"For the time being, VR remains a promising technology, worth watching closely, but still in a primitive incarnation. The offspring of today’s VR systems will be ubiquitous in 2030, by which time current devices will look as clunky as the folding camera-phones of 2001 do today. If the smartphone is anything to go by, the rise of VR will wrong-foot incumbent technology giants and turn obscure startups into household names. Sci-fi novelists have already sketched out a bewildering range of uses of AR, from head-up displays for soldiers to virtual jewellery that is drawn around the wearer by other people’s headsets. Such fiction provides a helpful guide to the potential impact of this emerging technology which, like the internet and smartphone, promises to touch every field of human endeavour. Just not very rapidly."Awaiting its iPhone moment | The Economist
Monday, August 31, 2015
From a timely VR market reality check
Also see Google OnHub review: Routers don't have to be so complicated (Engadget) and Google OnHub review—Google’s smart home Trojan horse is a $200 leap of faith (Ars Technica)
"The biggest downside for Google is that the router comes from… Google. Google swears that it does not track the websites you visit or pull any content from network traffic. (You can read more on all that here.) The search giant says it collects data about Wi-Fi channels, signal strength and the kinds of devices on your network, information that’s “relevant to optimize your Wi-Fi performance.” You can even turn off the cloud connection in settings, if you don’t like the trade off, but you’ll lose some smarts and the remote access.Google OnHub Review: The Wi-Fi Router Gets a Brain - WSJ
As weird a feeling as it is, letting Google take up a physical role in my household, it’s hard to deny what I witnessed this week: The best wireless networking my home has ever seen."
Expanding Amazon/Google competition
"According to a Google spokesperson, services are so far available for plumbers, handymen, locksmiths and house cleaners – terms that customers enter millions of times a day in the Google search bar. In order to qualify, participating small businesses must undergo procedures such as license, insurance and background checks as well as mystery shopping.Google Plunges Into Home Services Market - Digits - WSJ
Customers can review the service operator, place a call directly and send multiple requests straight from Google’s results page. Never having to leave the Google website, and thus saving clicks, is a feature that differentiates Google’s services from those of most other providers."
Friday, August 28, 2015
No doubt reassuring to HP shareholders from that time period
"Republican presidential candidate and former Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Carly Fiorina received solid support from an unlikely source.Carly Fiorina’s New Campaign Spokesman? Former Foe Tom Perkins - Digits - WSJ
Tom Perkins, the one-time HP board member and storied venture capitalist who co-founded Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers, rose to Ms. Fiorina’s defense Thursday with a full-page letter published in the New York Times and paid for by Ms. Fiorina’s super PAC, or political action committee.
“Critics often claim Carly was fired at HP because she was unsuccessful,” Mr. Perkins wrote. “As a member of the board, I can tell you this is not true. In truth, it was the Board I was a part of that was ineffective and dysfunctional.”"
Mark Zuckerberg noted "it's just the beginning of connecting the whole world"
"For the first time, a billion people used Facebook in a single day on Monday. Facebook’s chief, Mark Zuckerberg, observed the occasion with a post on his Facebook page, saying that one out of seven people on Earth logged in to the social network to connect with their friends and family."One Billion People Log In to Facebook for First Time - The New York Times
Perhaps Apple will share some Apple Watch sales volume details during its 9/9 product event
"A new report estimates that Apple shipped 3.6 million watches in the last quarter — more than some analysts estimated and enough to change the competitive landscape for fitness bands and other wearable devices. Apple shipped enough units of its new smartwatch to nearly overtake market leader FitBit in the last quarter, according to analysts at International Data."Apple Watch Shipments Nearly Outpaced Fitbit - The New York Times
Thursday, August 27, 2015
In other advertising/shopping evolution news...
"Why is Facebook doing all this? Well, it’s both a continuation of and a break from Facebook’s past business models. It’s a continuation in that, essentially, all of Facebook’s revenue today comes from businesses trying to reach end users through the service, almost exclusively through advertising. But it’s a break in that this new model wouldn’t be about advertising per se, but rather about Facebook facilitating transactions with businesses and potentially taking a cut. Even though Facebook’s advertising revenue has grown from a low of 82% of total revenue in 2012 (in Zynga’s heyday – no pun intended) to 95% of revenue today, chances are the company’s revenue base will diversify significantly over the next few years as it continues to pursue these new business models (and others). Facebook has talked about how its model for monetizing Messenger will mimic its model for monetizing the News Feed — it will be centered around businesses paying to reach users. It seems as though Facebook is launching the services that will eventually provide new revenue streams, without necessarily turning on the monetization just yet."Facebook is Building the Commercial Graph | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis
A different kind of talent search
"On Tuesday, Max Rosett, a new Google employee, blogged on The Hustle about how he landed his new job at Google. Rosett, a data scientist with the rental marketplace Apartment List, was working on a head-scratching coding problem. He turned to Google’s search box, typing in this query on the programming language: “python lambda function list comprehension.”‘Puzzles Are Fun. Search On’: Google Cops to Secret Recruiting Tool Baked Inside Search | Re/code
Up popped a box inside the search results that read: “You’re speaking our language. Up for a challenge?” It led to google.com/foobar — a programming test Google has used in the past to recruit engineers. It’s not the first time Google’s HR has deployed the nerdy trick. Users on Hacker News posted a similar tale last year."
On the highway to jail?
"Mr. Krebs’s work dovetails with a colorful detail from police reports. The Toronto police have said that Avid Life Media employees first learned their systems had been breached on July 12 when they arrived at work to find a menacing message on their computer screens accompanied by the rock band AC/DC’s song “Thunderstruck.”Security Blogger May Have New Lead in Ashley Madison Hacking - The New York Times
Mr. Krebs said he downloaded five years’ worth of tweets from Thadeus Zu. In the tweets, he found boasts about many simple web attacks, including the defacement of several websites, and, buried within, references to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” tune."
So perhaps the Fire phone was a one-and-done
Amazon Curtails Development of Consumer Devices - WSJ
"In recent weeks Amazon has dismissed dozens of engineers who worked on its Fire phone at Lab126, its secretive hardware-development center in Silicon Valley, according to people familiar with the matter.Periodic reminder: to view an article behind the wsj.com paywall, if you don't have a subscription, select the article title, search, and click the article link in the search result
The layoffs were the first in the division’s 11-year history, these people said. But the precise toll on its roughly 3,000-person staff couldn’t be learned, in part because Amazon typically requires employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement in exchange for severance payments.
The company also has scaled back or halted some of Lab126’s more ambitious projects—including a large-screen tablet—and reorganized the division, combining two hardware units there into one, people familiar with the matter said."
Amazon Curtails Development of Consumer Devices - WSJ
Ad blocking as accelerated online advertising evolution
"“Ad blocking is a symptom of bad advertising online,” said Williams, who thinks the impending crisis is an opportunity to finally get it right.As ad blockers rise, will the Web business model fall? | BetaBoston
His rival Matt Adkisson agrees. He said Sourcepoint plans to let users opt out of receiving ads that get on their nerves. Another anti-ad block company, Ireland’s PageFair, works with publishers to help them develop inoffensive ads that users won’t want to block."
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Check the full article for a handy list
"That kind of paranoia—Esmail’s included—may be irrational to some extent, but that doesn’t make it any less palpable. Esmail believes society and technology play into these fears. “[Governments and corporations] really do have the tools to follow you. They really do have the tools to monitor you, if they wanted to, so the mere fact that it exists just kind of amps that paranoia,” he says.A Peek Inside Mr. Robot's Toolbox | WIRED
Esmail and his technical consultants have also worked exhaustively to portray the technology on the show as authentically as possible. To celebrate the end of the first season, let’s take a look at some of the apps and tools used on the show, all of which actually exist and which you could also use. (Faraday cage not included.)"
AI + IA (artificial intelligence + intelligence augmentation); see The Transhuman Condition (Harper's) for an excerpt of Machine of Loving Grace, John Markoff's latest book, which addresses related topics
"Companies from Google to Taskrabbit are engineering products to act as superpowered personal assistants. Some, like Apple’s Siri, Google Now, or Microsoft’s Cortana, rely entirely on technology, and though they can be used by a lot of people, their range of tasks remains limited. Others, like startups Magic and Operator or gig-economy companies like TaskRabbit, employ people to respond to text-based requests. These services can get nearly anything done—for a much smaller number of folks. M is a hybrid. It’s a virtual assistant powered by artificial intelligence as well as a band of Facebook employees, dubbed M trainers, who will make sure that every request is answered."Facebook Launches M, Its Bold Answer to Siri and Cortana | WIRED
Signs of the times
"“Historically, going back to Abraham Lincoln, PIs were a service for the wealthy,” he explains. “We’ve made it so the average consumer can now afford a PI. We’ve democratized the service—anyone with $67 can get a PI to do surveillance or an Internet investigation.” (Through the company, PIs cost $67 an hour.)Private Investigator Startup Exploits Ashley Madison Hack | WIRED
But while Trustify typically sees customers who are looking to locate an old friend or do a more thorough background check on, say, a new nanny, the Ashley Madison hack has been especially good for business. The company says it has seen its daily caseload increase fifteenfold in the past week with new sign-ups specifically looking to find out if their partner or spouse is a cheater."
From an Uber strategy reality check
"The subtext of Uber’s new products having the look and feel of a slightly shinier version of mass transit is, of course, that Uber wants to be privatized mass transit. In Uber’s grand vision, no one owns cars because nearly everyone is taken everywhere in a driverless, electric, omnisciently networked Uber conveyance that arrives precisely when it is needed for a price cheap enough that for many people it feels free (but is just enough to make a profit, since one day, as unimaginable as it seems, the venture capital will run out). This is why Uber earnestly speaks of ending car ownership, taking cars off the road, and helping nurses commute to and from night shifts in the Bronx at two in the morning."The Uber Endgame - The Awl
Big numbers for live gaming
"YouTube Gaming makes games the third entertainment category to get special attention from Google’s online video service, following music and children’s videos. Music-streaming service YouTube Music Key remains in beta testing, while the YouTube Kids app launched in the US in February 2015.Google launches YouTube Gaming to challenge Amazon-owned Twitch | Technology | The Guardian
Ryan Wyatt, YouTube’s head of gaming, said: “Gaming is so big now. We’re doing billions of hours of watch-time a month, with hundreds of millions of users. It’s astonishing.”"
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Creating a new Hortonworks DataFlow platform
"Onyara is the leading contributor to the Apache NiFi project, which is now a top-level project at Apache Software Foundation (ASF). Onyara was formed around the technology in Dec 2014. Engineers and technologists at Onyara are key contributors to Apache NiFi developed over the last 8 years.Hortonworks to Acquire Onyara: It’s all about The Internet of Anything!
Previously called “Niagara Files” at the National Security Agency (NSA), the project has been proven at scale in production. NiFi was open sourced as Apache NiFi as part of the NSA Technology Transfer Program in the fall of 2014. Subsequently, it became a top-level Apache project in July 2015.
Apache NiFi is a secure and reliable data flow solution for IoAT. It delivers high quality real time and trusted data flows and is proven at scale. The Onyara team share’s Hortonworks’ vision for 100% community driven open source and is a great extension to the industry’s best Hadoop distro: Hortonworks Data Platform. Not only Apache NiFi complements HDP, it also accelerates flow of data in motion the into HDP for full fidelity analytics"
Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield accentuates the positive
"We’re in the fortunate position where we have healthy unit economics, high growth, low burn (and revenues growing faster than expenses), a product that customers would be very reluctant to give up and a huge pile of cash (at our current burn rate, it would take a couple of decades to run out).Tech Founders Share Plans for Surviving the Bubble Burst | Re/code
On the other hand, in a big correction nearly everything would get easier for us: Less competition on the hiring side, cheaper real estate, lower advertising rates, acquisitions would become affordable and so on. It’s possible our organic growth would slow, but the advantages would outweigh the drawbacks in any scenario short of breadlines in Manhattan."
Keep calm and carry on
"Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s chief executive officer exhorted employees Tuesday to ignore plunging stock markets after the e-commerce giant’s shares fell below their initial public offering price for the first time.Alibaba CEO Urges Workers to Ignore Share Plunge, Stay Focused - Bloomberg Business
Daniel Zhang, who took the helm of Asia’s largest Internet company three months ago, penned a memo urging his 35,000 workers to brush aside the market turmoil. Alibaba has lost about $128 billion in market value since its November peak amid a slowing Chinese economy."
Monday, August 24, 2015
Excerpt from a stark reality check
"As I argued last week, even for the most simplistic, worst-case-scenario, cartoon-villain depictions of the Ashley Madison user – a spouse who selfishly seeks hedonistic pleasure with indifference toward his or her own marital vows and by deceiving the spouse – that’s nobody’s business other than those who are parties to that marriage or, perhaps, their family members and close friends. But as the fallout begins from this leak, as people’s careers and reputations begin to be ruined, as unconfirmed reports emerge that some users have committed suicide, it’s worth remembering that the reality is often far more complex than the smug moralizers suggest.Email from a Married, Female Ashley Madison User
The private lives and sexual choices of fully-formed adults are usually very complicated and thus impossible to understand – and certainly impossible to judge – without wallowing around in the most intimate details, none of which are any of your business. That’s a very good reason not to try to sit in judgment and condemn from afar."
Evidently a failure in organizational predictive analytics
"What went unannounced was that most of the original team that built Now had departed, many of them just before I/O, according to multiple sources. Some had grown frustrated that the product, born within Android, was shuttered into search inside of Google, they said. And Sundar Pichai, Google’s SVP and incoming CEO, did not prioritize the product as much as Page.Staff Exodus, Pressure from Microsoft, Apple Hit Google Now | Re/code
The exits reveal the hiccups Google has incubating new products that reach across multiple units of the tech giant. They also expose some key traits of Pichai’s leadership style — and some of the many hurdles he has ahead as he marshals Google’s core business."
A half-century of hypertext
"On August 24, 1965 Ted Nelson used the word “hypertext” (which he coined) in a paper he presented at the Association for Computing Machinery. I was able to interview him earlier this month about the event and his early thoughts on the future of computing."50 years ago today the word “hypertext” was introduced | Gigaom
"What happened then?
I thought my work would be a watershed, because I didn’t know that anyone else in the world was working on text-on-screens. It was only after the talk that Bob Taylor came up to me, whom I did not know, and asked me if I had heard of Douglas Engelbart [Engelbart was an early computer pioneer, best known for inventing word processing, multiple windows on a screen, and the mouse, all rolled out in his 1968 “Mother of all Demos”].
Taylor told me that Engelbart had been working on similar things, so I made a note to get in touch with Engelbart. But I had very few resources and no secretary, so that actually carrying on any correspondence was essentially beyond my capabilities. I only found out later that Taylor had been Engelbart’s principal backer through ARPA [Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense, now called DARPA].
Ironically, when Taylor took over Xerox PARC in the 1970s, he dropped Engelbart, who was tragically out in the cold for the rest of his career."
Check the full article for some useful tips; OneNote could prove to be a killer app for the rumored "iPad Pro"
"More people than ever are bringing their iPads to work, and the quickest way to make the tablet ready for business it to outfit with Microsoft’s powerful productivity tool, OneNote. The time is never better, as a recent feature update brings OneNote for iPad up to par with its cross-platform cousins. Here are a few cool ways the app can make you more efficient around the office."OneNote for iPad tips to make you more productive | PCWorld
From a timely Curt Monash DBMS reality check
"Multi-model database management has been around for decades. Marketers who say otherwise are being ridiculous.Multi-model database managers | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services
Thus, “multi-model”-centric marketing is the last refuge of the incompetent. Vendors who say “We have a great DBMS, and by the way it’s multi-model (now/too)” are being smart. Vendors who say “You need a multi-model DBMS, and that’s the reason you should buy from us” are being pathetic.
Multi-logical-model data management and multi-latency-assumption data management are greatly intertwined."
VM => virtual management?
"Yet another top executive has bailed out of the EMC Federation. Chuck Hollis, VMware Inc.’s chief strategist for storage and availability, and formerly EMC Corp.’s global marketing chief technology officer, has said he’s quitting the company so he can team up with some of his old buddies at Oracle Corp. [...]Chuck Hollis quits VMware as EMC executive shakeup continues | SiliconANGLE
Interestingly, Hollis isn’t the only EMC Federation exec to depart over the weekend. Also leaving is VMware’s chief technology officer Ben Fathi, who worked at the company for three-and-a-half years."
Also see Ashley Madison Hackers Speak Out: 'Nobody Was Watching' (Motherboard)
"“There is going to be a dramatic crime wave of these types of virtual shakedowns, and they’ll evolve into spear-phishing campaigns that leverage crypto malware,” Kellerman said. “The same criminals who enjoy deploying ransomware would love to use this data.”Blackmail for Bitcoin: Ashley Madison users targeted with extortion demands | SiliconANGLE
Worse, at least from a national security perspective, is that criminals could also use the data to blackmail Government and military employees, a significant number of whom were stupid enough to use their work email addresses."
Sunday, August 23, 2015
Competitive gaming for fun and profit
"The eSports industry, whether labeled as a sport or not, is a powerhouse with potential to rival and surpass many established professional North American-based sports. Arising out of that will be a sector of the industry based on billions of dollars being wagered on the outcome of eSports events. According to a new white paper published by gaming industry research firm Eilers Research, it is estimated that fans of eSports competition will wager more than $250 million on the outcome of eSports events in 2015. That amount is expected to exceed $23 billion by 2020."Billions Of Dollars Will Soon Be Wagered On eSports Competitions - Forbes
Friday, August 21, 2015
Likely compelling, for many inclined to expand their Google relationships
"But those 13 antennas and the 1.4-GHz Qualcomm processor don’t inherently address the problems WiFi brings to the Internet. That’s where OnHub is potentially even more radical, because it’s the first such device that’s likely to be managed by the vendor and not by you. One huge problem with WiFi is the firmware in these devices is difficult to upgrade and impossible to upgrade remotely, but OnHub promises to change that with a continuous stream of tweaks to its GenToo brain straight from the Googleplex. If we forget privacy considerations for a moment this is a brilliant approach because it makes each WiFi network a dynamic thing capable of being optimized beyond anything imagined to date."I, Cringely Google's OnHub router may save WiFi from itself - I, Cringely
Accounting innovation; see Intuit to Divest Demandforce, QuickBase and Quicken (WSJ) for additional details
"Intuit chief executive Brad Smith announced the company will divest Demandforce, QuickBase, and Quicken. That will see Intuit's revenue chopped by about $250 million, with earnings per share down by about 10 cents, for the 2016 fiscal year.Intuit reports mixed bag on Q4 earnings; divestitures on deck | ZDNet
Smith added in prepared remarks: "We closed out our fiscal year 2015 on a strong note, with excellent momentum in each of our core businesses as we continue to see the benefits of our ongoing transformation into a global cloud company.""
Also see Prying eyes, alibis and a global hunt for Ashley Madison users (The Washington Post)
"U.S. government employees with sensitive jobs in national security or law enforcement were among hundreds of federal workers found to be using government networks to access and pay membership fees to the cheating website Ashley Madison, The Associated Press has learned.Cheating site logged federal subscribers with sensitive jobs - The Washington Post
The list includes at least two assistant U.S. attorneys, an information technology administrator in the White House’s support staff, a Justice Department investigator, a division chief, and a government hacker and counterterrorism employee at the Homeland Security Department. Others visited from networks operated by the Pentagon."
Looks like October is going to be a big month for tablet introductions; also see 'iPad Pro' With Force Touch-Enabled Stylus Predicted to Enter Mass Production By October (MacRumors)
"Microsoft is planning to hold a massive hardware launch event in October. Sources familiar with Microsoft's plans tell The Verge that the software giant will use the event to unveil two new Lumia handsets, the Surface Pro 4, and a Microsoft Band 2. Chinese site WPDang first reported details of Microsoft's plans, and we can confirm there will be an event to launch multiple new hardware devices."Microsoft's Surface Pro 4, Band 2, and new Lumias set for October launch event | The Verge
See the full article for the tweetstorm
"Tech stocks have been taking a beating lately, and venture capital investor Bill Gurley of Benchmark thinks it’s a sign. If the valuations of public tech companies are compressing, private market valuations might be next.Bill Gurley to Unicorns: Winter Is Coming. You Ready? | Re/code
In a tweetstorm Thursday night, Gurley warned startup unicorns — companies that are valued at more than a billion dollars — to prepare for leaner times.
“We may be nearing the end of a cycle where growth is valued more than profitability,” Gurley said on Twitter. “It could be at an inflection point.”"
It'll be interesting to see how the HP => HPE + HPI split works out
"Sales declined across most divisions in the fiscal third quarter -- in personal computers, services, printers and software -- fueled by continued weakness in the global personal-computer market. For the fourth quarter -- the last before the separation in November -- profit before certain items will be 92 cents to 98 cents a share, Hewlett-Packard said Thursday, below analysts’ average projection for $1.HP Stumbles on Weaker PC, Corporate Demand Before November Split - Bloomberg Business
“We faced a challenging macroeconomic and IT spending environment in the quarter,” Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman said on a call with analysts. In the PC and printer market, which represents around half of Hewlett-Packard’s business today, the company sees “a difficult business environment for several quarters to come,” she said."
Tumultuous Twitter times
"So much for that brief Twitter Inc. rally. The micro-blogging site dropped below its initial public offering price for the first time ever Thursday.Twitter Breaks Its IPO Price - Digits - WSJ
By late afternoon, Twitter shares hit an intraday low of $25.92 – just below its $26 2013 IPO price. The stock closed exactly at $26.
Last week, several Twitter insiders, including interim CEO Jack Dorsey, revealed that they had bumped up their stakes in the social-networking company, which sparked a rally of nearly 10% in the company’s stock.
All of that has been lost — and then some."
Tangentially, see As phone contracts die, competition comes to life (Boston Globe)
"If you don’t need the absolute cutting edge and you don’t use mobile payments, the OnePlus 2 is a phenomenal bargain.OnePlus 2 Phone Review: No ‘Flagship Killer’ but a Phenomenal Bargain - WSJ
The phone, which you can only buy from the company’s website, ships unlocked and can be used on either AT&T or T-Mobile’s networks in the U.S. You can’t buy a better Android phone for $330. And buying a phone outright is something to consider as the era of two-year service contracts and phone subsidies comes to an end."
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Excerpt from a timely reality check by Facebook and Asana cofounder Dustin Moskovitz
"So it is with deep sadness that I observe the current culture of intensity in the tech industry. My intellectual conclusion is that these companies are both destroying the personal lives of their employees and getting nothing in return. A candidate recently deciding between Asana and another fast growing company told me that the other team starts their dinners at 830pm to encourage people to stay late (he’s starting here in a few weeks). I also hear young developers frequently brag about “48 hour” coding sprints. This kind of attitude not only hurts young workers who are willing to “step up” to the expectation, but facilitates ageism and sexism by indirectly discriminating against people who cannot maintain that kind of schedule."Work Hard, Live Well — Medium
From the final paragraph of the interview (thanks to Dan Gillmor for the link)
"So, historically, these complicated, extreme measures are often at the heart of any dramatic change to political and economic order. That's my long-winded way of saying my thoughts on hacktivism is that it's ethically complicated, but sometimes necessary for justice to prevail. Can it lead to a massive change in society? It already has, and will most certainly continue to do so because all it really requires at the end of the day is a computer, wifi and one passionate person with a drive to make a difference in the world."The Creator of 'Mr. Robot' Explains Its Hacktivist and Cult Roots | Motherboard
The Making of Stanley Kubrick's 200: A Space Odyssey: How the 1968 film accurately prophesized future technology. (Slate)
From a review of The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s '2001: A Space Odyssey' (original edition US $1,000; new edition $69.99; Amazon Prime preorder $46.93); see the Wired version of the article for a photo gallery
"This forced Kubrick’s team to do deep, meticulous research, which Bizony says helps explain why much of the set design accurately forecasted how we live with technology today. “The executive briefcase with its phone handset and dial? Look closely, and all the elements of the laptop or smartphone are there, half a century ahead of time,” Bizony tells Wired. You could also, for example, see HAL 9000 as a proto-Siri.The Making of Stanley Kubrick's 200: A Space Odyssey: How the 1968 film accurately prophesized future technology.
The book is packed with other details about the making of the film (for example, Clarke wrote the most of the screenplay at the Chelsea Hotel, in the company of William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg), but is most elucidating in its attention to the technical and design details that made the film such an enduring paragon almost 50 years after its release."
Later in the article: "Although the ministry said the campaign is focused on crushing organized cybergangs in the country, some analysts suspect China's broad cybercrime law could sweep up activists and dissidents along with the crooks."
"The Ministry of Public Security in China said this week that 15,000 people have been arrested since the launch of a major anti-cybercrime operation called "cleaning the internet."China vows to “clean the internet” in cybercrime crackdown | Naked Security
So far, the six-month operation, launched in July, has produced investigations of over 7400 cases of cybercrime and 66,000 websites.
In an announcement on its website, the ministry said the arrests were for crimes that "jeopardized internet security," and described in detail a handful of cases, ranging from network attacks and website intrusions to sophisticated frauds."
Check the full summary for more U.S. social media and mobile messaging trends
"Facebook remains the most popular social media site – 72% of online adults are Facebook users, amounting to 62% of all American adults. Growth on the site has largely plateaued. There has not been a significant change in the overall share of users since 2012. Those on Facebook remain highly engaged with 70% saying they log on daily, including 43% who do so several times a day.Mobile Messaging and Social Media 2015 | Pew Research Center
Fully 72% of online American adults use Facebook, a proportion unchanged from September 2014. Usage continues to be especially popular among online women, 77% of whom are users. In addition, 82% of online adults ages 18 to 29 use Facebook, along with 79% of those ages 30 to 49, 64% of those ages 50 to 64 and 48% of those 65 and older."
Check this LinkedIn post for more details -- I consider the new app/service more complementary than competitive with corporate directories, however
"The professional social-networking company Wednesday unveiled an app called LinkedIn Lookup that allows users to search and message colleagues. Users can search by name, title, experience, education or skills.LinkedIn Unveils App to Compete with Corporate Directory - Digits - WSJ
LinkedIn says roughly 30% of members use the service to find coworkers because it is often more comprehensive and up-to-date than internal directories. In April, LinkedIn surveyed 814 professionals in North America and found just 38% use their companies’ internal directory to get information about coworkers."
Life is short -- maybe invest more in security next time; also see The Ashley Madison Data Dump, Explained (NYT) and The mind-bending messiness of the Ashley Madison data dump (The Verge)
"On Wednesday, Avid Life confirmed that some of the customer data posted this week in a dark corner of the Internet is legitimate. The disclosure sparked a frenzy as people tried to search for their own names and those of partners, while divorce lawyers said they were searching for potential evidence and a British florist offered a discount on “apology flowers.”Hackers Post Stolen User Data From Ashley Madison Breach - WSJ
Avid Life’s decision to face down the hackers raises tough moral and legal questions."
Final paragraph of an extensive Steven Johnson reality check
"But just because creative workers deserve to make more money, it doesn’t mean that the economic or technological trends are undermining their livelihoods. If anything, the trends are making creative livelihoods more achievable. Contrary to Lars Ulrich’s fear in 2000, the ‘‘diverse voices of the artists’’ are still with us, and they seem to be multiplying. The song remains the same, and there are more of us singing it for a living."The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t - The New York Times
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
That's compared to, for the U.S. education market in 2014, ~4.9M Windows devices and ~4.2M Apple (iOS/Mac OS) devices
"But the Chromebook category is fast gaining traction in the United States.Chromebooks Gaining on iPads in School Sector - The New York Times
Last year, about 3.9 million Chromebooks were shipped in the education sector, an increase in unit sales of more than 310 percent compared with the previous year, IDC said. By contrast, iPad unit sales for education fell last year to 2.7 million devices, compared to 2.9 million in 2013, according to IDC data.
“Even if Microsoft is No. 1 in volume and Apple is No. 1 in revenue, from the growth perspective, nobody can beat Chromebook,” said Rajani Singh, a senior research analyst at IDC who tracks the personal computer market and is the author of the report."
Check the full post for additional tips including "Is a badge on Foursquare worth your life?"
"Loose lips sink ships.‘Loose tweets destroy fleets,’ US Air Force warns | Naked Security
That's what WWII propaganda posters in the US warned in an effort to keep people from unguarded talk about secure information that might be of use to the enemy.
The modern version, published by the US Air Force on Friday, holds a very similar sentiment - loose tweets destroy fleets.
Keeping quiet about operational information is "vital to ensure military members stay safe on a daily basis," according to the advisory, which was datelined Al Udeid Air Base, in Qatar."
NYT reporters are keeping its public editor busy lately
"My take: For many months, I’ve heard from readers who believe that The Times seems, at times, out to get Amazon. I wrote a column critiquing The Times’s coverage of the feud between traditional book publishers and Amazon.Was Portrayal of Amazon's Brutal Workplace on Target? - The New York Times
On the latest exposé, I’m in agreement with parts of what both Mr. Jarvis and Mr. Mitchell have to say. The story was, as Mr. Mitchell said, hard-edge and direct without being prosecutorial or breathlessly crusading. It gave Amazon its due in some ways, as both a company and an employer. But Mr. Jarvis makes an important point when he says it should have provided more balance and context."
Signs of the times
"These days, my smartphone and tablet, instead of a radio, feed my appetite for information and the need for consistent connectivity is always present in my mind. To be fair, I do know how to turn this info gene off and I am not a slave to it. But I do like to stay abreast of things and, whenever possible, I often use my smartphone to check news, weather, email, social media, etc. On the other hand, since tech news and issues are changing constantly, this info gene actually helps me do my job much better.Are Smartphones Making Us All Infomaniacs? | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis
It turns out, I am not the only one with this tendency. A recent survey by Statista shows that, among all adults 18-65, 11% check their phones every few minutes. 41% check them at least a couple of times an hour."
At least one party in this context kept their word; also see Ashley Madison hack is not only real, it’s worse than we thought (Ars Technica)
"“Avid Life Media has failed to take down Ashley Madison and Established Men,” Impact Team wrote in a statement accompanying the online dump Tuesday. “We have explained the fraud, deceit, and stupidity of ALM and their members. Now everyone gets to see their data…. Keep in mind the site is a scam with thousands of fake female profiles. See ashley madison fake profile lawsuit; 90-95% of actual users are male. Chances are your man signed up on the world’s biggest affair site, but never had one. He just tried to. If that distinction matters.”Hackers Finally Post Stolen Ashley Madison Data | WIRED
The hackers deflected responsibility for any damages or repercussions that victims of the breach and data dump may suffer.
“Find yourself in here? It was ALM that failed you and lied to you. Prosecute them and claim damages. Then move on with your life. Learn your lesson and make amends. Embarrassing now, but you’ll get over it,” they wrote."
Accelerated evolution for Internet advertising
"Not only do these trackers represent efforts to profile you, but they also waste time — when you see a web page stuck loading, you can usually blame one of these trackers. Ghostery aims to fix that. For a fee, the company reports to site owners which trackers are slowing down pages — which in turn may improve how ads are served. It will also soon unveil a “Ghostery score” that will show users which sites to trust based on the trackers that sites are loading up.Ad Blockers and the Nuisance at the Heart of the Modern Web - The New York Times
The pattern here is ironic: PageFair, AdBlock Plus and Ghostery, which all depend to some extent on consumers’ interest in blocking ads, are also all pushing innovative efforts to create better ads."
A net-positive CarPlay first impression, at least when tested in a 2016 Corvette Stingray
"CarPlay is undoubtedly the future of in-car technology. Siri, after years of rearing, is worthy of helming a system that makes car maker’s own dashboard controls feel like DOS. But it isn’t a complete joyride. Apple’s services are stuck in the slow lane compared with Google’s beloved maps and Google Now."Apple CarPlay Review: Siri’s Finally on the Right Road - WSJ
Evidently N does not stand for Nexus, in the new Alphabet; also see Google announces OnHub, a $200 router focused on simplicity (The Verge), which explores potential Amazon Echo overlap, and Rejoice: Google Just Created a Stupidly Simple Wi-Fi Router (Wired)
"And while it has the latest flavor of Wi-Fi (AC) and a 360-degree antenna array for pointing the Wi-Fi in your direction, wherever you are, its specs also include two other forms of wireless—Bluetooth and ZigBee (aka 802.15.4)—which enable the router to talk to smart-home appliances. Google doesn’t specifically say what these would do, instead labeling them as “future friendly.” One thing is clear: This combination of wireless protocols will allow the device to use Weave, a new Google communication system for connected devices to talk to each other using a common language.Final paragraph from the Wired article:
There aren’t any publicized smart-home features at launch, but people who buy Google’s router may not have to buy some other $200 hub later on, when they decide to take the smart-home plunge."
"OnHub is only the latest move in Google’s relentless attempt to make it easier to get online. See, when you go online Google tends to make money. So it’s making balloons that fly around the world beaming connectivity to Earth, and it’s digging trenches for Fiber in cities around America. Now, with OnHub, it’s trying to solve that impenetrable jungle of cables, blinking lights, and error messages that we’re forced to live with. And once it’s placed proudly on our shelves in our living rooms, who knows what OnHub could do?"Google Unveils OnHub, a Smart Wi-Fi Router - Personal Tech News - WSJ
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Google Green Blog: Project Sunroof: mapping the planet’s solar energy potential, one rooftop at a time
You can sign up to be notified when the project scope expands, if you're not in the initial coverage areas
"The cost of solar power is at a record low. A typical solar home can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year on their electricity bill. But, as a volunteer with the Boston-based solar program Solarize Massachusetts and a solar homeowner myself, I’ve always been surprised at how many people I encounter who think that “my roof isn’t sunny enough for solar,” or “solar is just too expensive.” Certainly many of them are missing out on a chance to save money and be green.Google Green Blog: Project Sunroof: mapping the planet’s solar energy potential, one rooftop at a time
Enter Project Sunroof, my recent 20% project. Project Sunroof is a new online tool we’re testing to help homeowners explore whether they should go solar. Available in the San Francisco Bay Area, Fresno (in central California), and the Boston area for now, the tool uses high-resolution aerial mapping (the same used by Google Earth) to help you calculate your roof’s solar energy potential, without having to climb up any ladders."
Tangentially, see Remember Facebook Notes? It's Back with a Vengeance (Wired) for what may be next collab/social competitive front: cloning Medium
"Yes, this is also part of the breaking away that Google+ services are going through, joining the Photos product in all of its “standalone” glory. I use Hangouts in Gmail on the desktop, but I might switch over. Having a big old call button is actually kind of handy.Google Hangouts Gets Its Own Site, Just Like Facebook Messenger | TechCrunch
This is also, of course, a massive branding exercise for Google. It wants to build powerful brands to compete with other micro-products coming out of Facebook, Microsoft and Snapchat. Google has Photos and Hangouts, Facebook has Instagram and Messenger and Snapchat is coming on strong with Stories."
Check the full article for a summary of MoneyPenny, Facebook's "smart virtual assistant"
"Butterfield doesn’t plan on making Slackbot a sentient artificial intelligence like in the movie, but rather infusing the Q&A tool with natural language processing and machine learning so that it can do mundane, time-consuming tasks like scheduling meetings that take up a lot of employees’ time and attention.Scarlett Johansson, Facebook MoneyPenny and Corporate Productivity - Digits - WSJ
The company, which last week turned two, just hired its first data scientist, and it’s looking to invest in artificial intelligence. Butterfield acknowledges the challenge, saying his company will need partners with major AI capability.
“Apple spent billions of dollars on Siri and worked on it for a very long time with hundreds of engineers and a huge dataset of voices – and it’s f–ing idiotic. Siri is nearly useless,” he says. Apple declined comment."
Jerry Kaplan accentuates the potential positive in AI weapons; also see We’re Fighting Killer Robots the Wrong Way (WSJ)
"The world should approach A.I. weapons as an engineering problem — to establish internationally sanctioned weapons standards, mandate proper testing and formulate reasonable post-deployment controls — rather than by forgoing the prospect of potentially safer and more effective weapons.Robot Weapons: What’s the Harm? - The New York Times
Instead of turning the planet into a “Terminator”-like battlefield, machines may be able to pierce the fog of war better than humans can, offering at least the possibility of a more humane and secure world. We deserve a chance to find out."
Monday, August 17, 2015
Looking forward to hearing more
"There are already plenty of companies out there selling ear-worn devices like hearing aids and Bluetooth headsets. Doppler’s products are neither of those. It’s one of a few companies working on wearable gadgets that aim to augment the average person’s hearing: you’d be able to adjust the bass and treble at a concert with a few swipes on an accompanying smartphone app, or block out specific noises like a crying baby or the hum of an airplane engine.Ear-Worn Wearables Aimed at Giving You Bionic Hearing Are on the Way | MIT Technology Review
The wearables market is growing at a rapid clip: the market researcher IDC says shipments of wearable devices tripled during the first three months of 2015, to 11.4 million. Though most of these wearables are wristbands, Doppler and other startups focusing on sound enhancement, like Nuheara and Soundhawk, believe consumers are getting comfortable enough with technology worn on the body to put it in their ears."
Also see Silicon Valley Thinks Amazon Sounds Like a Great Place to Work (Re/code) and Inside Amazon (ongoing by Tim Bray)
"In an memo to Amazon employees, Bezos acknowledges that the Times cites “anecdotes” of “shockingly callous management practices.” But while he doesn’t argue with any specifics in the Times report, he says that its overall portrait of Amazon “doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day.”Jeff Bezos Responds to New York Times Amazon Story | Re/code
The Times “claims that our intentional approach is to create a soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard,” Bezos writes. “Again, I don’t recognize this Amazon and I very much hope you don’t, either….I strongly believe that anyone working in a company that really is like the one described in the NYT would be crazy to stay. I know I would leave such a company.”"
Also see Linux Foundation Launches Open Mainframe Project (TechCrunch)
"The new hardware will make it easier to run technology like the MongoDB database and the open-source software Spark, International Business Machines Corp. said. Spark is a free information-storing framework that IBM has said it is spending “hundreds of millions” to develop.IBM Introduces Two Open-Source-Only Mainframes in Hardware Push - Bloomberg Business
The mainframe is one of IBM’s signature hardware products that will help sell related software and services. Presently more than a third of IBM’s mainframe clients are running the Linux operating system, Tom Rosamilia, senior vice president of IBM Systems, said in a release."
"Since the days when most major cities supported multiple newspapers, the news media has long been subject to groupthink, and prone to search for sensation. But as more readers move toward online social networks, and as publishers desperately seek scale to bring in revenue, many have deplored a race toward repetitive, trivial journalism, so noisy that it drowns out more considered work.Where Clicks Reign, Audience Is King - The New York Times
Reading disposable web journalism is “like eating a whole bag of Doritos,” Joshua Topolsky, a founder of the technology website The Verge, said in an interview. “You look up and think, ‘What am I doing?’ ” Mr. Topolsky recently left his job overseeing Bloomberg’s web properties, and afterward posted an essay that in part expressed frustration with what is published online."
Sunday, August 16, 2015
Final paragraphs from a self-driving car reality check
"While many, yours truly included, would like to see an Apple Car, these rumors don’t mean that the company will actually ship a car. The experiment could be just that: An opportunity to learn what not to do, a chance to fail to great advantage.Google Car Challenges | Monday Note
If Apple is developing a production electric vehicle, the project will certainly include driver assistance functions — but it will definitely not be an autonomous, self-driving car. The company likes to ship products, not concepts."
Not your average quad-core smartphone...
"It’s possible that the next iPhone’s chip will fall below last year’s flagship iPad in performance, but Apple’s chipmaking history suggests that’s unlikely. As a result, we’d expect to see the iPhone 6S sporting some major performance gains over the iPhone 6. The extra power could be used for even more impressive games, processing 4K video, and running apps that are even closer to OS X-class. If the A9 matches or comes close to the numbers above, it will be in the same league as 2009 iMacs, 2010 MacBook Pros and 2011 MacBook Airs, all of which are still viable computers. Yet the iPhone will be profoundly more power-efficient, and unlike any of those Macs, capable of fitting in your pocket without any cooling fans."Opinion: What to expect from Apple’s A9 chip | 9to5Mac
From a review of the latest Apple car rumor sources
"Runaway rumors have surfaced once again on the flimsiest of evidence that Apple is building a car. The UK's Guardian, who claimed to have an "exclusive" story proving that an Apple car existed really danced to a tune in their head. It wasn't a smoking gun, that's for sure. Is there evidence of Apple possibly working on a vehicle-related project? Yes there is, but making the leap to an actual Apple Vehicle is a leap only cultists are willing to make at this stage of the game. I still believe that if Apple had such a plan, every car company would dump Apple's CarPlay in a heartbeat. The sudden public thud of Car manufacturers dumping CarPlay en masse would signal that they've discovered that Apple is doing something that would be considered a direct threat to them or the auto industry. No such activity has taken place. So whatever Apple is working on, it's likely not an entire car."Are the New Round of Car Rumors Believable? - Patently Apple
Saturday, August 15, 2015
From a Facebook reality check by Tim Wu (I ran across the article on Facebook...)
"Since the late eighteenth century or so, there have been three main business models in the entertainment and media business: selling content, selling advertisements, or both. Some media are predominantly driven by payment (books, movies, and Netflix), others by advertisements (Google and broadcast television); while some rely on both (cable, newspapers, and magazines). Along with the classic models, since the nineteen-nineties or so there has been a fourth way: giving your customers stuff in exchange for their personal data, which you then use to make money. Facebook is not the only company that operates this way but it is the champion, widely assumed to have more data than anyone else. That data is useful for advertising, which is Facebook’s main source of revenue. But the data is also an asset. The two-hundred-and-seventy-billion-dollar valuation of Facebook, which made a profit of three billion dollars last year, is based on some faith that piling up all of that data has value in and of itself. It’s like a virtual Fort Knox—with a gold mine attached to it. One reason Mark Zuckerberg is so rich is that the stock market assumes that, at some point, he’ll figure out a new way to extract profit from all the data he’s accumulated about us."Facebook Should Pay All of Us - The New Yorker
Friday, August 14, 2015
Check the full article for more Windows 8 undo dimensions
"It does make sense, though. Windows 8/8.1 was never able to gain market traction and the majority of Microsoft's audience for Windows 10 is those Windows 7 holdouts. Several in the industry, writers and vendors alike, blamed Windows 8 for a failing PC market. So, obviously, the new OS has to bridge the gap for those with upgrade plans and those who gave Windows 8 such poor scores. But this is the bridge that should've been built long ago and should've been labeled Windows 7.5. There's no question that Windows 10 is a compromise between Windows 7 and Windows 8, but it's extra heavy on the Windows 7 sauce.Windows 10 is Turning Me Back into a Windows 7 User
Windows 10 is turning me back into a Windows 7 user, whether I like it or not."
"At the Flash Memory Summit in California, Samsung has unveiled what appears to be the world's largest hard drive—and somewhat surprisingly, it uses NAND flash chips rather than spinning platters. The rather boringly named PM1633a, which is being targeted at the enterprise market, manages to cram almost 16 terabytes into a 2.5-inch SSD package. By comparison, the largest conventional hard drives made by Seagate and Western Digital currently max out at 8 or 10TB.Samsung unveils 2.5-inch 16TB SSD: The world’s largest hard drive | Ars Technica UK
The secret sauce behind Samsung's 16TB SSD is the company's new 256Gbit (32GB) NAND flash die; twice the capacity of 128Gbit NAND dies that were commercialised by various chip makers last year. To reach such an astonishing density, Samsung has managed to cram 48 layers of 3-bits-per-cell (TLC) 3D V-NAND into a single die. This is up from 24 layers in 2013, and then 36 layers in 2014."
Another reason why we probably haven't seen the last Amazon Fire Phone
"But what has captured publishers’ attention is the increase in the number of people reading their phones. In a Nielsen survey of 2,000 people this past December, about 54% of e-book buyers said they used smartphones to read their books at least some of the time. That’s up from 24% in 2012, according to a separate study commissioned by Nielsen. The number of people who read primarily on phones has risen to 14% in the first quarter of 2015 from 9% in 2012.The Rise of Phone Reading - WSJ
Meanwhile, those reading mainly on e-readers, such as Kindles and Nooks, dropped over the same period to 32% from 50%. Even tablet reading has declined recently to 41% in the first quarter this year from 44% in 2014."
From an overview of the latest Evernote Web client; I've been shifting to native Web clients lately, e.g., routinely using Excel Online rather than full Excel for basic list management, and am hopeful the new Evernote Web client will have more consistent performance than the Mac OS Evernote client
"For years, the web version was designed to mimic Evernote’s desktop interfaces. Last October, we set out to rethink that.Introducing the New Evernote Web Client - Evernote Blog
Rather than be derivative of another client, we felt it should exemplify the speed and lightness of the modern web. And because it’s often the first touchpoint for many Evernote users, underneath an approachable UI should be the productivity power to spark the beginnings of a lifelong Evernote workflow. The new Evernote Web does just that."
Check the full article for additional details; e.g., Apple was Akamai's largest customer in 2014
"The company wanted to introduce this year a live TV service delivered via the Internet, but is now aiming for 2016, said people familiar with Apple’s plans. Talks to license programming from TV networks such as those owned by CBS Corp. and 21st Century Fox Inc. are progressing slowly, some of the people said. Apple also doesn’t have the computer network capacity in place to ensure a good viewing experience, said some of the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.Apple Said to Delay Live TV Service to 2016 as Negotiations Stall - Bloomberg Business
Without enough content deals in place, Apple has scrapped plans to announce the service at a Sept. 9 event in San Francisco, which would have coincided with the beginning of the new network TV season, the people said. The Cupertino, California-based company still plans to introduce a more powerful version of its Apple TV set-top box at the event, said the people, but customers -- for now, at least -- will need a cable or satellite TV subscription or an antenna to watch live network television."
A less disposable Chromebook, starting at $400; also see Google Unveils New Chrome Operating System for Business Customers (NYT), Latest IHS research shows Chromebooks surging as bigger laptops lag (ZDNet), and Introducing new Chromebooks and features, engineered for work (Official Google for Work Blog)
"Chromebooks have taken off as low-priced, low-powered laptops for primary education and casual computing—they’re basically just self-reliant Web browsers. The only Chromebook that’s gone the powerful and expensive route, so far, is Google’s own $1,000 Chromebook Pixel, but it’s something of a misfit. Dell says its new Chromebook 13 has real purpose, tailored for use in the enterprise.Dell’s $900 Chromebook 13 Is Built for Business - Personal Tech News - WSJ
It takes advantage of a forthcoming update to Google’s Chrome OS (available across all Chromebooks), which provides several enterprise-friendly features. Chromebooks finally get reliable VPN support, a necessity for corporate security. New IT enhancements include compatibility with Web-based virtualization software that’ll let Chromebook users run Windows apps."
Follow your heart (data)
"Anyone who follows Game of Thrones knows that few things can set your heart racing quite like Valyrian Steel. Now there’s data to prove it.What ‘Game of Thrones’ Does to Your Heart Rate - Digits - WSJ
The data comes courtesy of Brandon Ballinger, a data scientist working with researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. Mr. Ballinger built an Apple Watch app, called Cardiogram, that can track a user’s heart rate through the day. With the app, Mr. Ballinger has learned that his own heart jumps to more than 120 beats per minute when he eats a burrito.
In the long term, he’d like people to use Cardiogram to give medical researchers new insights into how the heart works."
Thursday, August 13, 2015
More Apple/Samsung competitive collateral damage
"China's Lenovo Group shares slid nearly 9 percent on Thursday after it said its quarterly net profit was halved as its mobile division with Motorola handsets lost nearly $300 million. Lenovo plans to cut about 3,200 non-manufacturing jobs with a one-time cost of $600 million.Lenovo Suffers a 9% Slide due to Crashing Motorola Smartphone Sales - Patently Apple
Lenovo's Chief Executive Yang Yuanqing warned that the company was facing its "toughest market environment in recent years," referring to the difficulty in selling handsets combined with a continuously shrinking global market for PCs."
Also see Apple teams up with app devs to make iPad better for work (Engadget)
"But the PC industry believes 2 in 1s are the future of portable computing and is gearing up to try and drive them into the designs of most laptops in the future. The key reason is, with today’s desktop and laptops, the PC industry has hit a wall. Demand for PCs have been in the negative each year for the last three and it shows no sign of ever growing again. But they believe if they can convince people the best portable is a 2 in 1 of some type, this could drive a huge refresh or replacement rates and it would get the PC market growing again.2 in 1 Laptops and the Future of the Notebook | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis
I have my doubts that 2 in 1s will drive new growth, but there is a possible development from a competitor that actually could help them with their cause. There is a lot of speculation Apple will soon introduce a 12.9-inch tablet that, with a third party keyboard, could be used as a computer or tablet. Apple’s influence on the market is so big that, if Apple endorsed the 2 in 1 idea in any way, it could validate the PC industry’s position on this and get more people interested in these Windows-based 2 in 1s. Either way, get ready for the PC industry to try and push people to buy 2 in 1s with the idea that this is the future of portable computing."
Building on one API for all Outlook clients
"Earlier this year, we announced a preview of the new Outlook.com that lets you make the most of the moments that matter to you, featuring a refined inbox, new ways to collaborate, an upgraded calendar and support for partner add-ins. Today, we are pleased to announce new partnerships with Evernote, Yelp, IFTTT and Wunderlist to deliver solutions for both consumer and commercial Outlook users. Additionally, the Uber, PayPal, Evernote and Boomerang add-ins are beginning to roll out today. We’re excited about how partners are enhancing the Outlook experience through this integration."New Outlook partner add-ins and expanded rollout of Outlook.com preview - Office Blogs
"Sean Rad, the co-founder of Tinder, who was replaced as CEO in March, is returning to the job.Tinder Founder Sean Rad Returns as CEO, Replacing Chris Payne | Re/code
As part of the move, Chris Payne — the former eBay and Microsoft exec who was hired in March to give the company more experienced management — is leaving. In addition, Greg Blatt, a top exec at IAC, which owns a big chunk of the fast-growing dating app company, will become executive chairman of Tinder.
In an interview, board member and Benchmark partner Matt Cohler said that Payne did not turn out to be a good “fit” for the company, and so it was decided to move quickly."
"Pre-orders for the Surface Hub, which is a massive touch-sensitive and camera-equipped display designed to help people work together in an office and across the Web, opened July 1. Following strong demand for the devices, Microsoft said two weeks later that it would be reworking its manufacturing processes to keep up with interest, and would have to delay the devices’ roll-out. Wednesday’s announcement means companies that planned to install the devices know when to expect their new hardware.Microsoft's Surface Hub collaboration tool delayed until 2016 | PCWorld
“Surface Hub devices will begin shipping on January 1, 2016,” the company said in a blog post."
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Time for PR training at Tinder -- from a putting out fire with gasoline case study:
"Like a person scorned after a bad date, the tech company Tinder went a little bit crazy on social media on Tuesday after Vanity Fair published an article blaming technology for the death of dating.Tinder Doesn’t Contribute to Hookup Culture (Says Tinder) - The New York Times
The article, “Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse,’ ” was not just about Tinder — there is a wider Internet at work, the writer Nancy Jo Sales suggested. But the app, which lets users quickly swipe left to signal rejection or right to signal interest, was used to illustrate the problems young daters face when technology fuses short attention spans with too many options."
Also see Tech Breakups Show Bigger Is Not Necessarily Better (NYT)
"“Now they really get a new lease on life in terms of focusing on their core security DNA as the Veritas storage piece has been a massive black cloud on the Symantec story for a decade,” FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives said on Tuesday.Symantec to Sell Data Storage Unit Veritas for $8 Billion | Re/code
Symantec, which bought Veritas for $13.5 billion in 2005, said it expected about $6.3 billion in net cash proceeds from the sale.
Revenue from Symantec’s consumer security business fell 19 percent in the first quarter, while revenue from its enterprise security business dropped 13 percent."
From the final paragraph: wait to see the next Surface and optimized-for-Windows-10 PCs, if you can
"If you’re looking for a sub-$400 laptop, skip Windows entirely. Since Google’s browser-based Chrome OS requires less processing power, laptop makers are able to put more into design and build quality. I suggest Toshiba’s $279 Chromebook 2 or Dell’s $300 Chromebook 11.Windows 10 Laptops: In Search of Great Hardware to Match Great Software - WSJ
If you remember only one thing, let it be this: If you’re in a rush to buy a laptop, get one you can live with and spend at least $600, and ideally between $800 and $1,200."
From an Alphabet reality check; also see Is the New Google More Like Berkshire Hathaway, General Electric or AT&T? (NYT)
"First, it’s important to dispel the assumption that Page and cofounder Sergey Brin have created something like the Berkshire Hathaway of the Internet, an updated version of Warren Buffett’s conglomerate. “The comparison is silly,” says Michael A. Cusumano, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Buffett, he says, invests in existing, undervalued companies, a bit like a mutual fund—precisely the opposite of Alphabet’s VC-style focus on risky new ventures like Calico, which wants to somehow fight aging.Why Google’s Alphabet Is Nothing like Berkshire Hathaway—and Much Riskier | MIT Technology Review
If Page and Brin try to run Alphabet like an updated Berkshire Hathaway or even General Electric, a more tech-focused conglomerate, they will run into trouble, says David B. Yoffie, a professor of international business administration at Harvard Business School. “They’re run very differently from successful tech companies,” he says. “I’m skeptical because it’s very hard to have a conglomerate structure in the tech world.”"
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Check the full post for a Google data center architecture deep-dive
"Google with justly earned pride recently announced: 'Today at the 2015 Open Network Summit, we are revealing for the first time the details of five generations of our in-house network technology. From Firehose, our first in-house datacenter network, ten years ago to our latest-generation Jupiter network, we’ve increased the capacity of a single datacenter network more than 100x. Our current generation — Jupiter fabrics — can deliver more than 1 Petabit/sec of total bisection bandwidth. To put this in perspective, such capacity would be enough for 100,000 servers to exchange information at 10Gb/s each, enough to read the entire scanned contents of the Library of Congress in less than 1/10th of a second.'"How Google Invented an Amazing Datacenter Network Only They Could Create - High Scalability -
A timely Twitter reality check
"Still, while the company was dealing with major growth concerns and a looming CEO search (the company claims Dick Costolo’s departure was in the cards since last year), its board was selling stock. Now it’s buying Twitter stock at the cheapest it has ever been. Kudos to Dorsey for the strategy; Twitter stock is benefitting because of it, and many out there appreciate the public boost. But the support, like the company stock, feels a little cheap right now."Jack Dorsey Bought Some Twitter Stock, but He Sold a Lot More | Re/code
Also see ‘B Is for Buffett’ in Page’s Plan to Mold Google After Berkshire (BloombergBusiness)
"Hidden in Page's letter announcing the creation of Alphabet, Google's new parent company, is an inside joke that compares the restructure to the sprawling technology company at the center of HBO comedy series Silicon Valley.Here’s the Hidden Joke in Google’s Letter Announcing Alphabet - Bloomberg Business
In the series, Google-like company Hooli creates a comically terrible moonshot division called XYZ, led by "Sole Head Dreamer" Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti. Hooli XYZ's greatest achievement ends up being a backfiring potato cannon that wreaks havoc on employees."
Time to Disconnect
"The report, published by Adobe and PageFair, a Dublin-based startup that helps advertisers thwart blockers, said ad-blocking software will lead to nearly $22 billion in lost advertising revenue this year – representing a 41% rise from 2014. One third of all Internet users now use some software to block ads, according to the companies.Ad-Blocking Software Will Cost the Ad Industry $22 Billion This Year - Digits - WSJ
The rise of ad-blocking software is a response to both privacy concerns and to the sheer prevalence of digital ads. Some users object to the collection of personal data, while others find ads – particularly those that follow users across devices – to be annoying and to slow down their systems."
Monday, August 10, 2015
Excerpt from an organizational update from former Google CEO Larry Page; also see Google Is Restructuring Under a New Company Called Alphabet (NYT)
"Our company is operating well today, but we think we can make it cleaner and more accountable. So we are creating a new company, called Alphabet (http://abc.xyz). I am really excited to be running Alphabet as CEO with help from my capable partner, Sergey, as President.Official Google Blog: G is for Google
What is Alphabet? Alphabet is mostly a collection of companies. The largest of which, of course, is Google. This newer Google is a bit slimmed down, with the companies that are pretty far afield of our main Internet products contained in Alphabet instead. What do we mean by far afield? Good examples are our health efforts: Life Sciences (that works on the glucose-sensing contact lens), and Calico (focused on longevity). Fundamentally, we believe this allows us more management scale, as we can run things independently that aren’t very related. Alphabet is about businesses prospering through strong leaders and independence. In general, our model is to have a strong CEO who runs each business, with Sergey and me in service to them as needed. We will rigorously handle capital allocation and work to make sure each business is executing well. We'll also make sure we have a great CEO for each business, and we’ll determine their compensation. In addition, with this new structure we plan to implement segment reporting for our Q4 results, where Google financials will be provided separately than those for the rest of Alphabet businesses as a whole."
Microsoft researchers aim to help The New Yorker process weekly cartoon caption contest submissions
"The machine and the New Yorker editors don’t always align on shortlists. On average, though, all of the editors’ favorites appeared in the AI’s top 55.8 percent of choices, according to the study. That means the New Yorker could use the system to eliminate at least 2,200 submissions a week without missing the gems. “On average, we saved about 50 percent of his workload,” says Shahaf. It could also save Mankoff the time it takes to hire new assistants. “I do think the future is human-machine companionship,” Mankoff says. “Computers can be a great aid.”"And the New Yorker Cartoon Contest Winner Is … a Computer - Bloomberg Business
From a Windows 10 trending-topic summary; apparently being an operating system "as a service" means never having to say you're sorry (for bugs)
"Windows 10 is forcing us to change our mindsets about the Windows operating system.10 Days with Windows 10
No longer is it a finely polished operating system but a work in progress and with that comes various stages of success and failure when it comes to its operation and day to day use.
Windows 10, when it was released on 29 July, was a starting point. It is prompting a new cadence for Microsoft when it comes to maintaining the OS and it will take the Windows team at Microsoft a while to get used to that process and approach."
Friday, August 07, 2015
Check the full post for details on Outlook, Wunderlist, Yammer, and Microsoft Translator for Apple Watch, along with several Microsoft Android Wear apps; tangentially, see Apple Helps Push U.S. Watch Sales to Biggest Drop in Seven Years (BloombergBusiness)
"Wearables are an emerging type of device that promises to be always with you and provide relevant, personal notifications to keep you focused—through simple, natural and brief interactions. These context-aware devices become work companions, health advisors and even intelligent assistants. It’s a field still in formation, and with more than one-third of online U.S. adults reporting using a wearable device1, one that has the potential to help us do more in life and work.Wearable Productivity—new apps for you to wear - Office Blogs
Over the past months, we’ve delivered a number of experiences on wearables: OneDrive, OneNote, PowerPoint, Skype, Yammer, as well as some from our newly joined Sunrise and Wunderlist teams. You even have Cortana on your Microsoft Band!
Today we’re launching a new round of Wearable Productivity apps, as part of our quest to reinvent productivity on all platforms. Check out all our new and updated wearable apps below!"
The future is highly voice-activated
"The more I use Amazon’s Echo, the more I like it, even with its current limitations. It has serious potential if Amazon can get third party developers to back it. But Apple could one up Amazon if they added this type of capability to their TV device/platform and give this box a new level of intelligence that uses voice for people to access information and control their home automation. If they do they could have another big hit they could add to the ones already driving Apple’s very large profit engine."Is Apple’s New TV Their Answer to Amazon’s Echo? | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis
The Time VR cover story is behind its paywall, but HuffPo pulled together a handy roundup of the cover art reinterpretations; also see Debate Rages Over Whether Or Not TIME's Oculus Cover Has Killed VR (Forbes) and 11 Things We Learned By Trying Every Virtual Reality Headset Out There (Time -- not paywalled)
"Time's newest cover was supposed to show off the wonders of cutting-edge virtual reality (VR). Instead, it gave the magazine a lesson in the time-tested art of Photoshop.Time Magazine's Virtual Reality Cover Spawns Hysterical New Meme
The cover features an image of Palmer Luckey, inventor of the Oculus Rift virtual reality device, apparently consumed by some VR moment -- and it spawned instant ridicule on the Internet."
"IBM said today that it has reached a deal to spend $1 billion to acquire Merge Health, a publicly held medical imaging company based in Chicago.IBM Makes a Billion-Dollar Bet on Medical Imaging | Re/code
Big Blue says it wants to combine Merge’s capabilities in processing and handling medical and diagnostic images with its Watson cognitive computing platform. It hopes to harness Watson’s abilities to glean insights from large bodies of data — Merge’s systems are in use at 7,500 hospitals and clinics in the U.S. — to analyze images and help doctors and researchers make new discoveries."
"Wall Street appears to have decided that the TV Industrial Complex, which looked impenetrable for years, is finally crumbling under the weight of declining viewership, ad dollars and, most crucially, subscribers. That means TV programmers, who have successfully resisted changing their business in any fundamental way, may have to start changing.TV Decline May Help Apple Web TV Deal | Re/code
And that means that things they wouldn’t have considered a few months ago may soon be on the table."
Informatica Corporation Announces Completion of Acquisition by the Permira Funds and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board | Informatica US
It'll be interesting to see how this plays out over the next couple years; also see Salesforce Ventures and Microsoft Join Informatica Buyout (NYT)
"Informatica Corporation, the world’s number one independent provider of data integration software, today announced the successful completion of its acquisition by a company controlled by the Permira funds and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB). Additionally Informatica announced that Microsoft Corporation and Salesforce Ventures have agreed to become strategic investors in the company alongside the Permira funds and CPPIB. The acquisition is valued at approximately $5.3 billion, with Informatica stockholders receiving $48.75 in cash per share. Informatica’s stock will cease trading on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol INFA effective today."Informatica Corporation Announces Completion of Acquisition by the Permira Funds and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board | Informatica US
Thursday, August 06, 2015
First paragraph from a timely wide-area wireless reality check
"This week saw yet another rumor that Apple was working on some sort of mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), though it was eventually shot down by Apple itself. We’ve also recently seen the launch of Google Fi, Google’s own MVNO, and both Google and Facebook are moving forward with efforts to provide wireless connectivity in emerging markets using balloons and drones respectively. One of the questions I’m asked most frequently about all this is how disruptive will it be to the traditional wireless carriers? The reality is the wireless industry is unusually immune to disruption from outside forces and that none of the companies that are presently creating new models to tackle the wireless services market are likely to have nearly as much impact as the companies already in the market in shaping its short-to-medium term future."The Challenge of Disrupting the Wireless Business | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis