Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast – the best bits: Friday, October 17

first_imgListen back to the highlights of Friday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast. Alan Brazil and Micky Quinn were joined on today’s show by Brad Friedel and Ray Parlour.last_img

Cooperation urged on Iran

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champBut Russia ignored her calls to punish Iran. Despite continued strong support from NATO allies in the wake of a new U.S. intelligence report that concludes that Iran actually stopped developing atomic weapons in 2003, Rice could not persuade Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of the urgency of fresh sanctions. Rice said her talks with Lavrov were “an extension of other conversations we have had,” suggesting that the two didn’t see eye to eye. White House officials maintained an optimistic tone. Based on contacts with Russia, China and other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council since the release Monday of the new intelligence estimate on Iran, “we are still committed to Iran stopping its enrichment,” said National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe. “And we will eventually get a third U.N. Security Council resolution.” Bush spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday and Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday. Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking in Kansas City to members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said, “In the case of Iran, we’re dealing with a country that is still enriching uranium and remains a leading state sponsor of terrorism, and that is a cause of great concern to the United States.” Cheney said others in the international community, including Russia, share that concern. At the Pentagon, senior military officers told reporters the U.S. intelligence revelation that it believes Iran scrapped its nuclear weapons design effort in 2003 has not triggered new instructions by the Bush administration to speed up or slow down any Iran crisis planning. “There has been no course correction – slowdown, speedup – given to us inside the Joint Staff” for military crisis planning, said Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Sattler, the director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Attending the Bahrain security conference with Gates were Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as Adm. William J. Fallon, chief of the U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for U.S. military operations throughout the Middle East. Fallon spoke to reporters about Iran. “Their behavior has really been a problem, and to the extent that it destabilizes the region, which it does, then it becomes a problem for us,” Fallon said. Defense officials have said Iran’s delivery of weapons and other support into Iraq and Afghanistan and the detention of British sailors earlier this year are key activities that threaten security in the region. And Gulf country leaders, Fallon said, have told him that their concern “is more the pressure that they feel from Iran as they want to dominate this area.” A senior defense official traveling with Gates said the secretary planned to tell the Bahrain conference that Gulf countries have shared commercial and security interests, and that the more they cooperate the more the world will benefit. One key area would be shared efforts in an early warning system because of the ballistic missile threats from Iran. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issues. A U.S. Navy commander, meanwhile, said Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, a vital commercial waterway at the tip of the Gulf, are the greatest concern for maritime security in the region. Vice Adm. Kevin J. Cosgriff, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, said while the likelihood of that happening is low, concerns about Iran consume the region – and his day. “I wake up thinking about Iran, I go to bed thinking about Iran,” Cosgriff told reporters.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! MANAMA, Bahrain – Defense Secretary Robert Gates planned to tell Gulf countries today that they must work together to help the U.S. counter Iranian threats, including Tehran’s ballistic missiles and meddling in Iraq. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States still wants new sanctions. Gates, ending a weeklong trip to the region, intended in his keynote speech at an international security conference in Manama to urge Gulf allies to cooperate more as part of a broader strategy for containing Iranian influence, according to U.S. officials traveling with Gates on Friday. Gates’ speech was to follow Rice’s assertions Friday in Brussels, Belgium, that Washington would continue along a two-track strategy, pressing for new sanctions against Iran while holding talks to persuade Tehran to come clean about its nuclear program. last_img read more

Nature center’s skunk officially a Californian

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventSwift said that Ferguson’s new role as spokesanimal for wildlife preservation will help reinforce the state’s position of respecting wild animals. “They have long claws and they dig and dig and dig,” he continued, splaying Ferguson’s feet wide with his fingertip. “They could wreak havoc on a yard.” The skunk has been checked over for any problems and has had his scent glands removed, Swift said. When he’s not putting on a show, Ferguson has a comfortable shaded enclosure with a fleece blanket, water pan, a cinder block on which to sharpen his nails and a “behavioral enrichment” box filled with sawdust and sand so he can dig up crickets and mealworms, just like he would do in the wild. In the meantime, the young skunk enjoys a diet of kibble, lettuce, bananas, mealworms, carrots, apples and bugs. NEWHALL – Ferguson the Skunk, a resident of the Placerita Canyon Nature Center for the last year, is finally a certified Californian, having passed a battery of screenings and tests just in time for the center’s open house on Saturday. He came to the center last spring, after a Texas family moving to Santa Clarita gave him to a wildlife rescue group. In Texas, skunks are legal pets; in California, they are not. “He was a little black ball of fur when they got him,” said Ian Swift, superintendent of the center, as he cuddled the black-and-white striped animal. “But skunks have the highest rate of rabies among all the wild animals. “People have to remember that they are wild animals and react that way, unlike dogs or cats, which are bred over thousands of years to become domesticated and somewhat goofy.” Along with Ferguson, several other celebrity residents of the center will be on display, including OJ, the center’s 22-year-old horned owl and a 12-foot-long Burmese python. The open house will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and also features panning for “gold,” nature art, rubber ducky races and other family activities. Admission to the open house is free. The Placerita Nature Center is located at 19152 Placerita Canyon Road. Off-site parking is available with a shuttle to the park. For information, call (661) 259-7721. carol.rock@dailynews.com (661)257-5252160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Group protests college costs

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe joys and headaches of holiday travel: John PhillipsIn response to government cuts, he has started the Students Standing Up Against the Government Club at Canyons.Robert Rodriguez, a candidate for Congress, attended the small public gathering. Rodriguez, a Democrat, is challenging U.S. Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, for his long-held seat. “I have $13,000 out in student loans myself,” said Rodriguez, who attended UCLA and Harvard. “There is no way I could have paid for my education if it weren’t for student loans.”Diana Shaw, a Santa Clarita resident, has a son enrolled at Arizona State University. Shaw is angry about these cuts and hikes because she has been ill for a year, and her son has had to find ways to fund his own education.“He is already working 40 hours a week to pay for college,” Shaw said. “I am outraged that while the government can spend billions in Iraq killing my son’s friends they can’t come up with a reasonable interest rate for my son.” This increase means that the average student, with a 30-year loan, will pay an additional $13,000 over the life of the loan.connie.llanos@dailynews.com(661) 257-5254160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! VALENCIA – A small group of students and parents gathered Friday at College of the Canyons to protest a bill approved by Congress that increases the costs of student loans.Congress recently approved a $12.7 billion cut to government funds for subsidized loans and increased student loan interest rates by almost 2.5 percent.“The government has all these loan programs in place to invest in us and this country and then makes them inaccessible,” said Kyle Kostvzewa, a political science major. “It doesn’t make sense.”Kostvzewa has no student loans yet, but plans to borrow when he moves on the University of California at Los Angeles.last_img read more

COLTS ADVANCE TO AFC CHAMPIONSHIP; ANNOUNCE EVENTS FOR FANS THIS WEEK

first_imgThe Indianapolis Colts defeated the Denver Broncos Sunday to advance to the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, January 18. As the team continues their playoff run, they’ve announced their playoff events and promotions for this week. Plans include a special edition playoff poster, Poster-Drive Thru at Lucas Oil Stadium, Pep Rally, a “Blue Out Your Bar” contest and more. In addition, fans are asked to show they “Believe In Blue” by printing out a horseshoe at www.colts.com/playoffs and tweeting a photo of it displayed at their home, office or school using #BelieveInBlue.The 2014 Colts Playoffs are presented by Huntington Bank and Verizon Wireless, and sponsored in part by Bud Light.Tuesday, January 13#BelieveInBlue Social Media Campaign Begins at www.colts.com/playoffs#BelieveInBlue Video Contest Begins at www.colts.com/playoffs“Blue Out Your Bar” Contest Continues on www.colts.com/playoffs Thursday, January 15Playoff Poster Drive-Thru, Lucas Oil Stadium South Lot (6:30-8:30 a.m.)Playoff Posters Available at Participating Huntington Banks and Verizon Wireless Stores (see attached list)Pep Rally at Circle Centre Mall (12 – 1 p.m.) More details on all of these events and promotions are available below, as well as online at www.colts.com/playoffs.#BELIEVEINBLUE SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGNColts Nation, do you believe? Show you #BelieveInBlue on social media by posting photos of how you are preparing for the AFC Championship Game. For example, print off the horseshoe at www.colts.com/playoffs and put it outside your office, classroom, living room, etc. and tweet a picture using #BelieveInBlue to show the team that you believe!#BELIEVEINBLUE VIDEO CONTESTLeading up to the AFC Championship Game against New England the Colts will host a video contest for a chance to be featured on Colts.com. BeginningTuesday, January 13, upload a video of you and your friends chanting “I Believe the Colts Will Win” or post it to Instagram or Vine using #BelieveInBlue. More info on www.colts.com/playoffs.“BLUE OUT YOUR BAR” PHOTO CONTEST, PRESENTED BY BUD LIGHTThe Colts are looking for bars and restaurants throughout Indiana and across the country that bleed blue. By submitting a photo of their establishment decked out in Colts décor, bars and restaurants have a chance to win a personalized, framed jersey, Reggie Wayne autographed football and NFL/Bud Light steel cooler. Photos can be submitted at www.colts.com/playoffs or using #BarBlueOut via Twitter or Instagram. The deadline to submit a photo is Sunday, January 18, at 6:40 p.m. ET.PLAYOFF POSTER DRIVE-HRU AT LUCAS OIL STADIUMOn Thursday, January 15, Colts fans are invited to drive thru and pick up a limited edition playoff poster in the south lot of Lucas Oil Stadium from 6:30-8:30 a.m., while supplies last. Colts mascot, Blue, and Cheerleaders will be on-site to help pass out the posters. The first 500 cars will receive a Colts car magnet (limit one magnet per car).In addition, posters will be available in the Emmis Communications (40 Monument Cir, Ste 700, Indianapolis) lobby from 6:30-8:30 a.m.When:             Thursday, January 15, 6:30-8:30 a.m.Where:            Lucas Oil Stadium South Lot (enter at Gate 8 off of Capitol Ave.)500 S. Capitol Ave, Indianapolis, Ind.PLAYOFF POSTERS AVAILABLE AT HUNTINGTON BANK AND VERIZON STORESWhile supplies last, the Colts special edition AFC Championship playoff poster will be available at participating Huntington Bank branches and Verizon stores beginning Thursday, January 15. See attached for a complete list of participating locations.PLAYOFF PEP RALLYThe Colts will host a playoff-themed Pep Rally at the Circle Centre Mall food court in Downtown Indianapolis on January 15. Beginning at noon fans are encouraged to stop by to pick up a special edition Colts Playoff poster, listen to live music from Dave & Rae and meet Colts alumni players. The first 1,000 fans will receive a free Colts t-shirt.When:             Thursday, January 15, 12 – 1 p.m.Where:            Circle Centre Mall Food Court (3rd Floor)                        49 West Maryland StreetIndianapolis, IN                      What:             Special Edition Colts Playoff PosterFree t-shirt for first 1,000 fansColts Alumni Players1070 The FanRegister to WinColts CheerleadersBlue, the official mascot of the ColtsLive music by Dave and Rae Friday, January 16-Saturday, January 17Colts Blood Drive at Indiana Blood Center Locations COLTS PLAYOFF BLOOD DRIVEVisit any Indiana Blood Center donor center on Friday or Saturday, January 16 or 17, and receive a Colts playoff poster and a long sleeve t-shirt with the Colts throwback logo and Indiana Blood Center logo (while supplies last). For more information visit www.indianablood.org.last_img read more

A hairy anthropological puzzle

first_imgThe brown hyena – prime suspect in theancient whodunnit. (Image: Richard DuToit, Nature Picture Library) Electron microscope scans of fivefossilised human hairs.(Image: Born Animal – Discovery News) Gladysvale has yielded thousands of fossilsof man and beast, with millions more stillin place. (Image: Gladysvale)Janine ErasmusThe World Heritage Cradle of Humankind site has yielded another important archaeological find, with the discovery of what is very probably strands of ancient human hair in a fossilised piece of hyena dung – dating back to around 200 000 years ago.The strands are the oldest examples of their kind, surpassing the previous oldest known specimens of human hair by 191 000 years. The latter were found on a 9 000-year-old Chinchorro mummy from Arica, Chile.The Chinchorro culture was prevalent in northern Chile and southern Peru between 5 000 and 3 000 BC. Mummies from this epoch are the oldest examples of mummified human remains, much older than even the Egyptian mummies. However, the new find makes the hair from the Chinchorro mummies seem positively youthful.The strands were found in a hyena latrine – typically used by a single animal – embedded within a fossilised clump of dung known as a coprolite. Appearing to the untrained eye to be nothing more than a group of round white rocks, the coprolites each measured roughly 2 cm in diameter.The high calcium content in such biological objects, and the calcium-imbued drip from the cave roof, facilitated the fossilisation and preservation of the hairs. After carefully extracting the delicate specimens with tweezers, researchers placed them under an electron microscope. Scans revealed external wavy scale patterns that are characteristic of primates – these, and the size and shape of the hairs suggest that they are human in origin.The hyena species in question is the brown hyena (Parahyaena brunnea), a canny opportunist that derives most of its nourishment from scavenging, although it has been known to occasionally hunt small mammals.Although they consider it most likely that the animal stumbled upon its last meal, scientists have not ruled out the possibility that a hyena attack was the cause of death. Brown hyenas are found in the area still today.Rich source of fossilsThe exciting discovery was made at Gladysvale Cave in Gauteng, located about 45km north-west of Johannesburg. The cave, which sits in the John Nash Nature Reserve within the boundaries of the Cradle of Humankind, has been a prolific source of fossilised specimens since the first fossil, that of a baboon, was found in 1946.The complex consists of three underground caves containing a substantial amount of breccia – that is, a clastic (fragmentary) rock composed of angular gravel-size fragments in a matrix or cementing material. Sediments in the cave date from as ancient as three million years to as recent as 250 years ago.Since 1946, thousands of fossils have been recovered from the Gladysvale deposits, both inside and outside the cave, including rare remains of hominids. The first hominid remains – two teeth of the early human species Australopithecus africanus – were discovered in 1991.The famous fossils of the Taung Child and Mrs Ples are both fine examples of A. africanus. The good news for the scientific community is that there are still millions of ancient bones in place in the cave, waiting to be unearthed.International collaborationPaleoanthropologist Dr Lucinda Backwell of the School of Geosciences at the University of the Witwatersrand headed the study, together with a team of South African and international colleagues from Switzerland and the UK.Their findings are due to be published shortly in the print version of the Journal of Archaeological Science, but for those who can’t wait, the article has been available on the journal’s website since 31 January 2009.The owner of the hair has not yet been established but, said Backwell, the hyena dung falls within the period of existence in Africa of early species of humans such as Homo heidelbergensis. This period, which spans 195 000 to 257 000 years in the past, also saw the emergence of the first anatomically modern humans.“The hairs could belong to either of them or, of course, to a species not yet recognised,” explained Backwell.Although there are no hairs from early human species to use for comparison, and DNA sampling from the hairs was not possible, there is a plethora of coprolite material in the cave. Further analysis of the fossilised dung may well lead to a better understanding of the environment in which our ancestors lived, and their interactions with the creatures around them.Significant findThe hairs are significant in a number of ways. They represent a soft tissue find from a period, said Backwell, which rarely even yields skeletal material.Furthermore, commented biological anthropologist Pat Shipman of Penn State, “The hair is an especially exciting find because it raises the possibility that there are other coprolites with other hairs, which would give us a new and quite accurate means of looking at the composition of ancient animal communities.”Hyenas search for food in their immediate surroundings, she added, so at that time a human lived, or at least died, close to Gladysvale cave.This also raises the possibility that at that time humans were preyed upon or scavenged by hyenas, or that they competed with them for food resources.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Contact Janine Erasmus at janinee@mediaclubsouthafrica.com.Related storiesUnearthing our human ancestors Ancient arrows a clue to the pastTracing the origins of humankindUseful linksBernard Price Institute for Palaeontological ResearchWits University School of GeosciencesDiscovery ChannelHyena – African Wildlife FoundationBrown hyena – IUCN specialist groupGladysvaleMaropeng – Cradle of HumankindCradle of HumankindTransvaal Museum of Natural HistoryJournal of Archaeological ScienceSmithsonian Institution – Human Origins programmeUnesco – Cradle of Humankindlast_img read more

Pushing for open African governance

first_img30 May 2013 Representatives of 16 countries gathered in Mombasa, Kenya on Wednesday for the first Africa outreach meeting of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Launched in New York in September 2011, the OGP is international coalition of leading governments and civil society organisations aimed at advancing transparency and accountability in government, increasing civic participation and fighting corruption. The partnership has grown since then to 59 countries, including the eight founding countries: the US, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa and the UK. Africa is represented in the OGP by founding member South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania, who committed to joining in 2012, and Liberia and Ghana, who are in the process of joining.Service delivery, development benefits Speaking at the opening of the OGP Africa meeting on Wednesday, South African Deputy Public Service and Administration Minister Ayando Dlodlo said it was important to “recognise the benefits of enhancing governance in order to improve service delivery and foster development”. Dlodlo told the gathering of politicians, administrators, civil society workers, academics and others that South Africa sought to help build strong international partnerships to promote good governance, which was “fundamental in improving the delivery of services to our citizens and enhancing public trust in government”. While stressing the value of a civil society with the “independence, capacity and will to hold governments accountable”, Dlodlo challenged challenge African governments and civil society to move away from a “cold war of us against them” and to work together for the betterment of people’s lives. She also highlighted the use of information communication technology (ICT) by governments, not only to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery, but also to promote information sharing and public participation.Importance of ‘open data’ Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Information Communication and Technology Fred Matiangi relayed a welcome message from President Uhuru Kenyatta calling for constructive engagement between governments and civil society to improve the living conditions of Africa’s people. Kenya’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications, Bitange Ndemo, speaking at a separate session on open data, spoke about the challenge of making technical information available to the public in clearly understandable language. Open data had to be relevant to people, Ndemo said, in order for them to understand it and use it to improve their living standards. He lauded those Kenyans who used technology to access data and rework it in language that people could understand through smartphones and apps “Our Open Data portal has information about the various counties we have in Kenya, and this is important for making development decisions about a county. The data compares counties to each other on which is lagging behind,” Ndemo said.Platforms for citizen feedback Unathi Bongco, South Africa’s OGP programme manager, told a session on improving the public service that citizen feedback was crucial in monitoring quality and improving accountability in service delivery, and noted the South African government’s use of outreach forums and special telephone hotlines to gather this feedback. The two-day conference continued on Thursday, with panelists drawn from government and civil society set to share their experiences on open governance in the day’s main event, “Conversations with African Leaders”. The panelists scheduled to take part included Qinisile Delwa from South Africa’s Department of Public Service and Administration, Thomas Karyah from Liberia’s Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Prince Kreplah of Citizens United to Promote Peace and Democracy in Liberia, Gladwell Otieno of the Africa Centre for Open Governance, and Emmanuel Kuyole of Ghana’s Revenue Watch Institute. SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Banyana too strong for Namibia in Windhoek

first_img8 July 2014Banyana Banyana began their preparations for the forthcoming African Women’s Championship on a winning note, beating Namibia 2-1 in an international friendly at Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek on the weekend.Goals by Leandra Smeda and Disebo Mametja were enough to seal victory for South Africa’s national women’s football team, while Thomalina Adams pulled one back for the home side.Coach Pauw’s comments“The ladies know what is expected of them now,” Banyana Banyana coach Vera Pauw commented after the game.“The hard work that we have been putting in is starting to show. It was a tough game, Namibia has improved a lot. They are physical, but we managed to contain them.”ChangesPauw made two changes to the team that had beaten Botswana 4-0 last month, with Noko Matlou returned to the starting eleven and playing alongside captain Janine Van Wyk in defence, while Disebo Mametja started her first match under Pauw on the right flank.The Namibians were the first to threaten in the contest and managed the first shot at goal in the seventh minute, but the ball passed narrowly wide of goalkeeper Tokozile Mndaweni’s goals.Opening goalIt took Banyana Banyana almost half-an-hour to find their feet. Smeda then found the back of the net in the 29th minute after the South Africans executed a well- coordinated set piece from outside the box.Refiloe Jane had an opportunity to extend the South African lead just before the halftime break. She made good contact with the ball inside the box, but her effort went wide, off the goal post.2-0 leadA quarter-of-an-hour into the second half, Mametja doubled Banyana Banyana’s with an easy tap-in.Namibia pulled one back with 15 minutes remaining after a defensive error from Banyana Banyana, but when the final whistle sounded the visitors had taken the honours 2-1.Namibia will host the African Women’s Championships from the 11 to 25 October this year.Zimbabwe friendlyBanyana Banyana next face Zimbabwe on Friday in another pre-African Women’s Championship friendly on Friday at the Rufaro Stadium in Harare.“We need to play more matches before the African Women’s Championships as this will give us an opportunity to keep practicing what we have learnt,” Banyana coach Pauw said in a statement on Monday.“The ladies know what is expected of them. From here on we have to master what we have learnt. We need to get the team physically ready for an intense high level of play.”The draw for the African Women’s Championships draw will be held on 19 July in Windhoek. The other nations that have qualified for the finals are Namibia, Algeria, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Zambia.SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Flickr’s New Friend Finder: Data Portability or Privacy Violation?

first_imgmarshall kirkpatrick Tags:#web Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…center_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Late last night Yahoo! owned photo sharing site Flickr launched a new feature – the ability to search your Gmail, Yahoo! Mail or Hotmail contacts list for people on Flickr so you can add them as contacts. Many services let you do that, but almost all of them require you to give up the user name and password for your email. Flickr did it right and it was exciting, for us at least. GMail users are taken to a GMail page, where GMail asks for their usernames and passwords – then asked if Flickr should be given one time access or ongoing access. That’s great. We’ve been calling on applications to use best practices and emerging protocols to access user data without asking for passwords for some time. The risks are too great, otherwise.Some Flickr users, though, are really upset. They don’t want anyone who has sent them an email to be able to easily find their photos on Flickr. What some people call Data Portability, others call a privacy violation.The Down SideFlickr users have been able to find each other by searching for individual emails for some time, but that “security by obscurity” has been changed dramatically by a bulk comparison of all your email contacts to the Flickr user database. There’s not consensus whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. I liked it when I tried it, I connected with some interesting people on Flickr that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I wouldn’t appreciate it, though, if certain people from my past who have otherwise forgotten about me were now prompted to check out my photos on Flickr. If blog comment spammers I’ve had nasty email exchanges with were suddenly prompted to friend me on Flickr, I wouldn’t like that very much either.Ongoing DiscussionJust like many people objected to Robert Scoble’s scraping emails out of Facebook in the name of Data Portability because they felt they had given him contact info in the limited setting of Facebook – these kinds of issues are going to come up a lot. The sticky privacy questions are the ones that Mark Zuckerberg told us are key to Facebook’s own engagement with Data Portability. We’ve asked similar questions here about the new Google Social Graph API. The Data Portability Working Group has lively discussions on privacy (subscribe to a filtered feed for the topic here) but mainstream users clearly have serious concerns.The situation at Flickr wasn’t helped by the fact that the option to opt-out of exposing your email address to this new feature was broken for the first 12 hours after launch, as was the ability to search Yahoo! Mail contacts. In the big picture view of these issues, though – Yahoo! in general is generally remarkably good about identity issues for all but the occasional Chinese journalist. (Flickr is better known for innovation than for its crimes against justice and democracy, of which there haven’t been any that we know of.)Some users have stated that they would prefer email exposure in the new feature to be opt-in, instead of opt-out. Though it will drastically slow down user connections – opt-in for this kind of feature may ultimately be required in order for data portability to be accepted. On the other hand, the Facebook Newsfeed faced a wholescale revolt when user activity was by default exposed to friends there and now it’s the site’s defining feature. Even what’s thought of as the best practices in webmail APIs have a lot of unanswered questions remaining, as we discussed yesterday in a post about Xoopit. Australian tech consultant Lachlan Hardy argues that standards based authentication steps could still soften users’ resistance to phishing and reminds us to look at the URL of the authentication page.What do you think? How should checking your email contacts for friends on a new network be done? What other best practices would you like to see emerge in order to make portability of data useful, safe and desirable? 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

The Danger of Forced Innovation in Retail

first_imgWhen planned, innovation is an essential part of the evolution of retail. But when innovation is forced on a retailer, it can be a toxic time burglar. In this article, I will review two types of forced innovation: “keeping up with the Joneses” and “can it be done?”Do Customers Really Want It?Have you ever been in a meeting where someone says, “Why don’t we have self-checkout or mobile POS (point of sale)?” Sometimes, the pressures of Amazon and other more technologically advanced retailers force innovation. This is an example of keeping up with the Joneses. The other question I often hear is, “Can we track our customers in-store, or can’t we use data to tackle our return problem? Others are doing it; I am sure we can too.” This is an example of “can it be done” forced innovation.One of the challenges with the “can it be done” question is that just about anything can be done. MIT has teleported grains of sand from one space to another. Rockets can be built and sent to the moon. Our cell phones have more computing power than the computer that ran Apollo 1. Virtually any retail demand could be accomplished with technology, provided you had unlimited money and resources. But no one has that. So the more important question than, “Can it be done?” is, “Why do we want to do it? Is it scalable? Will it enhance the customer experience? Will we earn more?”- Sponsor – A former retail colleague of mine shared with me his company’s desire to implement self-checkout in an upscale environment. There were several obstacles before we even got to the technology challenges. First, the store physically was not built to accommodate more equipment, such as automatic removers for security EAS tags. Second, because it was an upscale specialty store, all of the locations were different. The wrap stands and fixtures were custom-built, making changes problematic. Third, the store staff was limited to three to four high-performing sales professionals who already had multiple systems to deal with.The introduction of a new technology would require a lot of training and support. Fourth, their IT department was outsourced, and their call center was too. They had several projects going on.Now, let’s get into the technical obstacles. The first one had to do with network wiring and power: it just wasn’t available, even if they could find an out-of-the-box solution for self-checkout, which was unlikely. The physical restrictions of the store design, power, and cabling were limiting. The next technical challenge was how associates would remove a sensor tag, provide the customer a bag, or assist the customer in a short time if a problem or question arose. I asked my former colleague, “So what did you do?” His answer was simple, “My CEO and my EVP told me to figure it out, so I did the best I could.” When I asked how it went, he described a plethora of obstacles and problems. And in the end, the company changed direction and decided self-checkout wasn’t a good idea for them.Should it be a surprise that in an upscale environment that sells $5,000 handbags, the customers didn’t want to use self-checkout? This real-life example shows just some of the challenges of forced innovation. Slightly less obvious are these additional risks: an exposure to higher shrink, lower morale, and a strain on IT resources. If your IT, LP, and sales teams are focused on the innovation forced on them, what are they missing? Servicing the customer could take a back seat.But Amazon Is Doing ItIf your CEO or senior leaders ask you to do something, you may not have an option but to do it in the end. In the past, I’ve been asked to do many things that I suspected wouldn’t work or that would have enormous obstacles. I learned that it was okay to question the necessity of the project. Why are we trying this? Further, I would lay out a strategic plan with a timeline and a clear list of the risk to other projects. I also found that by putting a strategic plan together, looking at the true ROI, and documenting the risk, sometimes it would become very apparent that the request was either not scalable or too risky.“But we have to do it—Amazon is doing it!” Some of the most common demands I hear are related to omni-channel: buy online, pick up in store, same-day delivery, and creating a fulfillment center in the back room. Isn’t this a prime example of keeping up with the Joneses?Imagine you’re in a meeting and very excited to be there because you’re sitting at a table with the top executives in your organization. Your company is a couple of years into its dot-com business, and it’s growing at a faster rate than any of the other verticals. You are a retailer with an off-price presence, full-line stores, seasonal pop-ups, and other brands under a large corporation. In the meeting, a high-level executive says, “I think we need to start doing same-day delivery.” Another high-level executive says, “I think we need to start doing buy online, pick up in store.” Several other recommendations are brought up, all related to chasing Amazon or another competitor. All, at face value, sound simple but are very complex both technically and from a process standpoint.In that meeting, if you were asked your opinion, what would it be? What are some concerns you could raise? For buy online, pick up in store, a few things come to mind. What are some of my direct competitors doing? Do they have exclusions on product categories or limits on quantities ordered? How will they handle returns? What are the chargebacks going to look like? These are just a few of the loss prevention risks.In today’s evolving world of retail, innovation is necessary for survival. Sometimes keeping up with the Joneses or forced innovation can be taking something someone did and making it better; other times, it could be simply about not falling behind. Forced innovation could also be taking something that was originally planned on a roadmap for the next year and just adjusting the timeline with a higher degree of urgency. Whichever of these situations you encounter, make sure you have a plan, assess risk, and look at the ROI. Ask the why question, and make sure the proposed project enhances the customer experience. Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up nowlast_img read more