"The company intends to announce an Alexa for Business Platform, along with a set of initial partners that have developed specific "skills," or apps, for business customers.Amazon Alexa for Business Platform planned
The new technology could well come in handy for connecting into teleconferences or adding data to enterprise-focused sales programs, sources said. It would also add more personalized features, like an enterprise security layer that identifies and authenticates different people using the app at work, one person said.
Amazon is also likely to announce a new marketplace for the Alexa for Business apps, similar to the Alexa Skills page it already has for consumer apps, according to our source."
Thursday, November 30, 2017
Expected as part of today's re:Invent announcement deluge; also see Alexa for Business likely to win in smart office, leverage AWS, Echo, developers and consumers (ZDNet)
Also see Here’s how to use the newly redesigned Snapchat (Hint: It’s not as hard) (Recode)
"CEO Evan Spiegel talked in an opinion piece on Wednesday about the damaging effects of digital hangouts -- Facebook, although he doesn't name the company -- that prioritize information feeds based on the predilections of friends and contacts. Fair point. We've seen from the garbage fires of Facebook and Twitter that social media can be a stifling place and a playground for trolls and misinformation campaigns.But Spiegel seems to have forgotten that his stated strategy is not to save the world from "filter bubbles" or "fake news" but to make his app more appealing to increase the number of people using Snapchat. Spiegel either lost track of his own mission or is articulating a high-minded goal for what is actually a self-interested strategy change."Snapchat Seems Confused About Its Mission - Bloomberg Gadfly
Also see It's War, and the Washington Post Knows It (Bloomberg) and Project Veritas: how fake news prize went to rightwing group beloved by Trump (The Guardian), which notes "On 13 May 2015, a month before Trump launched his presidential campaign, his charitable foundation donated $10,000 to Project Veritas. This week ThinkProgress spotted that the foundation’s tax disclosure form for 2015 records a second payment of the same amount to the conservative group."
"The failed effort by conservative activists to plant a false story about Senate candidate Roy Moore in The Washington Post was part of a months-long campaign to infiltrate The Post and other media outlets in Washington and New York, according to interviews, text messages and social media posts that have since been deleted."Project Veritas effort to infiltrate The Washington Post dates back months - The Washington Post
We survived today's Amazon news avalanche to bring you this: Yes, a managed Kubernetes service will be a thing • The Register
Check the full article for a link index with details on some of the > 20 new services AWS introduced in its re:Invent keynote; some database-related highlights:
"There are some companies, Jassy said, that are expensive and try to lock customers in. "Oracle overnight doubled the price of their software to run on Microsoft and AWS," he said. "Who does that to their customers?"We survived today's Amazon news avalanche to bring you this: Yes, a managed Kubernetes service will be a thing • The Register
That's why enterprise customers, he insisted, are trying to move as fast as possible to open services. He may have had one in mind, Amazon Aurora, AWS' cloud-based MySQL/PostgreSQL-compatible relational database, which by Jassy's math is a 1/10th the price of an unspecified competitor.
But there are more to come. AWS rolled out database products to capture the hearts and minds of companies seeking respite from Oracle contracts. Beyond its existing kit – Aurora, RDS, DynamoDB, Redshift, and ElastiCache – Seattle-servers-for-hire announced: Amazon Neptune, a managed graph database service; Amazon Aurora Serverless, a preview version of its managed database targeting intermittent workloads with a pay-when-you-use-it model; and an expansion to its DynamoDB that supports replicating tables across regions and on-demand backup."
*coin business as usual...
"Bitcoin held onto most of its gains from late Wednesday, easing concern that an abrupt selloff hours earlier might spiral into something deeper.Bitcoin Recovers From Sudden Selloff as Large Swings Persist - Bloomberg
The digital currency, after rallying as much as 20 percent from its low yesterday, was down 4.3 percent at $9,755.66 at 12:14 p.m. in London Thursday, according to prices compiled by Bloomberg. It set record highs during the past three sessions.
The relative calm in the European afternoon ensued after a 21 percent intraday slump on Wednesday coincided with intermittent outages at cryptocurrency exchanges that stopped fluid trading. That came just hours after bitcoin had soared to a record of more than $11,000, and on the same day that Coinbase Inc., one of the world’s largest virtual currency exchanges, lost a bid to block an Internal Revenue Service probe into whether some of the company’s customers haven’t reported their cryptocurrency gains."
Later in the article: "Customers often have little knowledge of where their data might end up, experts said, while D.J.I. and others give themselves considerable leeway in the fine print of their user agreements to transfer data across borders."
"D.J.I., the popular drone maker, stands as a symbol of China’s growing technology prowess. Its propeller-powered machines dominate global markets and buzz regularly over beaches, cityscapes at sunset and increasingly, power plants and government installations.Drone Maker D.J.I. May Be Sending Data to China, U.S. Officials Say - The New York Times
Now D.J.I. is fighting a claim by one United States government office that its commercial drones and software may be sending sensitive information about American infrastructure back to China, in the latest clash over the power of data in the growing technological rivalry between the two countries. It also shows how consumer technology companies have become increasingly central to debates about national security."
Apple might also want to update their apology for clearing open-at-login app lists; mine went away when I installed the security update (including Google Drive but not, weirdly, OneDrive)
"Update: Apple will automatically roll out the update later today for everyone who is affected. Apple has provided the following statement:Apple releases a macOS security update to fix huge login security flaw | TechCrunch
'Security is a top priority for every Apple product, and regrettably we stumbled with this release of macOS.
When our security engineers became aware of the issue Tuesday afternoon, we immediately began working on an update that closes the security hole. This morning, as of 8:00 a.m., the update is available for download, and starting later today it will be automatically installed on all systems running the latest version (10.13.1) of macOS High Sierra.
We greatly regret this error and we apologize to all Mac users, both for releasing with this vulnerability and for the concern it has caused. Our customers deserve better. We are auditing our development processes to help prevent this from happening again.'"
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Unlikely to end well
"NASDAQ is hardly the first player from the traditional finance world to jump on the Bitcoin bandwagon. At the start of this month, Chicago’s CME Group said it would begin providing futures contracts on bitcoin as well. As The Verge reported this morning, while many well-known bankers and investors continue to deride Bitcoin as a bubble or a Ponzi scheme, almost every major financial institution has been exploring how they might interact with Bitcoin and its underlying structure, the blockchain.NASDAQ plans to let investors bet on Bitcoin’s rise and fall - The Verge
The introduction of various financial products around Bitcoin will amplify the amount of risk investors can take. Cantor Fitzgerald, a large broker which owns an exchange, announced today that it plans to launch Bitcoin derivatives in the first half of 2018. Futures and derivatives allow investors to place bets on bitcoin without owning any of the actual currency, amplifying the amount of financial leverage on the underlying asset. It was an explosion of derivatives pegged to real estate assets like mortgages that underpinned the financial collapse of 2008."
Not a bad *coin day so far... [update ~5 hours later: U.S. price back down to $9,652.00 and still dropping; see Bitcoin's price is collapsing and people can't trade because 2 big exchanges have crashed (Business Insider)]
"ALTHOUGH it may defy all reason, it should surprise no one that the price of bitcoin, a cryptocurrency, has just passed $11,000. Bitcoin’s ascent has been dizzying: four days ago it was worth less than $9,000 and a year ago it was worth less than $800. The cryptocurrency has plenty of doubters, including Jamie Dimon, head of JPMorgan Chase, a bank. In September Mr Dimon declared that bitcoin was a “fraud”, and that he would fire any employee found trading the cryptocurrency for being “stupid”. Markets were initially rattled, but have regained their resolve. The price of bitcoin has since risen by around 160%.Bitcoin hits $11,000 - Daily chart
Bitcoin’s boosters argue that the currency is valuable because its supply is limited to 21m, a number no central bank can change. But its rapid appreciation should still worry all who hold it. What has changed in the past ten days to suggest that bitcoin should be worth $11,000 rather than, say, $8,000? Bubbles also burst."
See How Snapchat is separating social from media (Axios) for details
"Snap’s CEO even wants to separate Snapchat from being described as a social network altogether. “While many people view Snapchat as a social media service, it is primarily used to talk with friends – like visual texting,” says Spiegel. “Snapchat began as an escape from social media, where people could send photos and videos to their friends without the pressure of likes, comments, and permanence.”Snap CEO hits back at Facebook and its fake news problem - The Verge
Spiegel wants to focus Snapchat on personalizing stories creating by publishers in a different way to highlighting what your friends share. “The combination of social and media has yielded incredible business results, but has ultimately undermined our relationships with our friends and our relationships with the media,” explains Spiegel. “We believe that the best path forward is disentangling the two by providing a personalized content feed based on what you want to watch, not what your friends post.”"
Also see Hard Questions: Are We Winning the War On Terrorism Online? (Facebook Newsroom). Later in the Bloomberg article: "[Peter Neumann, who runs the International Centre for the Study of Violent Extremism and Political Radicalisation at Kings College, London] said that terrorist groups were increasingly switching to smaller platforms, such as messaging service Telegram, which use end-to-end encryption and are more difficult to police."
"Facebook’s artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly adept at keeping terrorist content off the social network, the company has said.Facebook Says 99% of IS, Al Qaeda Content Spotted by AI - Bloomberg
Today, 99 percent of Islamic State and Al Qaeda-related content Facebook removes is detected by the company’s AI before any user flags it, Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy management, and Brian Fishman, head of counter-terrorism policy, said Wednesday. They said in some cases the software was able to block the content from ever being posted in the first place.
The executives cautioned that Facebook’s automated solutions are still imperfect, however. “A system designed to find content from one terrorist group may not work for another because of language and stylistic differences in their propaganda,” they said."
What could possibly go wrong?... Also see What Bitcoin Watchers Are Saying After the Surge Past $10,000 (Bloomberg)
Bitcoin Blasts to Record $10,000 as Bubble Warnings Multiply - Bloomberg
"Bitcoin surpassed $10,000 for the first time and continued higher, taking this year’s price surge to 11-fold even as warnings multiply that the largest digital currency is an asset bubble.
The euphoria is bringing to the mainstream what was once considered the provenance of computer developers, futurists and libertarians seeking to create an alternative to central bank-controlled monetary systems. While the actual volume of transactions conducted in cryptocurrencies is relatively small, the optimism surrounding the technology continues to drive it to new highs."
Bitcoin Blasts to Record $10,000 as Bubble Warnings Multiply - Bloomberg
Perhaps auditioning for his next job, as a conservative lobbyist? Also see FCC Chairman Ajit Pai blasted everyone from Twitter to Cher for opposing his efforts to repeal net neutrality rules (Recode)
"Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, blasted Twitter on Tuesday for what he said was a push to “discriminate” against conservatives, during an aggressive defense of his agency’s plan to repeal net neutrality rules.FCC chairman Ajit Pai lambastes Twitter as net neutrality debate heats up - The Washington Post
Speaking during an event hosted by the R Street Institute, a conservative think tank, Pai accused Twitter of hypocrisy for its criticism of the FCC's plan to repeal the Obama-era regulation.
“When it comes to a free and open Internet, Twitter is part of the problem,” Pai said. “The company has a viewpoint and uses that viewpoint to discriminate.”"
Or, if you prefer the "don't worry, be happy" point of view, see Like Y2K, the Net neutrality crisis is way overhyped (Boston Globe -- also see the comments; it may be Hiawatha Bray's least popular article)
"But look, you might say: Despite the hand-wringing, the internet has kept on trucking. Start-ups are still getting funded and going public. Crazy new things still sometimes get invented and defy all expectations; Bitcoin, which is as Wild West as they come, just hit $10,000 on some exchanges.The Internet Is Dying. Repealing Net Neutrality Hastens That Death. - The New York Times
Well, O.K. But a vibrant network doesn’t die all at once. It takes time and neglect; it grows weaker by the day, but imperceptibly, so that one day we are living in a digital world controlled by giants and we come to regard the whole thing as normal.
It’s not normal. It wasn’t always this way. The internet doesn’t have to be a corporate playground. That’s just the path we’ve chosen."
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
A woman approached The Post with dramatic — and false — tale about Roy Moore. She appears to be part of undercover sting operation. - The Washington Post
Putting a spotlight on Project Veritas and clarifying the rules of engagement for others thinking of similar scams
"After Phillips was observed entering the Project Veritas office, The Post made the unusual decision to report her previous off-the-record comments.A woman approached The Post with dramatic — and false — tale about Roy Moore. She appears to be part of undercover sting operation. - The Washington Post
“We always honor ‘off-the-record’ agreements when they’re entered into in good faith,” said Martin Baron, The Post’s executive editor. “But this so-called off-the-record conversation was the essence of a scheme to deceive and embarrass us. The intent by Project Veritas clearly was to publicize the conversation if we fell for the trap. Because of our customary journalistic rigor, we weren’t fooled, and we can’t honor an ‘off-the-record’ agreement that was solicited in maliciously bad faith.”"
Breitbart, Kim Dotcom, Julian Assange, and Trump’s Right-Wing Base Reject Plan to Axe Net Neutrality (The Intercept)
Another great example of Trump as a "uniter"
"Internet freedom activists and progressive organizations immediately responded to the announcement with a wave of opposition, as was expected.Breitbart, Kim Dotcom, Julian Assange, and Trump’s Right-Wing Base Reject Plan to Axe Net Neutrality
But more interestingly, in some of the most right-wing and Trump-supporting corners of the internet, there is a rebellion brewing.
Take, for instance, Breitbart News. The popular right-wing website has been a loyal ally to President Donald Trump, perhaps more devoted to his cause than any other."
Microsoft and SAP join forces to give customers a trusted path to digital transformation in the cloud | News Center
Classic Microsoft PR fodder on the eve of Amazon's re:Invent conference; since "SAP encourages its customers to run its products not only on Microsoft Azure but also on rival cloud platforms from Amazon (AMZN.O), Google (GOOGL.O), IBM (IBM.N) and SAP’s own in-house cloud services" (Reuters), one take-away from this announcement is that Microsoft doesn't believe it's cost-effective to migrate its own IT operations from legacy SAP to Microsoft Dynamics 365.
"Microsoft Corp. and SAP SE on Monday announced integrated offerings to provide enterprise customers with a clear road map to confidently drive more business innovation in the cloud. In a bold show of commitment, the two companies also announced they will be deploying each other’s cloud solutions internally. Through their unique partnership, the companies will co-engineer, go to market together with premier solutions and provide joint support services to ensure the best cloud experience for customers.Microsoft and SAP join forces to give customers a trusted path to digital transformation in the cloud | News Center
SAP HANA® Enterprise Cloud — SAP’s private managed cloud service — on Microsoft Azure will allow customers to run SAP S/4HANA in a secure, managed cloud. Additionally, Microsoft will deploy SAP S/4HANA® on Azure to help run its own internal finance processes, and SAP will move its key internal business critical systems to Azure. Finally, SAP Ariba is currently utilizing Azure and is exploring further use within its procurement applications. Together, SAP and Microsoft will help companies make the most of running SAP applications in the cloud."
From a timely *coin reality check; in related news, Musk: I Am Not Bitcoin’s Satoshi Nakamoto (Bloomberg)
"Bitcoin has remained popular as a way to pay for illegal drugs online because of the ability to open a Bitcoin wallet without providing any personal information.As Bitcoin Scrapes $10,000, an Investment Boom Like No Other - The New York Times
But Bitcoin has faced competition on this front from virtual currencies that provide more privacy. And the overall black market trade has diminished this year after the authorities took down some of the largest black market websites in the summer.
This has been welcome news for many Bitcoin backers who want to see it lose its shadowy associations."
Making Canada great again
"Ms. Sabour is an Iranian researcher who wound up in Toronto after the United States government denied her a visa to study computer vision at the University of Washington.A New Way for Machines to See, Taking Shape in Toronto - The New York Times
Her task is to turn Mr. Hinton’s conceptual idea into a mathematical reality, and the project is bearing fruit. They recently published a paper showing that in certain situations their method can more accurately recognize objects when viewing them from unfamiliar angles.
“It can generalize much better than the traditional neural nets everyone is now using,” Ms. Sabour said."
Monday, November 27, 2017
Tesla’s Newest Promises Break the Laws of Batteries
"These claims are so far beyond current industry standards for electric vehicles that they would require either advances in battery technology or a new understanding of how batteries are put to use, said Sam Jaffe, battery analyst for Cairn Energy Research in Boulder, Colorado. In some cases, experts suspect Tesla might be banking on technological improvements between now and the time when new vehicles are actually ready for delivery.
“I don’t think they’re lying,” Jaffe said. “I just think they left something out of the public reveal that would have explained how these numbers work.”
Here are four of Tesla’s most provocative battery claims — and an attempt to puzzle out how they might be achieved."
Tesla’s Newest Promises Break the Laws of Batteries
In other *coin news, see Initial Coin Offerings Horrify a Former S.E.C. Regulator (NYT) and Bitcoin nears $10,000 mark as hedge funds plough in (The Guardian)
"The price of bitcoin surged passed $9,000 Saturday night and sits at $9,139, an increase of 4.28 percent, according to data from digital currency information site CoinDesk. That value roughly converts to £7,000 in the UK and AU$12,365 in Australia. Bitcoin's market capitalization is now almost $153 billion.Bitcoin tops $9,000 mark for first time - CNET
The cryptocurrency has experienced a massive run in 2017. On Jan. 1 this year, bitcoin was priced at just under $1,000. Still, the cryptocurrency's value has been extremely volatile and prone to crashes."
On a related note, FCC net neutrality process ‘corrupted’ by fake comments and vanishing consumer complaints, officials say (Washington Post)
"This will be a difficult task. What has changed since 2004 that now makes the blocking or throttling of competitors not a problem? The evidence points strongly in the opposite direction: There is a long history of anticompetitive throttling and blocking — often concealed — that the F.C.C. has had to stop to preserve the health of the internet economy. Examples include AT&T’s efforts to keep Skype off iPhones and the blocking of Google Wallet by Verizon. Services like Skype and Netflix would have met an early death without basic net neutrality protections. Mr. Pai needs to explain why we no longer have to worry about this sort of threat — and “You can trust your cable company” will not suffice.Tim Wu: Why the Courts Will Have to Save Net Neutrality - The New York Times
Moreover, the F.C.C. is acting contrary to public sentiment, which may embolden the judiciary to oppose Mr. Pai. Telecommunications policy does not always attract public attention, but net neutrality does, and polls indicate that 76 percent of Americans support it. The F.C.C., in short, is on the wrong side of the democratic majority."
A big week ahead for AWS
"Amazon will launch more products this week at its Re:Invent cloud conference. A keynote on Wednesday is expected to show off new AI capabilities and a revamped data warehousing service, code-named Ironman, that ingests and prepares data so machine learning algorithms can be applied to information, according to technology news website The Information.Amazon Plays Catch Up in a Corner of the Cloud Where it Lagged - Bloomberg
"I'm super-happy with the amount of progress that we've made," AWS’ Smola said in an interview. "Am I happy with where we are relative to where we should be? No. But you never are.""
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
For some recent Quip news see Documents with Superpowers — Introducing Live Apps for Quip (Quip blog)
"Salesforce has named Bret Taylor, the former chief technology officer at Facebook and founder of Quip, as president and chief product officer.Salesforce appoints Bret Taylor as chief product officer | TechCrunch
Taylor first joined Salesforce in 2016, when Salesforce acquired word processing app Quip for $750 million. Now, Taylor is replacing Alex Dayon as the company’s CPO and Dayon is moving into the role of chief strategy officer.
As chief product officer, Taylor will be tasked with leading Salesforce’s product vision, design, development and launches."
Paying to be taken for a ride
"Hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber Technologies Inc., a massive breach that the company concealed for more than a year. This week, the ride-hailing firm ousted its chief security officer and one of his deputies for their roles in keeping the hack under wraps, which included a $100,000 payment to the attackers.Uber Paid Hackers to Delete Stolen Data on 57 Million People - Bloomberg
Compromised data from the October 2016 attack included names, email addresses and phone numbers of 50 million Uber riders around the world, the company told Bloomberg on Tuesday. The personal information of about 7 million drivers was accessed as well, including some 600,000 U.S. driver’s license numbers. No Social Security numbers, credit card information, trip location details or other data were taken, Uber said."
Not a bad year, so far
Which tech companies beat Facebook, Amazon and Netflix on the markets? - Recode
"Square’s stock price grew 232 percent since the start of this year, according to data from FactSet, making it one of the best performing major U.S. tech stock this year. Of course, Square is a much smaller company than other FAANG members, so growth is easier.
But Chinese companies Tencent and Alibaba are just as big and more than doubled this year at 121 and 101 percent growth respectively. Video game chipmaker Nvidia rose 101 percent this year while PayPal rose 93 percent. Salesforce inched above the FAANG stocks as well."
Which tech companies beat Facebook, Amazon and Netflix on the markets? - Recode
Looks like RT and Sputnik will have to shift more investment to Twitter
"The Russian telecom regulator said Tuesday that it will retaliate against Google if the search giant lowers the search ranking of the Kremlin-backed news outlets RT and Sputnik, escalating a tense back and forth over Russian news coverage that has entangled American news bureaus abroad and could lead Moscow to enact further censorship rules.Google is getting pulled into a fight with Russia over RT and Sputnik - The Washington Post
The agency’s remarks come after Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google's parent company, Alphabet, said that the company would de-rank the two Russian media outlets in its search results. Speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum over the weekend, Schmidt said Google is working to curb misleading and exploitative content, as well as material that is likely to have been “weaponized” for nefarious purposes."
So pretty much "mission accomplished..."
"In a brief interview on Tuesday, Ms. Whitman said it had been a “privilege” to lead Hewlett-Packard through the challenges of recent years. The two companies that emerged, she said, are leaner, more innovative and healthy competitors in the modern technology industry. “I’m really proud of that,” Ms. Whitman said.Meg Whitman to Step Down as Hewlett Packard Enterprise C.E.O. - The New York Times
Her plans, she said, are not yet set. Ms. Whitman said she would take time off and go skiing, and she is the incoming chairwoman of Teach for America. Other than that, Ms. Whitman said, “I don’t know.”
She added: “I’ve been working straight for 35 years. I’m going to enjoy some downtime.”"
Trusting "the invisible hand" rather than voters in oligopoly (and regional monopoly) markets; also see An Open Letter to the FCC from New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman detailing fraudulent identities used in the FCC's notice and comment process
"Tim Wu, a law professor at Columbia University who is credited with coining the phrase “net neutrality,” said the repeal plan not only rolls back the Obama-era rules, it goes further. It specifically permits broadband carriers to block media content, Mr. Wu said, an added power which was not the case during the administration of George W. Bush.
“An allowance of blocking is really pretty shocking.” Mr. Wu said in an email.Net Neutrality Repeal: What Could Happen and How It Could Affect You - The New York Times
Yet if government is in retreat, then consumers are left to trust the behavior of the internet-access companies like Charter and AT&T. In their filings with the F.C.C., the companies have claimed that faith would be well founded. Market incentives, Charter told the F.C.C., push the companies to provide the best service to its customers, catering to consumer demand."
From a timely Twitter reality check
"As I’ve argued before, Twitter has become the small bowel of the American news landscape — the place where the narratives you see on prime-time cable are first digested and readied for wider consumption. It’s no accident that it is President Trump’s social network of choice. And it’s also no accident that foreign powers are attracted to Twitter. According to its recent congressional testimony, Twitter was a primary target of Russian trolls who sought to influence last year’s presidential election; collectively, trolls created millions of election-related tweets, according to the company, some of which were widely cited across the media.Twitter, It’s Time to End Your Anything-Goes Paradise - The New York Times
It is precisely because of Twitter’s wider social importance that even nonusers should demand fixes to how it works. Besides the propaganda problem, at the moment — as Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder and chief executive, recently acknowledged — Twitter is a hostile place for women, minorities and many others, who are routinely barraged by threats and hate speech."
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Don't Go there...
"Last week, a curious update to Google’s GitHub repository showed that the company had forked Swift, a programming language created by Apple for building iOS/macOS/tvOS/watchOS apps. We previously heard that the idea was for the company to contribute to the open-source language’s base, as well for Google to use it to create internal tools for iPhones and iPads. But there’s more.Apple's Swift language finds its way into Google's secret Fuchsia OS
Android Police noted that some of the most recent code commits made to Google’s Swift repository show that the company is working on building support for it in its own Fuchsia OS."
All the news that's fit to tweet
"Why it matters: The investment is a part of a major digital push by the company to stay competitive in an era where Google and Facebook have tightened their grip on the digital advertising market.Scoop: Bloomberg expects eight figures for new Twitter network - Axios
The details: Bloomberg is hiring around 50 people to staff the new project, which will exist as the first 24-hour social news network on Twitter.
"In this age of the Google/Facebook duopoly, a relentless focus on invention and innovation is the only way to succeed," says Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith. "The fruits of disruption don't and shouldn't only belong to the dominant tech (aka "Media") platforms.""
From an extensive Facebook community reality check
"“To keep our society moving forward, we have a generational challenge—to not only create new jobs, but create a renewed sense of purpose,” Zuckerberg said at the Harvard commencement.The Education of Mark Zuckerberg - The Atlantic
We’ll never know what they saw in those 100 million people who were in “meaningful communities.” (We asked Facebook and did not receive a reply.) But we can say that it was powerful enough to pivot the whole company, hybridizing with Zuckerberg’s preexisting ideas about the global community and the database of people.
And now, with the same move fast, know little attitude, they’ve built a road map to give people community, meaning, and purpose. Why these guys? Why this company? Why Mark Zuckerberg?"
If a super-intelligent "god" does appear sometime soon, it probably won't appreciate this scam
"I called Edward Zelinsky, a professor at Cardozo Law School and the author of Taxing the Church, to gauge how seriously we should take Levandowski’s new faith. To my surprise, Zelinsky said there was no reason to assume the would-be prophet is just after profit. While Way of the Future will enjoy a handful of tax benefits (no IRS audits, etc.) as a religious not-for-profit, Zelinsky said the modest advantages aren’t worth having to tell friends or jurors that your god is a bot. “If it is a strategy, it isn’t a very good one,” he said.Silicon Valley’s New Religion Is About As Serious As You’d Think - Bloomberg
The designation could be more valuable in the unlikely event that Levandowski is charged criminally for the alleged trade secrets theft. Judges often order people convicted of computer crimes to refrain from using computers as a condition of their probation or parole, but that punishment would be hard to contemplate for the high priest of computer worship. As farfetched as this sounds, it might work, says Daniel Hemel, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. “Sincerely held but wacky beliefs still warrant protection,” Hemel says."
Perhaps the new cloud will be idiot developer-proof
"The announcement comes at a time when Amazon’s business and government customers are under intense scrutiny over whether they are storing data securely in the cloud. Amazon’s cloud-based folders – referred to as “buckets” – have been at the center of several high-profile security incidents in recent months, in which customers inadvertently left sensitive information on an Amazon server in an unprotected format.Amazon launches new cloud storage service for U.S. spy agencies - The Washington Post
In late May a cybersecurity researcher found that a Booz Allen Hamilton contractor working at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency had left sensitive government information online in an AWS bucket without password protection. Booz Allen Hamilton said at the time that one of its own employees was at fault for making the information public.
A month later the same researcher found a similar leak at the Republican National Committee had left millions of voters’ personal information freely available online, also in an Amazon cloud bucket. A third incident involving the Defense Department was reported by CNN on Friday."
Operation Undo Obama continues...
"Ajit Pai, the chairman of the F.C.C., plans to reveal a sweeping proposal to scrap the net neutrality rules on Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the plan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details are not public. The rules, created during the Obama administration, prohibit broadband providers from blocking, slowing down or charging more for the delivery of certain internet content. The proposal will be presented in a December meeting of F.C.C. commissioners and is expected to pass in a 3-to-2 vote along party lines.F.C.C. Is Said to Plan Repeal of Net Neutrality Rules - The New York Times
A rollback of net neutrality regulations would represent a significant victory for broadband and telecom companies like AT&T and Comcast and would amount to a strike against consumers. When the rules were passed in 2015, they underlined the importance of high-speed internet to the lives of Americans and the need to more strongly regulate the communications service like a utility, as essential as electricity and the telephone."
Monday, November 20, 2017
Also see Germany bans kids’ smartwatches that can be used for eavesdropping (TechCrunch)
"Germany’s telecoms regulator has banned the sale of “smart watches” that can be used by parents to check on their children, saying the devices violated Germany’s strict surveillance laws.Germany bans children's 'smart' watches over surveillance concerns | Technology | The Guardian
The Federal Network Agency said it had already taken action against several firms that sell the watches online but did not name them.
It urged parents to destroy the watches, which are widely available on the German market and target children between the ages of 5 to 12."
For more details on the Lotus Notes connections, see The History of Notes and Domino (IBM [PDF])
"Some of the most popular pieces of software ever made, including Lotus Notes and Microsoft Flight Simulator, share a direct lineage with the applications produced by students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and other nearby universities more than 40 years ago. Many more, such as Reddit, Twitter, and AOL, carry clear inspiration, whether their creators know it or not. And this platform generated some of the earliest examples of digital culture, including emoticons and interactive storytelling.The Greatest Computer Network You’ve Never Heard Of - Motherboard
Brian Dear, a onetime PLATO user at the University of Delaware, has spent roughly two decades gathering up every scrap of information available about the system for his new book, The Friendly Orange Glow (Pantheon, $40), released this week."
For another perspective, see Google Pixel Buds review: the future shouldn't be this awkward (The Verge)
""Wait for the second generation" is common practice for any nitpicky nerd, but in the Buds' case, we have to wonder whether we'll have to wait for a third generation pair of earbuds. This one just doesn't feel like it was tested enough in the real world, and playing catch-up to the above complaints may still result in a product that feels first-gen.Pixel Buds review: OK Google, go back to the earbud drawing board | Ars Technica
In the meantime, it's time to start the betting pool for when Google drops the price on these to something that matches their current value and performance."
Later in the article: "'Silicon Valley is kind of crazy now,' Mr. Kvamme said."
"The rationale for investing in the Midwest combines cost and opportunity. A top-flight software engineer who is paid $100,000 a year in the Midwest might well command $200,000 or more in the Bay Area. The Midwest, the optimists say, also has ample tech talent, with excellent engineers coming out of major state and private universities in the region.As Silicon Valley Gets ‘Crazy,’ Midwest Beckons Tech Investors - The New York Times
But they also point to technology shifts. As technology transforms nontech industries like health care, agriculture, transportation, finance and manufacturing, the Midwest investors argue that being close to customers will be more important than being close to the wellspring of technology."
Friday, November 17, 2017
Check the full post for more digital disruption dynamics
"The economic strains of technology on the entire media landscape are intensifying. Weeks after Google and Facebook announced record earnings, some of the biggest players in the digital media industry are still struggling to hit revenue projections, make profit or grow.Digital media struggles to survive technology's chokehold - Axios
Why it matters: Rapid consolidation in every sector, but especially digital, shows how difficult it is for media companies to survive in an attention economy dominated by tech platforms. Tech giants, aided by decades of minimal regulation, have scaled to the point at which they are able to adjust their advertising models and adapt to consumer demands faster than most media companies can keep up with."
The future looks bright ahead
"A new study by Gary King of Harvard University, Jennifer Pan of Stanford University, and Margaret Roberts of the University of California San Diego suggests that China is the leading innovator on this front. Their paper, titled “How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, Not Engaged Argument,” shows how Beijing, with the help of a massive army of government-backed internet commentators, floods the web in China with pro-regime propaganda.China is perfecting a new method for suppressing dissent on the internet - Vox
What’s different about China’s approach is the content of the propaganda. The government doesn’t refute critics or defend policies; instead, it overwhelms the population with positive news (what the researchers call “cheerleading” content) in order to eclipse bad news and divert attention away from actual problems."
Coincidentally, Comcast Said to Be in Talks to Buy 21st Century Fox Assets (NYT)
"Federal regulators rolled back decades-old rules on Thursday, making it far easier for media outlets to be bought and sold — potentially leading to more newspapers, radio stations and television broadcasters being owned by a handful of companies.The FCC just repealed a 42-year-old rule blocking broadcast media mergers - The Washington Post
The regulations, eliminated in a 3-to-2 vote by the Federal Communications Commission, were first put in place in the 1970s to ensure that a diversity of voices and opinions could be heard on the air or in print. But now those rules represent a threat to small outlets that are struggling to survive in a vastly different media world, according to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. With the rise of blogs, websites and podcasts, Pai said, traditional media outlets now face more competition than ever — and rules that once enforced a diversity of viewpoints are no longer needed."
Featuring "'thermonuclear explosion-proof glass' in the windshield;" also see Tesla Unveils an Electric Rival to Semi Trucks (NYT)
"Elon Musk unveiled Tesla’s first electric semi-truck on Thursday evening at an event in Los Angeles that also included the surprise reveal of a new Tesla sports car.
The new Roadster, which has the same name as the first electric vehicle produced by Tesla from 2008 to 2012, emerged from the back of one of the trucks at the end of a presentation that focused largely on the economic and performance needs of truck drivers.
“The point of doing this is just to give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars,” Musk said. “Driving a gasoline sports car is going to feel like a steam engine with a side of quiche.”"Elon Musk unveils Tesla electric truck – and a surprise new sports car | Technology | The Guardian
Check the full post for more Gobo details and The Case for a Taxpayer-Supported Version of Facebook for some broader context-setting (thanks to Dan Gillmor for the reference)
"Why don’t social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter give users powerful tools to filter their own feeds? Right now, the algorithms control what we see, but we can’t control them. As the internet maxim goes, “If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold”. Both Twitter and Facebook offer powerful filtering tools that allow advertisers to target exactly who they want their ads to reach. You can pay money and advertise to women of color between 40-60 in Seattle, but you can’t choose to read perspectives from those women. While we’ve seen great innovation from projects like BlockTogether, which lets users who experience harassment share Twitter blocklists, we’ve seen surprisingly little innovation on user-controllable filters from the platforms themselves. And unless we see something like public-service social media platforms, it’s unlikely that we will see platforms give users much more control over what they see.Who Filters Your News? Why we built gobo.social | … My heart’s in Accra
Algorithmic filters optimize platforms for user retention and engagement, keeping our eyes firmly on the site so that our attention can be sold to advertisers. We thought it was time that we all had a tool that let us filter social media the ways we choose. What if we could choose to challenge ourselves one day, encountering perspectives from outside our normal orbits, and relax another day, filtering for what’s funniest and most viral. So we built Gobo."
Thursday, November 16, 2017
"Levandowski expects that a super-intelligence would do a better job of looking after the planet than humans are doing, and that it would favor individuals who had facilitated its path to power. Although he cautions against taking the analogy too far, Levandowski sees a hint of how a superhuman intelligence might treat humanity in our current relationships with animals. “Do you want to be a pet or livestock?” he asks. “We give pets medical attention, food, grooming, and entertainment. But an animal that’s biting you, attacking you, barking and being annoying? I don’t want to go there.”Inside Artificial Intelligence's First Church | WIRED
Enter Way of the Future. The church’s role is to smooth the inevitable ascension of our machine deity, both technologically and culturally. In its bylaws, WOTF states that it will undertake programs of research, including the study of how machines perceive their environment and exhibit cognitive functions such as learning and problem solving."
Excerpt from an extensive profile
""I try to do useful things," he explains. "That's a nice aspiration. And useful means it is of value to the rest of society. Are they useful things that work and make people's lives better, make the future seem better, and actually are better, too? I think we should try to make the future better."Elon Musk: Inventor's Plans for Outer Space, Cars, Finding Love - Rolling Stone
When asked to define "better," Musk elaborates, "It would be better if we mitigated the effects of global warming and had cleaner air in our cities and weren't drilling for vast amounts of coal, oil and gas in parts of the world that are problematic and will run out anyway.
"And if we were a multiplanetary species, that would reduce the possibility of some single event, man-made or natural, taking out civilization as we know it, as it did the dinosaurs. There have been five mass-extinction events in the fossil record. People have no comprehension of these things. Unless you're a cockroach or a mushroom – or a sponge – you're fucked." He laughs sharply. "It's insurance of life as we know it, and it makes the future far more inspiring if we are out there among the stars and you could move to another planet if you wanted to.""
If you think there's a remote chance this would be a "purely economic bet," consider this Crooked Conversations podcast: How dangerous is dark money?
"So it’s possible the Kochs are making a purely economic bet here, and they believe a version of the pitch Time Inc.’s management has been making for years: We’re going to use our declining print business to build a new digital business. (Time Inc.’s digital ad revenues passed $500 million last year — a number that Time Inc. execs like to compare to BuzzFeed, which did about half of that in the same time frame.)Do the Koch Brothers want their own media empire? - Recode
On the other hand, there are lots of rich, powerful men in the U.S. But there are only a handful of big, powerful media companies. If you’re trying to get your messages across to a lot of people, even a declining one might seem attractive."
What could possibly go wrong?...
"New iterations of the cryptocurrency are multiplying as disagreements over bitcoin’s design persist and opportunities for making a quick buck prove hard to pass up.Bitcoin's Rivals Multiply Amid Battle for Crypto Dominance - Bloomberg
The biggest offshoot, called bitcoin cash, appeared in August after a so-called hard fork in the bitcoin blockchain. That spinoff, currently valued at $18 billion, was followed by a less successful fork to create bitcoin gold in October, and now several other planned splits are in the works.
There’s bitcoin diamond, bitcoin silver, bitcoin unlimited and super bitcoin -- the latest proposal to emerge. The website advertising super bitcoin says the offshoot is backed by Chinese cryptocurrency entrepreneur Li Xiaolai. It promises to “make bitcoin great again” by, among other things, increasing the size of blocks on which transactions are processed -- a move that would reduce confirmation times and fees."
Searching for better information integrity
"They're exploiting a weakness that cuts to the core of Google's main proposition: Delivering trusted information online. That flaw emerged as Google rewired its search engine and giant video platform to prioritize immediate and timely content to become a destination for news.Inside Google's Struggle to Filter Lies from Breaking News - Bloomberg
"The purveyors of misinformation are really using these methods to complicate our systems,” Nayak said.
To combat the problem, Google is revamping the place where most people first see web results with breaking news, carefully curating the carousels that list “Top Stories” and featured posts Google pulls from Twitter in a way it hasn't before. Nayak said the company is working on methods to limit false content around news events, but declined to offer specifics. Google is also overhauling video search, limiting results around news events on YouTube to verified outlets and placing more algorithmic emphasis on these sources more broadly."
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Check the full post for an overview of some Google job search features that are probably making the LinkedIn team a bit nervous
"To help the millions of people who turn to Google to start their job search, we worked with leaders across the industry to introduce a new experience earlier this year. Since then, we’ve seen more than 60 percent of employers showing jobs in Search and connected tens of millions of people to new job opportunities.New tools to make your job search simpler
Now, based on feedback from job seekers, we’re introducing some new features to help make the process more efficient. Directly in Search, you can access salary information for job postings, improved location settings, job application choices, and in a couple of weeks, the ability to save individual jobs."
Deeply dubious donations; also see Missouri Opens Antitrust Investigation Into Google (NYT)
"Hawley, a Republican, unveiled a probe into Alphabet Inc.’s Google for favoring its own products in search results, citing the similar case in the European Union that resulted in a record fine. His subpoena is the most significant case against Google in the U.S. since the Federal Trade Commission picked up, then dropped, a competition case in 2013.Peter Thiel Gave Money to Attorney General Going After Google - Bloomberg
Thiel made a $100,000 contribution in 2015 to Hawley for the attorney general race, and gave two more $100,000 donations in 2016, according to Missouri state campaign finance filings. Hawley won the election and was sworn in on Jan. 9, 2017.
Thiel, an early investor in Facebook Inc., has criticized Google for years. In 2012, he sparred with then-Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt on stage at a conference, calling the company’s search engine a monopoly. “It’s quite legal to have a monopoly as long as you don’t abuse it," he added. In his recent book, "Zero to One," Thiel argued Google was a monopoly and said every company should want to be one."
Perhaps coming soon to a Whole Foods near you
"Shoppers visiting an Amazon Go store will scan their smartphones upon entering. Cameras and shelf sensors will then work together to figure out which items have been removed and who removed them, the person says; there will be no need for tracking devices, such as radio frequency chips, embedded in the merchandise. When shoppers leave, algorithms will total the order and bill their Amazon account.Amazon’s Cashierless Store Is Almost Ready for Prime Time - Bloomberg
The system is working well for individual shoppers but still struggles to accurately charge people who are moving around in groups, such as families with grabby kids, the person says. Go engineers have been studying families shopping together and are tweaking their sensors to recognize when a child eats an item while wandering around the store. Engineers are also figuring out which person to charge when a couple goes shopping together. Amazon has encouraged employees to enter the store in pairs and buy lunch."
Minitrue c2017 -- check the full post for a detailed Sinclair profile
"But under the leadership of Ajit Pai, a Republican who joined the commission in 2012 and whom Trump elevated to chairman, the FCC has seemingly gone out of its way to grease the wheels for the Sinclair-Tribune merger, reinstating a rule from the Reagan era that could help the company avoid limits on media consolidation. “The FCC is gaming the rules to directly benefit Sinclair,” says Craig Aaron, the president of the public interest group Free Press.Ready for Trump TV? Inside Sinclair Broadcasting’s Plot to Take Over Your Local News – Mother Jones
If the merger is approved, Sinclair’s broadcasts will reach 72 percent of all households. Some media analysts have speculated that with Fox News reeling from cascading sexual harassment scandals, Sinclair senses an opportunity to build a rival conservative network. David Smith is reportedly eyeing a collaboration with Steve Bannon, the former Trump White House chief strategist who leads Breitbart News. There have also been reports, which Sinclair denies, that the company is pursuing the ousted Fox host Bill O’Reilly as well as Sean Hannity."
TV stations are about to track you and sell targeted ads, just like Google and Facebook - The Washington Post
Something to watch
"But privacy advocates say the development of highly precise digital tracking in yet another industry will mean a setback for consumers, and could further concentrate power among a small handful of corporations.TV stations are about to track you and sell targeted ads, just like Google and Facebook - The Washington Post
Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, said the FCC failed to include any meaningful privacy safeguards for consumers in the Next Gen TV proposal.
"The FCC has placed Americans who watch TV and online video at grave risk when it comes to their privacy," said Chester. He added that other rule changes the FCC is seeking to make this week could accelerate the erosion of consumer privacy as the television industry becomes more consolidated."
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Tangentially, see Susan Rice: Trump Is Making China Great Again (NYT)
"Beijing Sinnet Technology Co Ltd, Amazon’s China partner, said in a filing late on Monday that it would buy the U.S. firm’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud computing unit in China for up to 2 billion yuan ($301.2 million).Amazon sells off China cloud assets as tough new rules bite
“In order to comply with Chinese law, AWS sold certain physical infrastructure assets to Sinnet,” an AWS spokesman said on Tuesday, adding AWS would still own the intellectual property for its services worldwide.
“We’re excited about the significant business we have in China and its growth potential.”"
The Apple Watch can accurately detect hypertension and sleep apnea, a new study suggests | TechCrunch
Something to keep a Watch on
"Cardiogram and UCSF previously demonstrated the ability for the Apple Watch to detect abnormal heart rhythm with a 97 percent accuracy. This new study shows the Watch can detect sleep apnea with a 90 percent accuracy and hypertension with an 82 percent accuracy.The Apple Watch can accurately detect hypertension and sleep apnea, a new study suggests | TechCrunch
Sleep apnea affects an estimated 22 million adults in the U.S., with another 80 percent of cases of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea undiagnosed, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association. This is a serious condition where the person affected stops breathing in their sleep and can lead to death."
Google, IBM, or Intel acquisition timing tbd...
"After their research helped fuel the work of so many others, Mr. Schoelkopf and two other Yale professors have started their own quantum computing company, Quantum Circuits.Yale Professors Race Google and IBM to the First Quantum Computer - The New York Times
Based just down the road from Yale in New Haven, Conn., and backed by $18 million in funding from the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and others, the start-up is another sign that quantum computing — for decades a distant dream of the world’s computer scientists — is edging closer to reality.
“In the last few years, it has become apparent to us and others around the world that we know enough about this that we can build a working system,” Mr. Schoelkopf said. “This is a technology that we can begin to commercialize.”"
"Toward the end of the chat, Berners-Lee said it was important for people to be able to own and control their own data and that companies should think twice before assuming it’s a business asset. “It used to be said that data is the new oil,” he said. “Personally, I think it’s like nuclear fuel. It’s becoming toxic. Two years ago, the question from the board was, ‘How are we monetizing the data?’ Now the question is, “How are we protecting ourselves from the damage of this getting out?’”Father of the Web Confronts His Creation in the Era of Fake News - Bloomberg
I asked Berners-Lee if he owned a connected assistant like the Amazon Echo or Google Home. The answer, he said, is no; he believes that when conversations and queries are recorded in our home and transferred to the cloud, they inevitably become vulnerable to intruders and accessible to prying governments. Sounding very unlike the web pioneer who created the web nearly three decades ago, he vowed, “We must resist these technologies.”"
Later in the article: "Patients who agree to take the digital medication, a version of the antipsychotic Abilify, can sign consent forms allowing their doctors and up to four other people, including family members, to receive electronic data showing the date and time pills are ingested."
"For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a digital pill — a medication embedded with a sensor that can tell doctors whether, and when, patients take their medicine.First Digital Pill Approved to Worries About Biomedical ‘Big Brother’ - The New York Times
The approval, announced late on Monday, marks a significant advance in the growing field of digital devices designed to monitor medicine-taking and to address the expensive, longstanding problem that millions of patients do not take drugs as prescribed.
Experts estimate that so-called nonadherence or noncompliance to medication costs about $100 billion a year, much of it because patients get sicker and need additional treatment or hospitalization."
Monday, November 13, 2017
Article "bottom line:" "Microsoft has taken enough customers from market leader Amazon to create a viable cloud business; Google’s cloud gains have been slower."
"It’s hard to think of a business Amazon.com Inc. dominates as convincingly as the market for cloud computing services. Andy Jassy, chief executive officer of the company’s cloud division, Amazon Web Services Inc., likes to brag that his outfit has several times as much business as the next 14 providers combined. Amazon’s next-largest cloud competitor, Microsoft Corp., is less than one-fifth Amazon’s size in terms of sales of infrastructure services, which store and run data and applications in the cloud, according to research firm Gartner Inc. Google, the No. 3 U.S. cloud services provider and the second-largest company in the world by market value, makes one-fifteenth of Amazon’s cloud revenue."Microsoft and Google Turn to AI to Catch Amazon in the Cloud - Bloomberg
Tangentially, see Elon Musk vows Tesla semi truck will "blow your mind" (Axios)
"The industry’s size makes it a fat target for automation. Autonomous technology will help trucking companies reduce labor costs in the long run, first by extending the number of hours trucks are in operation, and later, by reducing the number of drivers. The industry spends billions of dollars a year on accidents that are largely caused by human error, and billions more on insurance premiums that should go down if and when self-driving technology is proven to be safer than human drivers.Self-Driving Trucks May Be Closer Than They Appear - The New York Times
The result is a furious race not just to develop self-driving trucks, but to get them on the road and making money. The chief executive of Waymo, the self-driving car unit owned by Google’s parent company, has said that self-driving trucks may emerge before self-driving taxis. Uber has a self-driving unit — which was founded by a former Google engineer who is now at the center of a patent-infringement suit between the companies."
Saturday, November 11, 2017
Excerpt from an extensive Tesla reality check
"Tesla’s goal has always been focused on going green, rather than creating the driverless future. (Its mission is emblazoned on its factory walls: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”) Yet as the automobile industry settles on the consensus that self-driving cars are coming — their promise to improve safety and to help ride-sharing replace car ownership for many Americans propels their inevitability — Tesla finds itself in the midst of a contest to do both. This set of challenges should be enough for any company, especially one led by a chief executive whose time is compromised by other business commitments as a founder of a rocket company (SpaceX), a new tunneling operation (the Boring Company), a company planning a human-computer interface (Neuralink) and a nonprofit focused on the dangers of artificial intelligence (OpenAI). But Tesla has given itself a few others too. One is to essentially reinvent modern manufacturing processes at the Gigafactory. Yet another is to create the first mass-market electric car ever. In the meantime, a company that has never made much profit needs to somehow figure out how to do so — that is, to put itself in the black before financial losses and missed deadlines curdle any hope that Tesla inspires, among customers or stockholders, into skepticism."Tesla’s Dangerous Sprint Into the Future - The New York Times
Friday, November 10, 2017
Check the full post for a stark Snap reality check
"This week’s Snap Inc earnings call was an indictment of the strategy pursued by the company in regard to both its core Snapchat app and its Spectacles hardware. The company has failed to drive two of the three major metrics that are key to success in the space, and it reversed its long-standing strategic stances on several key topics during a single earnings call. Having resisted calls for change for months, it appears Snap is now trying to change everything at once."Snapchat’s Strategic Failure – Tech.pinions
In other Twitter truthiness news, see Twitter, Facing Another Uproar, Pauses Its Verification Process (NYT)
"Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said Thursday he’s “absolutely” willing to come talk to the U.S. Congress as lawmakers continue to probe Russia’s efforts to spread disinformation on social media during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was invited to testify to Congress and didn’t - Recode
Thing is, lawmakers previously and repeatedly called on Dorsey and other tech executives to make the trip to Capitol Hill — and they’ve apparently declined.
That includes a trio of Russia-focused hearings held in October. Lawmakers on one of the three congressional committees actually invited Dorsey to testify, according to two congressional sources familiar with the investigation, but he declined to appear."
"Apple may anoint the winner of Broadcom’s $105 billion bid for Qualcomm. A dispute over iPhone royalties left Qualcomm vulnerable to an opportunistic offer from its acquisitive rival. If Apple settles its dispute, it could preserve Qualcomm’s independence — but it all depends on whether Apple thinks a bigger Broadcom would be slavishly devoted to its devices, or just surlier.Will Qualcomm Agree to a Deal With Broadcom? Ask Apple - The New York Times
Qualcomm and Apple came to blows over royalties that the chip maker collects on mobile gadgets, most of which use its technologies. The actual payments aren’t disclosed, but analysts generally peg them at about $10 per phone. When Apple sued Qualcomm and told its suppliers to stop paying these fees this year, it helped push Qualcomm’s share price down by $10 per share, in subsequent months, to the $54.84 at which it traded last Thursday, the day before Broadcom’s interest was reported."
Thursday, November 09, 2017
"Still, it would seem as if the FBI would rather not have to go to such extreme measures to access the contents of an American citizen’s device, especially considering the fact that the exploit in the San Bernardino case likely doesn’t work on devices of all types. Although Apple legally complies with warrants for iCloud data, the FBI still has no definitive method for bypassing the encryption protecting iPhone authentication locks, which Apple purposefully makes near-impossible to bypass without the user’s access code.Apple says it immediately contacted FBI about unlocking Texas shooter’s iPhone - The Verge
In the case of Kelley, because 48 hours had passed without him using his fingerprint to unlock the iPhone in question, the access code security feature kicked in and locked the FBI out. Had law enforcement accepted Apple’s offer for assistance right away, perhaps they would already have what they’re looking for. But in that case, the FBI wouldn’t be able to blame encryption for its failure."
In the article URL: "The internet of tomatoes is coming starting with Boston salads"
"The biggest player in this area is International Business Machines Corp., which partnered with food titans including Dole Food Co., Nestle SA, Unilever NV and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. this summer on a pilot to add blockchain to their businesses. IBM says its technology can show where produce came from in seconds. Traditional methods can take up to a week.Someone Figured Out How to Put Tomatoes on a Blockchain - Bloomberg
The experiment on Ward’s farm this summer was designed to test whether the same principle could work for boutique restaurants committed to knowing the origins of all of their ingredients. Sweetgreen already uses tomatoes grown on Ward’s farm in salads sold at its Prudential Center location in Boston. In their pilot program with Ripe, tomatoes were tracked using Analog Devices Inc. and Blustream Corp. sensors, and some were taste tested against “normal” tomatoes from Ward’s farm."
"Al Gore invented the internet.
Confirm. The packet-switched networks had been around for a long time. But the internet’s a political invention. And yeah, he should be remembered much more prominently than he is as a creator of it.
The internet is just a passing fad.
I’ve actually thought about that quite a lot. That’s a profound question. Because most of us who worked on it thought, “O.K., this will be here forever and this is the thing.” But it’s turning out so badly. I mean, I feel like it’s such a failure on so many important levels, that it’s conceivable that people will decide it’s over and try to do some other form of digital networking. The internet might be remembered as a failed thing. It breaks my heart to even think that, and I hope it isn’t true, but I’m beginning to wonder."Confirm or Deny: Jaron Lanier - The New York Times
Final paragraph from a detailed Jean-Louis Gassée Apple snapshot
"What we see is Apple is doing what they do best: Taking chances. They made a risky bet with the iPhone X and covered it with the iPhone 8. The new and improved perception of Apple might come from the realization that both bets are winning, and that the iPhone X is a radically new, as opposed to a merely improved, breed of smartphone — and probably is the start of a new succession of carefully incremented future models."Forking The iPhone – Monday Note
Also see "This Is Political": CNN Sees Trump's Hand in Justice Department's Merger Crackdown (Vanity Fair) and In AT&T Deal, Government Action Catches Up With Trump Rhetoric (NYT)
"What would it look like if the President of the United States punished American businesses he didn’t like, or news organizations that reported things he didn’t like?Trump wants to punish CNN by breaking up the AT&T/Time Warner deal - Recode
It would look like this: Trump’s Department of Justice is threatening to scuttle AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner unless the merged companies dump CNN and Turner, the cable unit that houses CNN, according to a source familiar with the DOJ’s review.
The Financial Times first reported the news today, as did the New York Times."
Final paragraphs from a social media reality check
"Both Snap and Twitter have built products that are designed to do a few things well. But Facebook has built a platform. It’s a social environment where users can do a great many things — read the news, post vacation photos, play games, go shopping, or broadcast live video. Neither Snapchat nor Twitter will ever approach Facebook’s comprehensive appeal, or its immense success.Why we need Snap and Twitter to learn how to make some money - The Boston Globe
But an unimpeded Facebook is not healthy for our society. Let’s hope Snapchat and Twitter can find a way to hang in there."
Wednesday, November 08, 2017
Tangentially, see Google Patent Reveals Google Glass being Reinvented using micro-LED Displays, a Technology Apple is Exploring (Patently Apple)
"Apple Inc., seeking a breakthrough product to succeed the iPhone, aims to have technology ready for an augmented-reality headset in 2019 and could ship a product as early as 2020.Apple to Ramp Up Work on Augmented Reality Headset - Bloomberg
Unlike the current generation of virtual reality headsets that use a smartphone as the engine and screen, Apple’s device will have its own display and run on a new chip and operating system, according to people familiar with the situation. The development timeline is very aggressive and could still change, said the people, who requested anonymity to speak freely about a private matter."
Check the full post for a drive different overview
"If you’re a designer/car enthusiast this post is for you. I’ve broken down the details of the dashboard controls and interface of the Tesla Model 3, the first mass-market, touchscreen only electric car. The car’s UI design tells us a great deal about Tesla’s long term strategy, and their eyes toward a driverless future."What Tesla’s Model 3 UI Reveals About Its Vision for the Future
Probably not a great day ahead for Snap shareholders
"While ad prices fell as part of a transition in the company’s sales system, the larger problem, Snap said, is that people complain they don’t know how to use the Snapchat mobile-messaging app. Once part of the app’s allure for teens, the company now considers its mystery a hurdle to future growth. So Snapchat is being redesigned.Snap Will Overhaul Its App Just Nine Months After Its IPO - Bloomberg
“There is a strong likelihood that the redesign of our application will be disruptive to our business in the short term, and we don’t yet know how the behavior of our community will change when they begin to use our updated application,” Chief Executive Officer Evan Spiegel said Tuesday in his prepared remarks to investors. “We’re willing to take that risk for what we believe are substantial long-term benefits to our business.”"
The Trump administration's dubious plans to favor coal and nuclear represent another gift to China
"It’s been a year since President Donald Trump’s election and his pledges to transform the energy markets haven’t exactly come to pass.Coal’s Trump Bump Is Over - Bloomberg
In fact, what was true under President Barack Obama is still true today: Coal’s share of the power mix is declining, and wind and solar remain the fastest-growing U.S. sources of electricity.
Try as Trump might, economics, not policy, have driven these seismic shifts in the way America uses energy during his first year in office. His second year, though, could prove to be another story."
Tbd if Trump received a thank-you note for abdicating world economic leadership, when he arrived in China this week
"China is directing billions of dollars to invest in research at home as well as to acquire innovative technology from abroad. A Beijing-directed semiconductor fund is thought to have more than $100 billion at its disposal, while another plan aims to grow China’s artificial intelligence companies into a $150 billion industry by 2030.China’s Technology Ambitions Could Upset the Global Trade Order - The New York Times
Such efforts have some American government officials and business leaders calling for a rethinking of how the United States approaches trade. Lawmakers are pushing for tougher rules on technology purchases, which do not usually cover the types of deals that China increasingly prefers. Officials are also investigating whether China is stealing intellectual property."
Tuesday, November 07, 2017
Snap stock is down big after reporting less revenue — and fewer users — than Wall Street expected - Recode
"Snap reported revenue of about $208 million, roughly 12 percent less than the $237 million analysts were hoping for. Snap also reported a net loss of $443 million on the quarter.Snap stock is down big after reporting less revenue — and fewer users — than Wall Street expected - Recode
Snapchat also reported disappointing user growth. The company added just 4.5 million new daily users; analysts were expecting closer to eight million new users. It now has 175 million total daily users.
Snap stock was down more than 18 percent in early after-hours trading."
On a related note, Rocket Launch: NET December 2017 | SpaceX Falcon Heavy Inaugural Flight (Kennedy Space Center)
"In response to a question about privately developed, heavy-lift boosters, the executive secretary also reiterated his skepticism that such "commercial" rockets developed by Blue Origin and SpaceX could compete with the government's Space Launch System rocket, which is likely to make its maiden flight in 2020.Trump space adviser: Blue Origin and SpaceX rockets aren’t really commercial | Ars Technica
"Heavy-lift rockets are strategic national assets, like aircraft carriers," Pace said. "There are some people who have talked about buying heavy-lift as a service as opposed to owning and operating, in which case the government would, of course, have to continue to own the intellectual properties so it wasn't hostage to any one contractor. One could imagine this but, in general, building a heavy-lift rocket is no more 'commercial' than building an aircraft carrier with private contractors would be.""
Tangentially, see Salesforce Introduces the Quip Collaboration Platform (Salesforce press release)
"The new alliance ties key, complementary services in marketing analytics and cloud-computing. Salesforce clients that don’t currently use G Suite, Google’s package of workplace software, will get the offerings free for one year.Google, Salesforce Team Up in Cloud After Takeover Speculation - Bloomberg
Google’s Analytics 360 service, a tool for managing marketing data, will also be integrated with Salesforce’s products, giving clients new ways to track sales and advertising information. In addition, Salesforce will add Google’s cloud service to an existing list of certified partners for its clients that includes Amazon.com Inc.’s offering."
What could possibly go wrong?...
"The price of a single Bitcoin climbed from below $6,000 two weeks ago to above $7,400 on Monday, more than it moved in the virtual currency’s first seven years in existence.Hedge Funds Push the Price of Bitcoin to New Highs - The New York Times
Since the beginning of the year, the value of Bitcoin has jumped over 600 percent, putting the combined value of all Bitcoin at about $120 billion, or more than many of the largest banks in the world.
The rise has been fueled by several factors, including the sudden interest in virtual currencies from small investors in Japan and South Korea."
Thursday, November 02, 2017
Fun while it lasted; also see Boom in Bitcoin and Ethereum brings surge in initial coin offerings (WikiTribune)
"The Securities and Exchange Commission took a first step on Wednesday to head off the recent trend of celebrities endorsing new virtual currencies, warning that they could be breaking laws.S.E.C. Warns Celebrities Endorsing Virtual Money - The New York Times
Entrepreneurs have been issuing the digital currencies through so-called initial coin offerings, or I.C.O.s, which have become a hot but largely unregulated method of fund-raising for technology projects.
So far this year, some 270 projects have raised over $3 billion by selling new currencies to investors. The vast sums of money have drawn in celebrities, like the socialite Paris Hilton and the rapper the Game, who have promoted particular projects, generally in exchange for a payment of some sort."
See this Amazon press release for some additional details
"The feature — built using Apple’s ARKit technology — is clearly in its infancy: The virtual products were a bit jumpy on my phone’s screen and the picture definition and coloring won’t have you confusing the images for the real thing.Amazon’s new 3-D feature is augmented reality that people might actually use - Recode
But augmented reality gives you a good sense of a product’s dimensions and a decent idea of its color. And that will in some cases be enough to push an undecided shopper into completing a purchase online they otherwise wouldn’t have. At Amazon’s scale, even a slight increase in a purchase conversion rate leads to real revenue gains.
Amazon’s AR feature follows similar launches from other retailers like Ikea, Wayfair and Houzz. But none of these sport the U.S.’s most popular shopping app for iOS like Amazon does. If there’s an app that has the potential to push AR into the mainstream of online shopping, it’s Amazon’s."