"In the span of 100 minutes on Dec. 9, 1968, Douglas Engelbart became a tech legend.Game-changing computer demo captured in new show - San Jose Mercury News
The inventor and engineer unveiled such revolutionary inventions as the computer mouse, hyperlinks and the video teleconference during a presentation that would come to be known as "the mother of all demos." Not only did it dazzle its assembled audience at San Francisco's Fall Joint Computer Conference, it also shaped the course of human-computer interaction.
More than 40 years later, when avant-garde composer Ben Neill stumbled on a story of the groundbreaking speech, he was struck by how theatrical it seemed. Now Engelbart's big day is the inspiration for "The Demo," a multimedia piece blending electronic music, performance and video. It makes its world premiere Wednesday and Thursday as part of the Stanford Live performance series."
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
"Tesla Motors Inc. rose after Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said on Twitter that a “major new Tesla product line -- not a car -- will be unveiled” April 30 at the company’s Hawthorne, California, design studio.Tesla Climbs as Tweet Spurs Electricity-Storage Speculation - Bloomberg Business
Musk in the posting Monday didn’t give details about the product. The announcement probably will be related to stationary storage batteries for residential customers, Trip Chowdhry, an analyst at Global Equities Research, said in a note. Tesla has been testing such systems in as many as 250 households in California for the past two years, Chowdhry said."
"The aggressive new strategy shows vividly how Beijing is struggling to balance its desire to control the flow of information online with the aim of encouraging the growth of its tech sector.China Appears to Attack GitHub by Diverting Web Traffic - NYTimes.com
The main target of the recent barrage is GitHub, a popular website that acts as a library of code for programmers. While it is indispensable for tech companies in China, it also hosts several pages that enable users to view sites blocked in the country."
"The Web retailer said Monday that it had struck deals with companies across the country to offer 700 services, from repairing cracked iPhone screens to grazing goats on your lawn, through its website. Just like buying goods, customers can browse for services and pay the seller whose ratings and prices work best, but they have to book a time slot.Amazon launches marketplace for services - Business - The Boston Globe
The new section, called Amazon Home Services, doesn’t offer every service in every city. According to a map on its website, only Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City have a high level of coverage."
Michael Stonebraker Explains Oracle’s Obsolescence, Facebook’s Enormous Challenge - Tech Trader Daily - Barrons.com
"Stonebraker not only continues to do fundamental research into database theory, but also has deep and informed views on the state of the industry that are of value to any tech investor.Michael Stonebraker Explains Oracle’s Obsolescence, Facebook’s Enormous Challenge - Tech Trader Daily - Barrons.com
Among the provocative views he shared with me is that current database technology from Oracle and others is “obsolete,” and that Facebook (FB) is grappling with “the biggest database problem in the world.”"
Monday, March 30, 2015
"However, according to training documents that MacRumors has received, Apple is not allowing any walk-in retail purchases for the Apple Watch at launch. Instead customers must make an online "Product Reservation" to hold a specific Apple Watch model at a retail store. This new "Product Reservation" system is used instead of Apple's "Personal Pickup" system for Apple Watches. Apple's retail training documents indicate that "If a customer walks in and wants to purchase a watch, offer the option to try on a watch. Then help them place an order online or through the Apple Store app." "Apple Watch for Sale in Retail Stores by Reservation Only, No Walk-In Sales - Mac Rumors
"The PR offensive is “purely an emotional issue, not a business issue,” says marketing consultant Regis McKenna, a longtime friend of Jobs who worked closely with him in the 1970s and early '80s. While Isaacson's book was almost universally considered far more positive than negative, he understands why Cook, Cue, and Ive felt so strongly about it having fallen short of their expectations. Call it an artifact of the perfectionism Jobs demanded for Apple's products, he says. The executives "all take it personally, because they are all a reflection of Steve,” he says.Why Apple Feels the Need to Defend Steve Jobs - Bloomberg Business
Those executives may well see this as their last, best chance to influence how Jobs is perceived in the future. While they probably had little choice than to talk to Isaacson—he was Jobs's hand-picked biographer, after all—they agreed to speak to Schlender and Tetzeli after Jobs had died. Schlender, in particular, was a familiar and friendly face. He's an artful writer who has covered Apple for more than 20 years."
"Slack said most of its users weren’t affected. But the company left open the possibility that some user communications were accessed.Slack Discloses Breach Amid $160 Million Fundraise - Digits - WSJ
“If you have not been explicitly informed by us in a separate communication that we detected suspicious activity involving your Slack account, we are very confident that there was no unauthorized access to any of your team data (such as messages or files),” Slack’s Reeve said in a written statement.
On its website, the company said hackers accessed a database that contained usernames, email addresses and encrypted passwords. The company said it was confident that no user passwords could be decrypted."
"The surgical robotics effort aims to integrate Google’s expertise in computer science, advanced imaging and sensors into tools that surgeons use to operate. Real-time image analysis could help surgeons see better and software could highlight blood vessels, nerves or the edges of tumors that are difficult to see with the naked eye, Google said.Google Moves to the Operating Room in Robotics Deal With J&J - Digits - WSJ
Google and Ethicon also hope to better organize the information surgeons need when they operate. Surgeons typically consult multiple separate screens in the operating room to check preoperative medical images, like MRIs, results of previous surgeries and lab tests, or understand how to navigate an unusual anatomical structure.
Google said software could place these images on the same screen that surgeons use to control robotic tools, reducing the need to look away at other screens during the procedures."
"When companies do make hardware free, Mr. Dougherty said, it is not usually altruistic. “It can create competition for your enemy without spending money on a new product,” he said. He noted that IBM went into open-source software in the 1990s, and Microsoft suffered.For Hardware Makers, Sharing Their Secrets Is Now Part of the Business Plan - NYTimes.com
Sometimes companies want to kick-start business. Facebook’s open designs have enabled commercial relationships that lower its supply costs as well as speed innovation.
In another stunning example, in June, Elon Musk, the founder and chief executive of Tesla Motors, said he was giving away all his electric car company’s patents, “in the spirit of the open-source movement.”"
Friday, March 27, 2015
Amazon Cloud Drive goes unlimited: $11.99/year for photos and $59.99/year for everything | VentureBeat | Cloud | by Paul Sawers
"For comparison in the consumer realm, Dropbox charges $10 for 1TB/month, with 2GB available for free; Google charges $9.99/month for 1TB and up to $299.99 for 30TB, though it does offer a generous 15GB completely gratis; Apple charges $19.99/month for 1TB, with 5GB available for free; and Microsoft charges $6.99/month for 1TB, with 15GB for free too. However, Microsoft also offers a pretty good deal of its own if you know where to look — for $7/month you can subscribe to Office 365, and part of that package includes unlimited cloud storage on OneDrive.
While the Amazon move is undoubtedly brilliant value for money, it’s really just for those who store a lot of stuff in the cloud. The free 15GB that’s available through the likes of Google and Microsoft is actually plenty if it’s just photos and other non-media files that are being stored. However, for those with large movie files, games, and so on — this is where “unlimited” really starts to shine, and $5/month is a really ridiculous price point."Amazon Cloud Drive goes unlimited: $11.99/year for photos and $59.99/year for everything | VentureBeat | Cloud | by Paul Sawers
"Representing their companies publicly is obligatory for CEOs, but Cook takes public stands on issues including stopping the transmission of AIDS, human rights, and immigration reform. He sees them as opportunities for leadership. “You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change,” he says, adding that Apple’s people have long cared about such issues even if they haven’t previously spoken so openly about them. To Cook, changing the world always has been higher on Apple’s agenda than making money. He plans to give away all his wealth, after providing for the college education of his 10-year-old nephew. There should be plenty left over to fund philanthropic projects. Cook’s net worth, based on his holdings of Apple stock, is currently about $120 million. He also holds restricted stock worth $665 million if it were to be fully vested. Cook says that he has already begun donating money quietly, but that he plans to take time to develop a systematic approach to philanthropy rather than simply writing checks."Apple's Tim Cook leads different - Fortune
Facebook's Yann LeCun Discusses Digital Companions and Artificial Intelligence (and Emotions) - NYTimes.com
"Q. What will that look like in the future?Facebook's Yann LeCun Discusses Digital Companions and Artificial Intelligence (and Emotions) - NYTimes.com
A. I’m not saying this is a future product, but a way to think about this if there is an intelligent digital companion that allows you to think about things in a new way, the way you interact with friends, expand your thinking. There will be a single point of control that knows and respects your private information.
This kind of A.I. will come progressively. In some ways, parts of this are already there in the Facebook News Feed, in Apple’s Siri, or Microsoft Cortana. They are shallow now, in the kind of interactions you are having. They are somewhat scripted."
"Google is under growing pressure to show that it can trim costs as it invests in new businesses to better compete with rivals such as Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. The company is looking to Porat, one of the financial industry’s most senior female executives with more than 25 years at Morgan Stanley, to bring greater fiscal discipline. She follows other Wall Street veterans who have moved to Silicon Valley firms.Google to Pay New CFO Ruth Porat More Than $70 Million - Bloomberg Business
“We’re tremendously fortunate to have found such a creative, experienced and operationally strong executive,” Google Chief Executive Officer Larry Page said in a statement Tuesday when Porat’s appointment was announced."
"In an era of soaring valuations for tech startups, Slack has emerged as one of the industry’s most rapidly-appreciating assets a little more than a year after launching its first product. The startup has more than doubled in value since five months ago, when investors valued Slack at $1.12 billion, and now ranks among the world’s most valuable venture-backed developers of software for businesses.Slack’s Valuation More Than Doubles to $2.8 Billion in Five Months - Digits - WSJ
Unlike many consumer-focused startups with multi-billion-dollar valuations, Slack’s growing adoption among business users is translating into real revenue. The company tries to hook workers on its free service and then convince their bosses to pay for a version with more features."
"“All of a sudden, the world’s pockets are full of good cameras and good screens with good data plans and good social platforms to let everyone know you’re broadcasting,” said Chris Sacca, founder and chairman of Lowercase Capital and an early Twitter investor.As Twitter Introduces Periscope, Tech Titans Bet on Live Streaming Video - NYTimes.com
In a statement, Ms. Banks said Periscope was a “wonderfully voyeuristic platform and it boggles my mind that the things that I’m sharing are able to be experienced by others live.”"
Thursday, March 26, 2015
"These cases are interesting because it’s one of many ways where Facebook is moving from a service centered around people you know to one that’s increasingly involved in stuff that might have nothing to do with your friends. “You’ve actually got two graphs inside of Facebook,” says Marcus. “You’ve got the people graph, but you also have the business graph, which is basically represented by Pages [the business equivalent of a profile page] and a bunch of other things.” Marcus contends that this will be a superior way of communicating with businesses, better than email or even an electronic assistant service such as Siri or Google Now."Will Facebook Messenger Kill Email? — Backchannel — Medium
"Hadoop has introduced a lot of agility into the world of analytics and data integration. Concepts such as schema on read and the radical flexibility of processing data stored in files have allowed those with the right skills to move fast compared to what can be done in the world of SQL-based data warehouses.The SQL Empire Strikes Back To Claim Agility
But through a variety of technologies, some of which were born to serve Hadoop, the SQL empire is now striking back to claim agility. A new group of technologies have been developed to address some of the long-standing challenges with the data warehouse ecosystem and with SQL databases in particular. By putting these technologies to work in intelligent and appropriate ways, it is now possible to move just as fast in the world of SQL as you can anywhere else."
A messaging market map
“MESSENGERS are arguably the most successful smartphone apps. The ten biggest collectively boast more than 3 billion accounts. WhatsApp, the leader, has 700m. The number of WhatsApp messages sent every day now exceeds the number of standard texts. Last year it handled more than 7 trillion messages, about 1,000 per person.”
"WinBeta has learned that Microsoft is planning to launch a successor to the Surface 2 soon, however it won’t be a Windows RT based device. The device will be fanless and sport a low spec'd CPU, being either an Intel ATOM or Intel Core M based processor (we’re not too sure which one they’ve opted for just yet), meaning it will run a full-version of Windows. This is a first for the non-pro Surface line-up, and further solidifies reports regarding the death of Windows RT."EXCLUSIVE: Microsoft is building a successor to the Surface 2 (RT), here are the first details [WinBeta]
"Why this matters: As if RadioShack wasn’t obnoxious enough when you had to turn over a phone number just to buy a cable splitter. Now, the store’s trying to go back on its promise to keep that data to itself. It’s one more reason to treat these contact information requests with caution, since you can never be sure where the data will end up."RadioShack puts customer personal data up for sale in bankruptcy auction | PCWorld
"All of it might sound like small-bore stuff, unlikely to change your user experience in the Facebook site or the app. But all of these changes —and a number of other ones announced over the past year or two — are geared at making Facebook a nicer, faster, better-optimized place to be on the internet, and as such a better place to experience the internet as a whole. The idea is to make it so you are able to do more and might want to do more through Facebook, and thus do less elsewhere on the internet — watch a video, see a news story, share and comment on a piece of content, look at a photograph, chat with a retailer. As such, the goal is a distinctively 1990s one: to be a portal and a platform synonymous with the internet itself, like AOL."Facebook Is the New AOL -- NYMag
"That will bring the Windows side of things more in line with what the software maker has done with its recent Office releases for iOS and Android, where most core features are free, with some advanced features requiring an Office 365 subscription.Microsoft Makes Office Free for Small PCs and Tablets | Re/code
“Based on our research, we are classifying anything with a screen size of 10.1 inches or less as a true mobile device: You’re probably using it on the go, when it’s not practical to use a larger computing device such as a PC or a Mac. You probably aren’t using a mouse or a keyboard, instead navigating via touch interface,” Microsoft corporate VP Kirk Koenigsbauer said in a blog post."
"Facebook’s drone team, which came to the company through the acquisition last year of the drone maker Ascenta, say they believe their solar-powered craft can eventually be aloft up to three months at a time, beaming high-speed data from 60,000 to 90,000 feet to some of the world’s remotest regions via laser. Test flights are to begin this summer, though full commercial deployment may take years.Drones Beaming Web Access Are in the Stars for Facebook - NYTimes.com
“We want to serve every person in the world” with high-speed Internet signals, said Yael Maguire, head of Facebook’s Connectivity Lab. The dream — assuming regulators around the planet go along with it — is a fleet as big as 1,000 drones connecting people to the Internet. And where it is too remote even for the drones, satellites would do the trick.
“Can we reach a point where everyone on the planet gets the same message at once?” Mr. Maguire said. “I’m looking forward to that day.”"
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
ACM Turing Award Goes to Pioneer in Database Systems Architecture: MIT’s Michael Stonebraker Brought Relational Database Systems from Concept to Commercial Success
"The ACM Turing Award, widely considered the “Nobel Prize of Computing,” carries a $1 million prize with financial support provided by Google, Inc. It is named for Alan M. Turing, the British mathematician who articulated the mathematical foundation and limits of computing.ACM Turing Award Goes to Pioneer in Database Systems Architecture: MIT’s Michael Stonebraker Brought Relational Database Systems from Concept to Commercial Success
“Michael Stonebraker’s work is an integral part of how business gets done today,” said ACM President Alexander L. Wolf. “Moreover, through practical application of his innovative database management technologies and numerous business start-ups, he has continually demonstrated the role of the research university in driving economic development.”
“The efficient and effective management of Big Data is crucial to our 21st century global economy,” said Google Senior Vice President of Knowledge Alan Eustace. “Michael Stonebraker invented many of the architectures and strategies that are the foundation of virtually all modern database systems.”"
"In a presentation at Convergence 2015, Microsoft Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela came with a presence that would have been unimaginable a couple of years ago. “We have pockets of real strength around the world, but we have some areas where our products just have not become important enough compared to what we would like them to be.” he said. And what is behind it is a fundamental change in how Microsoft, which claims has earned $25 billion a year from Office, will make money in applications from both consumers and enterprise customers: “We have a history of making money on Windows licenses that OEMs pay us on Enterprise Agreements, on EAs, if you will, and we’re changing that dramatically, and we’re moving to a model that we talk about as freemium innovation.”"It’s a Different Microsoft, and It Matters | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis
"Google’s mission to organize the world’s information is now targeting your physical mailbox.Google Pony Express May Let You Receive, Pay Bills Directly in Gmail | Re/code
The company is currently working on a project that will allow Gmail users to more easily receive bills in their email inbox instead of their mailbox. Called Pony Express, the service also is designed to let people pay their bills within Gmail, rather than having to go to a telecom or utility company’s website to complete a payment.
Those details are outlined in a lengthy document viewed by Re/code. The new service is scheduled to start in the fourth quarter, according to the document. It’s not clear whether Pony Express is a code name or one that’ll be used if it comes to market. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment."
"Apple bought a startup that’s developing a lightning-fast database, a sign the tech giant may be seeking ways to run software services like iMessage more efficiently.Apple Acquires FoundationDB - Digits - WSJ
Apple agreed to acquire FoundationDB, a Virginia-based startup that developed database technology designed to crunch massive quantities of digital information very quickly. Such technologies are useful to data-reliant companies including those that tailor digital advertisements for websites."
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
"The real problem is, because we’re seeing tech industry companies start to get involved with the auto industry, we’re applying tech industry development speed expectations to autonomous cars. New iterations of smartphones take 6-12 months, so a few years should be plenty to tackle something like autonomous cars, right? Well, no.Smart Cars Accelerating Slowly | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis
The reality is we probably won’t be seeing usable Level Three-types of features in cars we can buy off the lot until the beginning or even middle of the next decade, and fully automated Level Four could take until 2030 or later. By the way, this should also put a new perspective on when (ignoring the even more important “if” question) Apple might enter the car market.
I’m certainly excited about the possibilities of what autonomous car features can bring, but I think we need to keep our expectations in check."
"It is a big and very fundamental platform for Google,” Schmidt said. “We ended the Explorer program and the press conflated this into us canceling the whole project, which isn’t true. Google is about taking risks and there’s nothing about adjusting Glass that suggests we’re ending it.”Google Isn’t Giving Up on Glass, Eric Schmidt Says - Digits - WSJ
He said Glass, like Google’s self-driving car, is a long-term project. “That’s like saying the self-driving car is a disappointment because it’s not driving me around now,” he said. “These things take time.”
A spokeswoman for Fadell declined to comment."
"The investments are a further validation for Stewart Butterfield, who co-founded Tiny Speck Inc. and raised $17 million to develop an online game called Glitch. Tiny Speck had $5 million left when in 2012 Butterfield and the founders decided to shut down the game and return cash to stakeholders. Instead, their investors encouraged them to keep the money and start a new business, which became Slack. Butterfield had previously sold photo-sharing website Flickr to Yahoo! Inc. in 2005."Slack Is Said to Be in Funding Talks at $2 Billion-Plus Value - Bloomberg Business
"Microsoft is continuing to try to make its own mobile phone system, Windows Phone, a success. But at the same time Microsoft is pushing its software like Office, Skype and Web-search service Bing into as many venues as possible — even on non-Windows computing devices.Microsoft Apps to be Pre-Installed on Some Android Devices - Digits - WSJ
The company’s Android-handset deals offer a window on Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s focus on building the user base of the company’s products, not just profits. As a result, Nadella has overseen the transformation of cash-cow products like Microsoft Office into apps for the iPad and free apps for Android and iPhone smartphones."
"Amazon’s Twitch unit said its website for streaming videogame play was likely hacked, though in disclosing the possible compromise the company raised more questions than it answered.Amazon’s Twitch Site Hacked - Digits - WSJ
Twitch said in emails to those potentially affected that their password, email address, user name, home address, phone number and date of birth may have been accessed. Twitch canceled the password of those who received the email, noting the passwords are encrypted but still could have been accessed. It also cut off access to YouTube and Twitter for those accounts with a link."
"Google’s trial — which for now is aimed only at customers in the Kansas City area, who can opt out of having their viewing history used for advertising purposes — will use ads that are targeted by geography and what kinds of shows they view most often.Google Fiber Plans Experiment With Targeted Ads for Television - NYTimes.com
“Fiber TV ads will be digitally delivered in real time and can be matched based on geography, the type of program being shown (like sports or news), or viewing history,” Google said in a online forum for Google Fiber. “If you’re a local business in Kansas City, just as with digital ads, you’ll only pay for ads that have been shown, and can limit the number of times an ad is shown to a given TV.”"
"With 1.4 billion users, the social media site has become a vital source of traffic for publishers looking to reach an increasingly fragmented audience glued to smartphones. In recent months, Facebook has been quietly holding talks with at least half a dozen media companies about hosting their content inside Facebook rather than making users tap a link to go to an external site.Facebook May Host News Sites’ Content - NYTimes.com
Such a plan would represent a leap of faith for news organizations accustomed to keeping their readers within their own ecosystems, as well as accumulating valuable data on them. Facebook has been trying to allay their fears, according to several of the people briefed on the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were bound by nondisclosure agreements."
Monday, March 23, 2015
"Although Jobs professed to hate nostalgia, I did sense that as he grew older (and faced his mortality) some sentimentality had crept into his palette of emotions. He would sometimes bring up with a cackle something from the past — an arcane product from the early PC era, some gossip about the Mac team, even a shared incident from one of the stories I worked on about him or Apple. Though he was far from a jokester, he was quite capable of unleashing a barb. Often these were pointed at others in the industry, but sometimes he would would make fun of himself. My own favorite quip of his came when I once asked the Beatle-loving Jobs if his dream was to have Paul McCartney perform one of those two-song sets that often closed his product launch events. “No,” he told me. “My dream is to have John Lennon perform.”"The War Over Who Steve Jobs Was — Backchannel — Medium
"The idea that computers, mobile phones, websites, and other technologies could be designed to influence people’s behavior and even attitudes dates back to the early 1990s, when Stanford professor B. J. Fogg coined the term “persuasive computing” (later broadened to “persuasive technology”). But today many companies have taken that one step further: using technologies that measure customer behavior to design products that are not just persuasive but specifically aimed at forging new habits.Technologies Smart Enough to Exploit Human Nature | MIT Technology Review
If habit formation as a business model was once largely limited to casinos and cigarette manufacturers, today technology has opened up the option to a broad range of companies. Insights from psychology and behavioral economics about how and why people make certain choices, combined with digital technologies, social media, and smartphones, have enabled designers of websites, apps, and a wide variety of other products to create sophisticated persuasive technologies."
"Google’s rivals seem to have learned from their interactions with the consumer-oriented F.T.C. This time, in making their case to the E.U., they appear to be far more focussed on arguing that Google’s behavior harmed not only them but consumers, too. On a Web site called Focus on the User, which is available in four European languages, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and others, including consumer groups, are making this argument directly; Yelp and TripAdvisor even developed a tool showing that, presented with certain kinds of search results that favor Google sites alongside those that don’t, users find the latter more useful. Such lobbying, coupled with the knowledge that the F.T.C.’s own staff members found Google’s practices to be anti-competitive, could well influence European policymakers in their investigation of the company."Were Google’s Practices Anti-Competitive or Just Anti-Competitor? - The New Yorker
"Ted Cruz, Republican senator for Texas and the chair of the committee in charge of NASA, used Twitter tonight to announce his intentions to run for president in 2016. Cruz's tweet was accompanied by a 30-second video, in which the senator calls on "a new generation of courageous conservatives" to "make America great again.""Ted Cruz announces presidential bid on Twitter | The Verge
"Editor's Note: In this week's Whiteboard Walkthrough, Dale Kim, Director of Industry Solutions at MapR, gets you up to speed on Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. He talks about the similarities and differences between the two, but most importantly how both technologies should be a requirement for any true big data environment. See his Whiteboard Walkthrough and accompanying blog post below. "The Hadoop Vs. the NoSQL - Whiteboard Walkthrough | MapR
"The 13-inch MacBook Pro and the 13-inch MacBook Air were once very different computers that served very different needs. One was bulkier but pretty fast and user-serviceable, while the other was thin-and-light to a fault, arriving with anemic low-power CPUs and GPUs, slow hard drives, and no easy means to upgrade. In the last two-to-three years, that gap has narrowed substantially. The Air has become more powerful and less compromised, while the Pro has slimmed down and dumped features like user-replaceable RAM and its Ethernet jack. Both use Thunderbolt 2. Both use modern dual-core CPUs with some of Intel’s better integrated GPUs. They’re even priced in the same ballpark. What was once an easy recommendation has gotten more difficult."13-inch Broadwell MacBook showdown: Should you go Pro or get an Air? | Ars Technica
"The company's director of Fitness and Health technologies, Jay Blahnik, said that in order to test the Watch's environmental resistance, the company brought the device to places as distant as Alaska and Dubai. But special "climate chambers" were installed in the labs as well, allowing Apple to simulate activities in extreme heat and cold.Apple offers rare look inside secret Apple Watch health and fitness testing labs [u]
On the scale of the project, Blahnik said that the company has amassed "what may be one of the world's largest pieces of data on fitness," and that the company's fitness efforts are just beginning. "We think there's a lot to this fitness thing...the impact on health could be profound.""
Sunday, March 22, 2015
"Becoming Steve Jobs, a new book by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli about Jobs’ life, comes out on March 24th and is available to download both in digital and print. As part of a strong marketing push by Apple in the run up to the book’s release, iBooks is offering an exclusive free sample of the prologue and first chapter that you can download right now. The sample is available in at least the US and the UK, but may not be available in other regions."Read an exclusive free sample of Becoming Steve Jobs in iBooks | 9to5Mac
Microsoft exec: Why Apple and Google have an advantage, and how Microsoft plans to compete - GeekWire
"Another example of Microsoft using the freemium model is the decision to make Office available for free on iOS and Android devices, with Microsoft betting that its business will be better off, ultimately, if more people are using Office, whether or not they’re paying.Microsoft exec: Why Apple and Google have an advantage, and how Microsoft plans to compete - GeekWire
“We weren’t making any money on Office on the iPhone or on Android phones, and we’ve had over 40 million downloads of the Office apps on those devices,” Capossela said. “And if you think about the Office business, we do roughly 70, 75 million copies of Office a year. And all of a sudden in less than a year we have 40 million more downloads on phones that weren’t running Office. Amazing. … That’s just a total mindbender in terms of opening up your mind to a different business model that your marketing can really help you advance.”"
Friday, March 20, 2015
"Tamr, Inc., today announced that it will offer a free, standalone version of its Tamr Catalog tool for cataloging enterprise metadata. Tamr Catalog helps enterprises overcome the biggest obstacle to business analytics: finding the data. The company is making the Tamr Catalog tool available for free in order to encourage its broad adoption across enterprises. A preview of Tamr Catalog is available today on Tamr’s web site and a downloadable version will be available in Summer 2015."Tamr to Provide Free, Standalone Version of Catalog Tool
"The hiring of an engineer from the social networking site follows Obama’s recruitment of technology-industry insiders, including former Google Inc. Deputy General Counsel Michelle K. Lee to lead the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and former Google Vice President Megan Smith to be U.S. chief technology officer.Facebook Engineer Lured to White House for Job as Tech Director - Bloomberg Business
In the new position, Recordon will be responsible for the information resources and systems provided to the president and vice president, according to a White House memorandum."
"As the first chief counsel of a space mining company, Mr. Kfir is at the forefront of this odd offshoot of aerospace law. From his office in the modified two-car garage of his house in San Diego, Mr. Kfir spends much of his time mulling some rather otherworldly legal issues.If a Martian Wrecks Your Rocket Ship, Who Is Liable? - WSJ
For example, what happens if one space-mining craft accidentally sends a rock flying into another spacecraft? Who pays for the damage? Or if a company successfully mines an asteroid and brings a precious cargo of platinum back to Earth, does it own the metal?
Space law professors have gone even further in positing legal quandaries."
"On Thursday, TAG Heuer, the Swiss watch company, announced that it was building a new smartwatch — a wrist computer, in essence — as part of a collaboration with Intel and Google. The companies made a joint announcement at Baselworld, an annual show in Basel, Switzerland, for high-priced watches and jewelry.Google and Intel to Team Up with TAG Heuer on a Luxury Smartwatch - NYTimes.com
The watch will be released later this year, but aside from that the announcement was light on specifics. No exact release date. Nothing about what it will do. No price."
"Here’s the brilliant part: Mr. Haber didn’t spend a dime on tuition or fees. Instead, he gorged from the smorgasbord of free courses offered by top universities. He documented the project on his website, degreeoffreedom.org, and in a new book exploring the wider phenomenon of massive open online courses, or MOOCs. He didn’t earn a degree — the knowledge may be free but the sheepskin costs dearly — but he was satisfied.In the Age of Information, Specializing to Survive - NYTimes.com
“I wouldn’t call myself a philosopher,” he said, “but I learned as much as most undergraduates.”
Mr. Haber’s project embodies a modern miracle: the ease with which anyone can learn almost anything. Our ancient ancestors built the towering Library of Alexandria to gather all of the world’s knowledge, but today, smartphones turn every palm into a knowledge palace."
"The Algorithm Auction is the world’s first auction celebrating the art of code. The auction includes rare memorabilia and software licenses related to a range of important and historic code. The Algorithm Auction was created by Ruse Laboratories and all proceeds will benefit the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, which began acquiring code for its permanent collection in 2013. "The Algorithm Auction | Artsy
Thursday, March 19, 2015
"Video streaming services are no longer avant-garde. With HBO Now joining Netflix, Hulu and others like Sling TV, it certainly appears as though consumers will soon be able shell out for streaming video packages both broad and niche.Discovery Channel founder enters the streaming fray | Capital New York
Today, one of those niche entrants, CuriosityStream, goes live. The service, created by John Hendricks, who founded Discovery Channel some 33 years ago, features a robust library of nonfiction programming for on-demand streaming."
"The illusion is one of Apple’s latest innovations: the Taptic Engine. Relying on a technique pioneered in research labs 20 years ago, it uses an electromagnetic motor to trick your fingers into feeling things that aren’t actually there. The motor’s precisely tuned oscillation makes it feel like you’re depressing a mechanical button, when you’re really just mashing your finger against a stationary piece of glass. I tried it at the Apple Store, and to call the effect convincing is an understatement. Within seconds, I was hunched over the machine like a lunatic, scrutinizing the trackpad from inches away, utterly convinced I was feeling a real click even though I knew there wasn’t one.Apple's Haptic Tech Makes Way for Tomorrow's Touchable UIs | WIRED
This phantom click is but one trick the haptic trackpad might be able to achieve. A recent update to iMovie shows Apple already is experimenting with others. These haptic flourishes are a hint of what’s to come: A future where we feel interfaces with our fingers—not just on desktop trackpads but on smartphones as well."
"Apple could, in this way, become the trusted source of ratings data Nielsen tries to be but is increasingly failing at. With Nielsen struggling to capture viewing beyond three days, and all viewing on TV Everywhere platforms, it’s serving the content owners and pay TV providers poorly. Some of the pay TV providers have their own data on that viewing, but since they are incentivized to maximize those numbers, they don’t represent a trusted party and this data counts for little. Apple, on the other hand, wouldn’t directly benefit from higher ratings numbers, and could, at the same time, provide very granular tracking and reporting of exactly what’s been watched, by which users, for how long, etc. It would be a trusted third party in much the same way as Nielsen is. This would be valuable for the content owners and give them something traditional pay TV providers can’t. Apple could capture the actual quality of experience on the end user side, something most cloud providers can’t do because they only see their end of the stream."Apple, TV, data and ads | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis
"On Wednesday, Sony added to the flood of new offerings with the introduction of its PlayStation Vue web-based streaming TV service, which offers a bundle of channels along with a personalized, searchable approach to watching live and on-demand television.Sony’s PlayStation Vue Is Introduced in 3 Cities - NYTimes.com
For $49.99 a month, subscribers can access more than 50 channels, including CBS, Fox and NBC, and cable channels such as USA, TBS, Fox News and Discovery. Special features include the availability of the previous three days of popular programming and personalization features based on a user’s viewing habits."
"Why the sudden surge of innovation? Behind it all is a determination to keep us wedded to Microsoft products at all costs. Windows must stay dominant on desktops, even by temporarily giving the software away. Microsoft must become a force in mobile computing, even if it has to ride piggyback on rival phones and tablets. And if a better browser can attract new ad revenues to Bing, then the old browser must die.Can Microsoft rise as browser falls? - Business - The Boston Globe
It’s a radical strategy, perhaps even a little desperate. And it might make Microsoft relevant again."
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
"Last week, a trio of Google researchers published a paper on a new artificial intelligence system dubbed FaceNet that it claims represents the most-accurate approach yet to recognizing human faces. FaceNet achieved nearly 100-percent accuracy on a popular facial-recognition dataset called Labeled Faces in the Wild, which includes more than 13,000 pictures of faces from across the web. Trained on a massive 260-million-image dataset, FaceNet performed with better than 86 percent accuracy."Google: Our new system for recognizing faces is the best one ever - Fortune
Tim Cook on Apple's Future: Everything Can Change Except Values | Fast Company | Business + Innovation
"Fast Company: How does Steve Jobs’s legacy live on at Apple?Tim Cook on Apple's Future: Everything Can Change Except Values | Fast Company | Business + Innovation
Tim Cook: Steve felt that most people live in a small box. They think they can’t influence or change things a lot. I think he would probably call that a limited life. And more than anybody I’ve ever met, Steve never accepted that.
He got each of us [his top executives] to reject that philosophy. If you can do that, then you can change things. If you embrace that the things that you can do are limitless, you can put your ding in the universe. You can change the world.
That was the huge arc of his life, the common thread. That’s what drove him to have big ideas. Through his actions, way more than any preaching, he embedded this nonacceptance of the status quo into the company."
"Combined sales in Oracle’s cloud software, platform-as-a-service -- known as PaaS -- and infrastructure businesses were $527 million, up 29 percent from $408 million a year earlier. The company started disclosing cloud revenue in June.Oracle Sales Miss Estimates; Shares Rise on Cloud Optimism - Bloomberg Business
In the long term, Oracle’s transition to the cloud should benefit the bottom line, Catz said on the conference call.
“For every million dollars of license we sell, we expect to collect another million dollars of support over five years for a total of $2 million,” she said. “While for every million of PaaS we sell, we actually expect to collect $5 million over five years.”"
"Here's the secret to how Silicon Valley calculates the value of its hottest companies: The numbers are sort of made-up. For the most mature startups, investors agree to grant higher valuations, which help the companies with recruitment and building credibility, in exchange for guarantees that they'll get their money back first if the company goes public or sells. They can also negotiate to receive additional free shares if a subsequent round's valuation is less favorable. Interviews with more than a dozen founders, venture capitalists, and the attorneys who draw up investment contracts reveal the most common financial provisions used in private-market technology deals today."The Fuzzy, Insane Math That's Creating So Many Billion-Dollar Tech Companies - Bloomberg Business
"“I view it as a solved problem. We know exactly what to do and we will be there in a few years,” Mr. Musk said at the Nvidia Corp. graphical processor conference in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday.Tesla’s Elon Musk Says Autonomous Driving Not All That Hard to Achieve - WSJ
A fully autonomous vehicle that is much safer than a person “is much easier than you would think,” he said. “In the distant future people may outlaw driver cars. You can’t have a person operating a two-ton death machine!”"
"Apple has held talks with a number of leading television groups to offer an Internet-based TV service for its iPhone, iPad and Apple TV set-top box, according to people briefed on the company’s plans.Apple Said to Plan Limited, Low-Cost Streaming Service - NYTimes.com
The service, which could be announced later this year, would offer a bundle of channels that is smaller and cheaper than the bloated catalog of offerings in a typical cable subscription, said these people, who discussed the incomplete plans on the condition of anonymity."
"Given Facebook’s huge size and reach, the introduction of its payments feature — which has been highly anticipated by Wall Street — is likely to cause tremors in the nascent market for instantly sending money to individuals, known as peer-to-peer payments.Facebook Announces a Payments Feature for Its Messenger App - NYTimes.com
And analysts said that if the payment system succeeded, Facebook would extend it to other types of purchases, such as consumers’ buying of products directly from advertisers. “Facebook could use this as a back door to get people’s debit cards to enable the buy button,” said Robert Peck, an Internet analyst with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey."
"Chief among those problems was a bet on a division that sold specialized market research reports to corporate customers. That division grew to become Gigaom’s largest business, but it became less clear over time that it could deliver on those big expectations.Digital Media Darlings Unfazed by the Fall of the News Site Gigaom - NYTimes.com
In the days since the shutdown, a telling disagreement has emerged among people associated with the company. Some say that Gigaom was a business that, in retrospect, could never have worked as it was structured. Others say that it may have paid off one day, if only its investors and creditors had given it a bit more patience and a lot more money.
Neither story is much of a testament to the way the company was run."
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
"Internet Explorer will still exist in some versions of Windows 10 mainly for enterprise compatibility, but the new Project Spartan will be named separately and will be the primary way for Windows 10 users to access the web. Microsoft has tried, unsuccessfully, to shake off the negative image of Internet Explorer over the past several years with a series of amusing campaigns mocking Internet Explorer 6. The ads didn't improve the situation, and Microsoft's former Internet Explorer chief left the company in December, signalling a new era for the browser."Microsoft is killing off the Internet Explorer brand | The Verge
""This picture of him isn’t understood," says Cook. "I thought the [Walter] Isaacson book did him a tremendous disservice. It was just a rehash of a bunch of stuff that had already been written, and focused on small parts of his personality. You get the feeling that [Steve’s] a greedy, selfish egomaniac. It didn’t capture the person. The person I read about there is somebody I would never have wanted to work with over all this time. Life is too short.
"Steve cared," Cook continues. "He cared deeply about things. Yes, he was very passionate about things, and he wanted things to be perfect. And that was what was great about him. A lot of people mistook that passion for arrogance. He wasn’t a saint. I’m not saying that. None of us are. But it’s emphatically untrue that he wasn’t a great human being, and that is totally not understood."The Steve Jobs You Didn't Know: Kind, Patient, And Human | Fast Company | Business + Innovation
"This survey asked the 87% of respondents who had heard about the surveillance programs: “As you have watched the developments in news stories about government monitoring programs over recent months, would you say that you have become more confident or less confident that the programs are serving the public interest?” Some 61% of them say they have become less confident the surveillance efforts are serving the public interest after they have watched news and other developments in recent months and 37% say they have become more confident the programs serve the public interest. Republicans and those leaning Republican are more likely than Democrats and those leaning Democratic to say they are losing confidence (70% vs. 55%)."Americans’ Privacy Strategies Post-Snowden | Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project
"Apple Inc. plans to start accepting non-Apple devices as trade-ins, a person with knowledge of the matter said, as the company seeks to extend market-share gains against smartphones based on Google Inc.’s Android software.Apple Said to Start First Trade-In Program for Android Phones - Bloomberg Business
The iPhone maker started a trade-in program in 2013 to get more users to upgrade to its newest products. Now, that plan is being expanded to include Android smartphones, as well as BlackBerry devices, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public."
"The banks, desperate to become their customers’ default card on Apple Pay — most add only one to their iPhones — did little to build their own defenses or to push Apple to provide more detailed information about its customers. Some bank executives acknowledged that they were were so scared of Apple that they didn’t speak up. The banks didn’t press the company for fear that they would not be included among the initial issuers on Apple Pay. Within weeks of Apple Pay’s introduction, a second set of banks joined: Barclays, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC Bank, USAA and U.S. Bank.Pointing Fingers in Apple Pay Fraud - NYTimes.com
It also appears that banks set up a flawed process to deal with the credit cards that it did flag. Affected users were directed to a customer care phone center, not a fraud prevention center. A customer care center’s mission is to help customers use their cards, leading more fraudulent cards to be approved for use on Apple Pay."
"Jobs has long been hailed as one of the great creative minds of modern business. His genius for creating products and his marketing flair have also been rightly hailed. All of that comes through in “Becoming Steve Jobs,” but so does something else: He was a great manager. You can’t build a great company if you aren’t one."The Hidden Talent of Steve Jobs - NYTimes.com
Monday, March 16, 2015
"Google Hangouts allow multiple people take part in online video calls. Snowden was in the video call using a Google profile under the name of "Ben," but whoever set up the call hadn't locked down the privacy settings. That meant that anyone could join — and they did.Edward Snowden interrupted at FutureFest conference in London - Business Insider
First up was a man sitting on his bed, who started laughing when he realised that he was on a video call with Edward Snowden. It looked like he was chatting to someone on the phone, too. Snowden joked about the unexpected visitor, remarking "I see a guy in his bed.""
"Apple’s message is clear: You don’t need all those cables. It’s better to carry something that feels almost weightless, something elegant and slim and gold than have some pört-gåsbord weighing you down. “Besides,” Apple seems to insist, “you can address all of your needs via Web services, or streaming, or iCloud, or one of the wonderful new features we’ve added to Yosemite. Would you like more ports? Well, we have inelegant dongles and more-expensive computers for that.”Life With the MacBook's Single Port Won't Be Easy—Yet | WIRED
At some point, getting data and electricity to and from your MacBook with just one port may be seamless and natural. Today, though, we’re at least a few dongles away. Here’s how the MacBook plays out in practice."
"The technology goes by various names, including StingRay, KingFish or, generically, cell site simulator. It is a rectangular device, small enough to fit into a suitcase, that intercepts a cellphone signal by acting like a cellphone tower.A Police Gadget Tracks Phones? Shhh! It’s Secret - NYTimes.com
The technology can also capture texts, calls, emails and other data, and prosecutors have received court approval to use it for such purposes.
Cell site simulators are catching on while law enforcement officials are adding other digital tools, like video cameras, license-plate readers, drones, programs that scan billions of phone records and gunshot detection sensors. Some of those tools have invited resistance from municipalities and legislators on privacy grounds."
"According to calculations by Kevin Jones, a battery expert and materials-science professor at the University of Florida, when batteries can store as much energy as those proposed by Sakti3, electric cars that cost the same to own and operate as conventional vehicles become possible. Another advantage of solid-state batteries is that they are much less likely to explode or catch fire if damaged in an accident.In Battery Revolution, a Clean Leap Forward - WSJ
Solid batteries already exist, though they tend to be tiny—just big enough to fit next to a microchip, providing backup power in case of interruption. Using current technologies, a solid battery large enough to power a cellphone would cost $15,000, if it could be built. And one big enough to power a car would cost $90 million.
But, says Dr. Sastry, “We project being able to hit $100 per kilowatt-hour at scale. That’s less than half the cost of the incumbents.”"
"The JPMorgan case is advancing quickly partly because the attack was not nearly as sophisticated as initially believed, and law enforcement authorities were able to identify at least some suspects early on, said the people briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition they not be named because they were not authorized to discuss the case. Law enforcement officials also made the investigation a top priority given that the Department of Homeland Security has declared the banking system critical infrastructure, requiring additional protection from digital attacks."Authorities Closing In on Hackers Who Stole Data From JPMorgan Chase - NYTimes.com
Friday, March 13, 2015
"After just seven years on the net, GitHub now boasts almost 9 million registered users. Each month, about 20 million others visit without registering. According to web traffic monitor Alexa, GitHub is now among the top 100 most popular sites on earth. Its popularity is remarkable for a site that’s typically used by software coders, not people looking for celebrity news, cat videos, or social chatter. “If you look at the top 100 sites,” says Brian Doll, GitHub’s vice president of strategy, “you’ve got a handful of social sites, thirty flavors of Google with national footprints, a lot of media outlets—and GitHub.”"How GitHub Conquered Google, Microsoft, and Everyone Else | WIRED
"Intel has slashed its quarterly revenue outlook by nearly $1 billion, as business customers are proving reluctant to upgrade from Windows XP -- a popular but now 13-year-old operating system.Intel blames $1B revenue hit on Windows XP's stubborn grip - CNET
The company said Thursday it now expects to post $12.8 billion in first-quarter sales, down from its mid-January expectation of $13.7 billion, which was already slightly below Wall Street expectations."
"Algorithmia, the startup that raised $2.4 million last August to connect academics building powerful algorithms and the app developers who could put them to use, just brought its marketplace out of private beta.Algorithmia Launches With More Than 800 Algorithms On Its Marketplace | TechCrunch
More than 800 algorithms are available on the marketplace, providing the smarts needed to do various tasks in the fields of machine learning, audio and visual processing, and even computer vision."
Steve Jobs: "I Just Don't Like Television. Apple Will Never Make A TV Again" | Fast Company | Business + Innovation
"Jobs immediately took a liking to Ive. ("He’s kind of a cherub," Jobs said of his soon-to-be co-conspirator.) But perhaps more importantly Ive liked him back, inevitably making the decision to stay with Apple instead of pursuing other opportunities. And then: 'Steve killed both of Jony’s pet projects. The eMate disappeared along with all other traces of the Newton (save a few key patents), and the 20th Anniversary bit the dust after selling just 12,000 units. The products didn’t fit into his quadrants. Besides, he told me one day, "I just don’t like television. Apple will never make a TV again." This was Jony’s introduction to Steve’s coldhearted decision-making.'"Steve Jobs: "I Just Don't Like Television. Apple Will Never Make A TV Again" | Fast Company | Business + Innovation
"As they face regular bans and account suspensions from online media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, supporters of the Islamic State militant group have now decided to start their own social network.Facing Bans From Social Networks, Islamic State Starts Its Own - Digits - WSJ
Enter 5elafabook.com, a Facebook-style knockoff site that appeared on the web for a brief period earlier this week before being shut down (the Twitter account linked to it has also been suspended). A message on the website homepage now says the shutdown is “temporary” to protect its users information and safety."
"Privacy International, a London-based group and frequent critic of U.K. spying techniques, said the metadata should get the same level of oversight as content, and that the bar should be higher than it currently is.Metadata Should Be Better Protected, U.K. Spy Panel Says - Digits - WSJ
“Taken alone, pieces of metadata may not seem to be of much consequence,” Privacy International spokesman Mike Rispoli said. “However, technological advancements mean that metadata can be analyzed, mined and combined in ways that make it incredibly revelatory. When accessed and analyzed, metadata can create a comprehensive profile of a person’s life.”"
Thursday, March 12, 2015
"Now, Google is taking a leaf out of the Cupertino company's playbook, and has — for the first time ever — established its own bricks-and-mortar retail outlet. It's situated on Tottenham Court Road, in London, England."Inside Google's first ever retail store - Business Insider
"Apple stores are huge rich-media billboards on every major shopping street in the developed world: I can't think of any other company that has shops as big as that in such premium locations in as many places. Apple retail is a self-funding marketing operation. So too, perhaps, is the gold watch. Apple might only sell a few tens of thousands, but what impression does it create around the $1,000 watch, or the $350 watch? After all, the luxury goods market is full of companies whose most visible products are extremely expensive, but whose revenue really comes from makeup, perfume and accessories. You sell the $50k (or more) couture dress (which may be worn once), but you also sell a lot of lipsticks with the brand halo (and if you think Apple’s margins are high, have a look at the gross margins on perfume)."Why is Apple making a gold watch? — Benedict Evans
"People in households with subscriptions to video streaming services spend significantly more time in front of a screen than those in other households, the figures showed. Homes with the subscription streaming services spend 2 hours 45 minutes a day on time-shifted television seen with video game consoles, multimedia devices, and DVD or Blu-ray players. Homes without a subscription to those services spend 1 hour 57 minutes a day on the same screens.Nielsen Charts Reach of Video Streaming - NYTimes.com
The findings could call into question the assumption that Netflix, Amazon and Hulu cause people to cancel their subscriptions to traditional cable or satellite television, also known as cutting the cord. Homes with subscription streaming services spend 66 minutes a day watching time-shifted television, while households without subscriptions spend 56 minutes a day with it."
"I like the new Pixel a lot. But I’m still scratching my head as to why anyone would pay $999 for this thing. Sure, it’s a little less expensive than the original, and it has some cool new technology, but it’s still pricey for a Chromebook, considering that most cost around $250.Google Chromebook Pixel: High Price for High-End Technology | Re/code
Let’s go over the good stuff first. Its most notable addition is a fast-charging USB Type-C cable, which gives the laptop its full 12-hour battery life after just over 90 minutes of charging. This worked well in my tests."
"The Nearline product lets customers buy storage for less-urgent files at a penny a gigabyte, less than the 2.6 cents for traditional storage, Google said Wednesday in a post. Under the new program, data takes about 3 seconds for response times -- compared with less than 1 second for the more expensive option.Google Offers Low-Cost Cloud Service to Chase Amazon on Storage - Bloomberg Business
The new service takes direct aim at Amazon’s low-cost “Glacier” storage product, which charges customers similar prices yet can make them wait for a couple of hours to access, according to Henry Baltazar, an analyst with Forrester Research Inc. He said Amazon hasn’t been forced to compete much on price since the service was started as a replacement for tape-based storage in 2012."
"Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. plans to invest in Snapchat Inc., the mobile application for sending disappearing photos, at a valuation of $15 billion, people familiar with the situation said.Snapchat Is Raising Money From Alibaba at a $15 Billion Valuation - Bloomberg Business
China’s biggest e-commerce company intends to invest $200 million, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private."
"Yet despite email’s admirable endurance, it’s possible to envision a future in which email — remarkably — is supplanted by new tools that allow people to collaborate in big groups and force upon companies the sort of radical information transparency that many in the tech industry, at least, believe is essential. The best example of that new sort of communication system comes from Slack, a start-up in San Francisco. It looks similar to several other group chat apps you’ve used before — think AOL Instant Messenger or the nerdier Internet Relay Chat, better known by its initials, IRC."Slack, the Office Messaging App That May Finally Sink Email - NYTimes.com
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
"Most of these bots have all the complexity of a wind-up toy. Yet they have the potential to influence the stock market and distort political discourse. The surprising thing—disturbing, if your human ego is easily bruised—is how few bells and gears have to be added to make a chatbot sound convincing. How much computational complexity is powering our own chattering mouths? The grandmother of all chatbots is the famous Eliza, described by Joseph Weizenbaum at MIT in a 1966 paper (yes, children, Eliza is fifty years old). His clever stroke was to give his program the conversational method of a psychotherapist: passive, listening, feeding back key words and phrases, egging on her poor subjects. “Tell me more.” “Why do you feel that way?” “What makes you think [X]?” “I am sorry to hear you are depressed.” Oddly, Weizenbaum was a skeptic about “artificial intelligence,” trying to push back against more optimistic colleagues. His point was that Eliza knew nothing, understood nothing. Still the conversations could run on at impressive length. Eliza’s interlocutors felt her empathy radiating forth. It makes you wonder how often real shrinks get away with leaving their brains on autopilot."Bot or Not? by James Gleick | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books
Biz Break: Box plummets after first post-IPO earnings report shows large loss - San Jose Mercury News
"Box wrapped up its fiscal year by losing $45.8 million, or $2.64 a share, on sales of $62.6 million; after adjustments, the company reported a loss of $1.65 a share. Analysts expected Box to announce an adjusted loss of $1.17 a share on sales of $58 million, according to Thomson Reuters.Biz Break: Box plummets after first post-IPO earnings report shows large loss - San Jose Mercury News
CEO Aaron Levie disputed those numbers on a conference call Wednesday, though, saying that an analysts mistakenly used the wrong share count and skewed the average. The Box co-founder said that FactSet's average prediction -- a loss of $1.99 a share -- used the correct share count, "so we beat by 34 cents.""
"USB-C is a brand new technology, but with Apple embracing it, it won't be long before we see tons of companies racing to produce USB-C compatible products. Apple will also undoubtedly spur its competitors to adopt the standard as well. It may not be long before we're able to charge a whole range of our devices with a single cable, ending the days of having to carry around MagSafe chargers, USB cables, Micro-USB cables, Lightning cables, and more."USB-C in 12-Inch MacBook Adds Limitations but Opens Up Possibilities - Mac Rumors
"Apple Inc. ’s huge gravitational pull on mall traffic is distorting the market for mall rents, winning the iPhone maker sweetheart deals and putting upward pressure on other tenants’ leases.Apple Gets Sweet Deals From Mall Operators - WSJ
Apple draws so many shoppers that its stores single-handedly lift sales by 10% at the malls in which they operate, according to Green Street Advisors, a real-estate research firm. That gives Apple the clout to negotiate extremely low rents for itself relative to its sales, while creating upward pressure on prices paid by mall neighbors who might not benefit from the traffic."
"Mr. Ali said that Gigaom likely raised too much money for a company that was unlikely to drive the kind of audience hyper-growth of a BuzzFeed or Vox Media.Gigaom Shuts Down in Crowded Tech Media Landscape - Digits - WSJ
The site has long done a good job covering specialized areas, from clean tech to enterprise businesses, but getting a large audience and keeping up with the competition proved difficult.
The traffic figures speak to this. Gigaom received about 2 million unique visitors in January, down 10% from the year-earlier period, according to comScore. Over the same time period, competitors like Mashable, TechCrunch and Business Insider have drawn in almost 50% more unique visitors, comScore says."
"The company announced on Tuesday that it would give away designs of two crucial elements of its enormous computing centers, both computer servers and networking. These designs and others like them will be offered as products from several other manufacturers, along with a significant amount of supporting software from other companies.Facebook’s Status Update for Computing - NYTimes.com
Facebook also noted that its designs had saved the company $2 billion in the last three years, compared with using conventional computing equipment.
If the new designs become popular, it could mean new pain for the large incumbent computer-hardware makers, like Cisco and Dell, which for several years have faced inroads from open-source software. The Facebook products involve both hardware and software."
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
"The Apple Watch starts at $349 for the sports watch and rises to a cool $17,000 for top-of-the-luxury-line 18-karat gold Edition. But who wants to shell out thousands for an add-on electronic device that’s likely going to be obsolete in two years?The Apple Watch Battery Is Replaceable | TechCrunch
Well, when it comes to the battery at least, owners of Apple Watch will be able to extend its lifespan. An Apple spokesman confirmed to TechCrunch the “battery is replaceable”. Albeit, it’s not clear how much it will cost to send in your wearable to Apple to get it returned with a new cell in place."
"Lee, a former deputy general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy at Google, had been the acting director of the office. She started with the agency in 2012 as the first director of the patent office's Silicon Valley outpost.Former Google exec Lee confirmed to lead U.S. patent office | Reuters
The agency has been a focus of Congressional efforts at patent reform aimed at curbing patent litigation in federal court.
The patent office has been criticized for approving what some say are weak software related-patents that have formed the bulk of the litigation."
Wikimedia v. NSA: Wikimedia Foundation files suit against NSA to challenge upstream mass surveillance « Wikimedia blog
"Today, the Wikimedia Foundation is filing suit against the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) of the United States . The lawsuit challenges the NSA’s mass surveillance program, and specifically its large-scale search and seizure of internet communications — frequently referred to as “upstream” surveillance. Our aim in filing this suit is to end this mass surveillance program in order to protect the rights of our users around the world. We are joined by eight other organizations  and represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). (We will update this post with the final complaint once it has been filed.)"Wikimedia v. NSA: Wikimedia Foundation files suit against NSA to challenge upstream mass surveillance « Wikimedia blog
"Among several Apple Watch apps that straddled the line between business and consumer appeal – Citi Mobile, Expedia, PayByPhone Parking – two from Salesforce.com stood out. The Salesforce apps, which are free to paying customers of their corresponding Web programs, were designed as companions to the sales-software company’s mobile apps.Apple Watch Apps Target Businesses - Digits - WSJ
The idea is to use the watch for “10-second interactions” and switch over to a smartphone or desktop for more extensive tasks, said spokesman Michael Peachey.
The initial crop of business-oriented Apple Watch apps also included BetterWorks, designed to help employees set and achieve goals, and Invoice2go, a time-tracking program. Mayo Clinic announced Synthesis, a scheduling tool for doctors."
"When Steve Jobs pulled out the MacBook Air in 2008, the accolades of the “world’s thinnest laptop” were quickly met with outrage. “Come on! This is crazy,” we all said. “For $1,800 you expect me to use a severely underpowered laptop with no DVD drive and just one USB port?” Seven years (and one additional USB port) later, those complaints sound crazy.Apple’s New MacBook First Look: Trading Ports and Power for Portability - Personal Tech News - WSJ
Apple’s introduction of a sleek new $1,300 MacBook Monday felt like traveling back in time. Except, there was no manila envelope, and all of the ports you’re used to got chopped from this ultrathin 2-pound machine, along with some typing comfort and battery life.
Like the first Air, this is Apple’s attempt to reimagine the laptop all over, now for the smartphone and tablet age. Based on my short time with the machine, I think Apple will turn the laptop industry on its head (again), but just like with the original Air, it may be moving too fast for some."
"Yet it’s hard to forget that it is a computer for your wrist. Even in its top-end versions, it lacks the understated elegance of old-fashioned high-end analog watches. Apple is doing something unusual here: It is trying to create an electronic device that matches the timeless appeal of a piece of jewelry. I’m not quite sure Apple pulled that off in this version. The electronic watch face is a bit chunky compared with the high-end band, so the overall impression is one of a mash-up between jewelry and gadgets. I’m reminded of the first-generation iPad or iPhone: The Apple Watch may look a bit more stylish than any other techie watch you can buy, but I can’t help but dream about the third- or fourth-generation version, when everything is likely to become smaller, thinner, tighter and more elegant."Apple Watch Displays Your Digital World, at a Glance - NYTimes.com