Updated: More than 2000 flights canceled as Hurricane Florence arrives

first_imgPhoto: NASA Hurricane Florence has already been a major contributor to more than 2000 flight cancellations across the US as it delivers pounding rain and strong winds to the mid-Atlantic states.The downgraded category 1 hurricane started pummeling the Carolinas Thursday (US time), leaving hundreds of thousands without power amid warnings of dangerous storm surges and flooding.It made landfall Friday morning near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, and was moving slowly westward.Storm surges of 10ft above normal levels had been reported by 11pm Eastern Time Thursday and remained a worry in some areas Friday.The biggest concern, however, was flooding triggered by heavy rainfall of up to 40 inches (10cms) in some areas.Doppler radar indicated winds near 70mph (110kmh) Friday with higher gusts and the storm had been further downgraded to tropical storm.“Gradual weakening is expected tonight,” the US National Hurricane Center said in its 5pm Friday update. “Significant weakening is forecast over the weekend and into early next week while Florence moves farther inland.”US airlines began the arduous process of canceling flights before the hurricane, initially feared to reach the US as a monster category 4 storm, arrived.SEE More pictures of Florence from space.Initial expectations were that it could affect flights into Charleston International. Officials at the South Carolina airport closed Charleston to all air traffic Wednesday evening, September 12. Closures were also announced for Fayetteville, Jacksonville and Wilmington.Florence also triggered cancellations at a far busier North Carolina airport: Charlotte-Douglas International (CLT).According to CLT, the North Carolina airfield is the sixth busiest airport in the world offering more than 160 nonstop destinations around the globe.CLT oversees more than 700 departures and landings each day and is served by seven domestic carriers and three foreign flag carriers.The airport is also American Airlines’ second largest hub and the second largest airport on the East Coast. What happens at Charlotte has a ripple effect throughout AA’s system.American said on Thursday it had canceled 820  flights from September 12  to September 16.The US Federal Aviation Administration late Wednesday issued advice to travelers warning of cancelations and delays in the direct path of the storm as well as in its aftermath.“Once Hurricane Florence makes ground fall, airports may be listed as “open” but flooding on local roadways may limit access to airports for passengers, as well as the employees who work for the airlines or at the airport,” it said.“As a result, every aspect of your trip to the airport, including parking, checking in, getting through security and boarding may take longer than usual.“As always, check with airlines about the status of your flight before you leave for the airport.” Major carriers provide flight status updates on their website.”Just how long the disruption will be is up to the extent of the havoc Florence sews in her devasting journey along the United States’ Middle Atlantic coastline.Here are websites for major US airlines:Southwest AirlinesDelta AirlinesUnited AirlinesAmerican AirlinesJetBlueAlaskaSpiritFrontierAllegiantlast_img read more

ReadWriteWeb DeathWatch: Groupon

first_imgWhy Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market The financial turmoil of the earnings restatement forced Groupon to bring in some financial heavyweights, including David Henry, CFO of American Express. With any luck, Henry and company can help guide Mason’s passion into productive expansion.The PrognosisGroupon has cash on hand, though a large chunk of it is earmarked for vendor payouts. The ongoing economic slowdown will affect the entire market, but Groupon will have to fight hard to maintain differentiation. Ultimately, it’s likely to become the biggest fish in a much less important pond. It could easily end up as no more than an obscure division of some much larger, more diversified company.Can this Company Be Saved?Groupon has access to a ton of customer data, including payment information. It also has some powerful applications, like Groupon Scheduler, that could be used for broader purposes. If Mason can find new ways to leverage these assets across other products and services (for example, cross-selling full-priced flights or shore excursions at the point of purchase for a discounted cruise), it could build out a convenience-based commerce system and open up new partnership opportunities and compensation structures. If it sticks to online couponing, though, right now is probably as good as things will ever get.The Deathwatch So FarResearch In Motion: Things are hurtling downhill even faster than expected. Massive losses – more than 11 times worse than expected – and new delays in its Hail Mary BlackBerry 10 operating system update have made the company’s dire situation even harder to ignore. And over the weekend, a federal jury found RIM liable for $147 million in patent damages to Mformation Technologies.HP: No change in statusNokia: No change in status38 Studios: No change in statusBarnes & Noble: No change in statusSony: No change in status. Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Tags:#Deathwatch#e-commerce#web cormac foster When you finally turn a profit and investors simultaneously dump your stock to an all-time low, you have a problem. Groupon is the king of local couponing, but is its deal already as sweet as it can get?The BasicsGroupon wasn’t the first local deal site, but it took the model to the masses. Buyers prepay for a discounted product or service, and when those purchases hit a threshold, Groupon splits the revenue with the merchant and the deal is on. Local businesses acquire customers, customers get a deal and Groupon gets paid.Despite quarter after quarter of losses, Groupon passed on a rumored Google buyout and worked that model into a $12.7 billion IPO only 18 months into its existence.But life since the IPO has been rough. Competitors such as LivingSocial moved in on Groupon’s turf, quarterly losses kept coming, and some dodgy accounting was revealed. And though Groupon finally turned a profit this year, the resulting rally was short-lived when its stock hit an all-time low last week on news of weakness in the European market.The ProblemBut Groupon’s problems go much deep than the Eurozone, all the way to the heart of its business model, for two main reasons:1. It’s a Bad Deal for Vendors Using Groupon costs nothing upfront, but can turn out to be very expensive for vendors. Groupon takes a 50% cut of sales that typically already discount 50%. Some businesses (see GrouponWorks.com) absorb the hit just fine by selling high-margin add-ons and sparking return visits. For others, a 75% revenue hit is awfully rich, even for a loss leader – and especially if the discounts go to existing customers or folks “just passing through.” Meanwhile, Groupon doesn’t share any customer information with vendors – not even email addresses. And many merchants worry about projecting weakness and cheapening their brand.2. The Pie is Shrinking The barriers to entry in daily deals is terrifyingly low. That’s why the competitors keep multiplying, from Living Social to Amazon Local and even the local newspaper. Consumers have a finite amount of disposable income, and they’re loyal to the deal, not the brand. Many vendors rotate identical deals on multiple sites for maximum exposure. The PlayersWith co-founder Eric Lefkosky stepping away from management responsibilities, Andrew Mason, Groupon’s co-founder and CEO, is firmly in charge.While dedicated to the business, he’s also kind of a wildcard. He admitted to drinking too much beer during a meeting in which he said Groupon needed to “grow up.” He’s the public face of a public company, but he posts videos of himself doing yoga in his underwear:last_img read more

Survey: Google+ Whomps Facebook on User Satisfaction

first_imgFacebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… Tags:#Facebook#Google#social networks#Social Web#web The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Related Posts center_img antone gonsalves Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification If Facebook doesn’t stop walking over its users, it risks having them leave for social networks that do a better job of keeping them satisfied – particularly Google+. That’s the message in the latest survey by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which lists several ways in which Facebook continues to alienate its user base.While Google+ topped the survey’s social media category, Facebook was dead last. Users are angry over the way it handles just about everything they care about: privacy, advertising and the way they interact on the social network. The survey suggests that if Facebook doesn’t dramatically improve customer happiness, people could leave when given an alternative. “We know that consumers go where they’re satisfied,” said Larry Freed, president and chief executive of ForeSee, which partnered with the ACSI in releasing the survey.Facebook’s bottom-of-the-barrel ACSI score of 61, 17 points below Google+, indicates that Facebook has done a dismal job of coddling users during the many changes the site has gone through while trying to build a business around advertising.“A reasonable person would say Facebook at some point has to make money, but users aren’t always reasonable,” Freed said.Facebook’s Latest StumbleHow a company handles change plays a big part in determining whether customers stay or head for a competitor. Facebook’s latest flub came with Timeline, the user interface introduced in January that transformed users’ bulletin-board-like profile into a visual scrapbook of their lives. The ACSI found that the switch to Timeline was users’ most common complaint.Many people were shell-shocked when the switch to Timeline became permanent. Facebook could have helped users with the transition by letting them switch back and forth between the two interfaces for a much longer period of time.“You want to make changes, you want to make improvements, and yet, if you make them too drastically, consumers struggle,” Freed said.Other Reasons to HateThe ACSI survey also found that users don’t trust the company to ensure their privacy. This skittishness continues despite Facebook’s efforts to give users more privacy controls. People also remain concerned about their data being sold to advertisers and whether it is sufficiently secure.Another user concern is control of their own experience. This month, for example, Facebook caused an uproar on the site by switching users’ default email addresses to @facebook.com without notification.Increased advertising on the site also bothers users. Many see Facebook ads as intrusive and as having no relevance to them. Facebook will have to find a balance to avoid alienating people further.“Satisfaction is a combination of what you get and what you expect,” Freed explained. “The expectations over the years have been not a lot of ads, if any, and now either Facebook will have to adjust or consumers will have to adjust.”Google+ as Competitor?For now, there’s still no place for disgruntled Facebook users to turn to as an alternative. Google claims that 150 million people log into its Google+ social network at least once a month, with half of those signing in daily. That’s a mere fraction of the more than 900 million “monthly active users” claimed by Facebook. But Google+ is only about a year old. It could still grow into a viable alternative to Facebook, particularly if it continues to satisfy its users. Google+ made its debut on the ACSI with a score of 78, tied for number one with Wikipedia.As things stand, Google+ doesn’t have the heft to encourage people to leave Facebook. Instead, Google highlights things it claims the service does better, such as tracking topics people care about and acting as the social glue across Google’s other products, including YouTube, Blogger and Gmail. But Freed predicted that could change over time: “As they grow that network, at some point, it may be big enough to be a direct competitor.”last_img read more

YouTube Protects Protestors With New Facial Blur Feature

first_imgfruzsina eordogh Tags:#web#YouTube Related Posts Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img YouTube announced in a blog post on Wednesday a new tool to blur faces in videos. In recent years, YouTube has gradually shifted from a place to share cute kitten videos to a global activist platform that has helped document (and foment) unrest throughout Europe, the Middle East and North America. With the facial blur feature, the company has formally recognized the need to protect the identities of people whose images it distributes.The post cited a 2011 report from Witness, a nonprofit organization that promotes the use of video to advance human rights, that states, “No video-sharing site or hardware manufacturer currently offers users the option to blur faces or protect identity.” YouTube Policy Associate Amanda Conway responded that “YouTube is excited to be among the first” to offer such technology.     “We are at an evolution point where pictures and video are the most powerful ways to get our stories across, but people need to have the option to protect themselves,” said Sam Gregory, program director of Witness, to the Los Angeles Times. The feature is automated, blurring all faces that appear in video imagery. It doesn’t yet allow manual blurring of faces, which YouTube described as “emerging technology.” If a user were hoping to blur, say, the face of a protestor being beaten but not of the cops doing the beating, YouTube recommended keeping the video private. Facial blur is available in the YouTube Video Enhancement section. Image courtesy of YouTube. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostinglast_img read more

At TDWI: Finding a middle way between Hadoop and relational data warehousing

first_imgI realized this when I was in Chicago the first week of May, attending The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) conference, where the theme was “Preparing for the Practical Realities of Big Data.” And since it’s built on Intel® architecture, and leverages the full power of Intel® Xeon® E7 processors, HANA has hardware-enhanced performance and security built in, with solid-state drives and cache acceleration for blazing speed and stability. Watch this interview from TDWI to learn more about SAP HANA and how the database helps address big data challenges. There are high expectations around big data at the moment. Many people in marketing, product development, and analytics teams can’t wait to get their hands on big data intelligence to better understand and target audiences. With this in mind, I attended the keynote address by Ken Rudin, director of Analytics at Facebook—a leader in cool, cutting-edge big data processing and analysis addressing a conference of (what some would consider) old-school DBAs. The message from Rudin, who has held senior leadership positions at Zynga, Salesforce.com, and Oracle, was fascinating: Don’t get caught in the tyranny of either/or when it comes to data analysis—businesses need both traditional relational database processing and Hadoop*-based big data analysis. If you’re thinking big data analytics will solve all your BI challenges, you may be looking at it wrong… Follow Tim and Twitter @TimIntel and the SAP analytics team at @SAPAnalytics.Additionally, @TDWI has some very interesting DW feeds. If you’re looking for the technology to get the most impact out of analytics, look no further. So the question is not, how do you get from old-school to cutting edge as soon as possible. Rather, ask which technology is right to generate impact out of data. @krudin said that Facebook started out relying almost solely on Hadoop and big data when the social media giant first launched, but now is increasingly incorporating OLAP and OLTP processes into its analytics. Hadoop is best at exploring huge data sets—putting all the data into one system to discover patterns. Traditional relational data analytics is best at business, looking at focused data to derive metrics and more actionable, granular analysis. Both are valuable technologies: which one is best depends on what kind of impact you are looking for. At the SAP booth, I presented a discussion of the newly released joint solution from SAP and Intel that has optimized Intel® Distribution of Apache Hadoop* software for the SAP HANA* in-memory database. Using SAP Smart Data Access* (watch for availability in coming weeks), this big data solution is able to leverage all types of data for processing in analytical applications. However, TDWI isn’t their show. At TDWI, the focus instead is on traditional database administrators, data analysts, and data scientists, and it’s a very technical conference firmly based on OLAP and OLTP analytics and hands-on issues of data warehousing. Then the question becomes: What’s the best way to integrate data stored in Hadoop into a traditional OLAP or OLTP infrastructure for processing? The answer is just around the corner. This was a conclusion that appealed to many at TDWI, as several people I spoke to registered a bit of skepticism about the value of Hadoop as an engine for analytics. For them, the main attraction of Hadoop is its potential to act as a backend data storage mechanism, where unstructured data can be warehoused.last_img read more