Adobe Partnership Could Be a Game Changer for Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3

David Wadhwani, Adobe’s senior vice president and general manager of Digital Media, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and Adobe president and CEO Shantanu Narayen onstage during the keynote presentation at Adobe’s Max conference in Los Angeles, Oct. 6, 2014.
Microsoft’s problem with mobile has largely been a software one. As the company has learned, it’s not enough to make powerful tablets or phones if the software isn’t there to support it.But Adobe might be able to help.

Though the two have worked closely together in the past, it wasn’t until Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella took the stage with Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen during Monday’s keynote presentation at Adobe’s Max conference, that it was clear the two companies have a closer partnership than ever, which may signal big changes for Microsoft’s Surface platform.

That the two would want to work together closely is not a surprise. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 has much more advanced software capabilities than iPads an other tablets — ideal for resource hungry applications like Photoshop and Illustrator.

On the software side, Adobe rolled out a new version of Illustrator optimized for the Surface Pro 3. “This touch workspace lets designers create on the go what they could once only accomplish sitting at their studio workbench before,” wrote Panos Panay, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for Surface in a blog post. “This new workspace exposes the core tools and controls for drawing and editing, making it super simple to start creating with pen and touch.”

The two companies also showed off Project Animal, a new animation app that has Kinect-like face and speech recognition and gesture tracking capabilities. Adobe executives hinted that users can expect more software like Animal in the future.

“Given the incredible technology they have across some of things they’re doing with Kinect and depth cameras and all the technology they’ve been working with from Xbox… that’s right there for us to work together on a collaborative basis ahead of where the creative community is right now,” said David Wadhwani, Adobe’s senior vice president and general manger of digital media.

Adobe also previewed a new touch workspace in Photoshop on the Surface Pro 3, nicknamed “Playground.” Playground has all the power of Photoshop on the desktop, says Adobe, but a completely redesigned, touch-enabled, user interface.

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 5.22.18 PM

Layer Inspector, a feature within Photoshop’s Playground workspace, allows users to navigate between layers by swiping over them.


One Playground feature, Layer Inspector, allows users to navigate between layers by swiping across them on their screen. The layers can also be picked up and rearranged solely with touch gestures.

“The thing when we created Surface Pro 3 was to get touch and keyboard and mouse to be seamless and natural as a way to enhance productivity,” Nadella said during the demo.

If that sounds familiar it’s because it sounds a lot like Microsoft’s Continuum feature in the newly unveiled Windows 10.

If that sounds familiar it’s because it sounds a lot like Microsoft’s Continuum feature in the newly unveiled Windows 10. Continuum allows users to easily switch between tablet (touch) mode and “mouse and keyboard” mode when using hybrid two in one devices, like the Surface Pro.It’s not completely clear what the partnership between the two companies means for now— Nadella described it as having “new energy,” but didn’t elaborate on specifics. And Adobe is by no means shifting away from Apple (many of Adobe’s mobile apps are still iOS only.) But both CEOs made it clear they were committed to working together on innovative creativity applications.

To further drive that point, Nadella announced Microsoft was giving every Max attendee a Surface Pro 3. This may not seem particularly significant in itself— Microsoft gave an Xbox One to everyone at its Build Developer Conferenceearlier this year, after all— but it shouldn’t be underestimated

Each year, Adobe’s Max conference attracts some of the top creative professionals from around the world. By putting an $800 Surface Pro 3 (which Microsoft is still losing money on, by the way) in the hands of this group, Microsoft and Adobe are sending a very clear message: Microsoft already offered hardware Apple and other tablet makers didn’t and now, with Adobe support, it also has the software to match.


Microsoft discloses zero day in all versions of Internet Explorer

By  for Zero Day |

Late Saturday Microsoft revealed a vulnerability in all versions of Internet Explorer that is being used in “limited, targeted attacks.” They are investigating the vulnerability and exploit and have not yet determined what action they will take in response or when.

All versions of Internet Explorer from 6 through 11 are listed as vulnerable as well as all supported versions of Windows other than Server Core. Windows Server versions on which IE is run in the default Enhanced Security Configuration are not vulnerable unless an affected site is placed in the Internet Explorer Trusted sites zone.

The vulnerability was reported to Microsoft by research firm FireEye. FireEye says that, while the vulnerability affects all versions of IE, the attack is specific to versions 9, 10 and 11. It is a “use after free” attack in which memory objects in the browser are manipulated after being released. The attack bypasses both DEP (Data Execution Prevention) and ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization).

The specific exploit, according to FireEye, uses an Adobe Flash SWF file to manipulate the heap with a technique called heap feng shui. Neither Microsoft nor FireEye says it, but this implies that systems without Flash installed are not vulnerable to the specific exploit, although they are to the underlyng vulnerability in Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer 10 and 11 come with Flash embedded, so they are vulnerable by default.

EMET, the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit, will also make it more difficult to exploit this vulnerability.

10 important URLs that every single Google user needs to know

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Personally, I love that Google is so creative with my private data. I am fully aware that in order to use Google’s many great “free” services, I pay the company in information about myself that helps it serve better ads. That same information lets it create fantastic services such as Google Now, and it saves me a tremendous amount of pain and suffering. It also, of course, helps make Google Search better. But even if you’re like me and you’re happy with this model, it’s still very important to be fully aware of what Google collects and how you can control it.

With that in mind, here are 10 important URLs compiled recently by Digital Inspiration that every single Google user should be aware of. — Create a Google account with your current email address instead of making a new address. — View and edit your profile within Google’s system as it relates to advertising (you can also opt out of interest-based ads here). — Use this link to export all of your data contained within the Google ecosystem, including emails, photos and YouTube videos. — This URL will let you file a complaint in the event you find your content being used without permission on a Google website. — This is exactly what you think it is, your location history if you use an Android phone or the Google Now iOS app. — Your entire search history; make a pot of coffee before you start digging. — If you have unused Gmail accounts, use this to ensure that Google doesn’t delete them after extended periods of inactivity. — Think someone might have gained unauthorized access to your account? This is your first stop. — Here is a complete list of all Web, mobile and desktop apps that can access your data. — A link to reset your Google Apps password if your account is ever hacked (replace “YOURDOMAIN” with your URL, including the top-level domain).

A Map of Who’s Got the Best (And Worst) Internet Connections in America

A Map of Who’s Got the Best (And Worst) Internet Connections in America

In the digital age, access to high speed internet is fundamentally important. But some regions of the country are still left out in the cold. We took a look at where you can get the best—and not best—internet in the U.S.

In an interview this February, Susan Crawford–former special assistant to President Obama for science, technology and innovation–summed up the state of America’s slow, expensive internet thusly:

The rich are getting gouged, the poor are very often left out, and this means that we’re creating, yet again, two Americas, and deepening inequality through this communications inequality.

Where can we find these two Americas? The map above shows relative download speeds (by congressional district*) across the contiguous U.S., based on January through July data from over 5,600 cities and towns represented in Ookla’s Net Index. Blue means a faster download speed than the national average of 18.2 Mbps, while red means a slower download speed.

18.2 Mbps isn’t shabby, and it’s a lot faster than where some other sources put U.S. internet speeds. This is because Ookla’s data are primarily coming from the site, which is self-selectively used by people who’d actually bother to check their download speeds. On one hand, this means that the raw Mbps figures are heavily skewed towards high-speed users. On the other hand, it means that the relative comparison between regions is a lot more interesting – instead of simply mapping out what parts of the country haven’t fully switched away from dial-up, this is showing, for users who are at least somewhat internet-savvy, where good speeds are generally available.

Basically, these data show where getting a fast internet connection is even possible.

The Fastest and Slowest

The fastest single location, with an average download speed of 85.5 Mbps belongs to Ephrata, Wash., a small town of 7,000 that happens to be home to its own fiber optics provider. Google’s grand experiment in Kansas City, Kan. comes in second, clocking in at 49.9 Mbps. The worst speeds can be found in Northeastern Arizona, where Chinle and Fort Defiance both clock in at less than 1.5 Mbps. For a complete list of cities and towns by speed click here, or check them out on the map below.

Extended Borders

The kernel density map below smooths this data out a bit, with each pixel colored by the average internet speed, relative to 18.2 Mbps, within a surrounding 200-mile radius (weighted by distance). The metropolitan Northeast, Florida, and most of Arizona come in pretty strong, while the enormous internet hole called Montana is pinned between the techy Northwest and the suddenly oil-rich North Dakota.

A Map of Who's Got the Best (And Worst) Internet Connections in America

Income vs. Speed

As to Browning’s point, this “communications inequality” probably has a lot more to do with income than it does with pure geography. The map below, on the same relative-to-the-national-average scale, shows median income by congressional district based on 2011 American Community Survey Census data, which we then correlated with download speed. No surprises here, the more money you live around, the faster speeds you have access to.

A Map of Who's Got the Best (And Worst) Internet Connections in America

Population Density vs. Speed

Population density may have a less linear effect – while rural areas are less likely to get high-speed coverage, dense cities may see that coverage slowed by heavy use. Density by congressional district is plotted below, but the correlation (polynomial, based on our hypothesis) wasn’t as strong as income.

A Map of Who's Got the Best (And Worst) Internet Connections in America

In an economy that is increasingly internet-driven, speed matters. It’s nice to think that Google will eventually fiber-up the U.S. out of the goodness of its heart, but until useful internet is recognized as an essential public good– like highways, or electricity –the rich will just keep getting richer.

*Congressional districts may seem like an odd choice, but it’s the only census-linked, nationally comprehensive geography that fills the awkward gap in grain between states (50) and counties (3,144).

Unlocking the potential for Big Data in 2014

By Martina King  ||



Martina King is the CEO of Featurespace where she is responsible for the strategic direction and corporate vision at the company.

popular internet meme goes something like this: ‘It’s 2013: where’s my flying car?’ The question, asked on t-shirts and coffee mugs around the world, debated on technology forums, or bantered around with friends at a café, is essentially one that asks: Where exactly are the benefits of this ‘better future’ we all signed up for?

The answer is simple: the benefits are in the data.

The age of data

Flying cars notwithstanding, 2013 was the year that data and its potential became widely acknowledged. It’s also the year that data was demonised—everything from government leaks to questions surrounding privacy and personal security has turned our idea of data from a neutral concept of tiny bits of information to a murky shadow that follows us around whether we want it to or not.

There’s a bit of irony here: the term itself is Latin for ‘gift,’ but increasingly more people are beginning to question where, how, and to whom they want to give their data. In a post-PRISM world, lines are drawn between those who see data as a threat, and those who envision it as a way to solve the biggest challenges of our lifetime.

In truth, data presents an opportunity to realise incredible positive changes to our lives: the ability to improve the way we live, how we discover and solve problems, and most importantly how we approach and implement solutions that change everything from the way business is conducted to how natural disasters are predicted, prevented, and responded to.

Changing our lives

Using data to change our lives isn’t some unrealistic dream for the future—in fact, in some ways the idea has been around for quite a while. Meteorological data has been collected in various parts of the world since 3000 BCE; the 19thcentury introduced a range of library classification methods.

And with the holiday season in full swing, let’s not forget the ancient Roman census—another example of how data collection and interpretation have enjoyed a long history of impacting every facet of our lives.

The difference now is simply one of scale. We are at a turning point for humanity, as for the first time in any civilisation there is enough information being collected to start to apply mathematics to many of our greatest, as yet unsolved, problems.

Forget flying cars: data is already enabling scientists to cure disease, predict when we’ll get sick, and generate higher crop yields to feed our expanding population. A bit closer to home, you know data is working in your favour when your mobile suggests a better route for the evening drive after a traffic app picks up accidents or delays near your neighbourhood.

A new view of the future

But the proper, safe use data is all about intentions, and the intelligence behind intentions is crucial. Are we determined to use the goldmine at our fingertips in ways that fundamentally improve our future?

Imagine: with data analytic tools stepping in to automate the process of understanding vast amounts of information, humans are free to apply our energies to more creative tasks. How much more productive would you be if data were to automate the repetitive, auto-pilot moments of your day?

Driverless pods2 Unlocking the potential for Big Data in 2014

Connected, driverless cars, for example, would take away the stress of the morning rush hour, letting you log on and get ahead of the day, kick back and have a coffee, or work in a little extra playtime with the children.

It is no longer a question of whether there is enough data yet, or if technology can process it. For the first time, the answer to both is a resounding ‘yes’. Given that data is the key to unlocking solutions for the modern world we’ve dreamed of, we must be able to see past the Orwellian scaremongering and tap into the huge potential for progress and enhancement that understanding data provides.

Unlocking the potentials of data

To understand this in the real world, look at retailers. On the whole, retailers have embraced data, using it to build a pattern of customers’ online shopping habits to improve communications and loyalty.

That means retail organisations no longer have to take a stab in the dark as to our preferences and needs based on our age and gender—they can now predict our purchasing patterns before we even decide, giving us personalised offers or product recommendations to encourage good spending habits and completely eliminating the need for guess-work and assumption.

Making decisions based on assumptions is how most problems have historically been approached. We tend to decide on solutions that appeal to what a problem looks like, not necessarily what it is.

Coming at a solution this way means that the nuances–the human element–tend to get lost: again, people become simply numbers on a page. But it’s the nuances that are all important, and although you may have not been looking for them, what you don’t know often represents the biggest opportunity.

Insight beyond insight

A method that flips the traditional approach on its head and gives an approximate answer for the exact problem—like Adaptive Behavioural Analytics—gives you exactly that insight in to the unknown and unexpected. This means that things you weren’t necessarily looking for can now be discovered and acted upon. Let’s not forget that Columbus wasn’t setting out for America!

Adaptive Behavioural Analytics is clearing the way for us to approach data safely, with good intentions, and most importantly armed with the right tools to tease out nuances and solve exact problems. Its automated and adaptive characteristics level the playing field for businesses who want the most out of their data: there’s no longer a need for a team of scientists to support and maintain complicated analytics.

As a result, small companies can make sure they reap the benefits of this insight without spending precious resources on maintaining a data science team—organisations can spot road bumps before they appear, hijack new opportunities before they even occur, predict customer behaviour and habits in order to drive profits and identify fraud before it happens.

And the possibilities that data—coupled with the right analytics—can deliver are limitless. Only our imagination draws the boundaries of what we can accomplish, and new applications are becoming feasible every day.

Why restrain data’s future potential with fear, when the right tools and intentions are driving incredible solutions to global problems? That sounds much more exciting than a jetpack or a flying car—and those who are poised to step into the forefront of this revolution agree.

Image credit: Filipchuk Oleg/Shutterstock