iTWire - iTWire - Latest News iTWire - Technology news, trends, reviews, jobs Sat, 04 Jul 2015 14:56:25 +1000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Review: Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt Review: Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt

Oh hello world, I have only just poked my head up to great the real-world after being immersed in the gloriously dark and wondrous environment of Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt.  This is one of the best video games I have played.

Editors are such pains; do I really need to come back to human society, leaving the world of Witcher 3 long enough to get some thoughts down about the game?  Seems like a backward step to me, particularly when there is so much carefully crafted content to enjoy.  

The open world of this Witcher release is a grim fantastical world, expertly created to maximise emersion action and experience.

Geralt the Witcher is chasing the trail of his ward/daughter Ciri, making the most of his skill as a tracker to follow the faint leads and traces left by Ciri as she flees the ethereal and fearful Wild Hunt.  

The spectral riders are chasing Ciri for unknown reasons, causing the local inhabitants even more woe as they are already dealing with yet another invasion from the Empire of Nilfgaard, the situation is bleak, the landscape is bleak but the game is a joy.

This is an action RPG with many traditional elements stripped back and replaced with unique functions.  You cannot create a party of characters, and you have only limited control over Geralts appearance, more real-world based as you visit barbers and clothing stores.

Whilst the fundamentals of combat are relatively straight forward; light attack, heavy attack and dodge, complexity is ramped up as time goes on.  Geralt will build a bestiary of foes, learning the foibles of a wide variety of creatures.  

Developing, via alchemy, oils and potions Gerailt can enhance his chances in battle by careful preplanning.  This immerses players even further in the world, Geralt will sometime employee Batman style investigations of a quest scene, examining the area to help determine what he might be up against shortly.  There is no use whacking some Spectral oil on your silver sword if rounding the next corner has Geralt confronting a werewolf.

Signs round out Geralt’s repertoire of battle.  These magic attacks are unlocked from the beginning and you will use all of them at times, favour some as you go through the game enhancing them where you can.

And there is so much to do, each question mark discovered on the map is a drawcard for it may hold anything as mundane as a bandit camp or monster nest, or more often than not, a fully fledged and fleshed out sub quest with decisions and consequences.

{loadposition mike08}Even wandering the landscape via foot or horseback has its rewards.  The wind mournfully blows through the heavily forested areas, or across the fens.  Towns are populated by dour folk going about their business both menial and grand.

Geralt is not saving the world, but quest by quest he is making a difference to the land.  Meeting old allies and foes, discovering new story elements or playing a good game of Gwent (the in game collectible card game) are all extremely satisfying.

Should I Buy it?:  Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt gets the highest of recommendations, there is hundreds of hours of game play here with little filler to be had.  There is zero grinding, a satisfyingly complex levelling system, crafting, alchemy and much more.  

Unlike Skyrim, this is a world that you want to be part of, read every burnt note or leather bound tome.  You want to investigate every single question-mark on the map, wander down every byway and possibly even dive below the surface of every sea or stream.  

But at some stage you need to re-join the real world. 

]]> (Mike Bantick) Games Sat, 04 Jul 2015 12:58:34 +1000
PureCloud Engage engages local businesses and their customers PureCloud Engage engages local businesses and their customers

Interactive Intelligence's new PureCloud Engage customer engagement cloud service is now available in Australia and New Zealand.

PureCloud Engage provides multichannel routing, speech-enabled interactive voice response, outbound campaign management, multichannel recording and quality management, reporting, customer relationship management integrations, and graphical scripting.

As with other SaaS products, the company's plan is to progressively add features to PureCloud Engage.

On the list are advanced behavioural analytics to automatically match customers and agents based on personality profiles, geolocation and automated learning, and a mechanism for customers to browse agent personality profiles to determine the best match then connect via his or her preferred communications channel.

{loadposition stephen08}PureCloud Engage runs on Interactive Intelligence's AWS-based PureCloud platform.

"Contact centres are adopting new technologies to keep up with the ever changing demands of how customers choose to interact with a business," said senior vice president for Australia, New Zealand and Japan Brendan Maree.

"PureCloud Engage is not only cost-effective, but can quickly deliver highly reliable, scalable and innovative multichannel applications, thus enhancing the customer experience and offering managers data and insights to make the right business decisions."

]]> (Stephen Withers) Cloud Fri, 03 Jul 2015 17:22:17 +1000
UXC Oxygen appoints new head of customer engagement practice UXC Oxygen appoints new head of customer engagement practice

SAP and cloud solutions company, UXC Oxygen, has appointed Craig Stevenson as Head of Sales for its customer engagement practice.

Stevenson was APAC Vice President of Sales at global IT software and services provider Birlasoft prior to joining UXC Oxygen and previously Head of Sales at management consulting company Amnis Group.

Stevenson has been involved with new business development for over 18 years and has considerable experience in the enterprise software and professional services fields.

Based in UXC Oxygen’s Melbourne office, Stevenson will be responsible for customers implementing SAP’s new Customer Engagement Commerce (CEC) suite of software solutions.

{loadposition peter}“This includes SAP hybris, SAP Cloud for Customer and SAP CRM implementations – all of which are aimed at helping organisations develop responsive, omni-channel commerce platforms, so they can achieve a 360 degree view of their customers,” says Stevenson.

“We have unique scale and proficiency in the key CEC technologies which enable us to deliver results for customers no matter where they are on the customer acquisition and retention journey.”

]]> (Peter Dinham) People Moves Fri, 03 Jul 2015 14:14:30 +1000
Latest acquisition part of PayPal’s post-eBay expansion strategy’s-post-ebay-expansion-strategy’s-post-ebay-expansion-strategy Latest acquisition part of PayPal’s post-eBay expansion strategy

PayPal’s recent acquisition of P2P remittance provider Xoom is part of its post-eBay global strategy to expand its payment capabilities and geographic spread, according to market analysts.

In its latest market comment, global analysts Ovum point to PayPal’s “significant momentum” behind it due to its separation from eBay, including an expansion of its consumer focused capabilities, highlighted by its acquisition of Xoom which it says gives PayPal “significant presence in the cross-border remittance space, while also providing it with a significant foothold in key emerging markets.”

Ovum says the all-cash acquisition of Xoom for $25 per share was equivalent to $890 million.

The analyst firm says Xoom reportedly processed over $7billion n in transactions in 2014 with a core US customer base of only 1.3 million consumers, and although PayPal has always had a strong presence in the P2P space this has primarily been for domestic transactions only.

{loadposition peter}According to Ovum, PayPal will continue on the acquisition path. “Freed from the shackles of eBay with no debt, $5 billion in cash, and new shareholders through its public listing on Nasdaq, PayPal will likely remain highly acquisitive as it seeks to expand its global capabilities.”

Ovum says the acquisition of Xoom follows on the heels of other recent notable deals including in 2015 mobile wallet platform provider Paydiant for an estimated $280 million, and new breed payments gateway provider Braintree, including its domestic P2P brand Venmo, for $800 million in 2013.

According to Gilles Ubaghs, Senior Analyst, Financial Services Technology at Ovum, central to PayPal’s broader strategy, “particularly in light of the growing competition it faces from newer entrants like Apple, Google, and now Samsung amongst others, is its growing focus on remaining technology agnostic and offering open stack solutions.”

 “In PayPal’s roadshow presentation released in advance of its listing on the Nasdaq, PayPal calls this its ‘Open Commerce Platform’ incorporating PayPal Credit, its core wallet that offers rapid loans to consumers, in-app payments via Braintree, and in-store payments via Paydiant, through the development of merchant-led wallet and app loyalty programs.”

Ubaghs says this approach signifies a split from PayPal’s older strategy of “seemingly trying every new payment technology and seeing what sticks, by providing the company with a clearer strategy of expanding capabilities across the payments value chain.”

And, according to Ubaghs, PayPal will face significant challenges in the coming years ahead, but, by diversifying its portfolio, PayPal is “shoring up its position leaving it well-placed for further market growth.”

]]> (Peter Dinham) Strategy Fri, 03 Jul 2015 13:52:43 +1000
Optus rolls over, offers data rollover on pre-paid Optus rolls over, offers data rollover on pre-paid

Earlier this year Optus subsidiary Virgin Mobile rolled over and offered data rollover, which it advertises heavily, and now Optus has finally done the same too.

Despite Optus not freeing its pre-paid customers from its self-described time limits and constraints for many years now, Optus says it now wants to do just that with its new prepaid plan, dubbed ‘My Prepaid Monthly Plus’, ensuring it isn't just Virgin Mobile doing the data rollover deed.  

Optus will have details of this plan on its website here, but the details won’t actually go live until this Sunday, 5 July 2015. Until then the site linked has the current Optus pre-paid plans which, of course, aren’t as competitive as the new one.

The ‘Optus My Prepaid Plus plan’ will finally free Optus customers from the loss of unused data, as Optus says the plan gives its ‘customers the chance to save their data from expiry – up to a max of 10GB.’

This plan also comes with ‘more data and unlimited standard national calls and texts,’ with Optus clearly going all-out to make competitive and desirable, especially in the face of all those pre-paid MVNOs like Amaysim, Boost and others.

Optus’ new plan starts at $30 for 1.5GB, $45 for 3.5GB or $60 for 6GB - all over 30 days, and all with unlimited standard national landline and mobile calls, and text/MMS messages.

Extra credit for international calls, roaming and premium services costs $5 on the $30 plan, $10 on the $45 plan and $15 on the $60 plan.

Naturally these three plans have data rollover with the data you can collect able to be up to 10GB.


Tim Cowan, the Director of Mobile Marketing at Optus, said: “Prepaid customers’ data usage varies month to month – they might consume a whole lot streaming sporting events one month and far less on holidays during another month. We asked prepaid customers across the country and 82% told us they don’t use all their data every month. [according to GfK’s Prepaid Market Research, May 2015.]

Cowan continued, stating: “Customers hate losing their data and that’s why Optus is launching data rollover, so customers can have what they paid for and use that data whenever they want.

“My Prepaid Monthly Plus gives customers all the benefits of prepaid – paying what they want, when they want – plus more calls, more texts and more data.

“Most prepaid customers like the flexibility that prepaid plans offer with 84% [according to the same GfK research mentioned above] telling us that they want control over their mobile phone spend.

“We know how important calls and texts are to our customers so we are taking our most popular plan to the next level. Our $30 recharge now includes unlimited talk and text making it one of the best prepaid offers in the market.”

Naturally, Optus spruiks its 4G Plus network, which covers 86% of the Australian population as of 30 April 30, and while it isn’t as big as Telstra’s, it’s how you use it that really matters, as the old adage goes.

{loadposition alex08}

Optus is also trying its darnedest to attract the youth market by once again sponsoring Nova’s Red Room Global Tour, for 2015, and promising that ‘you could score a seat to the best gigs around the world!’

The way to be in the running to win is to ‘recharge or activate a SIM with $10 or more on Optus Prepaid.’

Then you need to ‘SMS NOVA to 2121 for your unique code, then tell us what song would you like to see performed on the global tour by who and why before 15 July.’

Of course, the youth market only extends so far - you can’t be younger than 18 to enter, with all the details and ‘access to exclusive tour content' here.

]]> (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Mobility Fri, 03 Jul 2015 13:36:34 +1000
Android ransomware increasing in Australia: Bitdefender Android ransomware increasing in Australia: Bitdefender

Security vendor Bitdefender has warned of an upswing in the incidence of Android ransomware in Australia.

Bitdefender says there has been a sudden spike in the incidence of Android ransomware in Australia, and suggests this shows "an increased interest among cybercriminals in targeting Australia to generate revenue."

The above graph shows the incidence of ransomware as a percentage of total Android malware reports.

Early samples of Android malware were quite basic and easily removed, the company says, but more recent examples are more persistent and can only be removed after restarting the device in Safe Mode.

{loadposition stephen08}So far, Android ransomware does not encrypt data on the affected phone or tablet, it just pretends that it has done so and relies on scaring the user.

This is in contrast to the Windows situation, where ransomware such as Cryptolocker really does encrypt the data. In that case, the choice is between paying the ransom (and hoping you receive the decryption key in return), and losing the files unless you can restore them from backups.

Dell SecureWorks recently noted that Australia was ranked third in the world for Cryptolocker incidents.

Bitdefender offers the usual advice: only download apps from Google Play, and install a mobile security product. Obviously they'd like you to use Bitdefender Mobile Security, but there are others such as Norton Mobile Security, which has a handy feature to warn you of known risks with apps from Google Play before you tap the Download button.

]]> (Stephen Withers) Mobility Fri, 03 Jul 2015 10:29:38 +1000
Capgemini completes IGATE acquisition Capgemini completes IGATE acquisition

European consulting, technology and outsourcing services provider Capgemini has completed its acquisition of US-based IT services company IGATE Corporation.

Capgemini reportedly paid about US$4 billion for IGATE which had 2014 revenues of $1.3 billion.

Pursuant to the terms of the merger agreement, announced on 27 April this year, IGATE  - headquartered in New Jersey - became the indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Capgemini.

As a result of the acquisition, IGATE shares will cease trading, and will be delisted from the NASDAQ Global Select Market.

{loadposition peter}The transaction is expected to be accretive to Capgemini normalised Earnings Per Share by at least 12% in 2016 and 16% in 2017.

Capgemini chairman Paul Hermelin said the acquisition represented a major step in Capgemini’s history.

“With IGATE, our operations in North America have taken on a new dimension and are now our largest market in revenues. Our combined operations in India have now reached the size to compete on par with the world leaders in our industry.

“It will also benefit our customers by taking further our industrialisation and innovation initiatives. On behalf of our group, I’m glad to welcome the 31,000 people of IGATE to Capgemini”.

]]> (Peter Dinham) Outsourcing Fri, 03 Jul 2015 01:06:09 +1000
Brightcove’s bright future for New Zealand’s HbbTV FreeviewPlus’s-bright-future-for-new-zealand’s-hbbtv-freeviewplus’s-bright-future-for-new-zealand’s-hbbtv-freeviewplus Brightcove’s bright future for New Zealand’s HbbTV FreeviewPlus

One of Brightcove’s bright ideas has been the development of a cloud-based HbbTV solution, with its technology powering HbbTV in New Zealand.

New Zealand is not only the land of the long white cloud, it is now the land of the long white cloud video service, with the three leading New Zealand free-to-air TV broadcasters adopting Brightcove’s HbbTV technology

Promising the combination of free-to-air broadcasts with on-demand online content which delivers to audiences a ‘new, interactive viewing experience’, New Zealand is now one of more than 22 countries to have adopted the HbbTV standard.

Called FreeviewPlus, this service also exists in Australia, and while there has been a lot of hoopla about it, you have to buy a new set-top box or TV that supports it, you can’t skip ads (in Australia at least for recorded content) and it seems to benefit broadcasters more than consumers.

That said, it is still cutting-edge legal TV technology, with NZ’s TVNZ, Mediaworks and Maori TV now offering HbbTV to more than 3.6 million viewers in the country - if, of course, they have an HbbTV capable device.

Mark Blair, Brightcove’s VP for Asia Pacific said: “HbbTV is the future of free-to-air broadcast television not only in New Zealand but worldwide, because of the amazing viewing experience that combines over-the-air TV with on-demand.”

To that, we’d probably say that companies like Netflix might argue differently by suggesting free-to-air’s days of relevance are ultimately numbered, but let’s get back to Blair’s words rather than mine and the hyperbolic ones I’m putting into the mouth of companies like Netflix.

Blair continued, stating: “Brightcove is recognised for its expertise in HbbTV deployment, so whether it’s TVNZ, Māori TV, Mediaworks, or others, broadcasters turn to Brightcove for technical solutions, global capability, and a proven track record. This latest deployment in New Zealand follows on previous successes that include powering the HbbTV experience for every commercial free-to-air broadcaster in Australia.”

Pushing back against the rising SVOD tide, Brightcove’s media release reminds us that, as of December 2014 last year, there were already around 20 million ‘television devices’ that were compatible with HbbTV technology worldwide.

Not only does HbbTV give broadcasters the ability to ‘seamlessly stream on–demand content with a consistent user experience,’ it also lets them ‘gain valuable insights into audience viewing analytics and monetise video content.’

Making clear the benefits of a FreeviewPlus-compatible TV set or set-top box, Brightcove says that New Zealanders taking up the service ‘will be able to access more than 600 on-demand shows and movies, view a TV guide across multiple channels both eight days forward and backward for catch up on demand content, and have the ability to search content by genre and title.’

{loadposition alex08}

James Foden, TVNZ’s GM on OnDemand said: “FreeviewPlus gives viewers the best of both worlds — access to broadcast television and the freedom of our OnDemand service. Brightcove’s solution has helped enable us to get FreeviewPlus up and running quickly and smoothly.”

Not to be left out, Mediaworks’ CIO and Product Officer, Tom Cotter said: “We selected Brightcove, along with our broadcast partners, in order to ensure our viewers have a consistent experience across all platforms. Two of our key goals with FreeviewPlus were to deliver an engaging experience and an easy-to-use platform, and Brightcove’s video solutions are the essential foundation.”

Finally, Maori TV’s Head of Multi-Platform, Stephen Smith puts his best nose forward and states: “With the three major free-to-air broadcasters banding together to bring HbbTV to New Zealanders, we wanted to deliver a consistent, seamless experience to viewers across the country. After evaluating the requirements, it was clear that Brightcove’s people and technology were the right choice.”

So, while history will ultimately tell just how successful HbbTV ends up being compared to legal and illegal SVOD, download and on-line catch-up TV services, New Zealand’s Shakesperian question over whether to be or to Hbb has finally been answered. 

]]> (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Entertainment Fri, 03 Jul 2015 00:36:40 +1000
ABC gives 9.5 million records to GovHack ABC gives 9.5 million records to GovHack

The ABC will supply over 9.5 million records as part of its sponsorship of GovHack, Australia’s annual open data competition.

The broadcaster's records will provide 1,500 aspiring digital innovators with the opportunity to work with new data sources and create innovative digital applications and information sets.

GovHack 2015 takes place in Australia and New Zealand from 3-5 July, with the competition aimed at  opening the doors on government data, providing Australian and New Zealand citizens with access to information to help build upon its social and economic value.

GovHack also provides participants with the opportunity to develop their technical and creative capacities, with teams having a 46-hour window in which to create a proof of concept together with a short video that explains how this data could be repurposed for public benefit.

{loadposition peter}The two ABC datasets for release in GovHack 2015 include:

Television Broadcast Data Archive 1978-2011: The dataset contains 9.5 million selected records related to ABC Television’s broadcast scheduling systems between 1978 and 2011. A single record may contain such information as a program name, duration, broadcast time, broadcast station, censorship rating and episode number. The dataset is an interesting insight into ABC Television’s contribution to the Australian cultural zeitgeist

ABC Local Online Photo Stories 2009-2014: The dataset contains metadata and links for 8,500 photo stories created across Australia by ABC Local Online reporters. It will provide GovHack participants with information including a story’s title, location, station, subject and keywords, with links allowing further exploration of the story and images. The stories represent a small sample of the ABC’s contribution to regional story-telling.

Director of ABC Digital Network, Angela Clark, said the ABC backs GovHack because it “actively supports the pursuit of innovation and holds itself as an pioneer in the Australian media sector.”

“In 1932, when just 6% of Australians had a radio licence, ABC Radio began. In 1956, when just 2% of households in Sydney and Melbourne had televisions, the ABC started ABC Television. In 1994, when the Australian Bureau of Statistics had not yet begun measuring internet use, the ABC launched ABC Online.

“In the same way, the ABC supports the innovative vision and potential of GovHack 2015, recognising that the availability of digital data presents opportunities for innovative approaches to investigative journalism and creative means of processing open data.

“By engaging with civic developer communities through GovHack 2015, the ABC hopes to see participants engage deeply in their projects and find new ways to use the datasets to explain contemporary life. In doing so, the ABC is pleased to be promoting civic engagement and innovation and wishes the participants every success.”

The ABC datasets join ten other sets from different government agencies, each of which will be turned over to the participants during the GovHack challenge.

For more information on GovHack 2015, click here

]]> (Peter Dinham) Data Thu, 02 Jul 2015 23:54:43 +1000
Iridium partners with Beam Communications for Australian market Iridium partners with Beam Communications for Australian market

Australian satellite communications equipment provider Beam Communications has been appointed an official service provider for the US-based global satellite voice and data communications company Iridium.

Under the deal, Beam – a wholly owned subsidiary of World Reach Limited (ASX: WRR) based in Victoria - will promote and sell the Iridium Push-to-Talk service to both direct and indirect customers within Australia.

Beam designs, manufactures and distributes satellite and GSM voice, data, tracking terminals and accessories for the global mobile satellite market.

Beam has been contracted to provide services for the Iridium satellite-based Push-to-Talk (PTT) solution, which enables instant communication between participants located anywhere on earth. The Iridium network is available to tens, or tens of thousands of devices with the push of a single button.

{loadposition peter}Iridium PTT is comprised of three components that work seamlessly to provide a ubiquitous solution globally. The service is delivered through the Iridium Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation; the Iridium Command Centre, the cloud-based management system where all radios and talk groups are managed - and the Iridium PTT radios, including both the Iridium Extreme PTT as well as other satellite or hybrid PTT devices or accessories that may be developed to further expand enterprise applications for Iridium PTT.

Like most commercial and private trunked radio services solutions, Iridium PTT uses half-duplex communication, like a walkie-talkie, where one party talks to other participants in a group who serve as listeners.

The current PTT network works with Iridium’s existing constellation and is compatible with Iridium NEXT, the company’s next generation satellite constellation, which is scheduled to begin launching later this year and to be completed in late 2017.

]]> (Peter Dinham) Resellers Thu, 02 Jul 2015 23:26:07 +1000