"Microsoft's OneNote note-taking app is free to download, use and sync between an unlimited number of Windows, iOS, Android, Amazon, Chromebook and Mac devices - so you could just switch to OneNote from Evernote and save a big chunk of cash. But if you're considering paying for the Evernote Premium subscription, bear in mind that for the same price, you'd not only get OneNote on all of your devices, but you'd also get the full Office suite on 1 PC or Mac, 1 tablet and 1 phone, along with 1TB of online OneDrive storage, if you opted for an Office 365 Personal subscription instead.Evernote increases prices, limits free plan; Premium plan now costs the same as Office 365
Microsoft also offers a free tool to help users migrate their Evernote notes to OneNote."
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
The OneNote team is probably pleased by the new Evernote pricing model
Lead paragraphs from an extensive AI reality check by Satya Nadella
"Advanced machine learning, also known as artificial intelligence or just A.I., holds far greater promise than unsettling headlines about computers beating humans at games like Jeopardy!, chess, checkers, and Go. Ultimately, humans and machines will work together—not against one another. Computers may win at games, but imagine what’s possible when human and machine work together to solve society’s greatest challenges like beating disease, ignorance, and poverty.Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella: Humans and A.I. can work together to solve society’s challenges.
Doing so, however, requires a bold and ambitious approach that goes beyond anything that can be achieved through incremental improvements to current technology. Now is the time for greater coordination and collaboration on A.I."
Also see Uh Oh: Google Expands Its Ad Tracking. But, Yay: It’s Opt-In (Wired) and Review your entire Google life on this handy new page (Mashable)
"The company is rolling out a new service that pools data from across the entire web and mobile devices, giving it a potential boost to its core ads business. The big caveat: It’s giving users total control — and with that, they’ll have carte blanche to block particular ads.Google is adding new ways to track you for ads, but it’s letting you call the shots - Recode
It’s a way for Google to get ahead of the growth in ad-blocking. By building the feature opt-in, it’s also a way for Google to combat criticism of its privacy practices."
Also see Clinton’s Tech Policy Targets Young Entrepreneurs (NYT) and Hillary Clinton’s Initiative on Technology & Innovation (Hillary for America)
"The agenda released Tuesday reads like a Silicon Valley wish list. It calls for investing in computer science and engineering education, expansion of technologies like 5G mobile data and hooking up more public places such as airports and train stations with cheap, abundant WiFi. It would continue efforts to curb abusive patent lawsuits, which the tech industry says are stifling its ability to innovate. And it commits to defending the government's net neutrality rules, which were recently upheld by a federal appeals court and aim to ban Internet providers from unfairly manipulating Internet content.Hillary Clinton’s tech agenda is really a huge economic plan in disguise - The Washington Post
The proposal from the presumptive Democratic nominee also promises to give recent college grads a three-year reprieve from their student loan payments, as long as they spend that time creating new startups and small businesses. And it includes an extra incentive that allows young entrepreneurs to wipe out up to $17,500 in student debt if they launch their businesses in "distressed communities.""
"Those are Kiva robots, once the marvel of warehouses everywhere. Amazon whipped out its wallet and threw down $775 million to purchase these robot legions in 2012. The acquisition effectively gave Jeff Bezos, its 52-year-old chief executive, command of an entire industry. He decided to use the robots for Amazon and Amazon alone, ending the sale of Kiva's products to warehouse operators and retailers that had come to rely on them. As contracts expired, they had to find other options to keep up with an ever-increasing consumer need for speed. The only problem was that there were no other options. Kiva was pretty much it.How Amazon Triggered a Robot Arms Race - Bloomberg
It's taken four years, but a handful of startups are finally ready to replace Kiva and equip the world's warehouses with new robotics. Amazon's Kiva bots proved this kind of automation is more efficient than an all-human workforce. The new robots being rolled out look different, partly because the industry is still experimenting and partly because of patent issues. Some focus on picking items off shelves, others zoom around with touch screens. All are aimed at saving retailers money as they race to get their wares to your doorstep as quickly as possible."
Final paragraphs from an extensive Tesla + SolarCity reality check
"While the timing does complicate Tesla’s unprecedented ramp-up of its Model 3 electric car production, the competition for electric and autonomous cars is only going to get more fierce. Companies including Apple, Volkswagen AG, General Motors Co., and Daimler AG have all committed to electric vehicle programs to challenge Tesla. Musk’s ambition creep is all his company has ever known, and is probably all it will ever know if it’s going to succeed against the biggest technology and automobile companies in the world.‘Tesla Solar’ Wants to Be the Apple Store for Electricity - Bloomberg
Is SolarCity a major distraction for Tesla? Probably. Does it add existential risk to both of these long, cash-torching bets? Most likely. Are the conflicts of interest messy? Definitely. But could the deal also result in the world’s first clean-energy juggernaut, a company that does for solar power, batteries, and electric cars what Apple did for computers, phones, and software apps? It’s worth considering."
Check the full article for some ways to deal with robocalls
"We are in the midst of a robot apocalypse. Instead of wiping us out with liquid metal lasers guns, they’re crushing us with robocalls, those unwanted, pre-recorded intrusions into our private lives. You’re not safe anywhere, not even on your once-sacred smartphone. I’m not talking about legal calls from the pharmacy about a prescription, or the school announcing a snow day. I’m talking about illegal ones, often scams, that promise free cruises, debt relief, easy money and many more little slices of the American dream."How to Stop Robocalls … or at Least Fight Back - WSJ
A pinned-product purchase pivot
"Among the features are buyable “pins,” or buttons, in browsers that users can click to purchase items on the site, as well as a digital shopping bag that follows users from their desktops to their smartphones or tablets.Pinterest Announces New Shopping-Focused Features - The New York Times
Perhaps most interesting is Pinterest’s object-detection software, a type of product search and discovery that companies like Amazon have tried. The software analyzes a photo of an object, such as a stuffed animal, recognizes it and highlights the item — or something like it — in a pop-up window. Users can then buy the item through Pinterest."
Excerpt from a mixed review
"Even where Mr. García completely mangles the facts – as he does for instance in describing the mechanics of the Facebook initial public offering – he manages to draw multiple fresh insights that somehow feel directionally correct. And in contrast to the self-serving verdicts rendered on his allies and enemies, his broader conclusions seem well balanced. The world he inhabited, Mr. García reflects, “is no worse than traditional industry and politics, but certainly no better either.”Review: ‘Chaos Monkeys’ Is a Guide to the Spirit of Silicon Valley - The New York Times
Which brings us to the second reason “Chaos Monkeys” is a must-read. It matters. Mr. García is providing tools to honestly deconstruct a corner of the world that has amassed breathtaking cultural, economic and political influence, and not always for the good. Fully 60 percent of Harvard Business School graduates now go to work at companies with fewer than 500 employees. A fuller conversation is required before we rejoice that the invidious hegemony of Goldman Sachs, McKinsey & Company and hedge funds as the resting place for our best and brightest graduates has been replaced with early-stage tech companies."
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
A handy new Kindle feature; check the source page for details and examples
"Page Flip is a reimagined Kindle navigation experience that makes it easy to explore books while always saving your place. Page Flip is being delivered to Kindle E-readers, Fire tablets, and the Kindle app for iOS and Android as a free, over-the-air update."Amazon.com: Page Flip
Excerpt from a timely Paul Thurrott platform dynamics reality check
"From the safety of 2016, I can easily see that Windows 8 and Surface were a one-two punch that forever changed the dynamic of a PC industry that was already reeling from the iPhone. PC makers reacted to Surface as the direct threat that it was. And they responded not with new devices inspired by Surface, but by releasing new Chromebooks based on Google’s Chrome OS.Google Building Its Own Phone? Beware the Surface Curse - Thurrott.com
The PC market still hasn’t recovered from this collective blunder, and the collapse continues today in 2016 with even the rosiest projections calling for a leveling off, and not a rebound, of PC sales. The PC market will never again be as big as it was before the release of Windows 8 and Surface."
Yes he can
"But there’s something more important than political blowback. Pardoning Snowden is the right thing to do, and if you care about a free and secure internet, you should support it. Snowden risked his life to perform one of the most pivotal public disclosures of our time, shedding light on surveillance systems that have grown far beyond the reach of democratic accountability. The documents he published — the source of his crime — have brought about profound changes in the way we build technology and communicate online. His continued exile is shameful, and ending it is a unique chance to reclaim the legacy of a president who has often failed to live up to his own promises of transparency.President Obama should pardon Edward Snowden before leaving office | The Verge
Clemency is particularly important because it will be impossible to defend Snowden’s leaks as a public service in court. He is facing charges under the Espionage Act, which makes no distinction between delivering classified files to journalists and delivering the same files to a foreign power. For the first 80 years of its life, it was used almost entirely to prosecute spies. (Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers was a rare exception.) The argument Wizner is making now — that Snowden’s disclosures were in the public interest, and strengthened the nation rather than weakening it — couldn’t be made in the context of an Espionage Act trial. As long as classified documents were disclosed, which they indisputably were, then all other questions are moot."
Nothing to worry about, say the co-founders of Numenta, a company "leading the new era of machine intelligence;" also see No chance of Skynet: Forrester pours cold water on AI fears (SiliconAngle)
"Artificial intelligence will take over the world! Or so we’re told by the movies. We’re all doomed to become "house cats" if the machines so desire! Or so prominent experts like Elon Musk have warned.This is why your fears about artificial intelligence are wrong - Recode
Humbug, say Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky. On the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, the co-founders of Numenta (who previously co-founded Palm and Handspring) predicted AI will indeed drive technological advances for the rest of the century ... but they threw water on the idea that intelligent machines would behave as they do in popular fiction.
"There’s very smart people, whether it’s Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates or Stephen Hawking, who have said, ‘Oh my gosh, this is really dangerous,’" Hawkins said. "You imagine these things becoming crazy and alive and taking over the world. It is so far from that, it is crazy. The current technology is not even on a road to true intelligence. It’s just not going to happen.""
Check the full article for some stark opiate-of-the-masses stats
"TV! It’s cooked! Toast! Doneso. Ready for the fork.You are still watching a staggering amount of TV every day - Recode
Except not yet, because Americans are still watching a ton of TV, every day. For some of them, it’s the equivalent of a full-time job.
The average American watches an astonishing 4.3 hours of TV a day, according to a new report from Nielsen. Add in DVR time, and that number gets up to 5 hours a day."
An already vertically integrated board
"Kendall, who is the CEO of investment management firm Kenmont Solutions Capital, is the only person on the SolarCity board without a direct connection to Tesla.SolarCity appoints a two-person committee to decide whether to sell to Tesla - Recode
Pfund, on the other hand, is the founder and managing partner of DBL Investors, which invested in Tesla and served on the car company’s board before the company went public.
All but one of the other SolarCity board members — company chairman Musk; CEO and Musk’s cousin Lyndon Rive; CTO and other Musk cousin Peter Rive; CEO of Valor equity partners and Tesla board member Antonio Gracias; and Tesla co-founder and CTO J.B. Straubel — have recused themselves from voting on whether to accept Tesla’s $2.8 billion offer. John Fischer, who is a partner in Tesla and Solar City investor Draper Fisher Ventures, has not officially recused himself."
Check the full article for an alliance map; also see Lyft Is Said to Hire Qatalyst as Uber’s Rival Explores Deals (Bloomberg)
"The line between the technology and automotive industries is blurring. The rise of rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft means that transportation is being tied ever more closely to your cell phone, while autonomous driving technology is turning your car into a computer. But these developments are expensive: Carmakers’ R&D budgets jumped 61 percent, to $137 billion from 2010 to 2014.The Merging Worlds of Technology and Cars
Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne thinks it makes no sense for carmakers to spend billions of dollars developing competing, yet largely identical systems. To share some of the risk—and the cost—the incumbent automotive giants and their would-be disruptors are teaming up in an ever-growing, ever more complex series of alliances."
Increasingly cloudy classrooms; also see Google is making its educational tools more powerful (The Verge) and ISTE and Microsoft collaborate to provide new school planning and professional learning resources (Microsoft in Education blog)
"Called Amazon Inspire, the education site has features that may seem familiar to frequent Amazon shoppers. Search bar at the top of the page? Check. User reviews? Check. Star ratings for each product? Check.Amazon Unveils Online Education Service for Teachers - The New York Times
By starting out with a free resources service for teachers, Amazon is establishing a foothold that could expand into a one-stop shopping marketplace — not just for paid learning materials, but for schools’ wider academic and institutional software needs, said Tory Patterson, co-founder of Owl Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in ed tech start-ups."
Monday, June 27, 2016
From an extensive Snowden + Snowbot profile
"Snowden’s body might be confined to Moscow, but the former NSA computer specialist has hacked a work-around: a robot. If he wants to make his physical presence felt in the United States, he can connect to a wheeled contraption called a BeamPro, a flat-screen monitor that stands atop a pair of legs, five-foot-two in all, with a camera that acts as a swiveling Cyclops eye. Inevitably, people call it the “Snowbot.” The avatar resides at the Manhattan offices of the ACLU, where it takes meetings and occasionally travels to speaking engagements. (You can Google pictures of the Snowbot posing with Sergey Brin at TED.) Undeniably, it’s a gimmick: a tool in the campaign to advance Snowden’s cause — and his case for clemency — by building his cultural and intellectual celebrity. But the technology is of real symbolic and practical use to Snowden, who hopes to prove that the internet can overcome the power of governments, the strictures of exile, and isolation. It all amounts to an unprecedented act of defiance, a genuine enemy of the state carousing in plain view."Edward Snowden’s Life As a Robot -- NYMag
From an AI special report in The Economist
"How has artificial intelligence, associated with hubris and disappointment since its earliest days, suddenly become the hottest field in technology? The term was coined in a research proposal written in 1956 which suggested that significant progress could be made in getting machines to “solve the kinds of problems now reserved for humans…if a carefully selected group of scientists work on it together for a summer”. That proved to be wildly overoptimistic, to say the least, and despite occasional bursts of progress, AI became known for promising much more than it could deliver. Researchers mostly ended up avoiding the term, preferring to talk instead about “expert systems” or “neural networks”. The rehabilitation of “AI”, and the current excitement about the field, can be traced back to 2012 and an online contest called the ImageNet Challenge."From not working to neural networking | The Economist
The British are frantically Googling what the E.U. is, hours after voting to leave it - The Washington Post
Maybe next time more UK voters will do some research before voting
"That confusion over what Brexit might mean for the country's economy appears to have been reflected across the United Kingdom on Thursday. Google reported sharp upticks in searches not only related to the ballot measure but also about basic questions concerning the implications of the vote. At about 1 a.m. Eastern time, about eight hours after the polls closed, Google reported that searches for "what happens if we leave the EU" had more than tripled."The British are frantically Googling what the E.U. is, hours after voting to leave it - The Washington Post
Friday, June 24, 2016
From a broad Benedict Evans AI reality check; also see Google uses RankBrain for every search, impacts rankings of “lots” of them (Search Engine Land)
"This is clearly a fundamental change for Google. Narrowly, image and speech recognition mean that it will be able to understand questions better and index audio, images and video better. But more importantly, it will answer questions better, and answer questions that it could never really answer before at all. Hence, as we saw at Google IO, the company is being recentered on these techniques. And of course, all of these techniques will be used in different ways to varying degrees for different use cases, just as AlphaGo uses a range of different techniques. The thing that gets the attention is ‘Google Assistant - a front-end using voice and analysis of your behaviour to try both to capture questions better and address some questions before they’re asked. But that's just the tip of the spear - the real change is in the quality of understanding of the corpus of data that Google has gathered, and in the kind of queries that Google will be able to answer in all sorts of different products. That's really just at the very beginning right now."AI, Apple and Google — Benedict Evans
Apple officially discontinues Thunderbolt Display, points users towards third-party options | 9to5Mac
I'm still hopeful Apple will introduce a Mac display with a built-in GPU and a TV display optimized for Apple TV as well
"While some are speculating that Apple pointing users towards third-party options means the company is getting out of the display business altogether, it’s more likely that it’s abandoning the “Thunderbolt Display” name. The display announced this fall could carry a name like “Apple 5K Display.”Apple officially discontinues Thunderbolt Display, points users towards third-party options | 9to5Mac
Though timing was somewhat unclear at the time, now that Apple has formally discontinued the current-gen Thunderbolt Display, it seems likely that we will see a new model sooner rather than later. Perhaps alongside the updated MacBook Pro lineup slated to be launched sometime in the fall."
Sheryl Sandberg, Eric Schmidt and a bunch of other tech heavyweights are endorsing Hillary Clinton - Recode
Summarized as"Reminder: Silicon Valley hates Donald Trump."
"Sheryl Sandberg, Eric Schmidt, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and 23andMe founder Anne Wojcicki all attached their names to an endorsement letter being circulated by Clinton’s campaign. We’ve attached the full list below, and you’ll almost certainly recognize a bunch of the venture capitalists and tech executives who have signed the letter.Sheryl Sandberg, Eric Schmidt and a bunch of other tech heavyweights are endorsing Hillary Clinton - Recode
Some of the people named (Sandberg, Schmidt) have long been involved in Democratic politics. Others (Hastings) aren’t quite cookie-cutter Democrats. But, as Hastings puts it in a quote provided by the campaign, all of them pretty much believe that “Trump would destroy much of what is great about America.”"
Exquisite timing; also see WhatsApp powers 100 million calls a day (VentureBeat)
"Shares of Twilio, a maker of software that helps companies like Uber and Nordstrom communicate with their customers, soared 92 percent on Thursday, their first day of trading after becoming the largest technology initial public offering of stock so far this year.Twilio, a Cloud-Based Business, Soars After Its I.P.O. - The New York Times
Twilio began trading in a market that has not been receptive to tech initial offerings. Only three technology companies have made their debuts so far in 2016. Additionally, Thursday was Britain’s day to vote to stay or leave the European Union, the so-called Brexit, which some feared would shake up the markets. But the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index gained 1.3 percent."
Also see C-Span Delivers on Sit-In, Even With Cameras Off (NYT) and YouTube unveils mobile live streaming at VidCon (Mashable)
"The lawmakers’ videos showed images and viewpoints of the House chamber never before seen, Mortman said. Still, C-SPAN did switch between a number of feeds from both Periscope and Facebook, seeking out the ones with the best quality, he said, adding that the traditional cameras still had the best images.Facebook Sit-In Stream Is Defining Moment for Social Video - Bloomberg
The high-profile win for live streaming could also lead to a potential sales boon for Facebook and Twitter, both of which are expanding into video as a way of wringing more revenue from advertisers eager to reach the billion-plus people who spend time on the sites."
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Later in the article: "CloudMatrix supports AWS, Azure and SoftLayer on the cloud side and VMware vCloud Director and vRealize. OpenStack and Google Cloud Platform will be added in the months to come."
"IBM is well known as a systems integrator, but is shifting to focus on so-called services integration as it pivots to be more of a cloud broker and a gateway to its own SoftLayer as well as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure as a reseller.Inside IBM's plan to become a cloud broker and even resell AWS, Microsoft Azure | ZDNet
The game plan: Use an IT as a service offering called cloudMatrix to be a gateway to public cloud providers as well as in-house infrastructure. IBM's cloudMatrix will also surface the costs and financial models associated with application and cloud architecture.
CloudMatrix on the surface is a rebranded version of what Gravitant's service provided. IBM acquired Gravitant in November. Under the hood, cloudMatrix is integrated with IBM's various platform tools and can get the scale to better surface best practices for cloud optimization."
Excerpt from a Steven Levy overview of Google's machine learning modus operandi
"Google’s new challenge is shifting its engineering workforce so everyone is familiar, if not adept, at machine learning. It’s a goal pursued now by many other companies, notably Facebook, which is just as gaga about ML and deep learning as Google is. The competition to hire recent graduates in the field is fierce, and Google tries hard to maintain its early lead; for years, the joke in academia was that Google hires top students even when it doesn’t need them, just to deny them to the competition. (The joke misses the point that Google does need them.) “My students, no matter who, always get an offer from Google.” says Domingos. And things are getting tougher: just last week, Google announced it will open a brand new machine-learning research lab in Zurich, with a whole lot of workstations to fill.How Google is Remaking Itself as a “Machine Learning First” Company — Backchannel
But since academic programs are not yet producing ML experts in huge numbers, retraining workers is a necessity. And that isn’t always easy, especially at a company like Google, with many world-class engineers who have spent a lifetime achieving wizardry through traditional coding."
Another toaster/fridge data point; my overall take-away from the review: if you want a super-thin laptop with Windows (and with a great trackpad, excellent battery life, and a fan that isn't always-on), buy a MacBook and run Windows on it
"Before getting into the details of this newest HP, however, I think it bears noting that both this new Spectre and another much-praised Windows laptop, the Dell XPS 13, eschew the 2-in-1, flip-around, multi-use gymnastic designs that characterized so many Windows laptops in the wake of the Windows 8 launch, which tried to combine tablets and laptops.Mossberg: HP aims at the Mac with a super-slim laptop - Recode
This new HP doesn’t try to be a tablet. In fact, it doesn’t even have a touchscreen (just like three of the four models of the Dell XPS 13). It’s a super-thin, light, stylish yet capable iteration of the good old clamshell laptop."
Later in the article: "And Webpass would give Google Fiber subscribers in two new markets: Miami and Boston. Webpass also provides service in Chicago, San Diego and San Francisco, where Google Fiber has announced plans to expand."
"On Wednesday, Google Fiber announced plans to acquire Webpass, a high-speed, fiber internet provider serving five cities. The deal, should regulators approve it, would be the first acquisition for the broadband unit under Alphabet and another signal of its ambition to become a competitive national player in the industry.Google Fiber is buying high-speed internet provider Webpass to expand its reach in cities - Recode
Google Fiber also made the deal to boost its efforts to deliver broadband internet wirelessly, an experimental tech it hopes will expand coverage at cheaper costs."
Also see Tesla’s Plan to Buy SolarCity Has Major Flaws (NYT); I'm assuming the acquisition will go ahead despite objections
"Tesla Motors Inc.’s plan to acquire SolarCity Corp. got a cold reception from investors and analysts, who raised concerns the takeover could prove a diversion for the electric-car maker and worsen both companies’ strained finances.Tesla Shares Hit Hard After Offer to Buy SolarCity - WSJ
Tesla shares plunged by more than 10% on Wednesday, a day after it proposed an all-stock deal valuing the solar-power company at up to $2.8 billion. Both firms are unprofitable, and SolarCity lost more than 60% of its value in the past 12 months. Its shares closed 3.3% higher."
Final paragraphs from a virtual reality reality check
"But if V.R. isn’t useful for movies and TV shows, and if it’s kind of dodgy for porn, what good is it today? There are some great games on these systems, and there are sure to be many more during the next couple of years. There are also several useful experiences, like designing your Ikea kitchen in V.R.Tripping Down a Virtual Reality Rabbit Hole - The New York Times
But if you’re not a gamer and you’re not looking for a new kitchen, V.R. is, at this point, just too immersive for most media. A few minutes after donning my goggles, I came to regard my virtual surroundings as a kind of prison. Yes, V.R. is a prison of fantastical sights and sounds and one that is at moments irresistibly exciting, but it’s a prison nevertheless. And before long, it will leave you yearning for escape."
From a timely Facebook Live profile; tangentially, see It looks like all the money Amazon is spending on streaming video is starting to pay off (Recode)
"Facebook has locked down exclusive deals for live videos from 140 major newsmakers and tastemakers. Millions of us have already friended or liked some of them. So when you get an invite to a Facebook Live show, there’s a good chance you’ll want to watch it.Live from everywhere, it’s Facebook - The Boston Globe
Facebook has also done a deal with video game maker Blizzard Entertainment, creator of “World of Warcraft” and “Overwatch.” People who play Blizzard games on a desktop PC will be able to broadcast the games over Facebook Live. Odd as it seems, watching other people play video games has become immensely popular. Amazon.com’s Twitch, a site that specializes in such broadcasts, draws 100 million unique visitors per month.
Events will also conspire to raise the profile of Facebook Live. On Wednesday, for instance, Democrats in Congress held a protest to demand a vote on gun control legislation. The House went into recess, shutting off the live video feed on C-SPAN TV. So members began streaming the event on Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope, and soon attracted an audience of thousands."