Announcing Ushahidi 2.0 (Luanda) by David Kobia

We’re extremely pleased to finally announce version 2.0 (Luanda) of the Ushahidi platform. This release marks the end of many months of work on new functionality and bug fixes based on feedback we’ve received.

Highlights of Ushahidi 2.0

1. Plugins

plugins

The plugin system is something we’ve been working on for many months now, and we talked about it briefly back in July. This system allows us to do two things; First, it allows anyone to extend the capabilities of the platform. Second it allows us to focus on the core application itself. For the past few months, our community has been building plugins that you will soon be able to take advantage of via an Ushahidi App Market. In the meantime here are some resources to let you take advantage of this new functionality:

2. New and Improved API

Henry and Emmanuel have been working hard on the Ushahidi API which exposes the platform to 3rd party applications that you create. This API allows you to post or retrieve information from Ushahidi deployments. This in fact is how our Mobile applications (iPhone, Android, j2me) communicate with the platform. Our goal is to give you as many ways as possible to consume the data that Ushahidi deployments create. More information about the Plugin API can be found here. We hope you find new and interesting ways to use it. Soon, you’ll be able to administer Ushahidi deployments through 3rd party applications via an Admin API.

3. One-Click Upgrades (Beta)

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Ushahidi deployments have been notoriously difficult to upgrade. You can now exhale, because we have been working hard at a one-click upgrade mechanism, so that you can upgrade to the latest version without losing some hair. We’re still working out some kinks though, but its closer to 100% done. The system will alert you to new version availability and give you the option to perform the one-click upgrade. Please note that the one-click upgrade will only be available for users of version 2.0. If you have an older version of platform, you will need to update your deployment to version 2.0 manually. Instructions on how to do this are on this wiki entry. Once updated, you will be able to use the one-click upgrade mechanism for future versions.

4. Improved Localization

With the platform’s continued use around the world in countries that speak anything other than English, it is increasingly important to quickly and easily localize the language used on the deployment. We now have a location on the web (Thanks to Brian) where you can help localize language packs for use on your deployment of the platform. Already, many languages have been added and the list of available languages continues to grow. Head over to Tafsiri (Swahili for translate) to get started.

5. SMS Providers

Version 2.0 of the platform now allows you to add other SMS providers into the system via the Plugin API. The platform ships with FrontlineSMS, Clickatell and now SMSSync. SMS providers either provide a mechanism for filtering text messages into the system and/or sending messages from the system.

6. Trusted Reporter Functionality

trusted

Popular deployments are sometimes inundated by reports and it becomes increasingly difficult for administrators to read through and approve incoming messages. With Ushahidi 2.0, it is now possible to tag certain phone numbers, email accounts or twitter users as ‘Trusted Reporters’ and their reports will be automatically approved by the system.

7. Improved Theming

With previous versions of the platform, theming was restricted to what you could achieve with CSS styles alone. In Ushahidi 2.0, you can now create new templates and change the structure of pages, allowing you to design completely new looks. The additional benefit is that you never have to tamper with the core code like you had to before.

8. Improved Reports Listing

Caleb has also been hard at work on the reports listing page. We’re trying to make this page as functional as possible and will continue to do so, so that we can convey different sets of information quickly and in a practical way.

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9. Improved Reports Detail
The reports detail page has also been updated. You can go for wider or taller maps. You can also switch tabs to view images and other attached media.

report

10. Improved Scheduler

scheduler

Certain tasks with the platform are executed at specified intervals like checking email, checking twitter, sending alerts etc. The improved scheduler allows you to set the frequency of such events.

11. Improved Caching and Speed

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Moving forward we’ll begin to add some options for administrators to help optimize the loading of the platform. This is especially critical for high traffic deployments.

 

 

There are numerous other fixes and improvements and we hope you enjoy the hard work we’ve put in so far. As always we can’t ever get enough feedback so we’ll be waiting to hear from you!

We’ll also be going into detail in the next few blog posts about how to use some of the features I’ve mentioned above.

Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2011

Gartner defines a strategic technology as one with the potential for significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years. Factors that denote significant impact include a high potential for disruption to IT or the business, the need for a major dollar investment, or the risk of being late to adopt.

A strategic technology may be an existing technology that has matured and/or become suitable for a wider range of uses. It may also be an emerging technology that offers an opportunity for strategic business advantage for early adopters or with potential for significant market disruption in the next five years. As such, these technologies impact the organization’s long-term plans, programs and initiatives.

“Companies should factor these top 10 technologies in their strategic planning process by asking key questions and making deliberate decisions about them during the next two years,” said David Cearley, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

“Sometimes the decision will be to do nothing with a particular technology,” said Carl Claunch, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “In other cases, it will be to continue investing in the technology at the current rate. In still other cases, the decision may be to test or more aggressively deploy the technology.”

The top 10 strategic technologies for 2011 include:

Cloud Computing. Cloud computing services exist along a spectrum from open public to closed private. The next three years will see the delivery of a range of cloud service approaches that fall between these two extremes. Vendors will offer packaged private cloud implementations that deliver the vendor’s public cloud service technologies (software and/or hardware) and methodologies (i.e., best practices to build and run the service) in a form that can be implemented inside the consumer’s enterprise. Many will also offer management services to remotely manage the cloud service implementation. Gartner expects large enterprises to have a dynamic sourcing team in place by 2012 that is responsible for ongoing cloudsourcing decisions and management.

Mobile Applications and Media Tablets. Gartner estimates that by the end of 2010, 1.2 billion people will carry handsets capable of rich, mobile commerce providing an ideal environment for the convergence of mobility and the Web. Mobile devices are becoming computers in their own right, with an astounding amount of processing ability and bandwidth. There are already hundreds of thousands of applications for platforms like the Apple iPhone, in spite of the limited market (only for the one platform) and need for unique coding.

The quality of the experience of applications on these devices, which can apply location, motion and other context in their behavior, is leading customers to interact with companies preferentially through mobile devices. This has lead to a race to push out applications as a competitive tool to improve relationships and gain advantage over competitors whose interfaces are purely browser-based.

Social Communications and Collaboration. Social media can be divided into: (1) Social networking —social profile management products, such as MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and Friendster as well as social networking analysis (SNA) technologies that employ algorithms to understand and utilize human relationships for the discovery of people and expertise. (2) Social collaboration —technologies, such as wikis, blogs, instant messaging, collaborative office, and crowdsourcing. (3) Social publishing —technologies that assist communities in pooling individual content into a usable and community accessible content repository such as YouTube and flickr. (4) Social feedback – gaining feedback and opinion from the community on specific items as witnessed on YouTube, flickr, Digg, Del.icio.us, and Amazon. Gartner predicts that by 2016, social technologies will be integrated with most business applications. Companies should bring together their social CRM, internal communications and collaboration, and public social site initiatives into a coordinated strategy.

Video. Video is not a new media form, but its use as a standard media type used in non-media companies is expanding rapidly. Technology trends in digital photography, consumer electronics, the web, social software, unified communications, digital and Internet-based television and mobile computing are all reaching critical tipping points that bring video into the mainstream. Over the next three years Gartner believes that video will become a commonplace content type and interaction model for most users, and by 2013, more than 25 percent of the content that workers see in a day will be dominated by pictures, video or audio.

Next Generation Analytics. Increasing compute capabilities of computers including mobile devices along with improving connectivity are enabling a shift in how businesses support operational decisions. It is becoming possible to run simulations or models to predict the future outcome, rather than to simply provide backward looking data about past interactions, and to do these predictions in real-time to support each individual business action. While this may require significant changes to existing operational and business intelligence infrastructure, the potential exists to unlock significant improvements in business results and other success rates.

Social Analytics. Social analytics describes the process of measuring, analyzing and nterpreting the results of interactions and associations among people, topics and ideas. These interactions may occur on social software applications used in the workplace, in internally or externally facing communities or on the social web. Social analytics is an umbrella term that includes a number of specialized analysis techniques such as social filtering, social-network analysis, sentiment analysis and social-media analytics. Social network analysis tools are useful for examining social structure and interdependencies as well as the work patterns of individuals, groups or organizations. Social network analysis involves collecting data from multiple sources, identifying relationships, and evaluating the impact, quality or effectiveness of a relationship.

Context-Aware Computing. Context-aware computing centers on the concept of using information about an end user or object’s environment, activities connections and preferences to improve the quality of interaction with that end user. The end user may be a customer, business partner or employee. A contextually aware system anticipates the user’s needs and proactively serves up the most appropriate and customized content, product or service. Gartner predicts that by 2013, more than half of Fortune 500 companies will have context-aware computing initiatives and by 2016, one-third of worldwide mobile consumer marketing will be context-awareness-based.

Storage Class Memory. Gartner sees huge use of flash memory in consumer devices, entertainment equipment and other embedded IT systems. It also offers a new layer of the storage hierarchy in servers and client computers that has key advantages — space, heat, performance and ruggedness among them. Unlike RAM, the main memory in servers and PCs, flash memory is persistent even when power is removed. In that way, it looks more like disk drives where information is placed and must survive power-downs and reboots. Given the cost premium, simply building solid state disk drives from flash will tie up that valuable space on all the data in a file or entire volume, while a new explicitly addressed layer, not part of the file system, permits targeted placement of only the high-leverage items of information that need to experience the mix of performance and persistence available with flash memory.

Ubiquitous Computing. The work of Mark Weiser and other researchers at Xerox’s PARC paints a picture of the coming third wave of computing where computers are invisibly embedded into the world. As computers proliferate and as everyday objects are given the ability to communicate with RFID tags and their successors, networks will approach and surpass the scale that can be managed in traditional centralized ways. This leads to the important trend of imbuing computing systems into operational technology, whether done as calming technology or explicitly managed and integrated with IT. In addition, it gives us important guidance on what to expect with proliferating personal devices, the effect of consumerization on IT decisions, and the necessary capabilities that will be driven by the pressure of rapid inflation in the number of computers for each person.

Fabric-Based Infrastructure and Computers. A fabric-based computer is a modular form of computing where a system can be aggregated from separate building-block modules connected over a fabric or switched backplane. In its basic form, a fabric-based computer comprises a separate processor, memory, I/O, and offload modules (GPU, NPU, etc.) that are connected to a switched interconnect and, importantly, the software required to configure and manage the resulting system(s). The fabric-based infrastructure (FBI) model abstracts physical resources — processor cores, network bandwidth and links and storage — into pools of resources that are managed by the Fabric Resource Pool Manager (FRPM), software functionality. The FRPM in turn is driven by the Real Time Infrastructure (RTI) Service Governor software component. An FBI can be supplied by a single vendor or by a group of vendors working closely together, or by an integrator — internal or external.

How the iPhone 5 Can Stay Ahead of the Pack by Kit Eaton (Personal experience and personal input too, contained in <<>>)

iphones

With so many rumors about a CDMA iPhone abounding, Apple looks set to shun the next-generation 4G technology, LTE, for its first year in the U.S. The company looks like it will focus on gaining millions of Verizon subscribers and users of CDMA networks in India. But can its next phone, the iPhone 5, still retain its title as the most advanced smartphone in the face of strong competition from Windows 7 and Android phones?

Shunning next-generation phone technology has not hampered Apple in the past. Remember, the original iPhone didn’t even have 3G. And leaving LTE to its own devices will give it time to gain a bigger install base in the U.S.

But the competitive landscape has changed. Microsoft has burst onto the smartphone scene, with a slew of different phones from multiple handset makers on different networks all around the world. The Windows 7 OS is a strong competitor to iOS. Microsoft is working hard to get developers on board. Android, in the meantime, is going from strength to strength. It’s stable of available handsets is getting ever more capable and specialized.

So how does the iPhone stack up against its competitors — and what will the iPhone 5 need to bring to the party? Let’s take a look at the specs.

Screens

Current iPhone: 3.5-inch, 960 by 640 pixels, IPS LCD

Droid 2 Android: 3.7-inch, 854 by 480 pixels, LCD

Windows Phone 7: 3.8-inch, 800 by 480 pixels, LCD

Apple’s iPhone 4 touted its “retina” display, with uniquely-high pixel density this year. Since then it’s been matched by a number of competitor phones. Among its Android peers, and even against the Windows 7 units, the iPhone’s 3.5-inch unit is beginning to look tiny. We’re guessing Apple will keep the same pixel size, but scale the iPhone’s display size up to at least 3.7-inches, possibly achieved by using clever touchscreen technology–allowing for design optimization.

CPU

Current iPhone: 1 GHz Apple A4, ARM-based

Droid 2 Android: 1 GHz (1.2 GHz in World Edition)

Windows Phone 7: 1 GHz

Apple’s 1 GHz A4 chip is the secret sauce behind the iPhone and iPod Touch, and it’s a class-leader. But Microsoft’s minimum spec is 1GHz, and newer Android units in the iPhone’s price bracket are using faster chips. We predict Apple’s A5 chip–if that is its name–will adopt dual-core technology for more processing power, and clock at at least 1.6 GHz. Apple may even surprise us with a super-optimized 2 GHz CPU.

Storage

Current iPhone: 16GB or 32GB onboard, no expansion

Droid 2 Android: 8GB onboard, microSD expansion

Windows Phone 7: 8GB, 16GB, microSD expansion

Apple chose not to bump up the storage capacity of the iPhone 4 over its predecessor, presumably for pricing reasons and studies about how full people keep their iPhones. It’s likely that Apple will preserve its habit of having all storage internal, and so we may expect 32GB to 64GB onboard storage in iPhone 5 to match the microSD expansion powers offered by the competition.

<<< Expect 64GB to 128GB given market conditions and variables, plus lack of expansion feature. >>>

Cameras

Current iPhone: VGA front-facing, 5-Megapixel rear-facing autofocus and flash

Droid 2 Android: 5-Megapixel rear-facing autofocus and dual-flash

Windows Phone 7: 5-Megapixel rear-facing

Though Apple was slow to adopt imaging technology in the iPhone, the device now has a full compliment of capable cameras. Its peers typically do too–often matching the iPhone spec for spec, and sometimes surpassing it (with very high megapixel counts, dual flash, or image stabilization). Apple may bump the rear-facing camera resolution to match consumer expectations, perhaps to as much as 8 megapixels. But the company seems more likely to concentrate on image quality rather than megapixel size, and we may see micro-shutters or optical image stabilization.

<<< OmniVision is one of the few players to have a proven successful implementation of a state-of-the art BSI-1 process. OmniVision also has BSI-2 which improves upon market tested BSI-1 process. >>>

<<< iPhone 5 market ready options: OmniVision OVXXXX (NDA) for 8 MP/ back camera with dual flash and image stabilization, OmniVision OVXXXX (NDA) or similar (include BSI-2) component in iPhone 4/ front camera with image stabilization. >>>

Connectivity

Current iPhone: GSM, Wi-Fi N, Bluetooth 2.1

Droid 2 Android: GSM (plus CDMA in World edition), Wi-Fi N, Bluetooth 2.1, DLNA, wireless hotspot

Windows Phone 7: GSM, Wi-Fi N, Bluetooth 2.1

It looks like the iPhone 5 may come in a GSM-only and GSM/CDMA version making use of new dual-mode chipsets (which users may have to pay a premium for). Wireless N is a sure-thing, though Apple may choose to bump the tech to get “full” N capability, unlike the iPhone 4. Bluetooth 3 may make its way onboard too. And we may even see the phone turn itself into a Wi-Fi hotspot, so you can tether it to your laptop–outside the U.S. at least, where carriers are less concerned about the implications.

<<< iPhone 5 just based upon on going negotiations in India, China, and other EVDO or CDMA mobile providers and market research regarding Apple suppliers would indicate possible use of tri-mode or LTE (pre 4G,) HSPA (3.5G,) and EV-DO Rev. B (3.5G,) care of Qualcomm MDM 9600. >>>

<<< iPhone 5 market ready options: Qualcomm MDM 9600 for 3.5G/ 4.0G and GSM/ LTE/ EVDO, BCM 4751 for GPS (similar component in iPhone 4,) Broadcom BCM 4329 for Bluetooth and WiFi (same component in iPhone 4) >>>

Other specs

The antenna of the iPhone 4 show that Apple’s not afraid to try risky innovations in its designs — the hype of antenna gate not with standing. The iPhone 5 is likely to be based on the flatter, sleeker iPhone 4′s chassis, but we’re guessing it’ll have a different–possibly more metallic–design on the surface.

Battery capacity will need a bump in order to power a more energy-hungry CPU/GPU, and match the longer lifespans offered by iPhone competitors <<< based upon this post, given super amoled screen market conditions, variables, and supply chain issues, current form of “Retina Display,” Apple will need to increase battery capacity by at least 15%. >>> Apple is unlikely to make the phone more bulky, however, so the room for a bigger battery will arrive thanks to a more compact motherboard, and a slimmer screen/touchscreen unit (born of integrated sensor and display technology).

Apple may expand the voice-recognition powers of the phone to boost its utility to accessibility-limited customers. With so many Apple Near-Field Comms patents being filed, and Nokia keen to integrate NFC tech into every one of its new phones from next year, we’re also guessing NFC may appear on the iPhone 5. That should allow you to use your iPhone as a credit card, a travel card, and just about anything that you can point at a card reader. Beat that, Microsoft and Google.

<<< iPhone 5 Inertial Sensors and Movement Sensing market ready options: STMicroelectronics LSM303DL would offer single module, single sensor, greater accuracy and sensitivity, and enhance BCM 4751 for GPS by 3-axis x/y/z accelerometer and 3-axis x/y/z magnetometer. >>>