"But ultimately, Stripe’s approach feels like it’s about process more than policy. Engineers live to optimize, and “email transparency” seems like an attempt to apply an engineering mindset to communication in an organization: the fewer hops from one node to the next, the more efficient the group. But it’s also a human-powered algorithm, a system that runs on fuzzy logic, not hard rules. People get to decide what’s public and what’s private, not the machines. And that might be the smartest hack of all."At This Startup, Everyone Can Read Each Other's Email | WIRED
Friday, December 19, 2014
"Goliath" responds; also see The MPAA’s Attempt to Revive SOPA Through A State Attorney General (Google Public Policy Blog)
"Google on Thursday attacked Hollywood and a state attorney general for attempting to achieve the goals of years-old Internet censorship law.Google accuses Hollywood of 'trying to censor the Internet' - CNET
The search giant said the Motion Picture Association of America -- Hollywood's primary lobbying arm --- secretly conspired with the attorney general of Mississippi to force changes to the trade of information on the Internet without enacting new laws."
Also see How the Sony Corporation Hack Revived the Lost Art of the Call (NYT) and, coincidentally, German researchers discover a flaw that could let anyone listen to your cell calls (The Washington Post)
"Because here’s the thing about the digital world that we must remember. Nothing you say in any form mediated through digital technology — absolutely nothing at all — is guaranteed to stay private. Before you type anything, just think: How will this look when it gets out? What will Angelina Jolie think if she finds out about this? If Angelina won’t like it, don’t send it. Because Angelina will find out. So will the rest of the world.The Lesson of the Sony Hack: We Should All Jump to the 'Erasable Internet' - NYTimes.com
This might seem like an extreme, perhaps jaded response to the hack at Sony Pictures Entertainment, which has resulted in the disclosure of thousands of private documents ranging from trivial to merely embarrassing to grossly serious."
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Check the full post for a 451 Research NoSQL skills snapshot
"As usual there’s an early finish to the quarter for our NoSQL LinkedIn Skills Index, which tracks mentions of NoSQL database in LinkedIn member profiles, but as usual that has little impact on the results as MongoDB continues to account for 49% of all LinkedIn member profiles mentioning a NoSQL project."NoSQL LinkedIn Skills Index – December 2014 — Too much information
The CEO of Snapchat "was close to tears" about what somebody did with private information he shared, assuming it would not be further distributed; I imagine many Snapchat users share his pain
"Details about Snapchat’s business were released during the latest batch of private emails leaked by hackers from Sony CEO Michael Lynton on Tuesday. Lynton is a Snapchat board member and used his Sony email address to communicate about sensitive Snapchat information.Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel “Angry” and “Devastated” Over Email Leak | Re/code
Spiegel, a very private person, addressed Snapchat’s staff Wednesday morning to discuss the leak, and then shared his thoughts in a memo of sorts via Twitter, writing he was both “angry” and “devastated” that important company info is now public. Spiegel was so upset that he wrote he was close to tears."
Another blurry snapshot of Oracle's cloudy future
"Another closely watched metric is cloud bookings, an indicator of future business on cloud software. Larry Ellison, Oracle’s founder, chairman and CTO, said in a statement that the company expects bookings for cloud software to reach $250 million by the fourth quarter, and to break the $1 billion mark by Oracle’s fiscal year 2016. The company has been navigating a transition toward selling its software on a subscription basis versus its traditional method of selling it “on-premise” or installed on the customers own hardware."Oracle Shares Rise as Q2 Beats Street Estimates | Re/code
Worker productivity enhancements include a sparsely populated and stale app store (however, later in the article: "BlackBerry 10 now allows you to run some Android apps")...
"With the BlackBerry Classic, the company goes straight back to its power-user roots. Physical navigation buttons return to the row above the keyboard, including a home key, and the trackpad offers the precise navigation and scrolling that it always did.Throwback BlackBerry Classic Hits the Right Keys - NYTimes.com
The Classic is a noticeably bigger device than the Bold 9900, as long as we’re comparing those two, although it’s not big by phablet standards. It’s just over 5 inches tall by 2.8 inches wide and its screen, relatively speaking, is tiny at 3.5 inches. The phone is a little heavy, thanks in part to the stylish stainless steel band that encircles it, but it’s easy to operate one-handed and its compact heft is reassuring."
Perhaps useful for skimming the latest batch of leaked Sony email messages, when you're on the go
"The gadget, which doesn’t have name yet, is mounted on eyewear frames, and offers a 0.23-inch OLED display, which is equivalent to viewing a 16-inch display from two meters away. It comes equipped with wireless LAN and Bluetooth connectivity. The ability to attach it compatible eyewear will give customers greater flexibility, while the high-contrast OLED display is suitable for comfortable outdoor use, the company said.Sony Unveils Wearable Display - Digits - WSJ
Sony is preparing to mass produce the device next year, but didn’t disclose any production or sales targets. The first models will be strictly for business partners, including eyewear makers, it said."
As with recent IBM earnings announcements, there's probably not much scrutiny on exactly what constitutes "cloud" revenue for Oracle
"Oracle has been under pressure to make its products more compatible with subscription-based cloud computing services accessed from remote computers and to reduce its reliance on sales of licensed software that runs on customers’ own server systems.Oracle’s Revenue Rises on Cloud Growth - WSJ
In the latest period, cloud revenue—excluding update and support revenue—climbed 45% to $516 million. New software license revenue rose 3.6% to $2.05 billion.
For the period ended Nov. 30, Oracle reported a profit of $2.5 billion, down from $2.55 billion a year earlier. On a per-share basis, earnings were flat at 56 cents as the number of shares outstanding declined. Excluding stock-based compensation, restructuring-related charges and other items, per-share earnings were 69 cents."
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Penultimate paragraph from an extensive Yahoo profile
"In many ways, Yahoo’s decline from a $128 billion company to one worth virtually nothing is entirely natural. Yahoo grew into a colossus by solving a problem that no longer exists. And while Yahoo’s products have undeniably improved, and its culture has become more innovative, it’s unlikely that Mayer can reverse an inevitability unless she creates the next iPod. All breakthrough companies, after all, will eventually plateau and then decline. U.S. Steel was the first billion-dollar company in 1901, but it was worth about the same in 1991. Kodak, which once employed nearly 80,000 people, now has a market value below $1 billion. Packard and Hudson ruled the roads for more than 40 years before disappearing. These companies matured and receded over the course of generations, in some cases even a century. Yahoo went through the process in 20 years. In the technology industry, things move fast."What Happened When Marissa Mayer Tried to Be Steve Jobs - NYTimes.com
A major MongoDB milestone
"MongoDB on Tuesday announced that it has acquired WiredTiger, a provider of a high-scale storage engine used by myriad vendors including Amazon Web Services. WiredTiger is also used as an alternative to the InnoDB storage engine used with Oracle MySQL.MongoDB Buys WiredTiger: Database Move - InformationWeek
MongoDB had already announced plans to include the WiredTiger storage engine with its coming 2.8 release, currently available in beta and expected in general release early next year. The company said that adding the technology to its portfolio and its veteran senior executives to its engineering team will help it address performance constraints that have always limited the use of its database."
Probably not going to use "Workers of the world, unite!" as its next mission/motto
"He has a long-term vision, one he talks about often: To get every member of the global workforce — all three billion people — onto LinkedIn.Where Is Jeff Weiner Taking LinkedIn? | Re/code
It’s an obvious goal in many ways; of course, LinkedIn wants as many users as possible, although Weiner would never frame it that way. In fact, he doesn’t frame anything in a way that might be construed as negative. He routinely uses the kinds of phrases you’d likely see on a resume, things like “initial addressable opportunity,” “operationalizing a vision,” and one of his favorites, “value propositions.”
So even though job-hunting is big business for LinkedIn — the site will have two million postings by the end of the year, and recruiting products bring in over 60 percent of the company’s revenue — it won’t be the only thing happening on LinkedIn next year."
From another stark Sony security snapshot; also see Sony Hack Attack: Here Come the Lawsuits (Re/code)
"Sony apparently knew it was unwisely hoarding internal communication. According to the website Gizmodo, Leah Weil, the studio’s general counsel, said in one message: “While undoubtedly there will be emails that need to be retained and/or stored electronically in a system other an email, many can be deleted, and I am informed by our IT colleagues that our current use of the email system for virtually everything is not the best way to do this.”Forget the Gossip, These Are the Lessons of the Sony Hack - Businessweek
The dangerous combination of awareness dulled by apathy goes far beyond Sony Pictures. In a speech in October 2012, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta predicted it would take a “cyber-Pearl Harbor”—a power-grid collapse, poisoned municipal water supply, loss of lives—to make Americans appreciate computer vulnerability. We’re not there yet, but Sony ought to move us closer."
Excerpt from a timely big data reality check
The Joys and Hype of Software Called Hadoop - WSJ
"“The dirty secret is that a significant majority of big-data projects aren’t producing any valuable, actionable results,” said Michael Walker, a partner at Rose Business Technologies, which helps enterprises build big-data systems. According to a recent report from the research firm Gartner Inc., “through 2017, 60% of big-data projects will fail to go beyond piloting and experimentation and will be abandoned.”p.s. periodic reminder: if you don't have a wsj.com account and want to view a paywalled article, Google the full article title text; the first search result link often provides "preview" access to the full article
It turns out that faith in Hadoop has outpaced the technology’s ability to bring big data into the mainstream. Demand for Hadoop is on the rise, yet customers have found that a technology built to index the Web may not be sufficient for corporate big-data tasks, said Nick Heudecker, research director for information management at Gartner."
The Joys and Hype of Software Called Hadoop - WSJ
More "Goliath" strategy details (and more email worst-practices case study fodder)
"The inner workings of those efforts are outlined in emails obtained by The New York Times through open records requests. Other details are contained in messages stolen from Sony Pictures Entertainment by hackers and obtained by The Times through an industry executive. Some of the emails from Sony have been reported by The Verge, a website.Detractors of Google Take Fight to the States - NYTimes.com
Together, the emails show the extent of the efforts with state attorneys general. The messages detail how the Motion Picture Association of America — the Hollywood industry group — and an organization backed by Microsoft, Expedia and Oracle, among others, have aggressively lobbied attorneys general to build cases against Google in recent years, sometimes in complementary ways."
Final paragraphs from a stark VC market dynamics reality check
"In this market, the crazy valuations are just the price of survival for venture capital firms. That’s how an online grocer like Instacart or WeWork can have billion-dollar valuations. These companies may have ideas that work, and if they do, the payoff is perhaps another Facebook. But more likely, everyone is overestimating market share and pushing assumptions to even get the privilege of investing.Throwing Money at Start-Ups in Frenzy to Find the Next Uber - NYTimes.com
So where does that leave us? It means that Uber may end up justifying its huge valuation. Certainly, a lucky few in Silicon Valley will make billions of dollars. But the same Ubernomics is being applied across the board. It is impossible that all, indeed most, of these companies will succeed. And in the failure of these companies, some venture capital firms will be brought down, except for the lucky few that actually catch a rising star."
Snapchat Plans Music Feature, Acquired QR Scan.me For $50M And Vergence Eyeglass Cam For $15M, | TechCrunch
More email etiquette lessons from Sony
"Leaked emails from the Sony Pictures hack have uncovered several acquisitions made by Snapchat, as well as plans for a music feature and meetings to discuss partnerships with Twitter.Snapchat Plans Music Feature, Acquired QR Scan.me For $50M And Vergence Eyeglass Cam For $15M, | TechCrunch
According to emails between Snapchat, Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, and Snapchat board member Mitch Lasky, Snapchat bought a QR scanning and iBeacon startup called Scan.me for $14 million in cash, $3 million in restricted stock units, and $33 million in Class B common Snapchat stock. It also acquired Vergence Labs, makers of an eyeglass video camera, for $11 million in cash and $4 million in stock."
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Meanwhile, in the bigger picture, New Russia Sanctions Bill Will Be Signed by Obama, White House Says (NYT)
"Apple Inc. (AAPL) has halted online sales in Russia due to “extreme” ruble fluctuations, the company said.Apple Stops Online Sales in Russia Over Ruble Fluctuations - Bloomberg
“Our online store in Russia is currently unavailable while we review pricing,” Alan Hely, a spokesman for the Cupertino, California-based company, said today in an e-mailed statement. “We apologize to customers for any inconvenience.”"
From an accentuate-the-negative Bitcoin snapshot
"There was plenty of ugliness to be found in the markets this year. Ukranian and Venezuelan sovereign debt. High-yield, energy-related corporate bonds. Argentine pesos. Russian rubles. Greek stocks.Bitcoin is the worst investment of 2014 - Quartz
But none of these investments has been as atrociously awful as bitcoin, the heavily hyped crypto-currency that stormed onto the financial scene in the last few years, threatening to disrupt the cornerstone of global finance that is fiat currency."
Q&A with Quora's CEO
"Can you articulate what the core problem Quora is trying to solve, on a technical and more general level, and how far along the company is?Adam D'Angelo On Quora And The Future Of The Internet - BuzzFeed News
AD: There’s actually a lot of problems that all fit together. We’re trying to keep quality high, that’s very important for us. If you look at all these other efforts before Quora, to get knowledge onto the internet, a lot of them suffered from quality [issues]. That’s a big problem. We need to build systems that can automatically figure out what’s high quality and what’s not, and encourage users to contribute high-quality content. There’s a lot of technical challenges in that.
We’re basically building this map of who the experts are in every given topic of knowledge. For any area of knowledge, we want to know who the people who know the most about that are, and should be answering questions, so when we have questions we can show them to the right people. So it’s this technical challenge around building out this map of areas of knowledge, and this database of who the experts are and automatically updating that over time."
Microsoft removes waitlist for its Office presentation app Sway, adds slew of new features to the preview | VentureBeat | Business | by Emil Protalinski
Possibly previewing PowerPoint++
"Microsoft today expanded the preview for its content aggregation and presentation application Sway. The waitlist has been axed, meaning anyone with a Microsoft Account can sign up to start creating Sways.Microsoft removes waitlist for its Office presentation app Sway, adds slew of new features to the preview | VentureBeat | Business | by Emil Protalinski
Sway launched in preview on October 1 as the first new product joining the Office product family in years. The premise is simple: Let users create presentations for the Web using text, pictures, and videos, regardless of what device they’re using."
Excerpt from a wide-ranging interview
"Williams wants to set the record straight: Medium is a publishing platform. He suspects that its plentiful professional content “may have set the bar too high” for the user-generated content he hopes will appear on Medium. Over time, Williams believes Medium will become a destination for both casual and serious content.Q&A with Evan Williams, co-founder of Medium and Twitter
Medium is what Blogger, the publishing platform Williams helped create and sell to Google in 2003, could have been had social media existed. (For the record, Blogger’s Blogspot.com remains the 17th-most trafficked Web domain in the world. Williams attributes the continued popularity to “a very, very long tail—and Google search traffic.”)"
Final paragraphs of an AI reality check; also see Study to Examine Effects of Artificial Intelligence (NYT)
"Whether AI2’s research leads to a new generation of thinking machine or just more incremental advances, the project is a clear indication that artificial intelligence has once again become the defining force in the software world.Innovators of Intelligence Look to Past - NYTimes.com
“The narrative has changed,” said Peter Norvig, Google’s director of research. “It has switched from, ‘Isn’t it terrible that artificial intelligence is a failure?’ to ‘Isn’t it terrible that A.I. is a success?’ ”"
Monday, December 15, 2014
Signs of the times
"A Google spokeswoman told residents it's app is not the problem, it's LA traffic, according to the AP. Indeed, the US Department of Transportation said the notoriously busy I-405 sees 379,000 cars a day.Locals upset at Google's Waze for sending traffic to their streets - CNET
Some locals are trying to fight back by complaining to officials and reportedly logging fake accidents on the app to deter people from taking their neighborhood routes as shortcuts, but Waze said any phony reports are countered by all the real reports people driving through the area are making."
Strange days indeed; also see Sony Pictures Demands That News Agencies Delete ‘Stolen’ Data (NYT) and Why Sony probably can’t stop the media from publishing details of the hack (The Washington Post)
"“Message to SPE Staffers,” reads the posting written in halting English. “We have a plan to release emails and privacy of the Sony Pictures employees. If you don’t want your privacy to be released, tell us your name and business title to take off your data.”Sony Hackers Offer to Withhold Stolen Data From Promised Leak | Re/code
The message appeared on Pastebin and Friendpaste, two sites for sharing text files often favored for circulating information obtained in hacking attacks. It warned about a forthcoming disclosure that will contain more email correspondence of Sony Pictures employees."