Friday, October 20, 2017

Coda is a next-generation spreadsheet designed to make Excel a thing of the past - The Verge

Tangentially, see Tech pioneers celebrate National Spreadsheet Day (Accounting Today)
"The ability to link documents together, infused with live data that updates automatically, has led Uber to use Coda like a wiki in some cases. In others, engineers build complex views of databases that showcase data with a high degree of granularity, while the marketing team relies on a summary document that only displays key numbers. 
Of course, Coda isn’t the first company to attempt a reinvention of Microsoft Office. Smartsheet, which launched in 2006, has 70,000 businesses using its collaborative, cloud-based spreadsheets. Quip, which was founded in 2012, sold its combined word processor and spreadsheet to Salesforce for $750 million last year. But neither of those apps has become a breakout hit in the fashion of other modern workplace tools, such as Slack or Trello."
Coda is a next-generation spreadsheet designed to make Excel a thing of the past - The Verge

Elon Musk’s East Coast Hyperloop will launch digging in Maryland, state and company say - The Washington Post

In other billionaire adventures, see Rocket tests and wind farms. Jeff Bezos had more on his mind today than just who wants to host an Amazon HQ (The Washington Post) and Jeff Bezos christened Amazon’s largest wind farm while 300 feet in the air (Recode)
"The Maryland Department of Transportation has given conditional approval to Musk’s firm to dig miles of tunnel under state roads to be used for the privately funded project, Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer said.

“It’s called a utility permit. That’s all they need to do the digging,” Mayer said. “It’s a private company, privately financed. The costs to the state will be extremely limited, if anything at all. The state has been working with them for multiple months on the permit process.”

The digging will start near Fort Meade, in Anne Arundel County, Mayer said. About 10 miles of tunnel will be under the state-owned portion of MD 295, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, he said."
Elon Musk’s East Coast Hyperloop will launch digging in Maryland, state and company say - The Washington Post

MongoDB finishes up 34% in database IPO | TechCrunch

Irrational exuberance, NoSQL document database edition; also see MongoDB's successful IPO reflects its differences with traditional open source (ZDNet)
"New York-based MongoDB went public on the Nasdaq on Thursday, finishing the day at $32.07, up 34 percent above its IPO price of $24. This is also above the proposed range of $20 to $22, which had been increased from $18 to $20.

The IPO netted $192 million for the company and valued it at about $1.18 billion. By the end of the day’s trading, the market cap was about $1.6 billion, the same as the reported $1.6 billion valuation from its financing round over two years ago.

MongoDB previously raised more than $300 million in equity financing dating back to 2008. Sequoia Capital, Flybridge Capital and Union Square Ventures hold the largest stakes."
MongoDB finishes up 34% in database IPO | TechCrunch

Walmart looks to see if virtual shopping is better than the real thing - The Washington Post

Check the full article for some VR shopping scenarios

"The technology has yet to catch on with the mainstream, so such concepts are still in the gee-whiz stage with no guarantee of boosting sales. But this summer, the company put out an open call for technology firms, venture capitalists and other entrepreneurs to submit their ideas. A panel of five judges — including Arianna Huffington, founder of Thrive Global; and Marc Lore, head of Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce operations — whittled the 200 applicants to five winners. They then spent about two months at Walmart’s technology incubator, called Store No 8, coming up with new shopping-centric applications for virtual reality.

Walmart has been experimenting with virtual reality to help train its employees for busy shopping days like Black Friday. It is also testing a program that would allow delivery drivers to walk into customers’ homes and deliver groceries straight to their refrigerators."
Walmart looks to see if virtual shopping is better than the real thing - The Washington Post

Thursday, October 19, 2017

McCain's latest surprise: regulate Facebook - Axios

Check the full post for a preview of the act

"Sen. John McCain knows his time in the public eye is short, so his big statements in recent weeks are especially resonant. Today, McCain will join with two Democrats — Sens. Mark Warner (Va.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) — to give bipartisan imprimatur to the first of the "Facebook bills," responding to last year's election interference.

Axios has a sneak peek at provisions of the Honest Ads Act, which would increase disclosure requirements for online political ads like the ones Russians surreptitiously bought, putting the rules on par with those for radio and TV ads.

Why it matters: This is the first in a wave of legislative and regulatory proposals we can expect in response to the disclosures that Russian agents used tech platforms to meddle in the 2016 election."
McCain's latest surprise: regulate Facebook - Axios

Michael Flynn, Nicki Minaj shared content from this Tennessee GOP account. But it wasn’t real. It was Russian. - The Washington Post

Later in the article: "Bots and trolls are most effective, experts say, when they find ways to interact online with actual people — and especially those with large followings." Also see Twitter Was Warned Repeatedly About This Fake Account Run By A Russian Troll Farm And Refused To Take It Down (BuzzFeed)
"Russian operatives used a fake Twitter account that claimed to speak for Tennessee Republicans to persuade American politicians, celebrities and journalists to share select content with their own massive lists of followers, two people familiar with the matter said.

The list of prominent people who tweeted out links from the account, @Ten_GOP, which Twitter shut down in August, includes political figures such as Michael Flynn and Roger Stone, celebrities such as Nicki Minaj and James Woods, and media personalities such as Ann Coulter and Chris Hayes."
Michael Flynn, Nicki Minaj shared content from this Tennessee GOP account. But it wasn’t real. It was Russian. - The Washington Post

DeepMind's Superpowerful AI Sets Its Sights on Drug Discovery - Bloomberg

Also see Google’s A.I. Has Made Some Pretty Huge Leaps This Week (Slate) and AlphaGo Zero Shows Machines Can Become Superhuman Without Any Help (MIT Technology Review)
"AlphaGo Zero used one-twelfth of the computing power of the version that beat 18-time world champion Go player Lee Sedol in 2016. It ran on just four Tensor Processing Units (TPUs), chipsets optimized for machine learning that Google has created for its data centers, compared with 48 on the previous version of AlphaGo.

Hassabis said the company is now planning to apply an algorithm based on AlphaGo Zero to other domains with real-world applications, starting with protein folding. To build drugs against various viruses, researchers need to know how proteins fold. "
DeepMind's Superpowerful AI Sets Its Sights on Drug Discovery - Bloomberg

Everyone’s Mad at Google and Sundar Pichai Has to Fix It - Bloomberg

From an extensive Google reality check

"If Elon Musk wanted to kvetch directly to Google, he’d probably go directly to his old philosophical sparring partner, Larry Page. Which brings up the main thing that sets Pichai apart from most of his CEO peers. It’s not his humility, diplomacy, or enthusiasm for AI. It’s that he has a boss.
Page always managed to delegate the political and managerial messes that Pichai now has to confront. Page is also largely invisible to the media; his last interview was two years ago. (He declined to speak for this story.) Yet he and Brin still control 51 percent of voting shares in Alphabet. One executive who recently left Google describes Pichai’s role more as a chief operating officer; another equates it with working for a “family company.”"
Everyone’s Mad at Google and Sundar Pichai Has to Fix It - Bloomberg

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

IBM's Q3 gets boost from z System mainframe; As-a-service annual run rate hits $9.4 billion | ZDNet

Not enough to prevent IBM's 22nd consecutive quarter of declining revenue, however

"But perhaps the biggest takeaway is that IBM's stronger-than-expected revenue got a boost from an old standby--the mainframe. IBM's latest z System is designed to bolster security and encrypt data in transit. That message is finding a market given the spate of data breaches. Customers were obviously interested as z System revenue was up 64 percent from a year ago.

CEO Ginny Rometty said z System adoption was "enthusiastic." At the heart of IBM Z is an encryption engine that will encrypt data associated with any application, cloud service or database."
IBM's Q3 gets boost from z System mainframe; As-a-service annual run rate hits $9.4 billion | ZDNet

Microsoft claims Windows 10 ARM battery life will be a ‘game-changer’ for laptops - The Verge

Meanwhile in the waning Wintel world: Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 claims 70% more battery life than MacBook Pros, 45% more pixels (9to5Mac)

"Microsoft first unveiled its plans for ARM-powered Windows laptops last year. The new devices will be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor, and will support traditional desktop apps thanks to an emulator in Windows 10. While Qualcomm previously promised laptops before the end of the year, we haven’t heard much about them yet. Asus, HP, and Lenovo are all preparing devices, and it seems like battery life will be a key selling point.

During a Qualcomm summit in Hong Kong this week, Microsoft and Qualcomm dropped some hints at what to expect from new ARM-powered laptops. Trusted Reviews reports that Qualcomm is still committed to getting devices in the market in December, and that Microsoft is promising multi-day battery life. “To be frank, it’s actually beyond our expectations,” says Pete Bernard, a program manager at Microsoft. “We set a high bar for [our developers], and we’re now beyond that. It’s the kind of battery life where I use it on a daily basis. I don’t take my charger with me. I may charge it every couple of days or so. It’s that kind of battery life.”"
Microsoft claims Windows 10 ARM battery life will be a ‘game-changer’ for laptops - The Verge

Google Pixel 2 review: It's biggest problem has nothing to do with the phone - The Washington Post

Also see Google’s Pixel 2 Smartphone Is a Powerful Extravagance (NYT)

"There’s also one big problem with the Pixel 2 that has nothing to do with the phone itself: It’s relatively hard to get. Google has agreed again to make the Pixel 2 available through just one carrier, Verizon. While consumers can also get the phone unlocked through Google’s own website, it is, generally speaking, a phone that must be sought out. It’s not going to present itself to you in stores or kiosks that aren’t Verizon’s, and that puts it at a disadvantage — particularly among those who want to comparison shop in stores.

Overall, Google's infused the Pixel 2 with smart software that complements its no-fuss but high-quality hardware. Google's home court advantage shines through and it has made two of the best phones out there. Those looking for an Android phone that takes full advantage of the operating system will love the Pixel 2 — that is, if you're willing to go out there looking for it."
Google Pixel 2 review: It's biggest problem has nothing to do with the phone - The Washington Post

How the Frightful Five Put Start-Ups in a Lose-Lose Situation - The New York Times

Compete different; for a different perspective, see Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook will all go away within 50 years, says author (MarketWatch)
"So if you’re worried about the power of the Frightful Five — Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft — just look at how IBM, Hewlett-Packard or monopoly-era Microsoft fell to earth. They were all victims of “creative destruction,” of an “innovator’s dilemma,” the theories that bolster Silicon Valley’s vision of itself as a roiling sea of pathbreaking upstarts, where the very thing that made you big also makes you vulnerable.

Well, maybe not this time.

The technology industry is now a playground for giants. Where 10 or 20 years ago we looked to start-ups as a font of future wonders, today the energy and momentum have shifted almost completely to the big guys. In addition to the many platforms they own already, one or more of the Five are on their way to owning artificial intelligence, voice assistants, virtual and augmented reality, robotics, home automation, and every other cool and crazy thing that will rule tomorrow."
How the Frightful Five Put Start-Ups in a Lose-Lose Situation - The New York Times

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Facebook acquires anonymous teen compliment app tbh, will let it run | TechCrunch

Tbd if tbh is part of Facebook's new plan for elections >= 2018...

"Facebook wants tbh to be its next Instagram. Today, Facebook announced it’s acquiring positivity-focused polling startup tbh and will allow it to operate somewhat independently with its own brand.

tbh had scored 5 million downloads and 2.5 million daily active users in the past nine weeks with its app that lets people anonymously answer kind-hearted multiple-choice questions about friends who then receive the poll results as compliments. You see questions like “Best to bring to a party?,” “Their perseverance is admirable?” and “Could see becoming a poet?” with your uploaded contacts on the app as answer choices."
Facebook acquires anonymous teen compliment app tbh, will let it run | TechCrunch

Google created machine-learning software that can program machine-learning software. (Slate)

On a related note, the cover of the latest issue of the New Yorker:

"The company’s A.I. project, AutoML, has successfully taught machine-learning software how to program machine-learning software. In some cases, the machines programmed better A.I. software than even the Google researchers could design. AutoML ran a test comparing a human-programmed image identification system to a machine-programmed one. The program created by the machine was able to score 43 percent on a task that required it to find objects in a picture. The best that the human-made software could score was 39 percent. Yet the AutoML software can only write programming for relatively basic A.I. tasks at the moment.

The hope is that the software will be able to perform the tedious yet highly complicated tasks that A.I. engineers are loathe to spend their time on—a bit like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice enchanting brooms to fetch water for him. This could theoretically free up engineers to pursue more ambitious projects that would otherwise require an exorbitant amount of time and labor. Researchers predict that advances in this field could accelerate the pace at which A.I. is implemented in other industries, such as health care."
Google created machine-learning software that can program machine-learning software.

Tesla's Former Battery Director Joins Farming Startup Plenty - Bloomberg

In other tech foodie news, see Kimbal Musk Wants to Feed America, Silicon Valley-Style (NYT)

"Tesla Inc.’s former director of battery technology has joined Plenty Inc. to lead the vertical farming startup’s plan to build indoor growing rooms around the world.

Kurt Kelty, who joined Tesla in 2006 and left earlier this year, was one of the longest-serving executives at the carmaker led by Elon Musk. He joins SoftBank Group Corp.-backed Plenty as the senior vice president of operations and market development. Kelty had previously spent more than 14 years at Panasonic Corp."
Tesla's Former Battery Director Joins Farming Startup Plenty - Bloomberg

Facebook Is Looking for Employees With National Security Clearances - Bloomberg

Tangentially, see As U.S. Confronts Internet’s Disruptions, China Feels Vindicated (NYT)

"Facebook Inc. is looking to hire people who have national security clearances, a move the company thinks is necessary to prevent foreign powers from manipulating future elections through its social network, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Workers with such clearance can access information classified by the U.S. government. Facebook plans to use these people -- and their ability to receive government information about potential threats -- to search more proactively for questionable social media campaigns ahead of elections, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is sensitive. A Facebook spokesman declined to comment."
Facebook Is Looking for Employees With National Security Clearances - Bloomberg

How Valuable Is a Unicorn? Maybe Not as Much as It Claims to Be - The New York Times

A unicorn reality check

"In Palo Alto, Calif., just down the road from many of the biggest tech companies and the most influential venture capitalists, a professor at Stanford University has quietly been working on a project to crunch the valuation numbers behind some of these private companies.

Ilya A. Strebulaev and another professor working with him, Will Gornall of the University of British Columbia, have come to a startling conclusion: The average unicorn is worth half the headline price tag that is put out after each new valuation."
How Valuable Is a Unicorn? Maybe Not as Much as It Claims to Be - The New York Times

Monday, October 16, 2017

This Guy Says He’s The First Person To Attempt Editing His DNA With CRISPR (BuzzFeed)

Perhaps wait until this technique is out of beta; on a related note, see An anarchist takes on the drug industry — by teaching patients to make their own meds (STAT)

"“I want to live in a world where people get drunk and instead of giving themselves tattoos, they’re like, ‘I’m drunk, I’m going to CRISPR myself,’” said Zayner, who has a few tattoos of his own, in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “It sounds crazy, but I think that would be a pretty interesting world to live in for sure.”

Under the Food and Drug Administration’s rules, his experimenting appears to be legal — or at least, not illegal. But it’s less clear to what extent, if any, Zayner is responsible for any harm to people who copy him. It’s a gray area that the FDA doesn’t regulate, and may become more pressing as amateur scientists disseminate their experiments, methods, and equipment online."
This Guy Says He’s The First Person To Attempt Editing His DNA With CRISPR

Inside X, Google’s Moonshot Factory - The Atlantic

From a ~7,000-word Google X profile
"These ideas might sound too random to contain a unifying principle. But they do. Each X idea adheres to a simple three-part formula. First, it must address a huge problem; second, it must propose a radical solution; third, it must employ a relatively feasible technology. In other words, any idea can be a moonshot—unless it’s frivolous, small-bore, or impossible. 
The purpose of X is not to solve Google’s problems; thousands of people are already doing that. Nor is its mission philanthropic. Instead X exists, ultimately, to create world-changing companies that could eventually become the next Google. The enterprise considers more than 100 ideas each year, in areas ranging from clean energy to artificial intelligence. But only a tiny percentage become “projects,” with full-time staff working on them. It’s too soon to know whether many (or any) of these shots will reach the moon: X was formed in 2010, and its projects take years; critics note a shortage of revenue to date. But several projects—most notably Waymo, its self-driving-car company, recently valued at $70 billion by one Wall Street firm—look like they may."
Inside X, Google’s Moonshot Factory - The Atlantic

Hackers have turned Politifact’s website into a trap for your PC - The Washington Post

Truth and coin sequences

"The hack was discovered Friday by security researcher Troy Mursch, who noticed that visiting Politifact.com caused his computer's CPU to run at its maximum capacity.

The anomaly left telltale signs of Coin Hive — a piece of code that can be installed on websites that, when active, diverts unused computational power on visitors' computers toward generating a Bitcoin-like currency called Monero. Under ordinary circumstances, said Mursch, Coin Hive is used by some websites as an alternative to advertising. But in the case of PolitiFact, somebody has programmed the site to run multiple versions of Coin Hive simultaneously, basically bringing any visitor's computer to a processing halt."
Hackers have turned Politifact’s website into a trap for your PC - The Washington Post

Tesla’s New Car Smell – Monday Note

Final paragraphs from a Tesla reality check

"But perhaps Tesla’s greatest challenge isn’t within the company. It’s the “Mary and Carlos” threat. Mary Bara is GM’s CEO; Carlos Ghosn is the emperor of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi-Avtovaz conglomerate that recently jumped to the #1 position in the auto industry. Both industry chieftains now wield credible competitors to Tesla’s Model 3: the Chevy Bolt and the newer Nissan Leaf. The Bolt is in production, I see it in parking lots around Palo Alto, and the newer Nissan Leaf, promised for early 2018, succeeds the unsung, world’s best-selling electric car, the “older” Leaf introduced in 2010.
The Bolt and the Leaf come from experienced manufacturers. Elon Musk ran the table with with his earlier Model S and X creations. But now he may be facing competent competition."
Tesla’s New Car Smell – Monday Note

Friday, October 13, 2017

What Facebook Did to American Democracy - The Atlantic

Final paragraphs

"The information systems that people use to process news have been rerouted through Facebook, and in the process, mostly broken and hidden from view. It wasn’t just liberal bias that kept the media from putting everything together. Much of the hundreds of millions of dollars that was spent during the election cycle came in the form of “dark ads.”

The truth is that while many reporters knew some things that were going on on Facebook, no one knew everything that was going on on Facebook, not even Facebook. And so, during the most significant shift in the technology of politics since the television, the first draft of history is filled with undecipherable whorls and empty pages. Meanwhile, the 2018 midterms loom."
What Facebook Did to American Democracy - The Atlantic

Opportunity for everyone (Google Keyword blog)

Excerpt from a Sundar Pichai post; also see Google Offers Help to Industries It Helps to Destroy (Wired) and Google Unveils Job Training Initiative With $1 Billion Pledge (NYT)
"First, Grow with Google is there to give anyone in America the tools and training they need to get a job, for free. We understand there’s uncertainty and even concern about the pace of technological change. But we know that technology will be an engine of America’s growth for years to come.
We’ve launched an online hub—google.com/grow—where job seekers, teachers, local business owners, and developers can get significant training and professional certificates.
So if you’re looking to learn or teach the skills that employers value, look up Applied Digital Skills. We’ve been workshopping this with 27,000 students at middle and high schools. It teaches you the basics of working with tech in the modern world: from spreadsheets to email. It’s now available to everyone, and we’re looking to expand it to community colleges and vocational programs. We’re also launching a G Suite certification that will allow people to prove their proficiency in essential workplace tools."
Opportunity for everyone

Twitter breaks its silence on McGowan suspension | TechCrunch

Also see #WomenBoycottTwitter, Supporting Rose McGowan (NYT)

"At this point it would appear that Twitter’s sense of irony runs very deep indeed. And/or its store of hypocrisy. Because, as others have previously pointed out, the company has long used a policy of not commenting on individual accounts to shield itself from accountability — e.g. from criticism that it’s providing a platform to nazis and white supremacists.

Yet now, in this instance when it’s facing a high profile storm of criticism for selectively silencing McGowan (a verified Twitter user with more than 750k followers) and for simultaneously failing to silence the abuse flowing over its own platform, it’s suddenly okay breaking its own rule as it tries to extricate itself from blame and criticism that it’s also complicit in enabling the abuse of women.

Safe to say, this really is what leading from behind looks like."
Twitter breaks its silence on McGowan suspension | TechCrunch

Google is essentially building an anti-Amazon alliance, and Target is the latest to join - Recode

Amazon competitors welcome Home; for an overall Google reality check, see Google and the Disintermediation of Search (Tech.pinions)
"On Thursday, Target and Google announced that they are expanding what was a years-old delivery partnership from a small experiment in a handful of cities to the entire continental U.S.

The expansion will allow Target to become a retail partner in Google’s voice-shopping initiative, which lets owners of the Google Home “smart” speaker order items through voice commands like owners of the Echo can do from Amazon.

The announcement comes seven weeks after Walmart inked a similar deal with Google to offer hundreds of thousands of products through the service. Other big-box retailers like Home Depot are also on board."
Google is essentially building an anti-Amazon alliance, and Target is the latest to join - Recode

How Facebook’s Ad System Works - The New York Times

For a broader online advertising reality check, see Internet Advertising: Technology, Ethics, and a Serious Difference of Opinion (Communications of the ACM)

"In early September, Facebook revealed that it had identified about $100,000 in ads purchased on its social network by a Russian company linked to the Kremlin. Distributed between June 2015 and May of this year, the more than 3,000 ads added to evidence that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election.

Similar ad purchases by Russian agents were also uncovered on other internet services like Google and Twitter.

The online ads in question do not necessarily fit the traditional idea of advertising, and Facebook’s ads are particularly unusual."
How Facebook’s Ad System Works - The New York Times

In Surprise Move, Samsung CEO to Step Down After Record Profit - Bloomberg

Manage different; also see From Jail to Retirement, Samsung Loses Top Execs (Bloomberg)

"The chief executive officer of Samsung Electronics Co. is stepping down in a surprise resignation after decades at the company, saying the business needed new leadership following a bribery scandal that led to the imprisonment of its de facto chief.

Kwon Oh-hyun, who also serves as co-vice chairman, announced his retirement on Friday as the Suwon-based company reported record operating income of 14.5 trillion won ($12.8 billion) on booming demand for displays and memory chips. He said the company faces an “unprecedented crisis” despite the financial success."
In Surprise Move, Samsung CEO to Step Down After Record Profit - Bloomberg

Tech Giants, Once Seen as Saviors, Are Now Viewed as Threats - The New York Times

Tumultuous tech titan times
"The election is far from the only area of concern. Tech companies have accrued a tremendous amount of power and influence. Amazon determines how people shop, Google how they acquire knowledge, Facebook how they communicate. All of them are making decisions about who gets a digital megaphone and who should be unplugged from the web.

Their amount of concentrated authority resembles the divine right of kings, and is sparking a backlash that is still gathering force. 
“For 10 years, the arguments in tech were about which chief executive was more like Jesus. Which one was going to run for president. Who did the best job convincing the work force to lean in,” said Scott Galloway, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “Now sentiments are shifting. The worm has turned.”"
Tech Giants, Once Seen as Saviors, Are Now Viewed as Threats - The New York Times

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Why we switched from Slack to Workplace by Facebook (Clevy.io CTO Francois Sechet)

Now would probably be a good time for Slack to IPO...

"Workplace is just like regular facebook in almost all possible ways — but private to you and your team. It means that you get a personal wall, pictures, events, groups, live video, screen sharing, audio and video calls… basically, a little, closed facebook, with your logo in the top left corner.
This means that you get the same tool you already know, with the same features, except in a smaller, closed environment, at work. Onboarding is extremely intuitive (basically non-existent if you already opened facebook before).
While with Slack you have to add a lot of things if you want more than just a glorified chat app, in Workplace everything is builtin from scratch. You get everything you possibly need for your internal communication and much more. Pick Workplace and be done, basically. Did I mention it is very inexpensive?"
Why we switched from Slack to Workplace by Facebook

Inventing the Future | Oculus

From an extensive AR reality check; tangentially, see Tim Cook says the tech “doesn’t exist” for quality AR glasses yet (Ars Technica)
"While AR glasses have the potential to be one of the most important technologies of the twenty-first century, that won’t happen unless some very challenging practical constraints are overcome. They must be light and comfortable enough to wear all day, run off a wearable battery for many hours per charge without getting uncomfortably hot, work in full sunlight and in darkness, and have excellent visual and audio quality, both virtual and real. They must be completely socially acceptable – in fact, they need to be stylish. They need an entirely new user interface. Finally, all the rendering, display, audio, computer vision, communication, and interaction functionality needed to support virtual objects, telepresence, and perceptual/mental superpowers must come together in a system that operates within the above constraints. [...] 
There is no combination of existing technologies that meet all those requirements today. The honest truth is that the laws of physics may make it impossible to ever build true all-day AR glasses; there’s no Moore’s Law for optics, batteries, weight, or thermal dissipation. My guess is that it is in fact possible (obviously, or I wouldn’t be trying to make it happen), and if it is possible, I think it’s highly likely that all-day AR glasses will happen within the next ten years, but it is an astonishingly difficult technical challenge on half a dozen axes, and a host of breakthroughs are going to be needed."
Inventing the Future | Oculus

Facebook announces a wireless $200 virtual-reality headset - The Washington Post

See this Oculus post for more details

"Facebook dropped a bombshell on the virtual-reality world Wednesday: a $200 virtual-reality headset that doesn't require wires or a smartphone to work.

The headset could go a long way toward helping Facebook get virtual reality into the hands of a “a billion people” — a (time-frame-free) goal chief executive Mark Zuckerberg set Wednesday at a developers conference hosted by its VR company, Oculus. Virtual reality has been a major focus for Facebook and other major tech firms such as Microsoft and HTC, but consumers haven't been quite as enthusiastic. The new headset, however, addresses two major problems analysts have said stand in the way of adoption: high prices and a complicated setup process."
Facebook announces a wireless $200 virtual-reality headset - The Washington Post

Hive Switches From Mining Gold to Bitcoin, Surges Six Six-Fold - Bloomberg

In other bitcoin news, see Betting on bitcoin (Boston Globe)

"Frank Giustra, the Canadian mining maverick who amassed a fortune building what would become one of the world’s largest gold companies, is digging for another kind of gold: cryptocurrencies.

The company he’s backed, Vancouver-based Hive Blockchain Technologies Inc., is among the first publicly traded stocks to provide exposure to crypto mining -- the vast data crunching needed to verify the blockchain and the volatile currencies they produce like bitcoin and ether.

So far, his decision to dig for data servers has paid off. Hive’s shares have soared about 540 percent, giving it a market value of C$437 million ($350 million), since it took over the listing of Leeta Gold Corp. and began trading on Sept. 18. After only three days, the company raised C$30 million in a share sale led by GMP Securities LP."
Hive Switches From Mining Gold to Bitcoin, Surges Six Six-Fold - Bloomberg

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

For Time Inc.’s Magazines, Fewer Copies Is the Way Forward - WSJ

Running out of Time

"The publisher is cutting back on the circulation and frequency of some of its biggest titles, part of a far-reaching cost-reduction and restructuring program meant to ensure the profitability of its core brands.

The company gradually will reduce the weekly circulation of its flagship Time magazine by one-third to 2 million copies. That move is partly a recognition that it isn’t worth it to keep printing as many promotional copies. It also is aimed at focusing on a core audience considered more valuable to advertisers.

Time Inc. also is reducing the print frequency of seven titles, including Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly and Fortune. The move is based, in part, on its research showing that consumers have less time for leaning back with magazines."
For Time Inc.’s Magazines, Fewer Copies Is the Way Forward - WSJ

Zuckerberg apologizes for his tone-deaf VR cartoon tour of Puerto Rico devastation | TechCrunch

The apology: "One of the most powerful features of VR is empathy. My goal here was to show how VR can raise awareness and help us see what’s happening in different parts of the world. I also wanted to share the news of our partnership with the Red Cross to help with the recovery. Reading some of the comments, I realize this wasn’t clear, and I’m sorry to anyone this offended."

"Mark Zuckerberg is apologizing today after his Facebook Live video discussing his company’s efforts to aid Puerto Rico’s recovery raised some serious eyebrows.

Yesterday, Zuckerberg used the company’s VR app Spaces to tour through an NPR-produced 360 video of Puerto Rico. Zuck’s cartoon avatar directed attention towards various features of Puerto Rico’s destruction while another Facebook executive remarked “it’s crazy to feel like you’re in the middle of it.”

The video induced quite a few cringes as the tech billionaire visited Puerto Rico’s destruction inside virtual reality as a cartoon."
Zuckerberg apologizes for his tone-deaf VR cartoon tour of Puerto Rico devastation | TechCrunch

Google’s Home Mini needed a software patch to stop some of them from recording everything - The Verge

For more details, see Google is nerfing all Home Minis because mine spied on everything I said 24/7 [Update] (Android Police)

"Smart speakers like the Google Home Mini are designed to only listen for a specific wake word — in this case it’s “Hey Google” or “Ok Google.” Only then do their microphones record what you’re saying it, transmit it to the cloud, and try to answer your question. But there is usually a way to just hit a button and ask the embedded assistant a question. On the Mini, it’s holding your finger down on the top of it.

That seems to be the rub (pardon the pun) with Russakovskii’s Mini: it thought that somebody was holding its finger down on the top and so was randomly activating and recording. The good news is that the lights turned on to indicate it was listening, but the bad news is that it didn’t make an audible tone, so it took a trip through the Home’s search history to discover the error."
Google’s Home Mini needed a software patch to stop some of them from recording everything - The Verge

How Israel Caught Russian Hackers Scouring the World for U.S. Secrets - The New York Times

A software product category existential crisis in the making

"The N.S.A. bans its analysts from using Kaspersky antivirus at the agency, in large part because the agency has exploited antivirus software for its own foreign hacking operations and knows the same technique is used by its adversaries.

“Antivirus is the ultimate back door,” Blake Darch√©, a former N.S.A. operator and co-founder of Area 1 Security. “It provides consistent, reliable and remote access that can be used for any purpose, from launching a destructive attack to conducting espionage on thousands or even millions of users.”"
How Israel Caught Russian Hackers Scouring the World for U.S. Secrets - The New York Times

The Frightful Five Want to Rule Entertainment. They Are Hitting Limits. - The New York Times

On a related note, see Apple Joins Forces With Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television (NYT)

"I’ve spent the last few years studying the rise of these giants. As tensions over their power reached a high boil this summer — Facebook and Russia, Google and sexism, Amazon and Whole Foods — I began thinking more about the nature and consequence of their power, and talking to everyone I could find about these companies. Among them were people in the tech industry, as well as many in other power centers: Washington, Hollywood, the media, the health care and automotive businesses, and other corners of society that may soon be ensnared by one or more of the Five.

This is the first of several columns in which I’ll take measure of the Five. Here, I assess their efforts to infiltrate entertainment — their plans to push deeper into the business of movies, TV and music, and the fears of cultural domination those moves have provoked."
The Frightful Five Want to Rule Entertainment. They Are Hitting Limits. - The New York Times

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

MongoDB could be worth less than $1 billion at IPO - Business Insider

Pre-IPO investor transaction durability not guaranteed...

"At the mid price, MongoDB would raise about $152 million and be worth about $930 million, according to PitchBook.

That's quite a bit shy of its last valuation as a private company of $1.6 billion.

The New York-based database company has been a darling of the VC world. It raised over $311 million from private investors with later investors paying as much as $16.72/share, according to PitchBook (and earning dividends on those shares)."
MongoDB could be worth less than $1 billion at IPO - Business Insider

Google, Facebook and Twitter Scramble to Hold Washington at Bay - Bloomberg

Pretty sure there will still be ample "American rage" for the Russians (and others) to harvest for the 2018 election and beyond

"Inside the company, leaders are dismayed by how the public is interpreting its involvement in the Russia investigation, according to a person familiar with their thinking. Executives fear that Facebook’s work for the presidential campaigns is being re-framed as partisan, for example, even though it offers the same services to any major advertiser.

Alex Stamos, Facebook’s chief security officer, defended the company from media critics who say it should have found a technical solution to the problem of fake news. It’s not that simple -- and any quick solution could end up being ideologically biased, he said in a series of recent posts on Twitter.

Facebook, Twitter and Google are cooperating on issues related to the Russian political ads. A person familiar with the effort said it was similar to how the three firms would work together on difficult industrywide issues, such as child pornography or content from terrorist groups."
Google, Facebook and Twitter Scramble to Hold Washington at Bay - Bloomberg

China Hastens the World Toward an Electric-Car Future - The New York Times

Interesting times for the global auto industry

"If China succeeds — and there is no guarantee — Beijing’s policy makers will be front and center reimagining the global auto industry, a business that has helped define communities, industries and people’s aspirations for more than a century. It is a role that was almost inconceivable just a few decades ago, when China was more closely associated with a different type of green transportation: the black, classic Flying Pigeon bicycle.

China feels it has little choice in pressing forward. While it is true that electric vehicles fit neatly into China’s plan to become the world leader in sci-fi technology like artificial intelligence, the country also fears a dark future — one where its cities remain cloaked in smog and it is beholden to foreign countries to sell it the oil it needs."
China Hastens the World Toward an Electric-Car Future - The New York Times

How Russia Harvested American Rage to Reshape U.S. Politics - The New York Times

On related notes, see Google Finds Accounts Connected to Russia Bought Election AdsMicrosoft is reviewing its records for signs of potential Russian meddling during the 2016 election (Recode), and Pierre Omidyar: 6 ways social media has become a direct threat to democracy (Washington Post)
"A New York Times examination of hundreds of those posts shows that one of the most powerful weapons that Russian agents used to reshape American politics was the anger, passion and misinformation that real Americans were broadcasting across social media platforms.

The Russian pages — with names like “Being Patriotic,” “Secured Borders” and “Blacktivist” — cribbed complaints about federal agents from one conservative website, and a gauzy article about a veteran who became an entrepreneur from People magazine. They took descriptions and videos of police beatings from genuine YouTube and Facebook accounts and reposted them, sometimes lightly edited for maximum effect."
How Russia Harvested American Rage to Reshape U.S. Politics - The New York Times

Monday, October 09, 2017

How Facebook ads helped elect Trump - CBS News

More inconvenient truths for Facebook: "Trump campaign digital director Brad Parscale says Donald Trump won election on Facebook with highly targeted ads -- and infrastructure was a key issue"

""Twitter is how [Trump] talked to the people, Facebook was going to be how he won," Parscale tells Stahl.  Parscale says he used the majority of his digital ad budget on Facebook ads and explained how efficient they could be, particularly in reaching the rural vote.  "So now Facebook lets you get to…15 people in the Florida Panhandle that I would never buy a TV commercial for," says Parscale.  And people anywhere could be targeted with the messages they cared about. "Infrastructure…so I started making ads that showed the bridge crumbling…that's micro targeting…I can find the 1,500 people in one town that care about infrastructure. Now, that might be a voter that normally votes Democrat," he says. Parscale says the campaign would average 50-60,000 different ad versions every day, some days peaking at 100,000 separate iterations – changing design, colors, backgrounds and words – all in an effort to refine ads and engage users.

Parscale received help utilizing Facebook's technology from Facebook employees provided by the company who showed up for work to his office multiple days a week."
How Facebook ads helped elect Trump - CBS News

Google CEO Sundar Pichai: 'I don't know whether humans want change that fast' | Technology | The Guardian

From an extensive profile

"Isn’t this a kind of technological imperialism, bulldozing a way into the developing world? Pichai is prepared for this argument. “I want this to be a global company,” he argues. “But it is also important that we are a local company… We don’t build only Google products and services – we build an underlying platform, too, so that when you enable smartphones to work well in a country, you also bootstrap the entrepreneurial system there. The two go hand in hand.”

His ambition is to make Android so cheap that it can be used as part of a $30 smartphone; Pichai has said before that he can see “a clear path” to five billion users. “We want to democratise technology,” he says. “Once everybody has access to a computer and connectivity, then search works the same, whether you are a Nobel laureate or just a kid with a computer.”"
Google CEO Sundar Pichai: 'I don't know whether humans want change that fast' | Technology | The Guardian

FCC will allow Alphabet’s Project Loon to deliver air balloon LTE to Puerto Rico - The Verge

Also see Project Loon cleared to help restore wireless in Puerto Rico (Engadget)

"The Federal Communications Commission yesterday granted Alphabet-owned Project Loon an experimental license to operate in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands for the purpose of helping the islands regain connectivity. The license extends from October 6th until April 4th, 2018, and it was granted to Ben Wojtowicz, a software engineer and member of Alphabet’s X lab who works on Project Loon.

The helium balloons are expected to deliver emergency LTE cellular reception to allow residents and local governments to contact friends and family, coordinate relief and restoration efforts, and reestablish communication with the outside world. It’s unclear to what extent Loon will cover Puerto Rico or parts of the Virgin Islands, or how many balloons the team plans to deploy."
FCC will allow Alphabet’s Project Loon to deliver air balloon LTE to Puerto Rico - The Verge

Friday, October 06, 2017

Google is Clearly Serious About Hardware, But Not About Selling Phones – Tech.pinions

Final paragraph from a Google hardware reality check

"All of this adds up to a bizarre picture of a Google which is enormously serious about building the best possible hardware, but doesn’t seem very serious at all about actually selling it. Given the scale of both its organic investment in the Pixel line and now its billion-dollar-plus HTC deal, Google is pouring massive resources into this project, but it will never see a reasonable return unless these devices sell. It’s unclear to me whether this is a deliberate strategy on Google’s part to limit the negative impact on its hardware partners, or the result of organizational schizophrenia, but it simply doesn’t make sense. Either Google is serious about this market or it isn’t, and if it is it needs to bite the bullet and go ahead and compete with its OEM partners more directly. If that pushes them to do better, that’s good for Google too, and if it doesn’t Google gets a greater share of the premium Android smartphone market and gets to put its own services front and center. At this point, there’s no viable alternative to Android for independent phone makers, so there’s little if any risk to the strategy."
Google is Clearly Serious About Hardware, But Not About Selling Phones – Tech.pinions

Facebook quietly launches Mac and PC Workplace Chat apps with screen share | TechCrunch

Building momentum...

"Overall, the new desktop software gives Workplace a preferred spot on your computer when it might otherwise drown within Chrome or Firefox. Combining the familiarity of Facebook’s design with the prominence of dedicated desktop apps could encourage the constant collaboration the company hopes to enable.

Workplace is designed not just for traditional white-collar office employees but to allow everyone in a company from top to bottom to communicate. That’s why additional access points are important. While most enterprise software is thought of as ugly and inconvenient, Workplace is flipping that idea on its face."
Facebook quietly launches Mac and PC Workplace Chat apps with screen share | TechCrunch

Russia reportedly stole NSA secrets with help of Kaspersky—what we know now | Ars Technica

Final paragraph: "Thursday's report means that yet another trusted insider was able to sneak documents and code outside of the NSA and not only store them on an Internet-connected computer, but also one that was running AV software. Whatever role Kaspersky Lab played in the hack, the series of breathtaking security blunders made by the NSA and its workers should remain front and center in this reporting."

"The takeaway is that, as the Kaspersky Lab statement notes, the WSJ's explosive allegations aren't substantiated with any evidence and, further, they're based on anonymous sources. That means, at the moment, there's no way journalists can independently verify the claims. What's more, the article as written leaves open the possibility that the role Kaspersky AV played in the breach was caused by the same sort of critical vulnerability found in virtually all AV software.

That said, if the allegations are true, they're sure to fuel the already growing concern of Russian hacking, which US intelligence agencies say has attempted to influence the US presidential election and widen political and cultural divides on social media. Additionally, if the allegations prove true, it's almost certainly the end of Kaspersky Lab as it has come to be known over the past decade."
Russia reportedly stole NSA secrets with help of Kaspersky—what we know now | Ars Technica

Elon Musk Says He Can Fix Puerto Rico’s Energy Crisis with Solar Panels and Batteries (Newsweek)

Also see Elon Musk says he can rebuild Puerto Rico's power grid with solar (BBC News)

"[Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo] Rossell√≥ responded to Musk’s message within hours, tweeting: “@elonMusk Let’s talk. Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your # TeslaTechnologies? PR could be that flagship project.”

Musk responded via Twitter on Friday that he would be "happy to talk," adding: "Tesla can be helpful.""
Elon Musk Says He Can Fix Puerto Rico’s Energy Crisis with Solar Panels and Batteries

Facebook’s latest idea to combat fake news is a ‘more info’ button - Recode

See this Facebook post for more details

"As part of a News Feed update, the social network will now provide more context around the links people see. Users will be able to click a button and see information from the publisher’s Wikipedia page, a link to follow that publisher’s Facebook Page, and other links that might be related.

Facebook will do this all automatically, which means humans won’t be compiling this additional information. The hope is that people will use the info to better understand where their news is coming from, and won’t be fooled by phony or ill-intentioned publishers."
Facebook’s latest idea to combat fake news is a ‘more info’ button - Recode

Russian propaganda may have been shared hundreds of millions of times, new research says - The Washington Post

Final paragraphs:

"One final insight from Albright’s research: To the extent there is a discernible political motive in them, the goal seemed less to inspire enthusiasm for one candidate than to dampen support for voting at all. This fits with what many other researchers and investigators have said about the Russian disinformation campaign, that it drove directly at the fractures in American society and sought to widen them.

“A lot of these posts had the intent to get people not to vote,” Albright said. “This is a concerted effort of manipulation. Based on the engagement and reach and the outcome of the election .. I’d say it’s been fairly successful, sadly.""
Russian propaganda may have been shared hundreds of millions of times, new research says - The Washington Post

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Facebook Fought Rules That Could Have Exposed Fake Russian Ads - Bloomberg

On a related note, see When Facebook and Google are ‘weaponized,’ the victim is reality (Washington Post)

"Since 2011, Facebook has asked the Federal Election Commission for blanket exemptions from political advertising disclosure rules -- transparency that could have helped it avoid the current crisis over Russian ad spending ahead of the 2016 U.S. election. 

Communications law requires traditional media like TV and radio to track and disclose political ad buyers. The rule doesn’t apply online, an exemption that’s helped Facebook’s self-serve advertising business generate hundreds of millions of dollars in political campaign spots. When the company was smaller, the issue was debated in some policy corners of Washington. Now that the social network is such a powerful political tool, with more than 2 billion users, the topic is at the center of a debate about the future of American democracy."
Facebook Fought Rules That Could Have Exposed Fake Russian Ads - Bloomberg

Sonos launches public beta for Alexa voice control - The Verge

Sonos plays well with others; also see To Stay Relevant, Wireless Speaker Company Sonos Teams Up With Its Competitors. All Of Them (BuzzFeed)
"Sonos announced today that its Alexa support, which has been in a limited private beta for months at this point, is finally rolling out to all current-model Sonos speakers in a public beta. The company’s latest speaker, the Sonos One, has a microphone built in, so you can just speak to it the way you would an Echo device.

Older Sonos speakers don’t have their own microphones, so Alexa integration is done through a connected Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, or any other Alexa device. A user would tell Alexa, “play music on my bedroom speaker,” and the audio would come from your Sonos device. A Sonos firmware update will be available shortly to enable Alexa on older units."
Sonos launches public beta for Alexa voice control - The Verge

Mattel has canceled plans for a kid-focused AI device that drew privacy concerns - The Washington Post

(n - 1) Cortana devices heading to market

"Mattel said Wednesday that it will not move forward with plans to sell a kid-focused smart hub after new executives decided it did not "fully align with Mattel's new technology strategy," according to a company statement. Children's health and privacy advocates this week petitioned the toy giant not to release the device, which they argued gave the firm an unprecedented look into the personal lives of children.

In a statement, Mattel said that it had decided internally not to take the product to market after a new chief technology officer, Sven Gerjets, joined the company in July. Gerjets, Mattel said, reviewed the product and decided "not to bring Aristotle to the marketplace as part of an ongoing effort to deliver the best possible connected product experience to the consumer.""
Mattel has canceled plans for a kid-focused AI device that drew privacy concerns - The Washington Post

Google’s New Gadgets Come With a Big Helping of A.I. - The New York Times

Google's Apple emulation skills may be improving, but also see The Pixel market share chart Google probably won't be showing at its event today (Recode)

"Google’s unveiling of new smartphones, smart speakers and other gadgets had all the makings of a typical technology product launch: a fawning crowd of superfans, skeptical journalists, slick product videos, not-so-subtle jabs at the competition, and overly romanticized descriptions of design choices, colors and materials.

But one nagging question lingered for Google, which makes nearly all of its money from selling online advertisements: Is it finally serious about making devices?"
Google’s New Gadgets Come With a Big Helping of A.I. - The New York Times

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Slack locks down Oracle partnership targeting enterprises (Reuters)

Likely to be at least as productive as Slack's partnership with IBM

"Slack entered the partnership to differentiate its messaging product among large corporations, a market the company has made a top priority since launching an enterprise-grade version of its messenger in January.

Slack is hoping the Oracle partnership will entice more corporations to choose its messenger over Microsoft Teams, Facebook Workplace and Atlassian Stride, all of which launched in the past year.

Oracle, meanwhile, said the partnership is key to serving younger professionals, many of which are accustomed to using messaging interfaces like Slack, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger."
Slack locks down Oracle partnership targeting enterprises

Microsoft is determined to make virtual reality work for everyone - The Washington Post

See The era of Windows Mixed Reality begins October 17 (Windows blog) for details

"Those still aren't quite impulse-level prices — at least for me. But at least the price of good VR is down significantly from when the hype began.

Which is to say: This may be the beginning of the beginning of VR for the average person. Microsoft showed off some appealing applications, such as being able to watch video on the virtual equivalent of a 300-inch television or being able to easily teleconference. Outside of entertainment, the promise becomes murkier. The idea of editing a spreadsheet or writing an article using those VR controllers makes me queasier than any VR-related motion sickness.

Microsoft consumers should expect to hear way more about this type of experience in the years to come. Microsoft’s Alex Kipman, who invented its HoloLens and is its chief presenter on all things augmented and virtual reality, said that the experience lets us “renegotiate our very contract with reality.”"
Microsoft is determined to make virtual reality work for everyone - The Washington Post

Tesla's Model 3 Delays Don't Faze Investors - Bloomberg

TSLA closed up 1.9% yesterday; tbd how many people attempted to invest using bitcoin...

"Nomura analyst Romit Shah recommended buying Tesla shares, slapped a $500 price target on them and predicted an “unprecedented run-up” in revenue in his first report on the company Tuesday. The bullish call followed the carmaker’s announcement that it had made just 260 Model 3 sedans in the third quarter, well short of its 1,500 unit forecast.

Investors excused Elon Musk for failing to deliver on another ambitious target. While the slower-than-expected initial production of Model 3 means a longer wait for reservation holders, it’s more important that the company get its first mass-manufactured car out without quality or safety issues than rush output to meet the chief executive officer’s lofty goals."
Tesla's Model 3 Delays Don't Faze Investors - Bloomberg

According to Star Trek: Discovery, Starfleet still runs Microsoft Windows - The Verge

Most people probably won't see the episode, as it requires a paid subscription to CBS All Access

"In the show, Burnham claims the code is confusing because it deals with quantum astrophysics, biochemistry, and gene expression. And while the episode later reveals that it’s related to the USS Discovery’s experimental new mycelial network transportation system, Twitter user Rob Graham noted that the code itself is a little more… pedestrian in nature.

That’s right — in the year 2256, Starfleet’s latest state-of-the-art science vessel still runs Windows.

More specifically, it seems to be decompiled code for the infamous Stuxnet virus (thanks, aaron44126!), which is a particularly strange thing for a Starfleet vessel to be running, given that the virus was identified back in 2010 as a weapon created to disable Iran’s nuclear program."
According to Star Trek: Discovery, Starfleet still runs Microsoft Windows - The Verge

All 3 Billion Yahoo Accounts Were Affected by 2013 Attack - The New York Times

Previously lying under Oath?

"Verizon Communications, which acquired Yahoo this year, said on Tuesday that a previously disclosed attack that had occurred in 2013 affected all three billion of Yahoo’s user accounts.

Last year, Yahoo said the 2013 attack on its network had affected one billion accounts. Three months before that, the company also disclosed a separate attack, which had occurred in 2014, that had affected 500 million accounts.

Digital thieves made off with names, birth dates, phone numbers and passwords of users that were encrypted with security that was easy to crack."
All 3 Billion Yahoo Accounts Were Affected by 2013 Attack - The New York Times

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Microsoft retires Groove Music service, partners with Spotify - The Verge

See this Microsoft post for more details

"Microsoft is partnering with Spotify to make it easy for Groove Music subscribers to move their playlists over to the rival music streaming service. An update to the Groove Music app will be available for Windows 10 users next week, and Windows Insiders will get early access this week. Microsoft and Spotify have been working together on a Windows 10 app and a separate app for the Xbox One, so it’s not a surprise to see Microsoft pick Spotify as its preferred partner for Groove Music subscribers.

While the streaming music element of Groove Music is disappearing fully, Microsoft says it will continue to invest in the music app for Windows 10 to ensure users can still access local MP3 files and those stored in OneDrive. iOS and Android users of the Groove Music app will also be able to continue using music from OneDrive, but streaming will finish on December 31st. Microsoft will now recommend Windows users try Spotify if they want streaming music. That’s a big boost to Spotify, but also an admission that the Zune era is fully over at Microsoft as it seeks to partner instead of creating its own rival services."
Microsoft retires Groove Music service, partners with Spotify - The Verge

Bitcoin Bug Bites Japan and South Korea as China Clamps Down - The New York Times

From a timely bitcoin reality check

"The price of Bitcoin recently stood around $4,300, down 12 percent from the high earlier last month. But that was up about 50 percent from the low last month and still up more than 340 percent since the beginning of the year.

Bitcoin has been used — most controversially — to buy drugs online and make virtual ransom payments to hackers. More recently, it has provided a way for investors to put money into new starts-ups through initial coin offerings.

Beyond all that, though, it is a speculative asset. People buy and sell it because it is scarce — only 21 million Bitcoins will ever be created — and investors hope it will gain real-world applications in the future."
Bitcoin Bug Bites Japan and South Korea as China Clamps Down - The New York Times

Russians took a page from corporate America by using Facebook tool to ID and influence voters - The Washington Post

Adversarial advertising; also see 10 million people saw Russian ads on Facebook around the 2016 presidential election (Recode)
"The conclusions of investigators fit those of several independent researchers, who say that the Russian disinformation campaign exploited the core advertising and tracking technologies that Silicon Valley has honed over a decade to serve corporate America — and that are widely available, with few if any restrictions, to political actors in the United States and abroad.

“These are the same methods and sophisticated tools that the pharmaceutical companies were using, that big oil companies were using,” said Philip N. Howard of Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project. “This was regular ad technology that regular advertisers use.”

The revelation about the use of Facebook’s Custom Audiences tool, which has not been previously reported, adds to an emerging picture of a Russian effort to shape the U.S. election and sow division using tools built by American technology companies."
Russians took a page from corporate America by using Facebook tool to ID and influence voters - The Washington Post

G.M. and Ford Lay Out Plans to Expand Electric Models - The New York Times

On a related note, see Tesla is behind on Model 3 production (The Verge)

"On Monday, General Motors, America’s largest automaker, staked its claim to leadership. Outlining a fundamental shift in its vision of the industry, it announced plans for 20 new all-electric models by 2023, including two within the next 18 months.

G.M.’s announcement came a day before a long-scheduled investor presentation by Ford Motor that was also expected to emphasize electric models. After the G.M. news emerged, Ford let loose with its own announcement, saying it would add 13 electrified models over the next several years, with a five-year investment of $4.5 billion."
G.M. and Ford Lay Out Plans to Expand Electric Models - The New York Times