"No matter what you think of Amazon’s tactics, they surely don’t violate any laws. It is acting the way hardheaded companies usually act — inflicting some pain on the party in a dispute to move it toward resolution. On some level, the book industry has never fit comfortably in the contours of big business. But over the years, as one house after another was bought by conglomerates, as they merged with each other, as they tried to increase profits with the kind of regularity that pleases Wall Street, they began the process of commoditizing books.Amazon’s ‘Bullying’ Tactics - NYTimes.com
Jeff Bezos? He’s only taking that process to its logical extreme."
Saturday, May 31, 2014
Final paragraphs of an Amazon modus operandi reality check; for a different perspective, see How Book Publishers Can Beat Amazon (NYT)
Friday, May 30, 2014
Also see Samsung Takes Aim at Apple With an Ambitious Smartwatch Platform (Wired); must be about time for Apple to unveil its new wearable product plans
"The device will draw on optical engineering expertise from Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect division to continuously measure heart rate through the day and night, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the company’s plans, while the battery will last for two days, roughly on par with Samsung’s Gear Fit.Exclusive: A Microsoft Smartwatch Is Coming
The timeline for the watch’s release date is unclear but Microsoft could be gunning for as soon as this summer.
Crucially, it appears the smartwatch won’t just tie in with Windows Phone devices, but will also work with both iPhones and Android smartphones."
Apple's WWDC next week should prove interesting, one way or another
"Apple’s move into the smart home isn’t actually the grand experience I had hoped for. Instead, it is a much simpler program that will basically certify a bunch of connected devices on the market or set to be launched as products that are certified under the Made for iPhone label.Here’s how Apple’s smart home program will work — Tech News and Analysis
My sources, who spoke only on background because of their involvement or knowledge of the program, explain that the smart home effort will have a heavy focus on connecting devices easily via Wi-Fi and will likely offer voice control via Bluetooth as well. However, it won’t have some sort of software-based automation layer controlled by Apple that supersedes the original apps."
A major milestone for big data platforms
"The Apache Software Foundation has announced the first production-ready release of Spark, analysis software that could speed jobs that run on the Hadoop data-processing platform.Apache lights a fire under Hadoop with Spark | PCWorld
Dubbed the “Hadoop Swiss Army knife,” Apache Spark provides the ability to create data-analysis jobs that can run 100 times faster than those running on the standard Apache Hadoop MapReduce."
Meanwhile, Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wins Clippers bidding war for $2 billion (LA Times)
"On Thursday Microsoft Corp. and salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) announced a strategic partnership to create new solutions that connect salesforce.com’s customer relationship management (CRM) apps and platform to Microsoft Office and Windows so customers can be more productive. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.Microsoft and salesforce.com announce global, strategic partnership
“We are excited to partner with salesforce.com and help customers thrive in a mobile and cloud-first world,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “Working together we’ll deliver new solutions that connect the customer insights of Salesforce to the cloud productivity of Office 365, the cloud platform of Azure and the mobility of Windows, so our customers can do more.”"
Not a great PR week for Apple's cloud services; also see The Flaws of Apple’s iMessage (NYT)
"Judging from the complaints, it seems that the mystery perpetrator (or perpetrators) is logging into some users’ iCloud accounts from the Web, then engaging the “Find My iPhone” feature to lock devices remotely. The feature allows you to display a message, hence the ransom notes. People who have a passcode lock engaged can unlock their devices and turn off “Find My iPhone,” but those who don’t have a passcode are locked out of their systems. (This article from the Sydney Morning Herald has a good recap of what’s going on.)Pop-Up Ransom Notes Hit Some iPhone and iPad Owners - Digits - WSJ
Apple said there’s been no breach of its iCloud service—meaning hackers haven’t obtained usernames and passwords from Apple’s systems. It is possible that people’s iPhones, iPads and Macs could be compromised if their usernames and passwords were obtained through phishing scams, or if they use the same log-in credentials at another online service that was breached."
The Google video quality report also makes it easy to compare providers in your area
"In its war against slow Internet speeds, Google now wants to arm customers with information about how well or poorly their service providers are performing.YouTube Rates Internet Service Provider Speeds - Digits - WSJ
The company’s YouTube division on Thursday for the first time rated U.S. Internet service providers in its “Video Quality Report,” giving people the ability to compare how well the services are delivering YouTube’s videos."
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Microsoft is probably very pleased with this report
"This year, as with last year, AWS is as far to the right and near the top of the top right square, joined by Microsoft significantly below and slightly to the left of it.Amazon's cloud reign may soon come to an end, says Gartner • The Register
"Azure has been consistently mentioned as the number two vendor in client calls since last September," explained Gartner analyst Lydia Leong in an email to El Reg.
Google, which has released a set of services designed to compete with both Amazon's and Microsoft's clouds, has beamed into third place.
In the middle sit typical providers like IBM, CSC, CenturyLink, Terremark, Rackspace, VMware, and Virtustream.
The lower left contains GoGrid in dead last place, followed by Joyent, Dimension Data, Fujitsu, and HP. HP recently committed a billion dollars to upgrading its cloud efforts."
Check the link below for extensive excerpts
"Mobile is taking over the web. KPCB venture capitalist Mary Meeker has revealed in her newly published Internet Trends 2014 report that mobile data traffic rose 81% year over year, and mobile usage now makes up 25% of total web usage. Smartphones are still on the rise -- now representing 30% of all mobile phones -- but tablets are seeing the most growth: With 2013 tablet shipments up 52% from the year before, the devices are growing faster than PCs ever did.Tablets Growing Faster Than PCs Ever Did: Mary Meeker's 2014 Internet Trends | LinkedIn
Meeker, a former Morgan Stanley analyst also known as the Queen of the Internet, presented these findings and more in her much-anticipated annual report on the future of technology at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. Wednesday morning."
Adding to the long list of things fumbled by Xerox
"Sun would go on to dominate the workstation computer industry and later servers until it fell on hard times after the dot-com collapse. Mr. Bechtolsheim’s acknowledgement of the PARC influence underscores the impact that the research center’s technology had on the computer industry.Even Sun Microsystems Had Its Roots at Xerox PARC - NYTimes.com
The tales of Mr. Jobs’ visit and Mr. Simonyi’s departure to Microsoft are well known, but Mr. Bechtolsheim, who would go on to found a number of other companies including Granite Systems, Kealia Inc., and Arista Networks, and would who would become an early investor in Google, has not previously spoken about the role that being at PARC played in his early design work."
Strange days indeed
"I’m dialed into a different kind of gossip show, served up by Whisper and Secret, two free online services where people reveal everything but their names. Here the conversations are bawdy, tear-stained, hilarious — and incognito. Soldiers gripe about Afghanistan, wives snipe at their husbands, children fret about their aging parents.Anonymous apps tell the unvarnished truth - Business - The Boston Globe
Beneath a curtain of anonymity, millions of Whisper and Secret users boldly say the unsayable, while millions of others look on with astonished, shame-faced delight. The experience may not be altogether noble, but it’s certainly addictive."
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Leading by example (check the full post for details including carbon offset procurement)
"What do you get if you cross 60 trillion unique URLs, 100 billion monthly search queries, 4.8 million active applications on Google Cloud Platform, and 6.3 trillion monthly operations in Cloud Datastore? One massively scalable global infrastructure, and yet a zero carbon footprint. That is, if you do it the Google way."Google Cloud Platform Blog: Sustainability & the Cloud: Creating a greener internet
Final paragraph of a Nate Silver reality check
"The closest thing to a solution is to remain appropriately skeptical, perhaps especially when the research finding is agreeable to you. A lot of apparently damning critiques prove to be less so when you assume from the start that data analysis and empirical research, like other forms of intellectual endeavor, are not free from human error. Nonetheless, once the dust settles, it seems likely that both Piketty and Giles will have moved us toward an improved understanding of wealth inequality and its implications."Be Skeptical of Both Piketty And His Skeptics | FiveThirtyEight
Not yet the best of both (tablet and laptop) worlds
"Yes, Microsoft is confident that—with a larger, higher-resolution 12-inch HD screen, new keyboard, improved kickstand and $799 starting price—its new Surface Pro 3 tablet can replace not my iPad, but my beloved 13-inch MacBook Air.Microsoft Surface Pro 3: A Tablet That Desperately Wants To Be a Laptop - WSJ.com
So I tested that claim. For the last week, my laptop has lived under my bed as I've spent my waking life with the Pro 3. On its third attempt, Microsoft has leapt forward in bringing the tablet and laptop together—and bringing the laptop into the future. But the Pro 3 also suffers from the Surface curse: You still make considerable compromises for getting everything in one package."
Truly driverless cars
"The company has begun building a fleet of 100 experimental electric-powered vehicles that will dispense with all the standard controls found in modern automobiles. The two-seat vehicle looks a bit like the ultracompact Fiat 500 or the Mercedes-Benz Smart car if you take out the steering wheel, gas pedal, brake and gear shift. The only things the driver controls is a red “e-stop” button for panic stops and a separate start button. The car would be summoned with a smartphone application. It would pick up a passenger and automatically drive to a destination selected on a smartphone app without any human intervention."Google’s Next Phase in Driverless Cars: No Brakes or Steering Wheel - NYTimes.com
Check here (pdf) for the full report
"The practices of data brokers have been described in news articles and in a few previous government reports, including one by the staff of the Senate Commerce Committee last December. But experts say the F.T.C.’s report, the conclusion of an 18-month investigation, is the most detailed and authoritative portrait to date.New Curbs Sought on the Personal Data Industry - NYTimes.com
“For many Americans, this is going to be eye-opening,” said David C. Vladeck, a professor of law at Georgetown University and former senior F.T.C. official. “This is a very strong call to Congress to get something done.”"
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
In other smart home speculation
"Google’s Nest division is plotting a move into the home-security market and has considered acquiring connected camera-maker Dropcam to accelerate the push, according to several people close to Google.Google Eyes Home Security, Dropcam - The Information
The status of any talks between Google and Dropcam, which makes a $150 camera that streams footage to phones and computers, isn’t clear. Spokespeople for both companies did not respond to requests for comment."
Expect to see a lot of Apple speculation over the next 6 days
"Apple is readying a new software platform that would turn the iPhone into a remote control for lights, security systems and other household appliances, as part of a move into the “internet of things”.Apple sees the light in push for Jetsons-style home automation - FT.com
Apple plans to take on rivals Google and Samsung and make a “big play” in the world of smart home technology at its Worldwide Developer Conference on June 2 in San Francisco, according to people familiar with the matter."
Monday, May 26, 2014
From a Medium profile
"When he stepped aside as chief executive of Twitter in 2010, Mr. Williams wanted to get back into blogging and found the tools creaky and insufficient. His is not an uninformed opinion. Before he started Twitter, he developed and sold the blogging software Blogger to Google. His entire career has been built on creating tools that let people make their thoughts public.A Platform and Blogging Tool, Medium Charms Writers - NYTimes.com
“It feels like these blogging tools haven’t really evolved in a decade,” he said. “When I looked at that, I thought, ‘Do I really want to get into this again? Am I just stuck in a rut?’ I did some investing and incubating, but came back around to this as what I wanted to do.”"
Friday, May 23, 2014
Strava begins selling your data points, and no, you can't opt-out | Apple news, reviews and how-to's since 2004 [TUAW]
Check the full article and this Strava page for more details
"Strava (free) is an extremely popular running and biking app on iPhone, and has long been at or near the top of the fitness app charts. Along with its apps on other platforms including Android and even personal GPS devices, the company has pooled a whole lot of data about your running and cycling habits, which it recently used to create a stunning map of exercise routes around the world. Now the company is using that data as a product of its own, called Strava Metro."Strava begins selling your data points, and no, you can't opt-out | Apple news, reviews and how-to's since 2004
Facebook’s product guy is right, the media sucks — but journalists are also right: Facebook has to share the blame — Tech News and Analysis [GigaOM]
Final paragraphs from a timely media-and-Facebook reality check
"In the end, Hudack and his critics seem to be interested in the same thing: namely, promoting better journalism. But neither one seems to know how to get there — especially when the business model for most media companies still relies on eyeball-based, click-driven metrics, and when many users (particularly the ones on Facebook) would much rather click to see a photo of a cute puppy than they would read a long and informative post on political corruption.Facebook’s product guy is right, the media sucks — but journalists are also right: Facebook has to share the blame — Tech News and Analysis
Can Facebook help solve that problem? I’m not convinced that it can, even if it does try to tweak its algorithm — all that does is turn it into something resembling an old-fashioned newspaper, and we know how things have worked out for them. In many ways, both the media and Facebook (which is a media company itself in many ways) are chasing human nature, because that’s what pays the bills. And until that changes, not much else will."
Final paragraphs of an extensive Surface Pro 3 review by David Pogue; I'm guessing the Microsoft product managers were pretty pleased with the review until they got to "There is one solitary time when Windows 8’s split personality is not a disaster, though, and this is it. The Surface is the one machine (so far) where Windows 8 makes sense."
"But if you own or carry around both a tablet and a laptop, then the Surface is calling out your name. There’s nothing like it.Smart, Versatile Surface Pro 3 Can Do It All — Maybe Even Lift the Windows 8 Curse
It’s so much better than the sales figures would indicate. We, the buying public, are not giving it a fair shake.
If this marvel of engineering doesn’t lift the Microsoft hardware curse, I don’t know what its designers are supposed to do. Maybe join a self-help group with Cassandra and Sisyphus."
Panera founder/chairman/CEO Ron Shaich on restaurants + technology
"Where will it go next? Literally anywhere — Domino’s customers who drive a Ford can order a pizza through their vehicle’s “sync” app. And don’t think for a second that everyone in the restaurant business didn’t take notice when Amazon’s drone delivery efforts came to light.The Tech Revolution Is Coming to a Restaurant Near You | Re/code
The industry has come a long way from the days when Wi-Fi availability was enough to distinguish a concept as digitally relevant. In fact, a real technology platform, along with its supporting infrastructure and inherent costs, has become the ante to operate a national concept today. However, when digital advantage is supported by operational excellence — to actually fulfill the promise of the technology — the integrated offering holds the power to change the customer experience, and thus, the industry."
Perhaps HP will rebound by selling $99 Android tablets
"The company just said it expects to lay off more people. Job cuts announced in 2012, which was to top out at 34,000 jobs, will be increased by between 11,000 and 16,000 jobs. That will push the upper end of the range of jobs eliminated since Meg Whitman took over as CEO to an even 50,000.HP Shares Fall on Light Results; Plans to Cut up to 16,000 More Jobs | Re/code
HP’s profit on a per-share basis was 88 cents on revenue of $27.3 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had projected a profit of 88 cents a share on revenue of $27.4 billion.
In a statement, Whitman said the turnaround effort she undertook when she stepped into the CEO role in 2011 “remains on track.”"
And, real soon now, "write once, run anywhere" is going to come to fruition
Computer History Museum | Exhibits | This Day in History: May 23 1994
"Sun Microsystems Inc. formally announced its new programs, Java and HotJava at the SunWorld '95 convention. Java was described as a programming language that, combined with the HotJava World Wide Web browser, offered the best universal operating system to the online community. The concept behind the programs was to design a programming language whose applications would be available to a user with any kind of operating system, eliminating the problems of translation between Macintoshes, IBM-compatible computers, and Unix machines."(But apparently it was 1995, not 1994)
Computer History Museum | Exhibits | This Day in History: May 23 1994
From an overview of recent Facebook privacy-related changes
"For most of its 10-year history, Facebook has pushed and sometimes forced its users to share more information more publicly, drawing fire from customers, regulators and privacy advocates across the globe. That helped make Facebook the world’s largest social network and an advertising behemoth.Some Privacy, Please? Facebook, Under Pressure, Gets the Message - NYTimes.com
But the company recently concluded that its growth depended on customers feeling more confident that they were sharing intimate details of their lives with only the right people."
Final paragraph from a hypertext history lesson
"Alternative history is a fool’s game. The Web is what it is, and Bush undoubtedly deserves his place as one of its avatars. But we might do well to remember that history rarely runs in a straight line; it is littered with false starts and dead ends. Sometimes the best path forward lies in taking a few steps back, or sideways. By exploring some of these abandoned paths, perhaps we will yet discover that the Web is not quite such a fait accompli as we may think."The Secret History of Hypertext - Alex Wright - The Atlantic
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Excerpt from an extensive IBM reality check
"The cold-sweat scenario for IBM is that it does catch up to Amazon and other cloud providers—only to find that competition has driven margins toward zero. In March a price war broke out among Amazon, Google (GOOG), and Microsoft, as each announced cuts of as much as 35 percent on computing; 65 percent on storage; and 85 percent on other services. Rometty has made two promises to investors: to lead corporate IT into the cloud and to deliver lustrously thick margins. Those goals may be irreconcilable, as long as IBM faces competitors willing to make the cloud a place of ever-diminishing returns. In a March 25 blog post that surely sent shivers through Armonk, Google declared that cloud pricing should follow Moore’s law, falling as the cost of hardware inevitably declines."IBM's EPS Target Unhelpful Amid Cloud Computing Challenges - Businessweek
Smaller Surface sightings; interesting to see OneNote, stigmatized by its close association with Microsoft's original Tablet PC, perhaps having a pivotal role in Surface's future market potential
"Since the Surface mini was delayed again, here's what you're missing out on: A 3:2 device with an 8-inch screen that almost perfectly mimics the iPad mini, multiple color choices, the same deep OneNote integration and electromagnetic pen that Microsoft has built into Surface Pro 3, and a click-in cover with a kickstand, but no keyboard.Microsoft Launches Larger Surface Pro 3 | Paul Thurrotts WinInfo content from Windows IT Pro:
I've already written a quick preview of Surface Pro 3 on the SuperSite for Windows, but I'll be writing a lot more about this intriguing device today and in the days ahead, so stay tuned."
A new automatic oversharing option
"The company said it will soon introduce a mobile feature that can identify the music you’re listening to or TV show you’re watching while you’re posting on Facebook from your smartphone.Facebook Shazams Itself | Re/code
When you turn the option on, your smartphone will detect the sound in your environment while you’re tapping away a message or uploading pictures or videos from your iOS or Android device. So if you’re cranking Slayer’s “Reign in Blood” on your speaker system, Facebook will recognize that, and you’ll be able to include as much in your status update."
Check the Pure Wikipedia article for additional details
"And last Thursday Pure released a new set of products that Dietzen says fills out a portfolio that can now go toe-to-toe with pretty much everything in the EMC arsenal. Pure’s main target is EMC’s VMax line of storage equipment. Pure’s product is 10 times faster than what EMC has, he says, and cheaper to operate over the long run. “You save so much on power that you get the storage for free.”Upstart Pure Storage Takes Aim at Giant EMC | Re/code
Pure’s secret sauce is a technology called de-duplication. In enterprise storage, data gets copied and recopied many times over. Imagine a big filing cabinet with 50 copies of each document scattered around in different folders. Practically speaking, you really only need one. That means the filing cabinet doesn’t have to be so big, nor as complex. Another thing Pure does well is compression, shrinking data files down to a more manageable size."
Skilled shoppers at your service
"What’s more, traditional grocery delivery services are costly to set up, requiring warehouses to store perishable food, a fleet of custom-painted trucks for delivery and a staff of full- or part-time workers to package and deliver the orders. “We were the clowns who invested in WebVan, and we are only just getting out of therapy from that,” Mr. Moritz said, referring to the first boom’s spectacular grocery flameout.Grocery Deliveries in Sharing Economy - NYTimes.com
Instacart does not maintain warehouses or trucks. Instead, the service is assembled out of found parts — existing supermarkets, willing part-time workers and their cars. The model has many advantages. It creates vast selection for customers by allowing them to shop at many different stores, from large chains to specialty shops like San Francisco’s worker-owned, vegan-friendly Rainbow Co-Op. It allows for extremely quick delivery too, including an option that will deliver your groceries in under an hour."
Probably not encouraging to people who bought in near Twitter's 52-week high of $74.73
"Investors have worried about Twitter’s growth prospects ever since the company went public in November. Until last month Twitter had reported four consecutive quarters of slowing user growth, and even when it stemmed that slide in the first quarter it wasn’t enough to impress investors. Its stock fell 10%. Costolo said in a call then that he was happy with the user growth.Twitter Still Believes in Itself, Costolo Tells Shareholders - Digits - WSJ
Twitter’s stock hit a low of $30.66 earlier this month when the expiration of the six-month “lockup” freed holders of 83% of shares outstanding. The stock closed today at $31.62, well below the IPO opening price of $45.10."
Gaining market and mind share
"According to the market research company NPD, up to 25 percent of all the low-cost laptops sold in the United States are Chromebooks. Chromebooks have overtaken Apple’s MacBooks for No. 2 in laptop sales. Google said they had been deployed in nearly 10,000 schools in the United States. Besides market share, Microsoft and Apple have reason to fear the Chromebook because every new user (except for students using a school account) automatically becomes a Google customer."Chromebooks Win Buyers Ready to Live in the Cloud - NYTimes.com
A timely market snapshot
"The practice of online stain removal is called “reputation management.” Dozens of companies offer the service to individuals and businesses who spend thousands of dollars a month protecting their digital good names. You and I can manage on a lot less. Indeed, a lot of the best reputation management moves will cost you nothing."Your online story, told your way - Business - The Boston Globe
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Final paragraph of the latest Wired issue cover story
"The hardware problems have been solved, the production lines are almost open, and the Rift will be here soon. After that it’s anybody’s guess. “I’ve written 2 million lines of code over the past 20 years, and now I’m starting from a blank page,” Carmack says. “But the sense that I’m helping build the future right now is palpable.”"The Inside Story of Oculus Rift and How Virtual Reality Became Reality | Gadget Lab | WIRED
Because Chuck E. Cheese wasn't already sufficiently surreal
"Some lucky kids will soon be able to test the virtual reality headgear made by recent Facebook (FB) acquisition Oculus Rift while surrounded by cheap pizza and singing robotic animals.Oculus Rift to bring virtual reality to Chuck E. Cheese - Fortune Tech
Chuck E. Cheese's, the restaurant and entertainment chain "Where a kid can be a kid," said Tuesday the headset will be part of a new Virtual Ticket Blaster Experience birthday package that will be available in select markets for a six-week trial-run starting this week. The package adapts the chain's normal Ticket Blaster experience – wherein the birthday boy or girl goes into a booth and attempts to grab as many falling gaming tickets as possible – in virtual reality."
I have also seen speculation suggesting Windows RT is finished and that the mini Surface will run the next version of full Windows. In the meantime, Office for iPad works quite well...
"The Surface team felt the smaller device was not ready, in large part because of software issues, this person said. Microsoft has not completed a version of its Office applications for touch-screen devices running the company’s Windows operating system. Microsoft was concerned that the current Office applications would be difficult to operate on a Surface with a small screen, the person said. A version made for Apple devices has already been released."Microsoft Enlarges Surface’s Screen So It Can Be Used for Work, Too - NYTimes.com
Another take on Surface Pro 3
"Microsoft (MSFT) has never been able to get its Surface to muster much excitement, even as tablets from its competitors were taking over the world. Now it’s back with a new version of the Surface, and the challenge seems doubly difficult given that people appear to be losing their general enthusiasm for tablets."A Tablet Too Late: Microsoft’s New Surface Greets a Slowing Market - Businessweek
A multifaceted big bet for Microsoft
"Microsoft officials, including Mr. Nadella on Tuesday, say homegrown devices like the Surface are the best showcase for Microsoft software like Office, Skype and digital file-storage service OneDrive.Microsoft Introduces a Larger-Screen Surface Tablet - WSJ.com
"We are not building hardware for hardware's sake," Mr. Nadella said during a brief appearance at the Surface event. "We want to build experiences that bring together all the capabilities of our company.""
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Meanwhile, as YouTube is rumored to be acquiring a game-streaming/viewing company...
Twitter Is Considering a Deal to Buy SoundCloud | Re/code
"Twitter may try to buy its way out of its growth problem by making another move into music.Update also from Re/code: Twitter Walks Away From SoundCloud Deal
The company is considering a deal to acquire SoundCloud, the music and audio-sharing company, according to people familiar with both companies.
Berlin-based SoundCloud is a free service that lets users upload and share audio files around the Web; it likes to describe itself as the “YouTube for audio.” In October 2013, the company announced that it had 250 million users."
Twitter Is Considering a Deal to Buy SoundCloud | Re/code
See the full post for more on Gnome ("pronounced GEE-nome")
"Today, the company is introducing an iPad-based checkout system that it expects tens of thousands of businesses that run a Groupon promotion to use.Groupon to Replace All of Its Merchants’ Cash Registers with iPads | Re/code
The system includes, among other things, software that lets businesses track cash and credit and debit card transactions, an iPad to replace a cash register and a tool that will allow a shop’s customers to redeem a Groupon voucher by simply telling a cashier their name at checkout. Customers who have downloaded Groupon’s app and have Bluetooth turned on on their phone will have their discount recognized automatically upon entering a specific store."
The Michael Stonebraker data-focused start-up company count goes to nine
"In a blog post on why he’s joining Tamr as CEO, Palmer says the company aims to turn raw data sources into “high octane information fuel” for making better decisions. He describes Tamr as a “data curation” startup, creating detailed maps of all the data sources at a company, and working with providers of visualization tools to display them. Tamr’s software does some of the work to annotate the information in a database — for instance, understanding that a particular field contains information about the customer’s latest purchase. But it also can enlist the help of human “data stewards,” employees who are knowledgable about a particular database, to describe fields that it is confused about."Tamr, formerly Data Tamer, wants to help map a company’s data sources | BetaBoston
"Social sharing is powerful enough to topple dictatorships and profitable enough to merit multibillion-dollar investments. But scientists are only beginning to explore the psychological motivations that turn a link into “click bait” and propel a piece of content to Internet fame.Why That Video Went Viral - NYTimes.com
Their research may have significant implications for the media and advertising businesses, whose profits hinge on winning the cutthroat race for the attention of Internet users worldwide. Already, some notions of the ingredients in this modern alchemy are beginning to emerge."
Also see With Spy Charges, U.S. Draws a Line That Few Others Recognize (NYT)
"The Justice Department today announced the indictment of five Chinese military hackers for online spying against U.S. steel, nuclear power, and solar companies, marking the first charges of this kind by the U.S. against another state.U.S. Charges Five Chinese Military Hackers With Online Spying - Businessweek
The U.S. charges that the five conspired to break into the computers of major U.S. companies, including Alcoa, and steal trade secrets that provided competitive advantage to Chinese state-owned companies, according to an indictment unsealed today in the Western District of Pennsylvania."
"Video games have always been about participation, engagement and interaction. People watch television. They play video games.With Twitch Acquisition Talks, Validation of Games as Spectator Sport - NYTimes.com
But it turns out video games, for a lot of people, are pretty compelling to watch, too.
I see this in my own young children, who derive as much pleasure from watching YouTube videos of people playing Minecraft as they do from playing the game. Most of the videos consist of a narrator with a bubbly personality, who acts as a kind of tour guide for an array of virtual worlds and gets tripped up by various mishaps."
Monday, May 19, 2014
Apple and Samsung have Reportedly Resumed Working Level Discussions to End their Patent War - Patently Apple
"Sources close to the matter have stated that "Samsung has recently resumed working-level discussions with Apple and the key issue is how to dismiss all lawsuits. More time will be needed to fix terms of details such as royalty payments in return for using patents owned by each before reaching a full agreement."Apple and Samsung have Reportedly Resumed Working Level Discussions to End their Patent War - Patently Apple
Google has been consistent in helping Samsung over legal counseling, while promising to pay monetary damages. So with Google making peace with Apple, there may have been a signal to Samsung to end the patent infringement cases. Some think it could come to a close by the end of the summer and that it wouldn't necessarily have to agree on a comprehensive cross-license."
Interesting times in the gaming business
"Twitch is said to believe that Google can help the company become what it wants to be — the definitive platform for watching and streaming live video gaming. The company raised $20 million from investors in 2013 and is likely to turn a profit this year. But capital isn't enough to allow Twitch to scale its technology and infrastructure to keep pace with its growth. It had plenty of offers from venture capitalists looking to give it more money, said the person, but what it needs is a partner that can help it handle massive amounts of live and user-generated video on a global scale. Despite not being well known beyond gaming circles, Twitch already pushes more traffic during its peak hours than titans like Facebook and Amazon. "To be quite honest, we can't keep up with the growth," Twitch marketing VP Matt DiPietro told The Verge last year, adding "That's a good problem to have.""Twitch chooses Google over Microsoft amid multiple buyout offers | The Verge
Degree of substance tbd
"“Apple and Google have agreed to dismiss all the current lawsuits that exist directly between the two companies,” Apple and Google said in a joint statement. “Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform. The agreement does not include a cross license.”"Apple, Google Settle Motorola Patent Dispute But Broader Issues Remain | Re/code
A busy regulatory review season ahead
"By acquiring the country’s biggest satellite television operator, AT&T would gain more clout in negotiating with media companies as it increasingly focuses on video offerings. Through the deal, AT&T would become the country’s second-biggest pay TV provider, behind only Comcast. AT&T has about 5.7 million TV customers through its U-verse service, while the satellite TV operator has about 20.3 million customers in the United States."AT&T to Buy DirecTV for $48.5 Billion in Move to Expand Clout - NYTimes.com
Friday, May 16, 2014
Ruh roh. Rackspace brings Morgan Stanley aboard to evaluate its options — Tech News and Analysis [GigaOM]
Perhaps more cloud consolidation ahead
"As Amazon, Google and Microsoft traded cloud price cuts in the past few months, you really had to wonder how Rackspace– with its high-touch (and pricier) service model could compete. All of those companies dwarf Rackspace in size and resources. Now it’s clear Rackspace is wondering too and has hired Morgan Stanley to help chart its course."Ruh roh. Rackspace brings Morgan Stanley aboard to evaluate its options — Tech News and Analysis
Who Has Your Back 2014: Protecting Your Data From Government Requests | Electronic Frontier Foundation
A revealing report
"In this fourth-annual report, EFF examines the publicly-available policies of major Internet companies—including Internet service providers, email providers, mobile communications tools, telecommunications companies, cloud storage providers, location-based services, blogging platforms, and social networking sites—to assess whether they publicly commit to standing with users when the government seeks access to user data. The purpose of this report is to allow users to make informed decisions about the companies with whom they do business. It is also designed to incentivize companies to adopt best practices, be transparent about how data flows to the government, and to take a stand for their users’ privacy in Congress and in the courts whenever it is possible to do so."Who Has Your Back 2014: Protecting Your Data From Government Requests | Electronic Frontier Foundation
Check this NYT page for an index of What’s Next for Net Neutrality? opinions
"Federal regulators appear to share one view about so-called net neutrality: It is a good thing.F.C.C. Backs Opening Net Rules for Debate - NYTimes.com
But defining net neutrality? That is where things get messy.
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to open for public debate new rules meant to guarantee an open Internet. Before the plan becomes final, though, the chairman of the commission, Tom Wheeler, will need to convince his colleagues and an array of powerful lobbying groups that the plan follows the principle of net neutrality, the idea that all content running through the Internet’s pipes is treated equally."
$764M invested so far; revenue model tbd
"Pinterest still makes little revenue, yet the scrapbooking site’s value is soaring in the eyes of venture capitalists.Pinterest Is Now Valued at $5 Billion, Despite Little Revenue - Digits - WSJ
The company said Thursday it raised a $200 million investment that values it at $5 billion, making Pinterest one of the most valuable venture-capital backed startups in the world."
A 27-hour nightmare for some Adobe customers
"The downtime is a blow for Adobe, which has based its new business model on strong-arming its customers into cloud-connected subscriptions. It nixed the boxed retail version of its Creative Suite graphics apps last May – including Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and InDesign, among others – and said that all future versions would be available for rental only.Graphics pros left hanging as Adobe Creative Cloud outage nears 24 hours • The Register
But although Adobe is adept at creating industry-leading creative software, it hasn't demonstrated much acumen as a provider of online services. At one point, its cloud storage services failed to sync users' files for two whole weeks, and a data breach in October is believed to have leaked the encrypted passwords for as many as 38 million customers."
Thursday, May 15, 2014
For additional context-setting, see Photos of an NSA “upgrade” factory show Cisco router getting implant (Ars Technica)
"Today’s security challenges are real and significant. We want governments to detect and disrupt terrorist networks before they inflict harm on our society, our citizens, and our systems of government. We also want to live in countries that respect their citizens’ basic human rights. The tension between security and freedom has become one the most pressing issues of our day. Societies wracked by terror cannot be truly free, but an overreaching government can also undermine freedom.Internet Security Necessary for Global Technology Economy
It is in this context that I want to offer some thoughts on actions by the US Government that in Cisco’s eyes have overreached, undermining the goals of free communication, and steps that can be taken to right that balance, and I do so on behalf of all of Cisco’s leadership team."
Article summary: "Elon Musk wants a ticket to Mars to cost $500,000. For those left behind, he'll have a cheap electric car for you."
"You and I aren’t going to Mars anytime soon, but if and when a base is established on the Red Planet one day, Elon Musk wants a ticket there to cost about what you’d pay for a California home. In other words, about $500,000.Get to Mars by Selling All Your Earthly Possessions - Todd Woody - The Atlantic
"From a ticket price perspective, we’ve got to get the ticket price down to the point where enough people can afford to go to Mars if they sell all their stuff on Earth,” said Musk Wednesday during the World Energy Innovation Forum confab at Tesla Motors factory in Fremont, California, which formerly churned out cars for General Motors and Toyota."
Check here for the full Pew report summary
"In a world where objects are connected to the Internet, you could imagine one sock emailing the other to say it fell behind the dryer, your car would know when your carburetor is acting up and automatically set up an appointment with your mechanic to fix the issue, or the buttons on your shirt could be heart monitors that notify your doctor if you’re not feeling well.Some Predictions About the Internet of Things and Wearable Tech From Pew Research - NYTimes.com
In the Pew survey, some of the predictions went beyond just wearable gadgets — like today’s Google Glass and Jawbone Up — and predicted people owning technologies that would be embedded in their bodies."
A booming broker business
"LiveRamp, which has been an Acxiom partner for the last two years, has technology that powers the cookies used by many of those startups. It specializes in what’s known as “data onboarding,” helping firms take data about consumers from the physical world and use it to target them online and smartphones. In effect, LiveRamp identifies that a person using a Web browser in the morning is the same person using a smartphone in the evening.Data Broker Acxiom Moves to Tie Physical World to Online Data - Digits - WSJ
In an interview, Acxiom CEO Scott Howe described the deal as part of move by Acxiom to become a hub for all consumer data. He has previously said he hopes the firm will become “a Switzerland” of the data-broker industry, setting standards for how to collect and manage the data."
Final paragraphs from another Internet regulation reality check; also see Google’s Schmidt Says Europe Court Struck Wrong Balance in Privacy Case (WSJ)
"Whatever the solution, the status quo is no longer stable. In the wake of the decision by the European Court of Justice, search engine companies now face a potential avalanche of requests for redaction. And whatever the merits of the court’s decision, Europe cannot expect to export its new approach to countries like the United States. (Even in Europe, search engine users will no doubt cultivate the same Internet “workarounds” that Chinese citizens use to see what their government doesn’t want them to see.)Don’t Force Google to ‘Forget’ - NYTimes.com
Google, Bing and Yahoo should devote their considerable resources to mitigating this problem. If they don’t, search engine results may become increasingly dependent on where your keyboard is, rather than what you’re looking for. And the search engines may find themselves in a cat-and-mouse game of censorship and evasion, leading only to a fragmentation, not an improvement, of the web."
Difficult digital delivery dilemmas
"The Net neutrality debate obscures the real problem: no competition. If there were three or four nationwide broadband providers, none would dare abuse their power.A rising tide of Internet regulation - Business - The Boston Globe
What’s really needed are incentives for newcomers like Google to bring its superfast Google Fiber network into more cities. It could also make sense for states and cities to build backbone networks, then lease them to private businesses, similar to what’s going on in Western Massachusetts. Until we get more Internet options, we may have to choose between overly broad federal regulation or overwhelming corporate greed."
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Probably too late for Microsoft to sue Apple for cloning the Windows 1.0 non-overlapping windows design...
"iOS 8 is likely to supercharge the functionality of Apple’s iPad with a new split-screen multitasking feature, according to sources with knowledge of the enhancement in development. These people say that the feature will allow iPad users to run and interact with two iPad applications at once. Up until now, each iPad application either developed by Apple or available on the App Store is only usable individually in a full-screen view."Apple plans to match Microsoft Surface with split-screen iPad multitasking in iOS 8 | 9to5Mac
A major Evernote milestone; see the full post for user base details by Evernote product and region
"There are two ways to look at this. On the one hand, there are more than 100 million people whose lives have been touched, even a little bit, by something we made. On the other hand, there are still about 7 billion people who’ve never used any Evernote product."We Have 100 Million People to Thank - Evernote Blog
Another encouraging example of Microsoft market pragmatism; also see Microsoft Had No Choice but to Yank Kinect From Xbox One (Wired)
"The new package is a big rollback for Microsoft, which had previously insisted that Kinect was essential to the Xbox experience. Initially, the One console wouldn't work without Kinect attached, although Redmond rolled back that "feature" just before the launch after privacy concerns were raised.Microsoft throws Kinetic under a bus, slashes Xbox One to $399 • The Register
You can still buy the full Xbox One package with a Kinect controller for the standard price of $499, but by offering a cheaper version Microsoft can at least compete head-to-head with the Sony PlayStation 4 on price. Xbox sales have been lagging behind Sony's worldwide, and the Japanese firm is spanking Redmond's console in the US market that Xbox considers its own, and it's clear this gap has some in Microsoft management worried."
Predictive home project analytics
"There are many websites that try to connect people to service providers who will come fix up their homes: Thumbtack, Handybook, Redbeacon (bought by Home Depot), Porch.com, TaskRabbit.From Former Amazon Execs, Pro.com Tells You How Much That Home Project Will Cost | Re/code
A new one, Pro.com, promises it’ll tell you how much the job will cost before you even commit to talking to a service provider.
Pro.com was founded by a team of former Amazon execs who worked on products like Amazon Marketplace and Amazon Fresh. The team is led by former Digg CEO Matt Williams and backed by his former Amazon boss, Jeff Bezos."
Anyone surprised by this might benefit from reading A Short History of Financial Euphoria
"A bubble of press interest in bitcoin lagged the boom. The number of media mentions kept rising even as bitcoin prices fell, peaking at 14,198 articles in March, according to a search of the Factiva database. But the media has also started to cool. Mentions fell by half in April.Bitcoin’s Media Sparkle Fades - Digits - WSJ
[...] The question now is whether interest will perk up again if bitcoin prices turn volatile. Or is media coverage normalizing as the cryptocurrency becomes part of the new global furniture?"
Check here for some product snapshots
"It shouldn't surprise anyone that smartphones are transforming the bike ride. The minuscule sensors in my iPhone can tell me things that, not long ago, would have required expensive equipment and wires dangling from my bicycle. But it's not just about apps. Bikes (and cyclists) provide ample real estate to strap or glue on just about any type of contraption you can imagine, and tech companies are racing to fill every bare patch of carbon fiber or skin."High-Tech Test Ride: Cycling Gear With Brains - WSJ.com
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Off to a strong start
"In just over a month, Office for iPad has picked up another 15 million downloads of its applications. Microsoft reported 12 million downloads in early April, and 27 million today.Office For iPad Apps Have Racked Up 27M Downloads In 46 Days | TechCrunch
That’s a massive figure. The apps have been out for 46 days, implying an average daily download rate of 587,000. It will be interesting to see where that number rests in another month — how much of pent-up demand has been met isn’t clear."
Final paragraphs from an overview of IBM's cloud imperative
"Ariel Kelman, vice president for worldwide marketing at the Amazon division, said mainstream corporations like Suncorp Group, an Australian financial services company, and News Corporation, the media company, have begun transferring thousands of their software applications to Amazon’s cloud service.A Closer Look Inside IBM's Cloud Challenge - NYTimes.com
“They’re shutting down entire data centers,” Mr. Kelman said. “That’s the most exciting part of our business.”"
Excerpt from a start-up culture reality check
"On top of this, there’s a widespread tendency to treat failure as a badge of honor: “Fail fast, fail often” is a familiar mantra in Silicon Valley. There’s now a regular FailCon, where people come to hear other entrepreneurs tell about the hard times they endured and about how starting a business and failing actually makes you more likely to succeed in the future. It’s a comforting message, but the evidence suggests that past failure really just predicts future failure. A 2009 study of venture-backed firms found that entrepreneurs who had failed in the past were not much more likely to succeed in new ventures than first-time entrepreneurs were—some eighty per cent of those who had failed before failed again. A later study of more than eight thousand German ventures came to an even grimmer conclusion: founders who had previously failed were more likely to fail than novices."James Surowiecki: The Startup Mass Extinction : The New Yorker
Monday, May 12, 2014
Check the full post for a big data market landscape chart
"Hype, meet reality: A few years into a period of incredible hype, is big data still a thing? While big data is becoming less press worthy, the next couple of years are going to be hugely important for this market, as corporations start moving projects from experimentation to full production. While those deployments will lead to rapidly increasing revenues for some big data vendors, they will also test whether big data can truly deliver on its promise. Meanwhile, the fundamental need for big data technology keeps increasing as the deluge of data keeps accelerating, powered in part by the rapidly emerging Internet-of-things industry."The state of big data in 2014 (chart) | VentureBeat | Business | by Matt Turck, FirstMark Capital
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Activity streams by another name?
"Slack is the latest in a string of startups emerging as part of the tech industry’s assault on e-mail, a front in what might be called the New Work movement. A commonality of these companies, which include Asana, Yammer, and Convo, among others, is that their main architects come from the consumer Web world. For example, Asana, another e-mail substitute service, was started by Facebook (FB) co-founder Dustin Moskovitz. And Slack was started by Stewart Butterfield, who years ago turned a failed video game project into Flickr, the photo-sharing site Yahoo! (YHOO) acquired."To Kill Office E-Mail, Slack Needs to Learn How Non-Geeks Work - Businessweek
From a USA Freedom Act reality check
"As NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker has said, “metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody’s life. If you have enough metadata, you don’t really need content.” When I quoted Baker at a recent debate at Johns Hopkins University, my opponent, General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA, called Baker’s comment “absolutely correct,” and raised him one, asserting, “We kill people based on metadata.”"‘We Kill People Based on Metadata’ by David Cole | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books
Friday, May 09, 2014
Check the PrivacyFix FAQ for more details
"The app makes an estimate on what you're worth to Facebook by using its publicly available shareholder information to determine how much each user in a given country is worth to the social network. Then it either adds or detracts value based on your gender (females are worth more to Facebook than males) and how much you use the platform (number of friends, likes, and posts).PrivacyFix Finds Worth To Facebook, Google - Business Insider
For Google, it measures the number of searches you've done in the past 60 days and compares that figure to the estimates securities analysts have made about how much each search is worth to the company. "
Also see Will a Government Settlement Improve Snapchat’s Privacy? Don’t Count on It
"“There’s a huge disconnect between what we mean when we say anonymity in the colloquial sense and what it means in a technical sense,” said Ms. Boyd, who wrote “It’s Complicated,” a book about technology habits and use.Off the Record in a Chat App? Don’t Be Sure - NYTimes.com
And even Evan Spiegel, one of Snapchat’s founders, seemed to acknowledge as much in an interview.
“Nothing ever goes away on the Internet,” he said."
Thursday, May 08, 2014
In related news, Apple is expected to unveil major iPhone upgrade incentives today
"Samsung now sells two times more smartphones than Apple, largely thanks to the success of Galaxy range.Samsung Electronics replaces mobile design head | Reuters
But the South Korean firm has also been battling patent litigation the world over, with Apple claiming Samsung copied the look and feel of the U.S. firm's mobile products.
The Galaxy S5, which debuted globally last month, has received a lukewarm response from consumers due to its lack of eye-popping hardware innovations, while its plastic case design has been panned by some critics for looking cheap and made out of a conveyor belt. The Wall Street Journal said the gold-colored back cover on the S5 looked like a band-aid."
Difficult days for SAP (and AOL)
"Companies have in recent years shifted how they buy software used to run their business. Applications used to track the flow of deals, hiring and promoting employees, and management of supply chains are increasingly sold as a subscription service by companies like Salesforce.com, Workday and NetSuite. SAP, which has long sold these types of applications in an “on-premise” manner, operating these types of services in local data centers, has in the last three to four years embraced the cloud and acquired several companies in the sector including SuccessFactors and Ariba.SAP Fires Cloud Chief Shawn Price and Realigns Company | Re/code
But SAP has not moved fast enough. Its results have recently suffered as sales of on-premise software have declined faster than sales of cloud-based products have grown. "
From a profile of Amazon's B2B ambitions
"But there’s one thing Bezos hasn’t been talking about: AmazonSupply, an e-commerce site targeting the unsexy but hugely lucrative wholesale and distribution market. His silence is especially surprising as the site has the potential to turn into the most important development in the company’s history since it started selling books. Yet Bezos has uttered only 28 words in public–ever–about AmazonSupply, describing it in passing as “an incredible category” during the company’s 2012 annual meeting."Amazon's Wholesale Slaughter: Jeff Bezos' $8 Trillion B2B Bet
One of several Google health + big data investments
"Google Ventures has made its largest medical software investment yet, providing the bulk of a $130 million financing for Flatiron Health, which aggregates cancer-patient data from a wide variety of sources to help doctors make treatment decisions."Google Ventures Leads $130 Million Round for Flatiron Health - Digits - WSJ
From an unusual less-than-completely-negative Samsung Gear review
"Slim, inexpensive wearables like the ones from Fitbit have proven far more popular than heavy-duty wrist computers like the Neo. The Fit is Samsung’s best bet for a breakout hit, especially if they cut the price. That is a good excuse not to buy one right away.Samsung shifts into second gear - Business - The Boston Globe
And here’s another. Samsung, LG Electronics, and other companies will soon launch devices running a new operating system from Google Inc. called Android Wear. The promo videos suggest that these devices may be a lot more capable than the Gears, with support for such goodies as navigation help via Google Maps. And these Android Wear devices should work with any brand of Android phone."
Wednesday, May 07, 2014
It would also be interesting to know what percentage of (online retailer #1) Amazon's sales are Apple-related
"One big, gaining rival: Apple, which took the No. 2 spot long held by office supply chain Staples.Apple Jumps to Second Place in Online Retail - Corporate Intelligence - WSJ
The iPhone maker notched a 24% increase in online sales to $18.3 billion last year. Part of the increase in Apple’s sales this year came from Internet Retailer’s inclusion of Apple’s online hardware sales for the first time, in addition to the digital sales from its App Store and iTunes.
The rivals share a big advantage — millions of people with credit cards on file and one click away from making a purchase. No wonder Amazon is getting into tablets, phones and TV."
Blurring business boundaries?
"This is arguably the most interesting part of the update, since it represents Google essentially blessing one tech-focused transportation startup over all others. Uber is also a Google Ventures portfolio company, so it begs the question of whether or not this is some kind of sweetheart deal, though Google always maintains its venture arm operates independently from the rest of the organization."Google Maps On Mobile Gets Uber Integration And More | TechCrunch
Final paragraph of a health-focused wearables market snapshot
"If industry forecasts are accurate, we should expect that by 2015 more than 500 million people will use mobile health applications. “Dashboards 24-7,” said Michael Yang of Comcast Ventures when pressed to give his prediction for digital health. He and others at the summit envision a future in which Americans are always just one click away from a real-time digital dashboard tracking the impact of their lifestyle choices on their health. Although this vision wasn’t included in the Affordable Care Act, it will shape the way the health and technology industries respond to the new legislation. “Health is not a side event, discrete and separate from everyday life,” said Tom Paul, chief consumer officer for the United Healthcare Group. “Now it can be a part of day-to-day living, everyday life.”"Obamacare Meets Wearable Technology | MIT Technology Review
Check the full article for some speculation about what may come next for the Air
"My verdict: If you need a new laptop, this is the one to buy, especially with the $100 price cut. In fact, that's been my verdict on the Air for several years. I've never met a better laptop. And I've met a lot of laptops.New MacBook Air Review: Can the Best Get Better? - WSJ.com
As confident as I am that the Air is the best laptop ever made, I'm now confident that the best laptop has for the moment stopped getting better. What happens after the once-envelope-pushing notebook becomes the mainstream standard?"
More Twitter trials and tribulations
"Shares of Twitter went into free fall on Tuesday as early investors became eligible to sell their shares on the market for the first time. The company’s shares dropped 17.8 percent, to close at $31.85, their lowest level since the company’s initial public offering of stock in November."Twitter Plunges as More Shares Hit Market - NYTimes.com
Tuesday, May 06, 2014
An automated information credibility monitor for Twitter
"The Twitter commons have a credibility problem, and, in the age of “big data,” all problems require an elegant, algorithmic solution. Last week, a group of researchers at the Qatar Computing Research Institute (Q.C.R.I.) and the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology (I.I.I.T.), in Delhi, India, released what could be a partial fix. Tweetcred, a new extension for the Chrome browser, bills itself as a “real-time, web-based system to assess credibility of content on Twitter.” When you install Tweetcred, it appends a “credibility ranking” to all of the tweets in your feed, when viewed on twitter.com. Each tweet’s rating, from one to seven, is represented by little blue starbursts next to the user’s name, almost like a Yelp rating. The program learns over time, and users can give tweets their own ratings to help it become more accurate."Can an Algorithm Solve Twitter's Credibility Problem? : The New Yorker
A timely reminder -- for both readers and journalists -- of the need to verify sources (don't expect to see health sensor-extended EarPods real soon now); for an assessment of what Apple may actually be up to in the health monitoring domain, see Apple on medical tech hiring spree, a possible hint of iWatch plans (Reuters)
"The EarPods seemed possible because of dozens of reports in recent months about Apple’s exploration into health care as well as the long-awaited iWatch, which is expected to have a number of health-related features.A Red-Hot Rumor About Apple Falls Apart - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com
“To everybody. I’m sorry this joke got out of hand,” the author of the post wrote. “I’m extra sorry to those people I didn’t correct in the comments and left messages of support for me. They thought I was someone who lost a job and sent me their best wishes. I’m sorry to Apple for making them look like jerks. I should have corrected it or made it clear it was a joke.”"
Check the full article for some skeptical analysis
"Amazon.com’s priority is to remove every barrier that might keep someone from buying something online. A particularly minuscule obstacle fell on Monday as Twitter made it possible for users to add items to their Amazon shopping carts with a tweet.Twitter and Amazon Go Hashtag Shopping and Solve a Problem No One Ever Had - Businessweek
Just enable the service on your Twitter (TWTR) and Amazon (AMZN) accounts, and you can add a product discussed on Twitter by replying to the tweet and adding the hashtag #amazoncart. The next time you visit Amazon, the item will be in your cart, and you can then complete the purchase."
A sign of the security times
"Antivirus "is dead," says Brian Dye, Symantec's senior vice president for information security. "We don't think of antivirus as a moneymaker in any way."Symantec Develops New Attack on Cyberhacking - WSJ.com
Antivirus products aim to prevent hackers from getting into a computer. But hackers often get in anyway these days. So Mr. Dye is leading a reinvention effort at Symantec that reflects a broader shift in the $70 billion a year cybersecurity industry.
Rather than fighting to keep the bad guys out, new technologies from an array of companies assume hackers get in so aim to spot them and minimize the damage."
Competing to buy your consumer shopping data
"The company launched Google Shopping Express last year in the San Francisco Bay area. The service lets people order online and pay for packaged foods and other items, such as toys and diapers, from physical stores operated by retailers including, Target and Walgreen. The products are delivered to consumers’ residences by small vans within hours.In Battle with Amazon, Google Expands Same-Day Delivery Service - Digits - WSJ
Google is offering the service free for the first six months in each metro area; after that, it will charge a fee of about $4.99 per store.
Google and Amazon.com, the world’s largest Internet retailer, are competing to be shoppers’ primary online destination and merchants’ preferred place to reach those consumers."
Monday, May 05, 2014
Apparently Yahoo understands your privacy needs better than you do; see the source Yahoo post for details and a lively comment thread
"“Here at Yahoo, we work hard to provide our users with a highly personalized experience,” Yahoo’s Privacy Team wrote. “We keep people connected to what matters most to them, across devices and around the world. We fundamentally believe the best web is a personalized one.”Yahoo Won’t Honor ‘Do Not Track’ Requests From Users - Digits - WSJ
The decision is a course reversal for Yahoo, which was the first, and, until now, the largest web company to say it would honor no-tracking requests from users. The decision to abide by the signal is optional for web companies because the no-tracking request does not automatically block web cookies, the tiny files that collect data about users’ behavior online. Pinterest and Twitter have also said they honor no-tracking."
A filter bubble snapshot
"The bottom line is simple: Media owners generally do not try to mold the population to their own brand of politics. Instead, like other business owners, they maximize profit by giving customers what they want.Media Slant: A Question of Cause and Effect - NYTimes.com
These findings speak well of the marketplace. In the market for news, as in most other markets, Adam Smith’s invisible hand leads producers to cater to consumers. But the findings also raise a more troubling question about the media’s role as a democratic institution. How likely is it that we as citizens will change our minds, or reach compromise with those who have differing views, if all of us are getting our news from sources that reinforce the opinions we start with?"
An option for tracking new book titles (and discounts)
"The company’s book discovery platform starts by users creating a profile of their literature tastes. It then informs users — through its website and a daily deals e-mail — about books in their favorite genres and categories that are being discounted by publishers for a limited time. The e-book deals highlighted in the e-mails and online are curated by teams of BookBub researchers who pore over more than 100 discounted submissions each day, choosing the best 10 and 20 to feature. [...] Founder Collective’s Eric Paley said that “it’s pretty amazing what BookBub has done. They’ve become the primary independent channel for publishers and authors to promote their books.”"Weekly highlights of BetaBoston - Business - The Boston Globe
Saturday, May 03, 2014
Final paragraph of an extensive start-up market dynamics reality check
"But that is small solace for the founders, employees, and investors at Square and Box, who are going to face a period of deep uncertainty. These next few months will be defining for both companies. If Levie and Dorsey can rebuild their products under excruciatingly tough pressure, both companies have a chance to get out from their predicament. Given their burn rates, it is more likely that both startups will sell or begin a process of downsizing to reduce expenses. We’ll finally pop the bubbly, but it will be more Box wine than Dom Perignon."With IPO Hopes Fading, Square And Box Face Reality Of Commodity Products | TechCrunch
A snapshot of the browser market state-of-the-art
"But what else is there? The more I used the new Firefox, the more I began to wonder if desktop web browsers had hit a kind of innovation plateau. As a result of the intense competition among browser makers — a fight incited by Mozilla, then joined by Apple, Google and, lately, by Microsoft, whose share of the browser market has plummeted in the last decade — desktop web browsers have improved vastly over the past few years. They’re now ferociously fast, they can load and keep open hundreds of tabs, they’re extremely stable and they’re capable of handling highly complex websites."The New Firefox Is Fantastic. So Is Every Other Web Browser. - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com
Friday, May 02, 2014
"Ads tailored to driving behavior will be possible thanks to a partnership with fellow startup Mojio. It will launch a $149 device in June that plugs into a car’s diagnostic port and streams vehicle data to a smartphone app to help users track their driving, their fuel economy, and their vehicle’s maintenance status. Kiip will use data from that device to target promotions inside the Mojio phone app.Startups Experiment with Ads for Smart Cars and Homes | MIT Technology Review
Sprague says that getting access to data from a car’s engine and safety systems could unlock some unprecedented approaches to ad targeting. Mojio’s device can tell when a car’s airbags are deployed, or whether crash sensors on the bumpers have been triggered, potentially allowing ads pegged to incidents on the road. “It could be you just had a little fender bender, and you need something to lift you up,” he says."
Final paragraph of a Twitter positive perspective piece
"Don’t be surprised to see Twitter become more YouTube-like, turning its home page into a real-time news platform accessible to anyone, whether they’re logged in or not. That would expand its potential user base to include, for the first time, the majority of Americans who have no interest in either tweeting or curating their own Twitter timelines. If and when that happens, I doubt we’ll be hearing much about Twitter’s growth problem—let alone its demise."Twitter is not dying. It’s on the cusp of getting much bigger.
On a related note, see Apple blasts Samsung over originality, bravery in closing trial arguments (The Verge)
"Samsung launched its first Galaxy Gear smartwatch amid much speculation about Apple’s iWatch last year, and it seems to be a case of déjà vu in 2014 after the Korean company sent out media invites for an event “around health,” as speculation about Apple’s move into bio-metrics reaches new levels of noise.Samsung Plans Health-Related Media Event on May 28
The company is holding an event in San Francisco on May 28 — which, you’ll note is just a week before Apple’s annual WWDC developer conference."
Excerpt from an extensive AI snapshot
"For the core AI technology in the movie, which is basically intelligence vastly superior to humans, I believe it is definitely possible that we will have such intelligences. However, the technology approach in the movie, in the form of “uploading” a personality based on scanning a living brain, is more of a concept than a specific technology. The technology discussion would have to address two things: First, what is the computational architecture that can support a superhuman intelligence? And second, assuming we had such an architecture, how would we instantiate the architecture with a specific person’s personality? I don’t see anything close to such architecture in the scientific community today, much less an uploading approach compatible with an architecture."Transcending Artificial Intelligence: Part 1 | Re/code
Apparently determined to return to the 1980s
"Russia’s Parliament has approved a law similar to China’s that would require Internet companies such as Google to locate servers handling Russian traffic inside the country and store user data locally for six months. The legislation, which is scheduled to take effect on Aug. 1, also classifies the roughly 30,000 Russian bloggers who have 3,000 or more readers as media outlets, making them and the companies that host them subject to regulation. “This law is a step toward segmenting and nationalizing the Internet and putting it under the Kremlin’s control,” says Matthew Schaaf, a program officer at Freedom House, a research group in Washington. “It could have a serious chilling effect on online expression in Russia, making users stop to think how their Google searches and Facebook posts could be used against them.”"Russia Moves Toward China-Style Internet Censorship - Businessweek
See the full article for recommendations included in the report
"Because the effort goes so far beyond information collected by intelligence agencies, the report was viewed warily in Silicon Valley, where companies see it as the start of a government effort to regulate how they can profit from the data they collect from email and web surfing habits. Mr. Podesta, in an interview, said President Obama was surprised during his review of the N.S.A.’s activities that “the same technologies are not only used by the intelligence community, but far more broadly in the public and private spheres because there is so much collection” from the web, smartphones and other sensors."Call for Limits on Web Data of Customers - NYTimes.com
Thursday, May 01, 2014
A big shift for Cisco's collaboration strategy -- and a potentially pivotal partnership for Jive
"For Cisco, this partnership represents a shift in strategy. For years, the company pushed WebEx Social -- formerly called Quad -- as an integral part of its overall enterprise collaboration and unified communications (UC) product stack.Cisco retires WebEx Social, partners with Jive instead - Computerworld
Clearly the ESN suite never gained as much traction in the market as Cisco expected it to, so the company is pulling its horse from this race, where competition is broad and intense among vendors like Microsoft with Yammer and Sharepoint; IBM with Connections; Tibco with Tibbr; and Zimbra with Telligent."
Updating Internet Explorer and Driving Security - The Official Microsoft Blog - Site Home - TechNet Blogs
Another encouraging Microsoft decision
"Even though Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft and is past the time we normally provide security updates, we’ve decided to provide an update for all versions of Windows XP (including embedded), today. We made this exception based on the proximity to the end of support for Windows XP. The reality is there have been a very small number of attacks based on this particular vulnerability and concerns were, frankly, overblown. Unfortunately this is a sign of the times and this is not to say we don’t take these reports seriously. We absolutely do. "Updating Internet Explorer and Driving Security - The Official Microsoft Blog - Site Home - TechNet Blogs
Check the full article for some classic Elon Musk commentary
"SpaceX, the rocket and space exploration company founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk, filed a protest against the U.S. Air Force this week, saying that the military has unfairly prevented it from competing for space satellite launches.Elon Musk Wants SpaceX to Replace Russia as NASA's Space Station Transport - Businessweek
The following day, Russia’s deputy prime minister, Dmitry Rogozin, who is targeted by U.S. sanctions over Ukraine, suggested that America may need to find a large trampoline to continue NASA’s access to the International Space Station. Since the space shuttle’s retirement, the U.S. pays Russia about $71 million per seat to fly U.S. astronauts to the station. The current ISS mission, Expedition 39 (pdf), has two Americans among the six-person crew."
From an f8 2014 summary by Brian Solis (perhaps, when Facebook is done evolving into a social ecosystem, he'll opt to share such perspectives on Facebook rather than LinkedIn)
"The theme of f8 and also Facebook’s intentionally limited vision at the conference focused on three pillars…Facebook Evolves from Social Network to Social Ecosystem | LinkedIn
The goal was to help developers expedite time to market, amplify visibility in the app world, optimize user experience and increase the value of their apps by plugging into the Facebook ecosystem. And by leveraging (still not used to using this word as a verb) Parse, a mobile app development platform acquired by Facebook in 2013, developers will have an unprecedented springboard toward market acceleration and consumer prevalence."
For an accentuate-the-positive perspective, see Whither Twitter? (MG Siegler on Medium)
"Twitter shares sank 12% in morning trading Wednesday to around $37.50, an all-time low for the stock since it began publicly trading in November.Twitter Shares Sink to a New Low - Digits - WSJ
It’s a steep slide from the high of $73.31 on Dec. 26. Twitter has twice reported quarterly results that have shaken Wall Street. Three months ago, Twitter’s stock cratered after its first earnings report as a publicly traded company."