Car and Driver published more than 400 barcodes in its annual Buyer’s Guide in late December. Each car in the guide had a corresponding barcode linking to a microsite with pictures, reviews and a link to the full road test, says Olivier Griot, managing director, mobile, at Car and Driver parent company Hachette Filipacchi. All three have partnered with mobile marketing solutions company Scanbuy. Users download Scanbuy’s free software—compatible with 130 different camera phone models—and then use the camera feature as a scanning device, directly linking from the barcodes to the magazines’ WAP (wireless access protocol) sites. At this point, the magazines pay nothing to Scanbuy, according to the company’s CEO Jonathan Bulkeley. In the next phase, Bulkeley says the pay structure will likely be a cost-per-click model. Right now, the goal at Hachette is to educate and build an audience of mobile readers—all of which is “indirectly monetized,” says Griot, as users are bounced to the ad-supported WAP sites. The next step is to open the opportunity up for advertisers to link to their sites and for the company to include barcodes in other Hachette titles magazines. Griot says all signals are positive in this test phase—a “healthy number” of readers have downloaded the Scanbuy software, and the WAP site has seen “quite a bit of return usage,” as users scan multiple bar codes in the guide. “The magazine is portable, and the cell phone is too,” says Griot. “[The platform] helps readers navigate seamlessly between the two.” Bulkeley, naturally, thinks barcodes could be ubiquitous with magazines—and everything else—within the next three-to-five years, appearing in “every magazine ad,” revealing a reader’s demographics—even his or her location. “It brings advertisers back to print,” says Bulkeley. “It makes it measurable. If it becomes ubiquitous, it will change the magazine business forever and, in my opinion, it needs to change.” For example, Bulkeley says a reader could scan a pair of shoes in Vogue magazine, find out which retailers in a five mile radius carry the shoes and even pay for them, all via cellphone. “We think of it today as a communication device. It will become a content access and transaction device,” he says. Magazine publishers love to talk about their mobile initiatives, but asking users to type even the most basic URLs into their phones has proven to be a challenge. Now, some are offering an alternative: cellphone-readable barcodes. Billboard, Wired and Car and Driver have been the first American magazines to test publishing the barcodes in their pages. Billboard was the first in October when it ran two ads for Sprint—a cover-wrapped ad with a bar code linking to the Billboard Top 10 list and a two-page ad with codes linking to music downloads and artist information via Sprint’s deck. Wired ran a barcoded Sprint ad in December.
Force reductions shrinking the Army’s active-duty end strength from 490,000 to 450,000 soldiers by the end of fiscal 2018 will increase the portion of the service’s infrastructure considered excess to 21 percent, according to a rough estimate.“And it’s only going to get worse as the Army declines in force structure,” Paul Cramer, deputy assistant secretary for installations, housing, and partnerships, told Federal News Radio.Officials previously had said the Army’s excess capacity ranged between 12 and 28 percent in the United States, depending on facility category, with an overall average of 18 percent. That analysis was based on an active force of 490,000, a target the Army planned to reach at the beginning of the month.With Congress refusing to allow DOD to shed some of its unneeded installations through a BRAC round, the Army faces a severe shortfall in funding to operate and sustain its facilities. To stretch its dollars further, Lt. Gen. David Halverson — assistant chief of staff for installation management and commander of Installation Management Command — recently signed an execution order directing commanders to consolidate personnel and activities into the newest buildings and attempt to vacate older facilities that are not being fully used.Some unused buildings will be placed in a long-term mothball status, with others designated for eventual demolition, according to the story.“People have a tendency just to expand into whatever buildings they have, but we’ve already lost 80,000 soldiers,” Halverson said. “We need to get them into facilities that optimize the space we have and not have to invest as much in the lower-quality. That’s a new initiative that we’ll be pushing pretty hard this year,” he said.The problem for the Army is that a drop in an installation’s population will not result in a proportional reduction in the cost to operate the base due to the fixed costs required to keep things running.“We’ve already reduced our force structure by 20 percent, and the cost of running our bases has not declined anywhere near that,” Andy Napoli, assistant for BRAC in the office of the assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, told Federal News Radio.The service would need to shutter some installations completely to generate significant savings.“The only way you can truly get after that is you have to close a few bases and realign the missions to the bases with higher military value. That gives you permanent savings, and the magnitude of savings you’d get with just a few bases would dwarf any amount of demolition we could do at all of our bases,” Napoli said. Dan Cohen AUTHOR
This is how the Nazi Enigma machine works Now playing: Watch this: Queen Elizabeth II took an early tour of Top Secret: From Ciphers to Cyber Security, a new exhibit at The Science Museum coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Government Communication Headquarters. Along with the letter from Babbage, the exhibit includes Alan Turing’s Enigma M1070. The Royal Family’s Instagram has more than 2,000 posts, but this was reportedly the first one the queen wrote personally. Her first post has gotten more than 42,000 likes and 836 comments so far.”Today, I had the pleasure of learning about children’s computer coding initiatives and it seems fitting to me that I publish this Instagram post, at the Science Museum which has long championed technology, innovation and inspired the next generation of inventors,” the queen wrote. Mobile Culture 4:44 Share your voice 0 Tags Queen Elizabeth visits The Science Museum in London. The Science Museum Computers are a part of our everyday lives, and we may not give much thought to their origins. In true royal fashion, Queen Elizabeth II has reminded us on Instagram.The queen posted on Thursday that she visited The Science Museum in London and viewed a letter in the Royal Archives written in 1843 by Charles Babbage. Babbage designed the “Difference Engine” and has been credited as the world’s first computer pioneer. The queen wrote that Prince Albert saw a prototype in 1843. Post a comment Instagram
Gold prices are likely to fall below $1,000 per troy ounce next year in view due to the strengthening of the US dollar and further interest rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve in 2016, suggest analysts.”As the US dollar strengthens and interest rates in the US go higher, I think gold is going to lose some of its shine. We see prices heading towards the $1,000-per-ounce mark or even lower than that in 2016,” said Vasun Menon, vice-president of Wealth Management at OCBC Bank.Another analyst is equally convinced about the yellow metal’s fall.Gold was trading at $1,073 on early Thursday, 24 December, after having plunged to a six-year low of $1,049 on 17 December, a day after the US Federal Reserve announced its decision to raise interest rate by 25 basis points, according to a Channel News Asia report.”We are fairly constructive on the US dollar given that the rate cycle in the US is quite the opposite of the rate cycle in the rest of the world. That’s going to put downward pressure on gold prices and a break below $1,000 is potentially in store,” said Seamus Donoghue, CEO of Allocated Bullion Solutions.With China, the world’s largest consumer of gold, projected to grow at 6.3% in 2016 as against 6.8% this year, the low-demand-induced fall in gold prices is also seen as another factor by analysts.Buying on account of falling prices by India, the second-largest consumer of the precious metal, may not be enough to compensate the twin effects of the strengthening US dollar and weakening Chinese economy.If gold falls below $1,000 and settles around $985 by the end of 2016, as expected by Phillip Futures, the metal would have touched a new low since 2009, said the Channel News Asia report.Gold demand in India during the quarter ended September 2015 was 268.1 tonnes, up 12.55% from 238.2 tonne in the corresponding period last year, according to the World Gold Council. China’s gold demand in the third quarter ended September 2015 was 239.9 tonnes, lower than India. China’s five-year average was 242.3 tonnes, as against India’s average of 228.2 tonnes.India’s gold imports declined 36.48% to $3.53 billion last month, as against $5.57 billion in November 2014.Gold closed at Rs 26,149 per 10 gm in Delhi on Thursday, up 1.45% from Rs 25,775.40 on Wednesday.
Low-performing schools have been a chronic problem in the District. But a new tool, blended learning, has local school officials hopeful that they may be solving the issue and turning the tide.According to Ed Tech magazine, blended learning is an education model that integrates online instruction with the traditional classroom learning experience. Instead of all students in a classroom working from the same textbook, blended learning allows individuals to engage with material at their own pace.John Rice, blended learning manager for the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Office of Teaching Learning, has an even simpler definition.“Blended learning is a combination of the best of what teachers can do with the best of what technology can do in the classroom,” he told the AFRO.The technology-driven model first entered DCPS in math classrooms approximately six years ago. Before 2011, its use was described as “haphazard” by the American Enterprise Institute, because a centralized strategy did not exist. Blended learning appeared “only in places where enterprising teachers or administrators had decided to experiment on their own,” according to a case study, “Blended Learning in DC Public Schools.”However, since then, implementation of the learning tool has picked up because it has the ability to “meet students where they are,” school officials said. Blended learning was first used to increase technical skills in Algebra.“Blended learning levels the playing field,” said Rice. “It helps educators find the right lesson for students’ rights where they are in their current stage of learning.”After seeing successful results in mathematics, school officials expanded into other curriculums and areas of study. Some form of blended learning can be found in at least eight of the city’s public schools; public charter schools also use the model.“Chancellor [Kaya] Henderson believes in the application and power of technology across all levels of learning,” David Rose, DCPS deputy chief of educational technology and library programs told the AFRO. “This makes our school district different from others which may only have these models in certain schools or grades. You can find blended learning in classrooms across the K-12 spectrum.”Randle Highlands Elementary School in Southeast is one of the successful DCPS schools utilizing blended learning. School officials have seen an improvement in math and reading scores, and a decline in teacher turnover and student suspensions since the program began.Reactions to the new model have remained positive among teachers, parents, and students. School officials said parents enjoy learning about new technology with their children, and students enjoy using cutting-edge materials.Initially, veteran teachers seemed hesitant toward the new technology and curriculum model, but DCPS officials have worked to make professional development integral to the program’s roll-out.“We place big emphasis on professional development for our teachers and have committed resources district-wide to aid in this effort,” said Rose.One of the concerns about the program is whether it can be continued when a child returns home.“We recognize that not all of our families have technology or significant resources at home and, at the same time, we live in a world where a comfort level with technology is nearly a requirement,” said Melissa Salmanowitz, a spokesperson for DCPS. “We want our students to surpass this requirement.”
Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now Enroll Now for Free This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. November 25, 2013 5 min read Economists and others who warn of the business impact of excessive regulations are often derided as Chicken Littles and proto-anarchists who put corporate profit over public safety. I should know, since I’m often on the receiving end of such screeds.But it isn’t Laissez-Fairy-dust dreams that drive such vigilance. Rather, it is people like Rep. Albio Sires.Last week showed why some regulatory schemes can be downright scary – and need to be killed in the crib.During the first congressional hearing over autonomous cars, much of the regulatory concern surrounded the issue of liability. In the event of a fender-bender or worse, who is on the hook to pay? It is a legitimate issue for these cars, now being developed by a range of companies, from Google to Daimler-Benz. After all, most regulations come down to who has to pony up cash when a violation occurs. With autonomous, of self-driving, cars, is it the driver (who isn’t driving, by the way), the auto manufacturer, or the creator of the SkyNet computer that is behind the wheel?All good questions, which no doubt will be resolved, and are being handled on a state-by-state basis.Related: A 3-D Printed Electric Car That Can Drive Across the U.S. on 10 Gallons of GasYet, autonomous cars may crash and burn for other reasons. Here’s one: Will driverless cars be so advanced that they will put people out of work?Yep, that question was actually raised at last week’s hearing, by Sires, a New Jersey Democrat. As the Competitive Enterprise Institute points out, Sires is afraid that today’s hard-working auto mechanics just won’t be up to the job of fixing these darned newfangled things that the kids today are making.“You’re going to have to send these cars back to the shop,” he said. “I can’t see anybody doing work on these things. I mean, you have to be so sophisticated. And I guess that’s where we’re headed. So can anybody tell me if we’re going to put people out of work?”Um…There are a number of problems with this view. First, all technology implements change of some kind. The flat-panel television made obsolete the need for someone who knew how to swap out vacuum tubes in the back of your TV. Advances in slot-machine technology went from the mechanical to the digital, requiring a whole new breed of service technicians. Video killed the radio star. Why is it worth any conversation that someone more comfortable to an ’80 Malibu be protected against this big, bad menace of a job destroyer?Second, it fails to understand workplace dynamics and the resilience of the American worker. We adapt pretty well to new technologies, which almost always create, rather than destroy, jobs. Sires need only talk to his mechanic friends in West New York to see this. Cars themselves have become so advanced that the way we fix them has changed dramatically. You don’t tinker with an engine anymore. Instead, you do a precision diagnostic check, aided by computers that monitor what works and what doesn’t. Rather than put people out of work, it has attracted a whole new breed of auto-repair technicians, less grease monkey than tech junkie. Advances like a self-driven car are an opportunity, not a challenge. Mechanics can and — if past be prologue – will adapt, and they probably would cringe if you suggested they were somehow not “sophisticated.”Related: Mind Control Technology, Elon Musk’s James Bond Submarine and a Real-Life Bionic ManLastly, and perhaps more scarily, is the idea that regulations, rather than protecting safety, can have different purposes from a policy perspective. Given the horrendous state of employment right now, Congressmen like Sires want to “do something.” So, hey, we’re sitting in this hearing, let me throw out the jobs card. The folks back home in Hudson County will love me for it. (One should probably be thankful that, given Hudson County’s political-criminal record, Sires didn’t inquire whether an autonomous car would be allowed to vote, and how much that vote would cost.) When you throw out a completely unrelated issue like jobs, and suggest you may want that included in whatever laws come out of the hearing, you are adding needless complexity and burden to an issue that may well need some legislative oversight, opinion and guidance. You might as well have asked whether the self-driving technology could be used to save Obamacare.Autonomous cars, whenever the hell they get here, will be here to stay. And they will benefit the economy in huge ways. Morgan Stanley recently said autonomous cars would create $1.3 trillion in savings to the U.S. economy alone. That amount of money will no doubt trickle down into jobs for people.There is no evidence that this exciting and disruptive technology will make legions of folks be tossed out of their jobs. All Sires’ musings do is ensure that I get to keep mine.Related: Options for Deducting Your Company’s Auto Expenses