"The C of E takes about £580m a year in donations, although most are from standing orders and fees rather than cash given in church. It began looking at cashless payment due to the declining numbers of people carrying cash.Digital conversion: Church of England rolls out cashless donations | World news | The Guardian
Its portable card readers can take payments from contactless bank cards, chip and pin, Apple Pay and Google Pay. A “merchant”, expected to be a church volunteer, is needed to input transactions, most likely at the start or end of a service or event. People booking churches and halls for events will also have the option of electronic payment. The technology firms SumUp and iZettle will provide the services."
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Also see Heaven can't wait: Church of England offers faster way to pay (BBC)
“This Is a Slow Roll”: Silicon Valley Insiders Think That Facebook Will Never Be the Same After the Cambridge Analytica Scandal | Vanity Fair
2018 is going to be a very long year for Facebook...
"In the short term, the one saving grace for Zuckerberg is that the people who took advantage of the data manipulation and ad targeting to win office—namely Donald Trump, and various Republicans who support him, either by choice or political necessity—may not want to regulate a company that could, if left to its own devices, be used again in 2020 to retain the White House. Brad Parscale, the digital expert who had worked previously for Trump’s campaign, has bragged repeatedly since November about how his ability to micro-target people using Facebook, and a partnership with Cambridge Analytica, that got Trump elected in the first place. Given that Parscale is now running Trump’s 2020 re-election bid, he will presumably endeavor to ensure that the president of the United States doesn’t block his capacity to manipulate people on Facebook by tapping into the electorate’s hopes and fears."“This Is a Slow Roll”: Silicon Valley Insiders Think That Facebook Will Never Be the Same After the Cambridge Analytica Scandal | Vanity Fair
Readers have borrowed more than 1 billion digital books through OverDrive #PLA2018 - OverDrive Blogs
To which The Digital Reader adds: "A billion is a lot, but I think it's worth noting that OverDrive would have reached this milestone years ago if the major publishers had adopted reasonable policies on library ebooks."
"One billion. It’s a defining number that’s hard to fathom yet understood as a massive milestone. There are very few things that can use the number 1 billion to describe what they represent. Recently, digital library checkouts through OverDrive became one of them. On February 10, Team OverDrive watched as our all-time checkouts surpassed 1 billion, officially joining the three comma club.Readers have borrowed more than 1 billion digital books through OverDrive #PLA2018 - OverDrive Blogs
We’re proud of this accomplishment, but it’s not something we ever could’ve reached on our own. The librarians and staff at the 40,000 library and school partners we work with around the world deserve all the credit for spreading the word and evangelizing the joys of digital reading. Because of their tireless work, this isn’t the end of a journey, but rather the first step toward billions more moments of reading happiness. At PLA this week, we’ll be celebrating our Billion Book Bash with hundreds of our closest librarian friends. If you’ll be in Philadelphia for the conference, we hope you’ll join us."
Check the full post for some timely Facebook privacy setting tips
"What Facebook did was still legal, in the name of business and, yes, kind of shady, much in the way many money-making corporations are. A site that relies on user activity and advertiser dollars to make money is naturally going to do whatever it can to increase both. Facebook is not a charity. It was not designed for social good, and I’m stunned that people still believe that Facebook should have started with people’s best interests at heart.Is deleting Facebook the answer? – Lance Ulanoff – Medium
I am concerned that people want to tear the whole thing down, bring Facebook to its knees and start over. Facebook currently employs over 24,000 people. I doubt anyone wants to see all those people out of work.
Facebook is an important part of California’s economy and plays small part in local economies around the world. In some parts of the developing world, Facebook is, for better or worse, the only way people access the Internet. If it’s gone, something else will have to be built, and quickly, in its place."
Watson, what's the departure gate for my flight to Toronto, USA?
"Don't expect to start saying, "Watson, what's the weather?" or "Watson, play They Might be Giants" to an IBM-branded speaker anytime soon. Instead, Watson Assistant will function as the behind-the-scenes brains for a variety of new digital helpers made by a variety of businesses for your home and in stores, airports, hotels and cars.IBM offers up Watson Assistant, its answer to Amazon’s Alexa - CNET
For example, Watson Assistant is already in use at Munich Airport to power a robot that can tell you directions and gate information. The assistant is in development by BMW for an in-car voice helper. Also, Chameleon Technology in the UK created a Watson Assistant-driven platform called I-VIE that helps people manage their energy usage."
Also see The Legitimisation of Have I Been Pwned (Troy Hunt)
"Given that the federal government is currently one angry man with nuclear weapons and a Twitter account, and that it’s futile to expect reform or self-regulation from internet giants, I’d like to propose something that will seem impossible but I would argue isn’t: Let’s make a digital Environmental Protection Agency. Call it the Digital Protection Agency. Its job would be to clean up toxic data spills, educate the public, and calibrate and levy fines.Paul Ford: Facebook Is Why We Need a Digital Protection Agency - Bloomberg
How might a digital EPA function? Well, it could do some of the work that individuals do today. For example, the website of Australian security expert Troy Hunt, haveibeenpwned.com (“pwned” is how elite, or “l33t,” hackers, or “hax0rs,” spell “owned”), keeps track of nearly 5 billion hacked accounts. You give it your email, and it tells you if you’ve been found in a data breach. A federal agency could and should do that work, not just one very smart Australian—and it could do even better, because it would have a framework for legally exploring, copying, and dealing with illegally obtained information. Yes, we’d probably have to pay Booz Allen or Accenture or whatever about $120 million to get the same work done that Troy Hunt does on his own, but that’s the nature of government contracting, and we can only change one thing at a time."
Final paragraphs -- on "What To Expect Next"
"If you’re Kogan, or Cambridge Analytica, expect lawsuits, public hearings and general regulatory hell. Maybe, in the extreme, jail time. If you’re Facebook, expect lawsuits, public hearings, and general regulatory hell. Maybe, in the extreme, the end of the firm as we know it.The Cambridge Analytica-Facebook Debacle: A Legal Primer - Lawfare
Facebook is hoping to pin this on two bad apples: Kogan and Cambridge Analytica. And bad apples they were. But this is a dangerous strategy. For Facebook, the claim that it was always upfront about how user data might end up in developer hands is a strategy that wins the battle but loses the war. If users and regulators decide that the firm did not do anything out of the ordinary—that this is just the way Facebook works—they may reasonably conclude that the firm itself is unacceptable. The EU’s top privacy regulator, Věra Jourová, announced on Monday that she had reached out to Facebook and that “From a European Union perspective, the misuse for political purposes of personal data belonging to Facebook users -- if confirmed -- is not acceptable." This does not sound like the kind of small-bore complaint about a one-off problem, but rather the threat of a major reckoning.
It sounds like the kind of thing that should make Facebook want to hire really good antitrust lawyers."
WhatsApp co-founder joins call to #DeleteFacebook as fallout intensifies | Technology | The Guardian
#awkward... Also see One WhatsApp founder says you should delete Facebook. The other uses it to share pro-Trump stories (Quartz)
'via Blog this'
"Facebook’s troubles entered a fourth day with a rising chorus of people – including the co-founder of WhatsApp – joining the #DeleteFacebook movement as the Federal Trade Commission was reported to be investigating the company’s handling of personal data.
Momentum gathered behind the #DeleteFacebook campaign, with several media outlets publishing guides to permanently deleting your Facebook account. One surprising voice to emerge was that of Brian Acton, the co-founder of WhatsApp, which was bought by Facebook for $19bn in 2014.WhatsApp co-founder joins call to #DeleteFacebook as fallout intensifies | Technology | The Guardian:
Acton, who left WhatsApp in late 2017, posted to Twitter: “It is time. #deletefacebook.”"
'via Blog this'
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Final paragraphs from an extensive Facebook reality check
"Facebook will hold its all-hands today, and hope for that inevitable moment when something horrible happens elsewhere and everyone’s attention turns. But it also knows that things might get worse, much worse. The nightmare scenario will come if the Cambridge Analytica story fully converges with the story of Russian meddling in American democracy: if it turns out that the Facebook data harvested by Cambridge Analytica ended up in the hands of Putin’s trolls.Facebook Struggles to Respond to the Cambridge Analytica Scandal | WIRED
At that point, Facebook will have to deal with yet another devastating asymmetry: data from a silly quiz app, created under obsolete rules, fueling a national security crisis. But those asymmetries are just part of the nature of Facebook today. The company has immense power, and it’s only begun to grapple with its immense responsibility. And the world isn’t as forgiving of Silicon Valley as it used to be."
Later in the article: "The surge also adds to the drama in the race to $1 trillion market value, with Apple remaining the front-runner at $889.2 billion. Still, Amazon has been the company to watch for the past three years, with market gains far outpacing Alphabet, Apple and Microsoft, making founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos the world’s wealthiest person."
"Amazon.com Inc. vaulted ahead of internet rival Alphabet Inc. in market value for the first time, a sign of growing investor optimism about the prospects for the world’s largest online retailer as it reaches into new markets such as groceries, health insurance and consumer devices.Amazon Vaults Ahead of Alphabet in Market Value - Bloomberg
Shares of the Seattle-based e-commerce giant rose 2.7 percent at the close in New York on Tuesday, giving it a market capitalization of $768 billion. That made it the world’s second-most valuable publicly traded company behind Apple Inc. Google parent Alphabet was little changed, putting its value at $762.6 billion."
Also see Twitter drops sharply as social media falls under scrutiny (CNBC)
"Israel’s justice minister warned Tuesday that the government is considering taking “legal action” against Twitter Inc. for ignoring repeated requests to remove online content that was inciting or supportive of terrorism. The shares tumbled the most in eight months.Israel Warns Twitter of Legal Action Over Requests to Remove Content - Bloomberg
Ayelet Shaked accused the American social media firm at a Jerusalem conference of failing to contribute to the country’s fight against online incitement, according to an emailed statement Tuesday from her office."
Subtly significant subscription search services -- if you opt to use Subscribe with Google; check the full post for details and The Google News Initiative: Building a stronger future for news (Google blog) for an overall Google + journalism update
"Paying for a subscription is a clear indication that you value and trust your subscribed publication as a source. So we’ll also highlight those sources across Google surfaces, beginning with a dedicated module on Search. When you search for a news topic for which your subscribed publication has relevant results, we’ll showcase these so they’re easy for you to see and access—without disrupting search ranking for the rest of the page."Introducing Subscribe with Google
Tangentially, see Billionaire Larry Ellison has a new consumer wellness company called Sensei (TechCrunch)
"The stock was hit with downgrades from a number of analysts following the results, with those at Bank of America Corp. shifting from Buy to Neutral. Oracle’s shares were down 8.4 percent at 6.46 a.m. during early trading Tuesday in New York.Oracle's New Licenses Sales Drop While Revenue Meets Estimates - Bloomberg
Under Mark Hurd and Safra Catz, who share the chief executive officer title, Oracle has bet its future on a new version of its database software that automates more functions and a growing suite of cloud-based applications. Last quarter’s results were a reminder that the company still faces stiff competition from cloud vendors including Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Salesforce.com Inc.
“They missed the cloud number, which is the key to this transition story,” said Pat Walravens, an analyst at JMP Securities LLC. “Investors were expecting strength in new licenses, and that decreased. This is a quarter when Salesforce and Adobe told you that IT spending was strong, but Oracle hasn’t benefited from that.”"
On a related note, see Is It Time for More Adult Supervision at Facebook? (NYT)
"Mr. Stamos, who plans to leave Facebook by August, had advocated more disclosure around Russian interference of the platform and some restructuring to better address the issues, but was met with resistance by colleagues, said the current and former employees. In December, Mr. Stamos’s day-to-day responsibilities were reassigned to others, they said.Alex Stamos, Facebook Data Security Chief, To Leave Amid Outcry - The New York Times
Mr. Stamos said he would leave Facebook but was persuaded to stay through August to oversee the transition of his responsibilities and because executives thought his departure would look bad, the people said. He has been overseeing the transfer of his security team to Facebook’s product and infrastructure divisions. His group, which once had 120 people, now has three, the current and former employees said."
Also see Uber's Self-Driving Car Just Killed Somebody in Arizona. Now What? (Wired)
"In the meantime, this tragedy will no doubt stoke fears about putting our lives in the hands of car computers. So let’s not forget that getting into, or walking or biking near, a car piloted by a human is one of the most dangerous activities we can do every day.A self-driving Uber killed a pedestrian. Human drivers will kill 16 today. - Vox
According to a report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, there were 5,997 pedestrian fatalities in the US in 2016 — or 16 each day. Globally, road traffic is the fifth leading cause of death in the world.
What’s more, driving a car and being a pedestrian are particularly dangerous undertakings in America, relative to other high-income countries. The US ranks 41st out of 52 high-income countries on road traffic deaths per population, with only a handful of countries — including Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi Arabia — trailing behind."
Final paragraphs from a Cass Sunstein reality check; for another accentuate-the-potential-positive perspective, see Perspective, please (Jeff Jarvis)
"The U.S. government has faced, and solved, similar problems: Data.gov discloses a great deal of information, with more than 230,000 data sets involving health, safety, travel, energy, and the environment. Available apps, made possible by that information, are helping people to save money and to avoid health risks.Cambridge Analytica's Lies Shouldn't Wreck Data Collection - Bloomberg
For social media providers, including Facebook, the Cambridge Analytica fiasco underlines the need for more careful vetting of all developers who seek access to their data. But it would be a mistake to take the fiasco as a reason to keep treasure troves of information out of the hands of people who can provide immensely valuable services with it."
Facebook’s rules for accessing user data lured more than just Cambridge Analytica - The Washington Post
Also see The Facebook breach makes it clear: data must be regulated (The Guardian) and How Facebook’s Data Sharing Went From Feature to Bug (NYT)
"Facebook once appeared to acknowledge that some data collection by developers ran counter to the expectations of Facebook users. In a 2014 news release announcing new restrictions to its developer policies, a Facebook executive wrote, “We’ve heard from people that they are often surprised when a friend shares their information with an app.” That admission may indicate that people had not been given adequate understanding of how their data and their friends’ data were used by third parties.Facebook’s rules for accessing user data lured more than just Cambridge Analytica - The Washington Post
Facebook “goes into this endless hairsplitting that people should have known,” said Marc Rotenberg, president and executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit advocacy group that has brought privacy cases before the FTC. “No one could have known that their friends were disclosing their personal data on their behalf. It’s entirely illogical, and it breaks the consent law.”"
Monday, March 19, 2018
Cambridge Analytica CEO appears to talk about using bribes and sex workers to sway elections on secretly recorded news video - The Washington Post
I'm guessing few people will be surprised to learn that a company associated with Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer would resort to such tactics...
"A British television station broadcast video Monday apparently showing the head of the data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica, which worked for President Trump’s 2016 campaign, talking about using bribes, traps involving sex workers and other unethical tactics to swing elections around the world.Cambridge Analytica CEO appears to talk about using bribes and sex workers to sway elections on secretly recorded news video - The Washington Post
The broadcast by Channel 4 News offered no evidence that such methods were used during Cambridge Analytica’s work for the Trump campaign, which paid the firm at least $6 million. But the broadcast sparked a fresh round of questions about a company already embroiled in controversy about its use of personal information from tens of millions of Facebooks users — the vast majority of whom had no idea their names, likes and work histories had been collected for political purposes."
Later in the article: "“Brands are looking at Google as the enemy of the enemy and that makes Google their friend,” said Guru Hariharan, CEO of retail technology firm Boomerang Commerce, referring to the competition between Amazon and chains like Walmart and Target." Also see New Google Shopping Actions: Google Paid from Organic Search Sales? (Search Engine Journal) and Help shoppers take action, wherever and however they choose to shop (Google Inside AdWords blog)
"“We have taken a fundamentally different approach from the likes of Amazon because we see ourselves as an enabler of retail,” Alegre said. “We see ourselves as part of a solution for retailers to be able to drive better transactions ... and get closer to the consumer.” For consumers faced with a surfeit of choices, the idea is to make online buying easier by giving them a single shopping cart and instant checkout – a core feature of Amazon’s retail dominance.Exclusive: 'Where can I buy?' - Google makes push to turn product searches into cash
Retail chains can also offer products through the Google Home voice shopping device, holding on to those who may be headed to Amazon for better deals and giving them personalized recommendations based on previous purchase history."
Time until this Facebook crisis expands to encompass all digital advertising tbd
"Facebook has tightened up some of its policies in recent years, especially around apps accessing friends’ data. But The Guardian’s reporting suggests that the company’s efforts to restuff Pandora’s box have been lax. Wylie, the whistleblower, received a letter from Facebook asking him to delete any Facebook data nearly two years after the existence of the data was first reported. “That to me was the most astonishing thing,” Wylie told The Guardian. “They waited two years and did absolutely nothing to check that the data was deleted. All they asked me to do was tick a box on a form and post it back.”Cambridge Analytica and the Dangers of Facebook Data-Harvesting - The Atlantic
But even if Facebook were maximally aggressive about policing this kind of situation, what’s done is done. It’s not just that the data escaped, but that Cambridge Analytica almost certainly learned everything they could from it. As stated in The Guardian, the contract between GSR and Strategic Communications Laboratories states, specifically, “The ultimate product of the training set is creating a ‘gold standard’ of understanding personality from Facebook profile information.”"
See this Pew page for the full report
"New data from Pew Research Center found that 26 percent of American adults admit to being online “almost constantly,” and 43 percent go online “several times a day.” In 2015, roughly 21 percent of American adult admitted to being online “almost constantly.”Roughly one in four Americans is online ‘constantly’ - Recode
Unsurprisingly, young people are more likely to be internet-obsessed than the general population. About 39 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds reported going online “almost constantly,” compared to 36 percent back in 2015."
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach | News | The Guardian
Another busy week ahead for the Facebook PR and legal departments; also see Democrats call on Cambridge Analytica head to testify again before Congress (The Guardian)
"The data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump’s election team and the winning Brexit campaign harvested millions of Facebook profiles of US voters, in one of the tech giant’s biggest ever data breaches, and used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach | News | The Guardian
A whistleblower has revealed to the Observer how Cambridge Analytica – a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump’s key adviser Steve Bannon – used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements."
Friday, March 16, 2018
Perhaps a lot of iPhone users received
Android Wear OS watches as gifts. Also see Android Wear becomes Wear OS by Google—let's hope bigger changes follow (PCWorld)
"The Android Wear brand introduced in 2014 is going away and being replaced with a new name: Wear OS. A new area of Google’s website has officially confirmed the change. Wear OS even has a new slogan: “Make every minute matter.” For now, that’s really all the news there is; since it works on both Android and iOS, Google’s smartwatch platform is being given a more flexible moniker that doesn’t tie it to a specific mobile operating system. Apple’s software platform on the Apple Watch is called watchOS.Google just changed the name of Android Wear to Wear OS - The Verge
And even though Wear OS doesn’t give iPhone users all the same features as Android users, some iPhone owners are actually picking watches with Google’s software over the Apple Watch. “In 2017, one out of three new Android Wear watch owners also used an iPhone,” claims Google. Android users still make up the majority of customers, but it’s not as lopsided as you might think. Over 50 Wear OS watches have hit the market so far, and fashion brands have really gravitated to the platform. It can be a bit hard to tell some of their offerings apart at this point."
For an investor perspective, see Airtable: the application platform that’s redefining software (CRV)
"Airtable, a spreadsheet app that has become one of Silicon Valley's sleeper hits, has raised $52 million in new funding in a round led by Caffeinated Capital and CRV to bring its total to $62.6 million.Airtable CEO Howie Liu interview on getting $52 million in funding - Business Insider
When it was founded in 2012, Airtable was a small, business-focused spreadsheet program. It has since found new audiences, as companies like Tesla, Airbnb, and WeWork — as well as smaller teams and individual users — have come to rely on Airtable to organize their data.
The secret to Airtable's success, according to its CEO, Howie Liu, is that it makes it easy to make a custom app. Every cell of an Airtable spreadsheet can store anything, including photos and lists. Adding an interface on top can turn it into a simple but powerful app — without coding."
Elon Musk Embarrassed After Realizing He Proposing Idea For Thing That Already Exists ([sic] The Onion)
I'm guessing this satire may have something to do with Elon Musk Says He’s Formed a Media Company Called ‘Thud’ After Hiring Ex-Staffers of The Onion (Variety)
"“The most embarrassing part is that I’ve used it before, too, and I have been for years. That must be where I got the great idea in the first place. There’s even a website for it and everything. I was just so excited that I forgot to double-check that I wasn’t just rehashing something else and proclaiming it was original and visionary. God, people must think I’m just completely out of touch.” At press time, a sheepish Musk told reporters that he was going ahead with his idea anyway, no matter how many people would perceive it as an obvious imitation of the real thing."Elon Musk Embarrassed After Realizing He Proposing Idea For Thing That Already Exists
Article subtitle: "Software giant turns to gaming partners in hunt for Azure customers." On a related note, see Google, Amazon and Microsoft cloud businesses helped more than double spending on data centers last year (Recode) and Introducing Agones: Open-source, multiplayer, dedicated game-server hosting built on Kubernetes (Google Cloud Platform Blog)
"Kareem Choudhry, a 20-year company veteran, was named vice president in charge of the new unit, called gaming cloud. His group will be tasked with helping other game developers and and publishers use Microsoft’s cloud products and creating new services for the industry.Microsoft’s Xbox Unit Seeks to Lure Game Makers to Cloud - Bloomberg
More game developers and publishers are delivering titles and additional content via web download and subscription, instead of selling games off the shelf, and offering multiplayer modes that match gamers online. Microsoft sees the opportunity to sell these companies – some of them longtime Xbox partners – on cloud services from Azure, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said. In September, Spencer was promoted to report directly to Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, who asked him to find areas where Xbox could tie more closely to the rest of the company. Microsoft’s Azure, which is chasing marker leader Amazon Web Services in the cloud, was an obvious target, he said."
If you haven't done so yet, you might also want to Watch John Oliver explain Bitcoin using $15,000 Beanie Babies and rap videos (The Verge)
"The tea leaves don’t bode well for Bitcoin.Bitcoin's ‘Death Cross’ Looms as Strategist Eyes $2,800 Level - Bloomberg
Traders who look for future price direction in chart patterns are finding more indicators suggesting the world’s largest digital currency may have further to fall.
Bitcoin’s 50-day moving average has dropped to the closest proximity to its 200-day moving average in nine months. Crossing below that level -- something it hasn’t done since 2015 -- signals fresh weakness to come for technical traders who would dub such a move a "death cross." Another moving-average indicator of momentum has already turned bearish."
Final paragraphs from a timely social media reality check
"There is no doubt that social media companies need to do more. While Facebook has hired Sinhala-speaking moderators to detect and remove hate speech, its ability to respond to complaints quickly and consistently is limited. Facebook also should not rely on users to report abuse. It should proactively identify and remove hate speech before it spreads widely enough to generate complaints.Banning Social Media Won’t Stop Hate Speech - The New York Times
But focusing too narrowly on one company or platform is a mistake. A foundation of mutual distrust and fear — not access to social media — is the necessary condition for the mobilization of violent mobs. Governments can’t dismantle that foundation alone. Media companies of all kinds must accept responsibility and deploy artificial intelligence and plain old elbow grease to the task. And people of good will must play their part by calling out falsehoods and reporting those responsible.
Banning social media after the mobs have started running is mere political theater."
In other Russia news, see Putin has finally gone too far (The Washington Post) and Russia changes the rules of warfare, perfecting ‘hybrid war’ (WikiTribune)
"The Trump administration accused Russia on Thursday of engineering a series of cyberattacks that targeted American and European nuclear power plants and water and electric systems, and could have sabotaged or shut power plants off at will.Cyberattacks Put Russian Fingers on the Switch at Power Plants, U.S. Says - The New York Times
United States officials and private security firms saw the attacks as a signal by Moscow that it could disrupt the West’s critical facilities in the event of a conflict."
Thursday, March 15, 2018
From an extensive Amazon reality check; in other retail news, see Toys ‘R’ Us Says It Will Close or Sell All U.S. Stores (NYT)
"For many companies, perhaps what’s scariest is that Amazon has lots of room to grow, even in retail. In the U.S., more than 90 percent of all retail sales still happen in physical stores. In some big categories, including home furnishings, personal-care products, toys, and food, the brick-and-mortar numbers are even higher. As the share of online shopping continues to increase, Amazon seems likely to benefit the most. It’s responsible for roughly 44¢ of every dollar Americans spend online, and it’s now mixing in retail stores.How Amazon Became Corporate America’s Nightmare
Besides the 470-odd Whole Foods locations, since 2015 Amazon has opened more than a dozen bookshops and dozens of mall kiosks that sell Kindles and other branded gadgets. There are also 30 Amazon outposts on or near college campuses, offering snacks, phone chargers, other impulse items, and a central point to pick up packages. Some 238 cities entered bids for Amazon’s second North American headquarters. And the company is experimenting with a cashier-less convenience store as well as drive-through locations where people can grab groceries they purchased online."
It’s mostly older people who watch TV news. Can Netflix and Facebook change that? » Nieman Journalism Lab
Check the full post for links and additional details; on a related note, see NBC News plans online streaming service to attract younger viewers (Reuters), which includes "Despite its increased focus on digital, NBC News has no plans to bring any of its content back to Facebook Inc because it does not see it as a friendly environment to news organizations, despite its size, Lack said."
"But — young people have to get their hard news video somewhere, right? (Uh…right?) Enter Facebook and Netflix. Twin reports yesterday: Facebook is launching a hard news section on its Watch portal (as Campbell Brown had previously suggested at Recode’s Code Media conference). Axios’s Sara Fischer reported that “Facebook is in touch with both legacy and digital-first news publishers to test a daily video feature that would run for at least a year,” and content would need to be at least three minutes long.
Netflix, meanwhile, seems to be thinking something much longer than three minutes: It’s reportedly planning a “weekly news magazine show” to rival 60 Minutes and 20/20. “Netflix has spotted a hole in the market for a current affairs TV show encompassing both sides of the political divide and [is] seeking to fill it,” an unidentified source told MarketWatch."It’s mostly older people who watch TV news. Can Netflix and Facebook change that? » Nieman Journalism Lab
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Later in the article: "The price remains the same too, meaning it'll cost $35/£30 at the usual suppliers."
"The key improvements on the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ are its processor and networking capabilities. The Model B+ sports a 1.4GHz quad-core Broadcom BCM2837B0 processor (compared to the 1.2GHz BCM2837 chip in the Pi 3), which the company says has come as a result of improved power integrity and thermal design.Upgraded Raspberry Pi 3 delivers more power and faster networking
For projects requiring faster networking speeds, the Model B+ delivers dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless connectivity and gigabit ethernet over USB 2.0, which supports up to 300Mbps (three times the speed of previous boards). Bluetooth 4.2 and Bluetooth Low Energy support make it easier for tinkerers looking to create their own IoT hubs or interact with other devices in their smart home."
Likely no money-back guarantee for this service
"So yeah. Nectome is a preserve-your-brain-and-upload-it company. Its chemical solution can keep a body intact for hundreds of years, maybe thousands, as a statue of frozen glass. The idea is that someday in the future scientists will scan your bricked brain and turn it into a computer simulation. That way, someone a lot like you, though not exactly you, will smell the flowers again in a data server somewhere.A startup is pitching a mind-uploading service that is “100 percent fatal” - MIT Technology Review
This story has a grisly twist, though. For Nectome’s procedure to work, it’s essential that the brain be fresh. The company says its plan is to connect people with terminal illnesses to a heart-lung machine in order to pump its mix of scientific embalming chemicals into the big carotid arteries in their necks while they are still alive (though under general anesthesia)."
One step closer to The Daily Me?
"Google users who subscribe to newspapers will find articles from those publications appearing higher in their search results, part of the tech giant’s efforts to help media companies find and retain paying readers, according to people familiar with the matter.Google Will Prioritize Stories for Paying News Subscribers - Bloomberg
The Alphabet unit will also begin sharing search data that show who’s most likely to buy a subscription, said the people, who asked to be anonymous because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. Google executives plan to disclose specific details at an event in New York on March 20, according to the people. Google declined to comment."
Melania Trump will meet with tech giants including Facebook and Google to talk cyberbullying - The Washington Post
Perhaps she will implore them to delete all of her husband's accounts
"The meeting at the White House, slated for March 20, marks the first major policy push in the first lady’s long-ago announced campaign to combat cyberbullying. At the gathering, Trump plans to ask policy executives from tech companies to detail how they’ve sought to address digital ills plaguing Web users, such as the rise of online trolls and the spread of malicious content, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss her efforts on the record.Melania Trump will meet with tech giants including Facebook and Google to talk cyberbullying - The Washington Post
But the people said they don’t expect the first lady to unveil any policy proposals to combat cyberbullying — a term her team has sought to avoid, instead opting to focus on the need for kindness online."
Financial Services: New restricted financial products policy (June 2018) - Advertising Policies Help (Google)
Tangentially, see In 2017, Google removed 3.2B ‘bad ads’ and blocked 320K publishers, 90K sites, 700K mobile apps (TechCrunch)
"In June 2018, Google will update the Financial services policy to restrict the advertisement of Contracts for Difference, rolling spot forex, and financial spread betting. In addition, ads for the following will no longer be allowed to serve:Financial Services: New restricted financial products policy (June 2018) - Advertising Policies Help
- Binary options and synonymous products
- Cryptocurrencies and related content (including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice)"
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Check the full post for links and more details; also see Microsoft touts progress of chat app Teams in battle with Slack (Reuters)
"This week marks the first anniversary of the worldwide launch of Microsoft Teams. In that time, Teams has grown significantly in both new capabilities and customer usage. Today, 200,000 organizations in 181 markets and 39 languages use Teams, including A.P. Moller–Maersk, ConocoPhillips, Macy’s, NASCAR, Navistar, RLH Corporation, and Technicolor. General Motors is also now using Teams; read more about their story.Microsoft Teams turns 1, advances vision for Intelligent Communications - Office Blogs
Teams for Intelligent Communications and Collaboration
Over the last year, Teams has evolved to become the ultimate hub for teamwork. Built on the strength and scale of Office 365 with over 120 million users, Teams delivers chat-based collaboration, meetings, calling, and soon, full enterprise voice features. All of this is underpinned by the Microsoft Graph, allowing for rich AI capabilities. As part of Office 365, Teams uniquely delivers these capabilities at scale, with enterprise-grade security and compliance standards to meet the needs of a global business."
From a ~7,700-word Reddit reality check
"Which Web sites get the most traffic? According to the ranking service Alexa, the top three sites in the United States, as of this writing, are Google, YouTube, and Facebook. (Porn, somewhat hearteningly, doesn’t crack the top ten.) The rankings don’t reflect everything—the dark Web, the nouveau-riche recluses harvesting bitcoin—but, for the most part, people online go where you’d expect them to go. The only truly surprising entry, in fourth place, is Reddit, whose astronomical popularity seems at odds with the fact that many Americans have only vaguely heard of the site and have no real understanding of what it is. A link aggregator? A microblogging platform? A social network?"Reddit and the Struggle to Detoxify the Internet | The New Yorker
Check the source for the full video segment
"John Oliver is known for his eloquent explanations of complex topics like net neutrality. Now, he’s turning his attention to the internet’s favorite topic of the moment: Bitcoin. It’s “everything you don’t understand about money combined with everything you don’t understand about computers,” quips Oliver, correctly.Watch John Oliver explain Bitcoin using $15,000 Beanie Babies and rap videos - The Verge
The 25-minute video uses $15,000 Beanie Babies, an interview with a man using chicken McNuggets as a metaphor for blockchain, a video of Brock Pierce (The Mighty Ducks child actor turned crypto-entrepreneur) talking about his unicorn wedding at Burning Man, and a HODLGANG rap music video to explain the phenomenon. (“Hodl” is a slang term used in the Bitcoin community meaning “hold on to” the cryptocurrency and not sell.)"
"Now that project is about to go public: On Tuesday, Mr. Page’s company and the prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, will announce they have reached an agreement to test Kitty Hawk’s autonomous planes as part of an official certification process. The hope is that it will lead to a commercial network of flying taxis in New Zealand in as soon as three years.
The move is a big step forward in the commercialization of this technology, which even the most optimistic prognosticators had recently bet would take another decade to achieve.Larry Page’s Flying Taxis, Now Exiting Stealth Mode - The New York Times
The decision to embrace the commercial use of flying taxis offers New Zealand an opportunity to leapfrog many developed countries in this area, and perhaps give it a head start over Silicon Valley, where much of the most innovative work has been taking place."
See Intel may be considering a takeover of Broadcom (MIT Technology Review) for some related partner permutations; also see How China's Huawei Killed $117 Billion Broadcom Deal (Bloomberg)
"In a presidential order, Mr. Trump said “credible evidence” had led him to believe that if Singapore-based Broadcom were to acquire control of Qualcomm, it “might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States.” The acquisition, if it had gone through, would have been the largest technology deal in history.Trump Blocks Broadcom’s Bid for Qualcomm - The New York Times
Mr. Trump’s decision to prohibit the blockbuster deal underscored the lengths that he is willing to go to shelter American companies from foreign competition. In recent weeks, the president has turned to an arsenal of tools — including tariffs and an obscure government review panel — to ward off foreign control in American industries and, in particular, thwart the rise of China."
See this tweet stream for some additional commentary from NewsWhip's CEO
"Beyond the Onion, the top authors were primarily from hyper-partisan sources like the Daily Wire, Truth Examiner, Breitbart, Washington Press, and several small but politically-charged sites.
Within this breakdown, there were 32 conservative authors vs. six liberal authors. Most authors on our list only wrote for one site, but a couple of the conservative reporters had their work republished on other hyperpartisan offshoots."These are the top reporters on Facebook
Apple acquires digital newsstand Texture as it doubles down on content ‘from trusted sources’ | TechCrunch
Also see Apple to acquire digital magazine service Texture (Apple Newsroom)
"As the debate continues over fake news and the role that aggregators like Facebook have played in spreading it, Apple is making an acquisition that could help it lay out a position as a purveyor of trusted information. The iPhone maker is buying Texture, a magazine virtual newsstand that’s known as the “Netflix of magazine publishing” that gives readers access to around 200 magazines for a monthly fee of $9.99.From Apple’s latest acquisition will let it distribute magazines like the Atlantic and Bon Appétit (Washington Post):
“We’re excited Texture will join Apple, along with an impressive catalog of magazines from many of the world’s leading publishers,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software & Services, in a statement. “We are committed to quality journalism from trusted sources and allowing magazines to keep producing beautifully designed and engaging stories for users.”"
For Apple, the purchase of Texture is also an opportunity to highlight the company's role as a trusted news distributor at a time when the American public is worried about the credibility of information from technology giants. Apple’s approach to pressing questions of news reliability and the role of human curation differs from rivals Google, Facebook and Amazon. While Facebook and YouTube rely almost exclusively on software tools to decide what news people will see — Facebook fired its news curators in 2016 — Apple has a human editorial team for Apple News, the company’s news aggregator app that comes pre-installed in smartphones. Human editorial teams also work for the company’s podcasts app and Apple Music.Apple acquires digital newsstand Texture as it doubles down on content ‘from trusted sources’ | TechCrunch
Monday, March 12, 2018
See The web is under threat. Join us and fight for it. (World Wide Web Foundation) for more details
"“These dominant platforms are able to lock in their position by creating barriers for competitors,” Berners-Lee writes in an open letter published today on the Web Foundation’s website. “They acquire startup challengers, buy up new innovations and hire the industry’s top talent. Add to this the competitive advantage that their user data gives them and we can expect the next 20 years to be far less innovative than the last.”Platform power is crushing the web, warns Berners-Lee | TechCrunch
The concentration of power in the hands of a few mega platforms is also the source of the current fake news crisis, in Berners-Lee’s view, because he says platform power has made it possible for people to “weaponise the web at scale” — echoing comments made by the UK prime minister last year when she called out Russia for planting fakes online to try to disrupt elections."
Saturday, March 10, 2018
Later in the article: "If 15 percent of Amazon shoppers switch to its new account, the company could save $250 million a year in so-called credit card interchange fees, according to estimates by Bain."
"Amazon is in early discussions with banks to create a product similar to checking accounts, people familiar with the matter said this week. Consumers with the account could link directly to Amazon and money could be moved using the bank-owned ACH network, for instance, with fewer fees. Amazon wants the account to appeal especially to millennials and those who lack bank accounts and credit cards, according to the people.Amazon's Checking Account Push Shows Next Target: Swipe Fees - Bloomberg
The plan, if it comes to fruition, is hardly an assured success. But few analysts think Bezos would stop there as he tries to expand Amazon’s reach into consumers’ economic life, pushing further toward things like car loans or mortgages."
Friday, March 09, 2018
Seems a bit recursive...
"The first part of the new business model will be Ghostery Insights, a paid, premium product designed for academics, journalists, researchers, and anyone else curious about the webpage and tracker ecosystem online. It’s not yet available—and not clear yet what analytics will be included—but the company says they expect it to arrive later this year.
The second part will be Ghostery Rewards, a kind of affiliate marketing system that users can opt into. Designed to be light touch, it will periodically notify you about deals, like a discount on a travel package or a pair of pants. Relevant offers will pop up when you visit say, a travel site or ecommerce platform. In one sense, Ghostery is removing all the ads from the web, and then replacing some of them with its own. But unlike traditional web advertisements, Ghostery Rewards are exclusive to those who use the tool. They’re also meant to be genuinely useful for consumers."Ad-Blocker Ghostery Just Went Open Source—And Has a New Business Model | WIRED
"Swift is now tied with Objective-C at number 10 in the rankings conducted by analyst firm RedMonk. It's hardly a surprise that programmers are interested in Apple's language, which can be used to build applications for the iPhone, Apple Watch, Macintosh computers, and even web applications. But the speed at which it jumped in the ranks is astonishing. Swift is the fastest growing language RedMonk has seen since it started compiling these rankings in 2011. Even Go, a programming language that Google released in 2009, hasn't been able to break into the top 10.Apple's Swift Programming Language Is Now Top Tier | WIRED
The second fastest grower is Kotlin, which Google now officially supports on Android. It leaped from number 46 in the third quarter of 2017 to number 27 in January."
Tbd if that exceeds the current Tesla Model 3 production rate...
"Tailing an intense February that saw SpaceX successfully complete inaugural launches of both Falcon Heavy and two Starlink prototype satellites, the next three weeks of March are likely to be relatively quiet. However, by all appearances, SpaceX is preparing for a frenetic end-of-month that could include three Falcon 9 launches from three separate SpaceX launch pads, all in a single week, and as many as six launches total between March 29 and April 30.SpaceX aims for 3 rocket launches in a single week, 6 launches in 1 month
If successful, this series of missions would smash all of SpaceX’s past launch cadence records – six launches in little more than a single month, two reused flights in four days, three launches in one week, and two East coast launches in three days, not to mention the debut of Falcon 9 Block 5. To put this level of activity in perspective, SpaceX could complete the equivalent of four months or 33% of all of their 2017 launches in a single month. SpaceX’s aggressive goal of 30 launches in 2018 still means that the company could complete a full 1/5th of their scheduled manifest in less than five weeks, a cadence that – if maintained for a full year – would equate to 60-70 launches in 12 months."
Let's hope we don't similarly bias neural networks... Also see The Grim Conclusions of the Largest-Ever Study of Fake News (The Atlantic), which concludes: "In short, social media seems to systematically amplify falsehood at the expense of the truth, and no one—neither experts nor politicians nor tech companies—knows how to reverse that trend. It is a dangerous moment for any system of government premised on a common public reality."
"What if the scourge of false news on the internet is not the result of Russian operatives or partisan zealots or computer-controlled bots? What if the main problem is us?It’s True: False News Spreads Faster and Wider. And Humans Are to Blame. - The New York Times
People are the principal culprits, according to a new study examining the flow of stories on Twitter. And people, the study’s authors also say, prefer false news.
As a result, false news travels faster, farther and deeper through the social network than true news."
Thursday, March 08, 2018
Tumultuous Twitter times
"Chadwick said they’re effective because they’re from a community she calls “young Twitter.” To them, Twitter is high school. “The politicians like Marco Rubio, they’re the mean girls,” Corin says.These teens survived the Parkland shooting. Can they survive Twitter? - The Washington Post
In young Twitter, you deal with a troll by trolling them back. Attacked for smiling too much on a TV appearance, Chadwick replied, “You are a piece of hot garbage, and I hope you step on a lego.”
What’s been her most effective tweet? Chadwick dug around her phone and pulled up one that reads, simply: “I’m a junior.”"
Perhaps they'll create an AR app to simulate Six things women in Saudi Arabia cannot do (The Week)
"Magic Leap announced Wednesday that it had raised $461 million, mostly from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign investment arm. The company described the investment as the second closing of a round that totaled $963 million. The first part, announced in October, was led by Temasek Holdings Pte., Singapore's state-owned investment company.Magic Leap Raises $461 Million From Saudis - Bloomberg
Magic Leap has raised more than $2.3 billion to date, and has been valued at above $6 billion. Google, Alibaba and Morgan Stanley are already investors.
The Florida-based company, which employs about 1,400 people, is working on an augmented reality headset that superimposes 3-D virtual images on the real world. Magic Leap says it will ship the device some time this year. In September, Bloomberg reported that the headset will cost $1,500 to $2,000, citing people familiar with company’s plans."
Final paragraphs from a bitcoin reality check (subtitled "‘You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means’")
"Lemieux is also well-acquainted with misconceptions about the capabilities of blockchains. “The concept of trustworthiness — at least from an archival science perspective — goes far beyond what the blockchain can do, or even promises to do, in most cases,” she said. This idea implies that records are accurate, “which is not something typically in scope of a good number of blockchain solutions” and exaggerates their reliability, which is an “issue if you have poorly written smart contracts or novel and untested consensus algorithms.” It also exaggerates claims of authenticity, which relies on the robustness of whatever identity system is paired with the blockchain. “Finally, immutability implies permanence, and there’s no guarantee that ledger records created and kept on chain will last, even with lots of copies around, because of technological obsolescence and the fact that incentives to keep the system going may die off after a time,” she said.‘Blockchain’ is meaningless - The Verge
Establishing a clear definition will help clear up some of these misunderstandings. “Developing a more precise understanding of what blockchain technology is will help us address its shortcomings and improve upon it so that it can better be used to in the transformative ways that its proponents envision,” she said. “It’s difficult to have a conversation about advancing a technology or using it when we all mean different things when we speak about it.” Unfortunately, she estimates the terminology standard will take approximately 18 months to be finalized."
From a snapshot that reads a lot like a PR piece; in other Peter Thiel news, @karaswisher, in a tweet response to the NYT article, notes: "You, @peterthiel complete me — if you would only have a chit chat with me about diversity in tech or, say, bots. Thus, I am hereby publicly begging you to come & have a frank hardball discussion at Code 2018 5/29/30 rather than this knitting circle #meow"
"The anger now being turned on Facebook, Mr. Thiel argued, is less about Russia specifically and more about tech arrogance — its failure to do so much for so many. It is a sentiment that helped put Mr. Trump in the White House.Peter Thiel’s Money Talks, in Contentious Ways. But What Does He Say? - The New York Times
“The Trump campaign slogan, ‘Make America Great Again,’ was perhaps the single most offensive thing you could say to Silicon Valley,” he said. “Silicon Valley says the future is going to be better than the past. That is the propaganda, if you will.”
A friend of his in Silicon Valley had the idea of running for governor of California this year. Mr. Thiel’s advice was that he had better have a good answer to this question: Why is tech good for the average person in California? The answer, he cautioned, couldn’t be a banality, such as “it’s making us more connected,” and it couldn’t be utopian, such as “it’s going to cure all diseases.”"
Check the link below and the General Magic Wikipedia article for an overview of ways in which it was a pivotal company
"Combining rare footage from the early days of General Magic with contemporary stories of the Magicians today, this is the story of one of history’s most talented teams.General Magic – A motion picture. By Spellbound Productions.
General Magic is a story that captures the spirit of those of us who dare to dream big and the life-changing consequences when we fail, fail again, fail better, and ultimately succeed."
Wednesday, March 07, 2018
‘Bitcoin Tycoon' Video Game Will Let Players 'Understand the Bitterness Behind Mining' - Motherboard
A multifaceted sign of the times
"Developed by Shanghai-based 99 Game Studio, Bitcoin Tycoon—Mining Simulation Game lets players explore the career of a bitcoin miner without having to deal with its frustrations first hand. It’s set in 2014 and the player is an early adopter of cryptocurrency mining. The player steers the protagonist's career, builds a rig, and learns to “understand the bitterness behind mining.”‘Bitcoin Tycoon' Video Game Will Let Players 'Understand the Bitterness Behind Mining' - Motherboard
The game is set to launch in early access in May 2018. The developers promise a robust storyline, random events, the ability to customize both your mining rig and your home, and several career paths. 99 Game Studio will have to deal with other miners and have branching career paths where they can become mega traders or or just live “decadent at home, no one will judge you.”"
On a related note, see Why Companies and Countries Are Battling for Ascendancy in 5G (NYT)
"The details behind 5G network equipment technologies, such as millimeter wave, network slicing, and others, become extraordinarily complex very quickly. The bottom line, however, is that they’re going to enable 5G networks to support not only significantly faster upload and download speeds for 5G-enabled smartphones, but also much more consistent speeds. This translates into smoother experiences for applications such as high-resolution video streaming, as well as new kinds of applications that haven’t been possible before, such as self-driving cars.The Hidden Technology Behind Modern Smartphones – Tech.pinions
To make this work, new types of 5G-capable modems are needed inside next generation smartphones, automobiles and other devices, and that’s where chip companies like Qualcomm and Intel come in."
"Artificial mindfulness" timing tbd; tangentially, for a non-artificial learning case study in process, see Most Americans See Artificial Intelligence as a Threat to Jobs (Just Not Theirs) (NYT)
"“Even seeing part of how a decision was made can give you a lot of insight into the possible ways it can fail,” said Christopher Olah, a Google researcher.
A growing number of A.I. researchers are now developing ways to better understand neural networks. Jeff Clune, a professor at University of Wyoming who now works in the A.I. lab at the ride-hailing company Uber, called this “artificial neuroscience.”
Understanding how these systems work will become more important as they make decisions now made by humans, like who gets a job and how a self-driving car responds to emergencies."Google Researchers Are Learning How Machines Learn - The New York Times
Why is Paul Allen building the world’s largest airplane? Perhaps to launch a space shuttle called Black Ice. - The Washington Post
From another article adapted from the forthcoming book The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos
"The Black Ice space plane — should it be built — would be about as big as the former space shuttle developed by NASA and capable of staying up for at least three days. It could be launched from virtually anywhere in the world, as long as the runway could accommodate Stratolaunch’s size. And it would be capable of flying to the International Space Station, taking satellites and experiments to orbit, and maybe one day even people — though there are no plans for that in the near-term.Why is Paul Allen building the world’s largest airplane? Perhaps to launch a space shuttle called Black Ice. - The Washington Post
Then it would land back on the runway, ready to fly again.
“You make your rocket a plane,” Floyd said. “So, you have an airplane carrying a plane that’s fully reusable. You don’t throw anything away ever. Only fuel.”"
From a timely personal data reality check
"As Mr. Lanier, Mr. Posner and Mr. Weyl point out, it is ironic that humans are providing free data to train the artificial-intelligence systems to replace workers across the economy. Commentators from both left and right fret over how ordinary people will put food on the table once robots take all the jobs. Perhaps a universal basic income, funded by taxes, is the answer?Your Data Is Crucial to a Robotic Age. Shouldn’t You Be Paid for It? - The New York Times
How about paying people for the data they produced to train the robots? If A.I. accounted for 10 percent of the economy and the big-data companies paid two-thirds of their income for data — the same as labor’s share of income across the economy — the share of income going to “workers” would rise drastically. By Mr. Weyl and Mr. Posner’s reckoning, the median household of four would gain $20,000 a year."
Tuesday, March 06, 2018
Sorry I can't pay you now; I forgot to charge my beads last night...
"Taiwanese tech company Acer has made Buddhist prayer beads that can help keep track of recited mantras. The beads have a smart chip that tracks the number of times a mantra is repeated and displays the number on a smartphone app. (The chip senses how many times a user has rotated the beads through their hand. Each rotation marks one mantra.)Acer has made smart beads to help keep count of Buddhist mantras - The Verge
Buddhism is estimated to be practiced by about over a third of Taiwan’s population, according to the CIA World Factbook’s 2005 data, making it Taiwan’s most popular religion. Therefore, there are enough people that could use an app to help keep count of how many mantras they’ve recited.
The beads also reportedly have the capacity for future features to be added, like electronic payments, or getting discounts from Buddhist shops and restaurants."
Check the full post for overviews of a couple other handy extension/integration options
"The Google app for iOS now supports an iMessage extension to help you search and share GIFs, restaurants and videos, whenever you’re messaging a friend. You can tap on the icon for “Food” or “Nearby” to share your favorite locations, or perform a search and share a card directly into the conversation. Want to research a new restaurant before sharing it with friends? Just tap on the restaurant card, and we’ll take you to the Google Search page, where you can look up the busiest times, as well as menus and reviews. Switch to GIF Search mode, and you can find and share a “happy birthday” GIF.Getting more done with Search on iOS
If you already have the Google app on your device, no additional installation is required. Just open iMessage, tap the iMessage apps drawer, and tap on Google app icon."
Perhaps it would be less controversial for MoviePass to instead buy the personal profile and activity data from Facebook and Google...
"Everyone knew the MoviePass deal is too good to be true — and as is so often the case these days, it turns out you’re not the customer, you’re the product. And in this case they’re not even attempting to camouflage that. Mitch Lowe, the company’s CEO, told an audience at a Hollywood event that “we know all about you.”MoviePass CEO proudly says the app tracks your location before and after movies | TechCrunch
Lowe was giving the keynote at the Entertainment Finance Forum; his talk was entitled “Data is the New Oil: How will MoviePass Monetize It?” Media Play News first reported his remarks.
“We get an enormous amount of information,” Lowe continued. “We watch how you drive from home to the movies. We watch where you go afterwards.”"
Jared Kushner loan amount size required to clear the deal still tbd...
"In a rare intervention by the government, the Trump administration moved on Sunday night to stall the potential takeover of Qualcomm, the leading American chip maker, by Singapore-based Broadcom on national security grounds. The action, by a little-known and secretive government panel, represents a newly aggressive posture by the administration to protect national corporate champions and scrutinize acquisitions by overseas companies.Trump Administration Stalls Largest Tech Merger in New Sign of Protectionism - The New York Times
The panel, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or Cfius, typically works behind closed doors and reviews deals only after they are announced. In the case of Qualcomm, the panel, which includes representatives from multiple government agencies, is looking at the acquisition before it is complete. In practice, reviews by Cfius often lead to the demise of deals."
First sentence of the article: "There are two types of countries, just as there are two types of companies: ones that are doing well, and ones that are pivoting to blockchain." On a related note, ICOs delivered at least 3.5x more capital to blockchain startups than VC since 2017 (TechCrunch)
"Which is why Venezuela's government has just launched the petro, its own cryptocurrency backed by oil. Well, at least that's what the regime is saying. In reality, the petro isn't a crypto, it isn't a currency, and it isn't backed by oil in any meaningful sense. It's just a way for Caracas to try to get around the sanctions against it while raising money from the only people more clueless than itself.Venezuela’s cryptocurrency is one of the worst investments ever - The Washington Post
It isn't an exaggeration to say that the petro might be the most obviously horrible investment ever. There isn't even a story you can tell yourself about why it might work. That's clear enough if you just try to answer what it is exactly. It's not, as we said before, a crypto. You can't “mine” new petros by solving complicated math problems on your computer like you can with bitcoin. You can only buy them from the Venezuelan government. And while it's true that it says it's going to set up a system to change this, it can't even keep its story straight about how that would work."
With the deeply dysfunctional ways GOP politicians and their enablers have been operating lately, you'd think they'd be thankful for the alleged filtering...
"“This could end up being the free speech issue of our time,” said Alex Marlow, editor in chief of Breitbart News, which has published articles accusing Google and Facebook of, among other sins, political bias. “The Silicon Valley elites are saying: ‘We don’t care what you want to see — we know what you should see. We know better.’”New Foils for the Right: Google and Facebook - The New York Times
Big Tech is easily associated with West Coast liberalism and Democratic politics, making it a fertile target for the right. And operational opacity at Facebook, Google and Twitter, which are reluctant to reveal details about their algorithms and internal policies, can leave them vulnerable, too."
Monday, March 05, 2018
Free real-time, multi-speaker voice transcription (actually freemium, with subscription tier features to be announced)
"To use Otter, you tap a microphone icon to begin a recording, and almost immediately, a live raw transcript of what you're saying begins to unspool in front of you. It's after that recording ends that Otter's artificial intelligence can really do its work. After processing, the cleaned-up transcript separates speakers as they take turns talking. As part of your sign-up process, Otter takes a "voiceprint" of you by asking you to read a five-paragraph statement so it can learn your voice and specifically identify you next to the passages you spoke.Otter's free app brings voice transcripts into the AI age - CNET
Otter's transcripts also are searchable, not only within one transcript but across all your stored recordings. It automatically generates keywords you can tap to search. You can form teams in Otter, and content can be shared within the Otter app with individuals or team members. You can also send anyone a link to a transcript viewable on the web."
YouTube removes ads from InfoWars’ Alex Jones channel but says it has no plans to delete it | TechCrunch
InfoWars' YouTube advertising revenues are going to be deleted, however; see Advertisers flee InfoWars founder Alex Jones' YouTube channel (CNN)
"After a video and some advertisers were removed from YouTube channels controlled by Alex Jones, the far-right commentator best known for hosting the video show InfoWars, Jones announced yesterday that YouTube would be freezing and deleting his YouTube channel today, Sunday — but the claim was false, according to YouTube.YouTube removes ads from InfoWars’ Alex Jones channel but says it has no plans to delete it | TechCrunch
“The Alex Jones channel with billions of views is frozen,” Jones wrote on Twitter. “We have been told it will be deleted tomorrow and all 33 thousands [sic] videos will be erased.” But according to a spokesperson from YouTube responding to our request for comment, the site at present has no plans to delete Alex Jones channel or erase his videos on Sunday, March 4."
Earlier in the article: "The company has taken in $850 million over the past two months from some of the biggest venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, and it is now aiming to raise another $850 million over the next month or so. A third $850 million round is in the works after that, according to documents associated with the offering."
"The most obvious reason to be skeptical of the project is that there is not even a prototype — just a 132-page paper promising what the system will look like one day. The Telegram team is promising to release the software late this year or next year.Virtual Currency Offerings May Hit a New Peak with Telegram Coin Sale - The New York Times
What’s more, Telegram is promising to do more than any other virtual currency and to fix the intractable problems that have plagued virtual currencies like Bitcoin, such as overcoming the network’s difficulty handling all the transactions that have poured onto the network as it has become more popular."
From a timely Amazon customer reality check
"The good news is that by deploying an increasingly broad range of IoT home products and offering large numbers of Alexa-enabled IoT widgets in its on-line bazaar, Amazon is making a substantial contribution to the consumer-friendly side of the Internet of Things.IoT News: Bridges Out, Amazon In – Monday Note
The not-so-good news is the flow of “domestic data” that we unwittingly offer up to Amazon’s sophisticated Machine Learning citadel. In an admirable and to-be-feared sense, Amazon has the upper hand on Google and Apple. With Google, we don’t pay for the product, We Are The Product and we pay with our data. With Apple, we pay for the product and get to keep our data. Now, with Amazon, we pay for the product or content, and surrender our data."
Friday, March 02, 2018
I haven't seen odds on the likely winning bidder...
"The list of suitors for Nate Silver’s data-driven website FiveThirtyEight has narrowed to a few, as the statistics guru prepares to move on from a nearly five-year tie-up with Walt Disney’s Co.’s ESPN.ABC News, Atlantic Among Contenders for Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight - WSJ
The final contenders include ABC News, The Athletic website and The Atlantic, according to people familiar with the matter. ABC News, another Disney unit, is a logical home for FiveThirtyEight, one of the people said, because Mr. Silver’s expertise in polling and political analysis would be especially useful as midterm elections approach this fall. Early on, the site became known for its presidential election forecasts.
The sale process, which has stretched for months, is expected to conclude in the coming weeks, one of the people said. The deadline for submitting bids passed last week."
See The ECO coin: A sustainable currency for planet Earth for more details; I think I'll hold out for a multi-planetary sustainable cryptocurrency, however...
"Garrett Camp, best known for being a co-founder of Uber and founder of the accelerator/venture fund Expa, is launching his own cryptocurrency.Uber co-founder Garrett Camp is creating a new cryptocurrency | TechCrunch
The currency is called Eco, and Camp wants it to be a digital global currency that can be used as a payment tool around the world for daily-use transactions.
There will be one trillion tokens issued initially, of which 50% will be given away to the first one billion verified humans that sign up. 20% will go to the universities running trusted nodes, 10% will go to advisors, 10% will go to strategic partners, and 10% will go to a newly formed Eco Foundation which will be responsible for creating and maintaining the network. Camp as well as a small number of partners affiliated with Expa will also donate $10M to seed the foundation with an operating budget."
Apple Slapped the Competition Silly in the Wearables Market in Q4 to become the Champion for all of 2017 Hands Down - Patently Apple
Check the full post for IDC details
"Apple's CEO began his opening statement and summary for calendar Q4, Fiscal Q1, by stating that "Before we dive into the quarter I'd like to take a moment to talk about a significant milestone we recently crossed. Apple's active installed base reached 1.3 Billion devices in January and is at an all-time high for all of our major products." You only have to take a peek of the stats to see that Apple is on a roll and today we learn that the Apple Watch was the #1 wearable device in 2017 and, let's get real, the leader by a country mile in devices over $200. While the IDC chart below makes it look like a close race, it wasn't really. Fitbit and Xiaomi are in the poverty lane selling very cheap bands to make it look like they matter – but they don't. Apple is in a class of their own, period!"Apple Slapped the Competition Silly in the Wearables Market in Q4 to become the Champion for all of 2017 Hands Down - Patently Apple
Perhaps DeepMind's Theory of Mind work will help them understand each other's perspectives...
"Pinker's criticism of Musk echoes the sentiment the Harvard professor articulated in an op-ed published Saturday in the British paper, The Globe and Mail. In the piece, Pinker argues one of the doomsday scenarios that is overhyped is the notion that artificial intelligence will be humanity's undoing. Pinker says bemoaning unrealistic apocalyptic scenarios is dangerous to society.Elon Musk responds to Harvard professor Steven Pinker’s A.I. comments
Musk, however, says the difference between machine intelligence used for a specific use case, like driving a car, versus more generalized machine intelligence, is massive. And he is shocked Pinker would argue otherwise.
"Wow, if even Pinker doesn't understand the difference between functional/narrow AI (eg. car) and general AI, when the latter *literally* has a million times more compute power and an open-ended utility function, humanity is in deep trouble," Musk says."
Step 1: ban @realDonaldTrump; also see Twitter is wondering whether Twitter is bad for society — and Jack Dorsey is starting new research to find out (Recode)
"In a slew of tweets, Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey said the company is starting to look at the problems on its network differently. Rather than simply looking at how it can effectively take down troubling content, he said, the company will also begin looking at how it can encourage and foster better conversation in the first place.Twitter’s asking for help on how to be less toxic - The Washington Post
“We’ve focused most of our efforts on removing content against our terms, instead of building a systemic framework to help encourage more healthy debate, conversations and critical thinking,” Dorsey said. “This is the approach we now need.”"
Thursday, March 01, 2018
News in a disintegrating reality: Tow’s Jonathan Albright on what to do as things crash around us » Nieman Journalism Lab
From a wide-ranging interview with Jonathan Albright, "the research director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism and a faculty associate at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society"
"Maybe there needs to be a job called, like, Platform Editor, where someone works to not only stop manipulation but also works across the security team and the content team and in between the different business verticals to ensure the quality and integrity of the platform. That’s a lot of responsibility, but the kinds of things that I often see could literally be stopped by one person. I mean: 4chan trending on Google during the Las Vegas shooting? How that even happened, I have no idea, but I do know that one person could have stopped that. And I do know that a group of people working together — even if it involves deliberation, even if they don’t agree on one specific thing — can often solve problems that appear or are starting to surface because of automation. And I don’t mean, like, contract moderators from India — I mean high-level people. The companies need to invest in human capital as well as technological capital, but that doesn’t align with their business model. The rhetoric exists in their public statements, but we can clearly see that how it’s being implemented isn’t working.News in a disintegrating reality: Tow’s Jonathan Albright on what to do as things crash around us » Nieman Journalism Lab
It’s getting worse. Since the 2016 election, I’ve come to the realization — horribly, and it’s very depressing — that nothing has gotten better, despite all the rhetoric, all of the money, all of the PR, all of the research. Since nothing has really changed with the platforms, we can scream about Russia as the structure of our information decays around us. Our technological and communication infrastructure, the ways that we experience reality, the ways we get news, are literally disintegrating."
Competitive conversational collaboration convergence; for more details, see New ways to help teams work faster and smarter with G Suite (Google Keyword blog)
"For all intents and purposes, Hangouts Chat is Google’s take on Slack, Microsoft Teams and similar projects. Since Google first announced this project, Atlassian also joined the fray with the launch of Stride. Like its competitors, Chat is available on iOS, Android and the web.Hangouts Chat, Google’s Slack competitor, comes out of beta | TechCrunch
All of these companies are essentially riffing on the same theme, but all of them put their own spin on it. For Google, that means a strong emphasis on AI. The best example for this is probably the @Meet bot that helps you schedule meetings and the @Drive bot that keeps you abreast of when files are shared with you or when people request access to one of your own documents."