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Preview: Peter O'Kelly's Reality Check

Peter O'Kelly's Reality Check



Better living through collaboration and conceptual modeling



Updated: 2017-01-20T08:25:23.119-05:00

 



Collaboration pays: Atlassian highlights expanding customer base in solid Q2 earnings (SiliconANGLE)

2017-01-20T08:25:23.155-05:00

Maybe this collaboration stuff will be big someday...

"However, the biggest highlight was Atlassian’s increased customer count for those with active subscriptions and maintenance agreements, which climbed 27 percent, to 68,837. “We added 3,164 net new customers during the quarter, including online home-furnishings retailer Wayfair, the U.S. subsidiary of auto-manufacturer Porsche, Japanese life insurance company Mitsui Life, Australian financial services provider Latitude Financial Services, aerospace manufacturer Goodrich, travel IT solutions provider TravelSky, digital design consulting services provider Fjordnet, online travel agency Kiwi.com, and the city government of Buenos Aires,” the company said in a letter to shareholders.

Atlassian’s earnings call comes 10 days after it announced its intention to buy task management software company Trello Inc. in a deal valued at $425 million. Most analysts agree that Trello, whose software allows workers to organize their to-do items on a customizable board using the digital equivalent of Post-it notes, is a good buy for Atlassian. Indeed, Vik Singh, chief executive of the predictive sales and marketing company Infer Inc., recently went as far as to predict the deal would propel Atlassian to a $50 billion market cap in the next years."
SiliconANGLE



Google's Big Marketing Push Pays Off for its Pixel Phone Over Holiday - Bloomberg

2017-01-20T07:33:50.069-05:00

Off to a strong start; tangentially, see Ads for Google products topped Google search results 91 percent of the time (Recode)
"Pixel devices accounted for 12.3 percent of phone activations with Verizon Communications Inc., the device's initial wireless carrier in the U.S., according to a survey of fifty Verizon stores by telecommunications research firm Wave7.  There weren't enough devices at several outlets, the survey also found. Verizon declined to comment.

Investment bank Evercore ISI patched together the Wave7 data to estimate that Google shipped 552,000 Pixel phones in the fourth quarter. Evercore pegged revenue from those sales at $386 million for the quarter. The bank also estimated initial sales of 500,000 units for Google Home, the $129 intelligent speaker meant to rival Amazon.com Inc.'s Echo."
Google's Big Marketing Push Pays Off for its Pixel Phone Over Holiday - Bloomberg



IBM Posts Earnings Beat In Q4 And Raises Guidance For 2017, But Stock Plunges (Forbes)

2017-01-20T07:17:06.025-05:00

Also see IBM Still Hopeful After 19 Consecutive Quarters Of Declining Revenue (Fortune) and IBM Margins Narrow While It Struggles to End Sales Slide (Bloomberg)
"The company reported non-GAAP earnings per share of $5.01 compared to analyst consensus of $4.88. Revenue for the quarter came in at $21.77 billion, up from expectations of $21.66 billion. Because of the strong quarterly earnings, IBM also beat full-year estimates, posting $13.59 in earnings per share.

IBM’s stock was on the move in after hours trading, up more than $4 or about 2.4% in the minutes after reporting. But by 4:30 pm ET, sellers had their say, with the stock down about the same amount at $4.08, or 2.45%, as of 4:45 pm ET.

In a statement about the earnings, chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty claimed that the results of the past year established IBM as “the industry’s leading cognitive solutions and cloud platform company.” She credited IBM Watson and IBM Blockchain as two areas for growth. “More and more clients are choosing the IBM Cloud because of its differentiated capabilities, which are helping to transform industries, such as financial services, airlines and retail,” Rometty added."
IBM Posts Earnings Beat In Q4 And Raises Guidance For 2017, But Stock Plunges



Two Possible Futures for Amazon’s Alexa | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis

2017-01-19T08:56:25.967-05:00

Check the full post for a timely Alexa reality check

"Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant was clearly the star of CES this year. No single consumer electronics device dominated coverage but lots of individual devices incorporated Alexa as their voice assistant of choice. The announcements ranged from Echo clones to home robots to cars and smartphones. It was clear Amazon had entirely captured the market for voice platforms. Only one or two integrations of the Google Assistant were announced and those are both future rather than present integrations.
It would be easy off the back of all this to say Amazon had won the voice assistant battle once and for all but I actually see two possible futures for Alexa, with very different outcomes for Amazon and its many partners."
Two Possible Futures for Amazon’s Alexa | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis



Donald Trump is getting a second Twitter account Friday: @POTUS - Recode

2017-01-19T08:16:15.504-05:00

In other tech transition topics, see The Final Days of Obama’s Tech Surge (Steve Levy in Backchannel)

"That means that if you currently follow @POTUS under the Obama administration, you’ll continue to follow the account as it moves under Trump’s control. The stream of tweets will be wiped clean so Trump and his team can start fresh.

Twitter will also automatically follow a new account for you — @POTUS44 — where Obama’s stream of tweets live. The same process will take place for a number of other high-profile accounts, like @FLOTUS (First Lady Michelle Obama) and @WhiteHouse.

So we know how the accounts will change hands, but we don’t know how Trump will use @POTUS, if at all. Earlier this week, Trump suggested he’d continue to use his personal Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, which has more followers (more than 20.3 million at last count)."
Donald Trump is getting a second Twitter account Friday: @POTUS - Recode



Clearing Out the App Stores: Government Censorship Made Easier - The New York Times

2017-01-19T07:51:04.991-05:00

The politics of app stores
"Blocking a website is like trying to stop lots of trucks from delivering a banned book; it requires an infrastructure of technical tools (things like China’s “Great Firewall”), and enterprising users can often find a way around it. Banning an app from an app store, by contrast, is like shutting down the printing press before the book is ever published. If the app isn’t in a country’s app store, it effectively doesn’t exist. The censorship is nearly total and inescapable.
But that’s not the end of this story. The banning of apps highlights a deeper flaw in our modern communications architecture: It’s the centralization of information, stupid."
Clearing Out the App Stores: Government Censorship Made Easier - The New York Times



Google acquires Fabric developer platform and team from Twitter | TechCrunch

2017-01-19T07:44:34.533-05:00

Ongoing tumultuous transition times for Twitter

"Google is taking over Twitter’s mobile app developer platform Fabric, as well as its Crashlytics crash reporting system, Answers mobile app analytics, Digits SMS login system and FastLane development automation system. Twitter launched Fabric as a modular SDK in 2014 to allow developers to pick and choose different tools to improve their apps, and it now serves apps reaching 2.5 billion users built by 580,000 developers.

But as Twitter tries to get into better financial shape, it’s cutting non-essential divisions. By passing the platform off to Google, it can remove the costs of running Fabric without screwing over its developers by suddenly shutting it down. Google will continue to operate Fabric and its related tools, and developers shouldn’t have to do anything to support the transition.

It begs the question, is Twitter trying to slim down to take another swing at getting acquired?"
Google acquires Fabric developer platform and team from Twitter | TechCrunch



Netflix Profit Rises 56 Percent, to $67 Million - The New York Times

2017-01-19T08:09:12.684-05:00

Content rules; also see Why Netflix isn’t worried about GOP plans to weaken Net neutrality (The Washington Post)
"A year ago, Netflix boldly declared that it planned to conquer the global market for streaming television, adding more than 130 countries to its service map. It also promised to start delivering material profits in 2017 after operating at break-even profitability for several quarters.

On Wednesday, the company released business results showing that it is on its way to reaching those targets, even as competition accelerates from services like Amazon and Hulu.

Netflix added a record 7.05 million streaming members in the three months that ended Dec. 31, up from the 5.59 million net additions in the same period of 2015. That growth, in domestic and international markets, beat its forecast of 5.2 million new members for the quarter. Netflix now has a total of 93.8 million members."
Netflix Profit Rises 56 Percent, to $67 Million - The New York Times



US Sues Oracle, Says It Pays White Men More Than Others - The New York Times

2017-01-19T07:38:45.275-05:00

Probably not the NYT tech news headline Oracle was hoping for this week; in other Oracle news, see Oracle Joins Cloud Data Center Expansion Race (Fortune)

"The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against Oracle, claiming that the technology giant has a "systemic practice" of paying white male workers more than their non-white and female counterparts with the same job titles.

The suit also says that the company favors Asian workers in its recruiting and hiring practices for product development and other technical roles, which resulted in hiring discrimination against non-Asian applicants."
US Sues Oracle, Says It Pays White Men More Than Others - The New York Times



Weaving Threads (Slack Several People Are Coding blog)

2017-01-18T17:35:20.553-05:00

Check the full post for an overview Slack's conversation threading model; also see Threaded messaging comes to Slack (Slack Several People Are Typing blog)

"If you use Slack to work with your team, you might notice a new feature — Threads. You can use Threads to reply to messages, organize discussions, and manage the many conversations that happen in Slack. As one of our most requested features, Threads has been in development for some time, and I wanted to share a little bit about our design process and what we learned."
Weaving Threads



What “Hidden Figures” Can Teach Us about AI | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis

2017-01-18T06:57:29.864-05:00

Accentuating the positive potential; also see IBM CEO: Jobs of the future won't be blue or white collar, they'll be 'new collar' (CNBC)
"Change came in 1962 for the segregated West Area Computer Division of Langley Research Center in Virginia where the three women who are the main protagonists of the story worked. Mathematician Katherine Goble and de facto supervisor Dorothy Vaughan are both directly affected by new tech rolling into the facility in the form of the IBM 7090. If you are not familiar with the IBM 7090 (I was not before this weekend), it was the third member of the IBM 700/7000 series of computers designed for large-scale scientific and technological applications. In layman terms, the 7090 would be able to perform in a blink of an eye all the calculations that took the computer division hours. Dorothy understood the threat and, armed with her wit and a book on programming languages, was able to help program the IBM 7090, taught her team to do the same, shifted their skills and saved their jobs.
I realize part of this story might be for the benefit of the screenplay and the world is much more complicated. However, I do think that what is at the core is very relevant — the creation of new skill sets.
Although AI has the potential to affect not only manual jobs that can be automated but also, theoretically, jobs that require learning and decision making, the immediate threat is certainly on the former."
What “Hidden Figures” Can Teach Us about AI | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis



Making Google+ work better for you (The Keyword)

2017-01-17T21:27:50.110-05:00

Not dead yet

"Listening to your feedback inspired us to introduce a new Google+ focused on helping you connect around shared interests a little over a year ago. Your feedback led us to launch more than 50 updates across Android, iOS and web to ensure the new experience serves you even better than the previous one. Big changes like powerful tools for Community moderators, image comments and joining the G Suite family were all thanks to your input.
After all of these updates, more people are discovering vibrant Communities and creating inspiring Collections than ever before. So it’s in this same spirit that we’re pleased to add three new much requested updates, rolling out over the next couple of weeks, to Google+."
Making Google+ work better for you



Mark Zuckerberg, in Suit, Testifies in Oculus Intellectual Property Trial - The New York Times

2017-01-17T19:55:28.617-05:00

A ways to go before VR mainstreaming

"But Mr. Zuckerberg also spent much of his time on the stand talking about his broader vision for virtual reality and how it has not arrived yet. He said that Facebook was conceived as a way to share people’s experiences through text and photographs and that virtual reality could come closer to a “perfect representation” of what is happening in people’s lives.

“From my perspective, nothing, other than VR, can capture this best,” he said.

Yet virtual reality still has a long way to go before it gets to that point, Mr. Zuckerberg said. “I don’t think that good virtual reality is fully there yet,” he said. “It’s going to take five or 10 more years of development before we get to where we all want to go.”"
Mark Zuckerberg, in Suit, Testifies in Oculus Intellectual Property Trial - The New York Times



Evernote 8.0 Is More Than an Update—It's a Reboot | WIRED

2017-01-17T17:20:55.537-05:00

Speaking of reboots, I had to delete and reinstall Evernote on my iPad to get the new version out of a crash cycle. Also see Evernote is still dead to me, but the iOS app looks better than ever (TNW)

"But you’d be wrong to think this isn’t a hugely important upgrade to Evernote. In fact, this random Tuesday is one of the most significant moments in the nine-year history of the company. Version 8.0 brings with it an entirely new design, a bunch of refinements to what had become a hopelessly overwrought service, and a renewed focus on what Evernote is actually for. It’s the fastest, cleanest app the company has ever released. It’s the culmination of more than a year of overdue under-the-hood work to make Evernote reliable, consistent, and future-proof. And it represents the beginning of a new era for the company, in which it will try to make the transition from a note-taking app to being the place you do your best thinking. And thanks to the latest in machine learning and artificial intelligence, a place that does some of the thinking for you.

Version 8.0 of an iOS app may not mean much to you, but it sure means a lot to Evernote."
Evernote 8.0 Is More Than an Update—It's a Reboot | WIRED



Google and Oracle refine their cloud pitches to take on Amazon | VentureBeat | Cloud | by Barb Darrow, Fortune

2017-01-17T07:45:54.453-05:00

Check the full post for an assessment of Oracle and Google public cloud trajectories

"The reheated cloud talk will start Tuesday morning at Oracle Cloud World in New York, headlined by Oracle co-chief executive Mark Hurd and president Thomas Kurian. Here, the company’s brain trust needs to show that when it comes to running Oracle databases or financial software, Oracle can out-Amazon Amazon.

Oracle has long relationships with the bulk of Fortune 1000 accounts, most of which rely on its database and business applications to run their accounts and transactions. But for more than a year, Amazon has made a concerted effort to woo these same accounts, as AWS CEO Andy Jassy noted in a recent tweet.

Amazon can do this by persuading the customer to run its Oracle databases on Amazon’s infrastructure or get the customer to move its data out of Oracle databases altogether and funnel it over to Amazon’s Aurora database services."
Google and Oracle refine their cloud pitches to take on Amazon | VentureBeat | Cloud | by Barb Darrow, Fortune



What history teaches about Apple's windows of opportunity for 2017 (AppleInsider)

2017-01-17T07:20:47.052-05:00

Summary from an extensive Apple market dynamics reality check

"If you listen to groupthink critics on Apple, you'll hear that the company is deeply troubled by too much reliance on iPhone sales, aging Mac Pro and Mini offerings that haven't been updated in years and a stagnating market for iPads that has fallen precipitously since Peak iPad occurred in 2014. They're wrong, here's why."
What history teaches about Apple's windows of opportunity for 2017



Former Microsoft executive and noted AI expert Qi Lu joins Baidu as COO | TechCrunch

2017-01-17T06:46:20.073-05:00

Evidently recovered from his bike accident

"Baidu is best known for its search engine, which dominates in China, but over the past two years it has put focus on developing artificial intelligence, which includes self-driving cars and more. In that respect, the hiring of Lu — who exited Microsoft last year on medical grounds — is a major coup.

Lu most recently ran Microsoft’s applications and services business, and previously headed up the Redmond-based company’s search division having joined in 2009 following an 11-year stint with Yahoo. Fun fact: While with Microsoft, he championed a bid for Slack, but ultimately CEO Satya Nadella and co-founder Bill Gates decided against it.

At Baidu, Lu will be responsible for products, technology, sales, marketing and operations, and particularly lend his expertise to the company’s AI push."
Former Microsoft executive and noted AI expert Qi Lu joins Baidu as COO | TechCrunch



Facebook rolls out fake news filter in Germany - The Verge

2017-01-16T07:02:23.505-05:00

Also see After Government Threatens Fines, Facebook Will Test Out Fake News Filtering in Germany (Gizmodo)

"German politicians have warned of the effect that fake news could have on federal elections slated for this fall, following a spate of fabricated articles and hoaxes during the US presidential election. Lawmakers have considered imposing fines on Facebook and other social media companies that allow fake news to spread, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned of Russian interference through propaganda or cyberattacks. It was reported last week that the German government has opened an investigation into the spread of fake news, after Breitbart published a false story claiming that a mob set fire to a church on New Year’s Eve.

Under Facebook’s fact-checking system, stories reported as fake by users will be sent to Correctiv, a nonprofit news organization based in Berlin. If an item is deemed false, it will be marked as “disputed,” along with a justification for the label, and the site will warn users before they share it. Disputed items will also show up lower in Facebook’s algorithmically-determined News Feeds."
Facebook rolls out fake news filter in Germany - The Verge



SpaceX nailed its first launch since last year’s big explosion - Recode

2017-01-16T06:45:14.371-05:00

Also see SpaceX Launches Rocket, Its First Since Explosion on Launchpad (NYT)

"Saturday’s unblemished execution — from launch, to completing the mission of deploying the satellites, to landing back on its drone ship — is a good sign for the company, particularly after one of its $60 million rockets exploded with a $200 million satellite on it last August.

About those Mars flights: During a presentation in September, Musk said he planned to begin sending unmanned rockets to Mars in 2018, and if all goes well, send rockets with humans in them to Mars by 2024. But he conceded that his contracts with NASA, Iridium and others won’t sufficiently pay for the company’s interplanetary ambitions.

Instead, it will require massive public-private partnerships, he said."
SpaceX nailed its first launch since last year’s big explosion - Recode



Andy Rubin Nears His Comeback, Complete With an ‘Essential’ Phone - Bloomberg

2017-01-16T06:37:54.419-05:00

Apparently missed the Peter Thiel observation about smartphone innovation being over

"A platform company designed to tie multiple devices together, Essential is working on a suite of consumer hardware products, including ones for the mobile and smart home markets, one of the people said. 

The centerpiece of the system is a high-end smartphone with a large edge-to-edge screen that lacks a surrounding bezel. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January, Rubin discussed the smartphone with mobile carrier executives, including some from Sprint Corp., people familiar with the talks said."
Andy Rubin Nears His Comeback, Complete With an ‘Essential’ Phone - Bloomberg



Will Mark Zuckerberg Be Our Next President? | Vanity Fair

2017-01-15T15:26:37.406-05:00

Excerpt from a timely political reality check; in other political speculation, see Peter Thiel considering bid for California governor (Politico)
"Of course, these are just a series of hints. In a funny way, and as insane as it sounds to say out loud, Zuckerberg is one of the few people for whom becoming president of the United States might be a step down. As the chief of Facebook, he is already the true leader of the free world. Zuckerberg commands a company that touches a quarter of the Earth’s population, some 1.8 billion monthly active users. There is no one alive who can affect more people with the touch of a button. He has more power and influence than most world leaders and, as is evident with the real fake-news problem (not the fake fake-news issue that Republicans have adopted as a deflection), Facebook can surely sway public opinion in incomparable ways."
Will Mark Zuckerberg Be Our Next President? | Vanity Fair



Consumer Reports Now Recommends MacBook Pros - Consumer Reports

2017-01-13T07:03:02.690-05:00

A recharged review

"Consumer Reports has now finished retesting the battery life on Apple's new MacBook Pro laptops, and our results show that a software update released by Apple on January 9 fixed problems we’d encountered in earlier testing.

With the updated software, the three MacBook Pros in our labs all performed well, with one model running 18.75 hours on a charge. We tested each model multiple times using the new software, following the same protocol we apply to hundreds of laptops every year."
Consumer Reports Now Recommends MacBook Pros - Consumer Reports



PC shipments have now declined for 5 years in a row - The Verge

2017-01-13T06:53:24.592-05:00

Also see Mac sales stabilize in Q4 amid worldwide PC shipment decline (AppleInsider)

"The PC industry has been declining for years, but it just hit a big milestone. PC shipments have now declined for 5 years in a row, with between 260 and 270 million machines shipped during 2016 according to Gartner and IDC. Both firms' estimates vary due to how they count convertibles and other form factors, but the overall message is that the market has hit five years of decline."
PC shipments have now declined for 5 years in a row - The Verge



Amazon says it will create 100,000 full-time jobs over the next 18 months - The Washington Post

2017-01-13T06:42:38.125-05:00

Tangentially, see Macy’s delivers disappointing holiday season, plans to cut more than 10,000 jobs (The Washington Post) and Sorry, Wal-Mart. Amazon Wants Your Food Stamp Customers As Well (Bloomberg)
"Amazon.com on Thursday announced plans to create more than 100,000 full-time jobs over the next 18 months, a massive hiring spree that suggests the e-commerce company expects a run of breakneck growth in its retailing operations and lucrative cloud computing division.

Amazon, whose chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, owns The Washington Post, said the hiring would include a broad range of positions, including engineers and software developers and employees in its growing network of fulfillment centers."
Amazon says it will create 100,000 full-time jobs over the next 18 months - The Washington Post



Robots Will Take Jobs, but Not as Fast as Some Fear, New Report Says - The New York Times

2017-01-13T06:37:01.303-05:00

Also see A Darker Theme in Obama’s Farewell: Automation Can Divide Us (NYT)

"The report, which was released Thursday, breaks jobs down by work tasks — more than 2,000 activities across 800 occupations, from stock clerk to company boss. The institute, the research arm of the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, concludes that many tasks can be automated and that most jobs have activities ripe for automation. But the near-term impact, the report says, will be to transform work more than to eliminate jobs.

Globally, the McKinsey researchers calculated that 49 percent of time spent on work activities could be automated with “currently demonstrated technology” either already in the marketplace or being developed in labs. That, the report says, translates into $15.8 trillion in wages and the equivalent of 1.1 billion workers worldwide. But only 5 percent of jobs can be entirely automated."
Robots Will Take Jobs, but Not as Fast as Some Fear, New Report Says - The New York Times