Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 faces one low, but unconditional expectation - The Verge

In other smartphone news, see Report: Carrier sources indicate Apple iPhone 8 event date set for September 12 (9to5Mac)

"Now Samsung stares down the demons of its past with the Note 7’s successor, the Galaxy Note 8, which launches in New York today. This will be the most atypical Note launch in the line’s seven-year (there was no Galaxy Note 6 as Samsung skipped a number last year to sync up with its Galaxy S product numbering) history. In past times, our expectations of the Galaxy Note series have been to see Samsung at its most ambitious and ostentatious: the very best specs available, the most eye-catching designs, and the most grand and splashy presentation possible. But this year, we all want to just see the Galaxy Note 8 survive unscathed by the calamity that dragged down its predecessor. All our hopes and expectations basically amount to: please don’t explode."
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 faces one low, but unconditional expectation - The Verge

A Hunt for Ways to Combat Online Radicalization - The New York Times

On a related note, see At Rally, Trump Blames Media for Country’s Deepening Divisions (NYT)

"A more lasting plan involves directly intervening in the process of radicalization. Consider The Redirect Method, an anti-extremism project created by Jigsaw, a think tank founded by Google. The plan began with intensive field research. After interviews with many former jihadists, white supremacists and other violent extremists, Jigsaw discovered several important personality traits that may abet radicalization.

One factor is a skepticism of mainstream media. Whether on the far right or ISIS, people who are susceptible to extremist ideologies tend to dismiss outlets like The New York Times or the BBC, and they often go in search of alternative theories online.

Another key issue is timing. There’s a brief window between initial interest in an extremist ideology and a decision to join the cause — and after recruits make that decision, they are often beyond the reach of outsiders. For instance, Jigsaw found that when jihadists began planning their trips to Syria to join ISIS, they had fallen too far down the rabbit hole and dismissed any new information presented to them."
A Hunt for Ways to Combat Online Radicalization - The New York Times

Google and Walmart Partner With Eye on Amazon - The New York Times

To which a common reader response is likely: "Wait, Google has an online shopping mall?..." Also see Google and Walmart are partnering on voice shopping in a challenge to Amazon’s Alexa (Recode)
"The two companies said Google would start offering Walmart products to people who shop on Google Express, the company’s online shopping mall. It’s the first time the world’s biggest retailer has made its products available online in the United States outside of its own website.

The partnership, announced on Wednesday, is a testament to the mutual threat facing both companies from Amazon.com. Amazon’s dominance in online shopping is challenging brick-and-mortar retailers like Walmart, while more people are starting web searches for products they might buy on Amazon instead of Google."
Google and Walmart Partner With Eye on Amazon - The New York Times

Apple Scales Back Its Ambitions for a Self-Driving Car - The New York Times

Must be a slow news day for the NYT

"Five people familiar with Apple’s car project, code-named “Titan,” discussed with The New York Times the missteps that led the tech giant to move — at least for now — from creating a self-driving Apple car to creating technology for a car that someone else builds. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about Apple’s plans.

The project’s reduced scale aligns Apple more closely with other tech companies that are working on autonomous driving technology but are steering clear of building cars. Even Waymo, the Google self-driving spinoff that is probably furthest along among Silicon Valley companies, has said repeatedly that it does not plan to produce its own vehicles."
Apple Scales Back Its Ambitions for a Self-Driving Car - The New York Times

Monday, August 21, 2017

Who Owns the Internet? - The New Yorker

From a timely Elizabeth Kolbert book review:

"Either out of conviction or simply out of habit, the gatekeepers of yore set a certain tone. They waved through news about state budget deficits and arms-control talks, while impeding the flow of loony conspiracy theories. Now Chartbeat allows everyone to see just how many (or, more to the point, how few) readers there really are for that report on the drought in South Sudan or that article on monopoly power and the Internet. And so it follows that there will be fewer such reports and fewer such articles. The Web is designed to give people what they want, which, for better or worse, is also the function of democracy."
Who Owns the Internet? - The New Yorker

How Hate Groups Forced Online Platforms to Reveal Their True Nature - The New York Times

On a related note, see This Group has Successfully Converted White Supremacists Using Compassion. Trump Defunded It (The Intercept)

"This was also a moment these hate groups were anticipating; getting banned in an opaque, unilateral fashion was always the way out and, to some degree, it suits them. In the last year, hard-right communities on social platforms have cultivated a pre-emptive identity as platform refugees and victims of censorship. They’ve also been preparing for this moment or one like it: There are hard-right alternatives to Twitter, to Reddit and even to the still-mostly-lawless 4chan. There are alternative fund-raising sites in the mold of GoFundMe or Kickstarter; there’s an alternative to Patreon called Hatreon. Like most of these new alternatives, it has cynically borrowed a cause — it calls itself a site that ‘‘stands for free speech absolutism’’ — that the more mainstream platforms borrowed first. Their persecution narrative, which is the most useful narrative they have, and one that will help spread their cause beyond the fringes, was written for them years ago by the same companies that helped give them a voice."
How Hate Groups Forced Online Platforms to Reveal Their True Nature - The New York Times

Android Co-Founder Has a Plan to Cure Our Smartphone Addiction - Bloomberg

So sort of a combination of Osborne (wait until you see the next version!) and General Magic (where Rubin worked 1992 - 1995)

"He says it’s best to view Essential’s first phone as a starting point—it runs the same Android OS as Google’s Pixel—not a radical departure. That will come later, he says, and will involve using artificial intelligence to change the way people interact with their devices, in part by outsourcing some of the more tedious tasks to an algorithm. 

“If I can get to the point where your phone is a virtual version of you, you can be off enjoying your life, having that dinner, without touching your phone, and you can trust your phone to do things on your behalf,” he says. “I think I can solve part of the addictive behavior.”"
Android Co-Founder Has a Plan to Cure Our Smartphone Addiction - Bloomberg

iPad vs Mac: Episode 7 – Jean-Louis Gassée – Medium

Also better together...

"How do we settle the argument? We agree with both sides.
As it becomes a more general-purpose machine, the iPad will continue to steal uses and users from the Mac. As often stated by its execs, Apple isn’t worried about cannibalization. More important, the iPad’s ever-improving UI and functionality will wrest users from its competitors.
This leaves the Mac line doing nicely for two disconnected reasons: High-end “truck-like” applications, and the estimable population of users who, as a matter of personal preference, opt for the traditional “horizontal-hands” UI."
iPad vs Mac: Episode 7 – Jean-Louis Gassée – Medium

Friday, August 18, 2017

Apple demonstrates how the iPad Pro was made for iOS 11 (Engadget)

Check this page for an index of the videos
"Apple's iPad sales were surprisingly good last quarter, but a lot of critics (including us) thought there was still no way the iPad Pro could replace a proper PC. The release of iOS 11 next month will change some minds, however. A new series of Apple videos shows how to use the new features, including the Dock, Files app, multitasking, Apple Pencil and more. Suffice to say, it drastically improves productivity on the tablets, making it much easier to do multiple jobs concurrently. [...] 
With 4GB of RAM and a peppy A10X chip, the latest 10.5-inch iPad Pro (and earlier models) can easily handle the new features, and Apple's Smart Keyboard and Pencil stylus make it more like a laptop than ever before. The new videos clearly show, though, that iOS 10 was severely holding the devices back. With iOS 11 coming sometime this September, it'll almost be like Apple is launching the iPad Pro all over again."
Apple demonstrates how the iPad Pro was made for iOS 11

Fighting Neo-Nazis and the Future of Free Expression | Electronic Frontier Foundation

On a related note, see The Misguided Attacks on ACLU for Defending Neo-Nazis’ Free Speech Rights in Charlottesville (The Intercept) and U.S. rights group rethinks defending hate groups protesting with guns (Reuters)
"In the wake of Charlottesville, both GoDaddy and Google have refused to manage the domain registration for the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website that, in the words of the Southern Poverty Law Center, is “dedicated to spreading anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism, and white nationalism.” Subsequently Cloudflare, whose service was used to protect the site from denial-of-service attacks, has also dropped them as a customer, with a telling quote from Cloudflare’s CEO: “Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet. No one should have that power.”

We agree. Even for free speech advocates, this situation is deeply fraught with emotional, logistical, and legal twists and turns. All fair-minded people must stand against the hateful violence and aggression that seems to be growing across our country. But we must also recognize that on the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with. Those on the left face calls to characterize the Black Lives Matter movement as a hate group. In the Civil Rights Era cases that formed the basis of today’s protections of freedom of speech, the NAACP’s voice was the one attacked.

Protecting free speech is not something we do because we agree with all of the speech that gets protected. We do it because we believe that no one—not the government and not private commercial enterprises—should decide who gets to speak and who doesn’t."
Fighting Neo-Nazis and the Future of Free Expression | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Online activist group Anonymous posts what it says are private contact details for 22 GOP members of Congress - The Washington Post

Writers for Mr. Robot are going to have a surplus of material to work with for their third season

"The goal of publishing the information, said Pfeiffer, is for people to call on these members of Congress to more forcefully condemn the president and ask for Trump's impeachment.

The release by Anonymous marks an end of nearly two years of near-total silence for the decentralized group. Anonymous was mostly absent during last year's presidential campaign as leaks from online groups WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 featuring Democratic officials' emails dominated headlines and, in the eyes of many, altered the course of the election.

That changed only in recent days.

"Trump did something in the past few days along with the Charlottesville terror attack that clicked," Pfeiffer wrote to The Post."
Online activist group Anonymous posts what it says are private contact details for 22 GOP members of Congress - The Washington Post

What Is Trump Worth to Twitter? One Analyst Estimates $2 Billion - Bloomberg

$2B for Twitter, ~-$infinity for the rest of the world

"That’s the conclusion of Monness Crespi Hardt & Co. analyst James Cakmak, who said that the social media company would see as much as $2 billion in market value wiped out if @realDonaldTrump quit tweeting.

It’s not that the president’s defection would touch off a mass exodus, lowering the number of “monetizable” daily active users, Cakmak said in an interview. Instead, losing its most prominent user would hit Twitter’s intangible value and lead to what’s known as multiple compression.

“There is no better free advertising in the world than the president of the United States,” said Cakmak, who has a neutral rating on Twitter shares."
What Is Trump Worth to Twitter? One Analyst Estimates $2 Billion - Bloomberg

What Happens to Solar Power in an Eclipse? We’ll Find Out Monday - The New York Times

Tangentially, see Bill Joy Finds the Jesus Battery (Wired)

"Unlike most eclipse-watchers in the United States, Eric Schmitt wouldn’t mind seeing a few clouds in the sky when the moon starts blotting out the sun on Monday.

“A cloudy morning might even be helpful for us,” he said.

That’s because, as the vice president for operations at the California Independent System Operator, which oversees the state’s electric grid, Mr. Schmitt will be dealing with an unusual challenge. As the eclipse carves a long shadow over California on Monday morning, it is expected to knock offline more than 5,600 megawatts’ worth of solar panels at its peak — a big chunk of the 19,000 megawatts of solar power that currently provide one-tenth of the state’s electricity. The California I.S.O. plans to fill the void by ramping up natural gas and hydroelectric power plants."
What Happens to Solar Power in an Eclipse? We’ll Find Out Monday - The New York Times

Thursday, August 17, 2017

How Google Home and the Amazon Echo give a new twist to the home phone - The Washington Post

Tbd how many of the remaining home phone lines are used primarily for AOL dial-up access...

"The calls, which are free, are not tied to your smartphone, meaning you could actually call a different contact on each device at the same time. The Google Home can also distinguish between voices, meaning that it should be able to call the right “Mom” based on whether you or your kids are making that request.

Google now joins Amazon, Microsoft and Samsung in powering smart home hubs with calling capabilities. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.) And fans are hoping that Apple will include an audio version of FaceTime, its WiFi-enabled voice chat program, in its upcoming HomePod speaker.

What these companies are doing is putting a new twist on the old home phone, which has steeply declined as cellphones have soared in popularity. A majority of American homes, 50.8 percent, rely solely on cellphones for their phone service, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. (The center has been tracking this trend for years as part of an in-person survey that looks at health-care access.)"
How Google Home and the Amazon Echo give a new twist to the home phone - The Washington Post

Silicon Valley escalates its war on white supremacy despite free speech concerns - The Washington Post

Also see Facebook, Airbnb Go on Offense Against Neo-Nazis After Violence (Bloomberg), Spotify removes ‘hate bands’ from its streaming library (Engadget), and The A.C.L.U. Needs to Rethink Free Speech (NYT; check the comments as well)
"Silicon Valley significantly escalated its war on white supremacy this week, choking off the ability of hate groups to raise money online, removing them from Internet search engines, and preventing some sites from registering at all.

The new moves go beyond censoring individual stories or posts. Tech companies such as Google, GoDaddy and PayPal are now reversing their hands-off approach about content supported by their services and making it much more difficult for alt-right organizations to reach mass audiences.

But the actions are also heightening concerns over how tech companies are becoming the arbiters of free speech in America. And in response, right-wing technologists are building parallel digital services that cater to their own movement."
A counterpoint at the end of the article:
"Lee Rowland, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberty Union’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, cautioned consumers against being so quick to condemn companies that host even the “most vile white supremacist speech we have seen on display this week. 
“We rely on the Internet to hear each other,” Rowland said. “We should all be very thoughtful before we demand that platforms for hateful speech disappear because it does impoverish our conversation and harm our ability to point to evidence for white supremacy and to counter it.”"
Silicon Valley escalates its war on white supremacy despite free speech concerns - The Washington Post

After Trump Hedges His Condemnation of Hate, C.E.O.s Organize a Mass Defection - The New York Times

A timely Trump reality check; also see Does Amazon Pay Taxes? Contrary to Trump Tweet, Yes (NYT)

"On Wednesday morning, a dozen of the country’s most influential C.E.O.s joined a conference call, and, after some debate, a consensus emerged: The policy forum would be disbanded, delivering a blow to a president who came into office boasting of his close ties with business leaders.

With the collapse of the councils, the president has all but lost his most natural constituency — the corporate leaders who stood to benefit from his agenda of lower taxes and lighter regulation.

Before they could make a statement announcing their decision, however, Mr. Trump spoke. He had caught wind of their planned defection and wanted to have the last word. Taking to Twitter, he wrote: “Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!”"
After Trump Hedges His Condemnation of Hate, C.E.O.s Organize a Mass Defection - The New York Times

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

James Damore’s Google Memo Gets Science All Wrong | WIRED

Also see The e-mail Larry Page should have written to James Damore (The Economist)

"The core arguments run to this tune: Men and women have psychological differences that are a result of their underlying biology. Those differences make them differently suited to and interested in the work that is core to Google. Yet Google as a company is trying to create a technical, engineering, and leadership workforce with greater numbers of women than these differences can sustain, and it’s hurting the company.
Damore further says that anyone who tries to talk about that paradox gets silenced—which runs counter to Google’s stated goal of valuing and being friendly to difference. And, maybe helping make his point a little, last Monday Google fired him. Damore is now on a media tour, saying he was fired illegally for speaking truth to power. Hashtag Fired4Truth!
The problem is, the science in Damore’s memo is still very much in play, and his analysis of its implications is at best politically naive and at worst dangerous. The memo is a species of discourse peculiar to politically polarized times: cherry-picking scientific evidence to support a preexisting point of view. It’s an exercise not in rational argument but in rhetorical point scoring. And a careful walk through the science proves it."
James Damore’s Google Memo Gets Science All Wrong | WIRED

Obama's tweet about Charlottesville is now the most liked tweet ever - The Washington Post

Looks like Trump will need to recruit more Russian bot followers

"Unlike some former presidents, Barack Obama is showing no signs of completely abandoning public life.

Since leaving office, Obama has commented on major events or controversies, including the terrorist attack in Manchester, England, and Sen. John McCain's brain cancer diagnosis. He did so again on Saturday, after the deadly violence in Charlottesville.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion … People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love … For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite,” Obama said, quoting former South African president Nelson Mandela in tweets."
Obama's tweet about Charlottesville is now the most liked tweet ever - The Washington Post

Is LinkedIn trying to protect your data — or hoard it? - The Washington Post

Microsoft didn't pay ~$26B for LinkedIn to give its data away

"Where LinkedIn and hiQ clashed was over hiQ's product, which almost exclusively depends on LinkedIn's data, according to U.S. District Judge Edward Chen. HiQ essentially helps employers predict, using the data, which of their employees are likely to leave for other jobs. While this HR tool might sound relatively boring to you and me, it's key to industries whose success depends on recruiting and retaining the best talent. A Gallup survey last year found that 93 percent of job-switchers left their old company for a new one; just 7 percent took a new job within the same organization.

HiQ has raised more than $12 million since its founding in 2012. LinkedIn itself is making moves to develop a similar capability, Chen said, meaning that LinkedIn's attempt to block hiQ from accessing its data could be interpreted as a self-interested move to kneecap a competitor. If hiQ can't get the professional data it needs to fuel its analytic engine, its business could "go under," Chen said."
Is LinkedIn trying to protect your data — or hoard it? - The Washington Post

A Start-Up Suggests a Fix to the Health Care Morass - The New York Times

In other health care news, see Trump Threat to Obamacare Would Send Premiums and Deficits Higher (NYT)
"The American health care system is a fragmented archipelago, with patients moving through doctors’ offices and hospitals that are often disconnected from one another. As a result, many primary care physicians — who often see themselves as a kind of quarterback who calls the shots on a patient’s care — have no easy way to monitor a patient’s meandering path through the health care system.

Aledade’s software addresses that by collecting patient data from a variety of sources, creating a helicopter view. Doctors can see which specialists a patient has visited, which tests have been ordered, and, crucially, how much the overall care might be costing the health care system. 
More important, the software uses the data to assemble a battery of daily checklists for physicians’ practices. These are a set of easy steps for the practice to take — call this patient, order this vaccine — to keep on top of patients’ care, and, in time, to reduce its cost."
A Start-Up Suggests a Fix to the Health Care Morass - The New York Times