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Got apps? You can help save the world

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Creating "apps" is one way IT developers can make some cash these days. Or they can also do a little bit to help publicise the world's major problems by entering the World Bank's "Apps for Development" competition.

If you are so motivated, try and create software applications, tools, data visualisations or "mash-ups" of the World Bank's data to address one of the eight Millennium Development Goals. You must use the development bank's data catalogue, which is available online.

The Millennium Development Goals are a commitment signed by many countries to reach targets on poverty and hunger, education, gender equality, child health, maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, environmental sustainability and global partnership.

You can find out more on the eight sections at www.un.org/millenniumgoals.

"The apps created in this competition will allow policymakers, researchers, and civil society to track the impact of policies, develop new solutions, and measure improvements more accurately," says the World Bank. The deadline to enter your app is 10 January 2011. The first prize is worth $15,000.

Crowd sourcing blunder or a sneaky campaign to gain even more recognition for its logo? This was what I thought when Gap, a company with about $14 billion in annual revenues, reverted back to its "old" logo after trying out the new one for about a week.

Of course, every business publication faithfully reproduced both logos to illustrate what was being called a blunder by the company — described in a similar manner to Coke's attempt to introduce a new formula about 25 years ago.

Gap's move to a new logo prompted an outpouring from the blogosphere and on social networking sites. A week later, the company president Marka Hansen said the company would revert to the old.

"We've been listening to and watching all of the comments this past week," he announced. "We heard them say over and over again they are passionate about our blue box logo, and they want it back.

"So we've made the decision to do just that — we will bring it back across all channels." What might make it more of a blunder is Gap's admission that after the first wave of comments rolled in, the company then asked the crowd on Facebook to come up with their own logo.

"After another wave of nasty comments and nearly 14,000 parody versions Gap dropped both the logo and the attempt at what is called crowdsourcing.

"We recognise that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community," added Hansen. "This wasn't the right project at the right time for crowd sourcing."

Can a big company be this stupid? Yes, it has happened before.

But I still have that suspicion of being had by some genius in the marketing department. Sometime or the other the truth will either go in someone's book of marketing blunders or marketing coups.

How do you hack into a company? Easy, create a beautiful woman online, worm the virtual creation into social networks, and suddenly the cookie jar opens.

Robin Sage was the personality constructed to test the security of the US' intelligence agencies by security researcher Thomas Ryan.

Using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and an a false image of a pretty woman, Ryan created a person claiming to be a cyber threat analyst at the US Naval Network Warfare Command in Norfolk, Virginia.

Once she accumulated friends with like minded profiles, hundreds of them according to Ryan, he was then able to slowly extract sensitive information.

He even got her invitations to speak at conferences, job offers at a bank, a gaming company and Google.

Ryan was testing how susceptible certain groups were to social engineering.

Though he did not gain any friends in the CIA, the FBI or Secret Service, he did connect with military contractors and other branches of the service.

By linking all the information together got names, addresses and phone numbers, plus passwords to security questions, bank accounts and e-mail. Read about it and beware of similar cons: www.thomasryan.net.

Send any comments to elamin.ahmed@gmail.com.

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Published October 20, 2010 at 12:00 am (Updated December 09, 2010 at 7:33 pm)

Got apps? You can help save the world

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