Court Backs Rules Treating Internet as Utility, Not Luxury

An important example of when it's important to maintain the status quo. still, while this is definitely a desired outcome in the view of the public interest, this won't be settled until it's been looked at by the Supreme Court.

Cecilia Kang of The New York Times wrote a great article about this and their video (below) is exceptionally informative.

The Death of the Period.

An interesting take on how technology is changing the way we communicate. As Dan Bilefsky writes for the NYTimes, I find myself taking on that "get off my lawn" feeling when it comes to the apparent lost of the period. Things like apps within messaging apps (#8) aren't helping.

It's not made any easier by the fact that his piece doesn't use periods. 

"Professor Crystal’s observations on the fate of the period are driven in part by frequent visits to high schools across Britain, where he analyzes students’ text messages

Researchers at Binghamton University in New York and Rutgers University in New Jersey have also recently noted the period’s new semantic force

They asked 126 undergraduate students to review 16 exchanges, some in text messages, some in handwritten notes, that had one-word affirmative responses (Okay, Sure, Yeah, Yup) Some had periods, while others did not

Those text message with periods were rated as less sincere, the study found, whereas it made no difference in the notes penned by hand"

MS Acquires LinkedIN for $26,000,000,000.00

That's right, Microsoft ("MS") seems to have picked up $26 billion dollars.

Why? Well, aside from Cramer's musings about "cloud strategy" LinkedIN, a silicon valley based social network, focused on building and maintaining business relationships, and has a few key features that can help the Redmond technology giant:

  • Unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIN has paying users rather than relying solely on advertisers.
  • A base of users which are constantly sharing information about what makes them money
  • An ungodly amount of data on businesses eager to share information on how they succeed
  • A human resources recruiting tool that allows them the inside track on talent like none-other.

It occurs to me that by using MS's Cloud services, mining LinkedIN data can lead MS to the inside track on innovative and even disruptive emerging companies. This would allow their strategy teams to identify opportunities for (1) lucrative partnerships and (2) promising investments. Despite the incredible cost of this acquisition,** such actions can lead MS to some very lucrative VC and strategic partnership concerns in the future, and that's very, very exciting. 

MS has had some mixed success with recent, large acquisitions. While Skype (2011 for $8.5 billion) seems to be doing fine, Nokia (2013 for $7.2 billion) turned into a disaster, as did their earlier attempt at mobile, Danger (2008 for $1/2 billion). In the online ad services game, which LinkedIN ties to, MS has had pretty poor success. Their earlier push for a presence in this market took the form of a 2007, $6.3 billion acquisition of aQuantive, the parent company of digital ad agency Razorfish owned by Publicis Group and Atlas Solutions, an adserver now owned by Facebook. MS wasn't able to make the subsidiary work and took a $6.2 billion write down of the acquisition in 2007 before selling the pieces off to the above-mentioned companies.

The LinkedIN acquisition also allows something else-- an ability for MS to expand it's deterministic unique identifiers of online activity. While LinkedIN will remain independent for now, MS will certainly add the user data to its existing Microsoft Account user interaction data and perhaps eventually combine the two, following users from recreational activities like gaming on Xbox and home video streaming, to their workplace activities like using LinkedIN and MS office. This means less tracking by less accurate, probalistic tracking identifiers like browser cookies, wifi netowrks, IP address tracking.

We'll be watching this closely.

**looks like $2+ billion over the current LinkedIN market cap of $24+ billion.

The Drill Down 429: Big Red Button

This week, yours truly is back from China to discuss how the FBI wants to spy on your Internet history (without a warrant), how Snapchat beats Twitter, and how Facebook’s CEO got hacked. We also discuss a way to stop evil artificial intelligence from taking over the world, and the story of a machine that saw, analysed, and remembered the iconic film, Blade Runner. 
It's a little weird.

Find the episode on Geeks of Doom.

The Drill Down 428: 10-Core Workout

This week, while I was in China, Andrew and Tosin were on their own to discuss why the Jawbone UP is down and out, how and why Intel is busting out 10-core chips, and whether the Hulk Hogan/Gawker suit threaten journalistic free speech? They also get into whether the Google vs Oracle matter is a victory for fair use, and how European hate speech laws may affect US social media.

Find the episode over at Geeks of Doom.

The Drill Down 427: Peter Thiel, We ♥ You (Don’t Sue)!

While I was in China, Andrew and Tosin connected with Greg Davies of TARDISBlend podcast fame, to discuss Uber's ambition for autonomous cars, how Twitter plans to let you tweet longer, Google’s modular phone Project Ara, and they ask whether Apple become the next Blackberry.
Also-- in the episode: are crime algorithms racist? And why you shouldn’t piss off Peter Thiel...

Find the episode on Geeks of Doom.

The Drill Down 426: Fix Yo’ Sh*t

On this week’s Drill Down podcast, , Andrew, Tosin and yours truly discuss the end of the free ride for Windows 10, shady trending news reporting at Facebook, how Amazon plans to challenge YouTube, a new intelligent assistant from the mind behind Siri, and we wonder about disturbing reports that say Apple Music can wipe out your song collection.

Find the episode at Geeks of Doom.

Lytro's "Cinema" Technology Brings New Cameras to Hollywood

Lucas Maney, reporting for TechCrunch:

"The company’s light field solution is a truly beautiful technology that may eventually be in every camera we snap a shot or video with. The tech essentially uses data on all of the available light in a photo to separate objects by depth and store them in a three-dimensional grid. In the future this technology will allow the simple creation of VR-ready navigable 3D spaces, but right now it’s enabling filmmakers the ability to achieve a level of detail and flexibility in gathering shots and making post-production edits that wasn’t previously possible.

Today, the company introduced Lytro Cinema, which is the company’s effort to woo those in the television and film industries with cool camera technology that makes their jobs easier."

Lytro's been around for a few years with some incredible imaging technologies. Novel though they may be, they've never quite "changed the game" in the consumer digital photography space.

So they're taking their wares to professional film. Their video talks a lot about the nitty gritty tech specs but at the end of the day, film makers should take away one thing and one thing only: 

"When you have the ability to never miss focus, and the ability to change your relative position; and you can do that with a push of a button; you always get the shot that you want."

This means the Cinema imaging device is going to be something of a "halo" product for Lytro - something that allows moviegoers a new cinematic experience. Hopefully when they see the Lytro name or marketing they'll be drawn to purchase the sort of camera that makes use of the Cinema's techniques. 

I'm excited to see this used in some sort of speculative fiction epic. Christopher Nolan, I'm talking to you.

The Business Model is Illegality

"Let's not pussyfoot around here. The business model of these tax havens, beit the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, beit Panama-- the business model is built around-- 'We will allow you to engage in practices for a small fee that would otherwise be illegal in your host country.' That's the business model."
- Senator Sam Dastyari of Australia

The Australian documentary/report about the #PanamaPapers is on YouTube right now. Given the nature of the leak (11 million documents), it's rather succinct at 45 minutes.

Is there any way to make Superman interesting again?

"When it comes to superhero stories, there’s something so much more compelling about the tortured soul of Bruce Wayne, who must rely on his intelligence and guile to save the day. Superman, on the other hand, is just way, way too powerful and his “mild-mannered” alter ego of Clark Kent has just never really done anything for me."

This really connects with me. Superman always seemed a little too... Super. He's super strong, super fast, super smart-- where's the conflict? In an age of Iron Man's zany personality, and beings with more relate'able problems like the X-Men, Superman is pretty boring. In fact, I often look to Marvel's holier-than-thou Thor as a great parallel to the Man of Steel. 

The article, of course, makes some good points. I love a good comic book but it's unclear to me whether or not I'll see this new Superman/Batman film.


Amazon Will Open Physical Bookstores Because Life Is a Practical Joke Played On Us All

"Amazon is working on plans to open hundreds of brick-and-mortar bookstores, according to a new report from CNBC. Yes, following in the footsteps of chains like Borders, Amazon apparently thinks that the future is in dead trees.

Amazon already has one physical store that opened back in November. The Seattle store was dismissed as a “vanity project” when it was first announced, but apparently it worked out well enough that Amazon is willing to bet big money on it. It ain’t cheap to open 300-400 retail stores."

People said that Apple was crazy to open up retail stores back in 2001, when Dell and others were experiencing extreme costs savings with the Direct-To-Consumer business model. Still, people went crazy when it opened and Apple remains the most productive retailer, measured in revenue by square foot.

I've had a chance to check out the Amazon Bookstore in Seattle. It's probably the only public place other than CES where you could really try out the Echo; a device that's hard to explain but easy to love. Add to that the fact that there's something about being able to touch and hold a book before purchase.

Quartz - More Americans are relying exclusively on their phones for Internet access

The cost of home broadband is just too high.

And paradoxically, we can't afford for it to be too high since:

(1) our economy requires rich connectivity to support its entertainment, software, and services-based sectors and

(2) young people need regular, cheap and abundant access to the Internet in order to become the workers and innovators of tomorrow.

The solution is simple: The broadband market must be made more competitive. Congress, in league with the FCC and the FTC can and should make this a priority.

Steve Jobs, the movie.

The 2013 Steve Jobs film, Jobs was abysmal at the box office. The 2015 effort, Steve Jobs seems to have failed as well. 

The reason is becoming clear. The man is a hero to a lot of people-- but not enough people-- not to regular people. The vast majority of individuals are muggles when it comes to business and technology don't really identify or deify Mr. Jobs. And that's OK. In Mr. Jobs' case, where there is serious confusion about the way he went about creating that legacy, and the style with which he treated people, creating a compelling narrative is exceedingly difficult. 

When it comes to the box office there is one more thing to think about. While The Social Network was a film focused on a tech and business leader, we must remember that Facebook had more than a billion active users at the time. Apple has sold 700 million iPhones, many of which are obsolete. The pool of people tied to the company's products is much, much smaller. The Social Network also came out at a time when the movie space had some comic book films but was not absolutely dominated by comic book films and other attempts at blockbuster. People are more likely to take a look on video because the story is as easy to take in on the small screen as on the large one. 

Fans should take heart. If the performances were tight, the film may have some success during the award season. 

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

In this continuation of the quintessential space opera, we find a forlorn heroine and a lost Stormtrooper on a journey that reconnects them with not only the not-so-distant past, but with the faces and personalities that lead to the Galactic Empires ruin. But there are new enemies rising, and it'll take new heroes to keep them at bay. 

The Force it seems, is not done with this particular part of the Galaxy.