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All posts tagged Israel

Web Accessibility is Law in Israel…

We heard a talk about Israel Web Accessibility law at WordCamp Jerusalem 2016, several days ago. To begin with, I’m not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on TV so I’m not going to cite the law nor should you interpret the opinions you read here as an acceptance of liability or that I am claiming any legal knowledge. I’m not. What I am sharing is the food for thought I came away with.

The law is interesting and of course, web accessibility is important if not crucial. However, the ramifications of the law are almost as relevant.

Israel Web Accessibility Law - Dammit Jim

The following points came across during the presentation:

  • This law has been in effect since 2013.
  • The law enables a complainant to sue for damages in a case where a site does not meet the standards required by law for accessibility.
  • Other countries have web accessibility standards but none makes this a legal requirement involving liability.
  • It applies allegedly to sites that provide “information to the public”.
  • No litigation case has appeared in Israeli courts since the law’s inception.
  • Public sector sites have an extension until 2018 to become web accessible.

CUI BONO?

This is certainly an opportunity for any skilled, knowledgeable professional to provide web accessibility compliance or testing services, so long as they are not risk adverse. One of the concerns voiced during the presentation at WordCamp was that liability can include not just the site itself, the theme the site builder recommends or customizations, but also content subsequently posted to the site.

The government and the public sector as a whole are benefitting from the extension they granted themselves until 2018 for their sites to become compliant. In Israel most IT services in the public sector are provided by outsourcing companies who compete for tenders. One can assume that if the public sector has not already begun issuing these tenders to make their sites accessible, it will wake up to the need for this shortly. The outsourcing companies are big enough to acquire the knowledge and handle the liability issues. Web accessibility, an opportunity for them.

The WARPTEST POV

The presentation at WordCamp highlighted the sense among attendees that the government had done what it does best: imprinted existing physical world standards on the digital domain. Technology professionals often feel that legislators pass laws without a full comprehension of the tech or the impact. There weren’t a lot of smiling faces about all this:

Again, don’t misconstrue what I’m saying. Web accessibility is important and this is where I part ways with the lawyer who gave the WordCamp presentation.

IMHO if the government is legislating web accessibility in much the way they do with car licensing, then why shouldn’t the government be obligated to provide a standard automated testing tool for site builders to verify compliance to standards. This would be akin to the test center you take your car to prior to annual licensing.

The really interesting thing is that this law doesn’t just apply to web sites. Compliance to accessibility also applies to mobile apps. One might assume that should this become a burning issue, Google, Apple and Microsoft will all have a dog in this fight.

Israel Web Accessibility Law - app stores

Many people came away from the presentation feeling that the government went too far. This opens up huge opportunities for the litigious and turns site building and content writing into something as risky as feeding crocodiles.

A law that has been around since 2013 and has not generated one court case leaves questions. Are sites more web accessible since the law was passed? I believe not. Has the law ensured that those who need web accessibility are receiving it? I’m unconvinced that the law changed that for the better either.

Nutshell, there are opportunities here for the bold and the knowledgeable. WordPress Theme creators, mobile app developers and QA are just a few. If we are willing to accept the risk of providing web accessibility compliance services then this is a niche waiting to be filled.

Which do you see, the risk or the opportunity?

Microsoft Think Next 2016 …

Microsoft Think Next 2016 wasn’t just the annual pilgrimage as this year was the 25th Anniversary of Microsoft opening the R&D Center in Israel.

You’re probably asking yourself a crucial question though…

What Is Think Next?

As mentioned in previous years, Microsoft Think Next is the annual show and tell of cutting edge, in-house innovation, several startup graduates of Microsoft Israel’s Accelerator program and others working within the  Microsoft ecosystem.

It is also involves a keynote and presentations. Demofest is the show and tell part and it was a truly incredible display of technology, innovation and disruption; ranging from the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Surface Book to the BBC Microbit, a robot that can pick apples off a tree, various medical related startups and much more:

 

Microsoft Think Next 2016 - Demofest

If you want to see the full list or get more information click the graphic

 

I got to go hands on with the Surface Pro 4, Surface Book, connect my Windows Phone 950XL to a Continuum dock and more. A measure of the interest in these startups and Microsoft’s own products were the large groups of people around each station waiting to meet the product owners / founders and hear all about their products.

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Each of these startups was Israeli born and bred, and much of the Microsoft technology on display was developed to some degree in the Israel R&D center. Not for nothing, the Startup Nation.

The Keynote, Presentations And A Surprise Guest

The presentations kicked off with an introduction from Zack Westfeld & Dana Porter Rubinstein (senior members of Microsoft Israel). Yoram Yaacovi followed (General Manager of Microsoft Israel), and then a congratulatory video message from Bill Gates. This led into the keynote by Satya Nadella, followed by presentations from 3 incredible speakers, each e impacting the lives of people worldwide.

  • Dr Jasmin Fisher of Microsoft Research, Cambridge gave an awe inspiring speech on the now and future of cancer mapping research.
  • Gerald Jay Sanders, the CEO of SkyTran Inc presented his vision for high-speed, rapid transit. Sanders explained how he, NASA and Israel Aircraft Industries are working together to create magnetically propelled elevated (or not) capsule or bullet trains. The word train does not do this justice, hit the link for SkyTran and see for yourself.
  • Dr Raz Itzchaki Tamir , the CEO of SkyFi explained his vision of bringing worldwide, affordable communication coverage thru a network of mini-satellites.

Not for nothing do people attribute the incredible change to Microsoft to CEO, Satya Nadella. He is clearly an inspirational leader with a vision for where he wants to take Microsoft. His keynote delivered with several exceptional quotes:

Microsoft Think Next 2016 - Bill Gates

Microsoft Think Next 2016 - Satya Nadella Keynote

“There is no doubt that a country like Israel is going to change the world.”

(Borrowing from Hololens about Think Next) “When you change the way you see the world; you change the world you see.”

Here is a sample of the impact Microsoft Think Next and particularly Satya Nadella’s comments made (via Twitter)

The Warptest POV

I came to Microsoft Think Next 2016 with high expectations and I wasn’t disappointed. The Microsoft Accelerator Startups demonstrated a variety of game changing products, as did Microsoft. It was difficult to give back the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book I tried out.

The atmosphere was beyond optimistic, beyond enthusiastic. Microsoft Israel’s team of employees brought their A-game and mingled, demonstrated and provided a fantastic event. Microsoft Think Next 2016 is the best Think Next yet. Besides all this, Think Next is a great networking opportunity and it certainly didn’t disappoint for this either.

Yoram Yaacovi spoke in detail about the variety of new jobs descriptions being created by new innovations. One of several examples he gave was the need for skilled divers to maintain Microsoft’s new undersea data centers. This combined with Satya Nadella’s keynote outlines a glowing future for Microsoft and especially Microsoft Israel that is happening in the now.

It certainly helped me to start changing the way I see the world. How about you?

Many thanks to Microsoft Israel R&D and the person behind their Twitter account for all the help before and after the event. They were kind enough to provide some corrections to mistakes in the original post.

Think Next 2015 Has Been and Gone…

Now riddle me this Batman, when and where can you see cutting edge tech from Startups and Microsoft alike, see Hillel Fuld (CMO of Zula, Tech blogger, Startup mentor and all around nice guy) demonstrate drone flying, hear an assortment of amazing speakers connect technological innovation and the real world, try the Xbox One, network with people from every level of hitech and get a snazzy new T-shirt?

Thanks to Hillel for the demonstration and his permission to share this video.

That’s right, it was Think Next 2015. Microsoft Israel R&D, Research and Ventures along with their Accelerator were all present and delivered the goods, lock, stock and barrel.

Think Next 2015

The event was relocated from Tel Aviv port to the new Tel Aviv Sport Arena this year:

 

 

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It was an action packed event with Demo Fest, the show, tell and network for Microsoft Accelerator’s Startups, select Microsoft Research projects and the latest in Microsoft tech on display including :

  • Windows 10 on laptops, tablets and phones.
  • Cortana – Windows Phone 8’s amazing personal assistant, already seen on preview versions of Windows 10 for desktop / laptop and expected on Android also.
  • Office 2016 – in preview now but once again the Office team refine and improve the best productivity suite in the world with a greater focus on touch.
  • Skype Translator – a real time, multilingual translator for Skype video chats. In open preview now
  • Microsoft Band – Microsoft’s incredible smartwatch. The only watch on the market with full cross platform support as well as Cortana integration and sport / health apps.
  • Handpose – a Microsoft Research project that detects, analyzes and renders a person’s hand movements

Microsoft were smart in interspersing these stands amongst the Startups on display, as well as a stand for BIzspark and a place to show staff your requisite selfie with one of the Microsoft Spaceship Crew so you could get your own free Think Next 2015 T-Shirt.

Think Next 2015 - selfie - spaceship

I spent as much time as I could chatting to Startups and the Microsoft stands too. The energy level and enthusiasm was incredible.

The second part of the event, everyone was invited to take seats in the stadium with the basketball court converted into a dazzling multimedia presentation area for the speakers.

You can find the full and impressive list of speakers here and see from the embedded tweets on display just how much the attendees enjoyed hearing the speeches.

 

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IMHO the best was keynote speaker, Scott Guthrie (Microsoft VP for almost everything) who spoke about big data, Internet of Things and how all companies are data companies citing the example of a Japanese dairy farm using a (relatively) simple IoT solution and Microsoft Azure to process step data from Cows on the farm to monitor and exploit accurate fertility cycles. In short, farmers using data to know when their cows are in heat.

WP_20150505_035

Guthrie’s speech was inspired and an amusing way of touting Azure which continues to take big bites out of the cloud market. He also gave a practical demo of how easy and quick it is to deploy an Azure solution on stage.

The Warptest POV

As I wrote in my post about Think Next 2014,

“Microsoft began the Accelerator and Microsoft Ventures to invest in, mentor, nurture and assist Startups with great ideas but as Locard’s Principle states you don’t just leave something behind, you also take something with you. In this case, it appears that the Startup mentality has become a greater part of Microsoft itself.”

Microsoft continues to build something incredibly special with the Israeli Startup community and combines the incredible networking opportunity of Think Next 2015 with a stunning display of Microsoft tech we can have now or very soon.

If Microsoft Israel is not perceived as a flagship site, producing integral parts of these innovations it should be and Think Next has my recommendation if you are in hi-tech and want the opportunity to meet startups, VC’s and many others participating in Israeli hi-tech’s success. I’ve already asked Cortana to add a reminder to register early for Think Next 2016, how about you?

MESH – The Modiin Entrepreneurs’ Startup Hub Is Open For Business

Modiin one of Israel’s newest cities, formerly branded as City of the Future and historical home of the ancient Maccabees has up until now been best known as a dormitory community. On a daily basis you see traffic congestion resulting from the techie population heading to bigger cities like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Hertzliya and Raanana.

Modiin is situated halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem but until now has had no major hi-tech or Startup companies.

Several entrepreneurs teamed up to launch the local Hub as a place for Startups and an open, shared workplace for others to use.

The resources are priced well and the location in Modiin’s slightly off the beaten track Ligad Industrial Estate keep those prices down.

Modiin MESH 4sq Map

The Hub, just outside Modiin (Foursquare link embedded in the image)

MESH Launch

My first impression was the amazing layout of the open space and offices at the launch party. I was overwhelmed by the number of attendees at the launch indicating the potential of the Hub.

Modiin MESH Launch Event

Clearly a lot of thought had gone into the look and feel of the place.

Modiin MESH Clocks

Modiin MESH Hub Logo

Modiin MESH Hub

I managed to chat during the event with two of the founders who I know, Moshe Porat and Daniel Morris about the Hub.

I am given to understand that many of the offices have been been rented out already but the shared space is still available with WiFi, phones, a Nespresso coffee machine and other resources.

The variety of Startups already with office space there ranged from a Facebook based app for party suggestions, an enterprise IT oriented company and several others.

One of the founders of the Hub told me of the strong sense of community felt by them and the Startups and the collaborative atmosphere felt there on a daily basis.

The founders are looking at addressing challenges as they arise with creative solutions ranging from: –

  • How to matchmake the employment needs of the Startups with the vast pool of local talent.
  • Working on creating a car pooling service to help people who want to work at the Hub but find it difficult to get there themselves.

The Warptest POV

The Modiin Entrepreneurs’ Startup Hub is a golden opportunity for the city of Modiin, an opportunity that begs to be grabbed with both fists,

The Hub is a stimulus package for the city just waiting to happen: –

  • If X people work locally that is X people less commuting in and out of the city.
  • The business of Hitech requires many tertiary services ranging from finance, IT, office supplies, transport, logistics, legal and more.
  • Startups live and breathe on free-flowing caffeine and take away food / restaurants. Especially for those late night coding / testing sessions.

All of these local businesses will benefit and flourish as demand for their services increases thanks to the Hub.

I left feeling the launch had clearly demonstrated that Modiin Hitech is a force to be reckoned with and big things can be expected from our great city.

If you want to visit the Hub or work there then you can contact them through their site www.modiinhub.com

A huge bravo to the MESH Founders for their hard work getting this launched.

Atlassian Makes Awesome Software

…but more than that, they make great solutions for anyone in the world of software.

Atlassian web site

Last night I attended the Atlassian Israel Meetup hosted at Google Tel Aviv. The group is a thriving community and for anyone familiar or just getting started using Atlassian products in Israel it’s worth joining up.

The Meetup

The meetup was well organized with good time to network and presentations on Atlassian’s Bamboo (CI), Hipchat and developments with JIRA Support and Confluence.

  • Issac of ItsGoodConsulting gave a detailed presentation on using Bamboo with Node.JS for Continuous Integration. It’s not my main area of expertise but it was interesting after having tested on a project run using CI to deep dive this side of the subject.
  • Evgeny and Ilya of DevOps gave a presentation on using Bamboo with Chef in DevOps scenarios. This was a chance to hear about some really innovative use cases.
  • Holly, the Community Manager from Atlassian was with us and gave a great presentation on HipChat. I just wish I had heard this several weeks ago when I wrote my post on Zula and Yammer. (I see a follow up post sometime in early 2014, especially if I get my hands on a Windows Phone version of HipChat). HipChat impressed me as the collaborative, real time chat glue that allows you to tie your lifecycle up in a cohesive bundle with a strong feature set and smart support for pretty much every platform out there.
  • David the Atlassian Israel group organizer also presented a really nice overview of new developments in Confluence (your central workspace for the whole team and a whole lot more) and JIRA.

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To cap the evening Atlassian provided pizzas and some great T-shirts for their various products. All in all a great evening.

The Warptest POV

I have written about JIRA in the past and I consider it one of the best options out there for managing your testing efforts. Atlassian has an incredible marketplace for all their products and you can find almost any add-on to suit your needs there.

The combination of Confluence and JIRA make for a strong combination especially for Agile development.

So if standalone bug tracking is not for you and a comprehensive ALM solution is more than your comfort zone allows then perhaps the optimum is a more scalable, modular approach that Atlassian offers.

Once again, thanks to all the folks who presented, to Google for hosting and David for organizing the meetup. I will definitely be at the next one.

Steve Ballmer onscreen at Discovery 2012

Microsoft Discovery showed yesterday …

..why the company haven’t lost a step and mojo well it’s not in short supply.

Israel hosted the first outside the US launch event for Windows 8 and related devices with the added bonus of Microsoft Israel’s Thinknext 2012 Special Edition later in the day. Both with guest Steve Ballmer.

As you will see from my previous post, Ballmer played a pivotal role in the launch to a crowd of 5000+ Israeli technologists, entrepreneurs, Start Ups and Vendors. It’s easy to buy into the Trolls on the blogosphere that Microsoft is a down and out company unable to keep up with others in the technology market but the energy level of the crowd here at Microsoft Discovery kills that idea dead!

Hands on Windows 8 Touch Devices

The Event began with a hall full of vendors allowing every attendee to go hands on with their Windows 8 device or Windows 8 Phone. Microsoft managed to pull off an act of serious diplomacy towards their OEM partners by not pulling all the focus onto the Surface RT at least until it was mentioned by Steve Ballmer in his keynote.

My two favorites stands were Asus and HTC. Asus had a variety of tablet / hybrid tablet – laptops but the Taichi was the device I had been skeptical about until I saw and tried it. The Taichi is a laptop with a screen on each side of the top. When I heard about this I discounted it as gimmicky but when the salesperson from Asus demonstrated it by standing opposite and showing me a presentation on screen that I could also work on and not just on the same thing but another document I was blown away.

Asus Taichi dual sided screen

The other Asus winner was the Transformer-like Vivo RT

Transformer Like Asus Vivo

The quality of design and materials of the Asus devices has not faltered in any way. These are sleek, thin but sturdy devices made with attention to detail and the right materials.

HTC was displaying the HTC 8X their powerhouse Windows Phone 8 in a well designed form-factor. I use a Windows Phone 7, the HTC Titan which fits nicely in my large hands but the small changes in design, beveling the back corners of the case made for a more comfortable fit. The screen was a joy with depth of color and sharpness beyond anything I had experienced and given that it was an HTC there was no need to check the sound. IMHO HTC demolishes the competition when it comes to sound quality. If I had to choose right now between this phone or a Lumia, I wouldn’t hesitate.

HTC's flagship Windows Phone the 8x

The phone was fast and responsive and Windows Phone 8 OS is everything it’s meant to be.

The Launch

The event itself was something to behold, here is a photo of some of the crowd waiting for the event to get started

The crowd at Discovery 2012

The best review of the event I have read is from Shar-i.com giving her perspective on the day.

The Warptest perspective

Microsoft Discovery was a well polished, multimedia event clearly produced by professionals who with an initial dance number, an interactive stage display and a series of TV Show like chats between various well put together Microsoft managers and some hands on display of a variety of Windows 8 Devices presented a strong launch with high energy.

The keynote was delivered by Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer. This was my first time seeing him speak live and I cannot describe the passion, energy, humor and winning personality that he brings to the stage.Hearing him talk about the potential for Windows 8 and having tried it myself it’s hard not to see a glowing future for Microsoft.

Several other things stood out: –

  • The presentation of Office 2013. I reviewed it earlier this year and if you haven’t downloaded and tried it then you are missing a treat. This is the ultimate productivity tool.
  • XBox – Xbox 360 is finally and yes, belatedly officially launching in Israel and this was launched with a visit from Master Chief himself on stage with a backdrop trailer for the pending HALO4.

  • The Head of Microsoft Israel gave a presentation that included a tongue-in-cheek video of him and his staff discussing Windows 8 only to be interrupted by Israeli Supermodel Bar Refaeli who had a few pointers and comments vis a vis marketing and features. (sadly this video is not online to share or embed yet).

As you know i have upgraded to Windows 8 and I spoke to several people attending the conference who were happy to discuss with me the hows and whys of upgrading.

Based on what I saw, I’m giving Windows 8 and the various devices a strong buy recommendation.

Soluto – In the Beginning:

Soluto has done it again. No longer a simple client PC application it has evolved and iterated into a sophisticated Control Panel for system management of multiple PCs.

soluto - button

Uncle Monty’s Got No Internet:

Many of us who are used to the frantic calls to resolve PC issues for friends and family were overjoyed with this remote access solution; allowing you the Power User to solve these issues from the comfort of your own chair and computer.

You may have heard it here first:

I wrote on my old blog in July 2010 about how to use Soluto hand in hand with CCleaner and FileHippo; this was the best way at the time to ensure a smooth running, stable PC.

Awhile later I indulged in predicting via Twitter that @soluto should romance either CCleaner or FIlehippo as the results would be awesome.

Soluto-logoCcleaner-logo - Solutofilehippo-logo - Soluto

Will It Blend?

Last week the guys at Soluto did one better and announced on their blog that they are incorporating a Disk Cleaner and App Installer (beginning with Skype apparently with other apps to follow).

As a freemium user you get to invite 4 other users and be their Power User / Online Support:

Soluto - grab

So we have one killer app that basically will allow you to do away with: –

  • Maintaining a stable, optimized boot and running OS
  • 3rd Party Patch Management
  • Remote Access Tools for Support
  • The uncertainty of DIY 3rd Party App Maintenance

What Next?

That’s Soluto today as a Freemium version. It doesn’t take much to imagine the Web App / Soluto Client providing support for iOS or Linux (even Mobile platforms) but the kicker is going to be seeing your Sys-admin maintain your whole IT infrastructure via Soluto with an Enterprise version. (prediction)

In a nutshell for all you LOTR fans this will likely be the One Ring to Rule Them All.