Tag: launch

Source: IOL

Former president Donald Trump, a longtime critic of how Democrats debuted healthcare.gov, is facing a bungled website launch of his own.

His long-promised social network, Truth Social, has been almost entirely inaccessible in the first days of its grand debut due to technical glitches, a 13-hour outage and a 300 000-person waitlist.

Even Trump supporters made jokes about the early slog. Jenna Ellis, a former member of his legal team, posted to Instagram a photo showing Trump with his finger hovering over a laptop, “letting us on to Truth Social one at a time.”

One year after being banned from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, Donald Trump’s Truth Social app launched on Feb. 21. A limited number of preorder subscribers were able to download the app from the Apple App Store.

The site had been heralded for months as the crown jewel of Trump’s post-presidential business ambitions, with allies pledging it would revolutionise social media and take down the mainstream social networks where Trump is banned.

But early glimpses at Truth Social suggest its offerings are almost identical to what Twitter and other sites have offered for years – except tweets are called “Truths,” and retweets “ReTruths. The site’s early struggles also have fuelled doubts that Trump’s company will be able to handle tougher long-term challenges, such as policing for dangerous content and guarding against cyberattacks.

“The basic thing they needed to actually get right to get someone in the door, they couldn’t get right,” said Bill Fitzgerald, a privacy researcher. The “ineptitude of the rollout,” he added, could be a warning of future issues ahead: “There is no better sign of a rushed implementation than the fact that you can’t onboard anybody. So I’m hard-pressed to understand why anyone would trust that these people would keep their information safe.”

As former President Donald Trump’s new social media venture, Truth Social, surpasses 170,000 downloads, observers are watching to see how this new platform gets used as Trump returns to the digital sphere after being banned from other platforms last year.

The site’s problems extend beyond its waitlist: Its logo – a broken capital ‘T’ with a period – is identical to the logo of Trailar, a British seller of truck solar panels. A company executive told The Washington Post that it is “seeking legal advice to understand next steps and options available to protect our brand.”

Though Trump has criticised social networks’ “wildly aggressive censorship,” his site’s “terms of service” mark some extensive restrictions for acceptable speech. People are banned from trying to “trick” or “mislead” other users, violating anyone’s “privacy or publicity rights,” or posting messages that “depict violence” or include messages related to “sexual fetishes”, “sugar babies” or “sexually suggestive” phrases. People are also forbidden from posting anything “false”, “indecent”, “misleading”, “profane”, “obscene”, “filthy” or “otherwise objectionable.”

Trump’s company, the Trump Media & Technology Group, also prohibits anyone from attempting to “disparage, tarnish, or otherwise harm, in our opinion, us and/or the Site.” Truth Social has already banned an account named for a Twitter parody that targeted former Rep. Devin Nunes, who resigned from Congress to become the Trump company’s CEO.

The site’s terms of service also show it is designed to benefit from Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which Trump has said should be “completely terminated” because it protects tech companies from being sued for what their users post.

Truth Social’s problems were evident from the start, even though the site’s developers have had months to retool already-used software for the site’s launch.

On Sunday, people who’d “preordered” the app from Apple’s App Store were sent an alert that it was available, sending it sailing to the top of the free-app download charts.

But many who tried to actually sign up to use the app faced obstacles immediately. People reported they’d been given error messages or “failure to register” warnings when they entered their birthday. Or they submitted their email address as requested, then never received a sign-up response.

The site was unavailable for most of its first day, Presidents’ Day, and its operators reported that “overwhelming demand” had triggered an outage lasting more than 13 hours. During that time, even the company’s terms of service were offline.

The developers wrote on an internal updates page Monday afternoon that they had “stabilized the account creation process.” But on Tuesday, many were still reporting that they were around 300,000th in line. (Some even went backward: One person reported they’d gone from no. 215,406 on the waiting list Monday night to no. 295,046 by Tuesday afternoon.)

There were other signs that Truth Social’s growing pains were just getting started. The app for now is available only for iPhones in the U.S. On a ‘help’ page, the site’s own name is misspelled.

The truthsocial.com website, which allowed for early sign-ups, got about 350 000 visits last week, down from 2 million visits the week of its announcement in October, according to estimates from Similarweb, an analytics firm that tracks and estimates Web traffic. Facebook and Twitter each get hundreds of millions of visits a week.

Company representatives have not responded to requests for comment. On Sunday, CEO Nunes predicted the site would be “fully operational” by the end of March. Last week, he told Sebastian Gorka, Trump’s former deputy national security adviser, “We’re having to build this from scratch to make sure we can’t be canceled and can’t be shut down.”

But far from being built from scratch, the site’s code shows it is based heavily on the open-source software Mastodon, which provides free, prebuilt social-networking sites that users can then edit and customize. Truth Social also depends on code from eight other outside development teams to handle text, images, security and other data, its own documentation shows.

The glitchy debut also suggests Trump will face big challenges as he scrambles to secure his place in the online spotlight and build an alternative social media platform that can compete with similar sites, including Gab, Gettr, MeWe and Parler – the latter of which Trump’s wife, Melania, said earlier this month she would make “Her Social Media Home.”

During the months of waiting, several copycat sites also beat Trump’s social network to the punch, including a totally unaffiliated “social app for truth” that charges users $4.99 a week. Another “Truth Social” look-alike showed a Trump rally photo next to boxes asking for people’s email addresses and passwords.

But those sites offered something the real Truth Social could not: They worked. Even a copycat site, TMTGSocial.com, which someone unaffiliated with Trump registered after Trump’s allies first announced Truth Social in October, now has hundreds of users – posting pro-Trump content, seemingly under the impression they’ve joined the real thing.

For months, many of them have been posting comments and photos, friending each other and following fake Trump accounts. Others have voiced their excitement that Trump is, as one said, about to “let the TRUTH PREVAIL.”

The site gives no indication that it’s phony and has a fake Trump profile that includes the former president’s birthday, photos and location (“Mar-a-Lago Club”). When Trump’s son posted last week that his father had shared his first message on the Truth Social beta site, someone at the fake site quickly copied it: “Get Ready! Your favorite President will see you soon!”

The fake site’s code shows that it uses WoWonder, a $125 set of basic tools anyone can use to make their own social network. But the fraudulent site doesn’t say who actually runs it, and questions sent to the site’s leadership in recent days have yielded no response.

One user, Stuart Fletcher, a 46-year-old unemployed house painter in England, said he’d joined believing the site would be “a place for honest conversations and debate without the censorship.” He said Facebook had put him in “Facebook jail” for more than 250 days last year for breaking its “misinformation” rules. On the fake site, he created a profile listing his name, birthday, current city, high school and a short biography (“Seeker of Truth.”) He said he’s still waiting to join the real site.

Bank Zero goes live with debit card

Bank Zero has now fully completed its core value proposition by going live with its debit card. Following this card go-live, rigorous health-checks such as simulated card attacks, card fraud detection and retailer readiness are currently underway. Thereafter the final countdown to starting public operations will begin.

South African card holders suffered a whopping R873m in theft in 2018, according to SABRIC statistics. To protect customers from this traumatic experience, Bank Zero has designed a new patented card which offers vital security and convenience. This patent will dramatically minimise the negative impact of card data theft and card skimming on Bank Zero customers.

Open source technology combined with a scientific design approach delivered this card in record time. MasterCard teams from South Africa, India and the USA were closely involved in validating and commissioning this card solution. IBM’s global expertise in encrypted card security was also tapped into. Michael Jordaan, Bank Zero chair, says: “Globally, banks are big spenders on such projects, often spanning multiple years, but sweat capital along with an integrated business-and-tech design approach is our strategic advantage.”

“During the development of Bank Zero, no traditional banking systems were bought nor was any outsourcing done – these are expensive yet conventional solutions. We wanted to create an exciting customer offering which required building our own systems,” says Yatin Narsai, Bank Zero CEO. He explains that, in just over a year, three large payment rails were created, each from a clean slate:

  • Direct integration into the South African Reserve Bank’s system, in order to become a settlement bank
  • Electronic payments (EFTs) and debit orders, establishing Bank Zero as a clearing bank
  • Issuing and processing of debit cards

“Zero pricing, along with our advanced card security, are just some of the ways in which we make our customers’ lives easier. We also bring special functionality around social connectedness, transparency, control, advanced payments and a focus on savings,” says Narsai.

“Feature-rich banking must never force customers into paying exorbitant fees.”

The card go-live sets Bank Zero on the path to opening its digital doors to the public, and current internal beta testing continues to provide solid insights. Bank Zero now begins its final countdown towards starting public operations in the first half of 2020:

  • Add the final ‘shine’ to the Android and iOS Apps for both individuals and businesses
  • Put the patented card through its paces by actively using the first cards which recently arrived, sporting a fresh new design
  • Confirm regulatory reporting is in order
  • Perform the annual disaster recovery test
  • Ensure that cards can be used internationally
  • Confirm security and performance testing to ensure Bank Zero’s systems can handle massive volumes
  • Implement a standby system, enabling maintenance without inconveniencing customers
  • Fine-tune and complete the build-out of the customer service model
  • Extend current beta testing
  • Start public operations

“The last mile is always the hardest. You can walk this last mile with us by following our tweets,” says Jordaan.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has launched a new stand-alone app, called WhatsApp Business, designed to help small businesses easily connect with their customers, the company announced on Thursday.

WhatsApp Business can be downloaded on the Google Play Store in select markets including the US, UK, Indonesia, Italy, and Mexico, and will roll out worldwide in the coming weeks. Facebook has not yet stated when the app will be available on iOS.

The app adds several new features including verified business profiles, smart messaging tools like quick replies, greeting messages and away messages, and messaging metrics. As of now, WhatsApp Business is aimed at smaller companies, but it plans to add an enterprise solution geared toward larger businesses, like airlines and banks, with a global customer base. The move to launch an app dedicated to businesses represents the fruition of several months of work by Facebook to monetize WhatsApp.

Business-to-consumer (B2C) communication via messaging apps is a budding trend, and Facebook wants to be at the center of it.Having a presence on chat apps is more important than ever for businesses.

Already, more than half of consumers would rather message a business than call customer service, according to a Facebook-commissioned study by Nielson. Here’s why WhatsApp is poised to lead the evolution of B2C interactions:

WhatsApp has a massive global reach. WhatsApp’s global user base of 1.3 billion monthly active users makes the chat app an ideal ground for Facebook to establish a footprint in the B2C space.

WhatsApp is also the second most used messaging app globally, and the leading messaging app in a majority of emerging markets like India, Indonesia, and Russia as well as in developed markets like the UK, Spain, and Germany. In India, for instance, consumers spent over 36 billion hours on WhatsApp in 2017.

Already, consumers worldwide use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses.Over 80% of small businesses in India and Brazil have said WhatsApp helps to facilitate B2C communication and, as a result, grow their businesses’ reach.

WhatsApp is entering an increasingly competitive space. Facebook Messenger, Apple, WeChat, and Skype are all striving to be the go-to interface for B2C interaction.

For instance, Apple is introducing an update to iMessage that includes iOS Business Chat, a “powerful new way for businesses to connect with customers directly from within Messages,” according to Apple. Meanwhile, WhatsApp will go up against WeChat, which already hosts 10 million official business accounts for WeChat’s 980 million monthly active users to interact with.

To receive stories like this one directly to your inbox every morning, sign up for the Apps and Platforms Briefing newsletter. Click here to learn more about how you can gain risk-free access today.

By Rayna Hollander for Business Insider

iPhone X both copies and innovates

As soon as you see the iPhone X up close, you’ll realise that it’s nothing like any of the previous models that Apple has released during the past decade.

But you might notice striking similarities with some of the sleek smartphones that Samsung, Google and others have been churning out during the past year or two.

Like its rivals, Apple has finally gotten around to making a phone with an edge-to-edge display, a nod to consumers’ desire for more space to view their photos, watch movies and TV shows, read books and play games.

In that sense, Apple is playing a game of catch-up with the iPhone X – a name that refers to the Roman numeral for “10.” But the device still manages to live up to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ mandate to “think different.”

The iPhone X comes with what appears to be sophisticated facial recognition. On a basic level, that allows its owner to unlock the phone with a quick glance. But it also opens the door for a menagerie of emojis that can be controlled and manipulated with facial expressions and voice.

The phone also provides a spectacular canvas for photos, thanks to a superior camera and a souped-up screen Apple calls a “Super Retina” display.

It also costs almost $1,000, an unprecedented price for a mass market phone.

That price tag means that most Apple lovers will probably stick with the slightly less expensive iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which will be available Sept. 22 – six weeks before the iPhone X hits the market.

But the iPhone X will probably be a hot commodity among status seekers and affluent consumers. Such buyers won’t flinch at paying an extra $300 to own a phone with attractive but still mostly marginal improvements, based on about 20 minutes The Associated Press spent with the phone in a controlled demo room Tuesday.

One of the best things about the iPhone X: It has a larger screen, but isn’t more cumbersome to carry around. The iPhone X’s edge-to-edge screen measures 5.8 inches diagonally compared to 5.5 inches for the iPhone 7 Plus and now the iPhone 8 Plus. But the iPhone X’s overall dimensions are smaller than the Plus and just slightly larger than the regular models. That’s bound to appeal to people who like large screens but don’t like oversized phones.

On the down side, the iPhone X’s screen isn’t as wide as that of the iPhone 7 Plus or iPhone 8 Plus.

What really makes the iPhone X stand out is its new high-resolution display, coupled with its spiffy cameras. Photos viewed on the iPhone X look amazingly vivid and lifelike, right down to the visible blades of glass at a kid’s soccer game or every crease of a blanket blowing in the wind.

Emojis have become such a popular way of communication in our smartphone-driven culture that the iPhone X’s “animoji” feature could prove popular as well.

This animated feature draws upon the iPhone X’s facial recognition technology and high-end, front-facing camera to enable people to control the expressions on a dozen different type of emojis.

For instance, you can pull up a fox or a rabbit and it will frown or smile in sync with your own expression. The emoji figure will move its mouth when you do; record it and it will speak in your voice. (You can send such videos to friends.)

Facial recognition is also the new convenient way to unlock the iPhone X. No more fingerprint scanner: the expansion of the display meant the loss of the home button, which housed that sensor. Apple says this change will allow iPhone X owners to unlock the device with a quick glance under just about any conditions. (The device also can be unlocked with a numeric passcode if facial recognition fails, as it did for one Apple executive during Tuesday’s presentation.)

But security might still be an issue, particularly if the iPhone X’s facial recognition can be tricked by intruders trying to break into a device designed for big spenders and luxury lovers. Apple says it turned to mask experts to test and improve the feature, though it acknowledges that twins might trick the phone.

Using the iPhone X will also require behavioral changes, such as swiping from the bottom to get the home screen, now that the home button has disappeared. The new phone does add a button on the side to invoke the Siri virtual assistant and Apple Pay.

Source: Associated Press

My Office News launches

My Office magazine unveiled its new direction at a launch breakfast at the Bryanston Country Club in Johannesburg today.

My Office News will provide both members and readers with a variety of new digital offerings.

The breakfast was opened by shop-sa chairman Hans Servas, in which he introduced the morning’s guest speaker: Matt Brown of Digital Kung Fu.

Brown set about explaining what digitisation is and how it will impact businesses across industries, which is discussed in detail below.

After the talk held by Brown, Rob Matthews of My Office News presented an outline of the product offerings.

Matthews outlined the advantages of digital, which include reduced cost to advertisers; flexibility to change artwork; broader coverage; speed of publishing; and better metrics (regarding delivery and readership).

“My Office is getting 6 000 unique visitors a month, with over 21 000 visits. The majority of the readers are in the Gauteng area, with an above-average concentration in the Western Province. These visitors spend in excess of three minutes on the site.”

The newsletter, sent out once a week on Wednesday, is received by more than 5 000 people with an average of 99,5% delivered and an open rate in excess of 25%.

“We are aiming to grow the database by 8 000 by the end of the calendar year,” says Matthews.

Digitisation and disruptive technologies

The changing digital environment
Digitisation is the conversion of something non-digital into something digital, disrupting it using digital technology.
“When it comes to digitisation, experts are clueless,” says Brown. Many great minds have missed some of the largest technical inventions of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Examples of this include Western Union brushing off the telephone, and the head of IBM questioning the validity of the personal computer.

Drivers of disruption  
The drivers of disruption in the evolution of media include:
Consumer pull – a growing number of people willing to use the product
Technology push – more people are connecting to technology than ever before
Economic benefits – the benefits of going digital are now exponential

‘Digital’ is more than marketing
When digital arrived in South Africa, major advertising agencies bought out smaller ones in order to bring advertising in-house.
In the 1970s, WPP, OmniCom and IPG had traditional companies. Now the most forward-looking digital agencies in this century are Google and Facebook – technology companies.

The six Ds of Digitisation
The process of digitisation is rapid – so rapid that it is now exponential. The six Ds show a road map of rapid development that results in upheaval.

  • Digitisation – when something is presented in ones and zeroes it becomes an information-based technology subject to exponential growth.
  • Deceptive – digitisation can be deceptive in its initial period because growth doesn’t seem that fast, but it soon picks up speed.
  • Disruptive – the digital technologies disrupt existing industries because they outperform them in both effectiveness and pricepoint.
  • Dematerialised – major devices of the 1980s (such as a boom box and a telephone) have been are now in one device – the smartphone. Separate products become one product.
  • Demonitisation – this occurs when commodities (such as vinyl record stores) are made accessible via technology (such as iTunes) and thus become worth less or even free.
  • Democratisation – this is where the marketplace explodes. As more people join the digital world, technology becomes available to more people to use.

In 2000 6% of the world’s population connected to the Internet; 66% of the population will be connected by 2020. Companies like Google seek to democratise technology and connect the world with projects such as Google Loon.

Artificial intelligence
Intelligent machines that can behave like humans has become the next frontier. Many major companies have invested R&D money in this field.
Currently, we think AI is “dumb”; just embryonic technology that is used in “personal assistants” on platforms such as iOS (Siri), Amazon (Alexa) and Microsoft (Cortana).
There are three types of AI:

  • Artificial narrow intelligence – such as Google Maps, this type of AI can do only one thing at a time
  • Artificial general intelligence – this is what we see in current levels of intelligence found in humans
  • Artificial super-intelligence – this level of AI is far more intelligent than all humans combined – and this could ultimately see the end of humanity. Examples of this power has been evidenced in robots that can beat poker players and predict Supreme Court decision outcomes.

Changes in banking
Banks will soon become outdated if they don’t want to adopt digitisation technologies such as BitCoin and Blockchain. High bank fees and the cost of employing humans will render the old systems obsolete. Examples of this have already occurred in the taxi space. Taxi drivers protested the arrival of Uber – so Uber decided to roll out self-driving cars. And Uber drivers then protested

Unlocking value with data
Sensors are being implemented in jet engines to measure data that is returned to data analysts who attempt to reduce risk and improve efficiencies. The sole purpose of this is to learn where money can be saved, streamlining companies and generating value from data.

Businesses must accept reality
“Most businesses refuse to accept the inevitable,” says Brown. “People think that things aren’t broken so why fix it? But if they don’t consider changing, they may be left behind.”
Businesses need to ask the tough questions so they can get the right answers.
“Companies need to bend with the wind. If they are to exist in the future, they need to be agile and change to adapt to the market.”

Consider what will put you out of business and start strategising about how you will address the problems that haven’t become problems yet.

Matt Brown is the CEO of Digital Kungfu, a digital business consultancy that specialises in helping companies accelerate innovation and disrupt traditional markets by enabling them with new ways to do business that serve their customers more effectively and responsively.

Bytes Document Solutions (BDS) has announced the launch of new Xerox multi-function printers, the WorkCentre 5022 and 5024 machines. The new devices deliver affordable A3 productivity, featuring fast printing and copying with added features such as full-colour scanning, high-quality network printing and fax capabilities.

Erica Marks, senior product manager at Xerox’s African distributor Bytes Document Solutions, says: “Businesses of all kinds are demanding more from their MFPs and Xerox is delivering. Once a limited requirement, A3 today is a widely used format.”

The Xerox devices are highly productive, offering full-colour scanning, printing speeds up to 24 pages per minute (5024; 22 pages per minute for the 5022), in a new, smaller size. With 1 850-page paper capacity and page delivery output in 14 seconds or less in paper sizes up to A3, these devices produce more work in less time.

“The compact size (60cm x 58cm x 57cm) of the WorkCentre machines lends itself to smaller worker spaces, replacing space-intensive printers with increased power and efficiency in a single device,” adds Marks. “Space is at a premium in most offices; advances in printer technology means smaller, lighter machines capable of producing better materials, faster.”

User-friendliness is another feature of the new Xerox MFPs: the WorkCentre 5022 and 5024 feature an interactive user interface that gives easy access to device settings, such as reducing the size of the document, selecting text graphics or setting page output to one- or two-sided.

The WorkCentre also helps businesses meet sustainability goals, with toner and replacement cartridges that adhere to the highest environmental standards.

Xerox WorkCentre 5022/5024 fast facts:
* Affordable A3, fast printing and copying, full-colour scanning and network printing;
* Simple and compact, increased power and efficiency in a single device;
* Black and white at up to 24ppm, with the first page out in 14 seconds or less;
* 1 850 paper capacity for longer print runs and fewer stoppages; and
* Toner and replacement cartridges adhere to the highest environmental standards.

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