Isis Mobile Wallet silently goes nationwide

It appears that without much fanfare the Isis Mobile Wallet has just expanded from the initial test markets of Austin and Salt Lake City to a nationwide rollout - at least for AT&T and American Express customers.

Originally announced on July 30 this year, the nationwide rollout of this NFC-based mobile payment system was revealed to be planned for "later this year". Apparently that day is today, since I was able to go to an AT&T store in New York City this morning and replace my original SIM card with a new SIM card with "Secure Element", which is a prerequisite for the Isis Wallet app. Once that SIM card was installed in my Samsung Galaxy Note 3, the Isis Wallet App (downloaded from the Google Play Store) allowed me to add my American Express card to my mobile wallet:

Galaxy Note 3 w/ Isis Wallet

Registering a new account with the Isis wallet app took a few minutes, as did activation of the credit card in the wallet, which required logging into my American Express account, but once that one-time setup process is complete, starting up the app is fast and you can secure the app with a customary PIN code and can pick how many minutes the app will allow access until the PIN code is required again.

You can also use the Isis website to find out where you can use the Isis wallet today and it is pretty much any cashiers' credit card terminal that shows one of these contact less payment symbols:

Contactless payment symbol

I was pleasantly surprised that in Manhattan there are literally thousands of stores already supporting the Isis wallet and I did my first test purchase at a Walgreens at Union Square. The checkout process worked smoothly, I just waved my Galaxy Note 3 at the contactless scanner while the Isis app was up, and the NFC chip in my phone transmitted the payment information to the checkout terminal, which processed my payment.

I've waited for NFC chips to be available in our smartphones for quite a while and it is a great pleasure to see mobile payments finally becoming a reality! Now we just need more stores to use contactless credit card terminals so I can finally leave my real wallet at home and use my mobile wallet everywhere!

The Power of RaptorXML - now available in XMLSpy 2014

The RaptorXML Story

As you probably know by now, RaptorXML, our new 3rd generation high-performance XML, XPath, XSLT, XQuery, and XBRL processing engine, was a little over 2 years in the making. When we embarked on this mission in 2011, we set out to create a new processor that was highly optimized for multi-core CPUs, high throughput, and a reduced memory footprint. As part of that redesign we incorporated all our experience with the evolution of XML over the last decade and focused on adding support for all the latest standards, including XML 1.1, XML Schema 1.1, XPath 3.0, XSLT 3.0, XQuery 3.0, XBRL 2.1, XBRL Dimensions, XBRL Formula, and many others.

Our decision to first launch the new RaptorXML engine as a stand-alone server product in June rather than waiting for our annual product release in the fall was certainly not an easy decision to make. We knew that all our existing XMLSpy and MissionKit customers were eagerly awaiting support for XML Schema 1.1 as well as the 3.0 versions of XPath, XLST, and XQuery.

At the same time we knew that the engine was ready for large-scale production use, while the refactoring of our existing tools and integration of the new engine would still take another 3-4 months, so we decided to introduce RaptorXML as a stand-alone server product first. The initial RaptorXML announcement happened at the XBRL International conference in Dublin, Ireland, in May this year and commercial availability of the server followed in June, when RaptorXML joined the growing family of Altova Server products.

And it turns out we made the right decision. At this time RaptorXML+XBRL Server is already being used by over 50 customers, including a major banking regulator in Asia, to validate large amounts of XBRL data on high-end servers using XBRL 2.1 and XBRL Formula validation.


Altova MissionKit 2014 Launch

Now the long-awaited day has finally come and we are very excited to introduce our new Altova MissionKit 2014 product line that incorporates the RaptorXML engine in XMLSpy and many other MissionKit tools. This means you get immediate access to XML Schema 1.1, XPath 3.0, XSLT 3.0, XQuery 3.0, and XBRL Formula validation - in addition to all the previous standards - right from within the new XMLSpy 2014 XML Editor and you get a huge performance boost for all your projects due to the faster engine.

And we have, of course, extended our graphical XML Schema editor to include support for XML Schema 1.1 as well as adding the powerful SmartFix validation to the schema editor, so XMLSpy will now make intelligent suggestions on how to fix common XML Schema errors directly in the graphical schema editor.





Due to the new capabilities of RaptorXML you also get a cool new feature that has been requested by many users: the ability to display multiple validation errors at once!

And for all XBRL users we have included better XBRL Formula support as well as XBRL Concept Types in the XBRL Taxonomy editor. This makes XMLSpy Enterprise Edition the single most powerful XBRL development tool with taxonomy editing and powerful RaptorXML-based XBRL instance validation all available in one easily affordable tool.

Bottom-line: having RaptorXML inside of XMLSpy is just awesome and you will love the speed as well as the improved standards-conformance! And if you want to include RaptorXML-based validation in your own projects you can now deploy RaptorXML Server on Windows, Linux, and MacOS X. Check out the RaptorXML Server datasheet for more information.

But the good news doesn't stop with XMLSpy. Version 2014 of the Altova MissionKit includes several new features in MapForce as well, such as support for XML wildcards <xs:any> and <xs:anyAttribute> as well as the ability to generate comments and processing instructions in any XML output files.

Additional new features that are available across all major Altova MissionKit 2014 tools are: Integration with Eclipse 4.3, as well as updated support for new databases, including SQL Server 2012, MySQL 5.5.28, PostgreSQL 9.0.10, 9.1.6, 9.2.1, Sybase ASE 15.7, IBM DB2 9.5, 9.7, 10.1, Informix 11.70, and Access 2013.

Last, but not least, to help you take advantage of the powerful new XML Schema 1.1 capabilities, such as assertions, conditional type alternatives, default attributes, and open content, we are also launching a comprehensive new FREE XML Schema 1.1 online training course today.

For more information, please check out today's announcement on the Altova blog as well as the What's New page on the Altova website.

CNN beta-testing a new look

Very interesting. When I visited CNN.com this evening, the site informed me with a friendly message that I had been selected to beta-test their new re-designed site: "Hi! You've been selected to check out our new look."

CNN.com Screen Shot 2013 08 19 at 20 19 35

Imagine my surprise, when clicking on this link brought me to the following 403 error message:

BETA CNN.com Screen Shot 2013 08 19 at 20 19 56

Guess the new site is really still in beta...

America's Cup AC72 vs. Kite Surfer

As a boating, technology, and performance enthusiast I've been following the America's Cup preparations pretty closely. And I've always liked Red Bull since my college years. Imagine my delight when I came across this video today of Red Bull kite-surfer Kai Lenny racing the Team Oracle AC72 from the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz:

Now if the kite-board only had also been a hydrofoil design, such as the Carafino

Big Data analysis applied to retail shopping behavior

Everybody knows that online retailers like Amazon track customer behavior on their website down to every last click and then analyze it to improve their site. But when it comes to regular retail locations collecting detailed customer data by tracking their every move, people seem to be surprised, and sometimes even outraged…

Tracking Shoppers in Retail

It is somewhat ironic that we are used to being tracked online, but when customer tracking - sometimes even based on the very smartphones we carry in our pockets - hits the real world, privacy concerns abound. Interestingly, the same systems have been used for years to prevent theft, and nobody seems to have a problem with that. But once Big Data gets collected and is analyzed for more than just theft prevention and is utilized to analyze shopping behavior and improve store layouts, things get a bit murky on the privacy implications.

The NY Times has a nice article about this today, including a video that shows some of the systems in action. Very cool technology is being used from video surveillance to WiFi signal tracking, and I guess this is really just the tip of the iceberg.

It will also be interesting to see how the privacy implications around Google Glass play out in the next couple of months. If the government can track and record everybody and if business can track and record their customers, then why shouldn't ordinary people also be allowed to constantly record and analyze everything happening around them?

When George Orwell coined the phrase "Big Brother is watching you" in his Nineteen Eight-Four novel, the dystopian vision of a government watching our every moves seemed to be the epitome of an oppressive evil. Nowadays, privacy concerns have certainly evolved over the past decade to the point where video cameras on street corners are taken for granted in many democracies and I'm sure we'll see a continued evolution of our understanding of privacy in the years to come.

Additional Coverage: Techmeme, Marketing Land, iMore, Business Insider, The Verge

Zero-day exploits, spies, and the predictive power of Sci-Fi

Reading the NY Times over coffee this morning, I noticed the article "Nations Buying as Hackers Sell Flaws in Computer Code" which details how nations (and, in particular, their secrete service organizations) are now bidding for and buying zero-day exploits from hackers and security experts worldwide.

Certainly a very timely article, as the world still comes to grips with the evolving role of the NSA and what we've learned in the aftermath of the Snowden leaks. It also reminded me of a Science Fiction series I read in the late Nineties and turn of the century: Tom Clancy's Net Force.

TomClancy's Net Force

Set in 2010 this was a gripping story about a new fictitious FBI division created to combat threats in cyberspace. The storyline quickly evolved from criminal investigations into cyber espionage and cyber warfare. These were the days of the early web and people still used AltaVista as a search engine - so a lot of the ideas in Net Force seemed pretty far out back then.

Interestingly, in the real world, in 2010 the US Army activated their Cyber Command.

And when people talk about Cyberspace in the media today, let's not forget that that term, too, was coined by Sci-Fi authors such as Vernor Vinge and William Gibson in the early Eighties. Like many other geeks of my generation, I devoured those books back then.

Musing about these things over coffee on a beautiful Sunday morning reminded me of an interview I gave to Erin Underwood at the Underwords blog a year ago, in which we talked about the importance of Sci-Fi for young adults and the oftentimes predictive powers of Sci-Fi literature…

The end of an era: PCWorld magazine stops print circulation

It seems logical that computer magazines would be the first to go. After all, computer geeks are the proverbial early adopters and have long since moved on to consuming news in a more timely fashion: online magazines, technology blogs, and up-to-the-minute real-time news on Twitter. Personally, I stopped reading print magazines and newspapers over three years ago. In an always-on always-connected world, where your smartphone provides you with instant access to everything, a daily print publication brings you yesterday's news. And let's not even talk about weekly or monthly print publications.

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Over the past decade I've seen countless tech publications get thinner and thinner from issue to issue and then just disappear. Some of them make a successful transition to an online magazine, and some don't. Interestingly, however, there is one computer-focused print publication in Germany that has managed to still stay relevant: c't Magazin. For some reason they've been able to keep and even grow their readership well into the 21st century.

Don't get me wrong, I still like journalistic excellence and that's why I subscribe to several online news sources that provide more of a well-researched and insightful commentary on the news:

I read these on whichever device I'm currently working on, be it the laptop, tablet, or smartphone - usually over a cup of coffee in the morning or while munching on a sandwich for lunch - and I intentionally include UK and German publications as well as AlJazeera to get a more balanced global view.

But for up-to-the-minute news I rely on Twitter as well as news alerts from Reuters, the Associated Press, and intelligence alerts from Stratfor, plus the usual geek-focused blogs, such as Engadget, Gizmodo, etc. and Techmeme as a blog aggregator.

One could, of course, argue that the era of computer magazines had ended much earlier already, when BYTE ended circulation in July 1998. But that would be dating myself…

Additional coverage: Techmeme, The Verge, TIME, ZDNet