Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Headspace Is Enlightenment on Your iPhone - The New Yorker

From an extensive Headspace profile

"THRIVE’s speakers included women with expertise in the first two metrics: Katie Couric, Tory Burch. But a keynote address was delivered by a Third Metric expert: Andy Puddicombe, a forty-two-year-old British meditation teacher. Puddicombe trained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk before creating an iPhone app called Headspace, which teaches meditation and mindfulness techniques. Since 2012, when the app launched, Headspace has been downloaded by three million users. Among its acolytes are Richard Branson, who put the company’s meditation exercises on Virgin Airlines flights, and the Seattle Seahawks. The Times has written that Puddicombe is “doing for meditation what someone like Jamie Oliver has done for food.”"
Headspace Is Enlightenment on Your iPhone - The New Yorker

GarageBand update lets artists publish directly to Apple Music Connect | Macworld

Publish different

"Why this matters: Differentiating Apple Music from other streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, and Rdio is important to Apple. Connect is a social service that the others don’t have, and the ability of artists to upload songs from GarageBand cuts out the middleman, giving fans a sense of direct access. Fans also benefit by getting content that may not be found in any other streaming service. It’s another feature that Apple can tout over its competitors."
GarageBand update lets artists publish directly to Apple Music Connect | Macworld

Bigger, Cheaper, Faster Data in the Cloud - The New York Times

"Democratized BI" at cloud scale

"Civis does not claim to be breaking new ground in data science. Instead, the company says it can automate a lot of expensive processes in large scale pattern-finding. When the team was working for Mr. Obama it used regular computers, and the problems increased as the amount of data it had grew. Cloud computing better handles such growth.

The company’s selling point is in adapting the services to generalized cloud tools, in particular the AWS Redshift data analysis service, to handle big analysis tasks with little of the customization otherwise required."
Bigger, Cheaper, Faster Data in the Cloud - The New York Times

Kindle Paperwhite Review: Amazon’s Latest E-Reader Is Its Best Yet - WSJ

Not dead yet
"Recommending an e-reader in 2015? Really? Didn’t they get buried along with GPS units and MP3 players? Yes, the e-reader has suffered a slow and painful fall. Only about 3.5 million will sell this year, says market-research firm Forrester, down from 6.4 million just two years ago. Sony got out of the business and Barnes & Noble hasn’t updated its Nook Glowlight in nearly two years. (I expect the company to refresh it this fall.)  Amazon, however, continues to release new models. (So does the lesser-known Kobo.)
That’s because the world still needs e-readers. We need a device that puts millions of books in our hands and allows us to dive into a sea of literature without being constantly pulled out by notifications. Now with twice the pixels, the same 8-week battery life and price, the new Paperwhite does that better than the rest."
Kindle Paperwhite Review: Amazon’s Latest E-Reader Is Its Best Yet - WSJ

Zuckerberg Takes Questions in Facebook Session Marred by Tech Troubles - The New York Times

Facebook may have to update its privacy policy when this feature is introduced...

"Asked about the future of Facebook, Mr. Zuckerberg ventured into the realm of science fiction: “One day, I believe we’ll be able to send full rich thoughts to each other directly using technology. You’ll just be able to think of something and your friends will immediately be able to experience it too if you’d like. This would be the ultimate communication technology.”"
Zuckerberg Takes Questions in Facebook Session Marred by Tech Troubles - The New York Times

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How Digital Collaboration is Fragmenting, and Why It’s a Major Opportunity - Enterprise Irregulars

Excerpt from a timely collaboration market reality check

"Certainly, some of the latest additions to the industry pool of collaboration options — and yes, I’m talking about Slack here — are designed specifically to address this issue, as it becomes one of the largest — and most ironic — new obstacles to effective collaboration: Too many apps and channels for working, none of which share well with each other. Solutions like Slack make all the knowledge and content flowing through our many individual business applications, visible from one collaboration platform. And that’s certainly one major way to solve the problem. Certainly, approaches like OpenSocial have tried to tackle it in other ways, and now the W3C Social Web Working Group is looking at the issue as well. So perhaps we’ll still end up with an SMTP for collaboration, but we don’t have it yet."
How Digital Collaboration is Fragmenting, and Why It’s a Major Opportunity - Enterprise Irregulars

Livecoding.tv Is Twitch.tv For Coding | TechCrunch

Sign of the times

"Livecoding.tv, a startup in Y Combinator’s current class, is launching today to help coders learn from their peers in real time.

The way Livecoding works is pretty simple. Developers stream live video of themselves coding, and users watching can ask questions or give feedback.

Since launching a beta in February, Livecoding has seen 40,000 people sign up across 162 countries. Users have streamed in a variety of spoken languages, including Portuguese, Russian, and German, as well as coding languages, including C#, Python, and PHP."
Livecoding.tv Is Twitch.tv For Coding | TechCrunch

Apple Music: Walt Mossberg’s First Look | Re/code

Final paragraph from an extensive Walt Mossberg review

"My first impression of Apple Music is that it’s the most full-featured streaming music app I’ve seen — and heard — and the first I’d consider paying for. But it may overwhelm some users, and I’ll need to live with it more before I can reach final conclusions."
Apple Music: Walt Mossberg’s First Look | Re/code

Uber buys mapping assets from Microsoft Bing | ZDNet

tbd if there are other Bing-related deal dimensions

"Uber has acquired a series of mapping assets from Microsoft Bing as the alt-cab company works to build out its own mapping service.

The assets include the cameras Microsoft used to collect mapping imagery data, a datacenter in Colorado, intellectual property and roughly 100 engineers who have worked primarily on Bing maps and image collection."
Uber buys mapping assets from Microsoft Bing | ZDNet

AOL in Deal With Microsoft to Take Over Display Ad Business - The New York Times

More focus refinement for Microsoft

"Under the agreement, AOL will take over management and sales of display, mobile and video advertising that appears on Xbox, Skype and other Microsoft products in the United States, Canada, Japan, Brazil and five European countries. The move takes Microsoft largely out of the display ad business while giving AOL access to some of the web’s most popular destinations.

In turn, Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, will power search results and search advertising on AOL websites. The arrangement could lift Bing, long a second fiddle to Google, which is being displaced as the search engine of choice on AOL sites."
AOL in Deal With Microsoft to Take Over Display Ad Business - The New York Times

Monday, June 29, 2015

Study Suggests Google Harms Consumers by Skewing Search Results - WSJ

A question of consumer "quantifiable harm;" also see High-Profile Study Turns Up the Antitrust Heat on Google (BloombergBusiness)
"The research combines statistical testing with detailed legal and economic analysis to examine the ramifications of Google’s practice of promoting its own specialized search services, such as for local restaurants or doctors, at the expense of rivals like Yelp and TripAdvisor.

It was sponsored by Yelp, which has filed a complaint with EU antitrust authorities over Google’s search practices. It was presented to EU regulators on Friday.

The study’s authors— Michael Luca of Harvard Business School and Tim Wu of Columbia Law School—found that users were 45% more likely to click on results that were ranked purely by relevance, rather than as Google ranks them now, with its own services displayed prominently."
Study Suggests Google Harms Consumers by Skewing Search Results - WSJ

Data from your home could cut insurance costs - Business - The Boston Globe

Dollars-for-data details

"Insurance companies have initially targeted fire prevention devices because fire claims are the largest category of homeowner insurance losses, accounting for about 30 percent of all losses, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a New York-based industry research group. Fire was responsible for $19 billion in property losses in the United States in 2013.

The smoke and carbon monoxide detectors will wirelessly transmit data about their status to Nest, which will inform Liberty Mutual each month whether the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have batteries, they are properly charged, the sensors are working, and the Wi-Fi connection is good.

Customers who participate in the program will receive at least 5 percent discounts on their home insurance. For a consumer paying the national average premium of $1,034 annually, the savings would be about $52."
Data from your home could cut insurance costs - Business - The Boston Globe

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Long History of the Fight Against Uber - The New Yorker

Final paragraph from an Om Malik Uber reality check

"The Parisian taxi drivers are partly protesting against economic regulations in cities where taxi drivers have to pay for expensive medallions while Uber drivers do not. But, in a larger sense, they’re actually protesting against our increased impatience. We don’t have time to wait for a cab, because someone around the corner is willing to do the same job more cheaply. Our phones make us more productive while we wait, and yet we don’t ever want to wait. As individuals, taxi drivers are stuck: their industry is controlled by outdated regulation and now they face ruthless free-market competition. Meanwhile, the habits and the expectations of their customers are changing—people are voting with their wallets and with their time. And that’s not something that protests in the streets, whether in Paris or Nottinghamshire, are likely to change."
The Long History of the Fight Against Uber - The New Yorker

Friday, June 26, 2015

CEO Satya Nadella turns away from Windows Phone, Surface in new Microsoft mission - Puget Sound Business Journal

Lots of reading-between-the-lines speculation about Satya Nadella's Microsoft mission memo (GeekWire published the full companywide email)

"The biggest change from the previous mission statement Ballmer coined is that it doesn’t reference the “family of devices” the company used to like to talk about so much.
Nadella did reference the company’s devices in his email, but only in passing right along with all sorts of other priorities, from gaming to diversity.
The change underscores a decreasing focus on Microsoft building its own new devices, such as the Windows Phone and Surface tablet, in lieu of building the services such as Office that run on every device."
CEO Satya Nadella turns away from Windows Phone, Surface in new Microsoft mission - Puget Sound Business Journal

Is Android the New Windows? | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis

Final paragraphs from a timely Android-versus-Windows reality check

"The big difference between Microsoft and Google is Microsoft still has to protect their legacy devices as well as try and move everything to their One Microsoft strategy. That is not easy to do. When it comes to mobile devices, their Windows mobile phones are a very distant third in the overall market of smartphones. As for IoT, iOS and Android clearly have an edge and momentum over Microsoft. Market projections from most research houses see Android basically dominating the market for mobile and IoT because it is device agnostic and is a free license for anyone that wants it.
From where I sit, it really does seem Android is the Windows of our day and Google is in a place to broaden their lead in mobile and IoT barring any serious missteps. Apple will be a worthy competitor and I don’t expect Microsoft to rest on their laurels and let Google dominate this space without a fight. However, Android’s lead in these two markets is quite huge and, if Google keeps moving in this direction and keeps their customers happy, I suspect Android, at least from a numbers viewpoint, will continue to be the dominant mobile and IoT system for many years to come."
Is Android the New Windows? | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis

Bringing Sway apps to more platforms and devices - Office Blogs

Tangentially, see Microsoft Office apps arrive for free on Android smartphones (finally) (but not yet Sway) (CNET)

"Today we’re also excited to announce that Sway for iPad is now available, as is an updated version of Sway for iPhone. Building on your feedback, it is now easier than ever to add pictures, videos and text to your Sway. Previewing your creations is also quicker than before—simply switch between Edit and Preview at the top to see the polished and cohesive design taking shape as you create.

Sway for iPad is optimized for the larger screen. It allows you to create, view and share Sways in landscape and portrait mode and also includes a few additional capabilities, such as the Remix! button for quickly trying out different layouts and styles. Now is a perfect time to download or update Sway for iPhone and iPad from the App Store today!"
Bringing Sway apps to more platforms and devices - Office Blogs

Amazon opens up the Echo smart speaker to third-party developers - CNET

Also see Amazon wants the Echo to be your personal robot butler (The Washington Post)

"Days after making its smart speaker available to the masses, Amazon is opening Echo up to developers, too, with a new set of free tools called the "Alexa Skills Kit," named for the cloud-based voice service that controls the device.

The nation's largest online-based retailer, Amazon is hoping third parties craft new voice-powered capabilities for Echo, bringing new web services and gadgets under Alexa's control and making it a more valuable device in the home. The move comes as the current glut of connected home gadgets drive demand for a singular system capable of tying everything together with a simple interface."
Amazon opens up the Echo smart speaker to third-party developers - CNET

Google’s Self-Driving ‘Koala’ Cars Now Out in the Wild | Re/code

Also see Two Rival Self-Driving Cars Have Close Call in California (Re/code, although the Google car involved in the near-accident was not a "funky two-seater" model) and No, 2 self-driving cars didn’t have a “close call” on Silicon Valley streets (Ars Technica)
"Last month, Google announced that its homemade autonomous vehicles — funky two-seaters, built to move with a touch of a button, sans steering wheels and brake pedals — would be arriving on public roads “this summer,” joining its fleet of self-driving Lexus SUVs.

“This summer” is now."
Google’s Self-Driving ‘Koala’ Cars Now Out in the Wild | Re/code

Facebook Makes It Easier to Share Links Without Ever Leaving Facebook | Re/code

See Building "add a link" (Engineering at Facebook) for more details; also see Publishers Prepare to Ramp Up News Distribution on Facebook’s Instant Articles in Coming Days (WSJ)
"Facebook is calling the new product “add a link” and while it may seem small, there are two important but subtle elements to the update. The first is that Facebook is finally starting to flex its muscle a bit when it comes to search. Facebook has a ton of information about its users and the things they share and talk about — a company blog post claims its archive includes more than a trillion posts. Helping people find all that info has never been one of Facebook’s strengths, and this is another step toward shoring up that ability. [...] 
The potentially more important element is that “add a link” helps keep people in the Facebook app. If you don’t need to go out and hunt down a link outside of Facebook, you may be more willing to stay and share. It’s one of the same reasons Facebook is now willing to host content from publishers like the New York Times and BuzzFeed. The longer you stay within the app and the more you share, the better it is for Facebook’s business."
Facebook Makes It Easier to Share Links Without Ever Leaving Facebook | Re/code

Microsoft HoloLens Bound for Space - Digits - WSJ

Presumably for more than zero-gravity Minecraft experiments

"Microsoft is riding a wave of buzz for HoloLens, its upcoming (but no one knows when or at what price) augmented reality headgear. Now NASA is sending HoloLens into orbit.

Microsoft and NASA, both of which could use a little whiz bang, announced Thursday a project called Sidekick, that will pair HoloLens with astronauts on board the International Space Station. The headgear is intended to “provide virtual aid to astronauts working off the Earth, for the Earth,” NASA says. Two HoloLens devices are slated to blast off in a few days in a resupply payload bound for the space station."
Microsoft HoloLens Bound for Space - Digits - WSJ