"Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that they are discontinuing support for Google Site Search product. Google Site Search is a paid product that lets you power your internal web site’s search engine based on the Google search technology. Google charges based on monthly query volume for the product.Google to sunset Google Site Search by end of 2017
Google said they are directing those consumers to either the ad-powered product named free custom search engine or the new cloud search product.
Google will stop fully supporting the Google Site Search product by the fourth-quarter of 2017."
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Also see Google Plans To Discontinue Yet Another Product (Fortune)
Excerpt from a timely Facebook reality check:
"In this brave new world, power comes not from production, not from distribution, but from controlling consumption: all markets will be demand-driven; the extent to which they already are is a function of how digitized they have become.Manifestos and Monopolies – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
This is why most Facebook-fail-fundamentalists so badly miss the point: that the company pays nothing for its content is not a weakness, it is a reflection of the fundamental reality that the supply of content (and increasingly goods) is infinite, and thus worthless; that the company is not essential to the distribution of products is not a measure of its economic importance, or lack thereof, but a reflection that distribution is no longer a differentiator. And last of all, the fact that communication is possible on other platforms is to ignore the fact that communication will always be easiest on Facebook, because they own the social graph. Combine that with the fact that controlling consumption is about controlling billions of individual consumers, all of whom will, all things being equal, choose the easy option, and you start to appreciate just how dominant Facebook is.
Given this reality, why would Zuckerberg want to be President? He is not only the CEO of Facebook, he is the dominant shareholder as well, answerable to no one. His power and ability to influence is greater than any President subject to political reality and check-and-balances, and besides, as Zuckerberg made clear last week, his concern is not a mere country but rather the entire world."
Check the full post for an embrace-and-extend timeline; also see Snap bets on hardware as Facebook threat looms (VentureBeat)
"Facebook Inc.’s attitude toward younger competitor Snap Inc. seems to be: we can’t have you, so we'll create our own versions of you. Ever since Snap turned down a $3 billion Facebook acquisition offer in 2013, the social media giant has churned out copycat features and full clones of Snapchat.Facebook's Clones Attack Snapchat
Not all have worked. Poke, Facebook’s first attempt at creating an app with the same features as Snapchat, was unpopular and, after a few months, was removed from the app store.
Facebook’s latest, more effective strategy involves integrating Snapchat’s disappearing photo-sharing tools into its already popular apps. The Instagram version of Snapchat stories, which lets people broadcast photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours, already has 150 million daily users. WhatsApp is trying the same with an update to its “Status” feature this week."
"The world’s first self-driving robot racing series took a big step toward reality this weekend. For the first time ever, both of Roborace’s prototype autonomous racecars ran against each other on a track. Roborace — a self-driving racing series supported by Formula E that was announced in 2015 — plans to release a full video documenting the attempt on Friday. But we’ve got some exclusive footage of Saturday’s feat, which you can see above.Watch Roborace’s self-driving racecars duel for the first time ever - The Verge
The two Roborace prototypes — which the company refers to as DevBots — “battled” each other around the same Puerto Madero street circuit in Buenos Aires that hosted the third race of Formula E’s third season. The cars’ Nvidia-powered brains handled 20 autonomous laps across the race weekend, according to Roborace, and topped out at about 115 miles per hour. That’s a pretty impressive accomplishment considering this was only the second time Roborace attempted a run on a Formula E street circuit. Formula E’s cars have a top speed of around 150 miles per hour."
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
From a snapshot of Microsoft in transition
"A seismic cultural shift is rocking Microsoft under Nadella, part of a broad transformation that is moving the company away from an atrophying, software license-based past and towards a thriving, cloud-based future.Microsoft's Satya Nadella is counting on culture shock to drive growth
In the process, Nadella has managed to get investors and employees alike re-energized about a once dominant brand whose luster had faded. And while part of his strategy involves buying new companies and beefing up existing teams in order to tackle cutting-edge tech trends, ultimately he feels success comes down to reinvigorating Microsoft's in-house mojo.
"What I realize more than ever now is that my job is curation of our culture," says Nadella, who will explore this topic and others in a book due out this fall called Hit Refresh. "If you don't focus on creating a culture that allows people to do their best work, then you’ve created nothing.”"
On a related note, see Robert Scoble's speculation that Apple may introduce a "very lightweight" pair of AR glasses in 2017
"Despite these issues, it may be that we’ve given up on wearables a bit too soon. The problem is that we’re thinking much too narrowly about what the concept, and implementation, of wearable computing really is. To be clear, I don’t see a big future for the individual products that we currently count as wearables, but I think the idea of several linked components that work together as a wearable computing system could have legs.Rethinking Wearable Computing | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis
Imagine, for example, a combination of something you wear on your wrist, something you wear on your face, perhaps a foldable screen you carry in your pocket, along with a set of intelligent earbuds (which might be integrated into the glasses you wear on your face), all of which work together seamlessly.
The devices would each incorporate sensors and/or cameras that would enable real-world contextual information. They would all incorporate high-speed wireless connections, and the entire system would be reliably voice-controlled with an AI-powered digital assistant. Critically, I think a solution like this would need to be sold together as a system—though a componentized system might work as well."
Samsung is just ahead of the United States Postal Service in the list
"Samsung’s reputation among US consumers took a major hit last year, an annual survey has found, as the Korean manufacturer struggled with the fallout over its Galaxy Note 7 recall. As The Korea Herald reports, Samsung came in 49th in this year’s Reputation Quotient Ratings from Harris Poll, which ranks the 100 most visible companies in the US according to public reputation. In last year’s ratings, Samsung ranked seventh, and it ranked third in 2015, ahead of Apple and Google.Samsung’s reputation nosedives in the US after Galaxy Note 7 snafu - The Verge
Amazon topped Harris Poll’s list for the second consecutive year, followed by Wegmans and Publix Super Markets. Other companies in the top ten include Apple, Google, and Tesla Motors, which was not included in last year’s rankings. Netflix and Microsoft each ranked in the top 20 (18th and 20th, respectively), while Facebook ranked 66th."
Monday, February 20, 2017
A virtual "3.0" release?...
"Why are they doing this? In the two years since the device was first announced, companies like Magic Leap have made big promises about their technology and how it will transform the world. Today, you cannot buy a device made by Magic Leap nor have we even seen a retail device from any other company in this space. In short, Microsoft has a large lead in the AR space and isn’t feeling pressure to release a product that is only an incremental update.Microsoft Accelerates HoloLens V3 Development, Sidesteps V2 - Thurrott.com
By skipping what was version two on their roadmap, the company can accelerate version three which will be closer to a generational leap and help keep Microsoft ahead of the competition. My sources are telling me that this version of Hololens will not arrive until 2019."
From an insightful assessment of the recent Facebook "manifesto"
"The beginning of Zuckerberg’s letter is less an argument about Facebook than it is an argument about the organizing principles of human progress. “History is the story of how we've learned to come together in ever greater numbers,” he writes. The theory reads as heavily informed by the book Sapiens, which Zuckerberg has recommended on, well, Facebook.Mark Zuckerberg’s theory of human history - Vox
Sapiens, which is written by the Israeli historian Yuval Harari, is a mind-bending look at why and how homo sapiens took over the earth. It begins by establishing our species’ lowly beginnings. “The most important thing to know about prehistoric humans is that they were insignificant animals with no more impact on their environment than gorillas, fireflies or jellyfish,” Harari writes.
So what changed? Humans learned how to cooperate, and nothing else did."
Driven to succeed
"“It’s amazing what you can do when it’s an existential crisis, when it’s your future and your whole business,” Stone said. “It’s not Google’s business, it’s not Apple’s business. It’s the car companies’ business, but we can be privately pessimistic about the chances that they’ll become real technology companies.”Self-driving cars are an ‘existential crisis’ for Uber, ‘Upstarts’ author Brad Stone says - Recode
“So, in that respect, I think Uber has a tremendous advantage: They’re well-capitalized, they’ve got an amazing business that can fund the research, and everything is hinging on it,” he added. “In some ways, I think they’re the company to beat. At the same time, Google had a 10-year head start, but there’s not a good track record there of maintaining talent. They’ve got Waymo problems.”"
New opportunities for closed movie theaters and empty malls
"The Void’s potential may have as much to do with the solutions it offers to other businesses as it does with entertainment.
Take at-home virtual reality gear. Sales have been lethargic, held back by high costs ($400 to $800, just for the headsets) and a shortage of must-have content. Virtual reality also has a bad reputation for making users feel woozy. And the V.R. experiences offered so far can be unpleasantly isolating; you are alone in those goggles.
But the Void could be the equivalent of a gateway drug.With New Invention, Virtual Reality’s Potential for Magic Gets Real - The New York Times
There is no investment necessary; just show up and buy a ticket. It’s social; groups of up to four can participate at once and see avatars of one another in the V.R. realm. And roaming through a large set — it’s all wireless, so participants are not tethered to a cord, as with most other V.R. experiences — seems to solve the nausea problem."
Friday, February 17, 2017
Embrace and extend, cloud document database service domain
"Moving to DocumentDB doesn’t require you to rewrite your apps or throw away your existing tools. DocumentDB supports protocol for MongoDB, which means DocumentDB databases can now be used as the data store for apps written for MongoDB. This also means that by using existing drivers for MongoDB databases, your applications written for MongoDB can now communicate with DocumentDB and use DocumentDB databases instead of MongoDB databases. In many cases, you can switch from using MongoDB to DocumentDB by simply changing a connection string. Using this functionality, you can easily build and run MongoDB database applications in the Azure cloud - leveraging DocumentDB's fully managed and scalable NoSQL databases, while continuing to use familiar skills and tools for MongoDB. Furthermore, we only support SSL for Mongo (not http) for the benefit of all users."Dear #MongoDB users, we welcome you in #Azure #DocumentDB | Blog | Microsoft Azure
Skynet, Loon edition; also see Machine Learning Invades the Real World on Internet Balloons (Wired)
"Now, the team says they’ve found a way to keep the balloons in a much more concentrated location, thanks to their improved altitude control and navigation system. Loon says that balloons will now make small loops over a land mass, instead of circumnavigating the whole planet.A breakthrough in Alphabet’s balloon-based internet project means it might actually work - Recode
“The reason this is so exciting is we can now run an experiment and try to give services in particular places of the world with 10 or 20 or 30 balloons, not with 200 or 300 or 400 balloons,” said the head of X, Astro Teller, at a press event at X’s headquarters in Mountain View today.
The Loon balloons now also adjust how they fly as needed using artificial intelligence software, instead of a set navigation plan.
“We’ve actually made so much progress that we think our timeline for when we can provide useful internet service to people is much, much sooner,” said Sal Candido, an engineer on the Loon project."
An excerpt from this week's Bloomberg Businessweek cover story:
"Musk chose the SpaceX parking lot as the site of his first dig, mostly because it was convenient and he could legally do so without city permits. The plan is to expand the current hole into a ramp designed for a large tunnel boring machine and then start digging horizontally once the machine is 50 feet or so below ground, which would make it low enough to clear gas and sewer lines and to be undetectable at the surface. The company, such as it is, is working on securing permits and hopes to have them by the time the tunnel hits the property line. At the moment, Musk won’t say exactly where this “demo tunnel,” as he calls it, will lead—only that it will accommodate cars and be the very beginning of a vast underground transportation network.Elon Musk Is Really Boring - Bloomberg
As crazy as tunneling sounds, Musk points out that it’s arguably less crazy than Silicon Valley’s go-to traffic solution: flying cars. Google’s Larry Page has funded two personal-aircraft startups, Zee.Aero and Kitty Hawk, and companies such as Uber and Airbus have skunk works. But Musk thinks flying cars are a dumb idea, at least for city travel. “Obviously, I like flying things,” he says. “But it’s difficult to imagine the flying car becoming a scalable solution.” As long as the laws of physics hold, he explains, any flying car will need to generate a lot of downward force to stop it from falling out of the sky, which means wind and noise for those on the ground, not to mention debris from midair fender-benders. “If somebody doesn’t maintain their flying car, it could drop a hubcap and guillotine you,” he says. “Your anxiety level will not decrease as a result of things that weigh a lot buzzing around your head.”"
Current market cap snapshots (from Google Finance): TWTR $11.84B, FB $385.61B
"Even at the top of that range, Snap would end up with a valuation on the lower end of the $20 billion to $25 billion mark that it had anticipated months ago. Either way, it is still up from the approximately $16.5 billion the company valued itself late last year.Snap Aims for Valuation of More Than $20 Billion in I.P.O. - The New York Times
The final pricing of the new shares — and the company’s valuation — could still change. The share price will be not be set until after Snap embarks on a nearly two-week tour of investors that will take its executives across the country. The company is expected to begin trading around March 2 on the New York Stock Exchange, under the ticker symbol SNAP.
Even if the value were to drop, it would still be one of the biggest technology offerings of the decade. At this stage of the offering process, Twitter was valued at more than $12 billion, including options and restricted stock units, in October 2013. A year earlier, Facebook was valued at $86 billion at a similar stage."
Steven Levy on Mark Zuckerberg's Building Global Community "manifesto;" also see Kara Swisher's I talked to Mark Zuckerberg about his manifesto on the future of Facebook (and the rest of us) (Recode)
"Because this message unrolls more like a State of the Union address than your typical Facebook post, it will undoubtedly fuel speculation that young Zuckerberg may be positioning himself to run for public office. (By the way, he turns 35 — the minimum age for the US president — in 2019.) But why accept what might well be a demotion? It’s true that one could dismiss Facebook as a global power with Stalin’s line to Churchill: “How many divisions does the Pope have?” But Facebook has a foreign policy —in the last year alone Zuckerberg has met with dozens of world leaders, including the Pope. And Facebook’s algorithms determine what information we see and who gets to share our news with us, and the majority of its 1.8 billion users show their support for it — in essence, they vote for it — by using the service every day.Behind the Scenes of Mark Zuckerberg’s Manifesto
Nonetheless, you might consider Zuckerberg’s post a counterpoint to the dark inauguration speech we recently witnessed. Unlike the one in D.C., Zuckerberg’s has specifics—it outlines a collaborative effort, with Facebook taking the initiative, to build a global set of meaningful communities with five purposes: support, safety, trusted and open information, civic engagement, and inclusion."
Check the full article for a timely Java EE reality check
"Thomas wrote the report ("Market Guide for Application Platforms") with contributing analyst Aashish Gupta. In it the authors asserted, among other things, that Java EE has not kept pace with architectural trends and digital business initiatives, that Java developers are demonstrating a clear preference for lightweight frameworks over Java EE, and that Java EE is not an appropriate framework for building cloud-native applications. They also advised those responsible for modernizing an enterprise's application infrastructure to "develop a strategy to deal with the obsolescence of Java EE and other three-tier application frameworks."
Java EE community leaders called the Gartner analysts irresponsible and out of touch with the platform, and many blasted the report in blog posts and social media (and my inbox). I interviewed several of those critics for my January post, which includes links to some of the blogs.Gartner Analyst Defends 'Java EE Is Obsolete' Report -- ADTmag
Thomas was a bit surprised at the level of outrage over her and Gupta's observations on what she believes are obvious facts about Java EE and the evolving demands on enterprise developers."
Thursday, February 16, 2017
From an extensive Google communication/collaboration app reality check
"Google offers 12 communications apps and services. Alphabetically, these are: Allo, Chat, Gmail, Google+, Groups, Hangouts, Inbox, Messenger, Duo, Project Fi, Spaces and Voice. If you look at the various communication actions you might want to take -- voice calls, video calls, email, text messaging and social posting -- Google has at least two offerings for each.Google's myriad messaging apps: Which are best for you? | Computerworld
The company is unrepentant about its bewildering lineup. A Google spokesperson told me: "We've designed specific products for distinct use cases, so we don't intend to have one app that does everything for everyone. We think we can better serve our users by creating products that function really well, and users can choose the product that best suits their needs." In other words, choice serves users better than clarity does.
At the same time, the company has a longstanding habit of ditching old products and services that have seen limited success, including Google Wave, Google Reader, Picasa and many more. According to my informal survey of nearly 3,000 Google+ users, a majority (55% as of this writing) said they hesitate to use some Google products because they're afraid Google might kill them off."
Also see Smart glasses bring vision to legally blind (Mashable)
"Yvonne Felix is walking toward me wearing a device that could be straight out of "Star Trek: The Next Generation."This 'Star Trek'-like headset helps the legally blind see again - CNET
Like Geordi La Forge in the science fiction series, Felix is legally blind. In the show, La Forge, played by LeVar Burton, wore a headset called VISOR that helped him see again. Felix is wearing its real-world equivalent, the eSight 3.
The eSight 3 has a camera that works with high-resolution displays and optical prisms in the headset to restore sight to those with low vision. The video image is presented to the user in a way that can overcome the cause of their vision loss."
On a related note, see Google’s not-so-secret new OS (Tech Specs)
"I’m happy to report that the first Chromebook designed from the ground up to run Android apps out of the box has arrived, albeit a little past the end of 2016. It goes on sale this week for $450. It’s called the Samsung Chromebook Plus, and it runs on an ARM processor, the same type of processor that powers the vast majority of smartphones and tablets. It was designed in close cooperation with Google.Mossberg: Android apps on Chrome OS arrive, disappoint - The Verge
Alas, in my tests of the Plus over the last few days, I found the Android execution frustrating.
The Android app feature is still in beta, not all apps work, and too many of those that do run seem like awkwardly blown-up phone apps, not software that’s tailored for the Chromebook's 12-inch screen. And there are other issues."
Coincidentally, LinkedIn, a Microsoft company since December 2016, is expanding its social networking overlap with Facebook. Also see Facebook’s new job opening posts poach business from LinkedIn (TechCrunch)
"Businesses were already posting jobs to their Pages, according to Andrew Bosworth, Facebook's VP of ads and its business platform. The hope is that now it'll be easier to find those postings and apply for them.Facebook is rolling out job postings and applications - Recode
The news is not so great for existing job platforms like LinkedIn, which charges recruiters to post and promote jobs on its platform. Facebook isn't necessarily the first place you think of when looking for a new job, but it could certainly offer some competition to LinkedIn and has a much larger user base.
The new feature will start to roll out beginning Wednesday, but only in the U.S. and Canada."
Tangentially, see Apple Struggles to Make Big Deals, Hampering Strategy Shifts (Bloomberg); also see Acquisitions in Tech have a Checkered History (Tech.pinions)
"Early on, the Apple TV was going to replace the clunky set-top boxes from the cable companies and stream live television. It never happened. The team debated bundling a gaming controller with the current model to better compete with Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox and Sony Corp.'s PlayStation. That didn't happen either. Originally, viewers were going to be able to shout commands from the couch to the Apple TV. Instead they must talk to the remote control.Apple Vowed To Revolutionize Television. An Inside Look at Why It Hasn’t - Bloomberg
Apple has essentially settled for turning the television set into a giant iPhone: a cluster of apps with a store. "That's not what I signed up for," says one of the people, who requested anonymity to talk freely about internal company matters. "I signed up for revolutionary. We got evolutionary." Gene Munster, who covered Apple for more than a decade as a Piper Jaffray analyst and now runs Loup Ventures, echoes the criticism. "Apple TV begs the question: Why does Apple do hobbies?" he says. "Either do it right or don't do it at all.""
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Google launches Cloud Spanner, its new globally distributed relational database service | TechCrunch
See Introducing Cloud Spanner: a global database service for mission-critical applications and Inside Cloud Spanner and the CAP Theorem (Google Cloud Platform Blog) for details
"Google today announced the beta launch of Cloud Spanner, a new globally distributed database service for mission-critical applications. Cloud Spanner joins Google’s other cloud-based database services, like Bigtable, Cloud SQL and the Cloud Datastore, but with the crucial difference of offering developers the best of both traditional relational databases and NoSQL databases — that is, transactional consistency with easy scalability. Maybe the easiest way to think about Cloud Spanner is as an alternative for developers who are hitting the limits of traditional relational databases like MySQL or PostgreSQL.Google launches Cloud Spanner, its new globally distributed relational database service | TechCrunch
If the name Cloud Spanner sounds familiar, that’s probably because Google has long used a version of this database internally, and published a paper about it in 2012. As Google’s Deepti Srivastava told me, Google started working on Spanner in 2007 because it was looking for an alternative to MySQL, which previously ran many of the company’s products. Today, products like Google Photos and many of Google’s mission-critical applications run on Spanner. With Cloud Spanner, Google is making this same database service available to outside developers, as well."
Check this Facebook newsroom post for more details
"The social network on Tuesday announced a new app for set-top boxes, including Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and the Samsung Smart TV. The app will let you watch the same kinds of video you can already find on Facebook, but (presumably) on a much larger screen.Facebook is launching an app for Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV - Recode
Dan Rose, Facebook’s VP of Partnerships, announced the new app at the Code Media conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point, Calif.
“A lot of people when they’re watching video on News Feed during the day will save it for later because they don’t have time to watch that three-minute video,” Rose said. “Now it’s easy to go on your TV if you want to do that at night."
The new app, which will launch in the next few weeks, gives Facebook yet another way to reach consumers interested in videos and, most likely, another platform to sell video ads."
Google’s chief business officer: 'We have to take the fake news problem very, very seriously’ - Recode
Check the full post for a brief interview excerpt
"“We have to take the fake news problem very, very seriously and think about what we can do there,” he said at the Code Media conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point, Calif.Google’s chief business officer: 'We have to take the fake news problem very, very seriously’ - Recode
The proliferation of misinformation online is a tricky problem to solve, he said, but the company has made efforts by cutting fake news publishers off from one of its advertising platforms. Google has also added labels when certain stories in Google News have been fact-checked.
“Fake news means a lot of different things to different people, and it’s often very hard to draw the line, obviously, between fake news and bad journalism,” he said, adding that concerns about censorship also arise."
Check the full article for some timely "unlimited" wireless data plan considerations
"With all the unlimited mobile data plans out there these days, it's easy to feel a little lost. Between the varying offers and the fine print, choosing a data plan in 2017 may seem like an exercise in frustration.Your complete guide to choosing an unlimited data plan - The Washington Post
The good news is, you're not alone. Today, we're going to flesh out the details of each plan to help you make a better decision. If you're wondering whether these newfangled plans are a good deal, read on for everything we know."
A busy couple weeks for Intel's PR department; also see Intel gives Trump credit for $7bn US factory it announced under Obama (The Guardian)
"The Intel decision provoked a sharp difference of opinion between Brian Krzanich, Intel’s current chief executive, and Craig R. Barrett, a former Intel chairman and chief executive.Intel Drops Its Sponsorship of Science Fairs, Prompting an Identity Crisis - The New York Times
Mr. Krzanich has told colleagues privately that the science fairs were the fairs of the past and had become tilted to life sciences and biotechnology, not primary fields for Intel, according to two people who are not authorized to speak publicly for the company.
Mr. Barrett disagreed. In an email, he said, “you might instead conclude that Intel is a company of the past, just like Westinghouse when they dropped” sponsorship of the national science fair in 1998."
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
From an extensive post by Brad Smith, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer
"Just as the Fourth Geneva Convention has long protected civilians in times of war, we now need a Digital Geneva Convention that will commit governments to protecting civilians from nation-state attacks in times of peace. And just as the Fourth Geneva Convention recognized that the protection of civilians required the active involvement of the Red Cross, protection against nation-state cyberattacks requires the active assistance of technology companies. The tech sector plays a unique role as the internet’s first responders, and we therefore should commit ourselves to collective action that will make the internet a safer place, affirming a role as a neutral Digital Switzerland that assists customers everywhere and retains the world’s trust."The need for a Digital Geneva Convention - Microsoft on the Issues
In a Tesla tangent, see Tesla’s shares hit an all-time high (VentureBeat)
"Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says humans will need to merge with machines or risk becoming irrelevant in the age of artificial intelligence (AI). Speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai, Musk said the speed at which our brains operate and communicate is much slower than computers.Elon Musk says humans need to merge with machines or risk becoming irrelevant in the AI age
"Over time I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence," Musk said, CNBC reports. "It's mostly about bandwidth, the speed of the connection between your brain and the digital version of yourself, particularly output.""
Room for communication/collaboration improvement
"The key takeaway is that both technologies and habits rooted in the 20th century are keeping the 21st century vision of the modern workplace from becoming reality. For example, despite the appearance of modern communications and collaboration tools, it’s the “old school” methods of emails, phone calls and texts that make up 75% of all communications with co-workers. There are certainly some differences based on the age of the employee, but even for workers under 45, the number is 71% (emails and voice calls make up 58% for that age group).Modern Workplaces Still More Vision Than Reality | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis
From a device perspective, the most common tool by far is not a smartphone, but a company-owned desktop PC, which is used for just under half (48%) of all device-related work. (For the record, personally owned smartphones are only used for 7.5% of total work on average.) Partially as a result, some version of Windows is used for rougly 2/3 (65%) of all work, with Android at 11%, iOS at 10%, and the rest split among cloud-based platforms, Macs, Linux and other alternative options. Arguably, that is a drop from the days when Windows owned 90%+, but it still shows how dominant Microsoft is in the workplace."
For a refresher on recent conventional wisdom, see Apple Is 'Doomed' 2016 Edition (Forbes, 11/30/2016)
"Apple Inc. shares hit a record on optimism the next iPhone will drive a resurgence in sales and help the company’s services businesses grow.Apple Shares Hit Record Close on Optimism for Next iPhone - Bloomberg
The stock climbed less than 1 percent to $133.29 at the close Monday in New York, the highest on record. The increase valued Apple at about $699 billion, making it the world’s most highly capitalized company. Google parent Alphabet Inc. is next at $573 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg."
See this Amazon page for more details
"Amazon has taken the wraps off of its own Skype competitor. Chime is a new video conferencing and communications from AWS that’s focused on business users.Amazon launches Chime, a video conferencing and communications service for business | TechCrunch
Beyond VoIP calling and video messaging, Chime includes virtual meetings, allowing users to host or join a remote meeting through the service. Pricing starts at $2.50 per user per month on the lowest end, with a higher tier plan of $15 per user which includes video and screen-sharing among other features. There is a basic option available for free but that is limited to video calls and chat rooms between two users.
Chime is available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android devices."
Monday, February 13, 2017
On a related note, see Tim Cook says augmented reality is ‘a big idea like the smartphone’ (The Verge)
"What has gotten better over the years, as GoPro has evolved and even more with Spectacles + Snapchat, is the ease to go straight from memory capture to sharing/saving. I’d argue the experience with Spectacles + Snapchat is the most seamless I’ve used yet with a device that isn’t a smartphone. With a GoPro, it could take me several minutes to get a video I just took, add some slight editing, and share it, With Spectacles, it takes seconds since the video is quickly synced with your smartphone and available in the app to edit and share. The great thing about Spectacles is they truly function like an extension of your smartphone camera that seamlessly integrates back into the software. This is an area where I feel there is a broader opportunity for companies, Apple and Facebook in particular, and perhaps Google to continue to explore.Snapchat Spectacles and Making Memories | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis
While the smartphone will remain a primary capture device for some time, capture accessories that become extensions of our smartphone camera, like a GoPro or Spectacles, make a great deal of sense when done right. Particularly with things like virtual and augmented reality experiences in the future where we can relive memories in virtual reality or simulate being present at a sports game or event in another town without having to be physically present. In most cases, these capture devices will not be your smartphone and will most likely come from companies perfecting the optics, silicon/sensors, design, and software today. Which is a key reason, Snap Inc., in making their key mission to be a camera company, is so interesting."
"Tim Cook, the boss of Apple, is calling for governments to launch a public information campaign to fight the scourge of fake news, which is “killing people’s minds”.Fake news is killing people's minds, says Apple boss Tim Cook
In an impassioned plea, Mr Cook, boss of the world’s largest company, says that the epidemic of false reports “is a big problem in a lot of the world” and necessitates a crackdown by the authorities and technology firms.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, he calls for a campaign similar to those that changed attitudes on the environment to educate the public on the threat posed by fabricated online stories."
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Amazon cloud leader Andy Jassy sizes up the competition in rare public remarks about rivals - GeekWire
Excerpt from a wide-ranging interview
"“There’s so many things in our business that have been surprises to us. Probably the biggest of which is that it just took so long for the other large technology companies to offer something in this space, but I don’t think in our wildest dreams we ever thought we’d have a six- to seven-year head start, especially because we’re across the lake from another big technology company in that space, and we all know so many people at each other’s companies. And so, there have been so many surprises, but if you read the document, the stated mental model was that an individual in his or her dorm room or garage would have access to the same cost structure and scalability of infrastructure as the largest companies of the world. To give you an idea back then, we were talking about those largest companies being like, Peoplesoft. We wanted to be part of enabling a thousand flowers to bloom.”"Amazon cloud leader Andy Jassy sizes up the competition in rare public remarks about rivals - GeekWire
Friday, February 10, 2017
Check the full post for speculation about how Twitter may try to leverage machine learning to "provide more magical experiences"
"Twitter’s latest earnings were an unmitigated disaster. There was a huge revenue miss, coupled with a weak outlook that freaked out investors, who drove the stock down more than 12 percent.Twitter hopes machine learning can save it from oblivion | VentureBeat | AI | by Chris O'Brien
But part-time CEO Jack Dorsey insists that all is not lost. And to rally the troops and convince investors to give him more time, he tried his best yesterday to highlight the ways he believes the company’s investments in machine learning offer reasons for optimism."
Perhaps making product managers at YouTube and Facebook a bit twitchy
"The launch follows a number of changes to the Amazon-owned streaming site over the last year or so, which have put an emphasis on catering to the gaming audience in new ways, while also attracting new users. In fall 2015, the company debuted a new channel called Twitch Creative, which allowed gamers to show off their artistic endeavours – that is, their game-inspired paintings, drawing, songs, costumes and more.Twitch launches Communities to help gamers organize around their shared interests | TechCrunch
It also dipped its toe into TV streaming, by offering classic programs like those from Bob Ross and Julia Child, as well as Amazon’s new TV show pilots. It even launched a “social eating” category to cater to its South Korean users, then more broadly opened up to vloggers through a new category called “IRL.”"
Intel inside ... Trump's bogus job claims
"Trump was happy to take credit, thanking Krzanich and calling the Fab 42 plant – which will make state-of-the-art computer chips – a great investment in jobs and innovation.Intel gives Trump credit for $7bn US factory it announced under Obama | Technology | The Guardian
However, the semiconductor company had already announced the same factory back in 2011 when Barack Obama was in power. In 2012, Obama made a speech in front of the building, describing it – to a cheering crowd – as an “example of an America that attracts the next generation of good manufacturing jobs”.
The construction of Fab 42 was halted in 2014, following a slump in PC sales, but analysts don’t believe Trump is the reason it’s been restarted. Instead, the decision to complete work on the factory is likely to be based on industry pressure to move to more advanced types of chips as demand for smart devices surges."
From a timely business + politics reality check
"Each company is shaped by the outsize reputation of its founding leader. Whereas Kalanick is seen as a pugnacious Ayn Rand fanboy who champions free markets, Musk is a whiz bringing rocket ships, electric cars, traffic-busting tunnels, solar energy and other futuristic goodies to humanity. “Elon Musk absolutely has created the Tesla brand very much based on his personal brand,” said Daniel Binns, managing director at Omnicom Group Inc.-owned consulting firm Interbrand. “There’s a huge amount of positive goodwill for the brand, and therefore, if there was any sense of negativity, they’d be able to deal with it.”After Trump Fallout, Uber Can’t Shake Its Elon Musk Envy - Bloomberg
The Tesla brand—and by extension, Musk’s—represents “a noble ambition: The vision is to make the world more sustainable by providing renewable energy sources, cars and battery sources,” Binns said. “Uber doesn’t have that. It’s not known for being a mission-driven organization.”"
Thursday, February 09, 2017
Apparently IBM, from an employee perspective, again means "I've Been Moved," after many years of "I'm By Myself" (working remotely)
"IBM is forcing more than just its US marketing staff to move to a handful of regional hubs. The crackdown on remote workers and smaller offices also hits engineers and other staffers in America and Europe.Big blues: IBM's remote-worker crackdown is company-wide, including its engineers • The Register
Following The Register's exclusive report that Big Blue was demanding marketers to work at one of six "strategic" US locations – locations chosen for them by IBM – sources say the "move or leave" program has been and will continue to be applied throughout the tech giant, with at least one other department already implementing the new rules.
IBM still will not comment on the matter."
Improving Wikipedia's signal-to-noise ratio
"Wikipedia editors have voted to ban the Daily Mail as a source for the website in all but exceptional circumstances after deeming the news group “generally unreliable”.
The move is highly unusual for the online encyclopaedia, which rarely puts in place a blanket ban on publications and which still allows links to sources such as Kremlin backed news organisation Russia Today, and Fox News, both of which have raised concern among editors.
The editors described the arguments for a ban as “centred on the Daily Mail’s reputation for poor fact checking, sensationalism and flat-out fabrication”."Wikipedia bans Daily Mail as 'unreliable' source | Technology | The Guardian
Check the full post for details on the WebObjects pivot that was not to be
"February 7, 2017: Today is the 20th anniversary of the formal completion of Apple Computer’s acquisition of NeXT Software, Inc. Had Steve Jobs’ first company not bought his second, history likely would have been very different. Apple might not exist today. No iPhone. But what could have happened to NeXT? Former NeXT software leader and then-Apple Senior VP of Software Avie Tevanian has donated to the Computer History Museum a historic document that hints at this alternate history: a draft of a November 1996 S-1 SEC statement, never completed or submitted, declaring that NeXT was planning to issue an initial public offering of 5 million shares of common stock."NeXT: Steve Jobs’ dot.com IPO that Never Happened | Computer History Museum
More tumultuous times for Twitter
"Twitter’s didn’t finish 2016 as well as investors hoped it would.Twitter's ad business is slumping and it missed Wall Street's earnings estimates - Recode
The company missed Wall Street’s revenue estimates Thursday, reporting $717 million in revenue for the fourth quarter, just a 1 percent gain from the same quarter a year ago. It reported profits of 16 cents per share, which was higher than analysts expected.
Twitter also added 2 million new users in the quarter, and now claims 319 million monthly active users.
Wall Street analysts were looking for profits of 12 cents per share on revenue of $740 million. They also expected Twitter to report user growth of roughly 2 to 3 million new users last quarter. The shares plummeted 9 percent in pre-market trading."
Later in the article: "While it said that its deal with Google “requires that we use their cloud services for substantially all of our hosting requirements,” it also mentioned that the arrangement “permits us to use other third-party service providers for a portion of our cloud services."" Tangentially, see Part 1 – The Evernote Service and our options to migrate to Google Cloud Platform (GCP) (first in a 5-post series on the Evernote Tech Blog).
"It turns out that Google isn’t the only company Snap is paying for cloud and infrastructure support.It’s not just Google — Snap has a $1 billion cloud services deal with Amazon, too - Recode
Snap also has a $1 billion deal with Amazon to use its cloud computing services, according to an updated version of its S-1 IPO paperwork mad public Thursday morning.
The deal, originally signed last year then amended on Wednesday, is for “redundant infrastructure support of our business operations,” and Snap says it may also “invest in building our own infrastructure to better serve our customers.”"
See Understanding Agent Cooperation (DeepMind blog) for more details
"When our robot overlords arrive, will they decide to kill us or cooperate with us?Google Just Found the One Question It Can’t Yet Answer - Bloomberg
New research from DeepMind, Alphabet Inc.’s London-based artificial intelligence unit could ultimately shed light on this fundamental question.
They have been investigating the conditions in which reward-optimizing beings, whether human or robot, would chose to cooperate, rather than compete. The answer could have implications for how computer intelligence may eventually be deployed to manage complex systems such as an economy, city traffic flows, or environmental policy."
Now with "Passion Picker" publication profile precision; also see Flipboard's Quest To Save Online Publishing—And Itself (Fast Company)
"Mobile apps like Apple News, SmartNews, Google News, and others may be your favorite news aggregators. But I have always been partial to Flipboard, the beautiful and clever app which started off six years ago as a way to turn social media posts into handsome magazine-like articles on iPads.Mossberg: Flipboard redesigns itself around ‘smart’ digital magazines - The Verge
Since then, Flipboard has grown to over 100 million monthly active users and spread to the iPhone, Android, and the web. Its sources now include almost anything online, through publisher partnerships and open feeds, and, since 2012, its users have been able to create their own manually curated magazines using simple tools.
Now, Flipboard is launching a major redesign, version 4.0, which is built around “smart,” magazines on topics you choose, tailored using highly granular choices of subjects or sources, and automatically updated as relevant new content is published online."
Wednesday, February 08, 2017
Salesforce launches Quip Connect app for Sales and Service Clouds | VentureBeat | Apps | by Ken Yeung
Also adding task management; see Meet the new Quip and Get your projects done with checklists and reminders (Quip blog) for more details
"Quip is releasing the next set of updates from its integration with parent company Salesforce, announcing a tighter data connection, as well as releasing new functionality around task management. All of this is being bundled into a major redesign intended to keep the word processing and collaboration app fresh, simple, and modern.Salesforce launches Quip Connect app for Sales and Service Clouds | VentureBeat | Apps | by Ken Yeung
Quip Connect in the Salesforce AppExchange will be available on February 13, but Quip’s redesigned apps for the web, iOS and Android, and desktop and checklists are available today.
“Our vision is that any time you need collaboration or spreadsheet, it’s going to be available with Quip,” said company chief executive Bret Taylor. However, he shared that it was also a play to encourage users to abandon Office 365, Google Docs, and other similar tools. “We hope to be the best productivity tool for Salesforce…a good chunk of new customers will start using Quip because of Salesforce,” he said. “As you look at the landscape of productivity tools out there, it may be a competitive advantage for us.”"
Tuesday, February 07, 2017
Check this Google post for more details
"Google today launched for its business customers a new tool called Google Cloud Search, which will allow users to search across G Suite products, including Drive, Gmail, Sites, Calendar, Docs, Contacts and more. The service was previously available in a limited preview, where it was known as Springboard, and described as something like a Google Now for enterprise workers.Google debuts Cloud Search, a smart search engine for G Suite customers | TechCrunch
Springboard, now Cloud Search, is designed for use in larger companies where different groups and individuals have access to different files. The search service respects file-sharing permissions, so users can only access what’s available to them, whether that’s company-wide resources like a policy manual, team projects or documents only they can see."
I'm guessing the probability of Amazon creating an Apple TV app for Amazon Prime Video is not going up
"Apple Inc. has hired Timothy D. Twerdahl, the former head of Amazon.com Inc.’s Fire TV unit, as a vice president in charge of Apple TV product marketing and shifted the executive who previously held the job to a spot negotiating media content deals.Apple Hires Amazon’s Fire TV Head to Run Apple TV Business - Bloomberg
The moves suggest a renewed focus on the Apple TV and on providing more content for the device, an effort that has been stalled in the past by failed negotiations."
A world less dark
"The hacking was particularly notable because it affected about 20 percent of the dark web, and it successfully cracked a system which is generally thought of as being protected by relatively sophisticated barriers.Anonymous Takes Down 10,000 Dark Web Sites | The Huffington Post
Users were stunned to find a message from the Anonymous crew announcing, “Hello Freedom Hosting II, you have been hacked,” the Telegraph reports.
“We are disappointed,” the message added. “This is an excerpt from your front page, ‘We have a zero tolerance policy for child pornography.’ All your files have been copied and your database has been dumped.”"
Check the full post for more details and graphs
"Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reports that lithium-ion battery prices have fallen “by almost half just since 2014” and “electric cars are largely responsible.” Last year, BNEF called this “the miracle of Musk,” referring to Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, which jump-started the stagnant EV business and whose gigafactory will keep putting downward pressure on battery costs.Chart of the month: Driven by Tesla, battery prices cut in half since 2014
In 2013, the International Energy Agency estimated EVs would achieve cost parity with gasoline vehicles when battery costs hit $300 per kiloWatt-hour of storage capacity, which the IEA said would happen by 2020. That price point was in fact crossed last year, which is why both GM and Tesla announced they could deliver affordable (well below $40,000), long-range (200-plus miles) EVs."
A changing competitive landscape for Cisco
"One company that’s benefiting is SnapRoute Inc., which was founded by a former manager of Apple’s global data center network. The startup makes a cheaper, simpler network switch than the ones Cisco sells. And unlike most switches, it’s open-source, allowing customers to look for bugs, performance glitches or backdoors that might allow a government to peek inside.Corporate Paranoia in the Snowden Era Leads to a Startup Boom - Bloomberg
SnapRoute plans to announce a $25 million round of funding Tuesday from AT&T Inc., Microsoft Corp., Lightspeed Venture Partners and Norwest Venture Partners. The startup counts Facebook among its customers.
Switches from SnapRoute are $30,000 to $40,000 cheaper than comparable brand-name models, Forrester said. And whereas switches from Cisco and other big suppliers can have tens of millions of lines of code, SnapRoute’s has just 22,000, he said. This means fewer features, so SnapRoute may not be an attractive option for some companies. But the simpler code makes it easier for customers to sift through in search of hidden spying devices."
Monday, February 06, 2017
Intel outside; also see Intel drones form US flag for Lady Gaga's halftime show (Engadget)
"Drones were a big part of this year’s Super Bowl Half Time Show for the first time ever. Hundreds of the devices helped this year’s performer — Lady Gaga — kick her show off, presenting a colorful, swirling backdrop as she stood on the roof of Houston’s NRG Stadium. But as Gaga herself seemed to leap from the roof, dropping down to the stadium to start her show proper, her army of drones didn’t follow.The Super Bowl halftime show drones weren't flying live - The Verge
That’s because the drone shows were actually filmed earlier this week, as Intel confirmed to The Verge. That includes Gaga’s intro sequence, which saw her dancing in front of an American flag, and a later 10-second spot that featured the drones as they changed from the Pepsi to Intel logos. Restrictions placed on the area by the Federal Aviation Administration forbid drones from flying within a 34.5 mile radius of the NRG Stadium, in addition to other rules that bar drones from hovering too high, or from doing acrobatic maneuvers directly above hundreds of thousands of people."
Not okay, Google
"Google used the Super Bowl to plug its Google Home connectivity service, but the TV commercial apparently confused the systems in homes of those who already have it. For them, Google Home went whacko.Google's Home TV ad makes Google Home systems go crazy
Those who already have Google Home took to Twitter to complain that it interfered with their units. Apparently, the home systems heard the TV broadcasts calling its name, and it became befuddled."
Not entirely self-flying for the 1.0 release
"Uber’s vision is a seductive one, particularly for sci-fi fans. The company envisions people taking conventional Ubers from their homes to nearby “vertiports” that dot residential neighborhoods. Then they would zoom up into the air and across town to the vertiport closest to their offices. (“We don’t need stinking bridges!” says Moore.) These air taxis will only need ranges of between 50 to 100 miles, and Moore thinks that they can be at least partially recharged while passengers are boarding or exiting the aircraft. He also predicts we’ll see several well-engineered flying cars in the next one to three years and that there will be human pilots, at least managing the onboard computers, for the foreseeable future."Uber Hires Veteran NASA Engineer to Develop Flying Cars - Bloomberg
Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and 94 other tech companies call travel ban ‘unlawful’ in rare coordinated legal action - The Washington Post
Trump the uniter
"Silicon Valley is stepping up its confrontation with the Trump administration.Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and 94 other tech companies call travel ban ‘unlawful’ in rare coordinated legal action - The Washington Post
On Sunday night, technology giants Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter, Uber and many others filed a legal brief opposing the administration’s contentious entry ban, according to people familiar with the matter. The move represents a rare coordinated action across a broad swath of the industry — 97 companies in total— and demonstrates the depth of animosity toward the Trump ban."
Friday, February 03, 2017
Check the full post for some interesting integration scenarios
"Two years ago, we launched Outlook mobile with the goal of helping you accomplish more while on the go. More means an inbox that helps you focus on the emails that matter most. More means a calendar that can manage your entire day, not just show you your schedule. And today, we are excited to continue that mission by bringing apps to your inbox with add-ins for Outlook on iOS.Later in the post:
We’re thrilled to collaborate with Evernote, GIPHY, Nimble, Trello and Smartsheet and bring their add-ins to Outlook on iOS. We’re also making a few of our own add-ins available today with Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Translator, with many more to follow."
"Once enabled, you can access add-ins from Outlook on iOS as well as from Outlook 2016 or 2013 for Windows, Outlook on the web and Outlook 2016 for Mac (currently in Insiders) for the same email account.
Add-ins for Outlook on iOS are currently only available when reading email. We’ll be adding more add-in actions when composing or replying to an email in the future."Outlook mobile turns 2 and now comes with your favorite apps - Office Blogs
Musk's missions will long outlast Trump's presidency
"Musk said he agreed to join the Presidential Advisory Forum “to provide feedback on issues that I think are important for our country and the world.” In the statement — which he also shared on Twitter — he said his goals “are to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy and to help make humanity a multi-planet civilization, a consequence of which will be the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs and a more inspiring future for all.”Elon Musk explains why he won't quit Donald Trump's advisory council - The Verge
Both Kalanick and Musk agreed to join the 19-member economic advisory council last December — a group that also includes Disney CEO Bob Iger, Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon, and PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi. Kalanick stepped down today after Uber’s reaction to the immigration executive order reportedly led to 200,000 people deleting their accounts. “Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the president or his agenda,” Kalanick said in an internal memo. “Unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that.”"
Expect different; also see Amazon Forecast Sparks Investor Concern on Big Spending (Bloomberg), a headline that could be recycled after every Amazon earnings announcement
"For the fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 31, Amazon said its net income was $749 million, or $1.54 a share, up from $482 million, or $1 a share, during the same period a year earlier. The company’s revenue rose to $43.7 billion from $35.7 billion a year earlier.
Amazon’s profit soared in the quarter in part because of the growth of Amazon Web Services, its cloud computing business, which runs many technology functions for customers through Amazon’s data centers. Web Services revenue jumped 47 percent to $3.54 billion, while operating income increased almost 60 percent to $926 million.Amazon’s Holiday Quarter Doesn’t Match High Expectations - The New York Times
The company’s earnings were well ahead of the average earnings estimate compiled by Thomson Reuters of $1.35 a share. Revenue was a different story, falling short of the $44.68 billion average revenue estimate of analysts."
New IPO math; also see Snap's IPO to Be Haunted by Twitter and GoPro (Bloomberg) and Snap commits $2 billion over 5 years for Google Cloud infrastructure (TechCrunch)
"Snap Inc., the maker of the disappearing photo app Snapchat, filed publicly for an initial offering, the first US social-media company to do so since Twitter Inc. more than three years ago.Snapchat files for $3 billion IPO as era of secrecy ends - The Boston Globe
The company filed with an initial size of $3 billion, a placeholder amount used to calculate fees that may change. Snap plans to raise as much as $4 billion in the IPO, people familiar with the matter have said, for a market value of as much as $25 billion.
The company’s net loss widened to $515 million in 2016, on revenue of $404 million, according to the prospectus filed Thursday. That compares with a loss of $382 million in 2015, on revenue of $59 million."
Thursday, February 02, 2017
From a Snap profile as it prepares to IPO; in other Snap news, see Snapchat’s next Lenses could identify and add to landscapes as well as faces (TechCrunch) and Ahead Of Its IPO, Snap Is Losing To Instagram On A Key Metric (BuzzFeed)
"At Stanford, also his father’s alma mater, Mr. Spiegel majored in product design and started a handful of companies with Mr. Murphy, a fellow Kappa Sigma fraternity brother. (Their early start-ups flopped.) There, Mr. Spiegel also met some of the men who would become his mentors, including Scott Cook, then the chief executive of Intuit, and Eric Schmidt, the Google chairman, who taught an M.B.A. class that he attended.Snap’s Chief Taps Into the ‘Right Now’ - The New York Times
Mr. Spiegel “really is the next Gates or Zuckerberg,” Mr. Schmidt said in an interview, comparing the Snap chief to Microsoft’s co-founder, Bill Gates, and Facebook’s chief, Mark Zuckerberg. “He has superb manners, which he says he got from his mother. He credits his father’s long legal calls, which he overheard, to giving him perspective on business and structure as a very young man.”"
Deep and broad learning
"In its first steps toward commercialization, IBM’s Watson took on grand, science-laden challenges like helping doctors diagnose cancer. But that is changing as IBM strives to build its artificial intelligence technology into a multibillion-dollar business.IBM Gives Watson a New Challenge: Your Tax Return - The New York Times
Today, companies including Geico, Staples and Macy’s are adding the Watson technology to answer customer questions or to improve mobile apps that guide shoppers through stores.
Now in its broadest deployment so far, Watson will be assisting H&R Block’s 70,000 tax professionals this filing season at 10,000 branch offices across the country, where 11 million people file taxes."
That's a lot of faces (and ads)
"Facebook’s fourth-quarter sales, announced Wednesday, handily beat Wall Street estimates. And even a $500 million jury verdict that went against the company earlier in the day did little to diminish enthusiasm about its finances.Facebook’s Loss in Court Doesn’t Dim Excitement Over Huge Growth - The New York Times
Facebook said sales had totaled $8.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016, up 51 percent compared with a year ago, surpassing analysts’ expectations of $8.5 billion. Not surprisingly, user growth is at a peak.
The controversy over fake news seemed to have little effect on users’ appetite for the website. Total profit for the quarter was $3.6 billion, annual ad revenue was up roughly $10 billion compared with 2015, and more than half of the site’s 1.86 billion regular visitors used it daily."
"Apple Inc. is designing a new chip for future Mac laptops that would take on more of the functionality currently handled by Intel Corp. processors, according to people familiar with the matter.Apple Said to Work on Mac Chip That Would Lessen Intel Role - Bloomberg
The chip, which went into development last year, is similar to one already used in the latest MacBook Pro to power the keyboard’s Touch Bar feature, the people said. The updated part, internally codenamed T310, would handle some of the computer’s low-power mode functionality, they said. The people asked not to be identified talking about private product development. It’s built using ARM Holdings Plc. technology and will work alongside an Intel processor."
Wednesday, February 01, 2017
Looks like Russia will have to refine its technique for the mid-term elections; see News Feed FYI: New Signals to Show You More Authentic and Timely Stories (Facebook blog) for more details
"Facebook is prioritizing “authentic” content in News Feed with a ranking algorithm change that detects and promotes content “that people consider genuine, and not misleading, sensational, or spammy.” It’s also giving a boost to stories that are going viral in real-time right now that could help it compete with Twitter for in-the-moment news sharingFacebook changes feed to promote posts that aren’t fake, sensational, or spam | TechCrunch
To build the update, Facebook categorized Pages that frequently share inauthentic posts like fake news and clickbaity headlines, or get their posts hidden often. It then used these posts to train an algorithm that detects similar content as its shared in the News Feed. Facebook will now give extra feed visibility to posts that don’t show signs of similarity to inauthentic content."
Maybe this will nudge Amazon into creating an Apple TV app...
"Facebook is building an app for television and is asking publishers to create exclusive, TV-like shows for it, according to a new report. The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook has been building the app, which would be available for boxes such as Apple TV. It is also talking to media companies about licensing TV-quality shows to be available on the app, the Journal reported, part of a long-term strategy to make video the center of the platform.Facebook is reportedly making an app for set-top TV boxes - The Verge
Facebook began working on an app last summer after discussing the idea for years, according to the Journal. But it’s not enough to build an app: Facebook needs to fill it with programming. Video on Facebook today consists mostly of short clips and experimental live streams — both formats that will be difficult to sell advertising revenue against. And advertising is the whole point of the exercise, because Facebook told investors recently that it’s running out of places in the News Feed where it could insert new ads."
These words are coming back to haunt Peter Thiel, Trump’s man in Silicon Valley - The Washington Post
Also see New Zealand Is ‘the Future,’ Peter Thiel Said in His Push for Citizenship (NYT)
"Peter Thiel once chastised the media for taking Donald Trump at his word during the presidential campaign. With respect to banning Muslims from the country or erecting a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, the billionaire investor and Trump ally cautioned not to take the GOP candidate “literally.”These words are coming back to haunt Peter Thiel, Trump’s man in Silicon Valley - The Washington Post
Now the PayPal co-founder is seeing his words come back to haunt him. Over the last week, the new administration has issued executive orders to temporarily ban Muslim immigrants, refugees and visitors from seven countries and pushed ahead to build a border wall."
See Introducing Slack Enterprise Grid (Slack blog) for more details
"Enterprise Grid has been in the works for over a year, and it is potentially Slack’s most ambitious move yet. It will include not just an enterprise-grade version of Slack, with an unlimited number of workspaces, but some new features that will take Slack, for the first time, into a whole new area in terms of where it sits in a business.Slack takes aim at the corporate sector with Enterprise Grid, adds bots from SAP | TechCrunch
A new set of search, business intelligence and analytics tools — which are not launching today but plan to be rolled out later in the year — will give users the ability to look for files across the whole of their system, and and also suggest content and contacts to users, positioning Slack as a platform to interact across the whole knowledge base of your company.
The new version goes live today, and to kick it off, Slack is announcing some initial customers: financial services giant Capital One, Paypal and IBM."
For the quarter, Apple revenue = Alphabet revenue + Microsoft revenue + $28.25B
"Apple said sales rose 3.3 percent to $78.4 billion, with earnings of $3.36 a share in the three months through Dec. 31. Analysts forecast profit of $3.22 a share on revenue of $77.3 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The shares gained as much as 3.5 percent in extended trading, after the results.Apple Sales Beat Estimates on Demand for Latest iPhones - Bloomberg
“We were surprised by the strength of iPhone 7 Plus where we were actually short of supply throughout the quarter. We’ve been able to come into supply-demand balance in January," Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said Tuesday in a telephone interview."