"But little of this hype has come from the actual people working with large data sets. Instead, it has come from people who see “big data” as a buzzword and a marketing opportunity—consultants, event organizers and opportunistic academics looking for their 15 minutes of fame.Saving Big Data from Big Mouths - Scientific American
Most of the recent criticism, however, has been weak and misguided. Naysayers have been attacking straw men, focusing on worst practices, post hoc failures and secondary sources. The common theme has been to a great extent obvious: “Correlation does not imply causation,” and “data has biases.”
Critics of big data have been making three important mistakes:"
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
"Aiming to please users, Microsoft announced Tuesday that it updated Office for iPad with printing support, along with a couple of other features. This is the company's first update to its Office apps for Apple's iPad tablet.Microsoft boosts Office for iPad with printing support - CNET
Since the company released its Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote apps for iPad last month, users' No. 1 request has been for printing support, according to Microsoft."
"Netflix acknowledged on Monday that it has signed an agreement with Verizon (VZ) to pay more for direct access to its network, mirroring a controversial deal it signed with Comcast (CMCSA) earlier this year. It’s not clear how much Netflix is paying in either deal, but the company has complained loudly about how its payments to Comcast are tantamount to illegitimate tolls levied by a giant using wielding market power. Comcast says that Netflix was already paying to move its traffic on the Internet and is being disingenuous in its complaints."Netflix Reluctantly Signs to Access Verizon’s Broadband Customers - Businessweek
"No single app has yet fixed mobile email, but bit by bit they are helping to unshackle us from our computers. If this were a make-your-own-sundae situation, I'd start with Mailbox's reminders and CloudMagic's search, throw in Evomail's draft tool, then top it off with Acompli's incredibly convenient calendar integration.The Best Android and iPhone Mobile Email Apps - WSJ.com
Until that perfect app arrives, I've replaced my iPhone and Android email apps with CloudMagic. It's the best overall option, with its reminders, improved search, cross-app cooperation and support for many email providers. But I'm still keeping my laptop close by."
"Wall Street, it appears, is more worried about Twitter’s ability to add users and keep them engaged than about its ability to increase revenues.Revenue Up at Twitter, but Growth Is a Worry - NYTimes.com
In the last two quarters, that has been a problem. Twitter said it had 255 million monthly users globally in March, up 5 percent from 241 million at the end of December, which ended a quarter in which monthly active users rose less than 4 percent."
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
"Yet—surprisingly or not—customers are reluctant to strap still-bulky computers to their foreheads and wrists. One columnist has noted hundreds of Samsung’s new Galaxy Gear watches for sale on eBay. A recent survey indicated that one-third of Americans who buy a wearable device stop using it within six months. Google Glass raises widespread privacy concerns, partly because its design is so intrusive. And earlier this month, Nike laid off some of the employees working on its FuelBand fitness-tracker bracelet; a Nike design director on the FuelBand project joined Apple last fall, increasing speculation that the two companies will collaborate on a new product.Making Wearable Tech More Wearable : The New Yorker
A major problem with wearable technologies—and one that Ahrendts is in a good position to fix—is that they are too conspicuous. The engineers who design them delight in advertising the fact that they’re wearing the hot new device. But outside Silicon Valley, displaying the cutting-edge equivalent of a BlackBerry holster isn’t chic. When people slip on Google Glass, they resemble the character Seven of Nine from “Star Trek: Voyager,” who had cybernetic implants in her face, signs that she once was subsumed into the dehumanizing Borg."
The First Look at How Google's Self-Driving Car Handles City Streets - Eric Jaffe - The Atlantic Cities
"I asked Urmson when he'll consider the car a success. "I think it's a success when people are using it in their daily lives," he says. "When we have cars out there and people are moving around and we have statistical data that says we're saving more lives than had these people been driving themselves. The first time somebody who doesn't work for Google is riding in one of these cars, getting to Grandma's house or to work in the morning, or moving when they couldn't otherwise move around the city, that'll be a huge day for us. There'll be lots of little wins between here and there, but that's the big one.""The First Look at How Google's Self-Driving Car Handles City Streets - Eric Jaffe - The Atlantic Cities
"Government security response teams are urging Windows users to consider Chrome or Firefox as their default browser until Microsoft delivers a security fix for a new flaw affecting all versions of Internet Explorer.Governments urge Internet Explorer users to switch browsers until fix found | ZDNet
Computer emergency response teams (CERTs) in the US, the UK, and Sweden have advised Windows users to consider avoiding Internet Explorer until Microsoft fixes the vulnerability."
"Work is broken—or at least, that’s what Silicon Valley seems to think.To Kill Office E-Mail, Slack Needs to Learn How Non-Geeks Work - Businessweek
The startup Slack, which has developed a type of anti-e-mail system, just raised $43 million in funding at a valuation of $220 million from investors that include Social+Capital Partnership, Accel Partners, and Andreessen Horowitz. It’s not the first New Work startup to raise a bunch of money, and it’s not going to be the last. The death of e-mail appears to be the technology industry’s growing obsession."
"Microsoft Monday announced a 40-fold increase in the online-file storage available for business versions of Office 365 and OneDrive, the company’s workplace document software and storage service.Microsoft Targets Box, Dropbox - Digits - WSJ
The announcements, and Microsoft’s blog post on the topic, seem to be a declaration of war on Box and Dropbox, high-flying startups vying with Microsoft and others offering workplace tools like document sharing inside a company."
"While Twitter has infiltrated mass media, the service has yet to crack mainstream adoption. Mr. Rowghani, who has little product development experience, must find a way to simplify the service. He also must stem a stream of product-team departures.Meet Twitter's Mr. Fix-It: Ali Rowghani - WSJ.com
His first report card will be out on Tuesday when Twitter discloses first-quarter results. In February, Twitter reported its quarterly revenue more than doubled to $242.7 million, but its stock tumbled after disclosing the fourth consecutive quarter of slowing user growth."
Monday, April 28, 2014
"[...]While Skype is known for one to one video calling, we know it’s also essential to connect with the groups of people who matter most, whether friends, family or colleagues. For the last few years, we’ve offered group video calling to Premium users on Windows desktop and Mac and more recently Xbox One. Today, we’re excited to announce that we’re making group video calling free – for all users on these platforms. And, in the future, we’ll be enabling group video calling for all our users across more platforms – at no cost."Skype Loves Bringing Groups Together – With FREE Group Video Calling – - Skype Blogs
"Microsoft says once it finishes investigating the issue it will issue a fix for the problem, either in a monthly security update or a special security update.Hackers targeting newly discovered flaw in Microsoft Internet Explorer
Until the patch is released, using a different browser such as Chrome, Safari or Firefox is good idea.
If using another browser isn’t an option, Microsoft suggests downloading its Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit version 4.1 to help guard against attacks until a patch is released.
FireEye suggests disabling the Adobe Flash plugin because the attacks won’t work without it. FireEye also said running IE in enhanced protection mode, which is only available for IE versions 10 and 11, will protect users from attacks."
"The hurdles have left all the payment companies scrambling to find the code for a profitable business model. And now, a feeling is growing that mobile payments systems will not replace traditional wallets, at least anytime soon.Few Consumers Are Buying Premise of Mobile Wallets - NYTimes.com
“There was the assumption that there was going to be some sort of spark that ignited the marketplace, and there was going to be a mobile payments revolution,” said Denée Carrington, a Forrester analyst who studies the mobile payments market. But people do not mind paying with cash or a credit card, she said.
“So this was never going to be a revolution,” she said. “It’s definitely more of an evolution.”"
"“These technologies will have enormous potential over time, but I think their full potential will take many years to realize,” said Dr. David Blumenthal, a former adviser to President Obama and president of the Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based foundation that focuses on health care. “In pioneer analogies, we’re just landing on Plymouth Rock.”For Fitness Bands, Slick Marketing but Suspect Results - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com
And for the moment, at least, the accuracy of many health wristbands is not exactly rock solid."
Sunday, April 27, 2014
""The vast majority of people do not have, nor will they ever have a personal computer," Stephen Elop, former Nokia CEO and now executive vice president of the Devices Group at Microsoft, said this week about emerging markets in a statement announcing the completion of the Nokia Devices and Services business acquisition by Microsoft.New Microsoft VP consigns the PC to irrelevance - CNET
"They haven't been exposed to Windows or Office, or anything like that, and in their lives it's unlikely that they will," he said."
"Google wants to add Wi-Fi to extend the range of its Google Fiber high-speed Internet service and perhaps offer wireless-phone service in some areas.Google Wants to Add Wi-Fi to All Its Fiber Cities - Digits - WSJ
When Google Fiber started in 2011 in Kansas City, Mo., it was considered by some to be an experiment. But earlier this year, Google identified 34 U.S. cities, including Phoenix, San Jose and San Antonio, as possible expansion sites, stepping up pressure on incumbent cable and Internet providers such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T."
"Though Ms. Gao commands more awe than most, every day countless Instagrammers are busy showcasing their sensibilities by shooting their own still lifes—arrangements they've stumbled upon or, more likely, contrived. They cram cream tulips into green glass bottles to say, "I'm drawn to quiet colors." They line up fossils and postcards of Edward Hopper paintings on mantels to convey, "I like musty, natural beauty and have a lovable streak of melancholy." These photos, portraits of one's taste, are a twist on selfies, hopeful bids for attention in which one's aesthetic and one's ego overlap. Given that the objects are often arrayed on a shelf or the equivalent (a windowsill, a desk), you might even call the images "#shelfies." Some Instagrammers already do, though more typically when they've snapped bookcases."The Rise of the 'Shelfie': Instagram's Next Craze - WSJ.com
Apple iPhone: iOS 7.1.1 software update goes live but bug causes crashes as thousands lose data - Mirror Online
Update: several apps had updates; iPad stable again since I installed the app updates this morning :)
"Apple users have been bombarding support forums with complaints saying iOS 7.1.1 has caused crashes and data loss.Apple iPhone: iOS 7.1.1 software update goes live but bug causes crashes as thousands lose data - Mirror Online
The software update has 'bricked' or locked out people's phones and they have gone into a frenzy on forums like Apple Support.
The update affected owners of the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S."
"“We used to interact with personal computers daily, for two or three hours at a time,” said Phil Libin, the chief executive of Evernote, a company for storing things like photos, business cards and notes online. “With laptops, we started interacting three or four times a day for 20 minutes each. Mobile phones made that into sessions of two minutes, 50 times a day.”Writing in a Nonstop World - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com
In the coming world of connected devices like smart watches and Internet-connected appliances, Mr. Libin said, “we’ll be having sessions of 10 seconds each, a thousand times a day.”"
Saturday, April 26, 2014
"While most analysts will chalk up the initiative as a failure, I think that is putting it too simply. Google+ failed as a social network, to be sure. But the competitive threat of social and the resulting focus around Google+ finally forced the company to change its product culture, results that continue to benefit the company to this day. It has been more than two years since the headline “Is Google Dead” had any meaning whatsoever. Facebook’s threat to the company now comes from mobile instead of social. Few would have predicted that outcome three years ago."A Personal Reflection On Google+ | TechCrunch
"As a standalone business, just based on the last 12 months of revenue, the iPad would be in the top 100 companies in the Fortune 500. Think about that for a second. The iPad alone is bigger than almost all Fortune 500 companies.The Astonishing, Disappointing iPad — Medium
If the iPad is a fad, it’s the greatest fad in the history of American business.
And so I repeat: the iPad got too successful, too quickly. And everyone (including Apple) got spoiled by those insane numbers."
"Behind these deals is a certain kind of youthful insouciance as well. Zuckerberg and Page (along with Google co-founder Sergey Brin) control large percentages of stock in their companies. Despite the fact that previous acquisitions haven’t worked out so well (exhibit A: Google paid $12.5 billion for Motorola’s handset business and sold it 22 months later for $2.9 billion, though it retained its patent portfolio), they don’t have to ask their boards for anything other than cursory permission to make big bets. The founders also know that moving boldly into exciting markets can inspire rank-and-file engineers who may otherwise be demoralized by the prospect of building better ways to sell ads. “Facebook buying Oculus makes it more possible to hire engineers into the ads group,” says Hunter Walk, a former Google executive turned venture capitalist. “They know that if they do a great job, there’s a chance to go work on other advanced technologies that may be even more interesting.”"Google, Facebook Fight for Tech's Future via Acquisitions - Businessweek
Facebook news feed: The algorithms, A/B tests, and surveying that make the social network so addictive [Slate]
"For a lot of people, the knowledge that Facebook’s computers are deciding what stories to show them—and which ones to hide—remains galling. Avid Twitter users swear by that platform’s more straightforward chronological timeline, which relies on users to carefully curate their own list of people to follow. But there’s a reason that Facebook’s engagement metrics keep growing while Twitter’s are stagnant. As much as we’d like to think we could do a better job than the algorithms, the fact is most of us don’t have time to sift through 1,500 posts on a daily basis. And so, even as we resent Facebook’s paternalism, we keep coming back to it.Facebook news feed: The algorithms, A/B tests, and surveying that make the social network so addictive.
And just maybe, if Facebook keeps getting better at figuring out what we actually like as opposed to what we just Facebook-like, we'll start to actually like Facebook itself a little more than we do today."
Friday, April 25, 2014
Also see Is Google Plus Finally Dying? (Slate)
"As part of these staff changes, the Google Hangouts team will be moving to the Android team, and it’s likely that the photos team will follow, these people said. Basically, talent will be shifting away from the Google+ kingdom and towards Android as a platform, we’re hearing.Google+ Is Walking Dead | TechCrunch
We’ve heard Google has not yet decided what to do with the teams not going to Android, and that Google+ is not “officially” dead, more like walking dead: “When you fire the top dog and take away all resources it is what it is.” It will take copious amounts of work for it to un-zombie, if that’s even a possibility."
"[...] Moves is a free application for iOS and Android that makes sense of your physical movements to determine whether your walking, cycling, or running, effectively obviating the need for a pricey wristband. Just download the app, set it in motion, and let it do everything but the heavy lifting for you.Facebook's Moves buy and the land grab of 2014 - CNET
Moves, which has been downloaded 4 million times, works phenomenally and it's incredibly cool -- until you realize how creepy it is that the app tracks every step you take and has fallen into the hands of someone you barely trust to manage your social relationships. Conspiracy theorists will have a field day with this one, but realistically this app is so low on the totem pole that you've probably got a few years of running around before Facebook starts eavesdropping."
"Facebook has always been filled with "news," just not the kind you’d find in a daily newspaper.More than a social network: Facebook aims to be the source for breaking news | The Verge
Recently, however, Facebook had made several moves to shift the content of your News Feed towards hard news — towards providing the RSS-like news experience people never knew they wanted. Facebook started with juicing the popularity of breaking stories by its favorite publishers inside the News Feed and Paper, its news app, but today, the company is taking its news efforts one step further. Facebook is announcing Newswire, an official Facebook page you can follow that aggregates the best original content posted on the site. If you’d like, you can even follow the channel on Twitter — which is precisely the service Newswire seems designed to compete with."
"Facebook acquired the startup behind the popular fitness tracking app Moves as it expands beyond its namesake service into a company with multiple, differentiated mobile apps.Facebook Buys Fitness Tracker Startup Behind Moves - NYTimes.com
The world's largest online social network will keep running the service separately.
Menlo Park, Calif.-based Facebook said Thursday it bought ProtoGeo Oy, the Finnish company behind the app, for an undisclosed sum."
"Profitability doesn’t appear to be in Twitter’s (TWTR) future anytime soon. Losses are increasing, membership growth has slowed, and the company’s stock price is down 28 percent since the start of the year, amid a broader selloff in the Nasdaq (NDAQ). But there’s some good news: Twitter’s ad revenue is projected to reach $1.1 billion in 2014, an increase of 84 percent from the year before, according to researcher EMarketer. That’s due in no small part to Twitter Amplify, a year-old program that has allowed the company to snag a piece of the billions of dollars spent annually on TV ads."Twitter Ad Strategy: Team Up With TV Content Creators - Businessweek
"Some history may help explain the situation. The new rule gives broadband providers what they’ve wanted for about a decade now: the right to speed up some traffic and degrade others. (With broadband, there is no such thing as accelerating some traffic without degrading other traffic.) We take it for granted that bloggers, start-ups, or nonprofits on an open Internet reach their audiences roughly the same way as everyone else. Now they won’t. They’ll be behind in the queue, watching as companies that can pay tolls to the cable companies speed ahead. The motivation is not complicated. The broadband carriers want to make more money for doing what they already do. Never mind that American carriers already charge some of the world’s highest prices, around sixty dollars or more per month for broadband, a service that costs less than five dollars to provide. To put it mildly, the cable and telephone companies don’t need more money."Goodbye, Net Neutrality; Hello, Net Discrimination : The New Yorker
"On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Internet originally was a "CIA project" and "is still developing as such."Putin Just Called The Internet A CIA Project - Business Insider
The comments sound paranoid, but they actually serve Putin's aims well."
"“What you can expect from Microsoft is courage in the face of reality,” Mr. Nadella said, borrowing a quotation from the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. “We will approach the future with a challenger mind-set.” The idea for the Nokia deal was not Mr. Nadella’s. But it became his responsibility when he took the helm, five months after Microsoft announced the Nokia acquisition. And Mr. Nadella himself has made major gambles in the last quarter that could be important to Microsoft’s future."Microsoft’s Profit Dips Less Than Expected as It Reshapes Itself - NYTimes.com
Thursday, April 24, 2014
"Gundotra worked at Google for nearly eight years, spearheading the development of Google+, as well as Google I/O, the company's annual conference for developers. For a time Google's mobile apps also fell under his purview, including services like turn-by-turn directions. "I have been incredibly fortunate to work with the amazing people of Google," he said in a Google+ post announcing his departure.Google+ creator Vic Gundotra is leaving Google - Computerworld
He did not say exactly why he was leaving. A Google spokesman said the change takes effect immediately."
"In the early part of 2013, Apple was shipping a lot of iPad minis into the retail channel in an effort to catch up to demand for the newly introduced tablet. Cook said that build-up of inventory made for unfavorable comparisons in the current March quarter.Understanding Why Tim Cook Says iPad Sales Weren’t as Bad as It Seems | Re/code
Cook noted that Apple significantly reduced channel inventory — products sold by Apple but not yet in the hands of customers — over the course of the just-completed quarter and makes the case that consumer demand was actually roughly similar to a year ago. Purchases of iPads by customers, he said, were actually 1.3 million more than Apple’s reported sales figure during the quarter. Taking that into account, sales to consumers were off only about three percent from a year ago."
"Amazon Prime is synonymous with free (two-day) shipping for those who pay for the annual membership. But with a new service called Prime Pantry, Amazon is betting that Prime customers will agree to pony up and pay for shipping for items such as 12-can packs of Coke or a six-roll paper towel pack.With Launch of Pantry, Amazon Thinks Prime Members Will Pay for Some Deliveries | Re/code
The service gives Prime customers the ability to order as much canned foods, cereal, snacks, beverages and everyday household items as can fit in a four-cubic-foot box that holds up to 45 pounds. No matter how packed or empty the box is, it costs $5.99 to deliver it. As customers add Pantry items to their online shopping cart, they are told what percentage of the box is full."
"IBM and Google are the key strategic players in the foundation. IBM’s Power systems hold the largest share of the market for server computers running the Unix operating system. But the Unix server market is withering. Sales of IBM’s Power systems fell 31 percent last year.IBM Opens Chip Architecture, in Strategy of Sharing and Self-Interest - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com
“For the Power technology to survive, IBM has to do this,” said Charles King, principal analyst for Pund-IT, a research firm. “It needs to find new markets for Power.”"
"The race among Internet television services is measured largely by what you can watch on them. Before dropping its HBO bombshell, Amazon’s primary distinction was its increased focus on video games. But it has also been producing its own shows and grabbing further exclusives for Prime subscribers. Amazon is competing in two areas here: It wants people to buy Fire TVs, rather than Rokus, and for viewers to value Prime more than Netflix (NFLX). The HBO deal puts Amazon ahead of Internet TV companies that make devices, and it constitutes the company’s first big coup as it tries to distinguish itself from Netflix, which doesn’t offer any of HBO’s current content. Still, Amazon is still far behind Netflix on streaming selection, as this clever analysis by Lifehacker shows."Amazon's Deal Makes HBO Shows Free to Prime Subscribers - Businessweek
"“I’m feeling good about this business and where it could go,” Tim Cook said, further revealing that the company stopped calling the product segment a hobby once it pulled in $1 billion in revenue in 2013. “It didn’t feel right to me to refer to something that brought in a billion dollars as a ‘hobby,’” he said.Apple Sold 20 Million Apple TVs, Which Are Now Far From A Hobby | TechCrunch
“We’ve got a pretty large installed base there,” Cook said, speaking to competitors. He feels the Apple TV stands “extremely favorable” against other streaming devices like the new Amazon Fire TV."
"I spent the last week or so with the recently released Windows Phone 8.1, and let me put it this way: I wouldn’t give up my iPhone for Windows Phone, but I might give up my Android.Windows Phone 8.1 Finally Catches Up to Its Rivals - NYTimes.com
Windows Phone is now — to use what may sound like faint praise — good enough. It’s good enough to replace Android, especially since the operating system is a lot more upfront about how it’s going to use my information, where and when it’s gathering it, and why."
"IPhone-connected hearing aids are just the beginning. Today most people who wear hearing aids, eyeglasses, prosthetic limbs and other accessibility devices do so to correct a disability. But new hearing aids point to the bionic future of disability devices.App-Controlled Hearing Aid Improves Even Normal Hearing - NYTimes.com
As they merge with software baked into our mobile computers, devices that were once used simply to fix whatever ailed us will begin to do much more. In time, accessibility devices may even let us surpass natural human abilities. One day all of us, not just those who need to correct some physical deficit, may pick up a bionic accessory or two."
"As Facebook reported another quarter of strong revenue and profit growth on Wednesday, its executives made one thing very clear: The company’s money machine has just begun to spit out the cash.Facebook Profit Tripled in First Quarter - NYTimes.com
Two out of three of Facebook’s 1.28 billion monthly users log in to the social network every day, the company said. Americans spend about one-fifth of their time on mobile phones checking Facebook, according to comScore, a research firm."
"The company sold 43.7 million iPhones — up from 37.4 million in the same period last year. But sales of its iPads, at 16.35 million, were slightly down, from 19.5 million last year, despite a major redesign for one of the iPads introduced in the fall.Apple’s Profit Still Climbs, but Pressure is Growing - NYTimes.com
It was almost certain that Apple’s stratospheric rise, largely on the back of the iPhone, would plateau. It’s the law of large numbers.
“If Apple grew the next five years like it did the previous five years, it would be approaching the G.D.P. of Australia,” said Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein."
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
"The unlikely bestseller, clocking in at nearly 700 pages, is already serving as an interesting case study for modern book publishing.Here’s an unlikely bestseller: A 700-page book on 21st century economics
One of the hallmarks of the book's success is that it is sold out on Amazon, even though there is a digital version available on Kindle, too. (Disclaimer: The Washington Post is owned by Amazon's founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos.)
"You can have it on your e-book reader, but that's not the same as having the book," said Donnelly. "I'm not saying this book is a Tiffany's bag, but nobody goes to Tiffany's and buys something and doesn't get that little blue bag. I think there's still some of that about books.""
"But the most exciting possibility is monitoring and managing health, using an app on Apple’s current devices and possibly a new wearable product or products. Cook has hinted strongly that the company is very interested in some sort of wristband — but only if it could be compelling and go well beyond what’s out there.Why Apple Is Like a Movie Studio | Re/code
Health, sensors and wearables would fit the Apple pattern: Taking products that already exist, but aren’t very good or coherent, and turning them into something that is at the same time practical, aspirational and desirable, and that can be part of a larger platform."
"Boundless, however, is not looking to take on Wikipedia. The company actually has its sights set on a different target: the multi-billion dollar college textbook industry.Boundless wants to do to textbooks what Wikipedia did to encyclopedias | BetaBoston
“In five to 10 years, I think people will look back at textbooks the way we look back at encyclopedias,” Ariel Diaz, chief executive and co-founder of Boundless, said. “The notion of carrying around this antiquated textbook will become very quaint, very quickly.”"
"If it is a bubble, one thing that sets it apart is its relative dearth of retail investors. The dot-com bubble of the late 1990s and the economic collapse of 2008 still loom large, for investors and executives alike. “In the 1990s, as time went on, skeptics started to see Porsches in their neighbors’ driveways,” said Lise Buyer of the Class V Group, a consultancy for firms looking to go public. “Time beat back the skepticism.” It resulted in a disaster on the Nasdaq and the end of the Clinton boom. But now, she said, there is fresh memory of how badly things can go, and how quickly. For evidence, she pointed to the fact that 10 of the 19 technology companies that went public this year are trading below their offering price. “That isn’t the kind of performance that drives most folks to bet the mortgage money on the next hot wonder company,” she said. “Sanity prevails.”"If a Bubble Bursts in Palo Alto, Does It Make a Sound? - NYTimes.com
"While waiting to hear whether European regulators will clear its $19 billion acquisition by Facebook, the mobile messaging app maker WhatsApp hit a big milestone yesterday: It has 500 million active monthly users. They are sharing 700 million photos and 100 million videos per day.As WhatsApp Hits 500 Million Users, CEO Jan Koum Preaches Focus | Re/code
What’s the company going to do to celebrate? “We’re going to get our engineers together and fix a lot of bugs,” said WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum."
Supreme Court hears case challenging Aereo’s right to stream network TV broadcasts to paying consumers - Business - The Boston Globe
"Several justices grilled the attorney representing Aereo, asking him to justify how the company’s services could possibly be legal when its competitors must pay fees, but also conveyed a sort of grudging admiration.Supreme Court hears case challenging Aereo’s right to stream network TV broadcasts to paying consumers - Business - The Boston Globe
“All I’m trying to get at, and I’m not saying it’s outcome determinative or necessarily bad, I’m just saying your technological model is based solely on circumventing legal prohibitions that you don’t want to comply with, which is fine. I mean, that’s — you know, lawyers do that,” said Chief Justice John Roberts."
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
"Being part of a large and aggressive corporation like Amazon could accelerate the growth of ComiXology, and help get more digital comics onto more devices. When Amazon expanded the market for e-books with the Kindle, sales of print books suffered. But there are reasons to believe that Amazon’s impact on the print comic-book world may not be felt as suddenly or as deeply. ComiXology has always worked closely with comic-book stores; today, it even partners with them to sell digital comics through retailers’ Web sites. The company also offers a service that helps customers locate shops in their area. If Amazon chooses to deepen these relationships, rather than cutting retailers out completely, it is possible that print and digital comics may continue to grow together—at least in the short term. Amazon does have some incentives to do this: in comic retailers, the company may find an untapped opportunity to sell its Kindle devices."Amazon and the Future of the Superhero : The New Yorker
"The criticisms fall into three areas that are not intrinsic to big data per se, but endemic to data analysis, and have some merit. First, there are biases inherent to data that must not be ignored. That is undeniably the case. Second, some proponents of big data have claimed that theory (ie, generalisable models about how the world works) is obsolete. In fact, subject-area knowledge remains necessary even when dealing with large data sets. Third, the problem of spurious correlations—associations that are statistically robust but only happen by chance—increases with more data. Although there are new statistical techniques to identify and banish spurious correlations, such as running many tests against subsets of the data, this will always be a problem."The Economist explains: The backlash against big data | The Economist
"They just can't help themselves, can they? Apple's new environmental ads highlighting renewable energy include a dig at Samsung: "There are some ideas we want every company to copy." Ouch -- solar power burn!Apple has a green dig at Samsung in new ad - CNET
To coincide with Earth Day today, Apple has launched a green-themed marketing campaign, and expanding its recycling programme to cover any Apple product or device. But it's also used the environmentally friendly adverts to take another less-than-friendly pop at Samsung, with which Apple is locked in a bitter legal battle over alleged imitation."
"Founding a Silicon Valley startup, then, is a deeply irrational thing to do: it’s a decision to throw away a large chunk of your precious youth at a venture which is almost certain to fail. Meanwhile, the Silicon Valley ecosystem as a whole will happily eat you up, consuming your desperate and massively underpaid labor, and converting it into a few obscenely large paychecks for a handful of extraordinarily lucky individuals. On its face, the winners, here, are the people with the big successful exits. But after reading No Exit, a different conclusion presents itself. The real winners are the happy and well-paid engineers, enjoying their lives and their youth while working for great companies like Google. In the world of startups, the only winning move is not to play."The most expensive lottery ticket in the world | Felix Salmon
"In the newfangled sharing economy, questions about safety, taxes and regulation have tended to be an afterthought. That has helped propel companies like Uber, Airbnb and Lyft into the stratosphere.Companies Built on Sharing Balk When It Comes to Regulators - NYTimes.com
But regulators as well as some elected officials across the country are increasingly questioning the presumptions and tactics of these start-ups, especially the notion that laws do not apply to them."
Monday, April 21, 2014
"Apple is offering free recycling of all its used products and vowing to power all of its stores, offices and data centers with renewable energy to reduce the pollution caused by its devices and online services.Apple's environmental push includes free recycling of company's devices - San Jose Mercury News
The iPhone and iPad maker is detailing its efforts to cultivate a greener Apple in an environmental section on the company's website that debuted Monday. The site highlights the ways that the Cupertino company is increasing its reliance on alternative power sources and sending less electronic junk to landfills."
"If you need a refresher, Moore’s Law is “the observation that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years.” I propose my own version, Bezos’s law. Named for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, I define it as the observation that, over the history of cloud, a unit of computing power price is reduced by 50 percent approximately every three years.Moore’s law gives way to Bezos’s law — Tech News and Analysis
I’ll show the math below, but if Bezos’ law reflects reality, the only conclusion is that most enterprises should dump their data centers and move to the public cloud, thus saving money. Some savings occur over time by buying hardware subject to Moore’s Law, plus the fixed cost of maintenance, electrical power, cooling, building and labor to run a data center. In the end, I’ll show how prices are reduced by about 20 percent per year, cutting your bill in half every three years."
"[...] The app’s tagline is “Incognito mode for real life,” and it offers its users the ability to “avoid exes, co-workers, that guy who likes to stop and chat—anyone you’d rather not run into.” (Facebook’s newly announced Nearby Friends feature does essentially the same thing, though a spokesperson suggested that the app could be used “to make last-minute plans to meet up with a friend who happens to be in the same place you’re headed to.”) Cloak works by linking with your Instagram and Foursquare accounts to uncover the locations of these undesirables and revealing their avatars on a map, thereby empowering you to give them as wide a berth as possible; in this sense, it’s like a contemporary urban version of those maps from the Middle Ages, with their admonitory illustrations of dragons and sea monsters: “Here Be Vague Acquaintances.”"Cloak: The Antisocial-Media App : The New Yorker
"Starkey’s Halo hearing aids, and its companion TruLink app, allow the assistive devices to connect directly with the iPhone via Bluetooth without the need of any intermediary device, such as a telecoil or wireless accessory.Next-Generation Hearing Aids Tune In to the iPhone | Re/code
The app allows people to easily adjust the sound settings to the environment. The geotagging feature uses the iPhone’s integrated GPS to trigger customized settings whenever the wearer returns to familiar places — a favorite restaurant, the movie theater, etc."
"But more and more, many of the splashy business victories are going to companies that find a way to put a new skin on things that already exist. Uber does not own a single cab, yet it has upended the taxi industry. Airbnb doesn’t possess real estate, yet it has become a huge player in the lodging market. WhatsApp remapped texting on existing telecommunications infrastructure and — thanks to its acquisition by Facebook — has as much as $19 billion to show for it. The list goes on, but you get the idea.Aereo Case Will Shape TV’s Future - NYTimes.com
Since 2012, Chet Kanojia has been building a business, backed by the media mogul Barry Diller, with ambitions to join that cohort. His start-up, Aereo, uses tiny remote antennas to capture broadcast TV signals and store them in the cloud, where consumers can watch them on a device of their choosing — no cable box, no cable bundle and most important, no expensive cable bill."
Sunday, April 20, 2014
"This past week, I bought 4,000 new followers on Twitter for the price of a cup of coffee. I picked up 4,000 friends on Facebook for the same $5 and, for a few dollars more, had half of them like a photo I shared on the site.Friends, and Influence, for Sale Online - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com
If I had been willing to shell out $3,700, I could have made one million — yes, a million — new friends on Instagram. For an extra $40, 10,000 of them would have liked one of my sunset photos.
Retweets. Likes. Favorites. Comments. Upvotes. Page views. You name it; they’re for sale on websites like Swenzy, Fiverr and countless others."
"As Apple is about to release its latest quarterly numbers, new questions arise about the iPad’s “anemic” growth. The answer is simple – but the remedies are not."The iPad Is a Tease | Monday Note
"In his new book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” (Harvard University Press), Mr. Piketty, 42, has written a blockbuster, at least in the world of economics. His book punctures earlier assumptions about the benevolence of advanced capitalism and forecasts sharply increasing inequality of wealth in industrialized countries, with deep and deleterious impact on democratic values of justice and fairness."Taking on Adam Smith (and Karl Marx) - NYTimes.com
"In other words, how does the Galaxy S5 compare to the iPhone 5S, Apple’s six-month-old flagship device and the champion to beat?In the Battle for Best Smartphone, Apple Still Beats Samsung - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com
The answer: Not very well. I’ve been using the new Samsung for about three weeks, and while I do think it is the best Android phone you can buy, it sure isn’t the best phone on the market. By just about every major measure you’ll care about, from speed to design to ease of use to the quality of its apps, Samsung’s phone ranks behind the iPhone, sometimes far behind. If you’re looking for the best phone on the market right now, I’d recommend going with the iPhone 5S."
Friday, April 18, 2014
""Does Russia intercept, store, or analyze, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals?" Snowden asked. "And do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations can justify placing societies, rather than subjects, under surveillance?"Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance • The Register
Responding through a translator, Putin glibly said that since he used to work for an intelligence agency and Snowden is himself a former spy, the two could speak "one professional language."
"We don't have a mass system of such interception, and according with our law it cannot exist," Putin said."
The price of being webscale: Google spent $2.35B on infrastructure in Q1 — Tech News and Analysis [GigaOM]
A snapshot of the cloud infrastructure battle of attrition
“Google announced its first-quarter earnings on Wednesday, which included — as usual the past few quarters — an unparalleled amount of spending on data centers. The company spent $2.35 billion on infrastructure in the first quarter (much of which goes to building and filling data centers), up from $2.26 billion in last year’s fourth quarter and nearly double the $1.2 billion it spent in the first quarter of 2013.”
"The dark web just got a little less dark with the launch of a new search engine that lets you easily find illicit drugs and other contraband online.New ‘Google’ for the Dark Web Makes Buying Dope and Guns Easy | Threat Level | WIRED
Grams, which launched last week and is patterned after Google, is accessible only through the Tor anonymizing browser (the address for Grams is: grams7enufi7jmdl.onion) but fills a niche for anyone seeking quick access to sites selling drugs, guns, stolen credit card numbers, counterfeit cash and fake IDs — sites that previously only could be found by users who knew the exact URL for the site."
"Today, we want to share our vision for the next step in wireless HiFi. We’ve found a way to deliver all the benefits of SonosNet without a product directly connected to your router. This new software solution will make Sonos simpler than ever. Start with a speaker and your smartphone, enter your WiFi password and Sonos takes care of the rest.The Sonos Blog » Our Vision for Rock-Solid Wireless, Evolved
We will maintain the core function of SonosNet so that – when several players are linked together as a group – they continue to communicate directly with one another, keeping your music in perfect sync. There are some large homes, where all players are not in the range of the WiFi signal or challenging network environments, that will still benefit from the Sonos BRIDGE, but our diagnostics and early testing show that the majority of homes will work well with the new software solution."
"First, a bit more on how the “life-tracking” app, Breeze, actually works. It’s worth noting up front that the app is only available for iPhone 5S right now because that’s the only device with the M7 co-processor, which automatically tracks motion without draining the battery. That means that when you open Breeze for the first time, the app is already able to pull in how many steps you’ve taken in the past seven days.RunKeeper launches ‘life tracking’ app Breeze to make Fitbit irrelevant | BetaBoston
It also means that you don’t need to do anything in order for Breeze to track your steps; you don’t need to open the app or even hit “start.” The app uses the data from your past activities to set personal daily goals for you and then offers reminders during the day, via push notifications, about how you’re doing and how far you have to go to meet a goal."
"Mr. Weil said advertisers could now use Twitter’s targeting abilities to aim their app install ads to particular subsets of mobile Twitter users and also serve the same ads to users of other apps that are served by MoPub. In theory, the advertisers now get access to around a billion potential viewers of their ads — roughly the same size audience that Facebook can offer. (Facebook announced in January that it was testing ways to sell app install ads that would be displayed in other apps besides Facebook.)Twitter Goes After a Facebook Cash Cow - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com
Whether Twitter can replicate Facebook’s success with app install ads remains to be seen. But that’s probably one area where Twitter wouldn’t mind being called a copycat."
"Amid a push to expand its services, Dropbox has acquired a pair of startups: photo-sharing company Loom and document-sharing startup Hackpad.Dropbox Acquires Startups Loom, Hackpad in Push to Expand Services - Digits - WSJ
Dropbox has quietly been making small acquisitions since 2012 and appears to be ramping up its pace, buying two companies in 2012, four last year, and at least four so far this year."
"Facebook, whose motto has long been ‘‘move fast and break things,’’ built a lot of precautions in this new tool as it tries to avoid privacy fiascos that often bubble up when it makes changes to its service.Facebook new feature allows location-sharing - Technology - The Boston Globe
The new motto, ‘‘ship love,’’ is evident in the cautious rollout of Nearby Friends, said Jules Polonetsky, director of the Future of Privacy Forum, an industry-backed think tank in Washington. He has advised Facebook on privacy issues, including the latest feature."
Thursday, April 17, 2014
"If you’re interested in giving it a go, you can check the My Books page. The option will be listed in the menu on the left – if it is available. If you don’t see the option and you want to import your purchases, you can force the issue here:Goodreads Adds Automatic Sync with Amazon Book Purchases - The Digital Reader
https://www.goodreads.com/amazon_purchases [...] Ever since Amazon bought Goodreads last year the retailer has been integrating the social network more closely with its bookstore. Late last year Amazon rolled out an update for the Kindle Paperwhite which added Goodreads integration, including the option to rate and review books.
The site now boasts 25 million members who added 294 million titles to their virtual bookshelves in 2013."
iOS version coming later this year
“Have you ever been out and about, and urgently needed to access a file that’s sitting on your home computer? Since 2011, Chrome Remote Desktop has let you remotely access your machine from another laptop or computer in a free, easy and secure way. And now, with the release of the Chrome Remote Desktop app for Android, we’re making it possible for you to do the same thing from your Android device.”
"But understanding who you serve is always a very important problem, and it only gets harder the more people that you serve. We try to pay a lot of attention to this by a combination of very rigorous quantitative and qualitative feedback. But if you’re serving 1.2 billion people, it’s very hard.Can Facebook Innovate? A Conversation With Mark Zuckerberg - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com
And I think the age thing is probably not the biggest one I worry about. I’m focused on Internet.org and how to connect all these people. But my life is so different from the person who’s going to be getting Internet in two years. One of the things that we do is ask product managers to go travel to an emerging-market country to see how people who are getting on the Internet use it. They learn the most interesting things. People ask questions like, ‘It says here I’m supposed to put in my password — what’s a password?’ For us, that’s a mind-boggling thing."
"Under Ms. Rometty, who became chief executive two years ago, IBM has made large investments in big data analytics and cloud computing. In the last three months, said Frank Gens, chief analyst at IDC, the investment program has “gone into hyperdrive,” including billion-dollar commitments to make Watson a mainstream business, build out a network of cloud-style data centers and push its traditional software onto the cloud to attract outside software developers.Profit and Revenue Slip at IBM as Hardware Sales Fall and Layoff Costs Rise - NYTimes.com
So IBM, analysts say, is making the right strategic moves. Still, Steven Milunovich, an analyst at UBS Securities, said, “The question is, can the new stuff really grow fast enough to move the needle, to make up for the challenges in IBM’s legacy businesses?”"
"In absolute terms, Google is doing very well. Here is one way to measure its heft: The company is projected to increase its digital ad revenue this year by more than $5 billion, which is more than the total ad revenue of Yahoo or Microsoft.Earnings and Sales From Google Disappoint - NYTimes.com
The only viable threat to Google comes from Facebook, whose ad revenue is forecast by eMarketer to jump 50 percent this year. Facebook’s revenue is about a quarter of Google’s.
Google’s position on the decline in its profits for mobile ads? Don’t worry about it."
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
"After years of development, Amazon is finally close to unveiling the first of several own-brand smartphones.Amazon Smartphone Photos, Specs and Details Revealed: Exclusive Report | BGR
At a distance, Amazon’s upcoming flagship phone looks much like any other touchscreen phone on the market. But the company has spent years creating a unique and, at times, novel user experience that has two main focuses: Amazon products and services, and a custom 3D interface unlike anything we have seen before on a smartphone.
And so begins the story of Amazon’s first smartphone."
"Filter out the big-data buzzwords, and what Nadella is saying is pretty simple. The Internet of Things produces massive quantities of raw information. Microsoft wants to mine that information for actionable business insights. And because the company controls a popular big-data back end in SQL, Azure and Hadoop and an equally popular front end in Office, it’s in prime position to do just that.Microsoft’s Big-Data Angle: Office as a Friendly Front-End | Re/code
“We want our users to be able to reason over all their data, no matter where it lives,” Nadella said. “And one way we’re doing that is with Office. Think of Office as a canvas or scaffolding from which users can access all their data.”"
"Twitter on Tuesday announced that it had acquired Gnip, a company that provides data about activity on the social network as it is occurring.Twitter Acquires Gnip, Bringing a Valuable Data Service In-House - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com
The eight-year-old company is the latest in a series of data companies acquired by Twitter as the micro-messaging service improves its ability to provide information about its users’ behavior to potential sponsors, advertisers and others who analyze the service."
"Reality mining, for example, examines the data about what people are actually doing rather than what they are looking for or saying. Tracking a person’s movements during the day via smartphone GPS signals and credit-card transactions, he argues, are far more significant than a person’s web-browsing habits or social media comments.M.I.T.'s Alex Pentland: Measuring Idea Flows to Accelerate Innovation - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com
But Mr. Pentland argues that even the less valuable information in current flood of personal data could help open the door to what he calls “social physics.” That topic is the subject of his new book, “Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread — The Lesson From a New Science.”"
"Amazon.com’s new handheld grocery ordering device, the Dash, has begun arriving in people’s homes. And to hear users tell it, virtual shopping carts might fill up just a bit more.Amazon’s Dash Scanning Device Wins Early Kudos - Digits - WSJ
The device, free for now, allows users to order goods by scanning barcodes of everyday groceries. When there is no barcode–as on a pineapple–a microphone and voice recognition technology allow users to speak their additions to a shopping list."
"Behind the growth are big savings. A medium-sized website with about 50 million page views a month might spend about $1,200 a month to buy two computer servers, hardware to push data to the Web and other gear, according to calculations by Simon Margolis at technology-consulting firm SADA Systems. The same company might pay roughly $270 to $530 to rent equivalent computing power from Amazon, Microsoft or Google, he says.A Price War Erupts in Cloud Services - WSJ.com
Consultants say such savings are tempting some bigger companies to rent, rather than own, more of their computing power. Already, about 87% of technology executives say they use an outsourced computing provider for at least one task, according to a recent survey by consultant RightScale Inc. But it's rare for a large company— Netflix Inc. is the most cited example—to operate primarily this way."
"Yahoo, which was reporting its first-quarter results, said that revenue and profit growth were flat, a slight improvement from previous quarters. However, from the perspective of investors, those figures were basically a footnote to the Internet portal’s investments in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan.Yahoo Profit Is a Footnote to Alibaba’s Huge Gains - NYTimes.com
“You can be a relative optimist like me about the core business and attribute $7 or $8 to it,” said Brian Wieser, an analyst with Pivotal Research. “But you can make an argument that the entirety of the value is Alibaba.”"
"Google is considering giving a boost to encrypted sites in its search-engine results, one of its top engineers has hinted.Google Hints It May Begin Favoring Encrypted Sites in Searches | TIME.com
Matt Cutts, an engineer in charge of liaising with website designers and minimizing spam in search, said that by doing so Google would make it harder for third parties to spy on Internet users. He was speaking at the SMX West conference in San Jose, Ca.,
Rewarding sites for adopting encryption “would be a huge step,” said search expert Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Land."
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
"Microsoft is launching a cheaper ‘Personal’ Office 366 subscription today that will give you access to the cloud services and mobile apps for $69/year or $6.99/month opposed to the $99/year Home subscription. The new Personal subscription only provides access for one Mac (or PC) and iPad (or tablet) instead of the 5 PC or Macs and 5 tablets you get with a Home subscription.Microsoft’s new cheaper 365 subscription gets you Office on one Mac & iPad for $69/year | 9to5Mac
You might want to hold off on the new subscription, however, as Amazon is currently selling the full Home subscription for just $63 (37% off). That’s cheaper than the new $69 Personal plan, but it’s possible Microsoft could soon end that discount and change prices on Amazon now that the new Personal subscription is launching."
"Microsoft on Monday conceded that Google's Chrome OS and the Chromebooks the operating system powers are capable of doing real work, a reversal of its "Scroogled" campaign that once blasted the laptops as worthless.Microsoft concedes Chromebooks are work-worthy - Computerworld
Almost as an afterthought, Microsoft yesterday announced it was bringing its free Office Online apps -- Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote -- to rival Google's Chrome Web store, the primary distribution channel for Chrome OS software."
"The Grush brush has built-in motion sensors to keep track of its movements. It communicates with a corresponding app for iOS and Android devices. One of the games features a set of teeth and gums with little squidlike creatures popping up on the teeth. Using the brush for the correct amount of time in the right place makes the monstrous enemies disappear. Another game involves caring for a virtual pet giraffe, encouraging it to grow by brushing.Grush turns brushing your teeth into a video game - CNET
The app tracks brushing activities over time so parents can discreetly monitor how their kids are doing, which sure beats standing in the doorway of the bathroom with a stopwatch."
"Google spokesman Matt Kallman said in a statement that the changes "will give people even greater clarity and are based on feedback we've received over the last few months."Google unveils email scanning practices in new terms of service | Reuters
Google's updated terms of service added a paragraph stating that "our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored."
"It’s not just government agencies that are desperate for cybersecurity specialists. Almost four in 10 IT security positions went unfilled in 2013, according to a survey of more than 500 organizations by the Ponemon Institute, which studies privacy, data protection, and information-security policy. The figure was almost six in 10 for senior security jobs.Uncle Sam Wants Cyber Warriors, but Can He Compete? - Businessweek
“Market forces aren’t happening fast enough in security,” says Art Gilliland, general manager of enterprise security products at Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), which funded the Ponemon research. “The typical security person is paid the same as a typical IT person, and yet the demand is way higher. The salaries are not increasing fast enough to attract more people.”"
"While Google’s goals may sound lofty, Google may share them with a competitor: Facebook, which recently bought Ascenta, a British company that makes a similar type of drone. Earlier reports said that Facebook was in talks to buy Titan Aerospace.With Purchase of Drone Maker, Google Sees a Fleet of Satellites - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com
The Titan Aerospace drones are notable because they are solar-powered and can fly for several years, according to the company’s website.
Drones that can remain aloft for long periods of time could be used to constantly update images of the earth, which Google could put to use in its Maps platform."
Monday, April 14, 2014
"The behind-the-scenes machinations demonstrate how Google — once a lobbying weakling — has come to master a new method of operating in modern-day Washington, where spending on traditional lobbying is rivaled by other, less visible forms of influence.Google, once disdainful of lobbying, now a master of Washington influence - The Washington Post
That system includes financing sympathetic research at universities and think tanks, investing in nonprofit advocacy groups across the political spectrum and funding pro-business coalitions cast as public-interest projects.
The rise of Google as a top-tier Washington player fully captures the arc of change in the influence business."
"The big lesson of the simulation was that building a post-apocalyptic network is hard. This wasn’t particularly surprising, but it was still alarming. Judging by the documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor, the “Internet apocalypse” might not arrive with a bang but through the slower and more subtle means of corporate centralization, censorship, and surveillance. The Internet is, by definition, a “network of networks,” one that grew over time from an American military grid to an all-encompassing infrastructure that guides our social, political, and economic activity. As we rely on the Internet to facilitate a growing list of ever more mundane activities, connecting everything from our phones to our refrigerators, we are frighteningly ill-prepared to create parallel networks of our own—the ones we may need the most."How to Survive an Internet Apocalypse : The New Yorker
"Almost every Windows laptop maker has a Chromebook or two in its lineup, and now Dell is entering the fray. Its Chromebook 11 (not to be confused with the HP Chromebook of the same name) is being targeted specifically to the education market, where Chromebooks seem like a natural fit. But anyone can order the Chromebook 11 for $299 from Dell’s website today — and get possibly the best Chromebook ever made."Dell Chromebook 11 review | The Verge
"It is good to be the king. It is even better to be Larry Ellison.Still No. 1, and Doing What He Wants - NYTimes.com
Most of us spend much of our lives thinking that we should do the right thing, or worrying that we didn’t do the right thing, or trying at long last to finally do the right thing. Mr. Ellison, the fifth-richest person in the world and the chief executive with the highest total compensation in 2013, appears burdened by no such concerns."
Friday, April 11, 2014
"Every day, searchers use Google to find information about businesses. Common queries include finding the phone number for customer service, the location of a business, and opening hours.Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Surfacing your business's contact and local info in Google
This information is typically found in a business's location page or a "contact us" section of a company's website. When Google correctly identifies these pages and is able to extract the relevant information from them, it is more likely to surface that information to searchers looking for the business.
Today we would like to share our recommendations for helping Google identify and surface this information."
"The price correction was driven by news from China, as it often has been. Fresh rumors of a government crackdown on the currency in the country, which could blunt demand and adoption, and therefore impair its value, sent the price of bitcoin down a quick 10 percent. It has since continued to slip.Bitcoin Falls Below The $400 Mark, Down More Than 60% From Its All-Time High | TechCrunch
According to Bitcoin Average, the average price of bitcoin is currently around $388, down from a 52-week high of roughly $1,132. Coinbase has the current price of bitcoin at around $394, down from a peak of $1,126."
"The IRS is among the governments and large businesses that have taken out a paid custom support contract with Microsoft to get an extra year of security patches while it works to migrate its systems.IRS Misses Windows XP Deadline, Gets Extension | Re/code
“This support will provide coverage for our enterprise across the IRS for a year while we complete upgrading all workstations from Windows XP to Windows 7,” the IRS said. “We are taking appropriate steps to ensure our networks, systems and taxpayer data are safe and secure.”"
"The file-sharing startup Wednesday added former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a director to “help us expand our global footprint.”Dropbox Rankles Valley Orthodoxy with Rice Board Appointment - Digits - WSJ
Quickly, an Internet protest sprang up to encourage Dropbox users to boycott the service unless the San Francisco startup forces her off its board. A new website, “Drop Dropbox,” said Rice’s role in helping set U.S. policies in Iraq, and in promoting U.S. intelligence agencies’’ surveillance policies, made her a poor fit for a startup that “we are trusting with our most important business and personal data.”"
"Security experts say personal home routers often incorporate OpenSSL, which could make them vulnerable. But they note that because many home routers are configured to block outside traffic, the risk of a hacker using the Heartbleed bug to lift data like passwords to online banking and email accounts is low. This is particularly so, they said, when there are still thousands of vulnerable websites where this data could be pulled from much more easily.Security Flaw Could Reach Beyond Websites to Digital Devices, Experts Say - NYTimes.com
Nevertheless, Mr. Kurtz said, users would be wise to check with their home router manufacturers to upgrade their devices if they want to be absolutely secure."
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Dropbox Announces ‘Project Harmony’ To Bring Collaborative Features To Microsoft Office | TechCrunch
"On the surface, it seems similar to some of the built-in collaborative functions in Google Documents, or perhaps more accurately, the now defunct Google Wave — but brought by Dropbox, into the Microsoft suite of applications. And there are some impressive aspects to how people can use Harmony: The features can work when two people are working on separate operating systems and on different versions of Microsoft Office or Dropbox.Dropbox Announces ‘Project Harmony’ To Bring Collaborative Features To Microsoft Office | TechCrunch
It’s quite a technological feat, and being that a massive number of enterprises use the Microsoft platform, this could have a huge impact."
"Houston unveiled his plan on Wednesday to preserve Dropbox’s position as the sultan of Web storage. He’s calling the initiative, which originated at the Yerba Buena meeting, “Chapter 2.” Dropbox hopes to offer new ways for customers to access and share their virtual valuables. The company is introducing a photo application called Carousel that will let users browse and share all the images stored in their cloud locker. And it is expanding the rollout of a mobile e-mail tool called Mailbox, made by a startup it acquired last year, which seeks to reduce the clutter of spam and preserve important attachments in the cloud."Dropbox's Next Chapter: Corporate Customers, IPO, Condi Rice, and Eddie Vedder - Businessweek
"The app may put Dropbox into closer competition with Facebook, one of the most popular photo-sharing sites along with Instagram and Yahoo’s Flickr. In an interview, Houston said Carousel fills a need that Facebook doesn’t: storing photos privately and sharing them with select groups of friends.New Dropbox ‘Carousel’ App Moves Company Beyond Storage - Digits - WSJ
“There’s always been some overlap with our services,” Houston said about Facebook. “But when you look at what we’re doing, we feel like Carousel is doing something completely new.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, a longtime friend of Houston’s, attended the Dropbox event but did not speak on stage or conduct interviews."
"Apple Inc.'s star designer Jonathan Ive is expanding his empire.Apple's Star Designer Jonathan Ive Set to Expand Role - WSJ.com
In an internal email, Apple said Greg Christie, who led the company's "human interface" team that designs software for its products, is retiring, according to people who have seen the email.
Mr. Christie's group will report to Mr. Ive, who is Apple's senior vice president of design, according to the email. The team previously reported to Craig Federighi, Apple's software chief."
"Turn on two-factor authenticationHeartbleed: How and Why to Change Your Passwords Today - Personal Tech News - WSJ
Beyond using fresh passwords, it’s now important to adopt an additional defense, available on a growing number of sites, called “two-factor authentication.” (It also goes by “second factor,” “login verification” or by branding such as, in Bank of America’s case, “SafePass.”)
This option, now offered by many email services, banks and social networks, sends you a one-time code (usually via text message) every time you (or anyone else) tries to log into your account. You’ll need to type in that code to access your account."
"Even though security is an increasing area of concern for large technology companies, it is often considered an afterthought rather than an essential part of building all the goodies we use. Experts say that while instituting a more secure tech culture is possible, it will require a long-term investment in educating software engineers and improving core technologies.Users’ Stark Reminder: As Web Grows, It Grows Less Secure - NYTimes.com
“There’s a level of care in designing systems and sweating the details of their operations that’s missing in the culture of software development,” Mr. Felten said. “We don’t have the kind of safety culture that is common in fields such as aviation.”
That’s because enhanced safety will surely cost consumers in speed, novelty and convenience."
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
""Catastrophic" is the right word. On the scale of 1 to 10, this is an 11. [...] At this point, the odds are close to one that every target has had its private keys extracted by multiple intelligence agencies. The real question is whether or not someone deliberately inserted this bug into OpenSSL, and has had two years of unfettered access to everything. My guess is accident, but I have no proof."Schneier on Security: Heartbleed