"Despite its dominance, Google doesn’t fit the definition of a monopoly. Still, the Search giant’s growing disconnect from society could lead to serious missteps and, over time, to a weakened position. "Google might not be a monopoly, after all | Monday Note
Monday, June 30, 2014
Summary from a timely Google reality check
Time for another refinement of the Facebook user agreement; also see Furor Erupts Over Facebook's Experiment on Users (WSJ)
"Facebook is hardly the only Internet company that manipulates and analyzes consumer data. Google and Yahoo also watch how users interact with search results or news articles to adjust what is shown; they say this improves the user experience. But Facebook’s most recent test did not appear to have such a beneficial purpose.Facebook Tinkers With Users’ Emotions in News Feed Experiment, Stirring Outcry - NYTimes.com
“Facebook didn’t do anything illegal, but they didn’t do right by their customers,” said Brian Blau, a technology analyst with Gartner, a research firm. “Doing psychological testing on people crosses the line.”"
Back to the email future; also see Say No to the Distraction-Industrial Complex (WSJ)
"Newsletters are clicking because readers have grown tired of the endless stream of information on the Internet, and having something finite and recognizable show up in your inbox can impose order on all that chaos. In fact, the comeback of email newsletters has been covered in Fast Company, The Atlantic and Medium, but I missed those articles because, really, who can keep up with a never-ending scroll of new developments? That’s where email newsletters, with their aggregation and summaries, come in. Some are email only, others reprise something that can be found on the web. At a time when lots of news and information is whizzing by online, email newsletters — some free, some not — help us figure out what’s worth paying attention to."For Email Newsletters, a Death Greatly Exaggerated - NYTimes.com
Friday, June 27, 2014
Excerpt from an extensive profile of The Washington Post
"Then $250 million changed hands, and the paper that bowed out was suddenly captained by the digital-era equivalent of Alexander the Great. And not only that, but it instantly became the only member of an industry facing massive digital transformation to be owned by a man who had wrought that transformation—and who had the money to do it again. It went from being a newspaper in retreat to being the only legacy media company in America that can consider itself a technology property.Brick by brick : Columbia Journalism Review
The Post is once again hungry to be a dominant force in American journalism, and the newsroom senses that the Graham era has been sealed off behind them. The only way out is to move forward. “I think Bezos is giving us a chance to show what we would have done if we had had that runway all along,” one editor said. “If we don’t figure it out, I would not blame the owner for replacing all of us.”"
Not seeing much coverage of Samsung Tizen (TV or otherwise) this week...
"Android TV enters a crowded marketplace, in which it faces incumbents from the likes of smartTV makers, dedicated video streaming devices such as the Amazon Fire, Roku Streaming Player and Apple TV, and video game consoles that do double duty as entertainment devices in the home.Google takes another stab at TV with Android TV | Re/code
Clearly, Google is determined to get this right. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try try, try again."
A majority of the SCOTUS justices were perhaps studying technology instead of, e.g., democracy (tangent: there's still time to sign up for Mayday)...
"But when you examine the rulings, a different conclusion emerges. These were both wins for the industry, because they revealed something that should be quite gratifying for every technologist: The Supreme Court understands technology.The Tech-Savvy Supreme Court - NYTimes.com
At a broad level, it understands the Internet and how the worldwide network has transformed our understanding of the law. More than that, the justices (aided, surely, by their Snapchatting clerks) seem to understand some of the deeper distinctions between various kinds of tech, distinctions that are vital to how we should regulate the gadgets now infiltrating our lives."
Time for a big data buzzword bingo board update
"Google has taken internal tools—those funky-named ones such as Flume and MillWheel—and bundled them into the Cloud Dataflow service, which it plans to start offering to developers and customers as a cloud service. The promise is that other companies will be able to deal with more information easier and faster than ever before.Google Just Made Big Data Expertise Much Tougher to Fake - Businessweek
While Google has historically been a very secretive company, it is opening up its internal technology as a competitive maneuver. Google is proving more willing than, say, Amazon.com to hand over the clever things built by its engineers to others. It’s an understandable move, given Amazon’s significant lead in the cloud computing arena."
From an overview of Google's 3D tablet project; see this Re/code article for more ATAP details
"ATAP [Google's Advanced Technology and Projects group] is headed by Regina Dugan, former director of the U.S. government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. It was created as a research lab inside Motorola, the mobile phone maker that Google acquired in 2012.LG to Make a Consumer Version of Google’s 3-D Tablet - Digits - WSJ
Google kept ATAP when it agreed to sell Motorola earlier this year to Lenovo. The decision to retain the group is part of a broader effort by the Internet giant to work on long-term, riskier projects that could turn into new, big businesses in the future.
Project Tango is ATAP’s most-mature project, but the research group has ten other initiatives, Dugan said. They include a “modular” smartphone platform known as Project Ara and a digital tattoo that sticks to the skin, lasts for about five days and can unlock Moto X smartphones made by Motorola."
If these are the success criteria, how about resurrecting and investing in Google Reader?
""The service has been growing tremendously," Page insists. "People are always like, 'Oh, what’s going on?' But for us, we're super excited about it because it's a big service, growing continuously, since we launched it, at a high rate, and we’re making it better and better every day."Google Plus Larry Page - Business Insider
Page says social is even more important for Google than it was two years ago, and that the Google+ community is very excited and dedicated. He says when people think about Google+, they just think of its home stream, but that it's much more than that. Page mentions Google Play reviews as being a big part of the social network. YouTube comments are another one (though not everyone is happy about that). "
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Benevolent + creepy?...
"You may soon get a call from your doctor if you’ve let your gym membership lapse, made a habit of picking up candy bars at the check-out counter or begin shopping at plus-sized stores.Your Doctor Knows You're Killing Yourself. The Data Brokers Told Her - Businessweek
That’s because some hospitals are starting to use detailed consumer data to create profiles on current and potential patients to identify those most likely to get sick, so the hospitals can intervene before they do."
Excerpt from a James Fallows personal information management reality check, based on interviews with Mitch Kapor, Esther Dyson, David Allen, Phil Libin, and Mark Bernstein
"Year by year tools for coping with the onslaught have also been improving—but more slowly. Electronic calendars, online collaboration systems, search engines and archives, and the converging technologies that make up the smartphone revolution did something, but never quite enough, to put people in control of information. “I sometimes wonder whether, with all this data, people have just given up,” Mitch Kapor, a personal-software pioneer, told me recently. “They may just have resigned themselves to living in this infinite sea of information.”"How You’ll Get Organized - James Fallows - The Atlantic
Some interesting Facebook speculation
"This answer from 2012 to a Quora question, about what tools Facebookers use to communicate with each other, also details how Facebook uses Groups, email and chat; and how it has built a couple of tools internally — Pixelcloud for sharing and commenting on images (including new design prototypes), an in-house-built task management tool that’s compared to Asana — among other external platforms. Added to that these days is Quip, the mobile-first word-processing platform co-founded by Facebook’s former CTO Bret Taylor.Source: Facebook Is Building FB@Work | TechCrunch
Tellingly, that Quora answer was penned by a Facebook engineer who is now based in London — where the “FB@Work” project is supposedly based. The engineering team in London, incidentally, is headed up by Lars Rasmussen, one of the two people behind Graph Search who relocated to London from Facebook’s HQ in 2013.
Before joining Facebook, Rasmussen developed Google Wave, a promising-looking collaboration product that was eventually discontinued when Google couldn’t get enough user traction."
More on the MR-RIP theme (via Mike Olson)
"It was known for decades that generalised dataflow engines adequately capture the map-reduce model as a fairly trivial special case. However, there was real doubt over whether such engines could be efficiently implemented on large-scale cluster computers. But ever since Dryad, in 2007 (at least), it was clear to me that Map-Reduce’s days were numbered. Indeed, it’s a bit of a surprise to me that it lasted this long.The Elephant was a Trojan Horse: On the Death of Map-Reduce at Google : Paper Trail
Map-Reduce has served a great purpose, though: many, many companies, research labs and individuals are successfully bringing Map-Reduce to bear on problems to which it is suited: brute-force processing with an optional aggregation. But more important in the longer term, to my mind, is the way that Map-Reduce provided the justification for re-evaluating the ways in which large-scale data processing platforms are built (and purchased!)."
Some assembly required
"After a marathon two-and-a-half hour Google I/O keynote, the tech giant had one final surprise for attendees: a piece of cardboard.Google Cardboard Was the Ultimate WTF Moment of Google I/O
Developers at I/O walked away with a strange construction kit for a project named, imaginatively, Cardboard. Cardboard is a way to create an Oculus Rift-like virtual reality viewer with your Android smartphone. Users can put together their Cardboard kits – which contains corrugated cardboard, some lenses, magnets, two strips of velcro and a rubber band."
Post-MapReduce big data
"On Tuesday morning, at its Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco, the tech giant introduced a cloud computing service it calls Google Cloud Dataflow. Based on two software systems that have helped Google drive its own online operation for years–Flume and MillWheel–the service is a way of more easily moving, processing, and analyzing massive amounts of digital information. As he unveiled the service, Google’s Urs Hölzle–the man who oversaw the creation of Google’s global network of data centers–said it’s designed to help companies deal with petabytes of data–a.k.a. millions of gigabytes.Google Unleashes More Big-Data Genius With a New Cloud Service | Enterprise | WIRED
“Cloud DataFlow is the result of over a decade of experience in data analytics,” he said. During the conference keynote, one Googler showed how the system could be used to analyze reactions to World Cup matches posted to Twitter."
Interesting how ramping up to an IPO can lead to irrational optimism
"Mr. Levie, whose company has filed to go public, said he was not concerned about Google’s price cuts. He uses Amazon’s cloud service for some of his storage, and noted that any price cuts by Google’s cloud business are rapidly met by Microsoft and Amazon, much the way Google follows the other two. Dropbox is built almost entirely in Amazon.Google, Microsoft and Others Delve Deeper Into Cloud Storage for Businesses - NYTimes.com
Box, with over 1,000 employees, is also working on features like machine learning, a type of data-centered analysis and prediction that both Microsoft and Google plan to put into their storage systems. “The more attention this gets, the more demand we’ll see from customers,” Mr. Levie said. “For now, it’s still good for us.”"
Vulture capitalists circling
"The Nook e-reader was once seen as Barnes & Noble’s (BKS) savior. Now it’s a castoff.Now That Barnes & Noble Ditched the Nook, Will It Sell Itself? - Businessweek
The book retailer said on Wednesday it would spin off the digital unit into a separate company after a prolonged sales decline during which Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN) demolished the company’s digital efforts. The move had long been expected, but investors cheered anyway, with Barnes & Noble shares surging 14 percent."
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Tangentially, see Facebook Gets a Time Inc. Veteran to Help Wrangle Famous People (Re/code)
"But Medium made its editorial ambitions clearer on Wednesday with the announcement that it had hired Steven Levy, an author and longtime technology writer who worked at Wired and Newsweek, as the editor in chief of an as-yet-unnamed technology site.Medium Hires Tech Writer Steven Levy as It Moves From Platform to Publisher - NYTimes.com
Mr. Levy, 63, will continue to write deep, long reports about the role of technology — perhaps broken up into smaller articles that will unfurl over days. He will also be commissioning articles from other writers."
Unlimited > Microsoft's OneDrive terabyte per Office 365 user (announced for Office 365 ProPlus customers in April; Office 365 Home customers also now get a terabyte), although Google Drive for Work customer organizations with less than 5 users get a mere terabyte
"But we’ve also heard from businesses that they want more control and security, visibility into how files are shared, and a product that will grow with them. So we’ve been working to make Drive even better for business, and today at Google I/O we announced Google Drive for Work — a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls for $10/user/month."Official Google Enterprise Blog
Verizon goes out of its way to alienate Google and its Pixel customers
""While this particular issue is outside of our control, we appreciate that this issue has inconvenienced some of our users," a spokesperson told El Reg. "We are offering gift cards to affected customers."Google offers $150 gift card for Chromebook Pixel data shutoff • The Register
As it turns out, $150 does buy you quite a lot of LTE time on Verizon – for its prepay tariff, $20 will give you 3GB over 90 days, so Chromebook owners are actually getting rather a good deal, thanks to Google's largess.
Not so Verizon. By saving the tiny sum it would have cost to make good on its original agreement, the firm has pissed off plenty of Chromebook owners and made it highly unlikely that Google will partner with them again on future hardware."
Perhaps about time to retire the Nexus brand...
"During its developer conference Wednesday, the search giant plans to show off at least one small set-top box that resembles products like the Roku, Amazon's Fire TV, and Apple's Apple TV, according to two people who have seen the device.Google Readies TV Set-Top Box in Race With Apple, Amazon - WSJ
Google's device will carry another company's brand, but will be powered by Google's new Android TV software designed to play movies, games and other content on televisions, the people said. Users will be able to control the box using Android smartphones or tablets, and potentially other devices."
Final paragraph of an Oracle reality check (thanks for the link, Charles)
"So a full decade after the cloud revolution, it’s less that Oracle has finally asserted itself as a force to be reckoned with, and more that Ellison been a quiet force since the beginning. With a $182 billion market cap and a CEO that’s the number three richest man in the world – not to mention the inspiration for a Hollywood superhero – it’s not important that you’re first to a hot new category. What’s important, is that when the dust settles, you’re the last one standing. Look for Ellison and Oracle to cast a long shadow on the cloud sector for years to come."Oracle will enter the cloud when Larry’s good and ready. Uh oh, he’s ready | PandoDaily
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Congrats to Craig Hayman, one of the sharpest and most effective IBM execs I've met during the last 20+ years
"Ebay Inc has hired 15-year IBM Corp veteran Craig Hayman to steer its enterprise business, which helps clients with shipping, marketing and customer management.Ebay hires ex-IBM exec to head enterprise division | Reuters
The Internet retailer said on Tuesday that Hayman, who at IBM helped develop cloud software and spearhead acquisitions of more than a dozen companies, will report to eBay CEO John Donahoe."
In other small-business Web site news...
"Google today revealed that it is building a domain registration service called Google Domains. The product is still an early work in progress, so it’s in invite-only beta for now. Google’s small business-facing division decided to build the product because, according to its research, 55 percent of small businesses still don’t have a website. Since the domain acts as a website’s foundation, Google decided to do more to help companies get started with their online presence. While Google Domains won’t include hosting, website building providers Squarespace, Wix, Weebly and Shopify have signed on as partners."Google Begins Testing Domain Registrations
On a related note, see With Debut of Nokia X2, Microsoft Extends Its Android Bet (Re/code)
"The answer is: Both and neither. All of Amazon’s Fire devices use the open source version of Google’s Android operating system, which doesn’t include Google’s standard suite of apps or its Google Play app store. For Amazon, Android is essentially plumbing, not the face of the device. To provide the look, feel and navigation, Amazon has its own operating system, called the Fire OS. It also has its own app store, browser, email program and now, on the new phone, non-Google maps. The best way to think about it is that the Fire phone and tablets aren’t standard Android devices, and typically use third-party apps specially modified for them and curated by Amazon."Is the New Fire Phone an Android Phone or Not? | Re/code
Another social media and Web marketing reality check
"Only 5 percent of Americans said social media has a great deal of influence on what they buy, according to Gallup, which polled more than 18,000 U.S. adults for its new State of the American Consumer report. Thirty percent said social media has some influence, and 62 percent said it has no influence whatsoever. [...] The news could validate Main Street’s skeptical regard for online marketing, an attitude that extends beyond social media to more basic strategies. More than half of small businesses don’t even have a website, according to the Associated Press."Americans Say Social Media Has No Influence on Purchasing Decisions - Businessweek
Facebook placed 1st, 2nd, and 6th (with Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp; Snapchat was 3rd; Twitter took 4th and 5th, with Twitter and Vine)
"Nearly half of the respondents, who were all between the agest [sic] of 12 and 17, said they were using Facebook more than they were a year ago, the firm said.Survey: Teens Say They Are Using Facebook More - Digits - WSJ
Forrester’s researchers predict that increasing smartphone usage will help drive even more teenagers to use Facebook, whose mobile app is one of the most widely used in the world. “As today’s 12- and 13-year-olds grow into 16- and 17-year-olds, it’s likely their Facebook adoption will increase further,” the researchers said.
The research report, which was not commissioned by Facebook, was authored by Nate Elliott and Gina Fleming. Elliott has been critical of Facebook’s advertising product, calling its targeting capabilities sub-par."
tbd if this integration is broader than what Nest already does with iOS devices; also see Ahead of I/O, Google’s Nest Labs Opens the Door to Third-Party App Makers (Re/code) and Works with Nest (Nest)
"The integration will allow those users to set the temperature of their homes with voice commands to a Google mobile app. It will also allow Google’s personal digital assistant, Google Now, to set the temperature automatically when it detects, using a smartphone’s location-tracking abilities, that a user is returning home.Nest To Share User Information With Google For First Time - Digits - WSJ
Users will have to opt in for their information to be shared with Google, Rogers said. “We’re not becoming part of the greater Google machine,” he said."
Monday, June 23, 2014
Massive increase to OneDrive storage plans: 15 GB free for everyone, 1 TB for Office 365 subscribers | OneDrive Blog
Meanwhile, Box May Raise $100 Million or More Before IPO (re/code)
"With this in mind, today we are announcing the following:Massive increase to OneDrive storage plans: 15 GB free for everyone, 1 TB for Office 365 subscribers | OneDrive Blog
1. OneDrive will come with 15 GB for free (up from 7 GB)
Our data tells us that 3 out of 4 people have less than 15 GB of files stored on their PC. Factoring in what they may also have stored on other devices, we believe providing 15 GB for free right out of the gate – with no hoops to jump through – will make it much easier for people to have their documents, videos, and photos available in one place.
2. All versions of Office 365 will come with 1 TB of OneDrive storage
Soon you will get 1 TB of OneDrive with your subscription to Office 365. This means you will get the power of the world’s most popular productivity suite, Office, along with apps for your laptop, smartphone, and tablet, plus an enormous amount of storage, for an unbelievably low price."
Check the link below for Jean-Louis Gassée's iWatch perspectives and projections
"Unlike the almost forgotten Apple TV set, there might be a real product in the iWatch. But as rumors about the device intensify, the scuttlebutt conveniently skirts key questions about the product’s role."iWatch Thoughts | Monday Note
Excerpt from a social media marketing reality check
"When many companies joined Facebook in the late 2000s, they used it as another brand website where they provided links, contact information and monitored consumer gripes. Then, they got caught up in the numbers game, trying to rack up raw masses of fans and followers, believing they were building a solid marketing channel. But that often wasn't the case.Companies Alter Social-Media Strategies - WSJ
"Social media are not the powerful and persuasive marketing force many companies hoped they would be," concludes Gallup Inc., which on Monday is releasing a report that examines the subject."
In other video news, see Google's Nest to Buy Video-Monitoring Security Startup for $555 Million (WSJ)
"Last week, two drones made their debuts on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, both designed to allow people to shoot drone selfies, or dronies (that is, a selfie shot via drone).Smile! A Drone Is About to Take Your Picture - NYTimes.com
The Hexo Plus, which comes with the tagline, “Your Autonomous Aerial Camera,” is compatible with a GoPro camera and is billed as an “intelligent drone that follows and films you autonomously.” A competitor, called the AirDog, treats a drone like a dog on a leash, tracking and following you wherever you go and snapping video and pictures of you as you do action sports."
Sign of the times
"It’s Tinder for the hotel lobby. Well, sort of. The MIT Mobile Experience Lab has built a meetup app for Marriott Hotels so that guests can connect with others in the hotel based on shared personal interests.Marriott Hotels hopes MIT’s Six Degrees app will help guests make special connections | BetaBoston
And it’s not just for guests. Anyone wondering through the hotel lobby can download it and give it a try. The app mines personal information posted by guests on their LinkedIn profiles and then finds others staying in the hotel with the same likes or similar histories."
Sunday, June 22, 2014
The next Computerworld print issue is the last one
"It was 47 years ago, almost to the day, that Computerworld's very first issue rolled off the presses: June 21, 1967. The newspaper's first publisher was the late Patrick J. McGovern, who was the founder and chairman of International Data Group (IDG), Computerworld's parent company.Scot Finnie: The continuing evolution of Computerworld - Computerworld
It's sad to lose anything that has endured so long. But we are merely taking part in the natural evolution of the media industry, like so many great publications before us. Trains, after all, were once powered by coal and steam; Computerworld is moving from paper to electrons."
Google I/O - Google+?
"Google I/O, the company's annual developers conference, will be held next week in San Francisco and there isn't one session about Google+. The schedule various sessions about Android, the cloud, Chrome and Google Play.As Google+ nears 3rd anniversary, where does it go from here? - Computerworld
Google+, was launched on June 28, 2011, has been left out of the mix.
"I think, and I hope, they're taking the time to rethink it," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research. "It was the wrong answer to the wrong question. The wrong question was, "What do we do about Facebook?" Google+ is potentially a great group collaboration tool, but it's not a social networking tool. Google has to figure out what to do.""
From a Yahoo reality check
"The magazines certainly aren’t generating much excitement among shareholders. Much of Yahoo’s $34.3 billion market value comes from a stake in Alibaba, China’s leading e-commerce company, which plans to sell stock to the public in the United States later this year. “Yahoo’s problems are fairly deep, and just having some relatively new content initiatives is not going to solve their structural problems,” said Ben Schachter, an analyst at Macquarie Capital.Yahoo Wants You to Linger (on the Ads, Too) - NYTimes.com
Still, Yahoo needs to do something different if it wants to reverse its long slide toward irrelevance. Ms. Mayer hopes the magazines will be a classier place to advertise and more lucrative for the company."
Signs of the times
"While Social Sweepster can help you screen some pictures that might be associated with your identity online, how many people will actually be willing to pay for it? The argument has recently been advanced that oversharing has become the cultural norm, and businesses can no longer afford to screen out employees whose Facebook profiles are pasted with pictures of collegiate revelry because everyone does it.New Offering for Job Seekers: Fewer Embarrassing Social Media Photos - NYTimes.com
Mr. McGrath was unfazed by that argument.
“If you spent all this money on a college education and you’ll spend $5 on a coffee, why not prevent the slightest chance that a potential employer will be upset?” he said. “We’re providing additional insurance.”
And in an era where some parents are going as far as accompanying their young adult offspring to job interviews, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine that he might be right."
Excerpt from an extensive Ray Ozzie interview
"We are now looking at a fundamentally new style of work, and a fundamentally new style of IT. We’ve now entered a post-document world. The vast majority of what we do at work is to communicate and coordinate, and most of these needs are by far best satisfied by the phone and pads that are always with us, that don’t require tethering, that know where we are, that can politely notify us of things we should be aware of, that have cameras, mics and speakers enabling us to “show and tell” at a moment’s notice. "What Ozzie Sees — and Hears — Ahead | HP
Friday, June 20, 2014
Excerpt from The Economist's latest cover story
"There is a lot of other stuff for them to buy. According to Internet Retailer, a magazine, Amazon now carries 230m items for sale in America—some 30 times the number sold by Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, which has its own fast-growing online business—and there is no sign of let-up. Amazon’s total revenues were $74.5 billion last year, but when one takes into account the merchandise that other companies sell through its “marketplace” service the sales volume is nearly double that. Though by far the biggest online retailer in America, it is still growing faster than the 17% pace of e-commerce as a whole (see chart 1). It is the top online seller in Europe and Japan, too, and has designs on China’s vast market. Last year Amazon was the world’s ninth-biggest retailer ranked by sales; by 2018 it will be number two, predicts Kantar Retail, a research group."Amazon: Relentless.com | The Economist
From a snapshot of still not-dead-yet Blackberry
"In addition to focusing on niche markets and its core software strengths, Chen has also led the company in cutting costs. This has included selling property in Waterloo, Ontario, where the company is headquartered, as well as cutting jobs and moving device manufacturing overseas and allowing contract manufacturer Foxconn to take over making its devices.BlackBerry beats earnings expectations thanks to cost-cutting - CNET
As the company de-emphasizes its consumer brand and cuts expenses, it is looking outside for partners to cost-effectively fill basic needs for its devices. Yesterday, the company announced a deal with Amazon to make over 240,000 Android apps available to BlackBerry 10 customers through the Amazon app store. These apps will include popular ones that BlackBerry was missing in its own store, such as Netflix, Candy Crush Saga, and Minecraft."
A multifaceted sign of the times
"A Georgia Tech student, together with two of his room mates [sic], claims to have hacked Yo, the Poke-like app which has set some Silicon Valley alight (though not others) in the last 48 hours. [See update below: Yo has confirmed it has been hacked].Yo App Hacked By College Students | TechCrunch
The student emailed TechCrunch detailing what he alleges is the results of the hack: “We can get any Yo user’s phone number (I actually texted the founder, and he called me back). We can spoof Yo’s from any users, and we can spam any user with as many Yo. We could also send any Yo user a push notification with any text we want (though we decided not to do that).”"
Excerpt from a Walt Mossberg Amazon Fire Phone review
"The key to this hope rests with moving beyond the touching and swiping that has become the norm on smartphones since 2007, and allowing users to do a bunch of common tasks, one-handed, by merely tilting the phone. This hands-free navigation is part of what Amazon calls Dynamic Perspective, and it works via a new set of sensors — four specialized cameras on the phone’s face.Amazon’s Smartphone Ambitions Go Beyond Making Shopping Easier | Re/code
The flashiest aspects of Dynamic Perspective involve things like giving images, graphics and games a parallax effect, so static objects seem to move. This is kind of like the way Apple’s icons float over the wallpaper, but it goes much deeper into the user interface and is used more broadly."
Another piece for Google's networking puzzle
"Alpental was started by former Clearwire engineers including Michael Hart and Pete Gelbman. The company was developing a cheap, high-speed communications service using the 60GHz band of spectrum, according to a letter the Alpental engineers wrote to the Federal Communications Commission last year.Google Buys Alpental to Gain Fast Wireless Technology - Digits - WSJ
The 60GHz band has been used for high-capacity networking indoors and to extend fiber-optic Internet service from one commercial building to others nearby. The FCC loosened some rules governing this band of spectrum last year, saying that it could be used to provide wireless connections of up to a mile at speeds up to seven gigabits per second."
All the news that's fit to discuss, without help from Disqus, Facebook, or Google
"Through the new platform, the news organizations said in a release, “Readers will be able to submit pictures, links and other media; track discussions; and manage their contributions and online identities.” The news outlets can then collect and use the reader content “for other forms of storytelling and to spark ongoing discussions.” “The web offers all sorts of new and exciting ways of engaging with communities far beyond the ubiquitous — and often terrible — comments sections at the bottom of articles,” said Dan Sinker, head of the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews initiative, who will lead the project. “With this collaboration, we’re bringing together top talent to build new tools for newsrooms to engage.”"Mozilla to Develop Comments Platform With New York Times and Washington Post - NYTimes.com
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Another take on Fire Phone pricing
"“Amazon didn’t start a tablet price war on Day 1,” Feibus said. “That came a year later, when it introduced the 2nd generation Fire tablets.”Amazon Could Have Put the Hurt on Other Android Phone Makers, But Didn’t | Re/code
Feibus said that Amazon may be looking to keep sales of the first phone modest until it ensures it has something customers really like.
“So other Android phone makers may be breathing a sigh of relief today,” he said. “But they’d better keep looking over their shoulders. This thing isn’t over. Not by a long shot.”"
Making the networking world safe for the Internet of Facebook things
"It could be a big deal, since a successful product like this could threaten the market control, and profit margins, of companies like Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and Arista Networks. Facebook built the product in modules and plans to make it available through open source by the end of this year. It could make networking, one of the last great arcane computer engineering disciplines, go mainstream.Facebook Makes Its Own Computer Networking Switch - NYTimes.com
“The bigger strategy here is to get computer networking out of the black box, black operations part of the world,” said Najam Ahmad, vice president of network engineering at Facebook. “We have tons of software engineers at Facebook, they can all work on network stuff now.”"
An always-on camera market snapshot
"Many people who strap cameras onto their bodies are destined for the nearest emergency room. GoPro Inc. rakes in nearly $1 billion a year selling ruggedized video cameras that some people attach to their mountain bikes or motorcycle helmets right before they do something stupid.Living the dull life, 30 seconds at a time - Business - The Boston Globe
But the quantified self folks are after bigger game. The true believers among them think we’re the first generation of humans truly capable of knowing ourselves — not through prayer and meditation, but from the unrelenting accumulation of data. The most passionate “lifeloggers” record every aspect of their existence — not just phone calls and e-mails, but heart rate and blood pressure. And of course, digital photos of every place and person along the way."
Excerpt from a critical Amazon Fire Phone strategy reality check
"But instead of a cheap phone, Amazon delivered a device packed with many high-end, whiz-bang features. Some of those features may be attractive to people who already love Amazon, but for people who aren’t looking to be hooked so intimately into Amazon’s brain, it’s hard to see what this phone offers over the iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy or any other top-of-the-line smartphone on the market today."Amazon Fire Phone’s Missed Opportunities - NYTimes.com
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Because what the world needs now is more semi-random Facebook content
""We don’t see this as a messaging app," says Flynn. "It’s more along lines of a feed or stream of content because of that pay-to-play mechanic." The bigger idea, says Flynn, is to turn every user into a creator that posts more than they might on Facebook — because "unlocking" your friends’ posts requires you to post back. "[Venture capitalist] Fred Wilson once said that the cardinal rule of social networks is that one percent of people create content and 90 percent of people consume it," says Flynn, "and we want to flip that on its head." Snapchat proved that people would share more if their messages disappeared, and if they felt unhindered and candid. Nobody would’ve expected, however, that Facebook would have applied Snapchat’s ephemeral flavor to posts in a feed instead of to messages, and then forced people to post if they want to receive messages."Facebook Slingshot is much more than a Snapchat clone | The Verge
This could be the killer app for Amazon Silk
"Paying for customers’ data use could make a lot of sense for Amazon, which makes most of its money from selling things. Footing the bill for the data used to sell physical goods and books is a no-brainer, given that such transactions use very little data. Music and movies are a trickier proposition as they use significantly more data.Could Amazon Be the First Major Customer for AT&T’s “Toll-Free” Data Service? | Re/code
“The AT&T Sponsored Data program has Amazon’s name all over it,” said TechKnowledge Strategies analyst Mike Feibus. “The whole point of a phone for Amazon is to grab our attention. Once Amazon has our attention, it can put its commerce engine to work selling us stuff.”"
It's going to be a big day for Amazon's device team
"So while the 3D display may make headlines at first, the truly important features are going to be how Amazon makes buying things on its phone so easy that people do more of it. In this sense the Dash, even though it’s not yet a visible face of Amazon’s design vision, serves as the best barometer for the upcoming smartphone. While the Dash makes it easy for customers to shop in their kitchens, a successful Amazon smartphone would extend that smooth shopping to every corner of commerce in daily life. “Why have a wand,” asks Mod, “when everyone has a phone?”"Can Amazon Design the Perfect Smartphone for Shopping? - Businessweek
Excerpt from a Brad Stone Amazon Lab126 profile
"More than 1,600 people claim Lab126 as their employer on the professional networking site LinkedIn. Just a few months ago, Amazon investors might reasonably have demanded to know what those expensive engineers and product managers—and many others working on device hardware and software from Amazon’s offices in Seattle and in Cambridge, Mass.—were actually doing.Inside the Secretive R&D Lab Behind the Amazon Phone - Businessweek
But this is turning out to be a big year for Lab126. Amazon released its Fire TV set-top box in April, to good reviews and endless promotion on the Amazon home page. Around the same time the company started quietly distributing the wand-like Amazon Dash, which lets users of its AmazonFresh grocery service scan barcodes of everyday items and add them to their online shopping lists. Tomorrow’s announcement—and refreshes to the e-reader and tablets that are no doubt coming later this year—will make this the most productive year for Lab126 since Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos established the group to pursue a digital reading device back in 2004."
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Reciprocal ephemeral selfie sharing
"Now Facebook, the world’s largest social network, is rolling out Slingshot, its own service for sending self-destructing selfies to friends.Facebook Releases Slingshot for Self-Destructing Selfies - NYTimes.com
The new app, which will be available in the Apple and Android mobile app stores on Tuesday in the United States and later in other countries, aims to create a sense of community by encouraging users to send a photo or video to a group of friends. Its unique twist is that the recipients are required to share a visual moment of their own before they can see what was sent to them."
I suppose they could always use the warehouse facilities as data centers, if the whole e-tail thing doesn't work out...
"Unlike past advances in retail gratification–the emergence of the supermarket in the mid-20th century, say, or the more recent rise to dominance of Walmart superstores–the workings of Amazon are almost entirely hidden from view. Amazon doesn’t want customers focused on the mechanics of its seemingly magical powers. But last month, the company gave WIRED a rare glimpse into one of the more than 90 warehouses it operates across the globe, looking to show that its fulfillment machine is finely tuned not just to serve Amazon itself but anyone else who wants to sell stuff on its site."A Rare Peek Inside Amazon’s Massive Wish-Fulfilling Machine | Business | WIRED
In other Google Skynet news... Also see Google’s Balloon Internet Experiment, One Year Later (Wired)
"A year after Project Loon became public, its leaders told Wired that Google should be able to provide LTE data connections “in one or several countries” within the next year.Google’s Project Loon Internet Service Could Arrive by Next Year | Re/code
The company hopes to grow a fleet of 300 to 400 balloons that can continuously circle the earth at an altitude twice as high as commercial planes, and stay up for 100 or more days. Already, the balloons have traveled more than a million and a half kilometers, and circled the world in as little as 22 days, which is a world record.
And they are delivering Internet speeds of 22 MB per second to ground antennae and 5 MB per second to phones."
Perhaps an opportune moment for Amazon to be launching its new phone (tomorrow)
"Last week it was reported by NWA online that Samsung's mobile-phone business, which accounted for 76 percent of operating income in the first quarter, posted the lowest sales in five quarters as Chinese producers gain in emerging markets with cheaper, feature-packed devices. The chances of it turning around this quarter may be tough if a new report out of Korea pans out.Samsung's Galaxy S5 is Confirmed a Dud & May Hurt Financials - Patently Apple
According to Korea's UDN, Samsung's supply chain sources are stating that Samsung's goal was to ship 21 million Galaxy S5 units this quarter and that they'll likely ship closer to 15 million which is a 25% target miss. This would be a huge miss. Sales for the Galaxy S4 are down a million units as well."
Check the full article for some potential downsides
"For 1/38th the price of WhatsApp, Google acquired Skybox Imaging, which puts satellites into orbit 185 miles above Earth on the tip of the same Russian missiles that once threatened the U.S. with nuclear destruction. And here's what Skybox could allow Google to accomplish: Within a couple of years, when you want to know whether you left your porch light on or if your teenager borrowed the car you forbade her to drive, you might check Google Maps.Amid Stratospheric Valuations, Google Unearths a Deal With Skybox - WSJ
That's because by 2016 or so, Skybox will be able to take full images of the Earth twice a day, at a resolution that until last week was illegal to sell commercially—all with just a half-dozen satellites. By the time its entire fleet of 24 satellites has launched in 2018, Skybox will be imaging the entire Earth at a resolution sufficient to capture, for example, real-time video of cars driving down the highway. And it will be doing it three times a day."
"His videos aren't traditional game reviews. "Pewds," as he is often called, simply plays games and allows his audience—mostly teenagers—to peer in on his experience and hear random opinions interspersed with odd behavior. He contorts, screeches, swears, sings and even "twerks" to portray his feelings.YouTube Star Plays Videogames, Earns $4 Million a Year - WSJ
The 24-year-old Mr. Kjellberg, who created PewDiePie five years ago, has parlayed his persona into a brand name that pulls in the equivalent of $4 million in ad sales a year, most of it pure profit. In December 2012, PewDiePie signed on with Maker Studios, a producer of online content that takes a cut of ad sales. Maker Studios—which counts on PewDiePie as its most important personality—sold itself to Walt Disney Co. earlier this year in a deal that could be worth close to $1 billion, depending on certain performance targets.
His following is so big that even games he criticizes get coveted publicity."
Read all about it here
"The publishers - Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group (USA) Inc, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster Inc, previously agreed to pay more than $166 million to settle related antitrust charges.Apple Settles e-Book Antitrust Case - NYTimes.com
Last July, a federal court found Apple liable for colluding with the publishers after a separate non-jury trial in a case brought by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Judge Cote found that Apple took part in a price-fixing conspiracy to fight online retailer Amazon.com Inc's dominance in the e-book market.
Apple is appealing that decision and Monday's settlement is contingent on the outcome of that appeal."
tbd if this is just talk...
"Could Nuance Communications Inc. be up for grabs — again?Burlington’s Nuance reportedly in sales talks with Samsung - Business - The Boston Globe
The Burlington maker of speech- recognition software has talked with several possible buyers, including Samsung Electronics Co., The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
A spokesman for Nuance, Richard Mack, declined to comment."
Monday, June 16, 2014
Healthy competition; also see Google to Follow Apple into Health Tracking: Report (WSJ)
"Health apps and fitness trackers can be a bit of a mess nowadays—and in that mess WebMD sees an opportunity. You might have a fitness band with a corresponding app, another app for tracking runs or bike rides, and yet another to track what you’re eating each day. On Monday, WebMD updated its iPhone app to be a catch-all for the data produced by different wearables, as well as a daily fitness tracker and health minder."WebMD Relaunches iPhone App as a Hub for Fitness Data - Personal Tech News - WSJ
A big bet for Amazon
"Now Amazon is giving this brutal business a shot. On the one hand, analysts say, it has no choice. On the other, the rewards could be tremendous.With an Amazon Smartphone, the Retailer Seeks a Tether to Consumers - NYTimes.com
“Mobile is asserting not just its utility but its supremacy,” said James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research. “If you’re Amazon, you’re worried you’re going to be cut out of the next big interface. So you jump in and make yourself relevant, whether your customer is in the bathroom, the kitchen or the car. You go for broke.”"
Friday, June 13, 2014
So naturally Report: Microsoft Surface Smart Watch Will Launch in 2014 (Mashable)
"Roughly 2.3 million of the fitness devices were sold in the first quarter, compared to just more than a half million smartwatches, according to new market data from ABI Research.Activity Trackers Outselling Smartwatches 4 to 1, but Google and Apple Could Change That | Re/code
“Activity trackers are currently the most viable consumer electronics wearable device category, because they have a clear use case that cannot be matched by smartphones, in contrast to smartwatches,” says ABI Research senior practice director Nick Spencer. “End users have been happy to ditch their watches and use smartphones to tell the time, so extending smartphone functions to the watch is a weak use case and retrograde step.”"
More on Tesla's "open-source-inspired" patent strategy
"Musk believes that opening up the patents around the charging technology could lead to important partnerships. He has talked this week to executives from BMW about sharing the cost of building recharging stations and creating a common infrastructure.Why Elon Musk Just Opened Tesla's Patents to His Biggest Rivals - Businessweek
Tesla’s nationwide network of recharging stations and its plans to build huge battery factories really bring Musk’s point home. No other automaker is making anything like these types of investments in electric cars. At best, Tesla’s rivals are trying to make more interesting electric cars than they have in the past. Musk would like to see the industry step up its game and move from treating electric vehicles like a hobby to making them a top priority."
Samsung upgrades its tablet lineup with the Galaxy Tab S | VentureBeat | Mobile | by Devindra Hardawar
I don't recall ever seeing a Samsung tablet anyplace but on store shelves; also see Galaxy Tab S vs iPad Air specs comparison (The Inquirer)
"The Tab S slates also look a lot like the Galaxy S5, with a similar plastic frame and faux-leather rear cover. Samsung didn’t say much about the tablet’s internal specs, which is yet another sign that we’ve reached a tipping point in mobile hardware.Samsung upgrades its tablet lineup with the Galaxy Tab S | VentureBeat | Mobile | by Devindra Hardawar
In recent years Samsung has focused more on its Galaxy Note tablets, which sport a stylus that differentiates it from the iPad and other popular tablets. The Galaxy Tab series, meanwhile, has been quietly updated without much celebration. That all changed today.
Now, Samsung is positioning the Galaxy Tab S as its flagship tablet line. At just 6.6 millimeters thick, they’re the thinnest slates Samsung has ever created."
Check the full article for a streaming service snapshot
"When Amazon announced its new streaming music service, it butted its way in to a room already crowded with players. Some, like Pandora, focus on custom radio-like experience, while others, such as Beats and Spotify, offer vast catalogs of music on-demand for a flat monthly fee. Apple and Google (and now, too, Amazon) stream music in various ways, in order to appeal to widely differing preferences of their users.A Field Guide to Streaming Music Services - Personal Tech News - WSJ
Here’s a quick guide to all the streaming music options that matter:"
Google and Facebook are in a race to change consumer expectations on advertising -- they seek to make advertising more like profile-premised, proactive, and productive search than noise
"Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, called the move "another 'If you don't like it, opt-out' business change." Mr. Rotenberg said Facebook's opt-out program is ineffective, because it requires users to go to a separate website. He said user choices are easily undermined because the program works by placing an opt-out cookie on people's websites. The minute users clear their cookies, they also delete the opt-out preference. He also said many companies don't participate in the opt-out program.Facebook to Expand Data Used in Ad Targeting - WSJ
Facebook said it briefed the FTC and Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner ahead of Thursday's announcement."
Another take on Facebook's new advertising-oriented quasi-transparency
"Giving users the ability to alter their ad profiles gives individuals at least slightly more control over their interactions with Big Data. And maybe the shift toward data transparency at Facebook will prompt other companies to follow, or even encourage Congress to act on measures to protect consumers on a larger scale.Facebook Is Expanding the Way It Tracks You and Your Data - Atlantic Mobile
In the meantime, though, the relationship between companies and your data hasn't changed. According to the site aboutads.info, there are at least 99 companies customizing ads for my browser as I write this—that's customization based on my personal data and online (and offline!) behaviors. Data collection techniques used by corporations and governments are only becoming more sophisticated and far-reaching, and we're only just beginning to understand what they know."
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Compete different -- and change the world
"Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.All Our Patent Are Belong To You | Blog | Tesla Motors
Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.
We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform. "
Competing globally and acting locally; also see Will Amazon's Local Services Marketplace Kill Yelp And Angie's List? (Forbes)
"For quite some time since the introduction of Google+ Local, managing local listings and content across Google properties has confused many local SEOs and local business owners alike. Now Google has launched a new, integrated approach called Google My Business.New "Google My Business" Simplifies Local Marketing For SMBs
The core idea is to make it “easier than ever to update business information across Google Search, Maps and Google+.” Think of it as a kind of rudimentary CRM platform for small businesses (SMBs)."
Adding Tizen devices to my future-collectors-item list
"To support his view, Sheehy said the OS is five years behind Google's Android and Apple's iOS and has the support of only a small cadre of developers compared to the millions writing applications for Android and iOS. "Watching Tizen's development is like watching a car crash in slow motion," he wrote.Update: Tizen OS declared 'dead in the water' - Computerworld
In comments to Computerworld, he added, "As far as a viable alternative to Android, Tizen is dead in the water.""
The latest iPhone accessory: your Mac
"If you own an iPhone and a Mac, Apple's new system for connecting the two is one of the best new features for OS X 10.10 Yosemite. True, Apple is years behind Google when it comes to making and taking phone calls from the computer, but its better-late-than-never approach gives the company two big advantages over Google's system: the fact that it easily syncs with your phone, and that it's part of a tightly-integrated system that goes beyond making calls."Calling all Macs: Why OS X Yosemite is your iPhone's new best friend - CNET
Response by Ray Kurzweil to the announcement of chatbot Eugene Goostman passing the Turing test | KurzweilAI
Another take on the recent Turing Test proclamation
"I have had a long-term wager with Mitch Kapor in which I predicted that a computer program would pass the Turing test by 2029 and he predicted that this would not happen, see links below.Response by Ray Kurzweil to the announcement of chatbot Eugene Goostman passing the Turing test | KurzweilAI
This was the first long-term wager on the “Long Now” website. The bet called for $20,000 to be donated from us to the charity of the winner’s choice.
As a result, messages have been streaming in from around the world congratulating me for having won the bet.
However, I think this is premature. I am disappointed that Professor Warwick, with whom I agree on many things, would make this statement. There are several problems that I describe below, including a transcript of a conversation that I had with Eugene Goostman, the chatbot in question."
Check this Amazon page for more details
"So let’s engage in a bit of speculation instead: Why would Amazon come out with a digital music service that’s just like lots of other services, but not as good?Amazon Launches Prime Music Service without Universal Music Group | Re/code
The most obvious conclusion is that Amazon doesn’t think its Amazon Prime members, who are already paying between $79 and $99 for the shipping service, will compare Prime Music to other subscription music services, because those services don’t have many subscribers."
Excerpt from the lead article of a NYT cloud computing special section
"For the half-century that computers have been part of the workplace, companies have bought their own machines for corporate data centers. But that may be about to change. Industry analysts at IDC figure that if largely cloud-based things like mobile apps, big data, and social media are counted, over the next six years almost 90 percent of new spending on Internet and communications technologies, a $5 trillion global business, will be on cloud-based technology."The Era of Cloud Computing - NYTimes.com
Mind your graph; also see Facebook Gives Advertisers More Access to Your Data. You’re Probably Going to Be Fine with It (Re/code)
"Facebook plans to announce on Thursday that it is going to give its users the ability to see the dossiers of likes and interests it keeps on them, as well as the ability to change, add or delete information in those files. And if you don’t like an ad, you will be able to tell the social network what types of marketing messages you would rather see.Facebook to Let Users Alter Their Ad Profiles - NYTimes.com
For Facebook, giving users more control could be smart business. A record of user interests — gathered by tracking their activity on the site — is the basis of ad targeting on the social network. Companies are likely to buy more ads and pay higher prices if they know that their pitches are reaching a receptive audience."
"Over the next few years, if Uber and other such services do reduce the need for private vehicle ownership, they could help lower the cost of living in urban areas, reduce the environmental toll exacted by privately owned automobiles (like the emissions we spew while cruising for parking), and reallocate space now being wasted on parking lots to more valuable uses, like housing.With Uber, Less Reason to Own a Car - NYTimes.com
Paradoxically, some experts say, the increased use of ride-sharing services could also spawn renewed interest in and funding for public transportation, because people generally use taxis in conjunction with many other forms of transportation."
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Sign of the times
"You may have noticed that you can’t access the website or load any of your feeds via the app. Feedly explained in a short message two hours ago that the DDoS perpetrator is holding Feedly to ransom and asking for money to stop the attack, Feedly has refused to comply.Feedly and Evernote Go Down As Attackers Demand Ransom - Forbes
CEO of Feedly, Edwin Khodabakchian, said in a short statement: “Criminals are attacking feedly with a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS). The attacker is trying to extort us money to make it stop. We refused to give in and are working with our network providers to mitigate the attack as best as we can.”"
"In fact, Oracle 12c may be an improvement over HANA in some ways. Mr. Ellison demonstrated a machine that could analyze nearly one trillion rows of data per second, and hold 32 trillion bytes of data in memory. A process that had previously taken 58 hours, he said, now needed only 13 minutes. Since costs were not disclosed, it was not clear how expensive it would be to do something like that.Oracle's Database of Youth - NYTimes.com
Perhaps just as important as the features, however, was what the “forever young” message meant for Mr. Ellison’s customers. The core part of their businesses could remain relevant in our ever-faster future. By extension, the customers would too. That is a powerful pitch, when old incumbent companies, in and out of tech, seem under threat by new approaches."
Internet access via fiber, balloons, drones, and satellites
"Google agreed on Tuesday to buy Skybox Imaging, a provider of high-quality satellite images, for $500 million, as the technology giant continues to work on fulfilling its lofty ambitions for its Internet offerings.Google to Buy Skybox Imaging for $500 Million - NYTimes.com
Initially, Skybox will help improve Google’s dominant mapping service. But over time, the five-year-old start-up and its ability to launch relatively cheap satellites could aid a bigger Google goal: expanding its Internet service offerings."
Excerpt from a wide-ranging Phil Libin interview
"So is selling apps the only alternative? No. “Apps are becoming irrelevant,” he said. He thinks people simply don't have the time to think about what apps to use and choose them from hundreds of competitors. The real business model of the future is “hyper-awareness.”Evernote's Phil Libin says advertising sucks and apps are dead - Silicon Valley Business Journal
He envisions a time in the very near future when Evernote will be always on in the background, “examining what you're doing, what you're thinking about and who you're meeting with ... and figuring out what piece of information exists in the world that could help you best accomplish whatever you want to accomplish, then offering that information.”
All of that will be done with your permission, of course."
"By some measures, Apple and Samsung’s plans might seem ill-advised. Previous efforts to aggregate health-care data, including Google Health and Microsoft’s HealthVault, have had little to no success, in part because of privacy concerns but also because the benefits weren’t clear. But those earlier efforts were not aimed at mobile health monitoring, as the new ones are.Why Apple Released a Health App and Platform | MIT Technology Review
Mayo Clinic, one of Apple’s key partners in this new health project, has been at the forefront of digital self-tracking for patient care. In March, the hospital announced the results of a cardiac rehabilitation program in which patients used an app to input daily measurements of variables such as weight, blood pressure, and physical activity. The app then provided advice on how to stay healthy. Among patients hospitalized following a heart attack, only 20 percent of those who used the app were readmitted to the hospital or visited the emergency department within 90 days of discharge, compared with 60 percent of those who didn’t use the app."
In potential challenge to Terrafugia, Tesla's Elon Musk may start making flying cars - Boston Business Journal
I'm holding out for flying + self-driving...
"Now, Dietrich can now add some more competition to the flying car field. BIllionaire Elon Musk, whose companies include Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) and SpaceX, said he might be interested in breaking into the flying car game.In potential challenge to Terrafugia, Tesla's Elon Musk may start making flying cars - Boston Business Journal
"Maybe we'll make a flying car, just for fun," Musk told The Independent. "We could definitely make a flying car – but that's not the hard part. The hard part is, how do you make a flying car that's super safe and quiet? Because if it's a howler, you're going to make people very unhappy.""
Excerpt from a self-programming reality check
"What DARPA and Simonyi are hoping for is a complete paradigm shift. A programmer—and this could be anyone—would simply tell the computer what he needed in plain English, and the computer would figure out the rest. Anyone would be able to program, not just highly trained specialists, and, at least in principle, computers might ultimately produce much more reliable code than their human counterparts.Do We Really Need to Learn to Code? : The New Yorker
This all sounds great. But before we reach the era of self-programming computers, three fundamental obstacles must be overcome."
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
From a Jean-Louis Gassée WWDC 2014 overview
"In this year’s installment of the World Wide Developers Conference, Apple announced a deluge of improvements to their development platforms and tools, including new SDKs (CloudKit, HomeKit, HealthKit); iCloud Drive, the long awaited response to Dropbox; and Swift, an easy-to-learn, leak-free programming language that could spawn a new generation of Apple developers who regard Objective-C as esoteric and burdensome.WWDC: iOS 2.0, the End of Silos | Monday Note
If this sounds overly geeky, let’s remind ourselves that WWDC isn’t intended for buyers of Apple products. It’s a sanctuary for people who write OS X and iOS applications. This explains Phil Schiller’s absence from the stage: Techies don’t trust marketing people"
From an AI reality check
"What Goostman’s victory really reveals, though, is not the advent of SkyNet or cyborg culture but rather the ease with which we can fool others. A postmortem of Goostman’s performance from 2012 reports that the program succeeded by executing a series of “ploys” designed to mask the program’s limitations. When Goostman is out of its depth—which is most of the time—it attempts to “change the subject if possible … asking questions, steer[ing] the conversation, [and] occasionally throw[ing] in some humour.” All these feints show up even in short conversations like the one above.What Comes After the Turing Test? : The New Yorker
It’s easy to see how an untrained judge might mistake wit for reality, but once you have an understanding of how this sort of system works, the constant misdirection and deflection becomes obvious, even irritating. The illusion, in other words, is fleeting."
In other Facebook messaging news...
"A Facebook representative confirmed to The Verge that the launch was in fact an accident. "Earlier today, we accidentally released a version of Slingshot, a new app we're working on. With Slingshot, you'll be able to share everyday moments with lots of people at once. It'll be ready soon and we're excited for you to try it out," said a Facebook spokesperson."Facebook accidentally launches, then pulls Snapchat competitor Slingshot | The Verge
Another data point suggesting Microsoft is serious about competing on non-Windows platforms
"Microsoft will soon be launching a completely redesigned Skype for iPhone app that is five times faster and more responsive than its existing app, the company announced Monday.Skype's Redesigned iPhone App Is Five Times Faster Than Current App
Skype 5.0 also includes improved group chatting, better navigation and notification syncing across devices."
From a timely big data reality check
"The economic crash of 2008 provides another reality check for Big Data. Wall Streeters have the fastest computers, most sophisticated software and biggest databases money can buy, and yet many failed to see the 2008 crash coming. The hope that Big Data will make economics and other social sciences truly scientific—that is, precise and predictive–remains, for now, a fantasy.So Far, Big Data Is Small Potatoes | Cross-Check, Scientific American Blog Network
I assume—I hope—that our ever-improving information technologies will one day yield truly revolutionary advances in medicine, social sciences and other fields. But until that day arrives, let’s keep a lid on the hype about Big Data."
Check the video link below for a state-of-the-art gaming snapshot
"“We have so much data, so many numbers, so many figures, that teams like us should use way more wisely that we do right now,” says Patrik Sattermon, chief gaming officer with Fnatic, a professional gaming team, in a video produced by SteelSeries. “You can analyze what I’m looking at, and then you can try to re-hotwire your brain in the sense that’s going to improve your game in the future.”"How Eye-Tracking Tech Goes From Elite Video Gamers to Your PC - Businessweek
Excerpt from a "What bubble?..." Uber profile
"And then there is the prospect that Uber isn’t really a taxi or limousine company at all. Some say it is just the beginning of a much larger global delivery service. The company’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick, has talked about Uber as an extensive software platform for shipping and logistics. It’s doubtful that Mr. Kalanick will be taking on FedEx or UPS anytime soon, but in New York, he’s already introduced a messenger service using the Uber app.Why Uber Might Well Be Worth $18 Billion - NYTimes.com
“Uber is creating a digital mesh — a power grid which goes within the metropolitan areas,” is how Shervin Pishevar, an early Uber investor, described the company last year. “After you have that power grid running, in everyone’s pockets, there’s lots of possibility of what you could build like a platform. Uber is incorporated in the empire-building phase.”"
Monday, June 09, 2014
For another approach, see this Doonesbury strip
"A colleague of mine in the department of computer science at Dartmouth recently sent an e-mail to all of us on the faculty. The subject line read: “Ban computers in the classroom?” The note that followed was one sentence long: “I finally saw the light today and propose we ban the use of laptops in class.”The Case for Banning Laptops in the Classroom : The New Yorker
While the sentiment in my colleague’s e-mail was familiar, the source was surprising: it came from someone teaching a programming class, where computers are absolutely integral to learning and teaching. Surprise turned to something approaching shock when, in successive e-mails, I saw that his opinion was shared by many others in the department."
Likely a mixed blessing
"When iOS 8 hits, the notification center is going to be the most important screen in your iPhone. Think about it: Notifications already are the way you know about everything that happens without having to fire up an app. A notification lets you know you have a new email, a new text message, a new Snapchat. (Hi, Tony. Looking good.) But with iOS 8 they become interactive. They’re not just simple announcements—or even calls to action—anymore. They are actions in and of themselves. Entirely new windows onto our data. It’s nearly impossible to overstate how much this will change the way you use your phone."Why Notifications Are About to Rule the Smartphone Interface | Gadget Lab | WIRED
Saturday, June 07, 2014
I think I'll wait for the 2.0 release...
"In 1960 Ted Nelson, the man who coined the term "hypertext", began work on his magnum opus -- Xanadu. In late April, after 54 years of development, the complex document builder and viewer was finally released with little to no fanfare at a Chapman University event."After 54 years as vaporware, the web's oldest ancestor is released
Friday, June 06, 2014
In happier news for Amazon this week...
"The team fought to overcome cultural resistance to using outside servers and then undertook the painstaking process of certifying AWS as secure enough to handle government healthcare information. “There were a lot of specific barriers,” Ballinger says. “Because this type of thing is so rare, actually nobody can enumerate the entire sequence of steps. At one point we built a chart of every step we needed to take in order to use AWS, and it had, like, 30 different nodes.”Why the New Obamacare Website Is Going to Work This Time | Business | WIRED
The team prevailed, largely because by then the newcomers had the enthusiastic support of CMS lifers like Jon Booth, the director of the sub-agency’s Web and New Media group, who says that the go-ahead was made easier because some Health and Human Services customers had successfully completed security audits of AWS and had started to run programs on it. “It was a no-brainer for us,” Booth says."
Sigh -- the article also notes "Security experts are still trying to plug the hole left by Heartbleed, the bug found in the widely used OpenSSL encryption protocol, with some 12,000 popular domains still vulnerable"
"Unlike Heartbleed, which could be used to directly exploit any server using OpenSSL, this new bug requires that the attacker be located between two computers communicating. A likely target, for example, would be someone using an airport’s public Wi-Fi.New Bug Found in Widely Used OpenSSL Encryption - NYTimes.com
The new bug was introduced into OpenSSL when it was first released in 1998, more than 10 years before Heartbleed, which was first introduced in a code update on New Year’s Eve in 2011."
From a browser market dynamics snapshot
"Curiously, Google does not make the most-popular desktop browser or mobile browser. On desktops, Internet Explorer is number one, with 43% share compared to 31% for Chrome. On mobile devices, Apple's Safari is by far the most popular, with 59% of searches, reflecting the strength of Apple’s iPhone.Google Passes Microsoft in U.S. Browser Market Share - Digits - WSJ
But Google is first overall, because Internet Explorer has little share on mobile devices, and Safari has little share on PCs."
Excerpt from a sign-of-the-times snapshot
"He brought on a Hachette author, Sherman Alexie, who plugged the Hachette book, “California,” by Edan Lepucki. Mr. Colbert urged people to buy it at the independent Portland, Ore., store Powell’s, tweeting to his six million followers, “Together we can #CutDownTheAmazon.” Powell’s struggled to keep up with the orders as “California,” a first novel, immediately became its No. 1 best-seller."Amazon Boycott Gets a Helping Hand From Stephen Colbert - NYTimes.com
Check the source page for a powerful and interactive infographic
"Five years since the end of the Great Recession, the private sector has finally regained the nine million jobs it lost. But not all industries recovered equally. Each line below shows how the number of jobs has changed for a particular industry over the past 10 years. Scroll down to see how the recession reshaped the nation’s job market, industry by industry."How the Recession Reshaped the Economy, in 255 Charts - NYTimes.com
Thursday, June 05, 2014
A busy season for IBM's PR damage control team; also see Cringely's The Decline and Fall of IBM (thanks to Charles Fitzgerald for the links)
"It’s been a striking week for IBM. In its June 2014 issue, Harvard Business Review (HBR) published an interview with IBM’s former CEO Sam Palmisano, in which describes how he triumphantly “managed” investors and induced IBM’s share price to soar.Why IBM Is In Decline
But IBM also made it to the front cover of Bloomberg Businessweek (BW) with a devastating article: “The Trouble With IBM.” According to BW, Palmisano handed over to his unfortunate successor CEO, Ginni Rometty, a firm with a toxic mix of unsustainable policies."
"As a response to the demand, Apple stepped up to the plate on Monday with its Health app and Healthkit framework to try to standardize and simplify the collection and display of data. And, eventually to help health professionals tap into that data to interpret it.Apple’s New iPhone Ad Stars A Bunch Of Health Gadgets That Are Not An iWatch | TechCrunch
Today, Apple is ramping up the health-related marketing in earnest with a new iPhone ad that begins airing during the Stanley Cup. The ad features a bunch of fitness apps and gadgets, backed by a song called “Chicken Fat” by actor Robert Preston, which was originally composed for a Presidential Fitness program under President Kennedy — a tad before my time."
tbd if Amazon's long-anticipated smartphone will offer anything beyond 3D UI tricks (e.g., innovation in voice/data service provider options)
"Amazon announced today it will hold a “device unveiling” event on June 18 in Seattle, dropping hints that correspond with what we already know about its project to build a mobile phone.Amazon Device Launch Invites Show Off “3-D” Interface | Re/code
In a video, Amazon showed what appear to be beta testers moving their heads from side to side while looking at something held offscreen. “It moved with me,” one of them says."
Final paragraph of a stark Surface Pro 3 reality check
"At its launch event, Microsoft continuously asked people to compare the MacBook Air to this Surface Pro 3. I’m sorry to say that I can’t recommend that comparison, nor can I recommend it as a replacement for your iPad or Android tablet."Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Doesn’t Stand Up to MacBook Air | Re/code
For when you're not busy watching TV on mobile apps; see the article link below for an overview of available mobile MOOC apps and content
"Thousands of courses from some of the world’s finest institutions are available free online, covering everything from astrophysics to the arts. For each course, students, sometimes numbering in the thousands, take part from home — where they view video lectures, take tests and submit essays through a Web interface. It’s a digital classroom with no actual “room,” and where you can study more or less when you like.Via Tablet or Smartphone, Learning With MOOCs - NYTimes.com
Nowadays of course, your smartphone means you can also study when you’re on the move."
Good cloud data privacy/security case study fodder
"Forget about selling books, movies and cereal—Amazon is now getting into the Obamacare game.Feds shift Obamacare data tech to Amazon
Health insurers selling policies under the health-care law have been told that the Amazon Web Services cloud can be used as a host for important data that those insurers are required to share with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, CNBC.com has learned."
Final paragraph from a discouraging case study in oligopoly politics
"Among the three proposed deals that the F.C.C. and the Justice Department will weigh, Mr. Moffett considers that the Comcast and AT&T proposals will be the ones to pass, since either approving all three or rejecting them all would be politically untenable. “They will have to find at least one acquisition to be the sacrificial lamb,” he said."T-Mobile and Sprint Zeroing In on a $32 Billion Merger - NYTimes.com