web analytics
December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Apple Confirms It Is Paying $350 Million for Prime Sense

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Apple has made short shrift of recent denials of Israel’s PrimeSense gesture recognition company that it is being bought out and has and confirmed on Monday it is paying $359 million for the firm.

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” said Apple in a statement following 18 months of negotiations.

PrimeSense was founded as a start-up in 2005. Its software is embedded in Microsoft’s Kinect system and is used in Xbox 360 game consoles. Its gesture recognition technology allows purchasers to use their tablets to buy clothing by scanning their bodies.

Apple will embed PrimeSense’s technology in it smart TV that is scheduled to hit the market in 2015, Globes reported. Apple might also install the technology in iPads.

The acquisition is Apple’s second in Israel. Two years ago, it paid $400 million for Anobit.

IDC Students Show Microsoft How to Do It Right

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

The setting was the annual student Design Expo at the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit, which is one reason the project called “Clashers” stood out: It’s an Android app, developed by students from Israel’s Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, that leverages YouTube to let people eavesdrop on songs being played by other Clashers users they spot on the street, the bus or anywhere else.

After their presentation yesterday at the Redmond event, a member of the panel pointed out that Microsoft itself had tried this type of thing — with proximity-based song sharing on its ill-fated Zune music player —with decidedly underwhelming results.

But the IDC students believe they have come up with a better approach. When a user clicks on the picture and name of the other Clashers user, the app pulls up a YouTube music video and starts playing at the same point in the song, for a shared music experience. The person who has been “Clashed” gets a notification that someone else is listening in.

Apart from its use of non-Microsoft technologies in a Microsoft design showcase, the app stands out because it’s actually available now in the Google Play Store. As the video above shows, it’s a potential nirvana for teens and twenty-something singles.

The students say the project was inspired not by Zune but by the popular “What Song Are You Listening To?” videos on YouTube.

What about privacy? Clashers only works if the other person is willingly using the app, and only shows the user’s name and picture, but the app highlights what can be a relatively relaxed attitude toward privacy among younger generations.

The Microsoft Research Design Expo, now in its 10th year, was started by Microsoft researcher Lili Cheng. It’s part of Microsoft’s broader attempt to include student design teams from around the world — not just computer science students — in the process of developing and imagining technology. The overall theme this year was “making data useful.”

Every school involved in the Design Expo runs a semester-long class each year, with help from Microsoft. Student projects compete at each school to present their work at the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit, although the expo itself isn’t a contest. Past participants have included Dennis Crowley, the Foursquare founder, who was a graduate student at NYU.

On the other end of the privacy spectrum from Clashers, a Design Expo project called “Mine,” from students at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, gives people a glimpse of what data miners know about them from their public feeds, allowing them to make adjustments as necessary to shape the way they’re viewed by potential employers and others.

The involvement of international schools can often lead to new insights for U.S.-based researchers. As an example, Cheng pointed to this year’s PoliCiti project by students from the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India, which gives citizens new ways to report crime, track police progress and even see geographic clusters of bribery and police corruption through a mobile app. Another project, from UCLA grad student Refik Anadol, will project a real-time light show onto the interior and exterior of L.A.’s Walt Disney Concert Hall next year — using real-time data from the live music and tracking the motion of L.A. Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel. Anadol gave a brief demo of the technology in a Microsoft conference hall yesterday, and it was impressive even at a smaller scale.

And a project called Greenery, from students at the Universidad Iberoamericana, Design Department, creates a virtual laboratory to help urban dwellers grow their own food in real time.

Check out Israel’s Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya.

Abbas’ Adviser Calls Israel-PA High-Tech Meeting ‘Unacceptable’

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas  advisor on high-tech affairs strongly criticized a planned meeting between Palestinian Authority and Israel high-tech companies, calling such meetings “unacceptable” because they give the world the wrong impression.

The adviser, Sabri Saydam, told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an  news agency that Palestinian Authority companies should reconsider their participation and “give priority to Palestinian interests.”

He added that the companies should not act  independently of the PA union of high-tech firms.

What could be wrong about Israeli and PA high-tech companies talking to each other, especially since officials from 11 high-tech companies, including Microsoft and Cisco, are to attend?

For starters, the forum is being organized by the Peres Center for Peace. That already puts a Zionist stamp on the meeting.

The forum is entitled ”Business without Barriers,” but without barriers, the Palestinian Authority cannot claim it is an Israeli scheme for  Apartheid.

One of Saydam’s problems is that, according to Ma’an, “there were still few details about the event.”

Perhaps it is a Zionist plot to snare Microsoft and Cisco into declaring that Israeli high-tech companies have a Jewish identity, and that might cause the international community to think that Israel is a Jewish state.

Even worse, the meeting is scheduled for Tel Aviv. The Palestinian Authority undoubtedly would want it to take place in some PA high-tech city, if any exist.

And what would the international community think if it saw that Palestinian Authority Arabs and Israeli Jews can sit down for direct talks on high-tech without pre-published “details of the event?”

One might reach the conclusion, horror of horrors, that Abbas could sit down with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu without knowing ahead of time ”details of the event.” But that might lead to negotiations, in the true sense of the term.

And that would spell the end of Abbas’ “peace process” strategy of “I take, you give.”

Now that Microsoft and Cisco understand what Abbas means by “direct talks,” maybe they can explain the term to John Kerry.

World Bank Distorting Truth, Blaming Palestinian Failures on Israel

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

It’s that time of the year again, when the World Bank’s latest Economic Monitoring Report is being issued, and it includes a special segment on how things are in the Palestinian Authority.

The bank’s press release says that this year’s report stresses that “while the donor community’s efforts are directed towards short-term relief for Palestinian fiscal stress, it is important to recognize that the prolonged system of closures and restrictions is causing lasting damage to the competitiveness of the Palestinian economy.”

So, there’s a narrative in place, which is: Palestinians are poor, wealthy countries are sending in the funds, but Israel is limiting movement within the Palestinian Authority so badly, what with checking if their cars are carrying weapons, bombs, or suicide bombers, and what with the security wall that physically bars terrorists from sneaking into Israel – those things are ruining the Palestinian economy.

The problem with press releases of this kind is that one occasionally gets the feeling that their authors haven’t read their own text all the way through.

For instance, take a look at the following two paragraphs:

The economy is in danger of losing its capacity to compete in the global market, according to the report. It shows that the structure of the economy has deteriorated since the late 90’s as the value-added of the tradable sectors has declined, illustrated by the productivity of the agriculture sector having roughly halved and the manufacturing sector having largely stagnated.

The share of exports in the Palestinian economy has also been in steady decline since 1994, dropping to 7 percent in 2011, one of the lowest in the world. Moreover, Palestinian exports are concentrated in low value-added goods and services, the majority of which is exported to Israel.

So, starting in 1994, Palestinian poverty has been increasing steadily, until it really started revving down, so to speak, in more recent years.

And what magical event started in 1994? You guessed, the Paris Economic Protocol happened, which followed the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords, creating the Palestinian Authority and handing over the keys to the terrorist organization PLO, and its leader, the late Yassir Arafat.

Let’s consult Wikipedia for a somewhat different narrative than the one offered by the World Bank:

GDP per capita in the Palestinian territories rose by 7% per year from 1968-1980 (correlating with the “occupation”), but slowed during the 1980s. Between 1970 and 1991 life expectancy rose from 56 to 66 years, infant mortality per 1,000 fell from 95 to 42, the percentage of households with electricity rose from 30% to 85%, the percentage of households with safe water rose from 15% to 90%, the percentage of households with a refrigerator rose from 11% to 85%, and the percentage of households with a washing machine rose from 23% in 1980 to 61% in 1991.

You’re with me so far? After 19 years as a proud and free people under the loving rule of the Kingdom of Jordan, the Israeli takeover spelled a stunning prosperity for the occupation victims. But then the geniuses from Labor—Shimon Peres, Yossi Beilin, and Yitzhak Rabin—liberated the suffering Palestinian by imposing a gang of ruffians on them, complete with street executions and the exacting of protection money from every businessman and every productive person. The fruits of liberty ripened fast:

Economic conditions in the West Bank and Gaza, where economic activity was governed by the Paris Economic Protocol of April 1994 between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, deteriorated in the early 1990s. Real per capita GDP for the West Bank and Gaza Strip (WBGS) declined 36.1% between 1992 and 1996 owing to the combined effect of falling aggregate incomes and robust population growth. The downturn in economic activity was due to extensive corruption in the newly governing Palestinian Authority, and to Israeli closure policies in response to security incidents in Israel, which disrupted previously established labor and commodity market relationships.

This is years before the security wall, years before the complex system of checkposts, this is in a mere four years of Palestinian self rule.

“Continued financial support by the donor community, and increased reform efforts by the Palestinian Authority to manage the current fiscal challenges must remain a high priority,” said Mariam Sherman, World Bank Country Director for the West Bank and Gaza. “However, much bolder efforts to create the basis for a viable economy need to be made to prevent the continued deterioration that will have lasting and costly implications for economic competiveness and social cohesion.”

Not going to happen. You can’t run a competitive economy with armed thugs at the helm. For real prosperity, you must first kill all the gangsters. I say “kill” because throughout history we haven’t come up with a better, softer method of asking gangsters to leave.

Cisco Acquired its 11th Israeli Company

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Straight from the Jerusalem Boardroom #175.

1.   “Israeli defense exports for 2012 are expected to show an increase, despite the global economic crisis…. Israeli defense exports for 2012 may cross the $7 billion line…. 10% to 15% higher than 2011 exports, though it will not match the peak of more than $7.5 billion recorded in 2010…. A substantial effort is currently under way to increase sales mainly in countries such as India and several other countries in Eastern Asia, South American countries, Australia, Africa and Canada, where Israeli defense exports have recorded a growth trend” (IsraelDefense, Dec. 31, 2012).  Israel is ranked between fourth and sixth in the world for weapons sales. The U.S. and Europe are Israel’s leading markets.

2.  “Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that even though there is only one Silicon Valley, ‘Israel is among the second tier of innovative places’ — akin to Microsoft’s hometown, Seattle…. Ballmer said that “the range of innovative things that Israel is doing is remarkable. There is such a wide scope of exciting things going on here. Israel is a start-up center, and there is always something to challenge us there, or one that we can acquire.’ A number of MS technologies are ‘Made in Israel,’ Weisfeld explained in a previous interview: These include Microsoft gateway VPN technology; Microsoft Security Essentials anti-virus suite; and the newest product, the recommendation system for Xbox systems…. Israel was the first Microsoft R&D center outside the US, which opened in 1991. Today, the company has centers around the world, but… there are only four places in the world where the R&D centers get involved in general and innovative projects: the US, China, India, and Israel” (Times of Israel, Nov. 5, 2012).

3.  The Swiss-based Institute for Management Development (IMD) has ranked the Bank of Israel in the top five among central banks for its efficient functioning in its 2012 World Competitiveness Yearbook for the third year in a row. The report also ranked Israel’s economy 9th highest for its durability in the face of the global financial crisis (http://bit.ly/Xf6Cr9).

4.  The $110BN Cisco acquired Israel’s IntuCell for $475MN, Cisco’s 11th Israeli acquisition, including NDS which was acquired in March, 2012 for $5BN  (Globes, January 24).  Israel’s Keryx BioPharmaceuticals raised – on NASDAQ - $70MN, its 4th IPO (Globes, Feb. 4). Israel’s MedGenics raised $29MN on NASDAQ (Globes, Feb. 11).  DKPartners hedge fund joined York Private Equity, investing $55MN in Elbit Imaging bonds (January 24).

5.  In 2012, 575 Israeli high-tech companies raised $1.92 billion from local and foreign investors, a 10 percent decrease from $2.14 billion raised by 545 companies in 2011 (Israel Venture Capital Research Center).  The Georgia-based EndoChoice merged with Israel’s Peer Medical, raising $43MN in a round of private placement led by Sequoia Capital(MarketWire, January 4).  Benchmark Capital, Battery Ventures and HPV Investmentinvested $16MN in Israel’s Panaya (Globes, Jan. 9).  Sequoia Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners and Norwest Venture Partners invested $15NM in a round of private placement by Israel’s Ravello (Globes, Feb. 7). The NYC-based Millennium Technology Value Partnersinvested $12MN in Israel’s WatchDox (Globes, 31).  Orbimed invested $8MN in Israel’s Medigus (Globes, Jan. 7). $5.5MN invested in Jonathan Medved’s OurCrowd (Globes, Feb. 7).

6.  Israel’s natural gas potential.  Jonathan Baron and Dr. David Wurmser, (Forbes, September 27, 2012): “With in excess of 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas discovered since 2009, Israel now enjoys historic opportunities to produce domestic, affordable, and secure energy…. Under any realistic scenario, Israel possesses ample supplies to ensure energy security in the power sector for a generation…. The well-established pattern of such development suggests that the natural gas discoveries to date represent only a fraction of the total recoverable resource. Based on other basins, current discoveries in the Israeli Levant Basin likely are only a fraction of the total technically recoverable resources….”

7.  Kinetic Energies – Alternative Electrical Energies, owned by Isaac Sutton, leads a 250MN Euro investment in the construction of 120 megawatt 50 wind-turbines in the Golan Heights (Globes, January 24).

Visit The Ettinger Report.

Microsoft CEO: Israel Is the High-Tech Country

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

1. “[Australia’s] $30BN Woodside Petroleum is looking at taking an interest in the giant Leviathan gas field off the coast of Israel…. The Leviathan field, discovered in 2010, has an estimated 17 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas, making the biggest deep water gas discovery of the past ten years. 50-75% of the gas is slated for export….  Woodside Petroleum Ltd. bids for 30% of the rights to the Leviathan licenses. It is 50% higher than their market value. Woodside is one of the finalists in the licensees’ choice for a strategic partner.

“Woodside’s bid reflects a value of $7.5 billion, compared with analysts’ estimates of $4.7-5.5 billion for the gas field…. ‘Petroleum Intelligence Weekly’ reported that [Russia’s] GazpromWoodside and apparently South Korea’s Korea Gas Corporation (Kogas), are finalists in the Leviathan process…. [The Houston-based] Noble Energy [which controls 39.66% of Leviathan] prefers a Western partner for Leviathan.

“Woodside would fit the bill for Noble Energy: it is a veteran company with deep water expertise as well as building liquefied natural gas facilities for gas exports from its fields off Australia’s northwest coast. This area is considered the most developed in the world, attracting hundreds of billions of dollars in investment in onshore and floating LNG facilities” (Globes Business Daily, October 22, 2012).

2. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO 4th visit to Israel: “I’ve arrived to Israel, the high-tech country…. The integration between Microsoft and Israel is natural, because Israel’s high-tech industries are among the global leaders…. I’m energized and inspired by Israel’s innovative capabilities, which have made Israel an important arena for Microsoft….” (Globes, November 2).

3. Intel Corp. CEO Paul Otellini is in Israel: “We are perhaps the largest private employer in Israel (about 8,000 employees in the company’s development and production centers), and most of those employees have technological know-how. Some of our most sophisticated engineering efforts are carried out in Israel…. We have been in Israel for 40 years and we have done many things. We’re here for the long term and we will decide next year regarding our next factory.”

Otellini visits Israel in order to launch the company’s $5 million investment in Israeli high schools over the next four years, in partnership with the Ministry of Education. The project’s aim is to double the number of high school students completing their science and technology matriculation certificate (Globes, November 2).

4. According to the $56BN Swiss bank, UBS – which is currently expanding its Israel wealth management operations - Israel is among the top five promising economies with the highest growth potential.

5. “The UK law firm Berwin, Leighton Paisner (BLP) LLP, Britain’s fifth largest, with 1,000 attorneys worldwide, is expanding to Israel, opening an office in Tel Aviv as part of the expansion of its international operations. The firm’s customers include 59 companies on the Global Fortune 500 list. Its decision is a vote of confidence in Israeli economic growth…. ‘We’re here because the Israeli business world is heading in directions which we see as markets of the future, like China and the Far East…. BLP sees the steady business growth of Israeli companies’ activity in international markets….(Globes, Oct. 30).’”

Visit The Ettinger Report.

Smell the Grass

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

When was the last time you walked across a field of grass?

Wait, a whole bunch of you just looked up at the ceiling and thought…what the heck is she talking about? You probably walk through a field of grass every day, don’t you? Well, if not a field, a lawn, right?

Israel is a land that was, according to the Bible and logic, very fertile. I believe I read somewhere that when the Romans conquered Judea and sent the Jews into exile, they salted the earth to prevent our return. I googled it…yeah, google is now a verb… and there are more than 50,000,000 references to it. I didn’t click on them to see if it was true or not. The bottom line is still the same.

Much of Israel is short on water – we have desert as our southern half and even towards the north, we don’t really have lush, green mountains. Where we have fields of grass, they are usually cultivated and watered. Otherwise, they aren’t really grass, but rather weeds that grow in the winter months and die in the summer.

I went to a Microsoft conference today – they put on a light and dance show that was incredible. I have to write about the amazing technologies I saw there, the wonderful things Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer said about Israel. I want a Surface computer SO badly… I would love a Windows 8 phone. I ache for a convertible laptop and have given up the idea of buying a laptop until I can afford one. Just wow…

And with my head filled with the wonders of what Microsoft is bringing to the world… I began the walk back to my car. And, as I crossed the road, I opted for the shortcut so many others were taking…across the grass.

I grew up in America – where there is so much grass – we all had front lawns and back lawns and had to cut the grass regularly. I can still remember the smell of cut grass, of grass after a rain. I stopped thinking of Microsoft and looked down at the grass – there were people in front of me, people behind me. I couldn’t stop to touch it, though deep down I longed to.

I don’t know if you’ve ever stopped to think about the wonders of grass (the legitimate kind, naturally) – but it’s important to take that time in life – to feel the grass under your feet as you walk. I’ll remember Microsoft’s products from today… but I think part of me will also remember the grass.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/smell-the-grass/2012/11/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: