November 8, 2016 brianradio2016

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Google updates Gmail for iOS with “undo” feature to recall mistakenly sent email.

Image: Google

Google has overhauled the look and feel of the Gmail app for iOS, aligning it more closely with the Gmail app for Android.

The new Gmail for iOS offers a cleaner, more colorful look that’s consistent with Google’s Android app — and should be faster to use, thanks to new swipe-to-delete actions, and improved search.

Visually, the update introduces a new red bar at the top of the screen, contact profile images, and Google’s floating action button to initiate a new email. iOS users may recognize some common elements with the Inbox by Gmail app, minus smart suggestions and reminders.

Gmail users on iOS can now recall a mistakenly sent email. The feature previously was only available on Gmail for the desktop and in the Inbox by Gmail app. Gmail will hold off sending an email for a few seconds, in which time users have a chance to hit an ‘undo’ button that appears in a dark grey box at the bottom of the screen. A similar undo option is available when archiving messages in the Gmail app.

Improvements to search include instant results, predictions, and spelling suggestions, aligning it with the faster experience of Google’s web search on mobile.

Google released the new app for iPhone and iPad on Monday as version 5.0.3 of Gmail for iOS. According to Google, it’s the biggest overhaul to the app since 2012.

While it is a major update, the app still remains squarely aimed at Gmail users as opposed to a general email client. For example, the app only supports multiple Google accounts, compared to Microsoft’s popular Outlook for iOS app. Also, the swipe action only supports archiving or deleting, which can be adjusted in settings within the app, whereas Outlook and Apple’s Mail app offer additional features such as reminders.

Google also updated its Calendar app for iOS, which now includes a month view and week view in landscape. It also integrates with Apple’s Spotlight search, meaning that people can use the iPhone’s built-in search to find events, reminders, and goals in Google Calendar.

Read more about Gmail

November 3, 2016 brianradio2016

Internet of things (IoT) data promises to unlock unique and unprecedented business insights, but only if enterprises can successfully manage the data flowing into their organizations from IoT sources. One problem enterprises will encounter as they try to elicit value from their IoT initiatives is data drift: changes to the structure, content, and meaning of data that result from frequent and unpredictable changes to source devices and data processing infrastructure.

Whether processed in stream or batch form, data typically moves from source to final storage locations through a variety of tools. Changes anywhere along this chain — be they schema changes to source systems, shifts in the meaning of coded field values, or an upgrade or addition to the software components involved in data production — can result in incomplete, inaccurate, or inconsistent data in downstream systems.

The effects of this data drift can be especially pernicious because they often go undetected for long periods of times, polluting data stores and subsequent analyses with low-fidelity data. Until detected, the use of this problematic data can lead to false findings and poor business decisions. When the problem is finally detected, it is usually fixed through manual data cleanup and preparation by data scientists, which adds hard costs, opportunity costs, and delays to the analysis.

StreamSets Data Collector

Using StreamSets Data Collector to build and manage big data ingest pipelines will help mitigate the effects of data drift while vastly reducing the amount of time spent cleansing data. In this article, we will walk through a typical use case of real-time data ingest of IoT sensor data into HDFS for analysis and visualization using Impala or Hive.

November 1, 2016 brianradio2016

Apple’s new MacBook Pros have both excited and angered Mac users, but whatever you think of them, you may need to get one to replace an aging MacBook. The new MacBook Pros abandon all the familiar ports in favor of a combined USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port.

That means your Thunderbolt drives, MiniDisplayPort monitors, Ethernet cable, spare power supply, USB drives, and every other USB peripheral (external keyboards, mice, hubs, iPhone, iPad, and so on) can’t plug in to your new MacBook Pro. Very few USB-C peripherals exist — not even Apple has USB-C versions of its own peripherals. Yikes!

Apple has dongles for old ports, such as Thunderbolt 2, USB-A, and Ethernet, but most are quite expensive. Not only do they ruin Apple’s simple aesthetic, you’ll likely need several if you work from more than one location. And Apple doesn’t offer docks that would act as a simpler bridge between new Macs and existing peripherals.

Oh, and the notion that Apple is prodding us to ditch wires completely? Apple isn’t ponying up to make it happen:

October 27, 2016 brianradio2016

We’ve entered a parallel universe where Microsoft announces cool PC products for creative types and Apple focuses on obvious performance upgrades (lighter! thinner! faster! updated ports! choice of colors!) and obscure technologies like application-reprogrammable function keys for its aging Mac line.

Do we need really yet another contextual menu? Plus, like many people (especially creative users), I use my MacBook with a big monitor most of the time, so the reprogrammable-keys Touch Bar is inaccessible behind my closed laptop lid. Maybe no one at Apple uses external monitors, keyboards, and mice any more. More likely, Apple will offer a pricey new external keyboard with the Touch Bar (not that it said so today).

And, yes, the inclusion of Touch ID is quite welcome, but adding Touch ID was an obvious update three years ago when the technology came to the iPhone 5s. Still, there’s nothing in the new Macs that really moves the needles that matter. Again, too bad the MacBook lid has to be open to use it.

The Apple community has been increasingly unhappy with Apple’s apparent abandonment of the creative users who once powered the company’s sales and product differentiation. If you worked in graphics, video, or sounds, there was no question that you used a Mac, thanks to its superior hardware and software. Now, Macs have no advantages in either hardware or software; former Mac-only apps have equally capable ports on Windows, and Windows itself has become much easier in managing the peripherals for creative users. You may still want a Mac, but you no longer need one.

October 27, 2016 brianradio2016

Apache Ignite is an in-memory computing platform that can be inserted seamlessly between a user’s application layer and data layer. Apache Ignite loads data from the existing disk-based storage layer into RAM, improving performance by as much as six orders of magnitude (1 million-fold).

The in-memory data capacity can be easily scaled to handle petabytes of data simply by adding more nodes to the cluster. Further, both ACID transactions and SQL queries are supported. Ignite delivers performance, scale, and comprehensive capabilities far above and beyond what traditional in-memory databases, in-memory data grids, and other in-memory-based point solutions can offer by themselves.

Apache Ignite does not require users to rip and replace their existing databases. It works with RDBMS, NoSQL, and Hadoop data stores. Apache Ignite enables high-performance transactions, real-time streaming, and fast analytics in a single, comprehensive data access and processing layer. It uses a distributed, massively parallel architecture on affordable, commodity hardware to power existing or new applications. Apache Ignite can run on premises, on cloud platforms such as AWS and Microsoft Azure, or in a hybrid environment.

apache ignite architecture

The Apache Ignite unified API supports SQL, C++, .Net, Java, Scala, Groovy, PHP, and Node.js. The unified API connects cloud-scale applications with multiple data stores containing structured, semistructured, and unstructured data. It offers a high-performance data environment that allows companies to process full ACID transactions and generate valuable insights from real-time, interactive, and batch queries.

October 20, 2016 brianradio2016

Ever since the commercial web went live, we’ve been trying to accelerate performance. There’s been a lot of investment in the sticky problem of speed and reliability, from optimizing the front end to caching and load balancing at the back end. As far as the web goes, the user experience from tethered or Wi-Fi-connected laptops is pretty good, though “your mileage will vary” is still the operative phrase. That’s not at all the case when it comes to mobile networks.

Mobile networks and mobile apps are an entirely different world when it comes to sending and receiving data. Because cellular and Wi-Fi networks rely on radio transmission, they have inherent challenges that technology originally designed for web data networking — technology such as CDNs and DNS — never anticipated.

It’s well known that CDNs depend on DNS to map HTTP requests to the supposed nearest replica of the content. They have done so since the 1990s when Netscape was the dominant browser and few people were using Wi-Fi, let alone mobile networks to access the web.

As a brief reminder, the method CDNs use to accelerate content is as follows:

October 20, 2016 brianradio2016

At the Gartner ITExpo this week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella faced tough questions on how Cortana and LinkedIn together could spy deeply on our work lives. (Microsoft is purchasing LinkedIn.) At the SoTech conference I attended this past weekend, an IBM Watson engineer faced similar questions about the data that Watson would gather to feed IBM’s vision of Watson as an adviser to people in all sorts of work.

But privacy is not the only issue, and not necessarily the most important one. All of these artificial intelligent systems — Watson, Cortana, Google’s DeepMind and intelligent assistants, Facebook, and Apple’s Siri — are being proposed as all-knowing, objective advisers to people, companies, and governments. The AI will tell you who’s a good job candidate, what’s the best medical treatment, what car you should buy, where  you should live, what gas station you should frequent, and what you should eat.

That’s supposed to be a good development because it’s based on analysis of information that individuals don’t have access to and couldn’t process if they did — plus, the AI has no inherent bias in the calculations it bases its recommendation on. Thus, AI systems using algorithms and data from who knows where, with who knows what degree of accuracy and who knows what degree of encoded biases, will make these decisions on the fundamental aspects of our lives.

Scary!

October 18, 2016 brianradio2016

The Macintosh faithful are getting really antsy. There’ve been no new models (I’m not counting minor CPU speed bumps or additional RAM capacity) of the mainstay MacBook Pro since 2012, the iMac since 2013 (2015 if you count the Retina model — I don’t), the MacBook Air since 2012, the Mac Mini since 2011, and the Mac Pro since 2013.

Some Macs, especially the once-highest-end Mac Pro, have specs that make Mac enthusiasts embarrassed when they see the specs on the newest Windows PCs. Thus the rumor mill is working overtime again in hopes of an October surprise of revolutionary new Mac models

But maybe we don’t really need new Macs. After all, the PC market is on a years-long slide, as people keep their PCs (and Macs) for extended lengths, spending their tech dollars on smartphones and tablets. And the usual reasons to need a new PC (or Mac) — rather than simply want a new model — don’t really exist.

What drives PC upgrades are games, and gaming has never been big on the Mac. The need for the latest CPU, graphics processor, storage bus, RAM, or memory bus isn’t there for Mac users — no pressure there.

October 13, 2016 brianradio2016

Docker has been dominating the devops conversation since its inception in 2013, sparking interest in container-driven pipelines and helping organizations to transform applications by shifting to full-stack deployments on containers. Following market interest, many cloud vendors have also rushed to support Docker in their services, in anticipation of future development teams that look significantly different than they do today. No matter what, containers are going to change the way applications are built, tested, and deployed.

Despite all this activity, there isn’t consensus on how exactly containers fit into existing applications and development teams. Devs are rabid fans of Docker but tend to use it only for sandboxing and prototyping. QA doesn’t see how Docker affects their workflow. And ops is wary of the security issues around Docker, preferring traditional VMs instead. Even as devops aims to bring these three functions closer together, getting these groups to agree on the importance and role of containers is the only way to embrace the new architecture and release processes.

In this article, we focus on the impact Docker has on QA and how you can be better prepared and even embrace the Docker takeover.

The Docker difference

As a QA leader in your organization, you probably overhear your dev counterparts rave about the world of difference that Docker makes when building applications. From their point of view, they can deploy their code to a local container, do a local test, make an image, and pass it on. It’s hard for them to understand why that image is not merely thrown into production.

October 11, 2016 brianradio2016

The pitches have already started: Various vendors promise to help you manage the tsunami of internet of things (IoT) devices coming. But beware: IoT management will be very difficult for a long time, and it may never reach the steady state of mobile management.

Potential good news: You likely won’t have a flood of IoT devices coming from all quarters as we saw in the early days of mobile BYOD. But what IoT devices you have will be very hard to manage.

Remember when there were iPhones, Android smartphones, BlackBerrys, WebOS phones, Windows Phones, and legacy Windows Mobile devices? IT shops freaked out at all the variations they’d have to support.

Imagine an IoT world where thermostats, door locks, light switches, elevator stop regulators, smart glasses, Bluetooth internal-location sensors, comm badges, security cameras, heat sensors, conference gear, alarms, and the gazillion other devices and sensors that might exist in the products you use and environments you manage — as well as the possible IoT devices and sensors in health care, transportation, oil exploration, logistics, retail, and public safety. In comparison, the half-dozen mobile devices that so freaked out IT look as frightening as a sleeping cat.