microsoft hopes Windows 10 will gain significant market share, as its software serves universal applications that can be used by any Windows device.

Microsoft Devices Thailand became a unit of Microsoft after it acquired Nokia’s devices and services division, with Nokia used as Microsoft’s brand for basic phones.

Google and Microsoft will follow in the footsteps of rivals Apple and Samsung and introduce a ‘killswitch’ to their smartphones that deactivate them if stolen.

Killswitches gives users the power to completely disable a smartphone remotely after it has been stolen, as well as increasing security on the phone by adding more password layers, making it more difficult to wipe and then be sold on by thieves.

A report by the New York State attorney general has found that the theft of iPhones has fallen significantly in the six months since the Activation Lock feature was added to Apple’s iOS 7.

According to the report, since then the number of iPhone related robberies has fallen in major cities around the world, including by more than 20 per cent in London and 17 per cent in New York. The feature requires the entry of a passcode in order to disable location services on the device.

In April, Samsung introduced a similar feature called Reactivation Lock to some of their Galaxy smartphones that allows users to lock their phone remotely should it go missing or be stolen.

The report confirmed that following an initiative launched last year called Secure our Smartphones (SOS) – supported by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Microsoft and Google will be improving the security on their mobile devices.

“With the release of this report the SOS Initiative achieves two major milestones: Microsoft confirms it will incorporate a kill switch-type theft-deterrence solution in the next release of its Windows Phone operating system, which will run on all Nokia smartphones; and, Google confirms it will incorporate a kill switch-type theft-deterrence solution in its next version of the Android operating system, the most popular mobile operating system worldwide,” said the report.

In a blog post on the company’s official website, Microsoft’s vice president of US Government Affairs Fred Humphries said: “Over recent months, Microsoft has been working with others in the wireless industry to develop voluntary principles for implementing more robust theft-deterrent technologies in smartphones.

“The new theft deterrent features will be offered as an update for all phones running Windows Phone 8.0 and newer, though availability is subject to mobile operator and phone manufacturer approval.

“Additional details on functionality and availability will be provided closer to the official release. With these additional features, we’re hopeful that technology – as part of a broader strategy – can help to further reduce incentives for criminals to steal smartphones in the first place.”

Experts still want firmer killswitches to be introduced that permanently disable smartphones. Those used at the moment by Apple on Samsung rely on a signal being sent to the phone to lock it, or a password to keep out unwanted users, and experts have warned that turning a phone off or placing it in airline mode can block signal from reaching it.

According to the most recent report into smartphone theft in the UK, more than 800,000 devices are stolen each year.

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