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Vodafone selects VMware to support network transformation



Vodafone Group has agreed to a software licensing agreement with VMware.

VMware will be one of the vendors to support the operator’s global roll out of Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) to accelerate its delivery of future products and services in a rapid, cost-efficient manner.

Vodafone will deploy VMware vCloud NFV as part of its group-wide transformation program utilising NFV and software defined networking technologies across applications and networks. Vodafone will also receive Carrier-Grade Support, a new VMware offering to support the implementation of new software.

“Virtualised, cloud-native network functions are a critical element of our Group-wide program as we continue to transform how we build, operate and evolve our networks and services,” said Fran Heeran, Vodafone Group’s head of network virtualisation.

“Reducing the time and cost to deploy and operate services, utilising automation and convergence in standardised cloud environments for our network and IT businesses is a critical part of our technology and operational transformation strategy.”

VMware vCloud NFV will provide Vodafone with an ETSI-compliant, modular, multi-tenant NFV platform that supports choice in virtual infrastructure managers (VMware and OpenStack).  The VMware-based virtualised infrastructure including VMware vSphere and VMware NSX will also provide a common architecture spanning network and IT operations, further improving operational efficiencies and overall economics. 

“Vodafone’s selection of VMware to support network transformation highlights how we are a proven, strategic software innovator that can help communications service providers successfully deliver new services faster while driving down costs,” added Shekar Ayyar, executive vice president and general manager, Telco Group at VMware.

“Our vCloud NFV platform is an agile and flexible virtualised infrastructure platform. Combined with Carrier-Grade Support, this will provide Vodafone with an open platform for new service development today, with an architecture that will support 5G deployments in the future.”



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YouTube videos will play in WhatsApp chats



WhatsApp is testing a new feature that will allow users to watch YouTube videos directly in the messaging app.

The feature has not yet been released, but WhatsApp plans to use the Picture in Picture concept, meaning users can either drag the Picture in Picture mode to expand it on the screen or open the YouTube video in a new WhatsApp window.

Also the YouTube video can be dragged from left to right without having to pause the video or stop reading the conversation.

According to WABetaInfo, the feature will be compatible with iPhone 6 devices and newer due to the bigger screen sizes, however smaller iPhone devices may not be supported. As this is still in its development stage, WhatsApp could make this option available for older iPhone models.

The feature is available for iOS, but as of yet there is no mention of Android and Windows compatibility.

As of late, WhatsApp has introduced an array of new features, including the ‘Pin Chat’ option as well as the popular ‘Recall’ feature.



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Tech Tip: Scheduling Your Smartphone for a Little Peace and Quiet


Q. I signed up for alerts from a bunch of news sites on my iPhone to keep up with the headlines, but now they’re waking me up at night with their sounds and turning on the phone screen. Is there a way to mute them before bed? I don’t want to turn off the phone because I use it as an alarm clock.

A. The iPhone’s iOS software includes a feature called Do Not Disturb, which you can use to disable app notifications, phone calls and other alerts whenever you prefer not to be interrupted. You can enable and disable the Do Not Disturb setting manually for whenever you want a period of silence, or you can schedule regular hours for Do Not Disturb to kick in automatically — like overnight when you are trying to sleep.

To set up Do Not Disturb, tap open the Settings icon on the iPhone’s home screen. Scroll down to Do Not Disturb, and select it. On the next screen, you can choose to allow calls from people on your iPhone’s Favorites list of contacts to get through even if Do Not Disturb is on. You can also allow repeated calls within three minutes from the same person, in case someone is trying to reach you in an emergency. Additionally, the settings screen provides the option to silence incoming calls and alerts whether the phone’s screen is locked or unlocked.

Photo

In the Do Not Disturb area of the iOS settings, you can choose when you would like to temporarily silence alerts and notifications.

Credit
The New York Times

At the top of the settings screen, tap the Manual button to the On position to enable Do Not Disturb. You can also flip on the feature from the iOS Control Center: Swipe up from the bottom of the phone’s screen, and tap the crescent-moon icon in the top row of controls. The same moon icon appears at the top of the iPhone screen when Do Not Disturb is on.

If you prefer to have Do Not Disturb come on automatically, go to its settings screen and tap the On button next to Scheduled. In the From and To fields, fill in the hours you would like to have peace and quiet from phone alerts.

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Artificial intelligence investments to reach $9bn in the UAE



The UAE investments in artificial intelligence (AI) has seen significant growth in the last three years and now analysts predict that it will reach $9bn by the end of 2017.

WAM reported that Abdullah Alfan Al Shamsi, assistant Under-Secretary for Industrial Affairs, Ministry of Economy, said official statistics purporting that scientific research contributions to the country’s GDP reached 0.87%.

“The UAE has been among the first countries to realise the central importance of artificial intelligence to build a knowledge-based economy that adopts scientific research and high-end technology as among the key enabler of the UAE Vision 2021,” he added.

With AI investments to reach $9bn, Al Shamsi noted that the emerging technology will enhance competitiveness across all economic platforms, particularly industrialisation. Additionally AI will continue to emerge in government services, consumer services and work environments.

 



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R&M delivers Jordan’s first FTTH project at Aqaba Saraya



Over 800 residential units and commercial establishments at a real estate development in Jordan will enjoy high-speed connectivity and triple-play services from telecom operators after the deployment of an FTTH project by R&M.

Aqaba Saraya, a 634,000 luxury mixed-use tourism and leisure destination located on the shores of the Red Sea in the Gulf of Aqaba in Jordan, has become the first in the country to roll out fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connectivity.

The deployment of R&M’s cabling solutions was delivered by the system integrator partner in Jordan, Optimiza.

Optimiza utilised R&M’s Cat. 6 copper cabling system for a horizontal cabling system. The entire compound is networked by FTTH using GPON technology whereby every subscriber has broadband-ready connectivity. The deployment also entailed the use of specially customised Smart Home cabinet solutions from R&M, housing copper, fibre optic as well as the ONT equipment from the service provider on all customer premises.

With the ability to provide Gigabit connectivity, FTTH opens up a range of possibilities. Among these are triple play services – the packaging of voice, high speed Internet, and television as a combined offering from a single telecom provider. Convenience and safety are also top priorities for the developers of the mega-project which is why vital services such as fire alarms, CCTV, intercoms, and access control will all be connected to a centrally managed system via the secure FTTH network.

In recent years, FTTH has become a key aspect of city development projects as the in-home lifestyle of consumers in the region is being transformed into an online-dominated experience.

Raed Al-Omari, director of mega projects, said: “Saraya Aqaba is designed to provide the very latest facilities and amenities to residents and guests. The fibre infrastructure we have deployed provides the robust platform upon which a host of critical modern services will be offered. We have invested in the best technologies from R&M, a market-leading vendor, which will ensure that this network is capable of meeting the needs of users for years to come.”

Product quality was a major factor in vendor selection in this project as the network had to meet present and future requirements. “Today we provide 10GbE connectivity over this network, but thanks to the quality and capabilities of the solutions we have invested in, we can increase this speed by a factor of four without having to make any changes to the cabling infrastructure,” explained Raed Al-Omari.

“R&M is proud to add another high-profile city development project to the list of FTTH successes. With the advancement of technology in the Middle East and the tech-savvy nature of consumers, FTTH is the clear way forward to meet growing expectations. Thanks to market-leading solutions and the efforts of the expertly qualified partner Optimiza, Saraya Aqaba today has a future-proof physical infrastructure upon which the latest services can be offered,” said Mohammad Sweidan, area director, Africa, Levant & Kuwait at R&M Middle East, Turkey and Africa.



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Apple’s iOS 10.3.3 is now available



Apple fans will begin to receive the update to iOS 10.3.3 compatible for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch products.

Apple did not provide in-depth detail on the update, however the release notes reveal: “iOS 10.3.3 includes bug fixes and improves the security of your iPhone or iPad”. Other updates include a ‘Find My Airpods’ tool and a new Podcast widget, plus the update requires 84.6MB to update.

To install iOS 10.3.3, either connect to iTunes or go to Settings > General > Software Update.

The iOS 10.3.3 update is available for iPhone 5 and later, iPad 4th generation and later, iPad mini 2 and later and iPod touch 6th generation and later.

It is possible that this could be the last update to iOS 10 before iOS 11 arrives this September.

During this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple unveiled details of iOS 11 which will include enhanced productivity features, a redesigned Control Centre and the function to make payments through Messages, as well as multiple language translation through Siri.



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Samsung offers virtual reality experience to Coldplay fans in the UAE



Samsung Gulf Electronics has teamed up with Live Nation to broadcast Coldplay’s ‘A Head Full of Dreams Tour’ using virtual reality.

The experience will virtually transport Coldplay fans in the UAE to Chicago’s Soldier Field where they will be able to view the band’s energetic performance, pyrotechnics to laser lights.

Fans can visit the Samsung Brand Store at The Dubai Mall where there will be eight Gear VR headsets that are powered by Oculus, as well as bean bags for an immersive experience.

Tarek Sabbagh, head of IT & Mobile (IM) Division at Samsung Gulf Electronics, said: “Our collaboration with Live Nation and Coldplay aims to uplift the experience and give music fans and enthusiast in the UAE access to an immersive experience in full 360, as if they were watching Coldplay live in Chicago’s Soldier Field.”

Kevin Chernett, executive vice president, Global Partnerships and Content Distribution, Live Nation, added: “Live Nation is a trailblaser when it comes to producing live virtual reality concerts, and we’ve been excited to bring Coldplay into the mix since announcing our collaboration with Samsung and Gear VR in late May.

“We not only give fans the best in-seat experience, but we’re also committed to working with the best technologies to provide every music fan an extraordinary concert experience, regardless of where they are.”

The virtual reality experience will run from 21 August to 31 October at The Dubai Mall.



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Critic's Notebook: The Silent Film Returns — on Social Media


Tubular Labs, the online video analytics company that placed LADbible at the top of its rankings, has found that of videos posted to Facebook by media companies, 46 percent of views go to videos that are completely silent or just accompanied by music. And in practice, an even higher proportion of social videos are watched silently. The advertising agency BBDO Worldwide says that more than 85 percent of its clients’ Facebook videos are viewed with the sound off.

All of that has given rise to a particular kind of video spectacle on social media, one that is able to convey its charms without dialogue, narrative or much additional context. To entertain soundlessly, viral video makers are reanimating some of the same techniques that ruled silent film over 100 years ago. “For coincidental reasons as much as knowing reasons, we’ve seen a rebirth of a very image-forward mode of communication,” said James Leo Cahill, a professor of cinema studies at the University of Toronto. Among its hallmarks: a focus on spectacle, shocking images and tricks; the capture of unexpected moments in instantly recognizable scenarios; an interplay between text and image; and a spotlight on baby and animal stars.

The very first short-form cinematic experiments — silent clips that arose even before film evolved into a feature-length narrative form in the early 20th century — have become known as what film scholar Tom Gunning calls the “cinema of attraction,” films that worked by achieving a kind of sensual or physiological effect instead of telling a story.

Created by early filmmakers like the French brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière and the American inventor Thomas Edison, these early movies took cues from the circus and the vaudeville circuit, featuring performers from that world, and were then played at vaudeville shows. Taken together, they formed what Gunning has called an “illogical succession of performances.”

Social media has created a new kind of variety show, where short, unrelated videos cascade down our feeds one after another. If early films were short by necessity — the earliest reels allowed for just seconds of film — modern videos are pared down to suit our attention spans and data plans. Some viewing habits of social video also recall Edison’s Kinetoscope, one of the earliest film-watching contraptions, which invited single viewers to view short clips through a peephole, offering a voyeuristic look at everything from Annie Oakley shooting to some guy sneezing. Mobile video has again returned us to a cinematic form that’s screened for an audience of one.

Just as early films made stars out of stage magicians and circus performers, we’ve seen a resurgence of popularity of pure visual spectacle on social video, whether it’s in the studied technological tricks of stunt performers like the modern YouTube magician Zach King or the capture of the spontaneous wonders of nature. Early filmmakers were also drawn to “the capacity to show the unfolding of irreversible acts, something that could only happen once,” Mr. Cahill said — like a boa constrictor digesting a rabbit. Camera tricks were instantly popularized. The films would take a realist image “and make it magnificent, wondrous and fantastic, literally incredible,” Mr. Cahill said.

Shocking images have ruled since the early days of web video, but social media has accelerated the pace at which we consume them, encouraging the clips that provide instant gratification without the need for aural context. We’ve also seen a cinematic resurgence of the mesmerizing spectacle of physical work: A recent viral video of a guy skillfully painting a parking spot for those with disabilities recalls a Lumière film showing workers tearing down a wall.

In the absence of dialogue and involved narratives, early films focused on “actualities,” or setups that would appear instantly recognizable to audiences. Often, on both social media and in early film, textual clues are provided to viewers outside of the filmed image — in film titles presented to early-20th-century audiences, or in Facebook captions that guide modern viewers. A series of Edison actualities with titles like “What Happened When A Hot Picture Was Taken” and “What Happened In the Tunnel” parallel the modern meme format of pairing a short video with a brief emotional cue: “That feeling when …”

Or consider “What happened on 23rd street in New York City,” which shows a pair of actors, a man and a woman, strolling down the sidewalk when a gust from a grate blows up the woman’s skirt, revealing a tantalizing glimpse of petticoat. You can find modern equivalents of that video everywhere on social media, evidence of actors filming themselves making unexpected moves in crowds of real people. (In both eras, it’s often hard to discern who’s acting and who’s just being.) A recent specimen making the rounds on Facebook, “When The Splits Are Life,” shows a woman appearing in various everyday settings — the grocery store, the street corner, the auto repair shop — and spontaneously breaking into feats of flexibility.

And just as some early films would use brief intertitles to serve as setups and punch lines to visual jokes — the 1900 stunt film, “How It Feels to be Run Over,” shows a vehicle riding over the camera’s position, followed by the intertitle: “oh! Mother will be pleased” — much of the most popular Facebook videos reimagine the intertitle with big text captions that plug videos into meme formats. According to Tubular Labs, 22 percent of video views on media brands’ Facebook pages take the form of short video clips with prominent captions.

One of the most striking parallels of early silent film and modern social video is the foregrounding of animals and babies. They make natural silent stars because they are largely speechless; they communicate largely through gesture, movement and expression. But they also suit cinematic forms that are focused on realistic spectacles as opposed to masterful narratives. The old truism — don’t work with children or animals — speaks exactly to why they are the ideal stars of both early actualities and of contemporary Facebook videos. They can’t be tamed, so it seems as if what they are doing is somehow natural and true.

It’s striking that with all of the technological advances that have allowed us to shoot and share video instantly, we’ve returned to some of film’s most original instincts. It wasn’t long after the rise of Kinetoscope, actualities and the cinema of attraction that new technologies upended those early forms, giving way to feature-length narratives, talkies and Technicolor. It’s unclear where social video innovation will take the form next, but if anything, modern video is moving in the opposite direction of cinema’s rise: We keep cramming more spectacle and information into smaller and faster bits of entertainment, even discarding whole experiential possibilities — like audio tracks — if they seem to slow it down.

As the online media industry continues along its much-discussed “pivot to video,” we’ll see more and more of our online experiences churned into those hypervisual micro forms, as every inch of screen space gets recast as a flashing billboard. We can expect it all to come faster, brighter and flashier in the future — just maybe not louder.

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Saudi Arabia to lift ban on VoIP



The ban on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls will be lifted in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia within a week, according to Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Abdullah Al-Sawaha.

On his official twitter handle, Al-Sawaha further added that CITC will oversee the review of applications to meet regulatory requirements, and will work with telecommunications companies to allow unblocking on conformity with requirements. He also said that the said that coordination between CITC and the Kingdom’s telecom service providers is underway to enable customers, citizens and residents, to benefit from applications that provide voice and video communications over the Internet.

A report by Saudi Press Agency says: “This step is an extension of previous steps to raise the level of “transparency and clarity” in the sector, including the recent launch of the quarterly index of the classification of telecommunications service providers in terms of complaints filed by subscribers against service providers, as well as verification of the application of the user protection document and the commitment of service providers to transparency and clarity In the implementation of fair use policy, and will be followed by several initiatives that the ministry and the Authority are working in partnership with service providers to improve the sector and improve the customer experience and develop a digital society in line with the objectives of the vision of the Kingdom 2030.”



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