Microsoft buys PhoneFactor, adds smartphone authentication to its cloud services

Microsoft buys PhoneFactor, adds smartphone authentication to its cloud services


With a hand-in-glove relationship with the world of business, it’s key that Microsoft ensures it can keep companies data safe. That’s what prompted Steve Ballmer to whip out his checkbook to snap up PhoneFactor, a multi-factor authentication company that uses smartphones instead of code-generating security tokens. With its new toy, Redmond plans to integrate the feature into its services like SharePoint, Azure and Office 365, letting users sign on with their own device as a key element of the signing in process.


source: Microsoft


5 Reasons to Join a Niche Online Community

Paul Gillin is a writer, speaker, veteran journalist, and online marketing consultant. His website is, and he blogs at

While the rest of the business world hustles to develop outposts on Facebook and LinkedIn, a few savvy marketers are discovering that small is beautiful. That’s because there are several online communities that cater to specific audiences better than social behemoths ever could.

The membership in highly-focused professional communities like Spiceworks and attract B2B companies, which know that success is more about quality than quantity. Professionals with problems to solve seek out others with answers, and niche social networks are often the shortest route to a solution. So if you’re wondering about other pluses, here are five reasons B2B professionals like going small.



1. No Waste

As good as LinkedIn groups are for getting questions answered, navigating many of them can involve picking your way through spam messages and marketing tactics. Most small professional communities are pretty good about controlling this kind of thing. Some, like Sermo (physicians) and PoliceOne (law enforcement), even require people to submit their professional credentials for validation before granting membership.

2. People Speak the Lingo

Professional communities are self selecting. As a result, newbies generally go elsewhere. Visit any of the social networks listed above and scan the discussions. People speak in a code that they understand, even if nobody else does.

A blog entry entitled “New technique ‘amps’ potential for gallium nitride electronics” may not excite many of us, but for several hundred Element14 members, it’s a must-read.

3. Your Stock Rises

Nearly all professional social networks use ranking systems that reward active members for their contributions to the community. The more active people are, the higher their social stock rises.

There are all kinds of benefits to this, including professional advancement, speaking opportunities, and simple bragging rights. People’s colleagues in the workplace may not always appreciate their expertise, but their peers do.

4. Peer Referrals

Many B2B professionals, particularly in technical disciplines, work in highly-specialized fields where new developments are hard to track and like-minded peers are difficult to find. Professional communities are the fastest way to seek out others just like them and tap into the information they’re sharing.

If your job depends on implementing VMware virtualization, you’ll find nearly 1,200 members of a VMware Spiceworks group who are in the same boat. Those members keep each other on top of the latest news and technical advice. Not to mention, an article recommended by a peer carries more weight than a Google search result.

5. Advice You Can Trust

When businesses have important buying decisions to make they seek advice from others who have gone down the same path. They’re more likely to find these early adopters in professional communities than on search engines or consumer-review sites. Vendor and product discussions are popular gathering places in most B2B forums. Do you know what they’re saying about you?

Marketing guru Seth Godin said it best in the title of his 2006 book, Small Is the New Big. Focus your sights on the people you really want to reach. Then go forth and engage.



Prototype glasses help the visually impaired avoid obstacles

Prototype glasses help the visually impaired avoid obstacles


The crafty engineers at Google aren’t the only ones working on augmented reality glasses. Researchers at the Instituto de Oftalmología Aplicada have created a prototype system, based around a head-mounted display and a pair of small cameras. Instead of overlaying info about landmarks or capturing video of your trampoline-based escapades, this prototype is simply meant to help the visually impaired detect and avoid obstacles. A small computer performs real-time analysis of the environment highlighting objects and color coding them to indicate distance. The goal is to help those with glaucoma and other impairments that hinder depth perception. The next step is to streamline the device, making the computer portion of it smaller and more portable and to make the goggles less cumbersome. For more detail check out the source link.

10 Google Chrome extensions that could come in handy for IT pros

Google Chrome is lightning fast, integrates seamlessly with Google Apps, and offers plenty of enhancements via extensions. But with the mass of extensions available (just how many pointless games can you have?), determining which ones are actually useful for those who manage computers, networks, and users can quickly become the proverbial search for the needle.

Fear not. I have sifted through the haystack of Google extensions to find those I think best fit the needs of the IT pro. Check them out below.

1: Subnet Mask Calculator

Subnet Mask Calculator is a handy little extension that calculates subnet mask, wildcard mask, mask bits, number of hosts, network address, first usable address, last usable address, and broadcast address. Type in the IP address you want to test, select the subnet mask from the drop-down, and all other values will automatically fill in. It’s a handy way to quickly get the networking information you need without having to rack your brain.

2: IP Address and Domain Information

IP Address and Domain Information will give you plenty of information on your current location: Geolocation, DNS, whois, routing, search results, hosting, and much more. After this extension is installed, a new button will appear on the toolbar. A single click of that button and your information will be collected. The good thing about this extension (versus others of its kind) is that it’s not going to read your personal information and cookies.

3: General Audit Tool

General Audit Tool is must-have extension for anyone who manages Google Apps. It’s a powerful audit tool that allows you to scan all sites, documents, email groups, and calendars in your domain. You will have, at your fingertips, a plethora of information about your Google Apps site (including who has access to what).

4: PPASearch

PPASearch provides an easy way for Ubuntu admins to quickly search for a PPA associated with a particular application. Install PPASearch, click on the Ubuntu logo icon, and enter your search term. Any related results will appear in your Web browser. Just find the PPA you want to add and install it from the command line. This could be made even better if the developer would keep it within an app window and add single-click buttons for the installation of the PPA.

5: Quick Markup

Quick Markup could be a Web site debugger’s dream come true. With this app, you can quickly save a screenshot of a Web page and then overlay text, shapes, icons, and mind-mapping information. You can also highlight what’s going wrong with your Web site, save the image, and send it to developers for their input.

6: MYQuery Builder

MyQuery Builder is a browser-based MySQL query builder that makes the creation of MySQL queries fast and easy. It actually provides access to, so it’s not a full-fledged app that resides within Chrome. And you do need to have a account. MyQuery Builder offers two levesl: free and pro. Most developers will probably be able to get by with the free account.

7: Live CSS Editor

Live CSS Editor is a great little tool for anyone who has to write CSS. Open the tiny box, enter your CSS, and see what it looks like immediately in your browser. You can set a default key combination to open and close the Live CSS Editor window, and you can save the styles you create. This extension will be useful for anyone who wants to test different CSS styles on the fly.

8: Chrome to Phone

Chrome to Phone provides a great way to push links, maps, selected text, and phone numbers to your Android device. It works in conjunction with an Android app you install on your mobile device. This makes it easier to get things like long URLs and text onto your phone.

9: Quick Note

Quick Note allows you to quickly take notes within your browser. And we all know that a good note app is essential for keeping track of your off-the-cuff brilliance. With Quick Note, there’s no need to open up a text editor or word processor. Just open up the extension, take your notes, and close the extension. You can also edit, search, and sync your notes (to a account, which you can access using your Google credentials). This app has a nice, user-friendly interface and makes keeping quick notes a snap.

10: MindMapr

MindMapr is one of the few mind-mapping extensions that isn’t just a link to a Web server. This tool actually allows you to work offline and doesn’t require you to sign up for a service. MindMapr uses HTML 5 offline functionality and employs local storage, so all mind maps are stored within the browser. As an added bonus, MindMapr’s code is open source.



Podio Makes Managing Multiple Group Projects Free and Easy

webapps - Podio Makes Managing Multiple Group Projects Free and Easy


One of the biggest problems with project management software is that it can be so difficult to wade through that it’s hard to get the people you work with—whether they’re at the office, your neighborhood volunteer group, or the family members you’re planning a reunion with—using the same tool and on the same page. Podio is a free webapp that makes managing your projects a little less like slogging through pages of updates, and more like updating Facebook.

Podio is free for individual users and groups of up to five people at a time, which makes it perfect for small projects. Once you’re set up and logged in, you can build as many workspaces for as many projects as you like. Each project workspace has room to store documents, get status updates from other people on your team or people working with you on the project, and as many mini “apps” as you’d like in your workspace. Those apps can be selected from Podio’s built-in options, like a calendar, social feed, and document store, or you can build your own custom ones if you have specific needs. In addition to the Podio webapp, there are also Android and iOS apps you can use to update and stay updated on your projects when you’re away from your desk.

The service feels distinctly business when you take a first glance, but it’s flexible for individual users as well, like volunteers looking to organize their school’s PTA, or freelancers who want to give their clients updates on their progress in a single, consolidated place. Additionally, Podio announced today that they support Dropbox integration, so free users with limited document storage can leverage their Dropbox accounts to share and store documents for their teams or clients to see.

Podio’s greatest strength is its flexibility—you can customize and tweak your workspaces to fit the projects you’re working on or the people you’re working with, and you can manage as many or as few as you like from inside.