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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: 2016-09-28T14:09:52.774-04:00

 



BlackBerry Abandons Its Phone - The New York Times

2016-09-28T14:09:52.796-04:00

Disintegration time for BlackBerry

"BlackBerry will no longer make its own smartphones, the product it once defined.

Before being overtaken by iPhones from Apple, BlackBerry’s phones were so popular that they were nicknamed CrackBerry. But the distressed Canadian company’s decision, announced on Wednesday, means that the BlackBerry name will will now be found only on handsets made by a group owned by phone companies in Indonesia, which has licensed the brand."
BlackBerry Abandons Its Phone - The New York Times



Facebook At Work is launching next month | TechCrunch

2016-09-28T06:50:33.333-04:00

In other enterprise social news, see Slack: Now with more Salesforce, and vice versa (Slack blog) and Microsoft is killing Yammer Enterprise plan in January 2017, will start integrating Office 365 Groups first (VentureBeat)

"Facebook is ready to make work as addictive as socializing. The company plans to launch its enterprise communication and collaboration network Facebook At Work in the next few weeks on a per seat pricing model, The Information (paywall) first reported and a source close to Facebook confirmed to TechCrunch.

Facebook believes it can keep individual employees engaged with the product, so it’s betting on a pricing plan that charges companies “per monthly active user” instead of charging a flat rate per company, says Facebook @ Work director Julien Codorniou. TechCrunch has learned that Facebook will announce launch integrations or partnerships with other SaaS tool providers including Asana."
Facebook At Work is launching next month | TechCrunch



Aetna to Provide Apple Watch to 50,000 Employees, Subsidize Cost for Customers - Mac Rumors

2016-09-28T06:36:43.790-04:00

See this Aetna news release for details
"Insurance company Aetna today announced a major health initiative centered on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, which will see Aetna subsidizing the cost of the Apple Watch for both large employers and individual customers.

Starting this fall during open enrollment season, Aetna will subsidize "a significant portion" of the Apple Watch cost and will offer monthly payroll deductions to cover the remaining cost.

Aetna also plans to provide Apple Watches at no cost to all of its nearly 50,000 employees as part of a wellness reimbursement program to encourage them to live healthier lives."
Aetna to Provide Apple Watch to 50,000 Employees, Subsidize Cost for Customers - Mac Rumors



Google's AI translation system is approaching human-level accuracy - The Verge

2016-09-28T06:30:21.019-04:00

For an overall Google snapshot, see On its 18th birthday, Google is more indispensable than ever (The Verge)

"In some cases, Google says its GNMT system is even approaching human-level translation accuracy. That near-parity is restricted to transitions between related languages, like from English to Spanish and French. However, Google is eager to gather more data for "notoriously difficult" use cases, all of which will help its system learn and improve over time thanks to machine learning techniques. So starting today, Google is using its GNMT system for 100 percent of Chinese to English machine translations in the Google Translate mobile and web apps, accounting for around 18 million translations per day."
Google's AI translation system is approaching human-level accuracy - The Verge



Big Computer Makers Cozy Up to Microsoft’s Cloud - WSJ

2016-09-28T06:18:47.040-04:00

Cloud coopetition

"Cloud computing has thrown computer makers into a forbidding landscape where prospective customers have incentives to rely on external service providers rather than buying hardware. But some have found a key ally in one of the biggest cloud providers, Microsoft Corp.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. and Dell Technologies this week are using a Microsoft event in Atlanta to step up their public embrace of the software giant’s Azure cloud service. The collaboration is deeper than their dealings with cloud vendors such as Amazon.com Inc.’s AWS unit, which leads the sector, and Google Inc."
Big Computer Makers Cozy Up to Microsoft’s Cloud - WSJ



Elon Musk’s Plan: Get Humans to Mars, and Beyond - The New York Times

2016-09-28T06:07:55.952-04:00

Behold the Interplanetary Transport System

"“What you saw there is very close to what we’ll actually build,” Mr. Musk said, referring to the rockets and spacecraft in the video.

Mr. Musk estimated it would cost $10 billion to develop the rocket, and he said the first passengers to Mars could take off as soon as 2024 if the plans went off without a hitch. For now, SpaceX is financing development costs of a few tens of millions of dollars a year, but eventually the company would look to some kind of public-private partnership.

Each of the SpaceX vehicles would take 100 passengers on the journey to Mars, with trips planned every 26 months, when Earth and Mars pass close to each other. Tickets per person might cost $500,000 at first, and drop to about a third of that later on, Mr. Musk said."
Elon Musk’s Plan: Get Humans to Mars, and Beyond - The New York Times



The Andromeda Strain | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis

2016-09-27T07:13:32.653-04:00

Also see Exclusive: Google plans to launch Andromeda on a ‘Nexus’ Huawei tablet, ‘Pixel’ laptop (9to5Google)

"Next week in San Francisco, Google is heavily rumored to announce the release of a new strain of operating system codenamed “Andromeda.” The new OS is expected to combine elements of Chrome with Android. Unlike current efforts to bring support for Android apps into Chrome, however, the new Andromeda OS is expected to bring some of the desktop-like capabilities of Chrome into Android to form a super OS that could work across smartphones, tablets, and notebook-style form factors.
Though details remain sketchy, the new OS is expected to offer true multi-modal windowing, as well as a file system and other typical accoutrements for a desktop-style operating system. In essence, this means that Google’s next OS—expected to be released late this year or sometime next year—will be able to compete directly with Microsoft Windows and MacOS X."
The Andromeda Strain | Tech.pinions - Perspective, Insight, Analysis



Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Discusses Artificial Intelligence's Impact (Fortune)

2016-09-27T06:39:15.135-04:00

Also see Democratizing AI: For every person and every organization (Microsoft News Center)

"“We are not pursuing A.I. to beat humans at games,” said Nadella, taking a subtle hit at competitors like Google and IBM, whose A.I. technologies got some attention for beating humans at the ancient Chinese board game Go and on the game show Jeopardy.

Microsoft’s overarching goal is to “democratize A.I.,” which Nadella explained has something to do with analyzing the mountains of data produced by consumers and businesses and then presenting the findings to people who have far less free time than they used to have."
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Discusses Artificial Intelligence's Impact



Microsoft Joins Adobe to Compete With Amazon in the Cloud - Bloomberg

2016-09-27T06:21:28.302-04:00

For some SharePoint-related Ignite highlights, see SharePoint innovations further advance intelligence and collaboration in Office 365 (Office Blogs)

"Microsoft Corp. is joining with Adobe Systems Inc. to offer cloud-based products to their large mutual customer base, helping the software giant to better compete with leading cloud contender Amazon.com Inc.
With the partnership, Adobe will bring its creative marketing software programs like Photoshop and Illustrator to Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing service, the companies said in a statement Monday. At the same time, Microsoft will make Adobe’s marketing programs the favored choice for its internet-based software that manages customer relationships."
Microsoft Joins Adobe to Compete With Amazon in the Cloud - Bloomberg



More Than 50% of Shoppers Turn First to Amazon in Product Search - Bloomberg

2016-09-27T06:16:47.508-04:00

One-stop shopping

"Fifty-five percent of those surveyed go to Amazon first when searching for products, an increase from 44 percent a year earlier, according to a Labor Day weekend poll of 2,000 people released by the Internet marketing firm BloomReach Inc. The second annual survey showed search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, and retailers losing ground to Amazon. Search engines were the starting point for 28 percent of those surveyed, declining from 34 percent a year earlier. Specific retailers were the starting point for 16 percent, down from 21 percent.
“Amazon has become the reference point for shoppers,” said Jason Seeba, head of marketing for BloomReach. “Shoppers will go to Amazon first to find a product and check prices.”"
More Than 50% of Shoppers Turn First to Amazon in Product Search - Bloomberg



Snapchat’s camcorder goggles are creepy cool and kind of brilliant - Recode

2016-09-26T06:00:40.610-04:00

Tbd if the project will prove ephemeral

"“It’s one thing to see images of an experience you had, but it’s another thing to have an experience of the experience,” Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel said in the Wall Street Journal magazine feature unveiling the gadget, describing a vacation he took with his fiancée. “It was the closest I’d ever come to feeling like I was there again.”

Whether or not these Spectacles popularize circular footage the way Snapchat did for vertical video, it’s an audacious new project for Spiegel and Snapchat, which he has renamed Snap Inc. — “a camera company.”

That’s in part because the last big camera-goggles launch, Google Glass, went about as poorly as possible."
Snapchat’s camcorder goggles are creepy cool and kind of brilliant - Recode



Twitter's Buyers Would Get Valuable Data and a Long To-Do List - Bloomberg

2016-09-26T05:54:51.622-04:00

Check the full article for more on Twitter's trials and tribulations

"While it remains a destination for conversation among influential people, Twitter would be tough to digest. Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Jack Dorsey has another CEO job at Square Inc. and may not come along with an acquisition. The company put him in charge last year, after an extensive search that sparked executive departures. More strategic changes could mean more valuable employees leaving. Twitter’s product team has gone through at least five heads in six years.
Then there’s the lack of growth -- the reason the company is said to be considering a sale in the first place. Twitter’s user base has stagnated in the U.S. for six straight quarters. Advertisers aren’t spending as much as expected, mostly because they can’t justify buying more ads if the audience isn’t growing. “Twitter’s value proposition to advertisers could be waning,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney wrote, after surveying advertisers recently."
Twitter's Buyers Would Get Valuable Data and a Long To-Do List - Bloomberg



What if ‘One Click’ Buying Were Internetwide? - The New York Times

2016-09-26T05:40:14.822-04:00

Pay different

"But the bigger goal behind the W3C project is to create a standard, seamless and secure way to pay for things electronically in a future that will most likely include virtual reality stores, chat-based transactions and machines making payments to other machines (an autonomous car paying for a parking spot, for instance).

The standard will also make it easy to include new payment methods like Bitcoin or the Chinese payment provider Tencent.

“This involves quite radical changes to the way people think about payments,” said Ian Jacobs, the W3C staff member leading the effort. “As a standards body it is our job to be sure it is an open playing field.”"
What if ‘One Click’ Buying Were Internetwide? - The New York Times



Twitter Is Said to Be Discussing a Possible Takeover - The New York Times

2016-09-23T17:27:26.214-04:00

Stock up ~21% today

"The social network site Twitter is talking with Salesforce.com, Google and others over a possible takeover of the company, people briefed on the discussions said on Friday.

The discussions are in the early stages, these people said, and there is no guarantee that a deal will be reached.

At the same time, Twitter is weighing a possible revamping of the company that could involve divestitures and layoffs. The company is working with the investment banks Goldman Sachs and Allen & Company on its options."
Twitter Is Said to Be Discussing a Possible Takeover - The New York Times



A Tale of Two SharePoint Platforms: Compelling Content and Collaboration Capabilities in Office 365 | CASAHL

2016-09-23T14:15:36.130-04:00

Some timely SharePoint perspectives, heading into Ignite 2016 next week; check the full post for a detailed review of SharePoint in transition

"Microsoft is making significant enhancements to content and collaboration capabilities in modern SharePoint, placing SharePoint Online at the center of its Office 365 content/collaboration value proposition. This post provides an overview of the new capabilities, contrasting them with earlier content/collaboration features in traditional SharePoint (primarily on-premises SharePoint Server). The new capabilities and underlying architecture in modern SharePoint are sufficiently advanced, relative to traditional SharePoint, that it’s not a stretch to think of them as two different (and complementary) SharePoint platforms, sharing a common brand name and some integration options but otherwise designed to address two different eras of enterprise content/collaboration requirements."
A Tale of Two SharePoint Platforms: Compelling Content and Collaboration Capabilities in Office 365 | CASAHL



This chatbot makes voter registration as easy as sending a text - Recode

2016-09-23T06:24:52.705-04:00

Also see Save the Day
"Typically, voter registration campaigns involve volunteers going door to door or waiting outside shops with clipboards in hand, begging bystanders to complete legal-sized sheets of paperwork with the promise of getting more paperwork in the mail.

It’s time for an upgrade, which is why the tech-savvy activists at the nonprofit Fight for the Future are rolling out a new chatbot today to handle the voter registration process.

Called Hello.Vote, it works with regular SMS texts, as well as Facebook Messenger, to ask a few quick questions and get you on your way to fulfilling your civic duty."
This chatbot makes voter registration as easy as sending a text - Recode



Amazon’s stock price has soared past $800 for the first time - Recode

2016-09-23T06:21:01.477-04:00

Tangentially, see Audiobooks Turn More Readers Into Listeners as E-Books Slip (NYT)

"Amazon has posted record profits for three straight quarters. Now it has a record stock price to go with it.

The company’s shares shot across $800 for the first time ever on Thursday morning. The company’s $386 billion market cap is the fourth largest in the world, behind only Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft."
Amazon’s stock price has soared past $800 for the first time - Recode



LinkedIn wants to be fun - The Washington Post

2016-09-23T06:13:11.356-04:00

For more details, see Accelerating LinkedIn's Vision Through Innovation (LinkedIn blog)

"Roughly 105 million people visit LinkedIn every month, compared to Twitter’s 313 million monthly active users and Facebook’s massive 1.7 billion audience. Many LinkedIn visitors use the site to make a connection with other professionals, but they don’t linger as they do on Facebook, getting absorbed in stories and news.

The new features are not only intended to boost “stickiness” — the amount of time people linger and click within a site — but to turn LinkedIn into a hub of economic opportunity, said LinkedIn chief executive Jeff Weiner at an event at the company’s San Francisco offices on Thursday. It will be a hotspot for useful conversations that helps users become more savvy at work and improve their job prospects."
LinkedIn wants to be fun - The Washington Post



Yahoo Says Hackers Stole Data on 500 Million Users in 2014 - The New York Times

2016-09-23T06:01:32.658-04:00

Also see How to Protect Yourself After the Yahoo Attack (NYT) and How Many Times Has Your Personal Information Been Exposed to Hackers? (NYT)

"Yahoo announced on Thursday that the account information of at least 500 million users was stolen by hackers two years ago, in the biggest known intrusion of one company’s computer network.

In a statement, Yahoo said user information — including names, email addresses, telephone numbers, birth dates, encrypted passwords and, in some cases, security questions — was compromised in 2014 by what it believed was a “state-sponsored actor.”"
Yahoo Says Hackers Stole Data on 500 Million Users in 2014 - The New York Times



Microsoft adds more firepower to its HoloLens team | ZDNet

2016-09-23T06:30:51.640-04:00

Meanwhile, in Facebook's VR zone, see Palmer Luckey: The Facebook Near Billionaire Secretly Funding Trump’s Meme Machine (The Daily Beast) and Palmer Luckey is funding Donald Trump's internet trolls with his Oculus money (The Verge)
"Microsoft is adding some new key members to its HoloLens/mixed-reality team.

Microsoft Principal Researcher Jamie Shotton announced on Twitter on Sept. 22 that he is joining the HoloLens team and working on a new Cambridge UK computer vision research team "to help make the best #MixedReality platform even more amazing".
Shotton has been leading the Machine Intelligence and Perception group at Microsoft Research Cambridge, according to his MSR biography. His research has been focused "at the intersection of computer vision, AI, machine learning and graphics, with particular emphasis on systems that allow people to interact naturally with computers"."
Microsoft adds more firepower to its HoloLens team | ZDNet



Oracle’s Cloudy Future – Stratechery by Ben Thompson

2016-09-22T08:40:40.833-04:00

Excerpt from a long-term Oracle perspective; tangentially, see Microsoft Azure Germany now available via first-of-its-kind cloud for Europe (Azure blog)
"Ellison, meanwhile, got up on stage at the company OpenWorld conference this week and declared that “Amazon’s lead is over” when it comes to Infrastructure-as-a-Service, all because Oracle’s top-of-the-line server instance was faster and cheaper than Amazon. Well sure, but hierarchical databases were faster than relational databases too; speed isn’t everything, nor is price. Optionality and scalability matter just as much as they always have, and in this case Oracle’s quite basic offering isn’t remotely competitive.

Ellison’s statement is even more ridiculous when you look at the number that really matters when it comes to cloud services: capital expenditures. Over the last twelve months Oracle has totaled $1.04 billion in capital expenditures; Amazon spent $3.36 billion in the last quarter, and $10.9 billion in the last twelve months. Infrastructure-as-a-Service is not something you build-to-order; it’s the fact that the infrastructure and all the attendant services that rest on top of that infrastructure are already built that makes AWS’s offering so alluring. Oracle is not only not catching up, they are falling further behind."
Oracle’s Cloudy Future – Stratechery by Ben Thompson



Elon Musk's Mars colonization plans: what we know so far - The Verge

2016-09-22T06:35:50.433-04:00

Time to learn more about BFR and BFS
"In less than a week, SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk will finally explain how he plans to colonize Mars within the next few decades. It’s a goal that he has adamantly championed for years, though he hasn’t given many specifics about it. That will change on September 27th, when Musk is expected to talk about the vehicles and technologies needed to bring people to the Red Planet, and then build a long-term settlement there.
For many, the lecture is long overdue. Musk has been very vocal about his desire to put people on Mars, arguing that it’s necessary for human survival. "I think there is a strong humanitarian argument for making life multi-planetary in order to safeguard the existence of humanity in the event that something catastrophic were to happen," Elon told Aeon Magazine in 2014."
Elon Musk's Mars colonization plans: what we know so far - The Verge



Apple targets historic Carnegie Library for downtown flagship store - The Washington Post

2016-09-22T06:21:35.315-04:00

Retail different

"They said the proposed store was reminiscent of the location Apple opened in May on San Francisco’s Union Square, which in addition to the company’s products includes a plaza with outdoor seating, public Wi-Fi and events space where the company hosts concerts, forums and children’s events.

In entering top cities recently, Apple has also eschewed glass-box designs for locations retrofitted into prominent, historic buildings including in New York’s Grand Central Terminal, on Regent Street in London and in a 130-year-old former bank in Paris.

“We have a deep commitment to the cities we work in, and are aware of the importance that architecture plays in the community,” said Jonathan Ive, Apple’s chief design officer, in announcing the San Francisco store. “It all starts with the storefront — taking transparency to a whole new level — where the building blends the inside and the outside, breaking down barriers and making it more egalitarian and accessible.”"
Apple targets historic Carnegie Library for downtown flagship store - The Washington Post



The Chevy Bolt aims to dethrone Tesla. Here are our first impressions. - The Washington Post

2016-09-22T06:19:05.827-04:00

Also see How Did G.M. Create Tesla’s Dream Car First? (NYT)

"Tesla and Chevrolet are locked in a fierce battle for consumers who've never considered an electric vehicle before. Previous generations of EVs lacked range and performance, but both companies say their forthcoming vehicles will be capable of going more than 200 miles on a single charge. Even though EVs account for 1 percent or less of new vehicle sales, automakers like Tesla and Chevy are hoping the arrival of a car that can go toe-to-toe with gas guzzlers will change that equation.

I had an opportunity to test-drive the Chevy Bolt on Tuesday. Chevrolet this week confirmed the price of the Bolt at $37,495 — officially making it one of the most affordable electric cars around in a nod to the mainstream consumer. As we glided through the morning rush hour in Washington, one thing immediately became clear: Chevy has taken everything it has learned in its 104-year-old history and carefully broken with a few of the industry's long-standing conventions. (Its rival, the Model 3, isn't yet available, so its performance remains a mystery for now.)"
The Chevy Bolt aims to dethrone Tesla. Here are our first impressions. - The Washington Post



Apple Is Said to Be Talking to Vehicle Technology Companies - The New York Times

2016-09-22T06:30:15.174-04:00

More Project Titan rumors; also see McLaren or not, Apple needs a carmaker partner (Recode)
"The tech giant has been talking with McLaren, the automaker known for its Formula One racecars, about an investment in the company, according to two people briefed on the talks who asked to remain anonymous because the discussions were confidential.

Apple is also in talks with Lit Motors, a San Francisco start-up that has developed an electric self-balancing motorcycle, about a potential acquisition, according to three people who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Apple has already hired several former Lit Motors engineers."
Apple Is Said to Be Talking to Vehicle Technology Companies - The New York Times