Archive for March 12, 2012

Startup Cloudwords attacks $30B translation market

Tech companies can easily spend millions of dollars per year (or a hundred times that) translating their software, documentation and related materials for different markets in a process that has thus-far avoided automation. Such global translation services represented an estimated $31 billion market in 2011, according to Common Sense Advisors.

Cloudwords says its cloud-based OneTM service ingests a company’s previously translated material, centralizes and de-dupes redundant information to suck much of the expense out of the process. OneTM, which Cloudwords CEO Michael Meinhardt calls a unified translation management system with a MongoDB NoSQL foundation, aggregates the data across departments and versions and also handles workflow to and from translators.

Traditional translation services typically require a ton of duplicative work. When a software application and its documentation is upgraded, for example, the entire project, not just the revised parts, usually gets retranslated. Since most translation services charge by the word, that gets pricey. OneTM separates out that which must be updated.

The technology has good SaaS blood lines: It was co-developed by former Salesforce.com CTO Craig Weissman, working as a contractor with Cloudwords co-founder (and former Saleforce.com architect) Scott Yancey.

“The best jobs to attack are those that are done inefficiently,” Weissman said in a recent interview. “Translating software, manuals, and on-screen text is a big, big business that is very inefficient.”

To use the Cloudwords service, the software company uploads its existing documents (typically in XML format) into Cloudwords along with instructions as to what languages are needed.  In the old world, the software company sent out the work — via FTP or e-mail — requesting say, a German, French and Italian translation of a sentence. The company then got back the three translations, each with the original English sentence. There was a ton of duplicated information there that then needed to be stripped out. OneTm automates that.

The actual translation is still handled by people — machine translation is not yet up to this task — Meinhardt said.  But Cloudwords handles all the back and forth and data normalization and the data repository.

One early customer, Kupa Software ended up paying $6,000, as opposed to the $40,000 quoted by its original contractor, to translate a software upgrade. “The $40,000 was the same amount they paid for the initial translation. It’s bad enough to pay that the first time, but in version 2 maybe 10 percent of the words have changed. There is no need to re-translate the balance,” Meinhardt said.

Cloudwords competes with translation aggregators like MyGengo and Smartling as well as big translation companies such as Lionbridge Technologies and SDL.

Meinhardt and Yancey see the service extending beyond the software business to other verticals including the pharmaceutical industry.

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr user ToastyKen

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How Windows 8 Succeeds From Here: A Prognosis

Last September, just prior to the Developer Preview’s release, I set some fairly high expectations for what I believed Microsoft would have to accomplish with Windows 8 to assure its success. These things are not going to happen – there won’t be “one Windows” that you “get” on your phone, your PC, and your TV as a kind of subscriber (a unified kernel is not quite the same thing); there won’t be one screen that you can become familiar with and that’s portable across devices, it won’t embrace hypervisors or virtual envelopes as the equivalent of devices.

The value proposition, which I’ve gathered from various sources including Windows Division President Steven Sinofsky speaking to my face, is this: You, the consumer, prefer a rearranged environment that at the very least reminds you of a multitouch device, even if it can’t yet be one, and that emulates many of the thrills of using your smartphone. Owning a modern smartphone or tablet reminds you of just how dull and commonplace a PC has become. You would pay money to feel that your PC – whose very name already seems antique – was built in the same decade as your communications device. A marketing campaign that fits the flavor of Windows 8 thus far might begin with someone saying, “All right, all right… you win.”

There is no question that the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, launched earlier this month, feels dramatically different from its predecessor. For Windows 8 to be a successful product, the feeling it delivers must be something that the ordinary consumer will want.

So without snark, with zero sarcasm, with eyes facing forward, let’s assess the path to victory for Windows 8. We’ll start by defining what “victory” means. Microsoft has sold many “successful” products without them being particularly well-liked. Vista was deemed a success for several years before the company allowed its marketers to attribute the word “mistake” to it. Even Windows Me (I bet you forgot) was proclaimed a smash success while it was being sold, though its success was marked by privately recorded surges in sales of the service pack for its predecessor. “Victory” in this context does not mean the usual wave of early adopters.

I’ll set the bar comfortably low: Let’s call “victory” for Windows 8 a state of customer satisfaction that is at least equivalent to that for Windows 7. For Windows 8 to meet that bar, the following things will need to happen over the course of the following year:

Windows Phone 8 will need to merit a respectable third place in the public mind, completely supplanting BlackBerry. This may be the easiest and most likely objective to achieve, thanks in large part to the rapidly corroding agenda for the BlackBerry platform. If the everyday consumer perceives the PC as yesterday’s news, he perceives BlackBerry as last year’s.

120312 01 Windows 8 03.jpg

At least one virally popular, cross-platform app will need to be created for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Right now, there is no solid reason to run Metro as opposed to some other application or Web service on the Desktop. Metro’s best single use is as a staging ground for the new Start menu. The fact that Microsoft continues to use the phrase “Metro-style apps” the way happy families in TV commercials refer to “Jell-O brand gelatin” denotes the difficulty Microsoft continues to have in giving the newest of Windows 8′s two worlds an embraceable, adoptable identity. For 30 years, operating systems have always been launched with “killer apps” as their booster rockets – and this fact has not changed in the Post-Something Era. Metro, or “Metro-style Gelatin,” does not have one.

Intel Ultrabook at CES 2012.jpgIntel’s “Ivy Bridge” processors can’t come a moment too soon. The new Ultrabook form factor requires lower power and longer lifespan in order to eke out a thinner form factor. Consumers will expect a very thin form factor for them to accept the idea of an Ultrabook as opposed to a tablet. Intel’s latest reference models of Ivy Bridge laptops demonstrated at CeBIT in Hannover last week feature multitouch screens that rival the latest iPad. Windows 8 will not be perceived by a majority of users as improving the experience for mouse- or touchpad-based PCs. So it has to make the case that an investment in a new Ultrabook will pay off better than an investment in an iPad. Not even the sleekest Sony Vaio models currently on the market capture the imagination like an iPad today. No matter how much Windows 8 improves between now and general release (my thinking is, mid-October), if the machine it runs on feels like a hand-me-down, it won’t win over the tablet buyer.

Microsoft needs to catch Apple on the “up-beat” of its cadence. If Apple wanted to ensure that the noise around its latest iPad drowned out any buzz Windows 8 might generate, Tim Cook might have opted to delay that tablet just a few months. That is, unless he has a new iPhone or other enhancement for the early-fall timeframe. If the new iPad is indeed the big Apple product until at least the holidays, then Microsoft may yet have a small window of opportunity – although October would be on the late side. The longer Microsoft waits, the more the almost Pavlovian anticipation for the next iSomething will rise toward a crescendo, and Windows 8 cannot afford to be drowned out.

120312 01 Windows 8 02.jpgThere needs to be one Microsoft design department finalizing the architecture choices for everything that uses an account. Sure, the folks attending Microsoft conventions are tethered to sixteen different accounts and any number of concurrent identities. But an ordinary fellow who just wants to play the music he already owns does not expect, after tripping through a few meaningless warning screens and Cancel buttons, to have signed up for Xbox Live under an assumed name. I don’t own an Xbox and hadn’t really planned on it. I wanted to try to play a song, so from the Start menu, I chose Music to see what would happen. I got a menu full of music I didn’t own yet. Obviously, this was from Microsoft’s Store, so I tried to exit or find a settings screen or locate some hint as to where my own music is located. When I bring up Pictures from Metro, I get my pictures; why, when I bring up Music from Metro, don’t I get my music?

In the end, there needs to be one account. Simply by trying to cancel out of Music (the standard way to get out of a Metro app is to pretend you’re using Android and leave it running), I found I had signed up for a “gamertag” on Xbox Live, with the name BlabbyScarab5 generated for me because I was evidently too stupid to know I was supposed to sign up as a gamer before I could cancel out of the act of listening to someone else’s music.

This is the type of crap that sensible, regular people will not tolerate. When someone at the Best Buy demonstrates an iPad, he’s asked to pull up a song. Two pokes, and there’s a song. Plug the iPad into a dock, and you have crisp, clear stereo. Consumers will compare an Ultrabook to an iPad. They will ask the Best Buy guy to poke up a song. If the Best Buy guy responds, “Do you want to choose an Xbox Live gamertag to go with your Microsoft Account, or would you prefer to generate a username and avatar at random?” they will walk out of Best Buy and into an Apple Store.

Microsoft is capable of making a comfortable, workable system for a new class of PC. It’s done it before, and it’s been successful. But more than any company I know, Microsoft is capable of unlearning from its own success. It needs to find the exit button for this pathology and relearn the lessons of Windows 7.

Samsung Finally Pushes Ice Cream Sandwich To The Galaxy S IIs Of The World

Screen shot 2012-03-12 at 11.08.30 PM

Well, after a bit of a false start, Samsung finally seems to have done it. According to a new blog post on the official Samsung Tomorrow blog, the Korean consumer electronics giant has finally begun to push their Ice Cream Sandwich update out to the Galaxy S IIs of the world.

And with that, Galaxy S II owners began once again to feel the love. Or at least, most of them did. The update in question is meant for international spec Galaxy S II (the GT-I9100), so State-side owners of a ATT/T-Mobile Galaxy S II or a Sprint Epic 4G Touch won’t be joining in the official fun just yet.

Aside from going live in the company’s native Korea later today, users in Poland, Hungary, and Sweden will be among the first to get the long-awaited update via the Kies software manager. Rest assured that other markets will soon follow, though Samsung doesn’t get any more specific than that.

In their official announcement, Samsung has also confirmed that the Ice Cream Sandwich update will “follow soon” for the Galaxy Note, Galaxy S II LTE, and the 8.9 and 10.1-inch Galaxy Tabs. On top of that, Samsung will soon push out new updates that bring features like Face Unlock and a revamped photo editor to devices like the Galaxy S (and its Super Clear LCD variant), Galaxy Tab 7, Galaxy S Plus, and the Galaxy W.

Though there’s no word yet on when any of these updates will hit, expect Samsung to mistakenly announce it on their Indonesian portal before pulling the post and telling people to watch their Twitter account for news instead.

Motorola Further Details ICS Rollout, But Is Verizon Delaying The Ice Cream Party In The States?

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Slowly but surely Ice Cream Sandwich will hit last year’s flagship Android phones. Motorola just updated its ICS schedule that details the expected timetable for each device. The biggest change is that ICS is now scheduled for non-US RAZR models. But that’s seemingly the case for most Moto devices. For the most part ICS will hit Moto devices starting in the second quarter — but only for non-Verizon devices in the US. Here in the States the status of ICS for the majority of Motorola’s devices is still listed as “Evaluation Planning” with “Further details to follow”.

The updated ICS rollout schedule lists 13 US devices: three are WiFi-only tablets, two are ATT-only, one is for Sprint, one is for U.S. Cellular and the rest are Verizon devices. Wanna guess which devices do not have an expected rollout date?

Take the US-only XYBoard for example: ICS is scheduled to hit the WiFi-only model in the third quarter. The 3G/VZW model is in the Evaluation Planning stage. The RAZR devices in Asia Pacific, Canada, China, EMEA, Japan, Korea LATAM will get Ice Cream Sandwich in the second quarter. ICS isn’t scheduled for the US RAZR nor any of the Droid devices — all which are exclusive to Verizon.

The odd ball device here is the Motorola Electrify, which is basically a U.S. Cellular-badged version of Sprint’s Photon 4G without a WiMax radio. The Sprint version is set to get the update in Q3 2012 where the U.S. Cellular version is still listed as “Evaluation Planning” with “Further details to follow”.

Several things could be going on here but it all likely loops back to the carrier. It’s possible that each carrier has their own set of stringent evaluation processes and requirements for major system updates, and Motorola of course has to play nice with their carrier partners. In Verizon’s case a number of things could be going on. Verizon might want to set the schedule itself. Or Verizon could just be playing it safe. The carrier’s early history with the Gingerbread update was buggy and left many owners (including me) with bricked devices.

But don’t fret, Verizon subs. Motorola reiterated previous statements saying, “DROID RAZR, DROID RAZR MAXX, DROID 4, DROID BIONIC, DROID XYBOARD 8.2 and 10.1, and MOTOROLA XOOM WiFI + 3G/4G will be upgraded to ICS.” It would just be nice if Moto could communicate the expected timetable with its loyal supporters.

Maintaining Android updates must be a huge task for Motorola and others. Google is holding to a yearly release schedule, but manufacturers are seemingly marching to a different beat. By the time the RAZR, XYBOARDs and Moto’s other flagship devices finally get Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean will be only several months away from launching. Once Google officially absorbs Motorola, the two will work to solve this strange delayed rollout scheme but that will not help Samsung, LG and others. Speaking as a Droid X owner, the practice is frustrating and very anti-consumer. Google often talks down Android’s system fragmentation but the problem is only getting worse.

[image via flickr/Eric Hauser]


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Apple’s Siri is struggling to master Japanese as DoCoMo’s clone puts it to shame

Apple added Japanese support for Siri with the release of iOS 5.1 last week, but the virtual personal assistant is reportedly having some issues coming to grips with its first Asian language.

Apple’s much heralded service — which has inspired similar product announcements from rivals — isn’t measuring up to Japanese carrier DoCoMo’s own Siri-like product. Shabette Concier, a service announced in February and available for all devices bar the iPhone, as DoCoMo doesn’t carry it, has outperformed its better know rival, according to Kotakuvia Apple Insider.

As the video below in Japanese demonstrates, Siri comes up short when pitted against Shabette Concier.

For those whose Japanese isn’t quite up to the video, here’s the gist. Siri and Shabette perform equally on basic questions — such as ‘Is it cold outside’ — but the Kotaku report notes that, going on the interactions, it “seems like Siri can only comprehend simple and universal Japanese.”

Of course, when it comes to maps and local content, Siri has no support for Japan, but it is unable to perform a series of tasks as it would do in English, including responding to ‘I have a stomach ache’ and ‘I want to cook curry’.

It is also noted that Siri is comparatively slower to load and run, while some of its responses are “very unnatural and rigid”.

siri 220x220 Apples Siri is struggling to master Japanese as DoCoMos clone puts it to shameWhile a comparison is fair game, given that both are targeted at Japanese consumers, the difference in quality is perhaps understandable. Shabette is built to cater solely for Japanese so it seems logical that it will be better configured than Siri, which has added Japanese support from its English version.

However, that doesn’t justify the performance and, with Siri in beta, we are likely to see Apple update and refine its Japanese capabilities on an ongoing basis. While it is perhaps expected that certain phrases are not picked up in the first iteration, complaints about speed and lack of clarity will be of greater concern for Apple.

The Cupertino-based firm was initially mocked in many quarters in Japan for releasing Siri, which means ‘bum’ in Japanese,  however the company has prioritised the country by giving it Siri support before China, amongst other markets.

The launch of the iPhone 4S last year saw Apple steal the top spot based on sales across Japan’s entire mobile market. With the peak of interest now passed, Apple will be hoping that Siri can help it continue to appeal to Japanese consumers, though they’ll have to wait on a Stairway to Heaven rendition.

We’ve contacted Apple for more on this, we’ll add any updates that we’re given to this post.

Guy Sues Apple Because Siri Doesn’t Do What Apple Says Siri Does

Apple has been hit with a lawsuit from a guy who says Siri doesn’t do what Apple’s advertisements say Siri does, reports Joe Palazzolo of the Wall Street Journal.

The fact that Siri doesn’t work all that well isn’t news to anyone who owns an iPhone 4S. But it appears to be the first time Apple has been sued over it.

Here are some money quotes from the lawsuit, which was filed by Frank M. Fazio of Brooklyn:

Siri lawsuit

 

Siri lawsuit

 

Siri lawsuit

 

Siri lawsuit

 

The lawsuit goes on to highlight something that is, in fact, strange about Siri–the contrast between the level of effort Apple is putting into advertising the feature, and the fact that, deep down in some documentation, Apple concedes that Siri is “in beta.”

The advertisements for the iPhone 4S certainly don’t make it seem like Siri is in beta.

You can read the full lawsuit here

SEE ALSO: Apple’s TV Dream Revealed

Bill Gates Was Speechless When A Microsoft Manager Compared Windows To A Toilet (MSFT)

Bill Gates

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Bill Gates BBC


Hillel Cooperman quit Microsoft about five years ago to found his own software design company, Jackson Fish Market.

Today, Cooperman described a meeting in 2003, when he tried to convince Bill Gates that different software features could have different types of designs. 

As an engineer, Gates had a firm belief that interface design should be as consistent as possible — why rewrite menus in a bunch of different ways? It was a waste of time and code.

Cooperman believed that people aren’t that robotic and can handle variations. It’s more important to make sure the overall user experience feels good.

So he told Gates, “A shower, a toilet, and a water fountain all have mechanisms to control water flow, places where the water comes out, some sort of porcelain basin to hold the water, and a drain, but we don’t combine them into one thing to reduce their learning curve.”

Gates paused for what seemed like forever.

Then he finally came out with, “That’s just rude.”

Cooperman lost the battle, but Microsoft has since come around to the idea that user experience can be tailored for different functions — just look at the way Windows 8 combines two totally different interfaces in the same product.

Full credit to Cooperman for bringing Bill Gates to a near speechless state. In his earlier days, Gates was known for his blunt opinions, including favorites like “that’s the stupidest f-ing idea I’ve ever heard.”

Read the whole blog post here.

As Apple rediscovers its old logo, here’s a colorful stop-motion tribute to the brand

Apple is a company that has inspired the masses, giving birth to very creative homages. This latest tribute is no exception.

Spotted by MacMagazine, this cool stop-motion video was created in 48 hours, 921 shots and an undisclosed number of colored pencils, by a Brazilian fan of Apple, Filipe Marcelo.

 

Apple fanboys and Steve Jobs’ admirers aside, Angry Birds’ fans will also enjoy noticing some of their favorite characters:

Why The PC Won’t Matter In Two Years

broken computer, PC, warranty

Flickr / youngthousands

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Michael Dell Is Excited About Windows Tablets, But There's A Catch


The PC will soon be dead. Long live the “personal cloud.”

This personal cloud will become “the center of users’ digital lives,” by 2014, according to Gartner.

By “personal cloud” Gartner means that we’ll all have a bunch of applications we can access from any device we want — a PC, a tablet, a smartphone. We may not even own a PC — not even for work.

While that sounds logical, in order for this shift to take place, most companies are going to have to completely revamp the way they deliver software. They’ll have to offer virtual desktops and create “app stores” so users can find corporate apps. They’ll have to revise their custom apps so that they can function on tablets and smartphones.

Most of us can see how much technology has changed in the past ten years (anyone remember the fax machine?). We can look at our kids and imagine the workplace tools they will one day use.

But to think that in just two years the PC could be completely optional for the average worker is mind blowing.

Apple’s Siri sings “Stairway to Heaven” and it’s amazing [video]

Our favorite Apple parody site Scoopertino has struck again with a magnificent bit of fake news. This is the same site that brought us such gems as “iBalls“, the Retina display to replace your actual eyeballs.

In today’s Apple “scoop”, Scoopertino discusses the company dropping musicians to let Siri sing the entire iTunes catalog. It’s quite hilarious, here’s a bit from one of their infamous fake press releases:

Tim Cook and his executive team had been toying with creative ways to tighten Apple’s stranglehold on the world music market — but the light bulb went on the moment Tim learned that Siri could carry a tune.

The plan is simple: cut out the music companies and re-record the songs — all 12 million of them — with Siri on vocals.

“We have every intention of paying for the music rights,” explained Cook. “We just don’t see the need to pay the performers and middle men.”

The video with the “scoop” is Siri singing “Stairway to Heaven” and it’s a riot:

How would the recording industry take to a move like this? Scoopertino shows that Siri is a star:

Music industry experts estimate that Apple’s new approach to music will save hundreds of millions of dollars annually. But will consumers buy it?

Producer Tom Corwin is a believer. “I just came from a recording session of Siri singing Mr. Tambourine Man, and I couldn’t hold back the tears. She not only put more emotion into it than Bob [Dylan], she could direct me to the nearest Starbucks without missing a beat.”

The only thing better than Apple news is fake Apple news. Nice “scoop”, Scoopertino. I can’t wait for the Siri version of “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

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