Thursday, January 31, 2013

Evernote Blog | Penultimate 4: The Best Handwriting App Just Got Better…and It’s Free!

Probably not the penultimate Penultimate release
"Penultimate is Evernote’s amazing digital handwriting app for iPad. It’s one of the best-selling applications in App Store history and today we’re excited to announce that it’s getting a big update. We kept everything that millions of users love about the app, while adding powerful new Evernote features and refreshing the interface. Oh, and now it’s completely FREE!"
Evernote Blog | Penultimate 4: The Best Handwriting App Just Got Better…and It’s Free!

Facebook Beats Forecasts on Earnings and Revenue - NYTimes.com

Apparently following the Amazon business strategy model -- maximize build-out investment now, focus on earnings later (maybe...); also see Facebook’s $1.6 billion quarter in charts: how and where it makes money (Quartz)
"After an eight-month roller coaster ride on the public markets, Facebook did well in the fourth quarter of 2012 by aggressively ramping up advertisements aimed at its users, including on mobile phones. In its financial report on Wednesday, it beat expectations, increasing revenue by a handsome 40 percent from the same period a year ago.
But its expenses also climbed rapidly as the company hired engineers and built data centers, causing profit to dip from the last quarter in 2011. With that, Wall Street lost some enthusiasm."
Facebook Beats Forecasts on Earnings and Revenue - NYTimes.com

Alicia Keys Is BlackBerry’s New Creative Director - Businessweek

Strange days indeed
"Keys joins a long and distinguished list of entertainers who have taken on creative-director duties at various companies. Intel (INTC), wanting to get in on that My Humps action, hired Black Eyed Peas member will.i.am as its “director of creative innovation.” Polaroid, when it wasn’t being passed around from creditor to creditor in bankruptcy proceedings, announced in 2010 that it had appointed Lady Gaga as its creative director, based on her extensive work in industrial design and precision optics."
Alicia Keys Is BlackBerry’s New Creative Director - Businessweek

Dropbox Release Feature Update Focusing on Content Instead of Files - Liz Gannes - News - AllThingsD

tbd if Dropbox announced any new features that aren't already included in modern OS platforms
"Dropbox today previewed a set of features to help its users share and view their content, at a press event at its snazzy San Francisco headquarters.
The new features include photo albums, quick previews for PDFs and other documents, and easier sharing to Facebook, Twitter and email. All of them are specifically for the Web version of Dropbox, and all are expected to be released to all users within the next month."
Dropbox Release Feature Update Focusing on Content Instead of Files - Liz Gannes - News - AllThingsD

Raspberry Pi, a Computer Tinkerer’s Dream - NYTimes.com

Also see Google to give schools Raspberry Pi microcomputers (BBC)
"Raspberry Pi may sound like the name of a math-based dessert. But it is actually one of the hottest and cheapest little computers in the world right now. Almost one million of these $35 machines have shipped since last February, capturing the imaginations of educators, hobbyists and tinkerers around the world.
[...]
“We honestly were thinking of this as a 1,000- to 5,000-unit opportunity,” Mr. Upton said. “The thing we didn’t anticipate was this whole other market of technically competent adults who wanted to use it. We’re selling to hobbyists.”"
Raspberry Pi, a Computer Tinkerer’s Dream - NYTimes.com

BlackBerry, Rebuilt, Lives to Fight Another Day - NYTimes.com

My overall take, after reading a few BlackBerry Z10 reviews: some in the press/blogosphere are eager to have another viable smartphone competitor to write about, but it's not clear the Z10 is an advance in any surprising, significant, or sustainable way.  Also see BlackBerry's BB10 and Z10: the review roundup (The Guardian)
"Well, BlackBerry’s Hail Mary pass, its bet-the-farm phone, is finally here. It’s the BlackBerry Z10, and guess what? It’s lovely, fast and efficient, bristling with fresh, useful ideas.
And here’s the shocker — it’s complete. The iPhone, Android and Windows Phone all entered life missing important features. Not this one; BlackBerry couldn’t risk building a lifeboat with leaks. So it’s all here: a well-stocked app store, a music and movie store, Mac and Windows software for loading files, speech recognition, turn-by-turn navigation, parental controls, copy and paste, Find My Phone (with remote-control lock and erase) and on and on."
BlackBerry, Rebuilt, Lives to Fight Another Day - NYTimes.com

Chinese Hackers Infiltrate New York Times Computers - NYTimes.com

Sign of the times
"The timing of the attacks coincided with the reporting for a Times investigation, published online on Oct. 25, that found that the relatives of Wen Jiabao, China’s prime minister, had accumulated a fortune worth several billion dollars through business dealings.
Security experts hired by The Times to detect and block the computer attacks gathered digital evidence that Chinese hackers, using methods that some consultants have associated with the Chinese military in the past, breached The Times’s network. "
Chinese Hackers Infiltrate New York Times Computers - NYTimes.com

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Microsoft releases Office 2013. Good, but don’t get too excited - Chicago Sun-Times

Excerpt from an Andy Ihnatko Office 2013 perspective
"OneNote for Windows 8 Modern UI shows what’s possible. It’s a whole iterative step beyond anything we’ve seen the app do on the desktop. It makes me wonder what would happen if the entire Office suite were rebuilt this way. And if it were done so well that it made a cheap tablet into an effective and productive extension of the Office 2013 workspace on the user’s PC or Mac?
Allow me to go into beard-stroking mode. If such a suite were available for Brand X 10” Multitouch Tablet exclusively, it’d have serious consequences for Brands Y and Z. If it were available for all of them…?"
Microsoft releases Office 2013. Good, but don’t get too excited - Chicago Sun-Times

How Google Is Putting Mass Torture On The Map [BuzzFeed]

Definitely looking like that was a once-in-a-lifetime visit for Eric Schmidt; see the full post for satellite images
"The purpose is obvious: to make the existence of these camps known; to point out that North Korea is secretive, and would never release this data on its own; to emphasize that the country is not capable of producing satellite imagery; and, most important, to remind outsiders that thousands of its citizens (and some foreigners) are sent to these camps, where they are subjected to hard labor, starvation, torture, medical experimentation, and execution.
What Google is doing here is human rights activism disguised as mapmaking."
How Google Is Putting Mass Torture On The Map

Elon Musk: Boeing 787 battery fundamentally unsafe [Flightglobal]

Big Boeing battery bummer; also see Why Elon Musk Wants To Help Boeing Fix The Dreamliner (Forbes)
"The lithium ion batteries installed on the Boeing 787 are inherently unsafe, says Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and owner of electric car maker Tesla.
"Unfortunately, the pack architecture supplied to Boeing is inherently unsafe," writes Musk in an email to Flightglobal.
"Large cells without enough space between them to isolate against the cell-to-cell thermal domino effect means it is simply a matter of time before there are more incidents of this nature," he adds."
Elon Musk: Boeing 787 battery fundamentally unsafe

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer Does Not Fear Dropbox or an Office-less IPad - Businessweek

Excerpt from a wide-ranging interview:
"You guys face the huge challenge of trying to advance a product on which about 1 billion people rely. You want to modernize it, but you don’t want to break anything that people need. Partly as a result of this, Microsoft is coming to the cloud late and now going up against a company like Dropbox that already has 100 million users.
Well, you’ve got to remember, 100 million sounds like a pretty small number to me, actually. We’ve got a lot more Office users. And actually if you even want to go to the cloud, we have a lot of Hotmail and SkyDrive users. I’m not beating on Dropbox. They’re a fine little startup and that’s great."
Microsoft's Steve Ballmer Does Not Fear Dropbox or an Office-less IPad - Businessweek

Amazon E-Books Is a Multi-Billion Dollar Business, Up 70 Percent - Tricia Duryee - Commerce - AllThingsD

tbd how much of that revenue gain is due to significant increases in Kindle book prices over the last year
"Amazon is notorious for not commenting on the performance of its hardware business, and that policy didn’t change this quarter. But in Amazon’s earnings release, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos did open up a little bit about the company’s e-book business as a whole.
“We’re now seeing the transition we’ve been expecting,” he said. “After five years, eBooks is a multi-billion dollar category for us and growing fast — up approximately 70 percent last year. In contrast, our physical book sales experienced the lowest December growth rate in our 17 years as a book seller, up just 5 percent. We’re excited and very grateful to our customers for their response to Kindle and our ever expanding ecosystem and selection.”"
Amazon E-Books Is a Multi-Billion Dollar Business, Up 70 Percent - Tricia Duryee - Commerce - AllThingsD

A Fresh New Microsoft Office Finds a Place in the Cloud - Katherine Boehret - The Digital Solution - AllThingsD

Final paragraph of a review covering new Office 365 cloud, subscription, and app features; also see The New Office Is Here; Those Pesky iOS Apps Aren’t (AllThingsD)
"Office 365 feels grown up and ready for the fast pace of the Web. It’s custom made for people who use many devices, including desktop PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. If potential users can wrap their brains around its new subscription system, Microsoft has a winning program on its hands."
A Fresh New Microsoft Office Finds a Place in the Cloud - Katherine Boehret - The Digital Solution - AllThingsD

Investors Shrug Off a Weak Earnings Report From Amazon - NYTimes.com

Check the full article for an Amazon earnings snapshot
"Investors decimated Apple last week when it appeared that the world’s mightiest profit machine might be slowing down just a tad. But they cheered on Tuesday when Amazon said its fourth-quarter sales and earnings fell short of expectations. Oh, and expect a miserable first quarter, too.
Shares in Amazon immediately jumped nearly 10 percent in after-hours trading, about the same amount that Apple fell after releasing its news."
Investors Shrug Off a Weak Earnings Report From Amazon - NYTimes.com

With a 128GB Model, iPad Throws Down to Surface | MIT Technology Review

Also note that the 128GB Surface Pro is more of an ~83GB device, in terms of free storage; AllThingsD notes, in And the 32GB Surface Pro Will Have Just Enough Storage to Display the Start-Up Screen, that Surface customers can regain storage space by deleting a recovery partition
"The initial idea behind the iPad was a lightweight, super mobile computing device that could access the cloud for storage and streaming media. But Apple is making a case for the iPad as a full-blown productivity and business device. Cupertino says that “virtually all” of the Fortune 500 and over 85% of the Global 300 are “currently deploying or testing iPad.” With 128GB at your disposal, the range of projects you can engage in using local storage expand: you can edit a movie, mix a song, design a building.
Many observers are calling this a run at Microsoft, whose Surface tablet has marketed itself as the device that will most effectively switch hit between a passive-tablet mode, and an active-laptop mode. If you’re really dedicated to making your tablet feel like a laptop, your best bet is still probably with the Surface or with the upcoming Surface Pro, which runs a full version of Windows 8 Pro, effectively mimicking a desktop environment in a mobile form factor."
With a 128GB Model, iPad Throws Down to Surface | MIT Technology Review

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Apple - Press Info - Apple Increases iPad with Retina Display to 128GB

A new option (available 2/5) at $100 more than the 64GB versions (which are $100 more than the 32GB versions, which in turn are $100 more than the 16GB versions...)
"Apple® today announced a 128GB* version of the fourth generation iPad® with Retina® display. The 128GB iPad with Wi-Fi and iPad with Wi-Fi + Cellular models provide twice the storage capacity of the 64GB models to hold even more valuable content including photos, documents, projects, presentations, books, movies, TV shows, music and apps. "
Apple - Press Info - Apple Increases iPad with Retina Display to 128GB

Google Lat Long: Publishing more detailed maps of North Korea

I'm guessing it may be a while before Eric Schmidt has another visit
"The goal of Google Maps is to provide people with the most comprehensive, accurate, and easy-to-use modern map of the world. As part of this mission, we’re constantly working to add more detailed map data in areas that traditionally have been mostly blank. For a long time, one of the largest places with limited map data has been North Korea. But today we are changing that with the addition of more detailed maps of North Korea in Google Maps.

To build this map, a community of citizen cartographers came together in Google Map Maker to make their contributions such as adding road names and points of interest. This effort has been active in Map Maker for a few years and today the new map of North Korea is ready and now available on Google Maps. As a result, the world can access maps of North Korea that offer much more information and detail than before."
Google Lat Long: Publishing more detailed maps of North Korea

HP's first Chromebook revealed in leaked spec sheet | The Verge

Looking like a pattern, with Lenovo, Samsung, Acer, and now HP (rumored to be) making Chromebooks
"HP is preparing to launch its first entry into the Chromebook marketplace, if a PDF found on its site can be believed. According to this listing, HP's currently-unannounced Pavilion Chromebook will feature a 1.1GHz Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM, a 16GB solid-state drive, and a 14-inch, 1366 x 768 display. That display alone makes HP's Chromebook a bit of an oddity — current models from Lenovo, Samsung, and Acer feature 11.6-inch screens, though they run at the same resolution as HP's model."
HP's first Chromebook revealed in leaked spec sheet | The Verge

Twitter's Speech Problem: Hashtags and Hate : The New Yorker

Interesting times for Twitter, with hashtags and hate and porn (AllThingsD)
"And so Twitter finds itself with the ball, trying to dribble through diverging laws around the world, to kick away historical demons, and to hold onto its philosophical ideals—total, protected freedom of expression—as it holds onto its users and advertisers. If the company chooses not to comply with the French court’s decision, and the analogous ones that will surely follow, Twitter will have allowed millions of non-Americans who use the Web to benefit from America’s values of free speech—so quietly that it is almost secret."
Twitter's Speech Problem: Hashtags and Hate : The New Yorker

Streaming Shakes Up Music Industry’s Model for Royalties - NYTimes.com

A stark streaming snapshot
"In the new economics of streaming music, however, the river of nickels looks more like a torrent of micropennies.
Spotify, Pandora and others like them pay fractions of a cent to record companies and publishers each time a song is played, some portion of which goes to performers and songwriters as royalties. Unlike the royalties from a sale, these payments accrue every time a listener clicks on a song, year after year.
The question dogging the music industry is whether these micropayments can add up to anything substantial."
Streaming Shakes Up Music Industry’s Model for Royalties - NYTimes.com

How Facebook Taught Its Search Tool to Understand People - NYTimes.com

Final paragraphs of a graph search snapshot
"Even without context, Facebook is also trying to approximate real world trust. Its search engine ranks answers to every query by an awkward construct that Facebook calls “social distance.” Its algorithms vet who among a user’s Facebook friends the user is closest to and whose answers the user would like to see at the top of search results. The company is betting on the principle of homiphily: if it is from someone the user likes, the user may be more likely to pay attention to it — and click on the link.
“Psychology,” Professor Nass said, “is cheap tricks to meet your goals,”"
How Facebook Taught Its Search Tool to Understand People - NYTimes.com

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Yahoo's Mayer: "In The Future You Become The Query" [Marketing Land]

Excerpt from a Marissa Mayer interview at Davos
"Mobile will also continue to be a major driver of search innovation. Almost as if she were describing Google Now, but without mentioning it, Mayer discussed the role of context and personalization in the delivery of content without explicit query input from the user. This is what Mayer used to describe,when she was at Google, as “the perfect search engine,” which would know user needs and preferences without requiring the user to provide those explicitly.
The line that summed up her thoughts on search personalization was, “In the future you become the query.” This was a reference to all the data and context that will help search generate more relevant results. She said that many of these innovations will be realized within in the “next three to five years.”"
Yahoo's Mayer: "In The Future You Become The Query"

Literary History, Seen Through Big Data’s Lens - NYTimes.com

New application domains for big data
"It is this ability to collect, measure and analyze data for meaningful insights that is the promise of Big Data technology. In the humanities and social sciences, the flood of new data comes from many sources including books scanned into digital form, Web sites, blog posts and social network communications.
Data-centric specialties are growing fast, giving rise to a new vocabulary. In political science, this quantitative analysis is called political methodology. In history, there is cliometrics, which applies econometrics to history. In literature, stylometry is the study of an author’s writing style, and these days it leans heavily on computing and statistical analysis. Culturomics is the umbrella term used to describe rigorous quantitative inquiries in the social sciences and humanities."
Literary History, Seen Through Big Data’s Lens - NYTimes.com

Amazon workers keep busy in Cambridge. But what are they working on ? - Business - The Boston Globe

An Amazon mystery in Cambridge
"The Amazon name has allure; the Seattle e-commerce giant hired at least 80 people for its Cambridge research-and-development office in 2012, according to several employees who have since moved on. (Amazon also owns Kiva Systems Inc. of North Reading, a maker of warehouse robots it bought last year for $775 million.)
But how’s this for secretive? Current and former employees are forbidden from talking about what happens at the Cambridge office, and the company won’t even tell prospective employees what they’d be working on, if hired. In fact, according to my sources, Amazon employees on two teams in Cambridge can’t even tell each other what they’re up to."
Amazon workers keep busy in Cambridge. But what are they working on ? - Business - The Boston Globe

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Assange: WikiLeaks film script leaked to WikiLeaks - Yahoo! News

Sign of the times
"If you're making a movie about WikiLeaks, this is the kind of thing you probably see coming.
Julian Assange says he has obtained a leaked copy of the script for "The Fifth Estate," a DreamWorks film about the maverick computer expert and his famed secret-busting site. In a speech before the Oxford Union debating society earlier this week, Assange said his unauthorized sneak peek has left him convinced the film is a hit piece."
Assange: WikiLeaks film script leaked to WikiLeaks - Yahoo! News

For Michael Jackson Bio, Trying to Even the Score - NYTimes.com

Antisocial reading
"Since my article about their campaign appeared in The New York Times on Monday, dozens of people who were apparently outraged by what they saw the fans doing went to Amazon and wrote five-star reviews as a sort of riposte. There are now 142 five-star reviews, up from two dozen a few weeks ago, and 132 one-star reviews, up from about 100.
But the battle is merely joined. After the article appeared, Michael Jackson’s Rapid Response Team to Media Attacks asked via Twitter that people continue to post comments on Amazon. Many of the newly posted positive reviews have critical comments."
For Michael Jackson Bio, Trying to Even the Score - NYTimes.com

Car-Sharing Services Grow, and Expand Options - NYTimes.com

In other driving news
"They are all drawn by the rising popularity of car sharing. Last year, about 800,000 people belonged to car-sharing services in the United States, a 44 percent increase from 2011, according to Susan Shaheen, co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley.
With most of the services, customers pay a small annual fee to join, then make reservations over the Web or with a smartphone app. They typically unlock the car by swiping a special laminated card across a sensor on the windshield, and rates are usually by the hour."
Car-Sharing Services Grow, and Expand Options - NYTimes.com

Using a Traffic App Cuts Commutes, Manages Anger - Businessweek

Gaining momentum
"With 34 million commuters around the globe, Waze users are by far the largest community of connected drivers. Every day, they use their smartphones’ satellite signals to generate and map traffic data. With a few taps you can tell all the Wazers when, where, and why you are delayed, and the detail is plotted on a map. You do so by tapping an icon for, say, “traffic,” “accident,” “police,” or “other”; the last one works well for construction snags or mega-pothole sightings."
Using a Traffic App Cuts Commutes, Manages Anger - Businessweek

Outside Innovation: Amazon’s AutoRip: Will It Lure Customers Off iTunes?

Excerpt from a Patty Seybold perspective:
"Watching what happens with AutoRip will be a fascinating case study to examine a number of issues:
  1. When is it OK to do something that “benefits” your customers without asking for their consent?
  2. What are the critical customer experience things you need to get right when you ’re helping customers “manage their stuff?”
  3. Will Amazon’s CD AutoRipping service get customers to add Amazon Cloud Player to their devices? Will customers mind have two (or more) music libraries to “manage”?
  4. A year from now, will AutoRip be seen as a turning point in the music marketshare battle?"
Outside Innovation: Amazon’s AutoRip: Will It Lure Customers Off iTunes?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Apple earnings report: Don’t let its stock slump fool you—the company is stronger than ever. - Slate Magazine

Final paragraph of a timely Apple reality check
"We’re certain to keep seeing huge sales from the company. But I’m no longer convinced that Apple’s stock price will rise with its earnings. That’s because the market attitude toward Apple seems unmoored from its actual performance. Apple is still the most spectacularly well-performing firm in the tech industry. Now it just needs to find a way to prove it besides monster sales and monster profits."
Apple earnings report: Don’t let its stock slump fool you—the company is stronger than ever. - Slate Magazine

Amazon’s acquisition of text-to-speech company IVONA could help it battle lawsuits (and Siri) — Tech News and Analysis [GigaOM]

For speculation about another possible Amazon acquisition, see Amazon is Going to Buy Liquavista (The Digital Reader)
"Of course, IVONA’s technology could also help Amazon create a competitor to Apple’s Siri voice-recognition technology. (Rumors that Amazon is working on a smartphone have been making their way around the internet for awhile.) It seems more likely, though, that the primary driver of this acquisition is Amazon’s desire to avoid future lawsuits — and to get Kindles into more hands worldwide."
Amazon’s acquisition of text-to-speech company IVONA could help it battle lawsuits (and Siri) — Tech News and Analysis

Redesigning Google: how Larry Page engineered a beautiful revolution | The Verge

Check the source for a detailed overview of Google's UX design process
"We went to Google looking for the person responsible for the new design direction, but the strange answer we got is that such a person doesn’t exist. Instead, thanks to a vision laid out by a small team of Google designers, each product team is finding its way to a consistent and forward-looking design language thanks to a surprising process.
They’re talking to each other."
Redesigning Google: how Larry Page engineered a beautiful revolution | The Verge

Facebook Cuts Off Friend-Finding Access to Vine, Twitter's Video App - Mike Isaac - Social - AllThingsD

Relentless competition != social; Facebook != open; also see Facebook Is Done Giving Its Precious Social Graph To Competitors (TechCrunch)
"Within hours of Twitter launching its Vine video-sharing application on Thursday, Facebook has cut off access to Vine’s “find people” feature, which lets used to let Vine users find their Facebook friends using the Vine application.
[...]
But the cutoff isn’t exactly surprising, given Instagram recently snipping Twitter cards integration, and Twitter cutting off access to Instagram’s “Find your Friends” feature. Welcome to the new, competitive landscape of social tech companies.
The loser in all of this? Sorry, user, but it’s you."
Facebook Cuts Off Friend-Finding Access to Vine, Twitter's Video App - Mike Isaac - Social - AllThingsD

Has Big Data Reached Its Moment of Disillusionment? - Arik Hesseldahl - News - AllThingsD

The song remains the same: the biggest challenges in deriving value from data, big or small, are conceptual modeling, query formulation, and analysis; on a related note, see Ayasdi: Stanford Math Begets a Data Company (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)
"One source of that disillusionment, she writes, is that companies are struggling with a basic problem: What questions do you attempt to answer with your data in the first place? “Several days ago, a financial industry client told me that framing a right question to express a game-changing idea is extremely challenging,” Sicular wrote. “First, selecting a question from multiple candidates; second, breaking it down to many sub-questions; and, third, answering even one of them reliably. It is hard.”"
Has Big Data Reached Its Moment of Disillusionment? - Arik Hesseldahl - News - AllThingsD

Microsoft Reports Drop in Profits - NYTimes.com

Looking more like Oracle and IBM than Apple or Google
"Microsoft’s results showed far more vitality in areas in which the company caters to big business customers, rather than consumers — a market that has eluded Microsoft many times over the years. Its best performing business was its server and tools division, which had a 9 percent increase in sales in the quarter.
While its Office suite of applications showed weakness overall, as some customers delayed purchases ahead of the release of a new version of the product, business revenue from that division was up 2 percent and consumer revenue declined 2 percent, excluding deferred revenue."
Microsoft Reports Drop in Profits - NYTimes.com

Thursday, January 24, 2013

White House announces 'National Day of Civic Hacking' | Application Development - InfoWorld

Sign of the times

“It's not unusual for free and open source software projects to enlist the help of their fans and supporters in debugging and other efforts to make the software better. What's less common is for major national governments to do the same thing.

Sure enough, though, the White House Office of Science Technology and Policy on Tuesday announced  the National Day of Civic Hacking on June 1 and 2, calling it "an opportunity for software developers, technologists, and entrepreneurs to unleash their can-do American spirit by collaboratively harnessing publicly released data and code to create innovative solutions for problems that affect Americans."”

White House announces 'National Day of Civic Hacking' | Application Development - InfoWorld

Google Creating Wireless Network, But For What? - Digits - WSJ

For a snapshot of current networking challenges in the U.S., see How to Get America Online (NYT)
"Google is trying to create an experimental wireless network covering its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, a move that some analysts say could portend the creation of dense and superfast Google wireless networks in other locations that would allow people to connect to the Web using their mobile devices."
Google Creating Wireless Network, But For What? - Digits - WSJ

Introducing Blogs on Quora - The Quora Blog - Quora

The Quora blog on Quora blogs; also see What are some good blogs to follow on Quora? and Quora Goes Beyond Q&A with Blogs (Time)
"Blogs on Quora are great for people who (1) don't have a big, established online presence already and (2) don't want to do the time-intensive, heavy lifting of marketing their blog and slowly building an audience. If you are a good writer but don't have thousands of Twitter followers or a big audience for your blog, Quora is an ideal place to write. Your blog will be discovered quickly without you having to do any work besides writing. Writing one great post on Quora will attract a big audience, no matter how many people already know or follow you."
Introducing Blogs on Quora - The Quora Blog - Quora

Robot Makers Spread Global Gospel of Automation - NYTimes.com

Racing against "Race Against the Machine;" also see The Myth of the Myth of Technological Unemployment (Andrew McAfee’s Blog)
"During his talk, Dr. Christensen said that the evidence indicated that the opposite was true. While automation may transform the work force and eliminate certain jobs, it also creates new kinds of jobs that are generally better paying and that require higher-skilled workers.
“We see today that the U.S. is still the biggest manufacturing country in terms of dollar value,” Dr. Christensen said. “It’s also important to remember that manufacturing produces more jobs in associated areas than anything else.”"
Robot Makers Spread Global Gospel of Automation - NYTimes.com

With new Facebook search, there’s nowhere to hide - Business - The Boston Globe

A timely Hiawatha Bray Facebook reality check
"Facebookers have good reason to fear Graph Search will compromise their privacy. Luckily, there’s no law requiring you to publicize your most sensitive thoughts. And if you already have, Facebook last month made it easier to tidy up your earlier blunders. A new privacy control page will let you quickly conceal embarrassing photos and likes.
Facebook plans to gradually open its new search service to all members in the months ahead. It also plans enhancements that will enable even deeper searches. So if you’ve got something to hide, get busy."
With new Facebook search, there’s nowhere to hide - Business - The Boston Globe

Sorry, Apple-haters, but Cupertinian doom not on the horizon • The Register

It'll be interesting to track AAPL today, and to learn about the latest MSFT quarterly results this afternoon; also see Heady Returns, but Apple Finds Its Stock Falling (NYT)
"May your humble Reg reporter take this opportunity to point those Wall Street moneymen at some of what Apple CEO Tim Cook rightly called "a lot of impressive numbers" during his conference call with reporters and analysts after the Q1 2013 number were released?
  • Quarterly revenue of $54.5bn, up 17.7 per cent from the $46.3bn earned in the same quarter last year
  • iPhone unit sales of 47.8 million, up 29.0 per cent from the 37.04 million sold during same quarter last year
  • iPad unit sales of 22.9 million, up 48.4 per cent from 15.43 million year-on-year
  • Reserves of $137.1bn, up 40.4 per cent from the $97.6bn it held in cash, short-term, and long-term securities at the same time last year
Even the most rock-ribbed Apple-hater must grudgingly agree with Cook that those numbers are indeed impressive."
Sorry, Apple-haters, but Cupertinian doom not on the horizon • The Register

Nonprofit Common Crawl Offers a Database of the Entire Web, For Free, and Could Open Up Google to New Competition | MIT Technology Review

An uncommon resource
"A nonprofit called Common Crawl is now using its own Web crawler and making a giant copy of the Web that it makes accessible to anyone. The organization offers up over five billion Web pages, available for free so that researchers and entrepreneurs can try things otherwise possible only for those with access to resources on the scale of Google’s.
[...]
Elbaz is the founder and CEO of big data company Factual, and before that founded a company bought by Google to be the basis of its ad business for Web pages. Common Crawl also has Google’s director of research, Peter Norvig, and MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito on its advisory board."
Nonprofit Common Crawl Offers a Database of the Entire Web, For Free, and Could Open Up Google to New Competition | MIT Technology Review

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wolfram|Alpha Blog : Introducing Expanded Personal Analytics for Facebook

No need to wait for Facebook Graph Search, if you want to dive into Facebook personal analytics; check the post link below for more details

Wolfram|Alpha Personal Analytics for Facebook

“In total, there are five different “network roles” we identify: social insiders and outsiders, social neighbors and gateways, and social connectors. Social insiders and outsiders are opposites: a social insider has a lot of friends in common with you (e.g. your girlfriend since freshman year); conversely, a social outsider is someone with whom you have few or no mutual friends (e.g. that girl you met horseback riding in Romania). Social gateways and neighbors are also opposites: a social gateway contact has a lot of friends that are outside your network (e.g. the editor of your college newspaper), whereas a social neighbor has few friends outside your network (e.g. your identical twin).”

Wolfram|Alpha Blog : Introducing Expanded Personal Analytics for Facebook

Prince Harry: Xbox helps me shoot Afghan insurgents | Technically Incorrect - CNET News

Strange days indeed
"How can I possibly know this? Because the most fun-loving of the British Royal Family, Prince Harry, has given an interview in which he suggested that his gaming expertise has helped him be a very fine killer of enemy forces.
In an extensive interview published by the Daily Mail, the prince -- known to his army comrades as Captain Wales -- said he wasn't very good at school, but you don't mess with his gaming skills."
Prince Harry: Xbox helps me shoot Afghan insurgents | Technically Incorrect - CNET News

A New Group Aims to Make Programming Cool - NYTimes.com

Growing opportunities for (a shrinking population of) computer science students
"Lesley Chilcott, a producer of the documentaries “Waiting for ‘Superman’” and “An Inconvenient Truth,” is making the film.
Mr. Partovi’s nonprofit is part of a much wider push by the technology industry to figure out how to train more people in computer science at a young age. While bitter rivals like Microsoft and Google don’t agree on a lot of things, one topic on which they do is the alarming mismatch between the relatively small number of Americans being trained in computer science and the employment opportunities that await them."
A New Group Aims to Make Programming Cool - NYTimes.com

Despite Strong Earnings, Google Is Still Stymied by Mobile - NYTimes.com

Concluding paragraphs of a Google snapshot
"In the fourth quarter, Google sold about 1.5 million Nexus phones and tablets, not including those sold by other retailers, according to estimates from JPMorgan, and has had trouble keeping supply up with demand.
Eventually, Google hopes, these various businesses will help it solve the mobile revenue riddle, but analysts say they do not expect it to happen in the near term. “You have your Motorola Android phone, get offered a local deal, go into the merchant, use Google Checkout to pay and get rewards,” said Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Partners. “That’s the grand vision and it’s a nice vision, but it’s not happening in March.”"
Despite Strong Earnings, Google Is Still Stymied by Mobile - NYTimes.com

IBM Makes More Money, Selling Less of What People Want - Businessweek

Excerpt from an IBM momentum reality check
"IBM portrays itself as an ahead-of-the-curve technology company. At any chance, IBM will tout its growth in Brazil, Russia, India, and China—revenue was up 14 percent during the fourth quarter in those countries—as a sign that it’s chasing the future. And we’ve all seen the ad campaigns about IBM’s data analytics prowess and ability to deliver a smarter planet. This, friends, is a company on the move.
The message, though, gets harder and harder to square with IBM’s financial results. Its revenue for 2012 came in at $104.5 billion, down 2 percent from $106.9 billion in 2011. During the same period, IBM’s net income rose to $16.6 billion from $15.9 billion. It made more money selling less stuff."
IBM Makes More Money, Selling Less of What People Want - Businessweek

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Librarians of the Twitterverse by James Gleick | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

Good luck to future Internet historians trying to reconstitute context in that collection of info items...
"Here in the twenty-first century, the Library of Congress is now stockpiling the entire Twitterverse, or Tweetosphere, or whatever we’ll end up calling it—anyway, the corpus of all public tweets. There are a lot. The library embarked on this project in April 2010, when Jack Dorsey’s microblogging service was four years old, and four years of tweeting had produced 21 billion messages. Since then Twitter has grown, as these things do, and 21 billion tweets represents not much more than a month’s worth. As of December, the library had received 170 billion—each one a 140-character capsule garbed in metadata with the who-when-where."
Librarians of the Twitterverse by James Gleick | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

This Explains Everything: 192 Thinkers Each Select the Most Elegant Explanation of How the World Works | Brain Pickings

If the Edge 2012 annual question collection of answers leaves you feeling excessively optimistic, you can read this year's question ("What *should* we be worried about?") and answers here; the 2013 collection should be published in dead-tree and e-book format in a year or so, if the historical pattern continues. Also see the left-hand side of the Edge page for an index of the annual collections -- all are thought-provoking.
"Every year since 1998, intellectual impresario and Edge editor John Brockman has been posing a single grand question to some of our time’s greatest thinkers across a wide spectrum of disciplines, then collecting the answers in an annual anthology. Last year’s answers to the question “What scientific concept will improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?” were released in This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking, one of the year’s best psychology and philosophy books.
In 2012, the question Brockman posed, proposed by none other than Steven Pinker, was “What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation.” The answerers, representing an eclectic mix of 192 (alas, overwhelmingly male) minds spanning psychology, quantum physics, social science, political theory, philosophy, and more, are collected in the edited compendium This Explains Everything: Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works (UK; public library) and are also available online."
This Explains Everything: 192 Thinkers Each Select the Most Elegant Explanation of How the World Works | Brain Pickings

Google Integrates Google+ Profiles Into its Company Jobs Board [TNW]

In other Google HR news…

“Google has updated its company jobs board with support for Google+ profiles, allowing users to see more relevant search results, star jobs they want to return to later on and receive curated email updates.

The changes, spotted by Google Plus Daily, hints at a larger push from Google into job listings and applications.”

Google Integrates Google+ Profiles Into its Company Jobs Board

Google People Operations: The secrets of the world’s most scientific human resources department. - Slate Magazine

Data-driven HR at Google
"The change in maternity leave exemplifies how POPS has helped Google become the country’s best employer. Under Bock, Google’s HR department functions more like a rigorous science lab than the pesky hall monitor most of us picture when we think of HR. At the heart of POPS is a sophisticated employee-data tracking program, an effort to gain empirical certainty about every aspect of Google’s workers’ lives—not just the right level of pay and benefits but also such trivial-sounding details as the optimal size and shape of the cafeteria tables and the length of the lunch lines."
Google People Operations: The secrets of the world’s most scientific human resources department. - Slate Magazine

IBM Milks Lotus as It Tries to Update Software Group - WSJ.com

From an IBM Lotus business snapshot
"IBM is trying to do the same thing with Lotus by folding it in with social-media tools that address more current needs. Those tools, grouped under its Connections software, let companies create corporate versions of Facebook Inc.,with user profiles, blogs and streams of news updates that co-workers can follow and learn from.
The challenge for IBM is that revenue from the business is puny compared with the revenue from Lotus. In the first half of 2012, IBM made $55 million selling social-business software, giving the company more than 11% of the market, according to IDC.
The market is also competitive, with rivals including startups Jive Software and Lithium Technologies Inc., as well as Yammer, which Microsoft bought last June for $1.2 billion in cash."
IBM Milks Lotus as It Tries to Update Software Group - WSJ.com

ReadWrite – Don't Write Off Relational Databases For Big Data Just Yet

Excerpt from an interview with MySQL author Monty Widenius
"What do you personally think about the future of Big Data? Your predictions?
I think that most of the people who are looking for NoSQL are doing it mostly because it's still 'hype'. Most companies don't have massive amounts of data, like Facebook and Google, and they will not be able to afford to have experts to tune and constantly develop the database.
SQL is not going away. NoSQL can't replace it. Almost everyone will need relations (i.e., joins) to utilize their data."
ReadWrite – Don't Write Off Relational Databases For Big Data Just Yet

Monday, January 21, 2013

ReadWrite – Apple Forced Google's Hand On Android

First paragraph of a timely Apple/Google reality check
"Tilde and Ember.js co-founder Tom Dale argues that Apple's biggest problem is that "Google is getting better at design faster than Apple is getting better at web services."  The irony is that it's a problem entirely of Apple's own making.  By exercising rigid, end-to-end control of the iPhone and iPad experience, Apple essentially forced Google into building its own operating system."
ReadWrite – Apple Forced Google's Hand On Android

Nexus 4 demand 10 times higher than Google expected | CNET UK

The article later notes that LG will ramp up production in February
"Ten times as many British phone fans want the Nexus 4 than Google expected. LG has once again blamed Google for stock issues with the perenially sold-out smash-hit Android phone, saying the Big G had no idea of the potential demand.
Speaking to Challenges, LG France boss Cathy Robin pointed the finger at Google. LG says it simply built as many phones as Google asked for, a number based on the sales of previous Nexus phones, such as the Nexus S."
Nexus 4 demand 10 times higher than Google expected | CNET UK

Office 2013 now available for some home users • The Register

Quite a discount, for people with employers on HUP
"Office 2013 is still a few weeks away from release, but Microsoft has made it available to certain customers as part of its Home Use Program (HUP), a scheme it uses to sell cheap software to folks whose employers have a Software Assurance deal.
Office 2013 has just been added to the HUP, at very reasonable prices: the UK page prices it at £8.95, while US buyers are charged $US9.95. Despite the Australian dollar being worth more than the US dollar, Aussies are being asked to pay $AUD15.00. For those prices you get Office Professional Plus, comprising Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, Publisher, Lync, OneNote and InfoPath."
Office 2013 now available for some home users • The Register

Friday, January 18, 2013

Reality check time: Instagram A-OK with 90M monthly active users | Internet & Media - CNET News

Also interesting to consider that Instagram is built on Postgres rather than "NoSQL"
"The photo-sharing app has 90 million monthly active users, according to its just-updated press page, as first spotted by All Things D. This is the first time the Facebook-owned property has reported active users. Previously, Instagram said that it had 100 million registered users.
The number confirms what CNET has suspected for weeks: Instagram has fully recovered from its December privacy scandal.
[...]
Instagram's refreshed press center now includes a few other interesting tidbits: Instagram sees 40 million photos per day, 8,500 likes per second, and 1,000 comments per second. Separately, technical co-founder Mike Krieger revealed in a developer blog post that Instagram handles more than 10,000 likes per second at peak times."
Reality check time: Instagram A-OK with 90M monthly active users | Internet & Media - CNET News

Google's Larry Page on Why Moon Shots Matter | Wired Business | Wired.com

Excerpt from a wide-ranging Steven Levy interview
"Wired: One area where people say that Google is indeed motivated by competition is the social realm, where in the past two years you have been working hard in a field dominated by a single rival, Facebook. That’s not the case?
Page: It’s not the way I think about it. We had real issues with how our users shared information, how they expressed their identity, and so on. And, yeah, they’re a company that’s strong in that space. But they’re also doing a really bad job on their products. For us to succeed, is it necessary for some other company to fail? No. We’re actually doing something different. I think it’s outrageous to say that there’s only space for one company in these areas. When we started with search, everyone said, “You guys are gonna fail, there’s already five search companies.” We said, “We are a search company, but we’re doing something different.” That’s how I see all these areas."
Google's Larry Page on Why Moon Shots Matter | Wired Business | Wired.com

Dell’s Ups and Downs With Options - High and Low Finance - NYTimes.com

Final paragraph of a stark Dell reality check; also see Michael Dell’s Empire in a Buyout Spotlight (NYT)
"It is far from clear that a leveraged buyout of Dell will happen, and its bonds are trading as if bondholders don’t think it will. A deal would be easier if Dell had kept a few billion dollars and used it to pay down debt, rather than spend it on stock that turned out to be overvalued. And it might have been unnecessary had the company paid more attention to its business, and less to financial engineering."
Dell’s Ups and Downs With Options - High and Low Finance - NYTimes.com

A Step Beyond Apple’s Siri, MindMeld App Can Listen to a Phone Call and Fetch Relevant Information | MIT Technology Review

We can look forward to notices such as "Please note that this call may be augmented..."
"The 10-person company is developing what it calls an “always-on Siri”—a technology that listens to a phone call between two or more people, interprets the conversation as it happens, and brings up what it thinks is useful information.
In the next few weeks, the San Francisco-based company plans to launch its first product, MindMeld, an iPad app for making video and voice calls. It also intends to license its “anticipatory computing” engine to businesses this year, and this could give speech apps on tablets, phones, car dashboards, and elsewhere new capabilities. At a large workplace, for example, a business could build software that pulls up old meeting notes during conference calls by accessing document servers and calendars. A call center company could use it to bring up purchase histories as representatives talk to customers. "
A Step Beyond Apple’s Siri, MindMeld App Can Listen to a Phone Call and Fetch Relevant Information | MIT Technology Review

Facebook’s new search tool is going to be tricky to get right, and its success will depend largely on what and how we share. | MIT Technology Review

Actual results may vary...
"Graph Search tries to autocomplete queries as Google does, and it includes a number of default search suggestions—”Photos of my friends,” “Restaurants nearby,” “Photos my friends like”—that pop up when a user clicks on the query bar at the top of the home page. While people may try these, Ver Steeg believes most won’t want to exert the effort it takes to type in something more.
If other users do put in the effort, he points out, the results you see will be limited by the size of your social network plus, in some cases, publicly available data. He says this may feel like an artificial limitation when searching for suggestions on things you might like."
Facebook’s new search tool is going to be tricky to get right, and its success will depend largely on what and how we share. | MIT Technology Review

Thursday, January 17, 2013

What tools do you use for information gathering and publishing? - O'Reilly Radar

Check the full post for links to information about a paradox of abundance of tools for dealing with the paradox of abundance of information…

“A few picks from O’Reilly staff

Evernote — Notable features include collaborative editing on shared notebooks (in the premium version) and a Chrome extension that expands web searches to your Evernote archive.

News.me — This daily email selects top stories from your Twitter and Facebook networks. The kicker is that it really works. This is one of the few newsletters I always open. I usually click on something, too.

Spundge — “This feels like a tool for professionals,” noted Renee DiResta of OATV. “I can see this being very useful for diligence projects, especially for those I return to several months later and want to refresh.” Joe Wikert of TOC is also a fan.”

What tools do you use for information gathering and publishing? - O'Reilly Radar

The Java Menace, Cont. - James Fallows - The Atlantic

Not a good year for Java on the client, thus far; see the full post for more details
"As several people have written to remind me to point out that Java, a programming language that is the source of the current concern, is not the same as the scripting language called JavaScript. JavaScript does not expose your computer to any of the vulnerabilities Java now creates, and you don't have to remove, disable, or worry about any reference to JavaScript  in your system."
The Java Menace, Cont. - James Fallows - The Atlantic

Facebook launches free calling for all iPhone users in the US | The Verge

Voice is (a feature of) an app
"In early January, Facebook began testing free calling over Wi-Fi and cellular data for all Messenger for iPhone users in Canada, and said that a US launch could be coming soon. Apparently, the test went well — a new free calling button has appeared in the app. Facebook has confirmed to The Verge that the feature began rolling out to US users today, and requires no update through the App Store. To make a call to another Messenger for iPhone user, all you need to do is open a conversation with that person, tap the "i" button in the top-right corner, and tap Free Call."
Facebook launches free calling for all iPhone users in the US | The Verge

Facebook Search Could Be Good for Google, Support Antitrust Case - Liz Gannes - News - AllThingsD

Accentuating the potential positive for Google...
"“Facebook’s entry into the search market with a dynamic new product is clear evidence that the search market is competitive,” said Daniel O’Connor, who directs public policy and government affairs at the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which includes both Google and Microsoft but leans toward Google’s point of view in the antitrust case. “Facebook is a large, savvy company that clearly thinks that they can cut into Google’s search market share.”
He added, “It gives Google a better hand in negotiations with the European Commission, as market entry is an important consideration in the commission’s antitrust analysis.”"
Facebook Search Could Be Good for Google, Support Antitrust Case - Liz Gannes - News - AllThingsD

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

ReadWrite – Microsoft's Bing Wins With Facebook's Graph Search - Or Does It?

Lead paragraphs of another noteworthy Facebook Graph Search/Bing perspective
"Microsoft's Bing search engine will ride the coattails of Facebook's Graph Search for years to come, gaining knowledge and possibly ad revenue as Facebook expands Graph Search's capabilities.
That can only be a good thing for Microsoft, right? Maybe not, this could be a deal with the devil, with Bing ending up digging its own grave."
ReadWrite – Microsoft's Bing Wins With Facebook's Graph Search - Or Does It?

Facebook Graph Search could come in handy, to some people, maybe - Chicago Sun-Times

Conclusion of an Andy Ihnatko Facebook Graph Search perspective
"All the same, Graph Search is a positive move. It evens the playing field. I mean, why should faceless marketing corporations be the only ones to benefit from the way Facebook sucks the personal information and social transactions out of our daily lives?"
Facebook Graph Search could come in handy, to some people, maybe - Chicago Sun-Times

60 Minutes, How Many Jobs?

"Race Against the Machine" meets "60 Minutes" (see the link below for more details and video); you might want to also skim Robots Will Steal Your Job, But That's OK: How to Survive the Economic Collapse and Be Happy; for a related brief video, see Peter Diamandis talks about "Robots Will Steal Your Job, But That's OK"
"So a more current and correct statement is that Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Amazon have a combined market capitalization of more than 900 billion dollars (as of today) yet employ fewer than 200,000 people, which is less than the number of net new jobs we’ll need to create every two months in America just to hold the unemployment rate steady.
In short, I wouldn’t look to the tech sector to put America back to work."
60 Minutes, How Many Jobs?

Ex-Googlers Drive Facebook Search - Business Insider

A handy example of the sort of research context for which Facebook Graph Search will be helpful, in the future (and an example of how useful LinkedIn is today)…

“A LinkedIn search, while not definitive, suggests that a large number of Googlers who worked on search have ended up at Facebook.

We've heard that Google has a standing policy of automatically making counteroffers to any employee recruited by Facebook. It apparently hasn't done enough to slow Facebook's search hiring.”

Ex-Googlers Drive Facebook Search - Business Insider

Bing Evolving Search on Facebook - Search Blog - Site Blogs - Bing Community

Excerpt from an overview from Microsoft's Corporate VP of Search, Bing:
"Now when you do a web search on Facebook, the new search results page features a two-column layout with Bing-powered web results appearing on the left-hand side overlaid with social information from Facebook including how many people like a given result. On the right hand side, you will see content from Facebook Pages and apps that are related to your search.
Over the next several weeks our two teams will continue to experiment and innovate towards our shared vision of giving people access to the wisdom of their friends combined with the information available on the web."
Excerpt from a Q&A after the Facebook event yesterday, via Om Malik (also see Zuckerberg Says “I Would Love To Work With Google”, But Bing Was More Flexible On Privacy (TechCrunch) and Why Facebook Rejects Google Search (video) (Forbes)):
"I would love to work with Google, When we did Bing search integration. We wanted to make search social. We worked with Microsoft API. Anyone can use. We have not been able to work something out with (Google) – Zuckerberg."
Bing Evolving Search on Facebook - Search Blog - Site Blogs - Bing Community

Facebook's Graph Search: Big deal or big joke? | Internet & Media - CNET News

Opine different; also see FACEBOOK GRAPH SEARCH: IMPORTANT BUT BORING (by Nate Elliott)
"Forrester analyst Nate Elliott, in a phone interview with CNET, said disdainfully that today's press announcement amounted to basic hygiene.
"For them to call this big news feels like a bad joke ... They're taking an unacceptably bad part of the service and making it usable," he said, adding that Facebook has merely exited 1995 and now has a product actually suited for the 2000s."
Facebook's Graph Search: Big deal or big joke? | Internet & Media - CNET News

iPhone 5 demand has not dropped, say analysts - Telegraph

I look forward to seeing a WSJ clarification, after it amplified the iPhone-is-falling meme earlier this week
"Earlier this week it was reported that Apple has cut orders for iPhone 5 components because of weak demand. However, analysts have suggested that might not be the case.
Shaw Wu, an analyst with Sterne Agee, told investors that "as far as we can tell, iPhone 5 demand remains robust".
He said that Apple's component order change could be due to "much improved yields meaning lower component builds and supplier shifts"."
iPhone 5 demand has not dropped, say analysts - Telegraph

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Facebook's Bold, Compelling and Scary Engine of Discovery: The Inside Story of Graph Search | Wired Business | Wired.com

Excerpt from an extensive Steven Levy perspective
"The result is surprisingly compelling. The mark of a transformative product is that it gets you to do more of something that you wouldn’t think to do on your own. Thanks to Graph Search, people will almost certainly use Facebook in entirely new ways: to seek out dates, recruit for job openings, find buddies to go out with on short notice, and look for new restaurants and other businesses. Most strikingly, it expands Facebook’s core mission — not just obsessively connecting users with people they already know, but becoming a vehicle of discovery."
Facebook's Bold, Compelling and Scary Engine of Discovery: The Inside Story of Graph Search | Wired Business | Wired.com

How The New Facebook Search Is Different & Unique From Google Search [Search Engine Land]

Lead paragraph from an insightful overview of Facebook's announcement today
"At long last, Facebook’s search challenge to Google has arrived. But it has arrived in a much different format than many expected. Indeed, Facebook’s not using its data to provide a better search that Google. Facebook is providing a new type of search that you simply can’t do on Google or anywhere else."
How The New Facebook Search Is Different & Unique From Google Search

Yes, Phil, there is an iPhone Mini - I, Cringely

Some plausible iPhone speculation
"It’s important here to understand the purpose of such an iPhone Mini, which is two-fold. The first reason is to hit the Chinese phone market with a big bang, knocking Samsung back on its heels somewhat by making chic the smaller form factor and selling 100 million or more of them in the first year. The second reason for doing an iPhone Mini is to kill feature phones altogether, expanding smart phones to the entire mobile market. This alone doubles the potential market size and will give Apple another two years of robust growth."
Yes, Phil, there is an iPhone Mini - I, Cringely

What if Microsoft exited the search business? | The Daily Caller

An intriguing scenario
"If Microsoft decided to stop losing $2 billion a year and reasonably exited the business for financial reasons like Yahoo did in 2009, it would change everything, from laying bare Google’s global monopoly power to cratering Google’s Microsoft-dependent antitrust defense.
This naive competitive assumption comes from widespread ignorance that Microsoft-Bing has never earned a penny of profit from search advertising and has little prospect of making a profit in the foreseeable future. In fact, no material search advertising competitor to Google in the U.S. or Europe earns a profit. Competition is not “one click away;” definitive monopoly is but one exit decision away."
What if Microsoft exited the search business? | The Daily Caller

iPhone 5 analysis: Reports of component cuts are curious, at best | BGR

tbd if it's the WSJ and/or Apple "sources," but it looks like somebody is going to have some explaining to do, on yesterday's iPhone sales plunge meme
"In what world did Apple expect to order components for 65 million iPhone 5 handsets in the seasonally soft March quarter?
Perhaps the weirdness of the math is why the current version of the WSJ article no longer cites the 65 million unit figure. Sometime between Sunday at 8:00 p.m. EST and Monday at 7:00 a.m., the Journal decided to drop the number from its article. But if the 65 million number is not right, is the estimate for halving March orders correct?"
iPhone 5 analysis: Reports of component cuts are curious, at best | BGR

Rumors say Dell again thinking of going private • The Register

A time for big Dell decisions
"What Dell probably needs to do is stop thinking about selling itself or buying itself, and start thinking about how it can get into selling the products consumers want. Samsung Electronics is widely believed to want to get into servers, where Dell already plays, and already has facilities in Texas.
Lawsuits with Apple aside, Samsung is a serious player in smartphones and as good as anyone else without an Apple label at cranking out fondleslabs. Maybe Dell should merge with Samsung – a real merger, not an acquisition – and stop making bankers and private equity firms rich and start thinking about winning the next round in the battle for our hearts and minds in our pockets, in our homes, and in our data centers."
Rumors say Dell again thinking of going private • The Register

California to Give Web Courses a Big Trial - NYTimes.com

Excerpt from a stark education reality check
"California Gov. Jerry Brown, who has been pushing state universities to move more aggressively into online education, approached the company to come up with a technological solution for what has become a vexing challenge for the state.
Ellen N. Junn, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the university in San Jose, said the California State University System faces a crisis because more than 50 percent of entering students cannot meet basic requirements.
“They graduate from high school, but they cannot pass our elementary math and English placement tests,” she said."
California to Give Web Courses a Big Trial - NYTimes.com

Monday, January 14, 2013

iPhone Fever Is Fading - Business - The Atlantic Wire

Seeing this meme all over the place this morning; it'll be interesting to see what's next, if it turns out the WSJ article got it wrong
"Apple's once unwavering grasp on the smartphone industry is showing more signs of weakening, as it cuts iPhone orders by about 50 percent "due to weaker-than-expected demand." Citing unnamed sources, The Wall Street Journal reported the news on Sunday night after fan boy blogs had been buzzing about the waning enthusiasm for Apple's magical glass and aluminum device for weeks. "Apple's orders for screens for the January-March quarter, for example, have dropped to roughly half of what it had previously planned to order, two of the people said," explained WSJ's Juro Osawa. "The U.S. company has also cut orders for components other than screens, according to one of the people [familiar with the situation].""
iPhone Fever Is Fading - Business - The Atlantic Wire

In the Coming Age of the Connected Home, Your Phone Will Be a Magic Wand | Gadget Lab | Wired.com

A snapshot of the mighty morphing smartphone
"Your smartphone is going domestic. In the age of the connected home, your mobile devices are becoming the central command, the brains, if you will, of the entire smarthome experience.
It makes sense. Rather than remote controls with menus to memorize and knobs, dials and switches to manipulate, your smartphone or tablet becomes one remote to rule them all. You’ve always got it with you when you’re out and about, it’s never far from hand when you’re sitting on the couch and it’s dead-simple to use."
In the Coming Age of the Connected Home, Your Phone Will Be a Magic Wand | Gadget Lab | Wired.com

How Slot Machines Raise Our Hopes, Even When We’re Losing - NYTimes.com

A case study in exploiting cognitive biases

“What may not be so evident is how a shift in casino gambling to screen-based games contributes to gambling addiction. It’s a story that would fill a book — and just such a book has arrived: “Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas” by Natasha Dow Sch├╝ll, an associate professor in the Program in Science, Technology and Society at M.I.T. The book offers a history of digital technology in casino gambling and shows how it grabs hold of players in ways never before available to equipment makers.”

How Slot Machines Raise Our Hopes, Even When We’re Losing - NYTimes.com

Invasion of the Data Snatchers - NYTimes.com

Excerpt from a timely data privacy reality check
"When it comes to privacy, we are all hypocrites. We howl when a newspaper publishes public records about personal behavior. At the same time, we are acquiescing in a much more sweeping erosion of our privacy — government surveillance, corporate data-mining, political microtargeting, hacker invasions — with no comparable outpouring of protest. As a society we have no coherent view of what information is worth defending and how to defend it."
Invasion of the Data Snatchers - NYTimes.com

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Month In With The Nexus 4: Google Strengths Emerge | John Battelle's Search BlogJohn Battelle's Search Blog

Final paragraph of a Nexus/iPhone comparison
"The Nexus 4 is a “pure” Google phone – it’s made by LG, but it’s unlocked (I just popped in my AT&T sim from my old iPhone) and the software is all Google driven. It’s in limited production – I understand it’s been in and out of stock in Google’s store. Right now, it’s sold out. That’s a problem, or perhaps, that’s Google’s plan. Either way, it can’t yet be seen as a direct competitor to Apple – it’s not available at scale. But given my experience anyway, I think it should be soon. I dig the device and don’t miss the iPhone at all. So far, so good."
A Month In With The Nexus 4: Google Strengths Emerge | John Battelle's Search BlogJohn Battelle's Search Blog

Google Gains From Creating Apps for the Opposition - NYTimes.com

Another Apple/Google co-opetition perspective
"Unlike Apple, Google makes its money not from selling phones but from selling ads that appear on those phones. So it cares less about which phone a consumer uses and more about whether that consumer uses Google apps — and shares data with Google and sees Google ads.
When a consumer uses Chrome on the desktop at work, for instance, then opens the same tabs and continues using Chrome on phones elsewhere, Google knows much more about that consumer’s behavior, including the consumer’s location and the searches. The company’s hunger for such data has, of course, raised privacy concerns."
Google Gains From Creating Apps for the Opposition - NYTimes.com

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Why Touch Screens Will Not Take Over: Scientific American

More David Pogue Windows 8 perspectives
"At first, you might think, “Touch has been incredibly successful on our phones, tablets, airport kiosks and cash machines. Why not on our computers?”
I'll tell you why not: because of “gorilla arm.”
There are three big differences between these handy touch screens and a PC's screen: angle, distance and time interval.
[...]
My belief is that touch screens make sense on mobile computers but not on stationary ones. Microsoft is making a gigantic bet that I'm wrong."
Why Touch Screens Will Not Take Over: Scientific American

White House shoots down petition to build Death Star | Crave - CNET

Check the full post for more details; also see Obama's Death Star Response is Best Star Wars Tribute in History (Mashable)
“The White House has rejected a proposal to build a Death Star, saying that in addition to its prohibitive construction costs, the current administration does not advocate destroying other planets.
Today's official statement came in response to a petition posted in November to the White House's We The People platform that called for the administration to begin construction of a moon-size military battlestation armed with a planet-destroying superlaser by 2016. The petition, which attracted well more than the minimum 25,000 signatures necessary for a response from the White House, suggested such a project could give the nation's economy a much-needed boost”
White House shoots down petition to build Death Star | Crave - CNET

Can HP Innovate? Yes, When It Comes to Brain Drains - Businessweek

More HP analysis
"Some brain drains occur when a company that’s going through rough times or regime changes loses a few executives and talented engineers. Then there’s what has happened to Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) over the past two years—one of the great brain drains in corporate history, in which the company lost north of 120 of its top executives."
Can HP Innovate? Yes, When It Comes to Brain Drains - Businessweek

Friday, January 11, 2013

Nokia’s “Surge” in Perspective: WinInfo Short Takes, January 11, 2013

Nokia-focused excerpt from Paul Thurrott's weekly update
"You can tell when a company is really in trouble by the irrational response to even the smallest bit of good news. Nokia reported this week that it sold 86.3 million handsets in Q4 2012, including 15.9 million smartphones, triggering happy reactions everywhere and claims that maybe, just maybe, the firm had pulled itself out of the drain. Not so fast, folks. Of those 86.3 million handsets and almost 16 million smartphones, only 4.4 million of them were Lumia smartphones, most based on Windows Phone 8, and you have to think that Q4 2012 represents the high-water market for sales over the year, since that was the launch period. So in a quarter in which Samsung sold 62 million smartphones and Apple sold 45 million iPhones … Nokia sold 4.4 million Lumias. And that was considered a huge success, and was in fact a big improvement over the previous two quarters. Nokia, meet woods. You’re not out yet."
WinInfo Short Takes, January 11, 2013

In the future of television, the set-top box is king - Quartz

The future of TV devices and services is loosely-coupled, with interesting implications for Comcast, Verizon, and other TV service providers
"Set-top boxes from the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Roku, and Boxee are the modular solution to this problem. Each has its own limitations, but they are low-priced (so it doesn’t cost so much to stay ahead of the curve), easy to use (so you might actually use them), and can easily be swapped in and out (so you can move the box from one display to the next based on your changing needs).
The point is that living-room entertainment in developed economies is reshaping so quickly—and expanding well beyond the living room—that it’s a mistake for consumers to get their streaming media from large electronics that cost $1,000 and more when they can get a broader and better experience from small devices priced to be dispensable. Roku’s latest offering is $99 and the size of a thumb drive."
In the future of television, the set-top box is king - Quartz

Uh-oh, Windows RT, Samsung's got second thoughts | CES 2013: Computers and Hardware - CNET Blogs

RT => "Rare Thing"?...
"Mike Abary, the head of Samsung's PC and tablet business in the U.S., tells CNET that the company will not be releasing its Windows RT device in the U.S. because retail partners don't see strong demand and because the value proposition for Windows RT isn't clear to consumers."
Uh-oh, Windows RT, Samsung's got second thoughts | CES 2013: Computers and Hardware - CNET Blogs

SAP Steps on the Gas - NYTimes.com

Another SAP attempt to become mainstream-relevant as a DBMS player; tbd if HANA will be more successful than, e.g., MaxDB
"At present, HANA is used on a relatively small scale, so it’s not proven whether the software can really accelerate the performance of SAP’s main business software applications. These include things like complex marketing analysis and multinational production, and are used by tens of thousands of companies worldwide.
SAP is confident, however, and hopes the product can eclipse efforts by Microsoft and Oracle, its two bigger competitors, to move into the world of Big Data and cloud computing. Mr. Plattner said the 40,000 SAP customers that also use Microsoft and Oracle databases can attach HANA to those systems and instantly improve their performance for things like business analysis."
SAP Steps on the Gas - NYTimes.com

The 2012 Patent Rankings: IBM on Top (Again), Google and Apple Surging - NYTimes.com

Check the IFI link for the top-50 2012 list
"I.B.M. was granted more patents in 2012 than any other company, the 20th consecutive year in the top spot, according to the annual tally by IFI Claims Patent Services, published on Thursday.
The technology giant is flush these days, so its patent pre-eminence in recent years seems routine. What is more impressive is that the winning streak was just under way when I.B.M. went into a tailspin in the early 1990s. Despite sharp cutbacks elsewhere in the company, I.B.M. kept investing in its research engine."
The 2012 Patent Rankings: IBM on Top (Again), Google and Apple Surging - NYTimes.com

Amazon gives free digital album to anyone who buys the CD — paidContent

Another impressive and innovative Amazon initiative (for U.S. customers only, at this point); see this Amazon page for more details
"Auto-Rip will appeal to people who like owning music in a physical form. It will also provide a relatively painless introduction for anyone who doesn’t use digital music services or hasn’t tried out Amazon’s Cloud Player. Anyone who has bought a CD from Amazon in the past will find the music right there when they go to Cloud Player. Those who haven’t used the player will get an email explaining how to get it."
Amazon gives free digital album to anyone who buys the CD — paidContent

Microsoft's Surface Pro Tablet Changes the Game - NYTimes.com

Concluding paragraph of a David Pogue pro-Pro perspective
"But for now, it looks as if the Surface Pro is, conceptually and practically, a home run. For thousands of people, it will be an ideal mobile companion. It will mean the end of the daily question: “Hmm, should I take my laptop or my iPad?”"
Microsoft's Surface Pro Tablet Changes the Game - NYTimes.com

2 Years Into Nokia Turnaround, Some Good News - NYTimes.com

A hard-earned milestone for Nokia
"In what was seen as a make-or-break quarter, Mr. Elop said Nokia would break even or turn a 2 percent profit rather than report a loss as large as 10 percent, as analysts expected.
Nokia will report its earnings on Jan. 24.
Wall Street reacted to the announcement by sending Nokia’s American depositary receipts up 18.67 percent, or 70 cents, to $4.45.
“While we definitely experienced some tough challenges in the first half of 2012, we are managing through these issues,” Mr. Elop said in a conference call with journalists."
2 Years Into Nokia Turnaround, Some Good News - NYTimes.com

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Apple’s Next Battleground Isn’t TV; It’s Web Services - John Paczkowski - News - AllThingsD

Excerpt from a timely Apple reality check; the Apple/Google Web service “co-opetition” boundary will be a key 2013 market dynamic

“There are hands-down fiascos: MobileMe, Ping and Maps. And there are works in progress: Game Center, iTunes Match, and iCloud. And all of them speak to a troubling deficiency that Apple just can’t seem to overcome. One that’s garnering increasingly more public scrutiny. One that at its worst — say with the disastrous Maps debacle — shows up the company that prides itself on building the “magical and revolutionary” as fallible.

So as the 2013 Apple rumor mill ramps up and the prognosticators wonder whether the company’s product pipeline includes a television, watch or both, consider this: While Apple could likely use another disruptive innovation on which to build its continued success, what it really needs — crucially — is to do Web services well.”

Apple’s Next Battleground Isn’t TV; It’s Web Services - John Paczkowski - News - AllThingsD

Facebook to hold press event, stock passes $30 | Business & Technology | The Seattle Times

Maybe Facebook found a way to preempt Google in North Korea...
"Shares of Facebook are pushing above $30 for the first time since July after it sent out invitations to "come and see what we're building" Tuesday at its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.
The company will say nothing more about the event. Speculation Wednesday ranged from a Facebook phone, something the company has consistently denied exists, to new search capabilities that would put it into direct competition with Google Inc."
Facebook to hold press event, stock passes $30 | Business & Technology | The Seattle Times

Coursera Takes A Big Step Toward Monetization, Now Lets Students Earn “Verified Certificates” For A Fee | TechCrunch

Perhaps Coursera or one of its competitors will become a subsidiary feeder system for LinkedIn; see the full article for more details on "verified certificates"
"Using “sophisticated analytics,” Coursera looks for matches between students and companies. Once it identifies a match, it sends an email to students, seeking their approval, only making an intro if the student gives them the go-ahead. Companies pay Coursera a flat fee for each introduction, with a share of that revenue going to the colleges offering the course. Moving into recruiting and career services is a natural extension, but it can be a difficult thing to do well (and create real value), especially without stirring up privacy concerns. That being said, Udacity has also begun employing a similar model and has started to make money doing it."
Coursera Takes A Big Step Toward Monetization, Now Lets Students Earn “Verified Certificates” For A Fee | TechCrunch

Cyberwar in Iran Comes Home to U.S. Banks. Is Anyone Surprised? - Arik Hesseldahl - News - AllThingsD

Hopefully this shift will also make it easier to definitively determine the source of the attacks
"What’s disturbing in the attacks on the U.S. banks is that data centers used by cloud computing providers — none of them were named — were hijacked in some way to carry out the attacks. It stands to reason that civilian entities like data centers could be used to carry out such attacks. Cloud providers like Amazon Web Services, Google Rackspace and others are simply concentrated havens of computing muscle and capacity available for hire."
Cyberwar in Iran Comes Home to U.S. Banks. Is Anyone Surprised? - Arik Hesseldahl - News - AllThingsD

The HP Breakup Idea Gets Another Look - Arik Hesseldahl - News - AllThingsD

Check the full post for a summary of how HP may disintegrate on its own volition; I think an acquisition and tear-down is more likely, at this point; also see Can Meg Whitman Reverse Hewlett-Packard's Free Fall? (Bloomberg Businessweek)
"That has caused many shareholders and analysts to reconsider the notion that HP might fare better broken up into pieces than as a single company. In a research note to clients today, Toni Sacconaghi considers HP on a sum-of-parts basis and concludes that the company could be worth as much as $29 a share, which amounts to a premium of more than 88 percent from its closing share price of $15.39 on Tuesday."
The HP Breakup Idea Gets Another Look - Arik Hesseldahl - News - AllThingsD

C.E.S. 2013: Driving Directions With a Human Touch - NYTimes.com

This will be more challenging to GPS vendors in the U.S. Northeast, where the cultural norm is to provide directions based on references to things that used to exist, e.g., "... then take a sharp left where the spa was..." (you also have to live in New England to know that a spa, in this context, is a corner shop/convenience store)
"Garmin’s Nuvi changes that with an improvement that has been in the works for years: audible directions that rely on visible landmarks, mimicking the directions an actual person might give. Instead of saying, “turn left at Third Street,” Garmin’s new system will say, “turn left at the stop sign,” or, “turn left after the Starbucks.” The feature, called “Garmin Real Directions,” will be on six models ranging in price from $200 to $380."
C.E.S. 2013: Driving Directions With a Human Touch - NYTimes.com

Microsoft Surface Pro Hands-On: This Is What It Should Have Been All Along [Gizmodo]

All hope lies in the Pro, continued; also see Microsoft Surface Pro hands-on (Engadget) and Surface Pro: an in-depth look at Microsoft's super tablet (The Verge)
"To be blunt, Surface Pro makes RT look like a mistake. Surface RT was a mistake—but fortunately for Microsoft (and more importantly, for us), Pro makes up for almost every deficiency of its smaller, cheaper sibling. It has the internal power and the physical flexibility to, for real this time, perhaps carve out a whole new category of computer. It could be the device you put in your bag and on your desk above all others. Almost every conceivable facet is superior this time around."
Microsoft Surface Pro Hands-On: This Is What It Should Have Been All Along