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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: 2017-08-18T08:25:29.544-04:00

 



Apple demonstrates how the iPad Pro was made for iOS 11 (Engadget)

2017-08-18T07:48:12.938-04:00

Check this page for an index of the videos
"Apple's iPad sales were surprisingly good last quarter, but a lot of critics (including us) thought there was still no way the iPad Pro could replace a proper PC. The release of iOS 11 next month will change some minds, however. A new series of Apple videos shows how to use the new features, including the Dock, Files app, multitasking, Apple Pencil and more. Suffice to say, it drastically improves productivity on the tablets, making it much easier to do multiple jobs concurrently. [...] 
With 4GB of RAM and a peppy A10X chip, the latest 10.5-inch iPad Pro (and earlier models) can easily handle the new features, and Apple's Smart Keyboard and Pencil stylus make it more like a laptop than ever before. The new videos clearly show, though, that iOS 10 was severely holding the devices back. With iOS 11 coming sometime this September, it'll almost be like Apple is launching the iPad Pro all over again."
Apple demonstrates how the iPad Pro was made for iOS 11



Fighting Neo-Nazis and the Future of Free Expression | Electronic Frontier Foundation

2017-08-18T07:33:37.216-04:00

On a related note, see The Misguided Attacks on ACLU for Defending Neo-Nazis’ Free Speech Rights in Charlottesville (The Intercept) and U.S. rights group rethinks defending hate groups protesting with guns (Reuters)
"In the wake of Charlottesville, both GoDaddy and Google have refused to manage the domain registration for the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website that, in the words of the Southern Poverty Law Center, is “dedicated to spreading anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism, and white nationalism.” Subsequently Cloudflare, whose service was used to protect the site from denial-of-service attacks, has also dropped them as a customer, with a telling quote from Cloudflare’s CEO: “Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet. No one should have that power.”

We agree. Even for free speech advocates, this situation is deeply fraught with emotional, logistical, and legal twists and turns. All fair-minded people must stand against the hateful violence and aggression that seems to be growing across our country. But we must also recognize that on the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with. Those on the left face calls to characterize the Black Lives Matter movement as a hate group. In the Civil Rights Era cases that formed the basis of today’s protections of freedom of speech, the NAACP’s voice was the one attacked.

Protecting free speech is not something we do because we agree with all of the speech that gets protected. We do it because we believe that no one—not the government and not private commercial enterprises—should decide who gets to speak and who doesn’t."
Fighting Neo-Nazis and the Future of Free Expression | Electronic Frontier Foundation



Online activist group Anonymous posts what it says are private contact details for 22 GOP members of Congress - The Washington Post

2017-08-18T07:05:31.659-04:00

Writers for Mr. Robot are going to have a surplus of material to work with for their third season

"The goal of publishing the information, said Pfeiffer, is for people to call on these members of Congress to more forcefully condemn the president and ask for Trump's impeachment.

The release by Anonymous marks an end of nearly two years of near-total silence for the decentralized group. Anonymous was mostly absent during last year's presidential campaign as leaks from online groups WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 featuring Democratic officials' emails dominated headlines and, in the eyes of many, altered the course of the election.

That changed only in recent days.

"Trump did something in the past few days along with the Charlottesville terror attack that clicked," Pfeiffer wrote to The Post."
Online activist group Anonymous posts what it says are private contact details for 22 GOP members of Congress - The Washington Post



What Is Trump Worth to Twitter? One Analyst Estimates $2 Billion - Bloomberg

2017-08-18T06:56:27.520-04:00

$2B for Twitter, ~-$infinity for the rest of the world

"That’s the conclusion of Monness Crespi Hardt & Co. analyst James Cakmak, who said that the social media company would see as much as $2 billion in market value wiped out if @realDonaldTrump quit tweeting.

It’s not that the president’s defection would touch off a mass exodus, lowering the number of “monetizable” daily active users, Cakmak said in an interview. Instead, losing its most prominent user would hit Twitter’s intangible value and lead to what’s known as multiple compression.

“There is no better free advertising in the world than the president of the United States,” said Cakmak, who has a neutral rating on Twitter shares."
What Is Trump Worth to Twitter? One Analyst Estimates $2 Billion - Bloomberg



What Happens to Solar Power in an Eclipse? We’ll Find Out Monday - The New York Times

2017-08-18T06:46:41.969-04:00

Tangentially, see Bill Joy Finds the Jesus Battery (Wired)

"Unlike most eclipse-watchers in the United States, Eric Schmitt wouldn’t mind seeing a few clouds in the sky when the moon starts blotting out the sun on Monday.

“A cloudy morning might even be helpful for us,” he said.

That’s because, as the vice president for operations at the California Independent System Operator, which oversees the state’s electric grid, Mr. Schmitt will be dealing with an unusual challenge. As the eclipse carves a long shadow over California on Monday morning, it is expected to knock offline more than 5,600 megawatts’ worth of solar panels at its peak — a big chunk of the 19,000 megawatts of solar power that currently provide one-tenth of the state’s electricity. The California I.S.O. plans to fill the void by ramping up natural gas and hydroelectric power plants."
What Happens to Solar Power in an Eclipse? We’ll Find Out Monday - The New York Times



How Google Home and the Amazon Echo give a new twist to the home phone - The Washington Post

2017-08-17T07:12:20.692-04:00

Tbd how many of the remaining home phone lines are used primarily for AOL dial-up access...

"The calls, which are free, are not tied to your smartphone, meaning you could actually call a different contact on each device at the same time. The Google Home can also distinguish between voices, meaning that it should be able to call the right “Mom” based on whether you or your kids are making that request.

Google now joins Amazon, Microsoft and Samsung in powering smart home hubs with calling capabilities. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.) And fans are hoping that Apple will include an audio version of FaceTime, its WiFi-enabled voice chat program, in its upcoming HomePod speaker.

What these companies are doing is putting a new twist on the old home phone, which has steeply declined as cellphones have soared in popularity. A majority of American homes, 50.8 percent, rely solely on cellphones for their phone service, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. (The center has been tracking this trend for years as part of an in-person survey that looks at health-care access.)"
How Google Home and the Amazon Echo give a new twist to the home phone - The Washington Post



Silicon Valley escalates its war on white supremacy despite free speech concerns - The Washington Post

2017-08-17T07:27:47.435-04:00

Also see Facebook, Airbnb Go on Offense Against Neo-Nazis After Violence (Bloomberg), Spotify removes ‘hate bands’ from its streaming library (Engadget), and The A.C.L.U. Needs to Rethink Free Speech (NYT; check the comments as well)
"Silicon Valley significantly escalated its war on white supremacy this week, choking off the ability of hate groups to raise money online, removing them from Internet search engines, and preventing some sites from registering at all.

The new moves go beyond censoring individual stories or posts. Tech companies such as Google, GoDaddy and PayPal are now reversing their hands-off approach about content supported by their services and making it much more difficult for alt-right organizations to reach mass audiences.

But the actions are also heightening concerns over how tech companies are becoming the arbiters of free speech in America. And in response, right-wing technologists are building parallel digital services that cater to their own movement."
A counterpoint at the end of the article:
"Lee Rowland, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberty Union’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, cautioned consumers against being so quick to condemn companies that host even the “most vile white supremacist speech we have seen on display this week. 
“We rely on the Internet to hear each other,” Rowland said. “We should all be very thoughtful before we demand that platforms for hateful speech disappear because it does impoverish our conversation and harm our ability to point to evidence for white supremacy and to counter it.”"
Silicon Valley escalates its war on white supremacy despite free speech concerns - The Washington Post



After Trump Hedges His Condemnation of Hate, C.E.O.s Organize a Mass Defection - The New York Times

2017-08-17T06:53:48.389-04:00

A timely Trump reality check; also see Does Amazon Pay Taxes? Contrary to Trump Tweet, Yes (NYT)

"On Wednesday morning, a dozen of the country’s most influential C.E.O.s joined a conference call, and, after some debate, a consensus emerged: The policy forum would be disbanded, delivering a blow to a president who came into office boasting of his close ties with business leaders.

With the collapse of the councils, the president has all but lost his most natural constituency — the corporate leaders who stood to benefit from his agenda of lower taxes and lighter regulation.

Before they could make a statement announcing their decision, however, Mr. Trump spoke. He had caught wind of their planned defection and wanted to have the last word. Taking to Twitter, he wrote: “Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!”"
After Trump Hedges His Condemnation of Hate, C.E.O.s Organize a Mass Defection - The New York Times



James Damore’s Google Memo Gets Science All Wrong | WIRED

2017-08-16T07:17:48.501-04:00

Also see The e-mail Larry Page should have written to James Damore (The Economist)

"The core arguments run to this tune: Men and women have psychological differences that are a result of their underlying biology. Those differences make them differently suited to and interested in the work that is core to Google. Yet Google as a company is trying to create a technical, engineering, and leadership workforce with greater numbers of women than these differences can sustain, and it’s hurting the company.
Damore further says that anyone who tries to talk about that paradox gets silenced—which runs counter to Google’s stated goal of valuing and being friendly to difference. And, maybe helping make his point a little, last Monday Google fired him. Damore is now on a media tour, saying he was fired illegally for speaking truth to power. Hashtag Fired4Truth!
The problem is, the science in Damore’s memo is still very much in play, and his analysis of its implications is at best politically naive and at worst dangerous. The memo is a species of discourse peculiar to politically polarized times: cherry-picking scientific evidence to support a preexisting point of view. It’s an exercise not in rational argument but in rhetorical point scoring. And a careful walk through the science proves it."
James Damore’s Google Memo Gets Science All Wrong | WIRED



Obama's tweet about Charlottesville is now the most liked tweet ever - The Washington Post

2017-08-16T07:01:32.732-04:00

Looks like Trump will need to recruit more Russian bot followers

"Unlike some former presidents, Barack Obama is showing no signs of completely abandoning public life.

Since leaving office, Obama has commented on major events or controversies, including the terrorist attack in Manchester, England, and Sen. John McCain's brain cancer diagnosis. He did so again on Saturday, after the deadly violence in Charlottesville.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion … People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love … For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite,” Obama said, quoting former South African president Nelson Mandela in tweets."
Obama's tweet about Charlottesville is now the most liked tweet ever - The Washington Post



Is LinkedIn trying to protect your data — or hoard it? - The Washington Post

2017-08-16T06:56:27.936-04:00

Microsoft didn't pay ~$26B for LinkedIn to give its data away

"Where LinkedIn and hiQ clashed was over hiQ's product, which almost exclusively depends on LinkedIn's data, according to U.S. District Judge Edward Chen. HiQ essentially helps employers predict, using the data, which of their employees are likely to leave for other jobs. While this HR tool might sound relatively boring to you and me, it's key to industries whose success depends on recruiting and retaining the best talent. A Gallup survey last year found that 93 percent of job-switchers left their old company for a new one; just 7 percent took a new job within the same organization.

HiQ has raised more than $12 million since its founding in 2012. LinkedIn itself is making moves to develop a similar capability, Chen said, meaning that LinkedIn's attempt to block hiQ from accessing its data could be interpreted as a self-interested move to kneecap a competitor. If hiQ can't get the professional data it needs to fuel its analytic engine, its business could "go under," Chen said."
Is LinkedIn trying to protect your data — or hoard it? - The Washington Post



A Start-Up Suggests a Fix to the Health Care Morass - The New York Times

2017-08-16T06:52:32.272-04:00

In other health care news, see Trump Threat to Obamacare Would Send Premiums and Deficits Higher (NYT)
"The American health care system is a fragmented archipelago, with patients moving through doctors’ offices and hospitals that are often disconnected from one another. As a result, many primary care physicians — who often see themselves as a kind of quarterback who calls the shots on a patient’s care — have no easy way to monitor a patient’s meandering path through the health care system.

Aledade’s software addresses that by collecting patient data from a variety of sources, creating a helicopter view. Doctors can see which specialists a patient has visited, which tests have been ordered, and, crucially, how much the overall care might be costing the health care system. 
More important, the software uses the data to assemble a battery of daily checklists for physicians’ practices. These are a set of easy steps for the practice to take — call this patient, order this vaccine — to keep on top of patients’ care, and, in time, to reduce its cost."
A Start-Up Suggests a Fix to the Health Care Morass - The New York Times



How a Conservative TV Giant Is Ridding Itself of Regulation - The New York Times

2017-08-15T06:47:37.468-04:00

Related recommended reading: Tim Wu's The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires

"The result would illustrate the real-world stakes of the Trump administration’s pursuit of dismantling regulations across government. The rollback at the F.C.C., a microcosm of the broader effort, pleases business interests and many Republicans who complain that regulators are heavy-handed and hostile in their approach. It raises alarms among free-speech advocates and many Democrats who say consumers suffer without aggressive oversight.

“I worry that our democracy is at stake because democracy depends on a diversity of voices and competition of news outlets,” said Representative Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

If Sinclair’s past is any guide, the changes for viewers could be profound."
How a Conservative TV Giant Is Ridding Itself of Regulation - The New York Times



Why GoDaddy’s decision to delist a neo-Nazi site is such a big deal - The Washington Post

2017-08-15T06:38:21.924-04:00

A difficult digital dilemma

"“It’s well past time for platforms that already exercise some discretion to stop pretending they are just dumb pipes that allow all types of garbage to flow through them,” said Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University. “It seems to me a significant move in a direction that is long overdue.”

But the American Civil Liberties Union said that consumers should not be so quick to condemn the display of even “the most vile white supremacist speech.”

People are relieved when speech they disagree with is removed, but the censorship can come back to bite them when they find themselves on the receiving end, said Lee Rowland, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberty Union’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project. The First Amendment has enabled Americans throughout the country’s history to challenge the status quo, because “we are able to reveal what people really think and counter it,” she added."
Why GoDaddy’s decision to delist a neo-Nazi site is such a big deal - The Washington Post



Bitcoin passes $4,000 mark to reach all-time high - CNET

2017-08-14T05:50:13.756-04:00

In other irrational exuberance news, see Consumer debt is at a record high. Haven’t we learned? (The Washington Post)

"It's been a swift rise for bitcoin, which only passed the $3,000 marker for the first time at the start of the month. The rise also comes fresh off the heels of the so-called "hard fork" in bitcoin which saw a new virtual currency called Bitcoin Cash split off from bitcoin proper on August 1.

The split was designed to deal with the growing popularity of bitcoin, which was struggling to support an increasing number of transactions using existing blockchain technology, though the move left many wondering whether market values would fall."
Bitcoin passes $4,000 mark to reach all-time high - CNET



The Messy, Confusing Future of TV? It’s Here - The New York Times

2017-08-14T05:37:24.847-04:00

From a TV reality check; also see Freedom from cable isn’t free: Flood of streaming services will make cutting the cord more complicated (The Washington Post)
"What happened to the glorious, consumer-friendly future of TV? We were told that the internet would usher in a golden era of streaming video, and that incredible shows and movies would be a click away through low-cost, easy-to-use services. The $100-a-month Time Warner cable packages that required navigating a byzantine menu of third-rate channels would be a distant nightmare.

Instead, we’ve rushed headlong into a hyper-fragmented mess, with a jumble of on-demand services that, added up, cost more and often offer less than the old cable bundle. There are lots of great shows and movies being made, but finding them has become harder than ever."
The Messy, Confusing Future of TV? It’s Here - The New York Times



The death of the internal combustion engine (The Economist)

2017-08-11T07:38:41.656-04:00

Also see After electric cars, what more will it take for batteries to change the face of energy? (The Economist)

"The internal combustion engine has had a good run—and could still dominate shipping and aviation for decades to come. But on land electric motors will soon offer freedom and convenience more cheaply and cleanly. As the switch to electric cars reverses the trend in the rich world towards falling electricity consumption, policymakers will need to help, by ensuring that there is enough generating capacity—in spite of many countries’ broken system of regulation. They may need to be the midwives to new rules and standards for public recharging stations, and the recycling of batteries, rare-earth motors and other components in “urban mines”. And they will have to cope with the turmoil as old factory jobs disappear.

Driverless electric cars in the 21st century are likely to improve the world in profound and unexpected ways, just as vehicles powered by internal combustion engines did in the 20th. But it will be a bumpy road. Buckle up."
The death of the internal combustion engine



Microsoft dismisses Consumer Reports’ Surface complaints - The Verge

2017-08-11T07:17:45.972-04:00

Nothing below the Surface (in terms of estimated breakage rate by the end of the 2nd year of ownership), according to Consumer Reports
"Microsoft says it respectfully disagrees with Consumer Reports’ findings on its Surface range of laptops and tablets. Consumer Reports has removed its “recommended” badge from Microsoft’s entire lineup of Surface PCs because the hardware was found to be less reliable than other PC brands. In a surprise report, Consumer Reports surveyed 90,000 tablet and laptop owners and found roughly 25 percent of Surface users have encountered issues by the end of the second year of ownership.

Microsoft disagrees with Consumer Reports’ findings, and Surface chief Panos Panay says the company stands “firmly behind the quality and reliability of the Surface family of devices.” In a blog post, Panay says the Consumer Reports survey is disappointing. “While we respect Consumer Reports, we disagree with their findings,” says Panay. “In the Surface team we track quality constantly, using metrics that include failure and return rates — both our predicted 1-2-year failure and actual return rates for Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book are significantly lower than 25 percent.”"
From Consumer Reports stops recommending Microsoft Surface PCs over reliability concerns (The Verge):
 Microsoft dismisses Consumer Reports’ Surface complaints - The Verge



Uber Backer Benchmark Sues to Kick Kalanick Off Board - Bloomberg

2017-08-11T07:08:53.899-04:00

Perhaps in part a response to Travis Kalanick is telling people he will pull a Steve Jobs and return as Uber's CEO (Business Insider); also see Benchmark’s lawsuit has one major goal: Get Travis Kalanick off Uber’s board (Recode)
"Benchmark’s lawsuit “is a big deal,” said David Larcker, director of Stanford University’s Corporate Governance Research Initiative. “When your largest and most substantial VC sues the founder for governance concerns, it’s a big problem.”

Benchmark contends that Kalanick “fraudulently gained control” of three board seats by hiding his “gross mismanagement” of the company. In May, Kalanick approached certain investors, including Benchmark’s Gurley, seeking approval to add three new seats to the eight-member board. He repeatedly touted his abilities to manage the company and failed to disclose issues that would have caused Benchmark to question the appropriateness of the additional board seats, according to the complaint."
Uber Backer Benchmark Sues to Kick Kalanick Off Board - Bloomberg



Snap Stumbles Through Another Disappointing Quarter - The New York Times

2017-08-11T06:55:17.318-04:00

Probably not a fun day ahead for Snap shareholders

"Snap will soon face a make-or-break year, said Norm Johnston, the chief strategy officer at Mindshare, a global media agency. “Either it will realize its full potential by delivering growth in daily users, or it will end up as the next Twitter,” the social media service that has been grappling with stalled growth, he said.

On Thursday, Snap did little to change its trajectory when it reported quarterly earnings that missed Wall Street projections. The company reported a loss of 36 cents a share, versus estimates of a 33-cent loss. Revenue rose to $181.7 million, versus expectations for $185.8 million. The company recorded a wider quarterly loss than a year ago of $443.1 million, up from $115.9 million."
Snap Stumbles Through Another Disappointing Quarter - The New York Times



Why Everyone Is Hating on IBM Watson—Including the People Who Helped Make It (Gizmodo)

2017-08-10T12:55:43.003-04:00

From a stark IBM Watson reality check

"IBM seems to believe the Watson brand can breathe new life into their company. And it sure could use some resuscitation right about now. IBM’s revenue has fallen for 22 consecutive quarters. In May, Warren Buffett dumped about a third of his IBM stock, citing “some pretty tough competitors.” Two weeks later, the Wall Street Journal reported IBM gave its remote employees the option to either move to a regional office or quit. (Since the decision affects more than 40 percent of its 380,000 employees, the article suggests it’s a way of cutting employees without official layoffs.) Then in July, investment bank Jefferies published a report cautioning IBM investors, suggesting the company won’t return value to shareholders because it can’t compete with other tech giants investing in AI.

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are all retooling their businesses around the belief that AI and machine learning are the future of the tech industry. IBM is in a more vulnerable position than all those companies. Even though IBM was an AI pioneer it has let its lead slip and damaged its reputation with overhyped marketing. There’s a rising sentiment in from tech and finance experts that, for all the idealism, Watson just can’t deliver on its promises."
Why Everyone Is Hating on IBM Watson—Including the People Who Helped Make It



Android Creator's Startup Raises $300 Million, First Smartphone Due Soon - The New York Times

2017-08-10T07:29:13.915-04:00

Likely to be at least as popular as the Amazon Fire Phone

"The $699 phone, with a titanium and ceramic case, will compete directly against new devices from Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc this holiday season. Retailers include Best Buy, Amazon.com and carriers Sprint Corp in the United States and Telus Corp in Canada, Essential said in a statement.

The company, founded by Chief Executive Andy Rubin in late 2015, said Access Technology Ventures led the funding round, which brought its total investment raised to $330 million.

Strategic investors also included Tencent Holdings Ltd, electronics contract manufacturer Foxconn and Amazon.com, which participated via its Alexa Fund. Previous investors Redpoint Ventures and Playground Global also participated."
Android Creator's Startup Raises $300 Million, First Smartphone Due Soon - The New York Times



Facebook Introduces a Dedicated Home for Videos - The New York Times

2017-08-10T07:14:25.734-04:00

See Introducing Watch, a new platform for shows on Facebook (Facebook Newsroom) for more details

"Watch is a redesign of the site’s current video tab, altered in a way intended to entice people to watch for longer stretches and return regularly to view shows, including the first programs funded by the company. The idea is that when users open Watch, the latest episodes of their favorite shows will be there waiting for them.

The redesign is part of a push for Facebook to be more than a repository of one-off viral videos by offering higher-quality shows that appeal to deep-pocketed TV advertisers and give viewers a reason to keep coming back. The company said it was rolling out Watch to a limited group of users in the United States before a wider release in the future."
Facebook Introduces a Dedicated Home for Videos - The New York Times



The Alt-Right Finds a New Enemy in Silicon Valley - The New York Times

2017-08-10T07:09:21.109-04:00

A different kind of mixed reality

"For the last several months, far-right activists have mounted an aggressive political campaign against some of Silicon Valley’s biggest players. Extending their attacks beyond social networks like Facebook and Twitter, tech’s typical free-speech battlegrounds, they have accused a long list of companies, including Airbnb, PayPal and Patreon, of censoring right-wing views, and have pledged to expose Silicon Valley for what they say is a pervasive, industrywide liberal bias.

Complaints like these might once have been easily dismissed. But in the Trump era, as the right wing’s internet warriors have refined their tactics and gained legitimate political influence, they are putting Silicon Valley in an uncomfortable position."
The Alt-Right Finds a New Enemy in Silicon Valley - The New York Times



Elon Musk confirms 'Boring Company' to build underground Hyperloop from DC to NYC [TNW]

2017-08-09T07:48:50.775-04:00

Never a dull moment for competitors of The Boring Company

"Musk previously stated he wouldn’t seek to commercialize the technology in the original whitepaper unless other companies weren’t moving quickly enough. In Musk’s world, four years must seem like an eternity.

Some in the industry, like Dirk Ahlborn, aren’t taking the news all that well. “You would at least have wanted Musk to say, ‘OK guys, how can we do this together?’ or ‘How can I help?,’ rather than saying ‘Hey, I’m just gonna do it, thank you for making this known worldwide even more than it was before and showing the progress and making sure that people believe in it.”"
Elon Musk confirms 'Boring Company' to build underground Hyperloop from DC to NYC