|Police fire tear gas at demonstrators during a protest near central government offices in Hong Kong on Sept. 28. Pro-democracy protesters kick-started their campaign to occupy central Hong Kong after police clashed with students demanding that China withdraw proposals to control the city’s elections|
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Posted by CAMACOL at 9/30/2014 12:46:00 PM
Monday, September 29, 2014
By Brien Posey, September 22, 2014
My original idea was to focus on tools similar to Jack of Tools, which is a Windows Phone app that includes a compass, level, altimeter, speedometer, GPS, etc. Unfortunately, that type of tool is relatively tough to come by, especially if you're looking for one that works on a variety of mobile platforms. So I decided to focus on useful apps that perform a variety of related functions.
Evernote is a free app that can help you remember things. Like Microsoft OneNote, Evernote allows you to collect information from a variety of sources and write that information to a notebook. For instance, you can save a Web page or you can save images or blocks of text from a page without saving the entire page. The main thing that makes Evernote worthwhile is that it's useful for so many diverse purposes, serving as a personal organizer, research tool, and collaboration app.
Zip Code Tools
You may not need Zip Code Tools on a daily basis, but it provides such a great wealth of information I just had to include it in this list. Zip Code Tools allows you to perform all manner of lookup related to Zip codes. It can answer questions such as what are the zip codes in California, what zip code am I in right now, what is the demographic data for 90210, or how far is it to zip code 40258 (and many, many more). It can even point you toward the nearest post office.
Waze Social GPS
Waze Social GPS is a free multi-function tool that's a big help for those who have a daily commute. As the name implies, Waze uses real-time data from other drivers to alert you to traffic problems along your normal route. If a traffic problem does exist, Waze can route you around it. It can also alert you to things like speed traps and road closures.
OpenTable is a free tool geared toward those who like to dine out. Although OpenTable markets itself as a restaurant reservation app, it does quite a bit more. For instance, when you make a reservation, you can include special requests (such as "I'm allergic to strawberries" or "I'd like to sit next to the window"). The app also puts your reservation on your calendar. It even lets you invite your friends to join you for dinner.
Trip38 Travel Assistant
Trip38 Travel Assistant is a free multi-function travel app. Like many other travel apps, Trip38 manages your reservations for flights and hotels — but it does a lot more than that. The app provides a wealth of destination-specific information. For instance, Trip38 can tell you about local attractions, events that are happening at your destination city, and the weather at your destination.
Posted by CAMACOL at 9/29/2014 11:24:00 AM
Friday, September 26, 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
BY LUCIA MUTIKANI
(Reuters) - Sales of new U.S. single-family homes surged in August to their highest level in more than six years, a sign the housing recovery remains on course.
The recovery, however, will likely remain gradual against a backdrop of relatively high unemployment and sluggish wage growth, which are sidelining first-time buyers and keeping many young adults from seeking their own accommodation.
"This is welcome news in an otherwise mixed outlook," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial in Chicago. "We are still a long way from the housing market recovering from the bust."
New home sales jumped 18.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 504,000 units, a second straight monthly gain that took them to the highest level since May 2008, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday.
Though new home sales account for only about 9 percent of the market, the increase helped allay fears of renewed weakness after a surprise decline in home resales last month.
"We expect some of this buoyancy to be reversed in the coming month, but continue to believe that the underlying fundamentals of the housing sector remain favorable," said Millan Mulraine, deputy chief economist at TD Securities in New York.
U.S. financial markets were little moved by the data, but housing shares tumbled after home builder KB Home (KBH.N) reported earnings that missed Wall Street's expectations.
KB Home shares fell 5.7 percent, while Pulte Group (PHM.N) slipped 0.6 percent and Toll Brothers (TOL.N) dropped 0.9 percent. The overall housing market index .HGX, however, was up marginally in mid-afternoon, tracking broader indexes.
The National Association of Realtors said on Monday that sales of previously owned homes fell in August for the first time in four months as the investors who had been supporting the market stepped away.
Economists hope their departure will leave an opening for first-time buyers, but worry still-high unemployment and sluggish wage growth will continue to constrain sales.
The share of first-time buyers in the home resale market has been stuck around 29 percent, well below the 40 percent to 45 percent considered as ideal by economists and real estate agents.
"It's still a challenging environment for those buyers," said Guy Berger, an economist at RBS in Stamford, Connecticut. "You can make a good case for a slow, gradual improvement."
In a separate report, the Mortgage Bankers Association said applications for loans to purchase homes fell last week as mortgage rates crept up. New loan applications are well off peaks seen early last year.
With average hourly earnings up only 2.1 percent over the past year, many Americans are opting to rent, while some of those who have recently graduated from college are moving back home or staying with friends, weighing on home sales.
According to government data released last week, 492,000 households were formed last year, well below the one million economists say would be consistent with a healthy market.
"Household formation, a major driver of new construction, is falling asleep at the wheel," said Patrick Newport, an economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Despite the rise in sales in August, the stock of new houses on the market hit its highest level in four years, giving buyers more choices.
At August's sales pace it would take 4.8 months to clear the supply of houses on the market, down from 5.6 months in July. A six months' supply is normally considered a healthy balance between supply and demand.
Posted by CAMACOL at 9/24/2014 03:05:00 PM
Monday, September 22, 2014
|Cadillac Elmiraj concept coupe|
Cadillac has slowly been heading in the other direction. Its burnished reputation and celebrated CTS have allowed the company to charge more. In North America this year, its sticker prices even bested those of Mercedes—albeit briefly.
Posted by CAMACOL at 9/22/2014 09:44:00 AM
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
How to cope with the big data variety problem
By Mary Shacklett September 5, 2014,
Dealing with the variety of data and data sources is becoming a greater concern for enterprises. Here are ways to attack the data variety issue.
In addition to volume and velocity, variety is fast becoming a third big data "V-factor." The problem is especially prevalent in large enterprises, which have many systems of record and also an abundance of data under management that is structured and unstructured. These enterprises often have multiple purchasing, manufacturing, sales, finance, and other departmental functions in separate subsidiaries and branch facilities, and they end up with "siloed" systems because of the functional duplicity.
Consequently, what enterprises are finding as they work on their big data and analytics initiatives is that there is a need to harness the variety of these data and system sources to maximize the return from their analytics and also to leverage the benefits of what they learn across as many areas of the enterprise as they can.
Decentralized purchasing functions with their own separate purchasing systems and data repositories are a great example.
"When procurement is decentralized, as it often is in very large enterprises, there is a risk that these different purchasing organizations are not getting all of the leverage that they could when they contract for services," said Andy Palmer, CEO of Tamr, which uses machine learning and advanced algorithms to "curate" data across multiple sources by indexing and unifying the data into a single view. "Theoretically, purchasing agents should be able to benefit from economies of scale when they buy, but they have no way to look at all of the purchasing systems throughout the enterprise to determine what the best price is for the commodity they are buying that someone in the enterprise has been able to obtain."
Palmer says Tamr provides a solution in this area by offering a "best price" on premise website solution that purchasing agents from different corporate divisions can reference. The service uses Tamr's machine learning and algorithms to analyze different purchasing data categories across disparate purchasing systems in order to come up with best prices, which purchasing agents throughout the enterprise can then access. "We use an API (application programming interface) so the service can be instrumented into different procurement applications," said Palmer. "The results for some of our customers have been annual procurement savings in the tens of millions of dollars, since they now can get the 'best price' for goods and services when they negotiate."
Purchasing is just one use case that points to the need large enterprises have in using their systems of record to drive the big data analytics they perform. "These enterprises started off by putting their big data into 'data lake' repositories, and then they ran analytics," said Palmer. Later, enterprises added query languages like Hive and Pig to help them sort through their big data. However, what they eventually discovered was that they needed to provide the right business context in order to ask the right analytical questions that would benefit the business. They could only do this by using their systems of record, and the organization of data inherent in those systems, as drivers for their big data analytics.
Palmer says that data "curation" is one way to attack the variety issue that comes with having to navigate through not only multiple systems of record systems but multiple big data sources. The combination of machine learning and advanced algorithms that seek "high confidence levels" and data quality in the task of cross-referencing and connecting data from a variety of sources into a condensed single source is one way to do this. "The end result is not a system of record, but a system of reference that can cope with the variety of data that is coming in to large organizations," said Palmer.
Finding ways to achieve high data quality and confidence for the business by harnessing data variety is not the only thing enterprises need in their big data preparation; there are also steps like ETL (extract, transform, load) and MDM (master data management) that are part of the data prep continuum. Nevertheless, dealing with the variety of data and data sources is becoming a greater concern.
"We have seen a large growth in these projects over the past three to six months," noted Palmer. "Organizations want to take their structured data from a variety of systems of record, unify it, and then use it to drive business context into their unstructured and semi-structured big data analytics."
Posted by CAMACOL at 9/16/2014 11:44:00 AM