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Fans of Star Trek (The Original Series) will fondly remember the “Universal Translator.” While Gene Roddenberry’s epic saga was both inspirational and aspirational for some, it set goals for others. How much wireless bandwidth would you need on the Starship Enterprise? How would a medical tricorder work? What kind of storage would you need on Memory Alpha? How did the noise-cancelling for communicators work? Every engineer I know can tell you a story about how he or she was inspired by this amazing 1960s television show. Read more.
Apple finally added a “Buy Now” button to its Mac Pro page, and no one was more excited to go Mac Pro shopping than me. I have been waiting for this computer for quite some time. It will be a replacement for the four-year old Mac that is the center of my home studio. Read more.
LinkedIn published its “Top 10 Emerging Jobs” list on Tuesday and — no surprise — most of them are tech jobs. Coming in at number one is Artificial Intelligence Specialist. Read more.
If you’ve ever played Pokémon Go, you know that Pikachu was just pasted on top of whatever you pointed your camera at. About a year ago, Pokémon Go creator Niantic announced that they had worked out how to let Pikachu hide behind real-world objects. The technique, called occlusion, was demonstrated in a video, not on an actual device. Yesterday, Google announced the tools to solve the problem. Read more.
Snapchat will launch on December 18 a new feature called Cameo that will allow you to put your face onto short looping videos. This is a “shallowfake,” meaning that you know it’s fake, and so does everyone else who is watching. There is no attempt to fool anyone. It’s basically a better version of Elf Yourself. Read more.
The word “hoax” has come into sharp focus recently and it has caused more than a few of my friends and colleagues to assert that the mainstream news media is “rigged.” This is not a new subject, but it is newly relevant because of the current political climate. I’m not going to defend the MSM. But I am happy to explain why a certain famous media critic likes to say, “The media is rigged. Big League.” Read more.
iPhone 2021 May Be Completely Wireless
Apple soothsayer Ming-Chi Kuo has a track record of accurate predictions. His recent investor note focuses on what the 2020 and 2021 lines of iPhones might look like, and one prediction stands out: Kuo believes that there will be at least one completely wireless iPhone in the 2021 line-up. No Lightning port, no USB-C port, no place to plug in cables of any kind. Read more.
Peloton’s Bumpy Ride – Lessons Learned
Peloton (the exercise bike company) watched $942 million in market value ride into the sunset in a single day. The value destruction was due to its controversial holiday commercial. The internet didn’t like it. But… did the punishment fit the crime? Is this result an unfortunate outlier, or are there lessons to be learned? Read more.
Amazon & Verizon Team Up to Provide 5G Edge Computing
In engineering parlance, getting closer to the “edge” means bringing computational resources closer to the user. To do that, you need a bunch of stuff to line up. In an ideal world, you’d combine powerful cloud resources and a low-latency high bandwidth network. That’s exactly what Amazon and Verizon plan to do. Read more.
Amazon Announces DeepComposer
Amazon has announced “the world’s first machine learning-enabled musical keyboard for developers,” called the AWS DeepComposer keyboard. According to Amazon, you can use it to “create a melody that will transform into a completely original song in seconds, all powered by AI.” Read more.
Cyber Monday is supposed to be an awesome online shopping day. It is. I’ve seen estimates as high as $9 billion for today. However, I’ve also seen estimates from NBC News and Radware that as much as 97 percent of online shopping traffic today will be bot traffic. Read more.
The Slow, Painful Death of Channel Surfing
In honor of the holidays – and the beginning of ski season – I decided to cut the cord, cancel my Comcast cable package, and go internet-only in VT. There are some lessons learned – some serious, some not so much. Read more.
TikTok Data Questions
TikTok is insanely popular. If you haven’t downloaded the app yet, here’s a warning: Be prepared! TikTok is wildly addictive. No matter your age, your stage, how jaded you are… resistance is futile. You will become addicted to TikTok within minutes. Then, the app will begin its symbiotic relationship with your brain, and then… it’s over. You will become a full-fledged TikTok addict and, as far as I know, there is no cure. Read more.
Best Buy Shares Surge
Best Buy shares are up today after the company’s earnings beat expectations. Corie Barry, Best Buy’s CEO, said, “We are delivering on our purpose to enrich lives through technology by providing customers the products and solutions they want and need, combined with fast and convenient fulfillment.” Read more.
Uber Loses License in London
Uber was stripped of its license to operate in London today. The governing body, TfL (Transport for London), stated that Uber does not meet the “fit and proper” requirements for private hire operators. Uber immediately appealed, so it’s business as usual for Uber drivers and riders today, but both sides are gearing up for a fight. Read more.
Something’s Fishy at Bumble Bee Tuna
Bumble Bee foods filed for bankruptcy protection on Thursday. Its assets will be purchased by Taiwan-based FCF Fishery. Bumble Bee’s management cites the company’s recent legal challenges (it was fined $25 million for creating a price-fixing cartel with Starkist and Chicken of the Sea) as one of the causes of the reorganization and sale. Read more.
Even WiFi is Political
As you know, the velocity of data is increasing and will always increase. There is no version of tomorrow where we create or use less data than we are using today. The FCC knows this and, on November 20, FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced that the commission is seeking public comment on his proposal to take, what he characterizes as, underutilized spectrum away from the auto industry, specifically spectrum allocated for Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DRSC), and reallocate it for unlicensed WiFi use. Read more.
Here’s Where You Can Get Verizon 5G Coverage
Verizon has made a huge bet on consumer 5G and they are very proud of their progress. To some, the coverage maps will tell a familiar story. Coverage starts in small areas and grows over time. Look closer. The coverage is almost exclusively outdoors. So even if you live in a coverage area, there is a very good chance you will not be able to get 5G while you’re inside. Why? Read more.
Amazon May Deliver Packages to the Moon
According to Space News, “NASA announced Nov. 18 that it was adding five companies to a contract to perform commercial deliveries of payloads to the surface of the moon, a group that ranges from small ventures to Blue Origin and SpaceX.” Read more.
One Step Closer to Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)
I saw a press release from Intel yesterday with the headline: “Intel Unveils… oneAPI Software Stack with Unified and Scalable Abstraction for Heterogeneous Architectures.” It doesn’t trip off the tongue, and it’s not even a little bit catchy, but it’s important to you. Quietly, with little fanfare, Intel created a set of libraries that makes it easier and faster to build AI tools. oneAPI not only reduces a pain point for people who already build AI systems, it makes it easier for people who used to rely on others to do their “plumbing” for them. Read more.
AI Won’t Take Your Job, People Will
Machine intelligence, also known as artificial intelligence (AI) is going to have both an awesome and an unfortunate impact on our posterity. Let’s explore one possible way AI may impact the future of work, and how it may dramatically change how we train our workforce. Read more.
Gig Economy Under Attack as Uber Charged $649 Million
The State of New Jersey charged Uber $530 million in unpaid unemployment and disability insurance from 2014-2018 and tacked on $119 million in interest. Some characterized this as a “fine.” I wish it was. That would make this a one-time thing. Instead, this tax ruling sets a precedent for the future of the gig economy in New Jersey that other states are sure to follow. California has already started down this path and it is going to be a huge problem for individuals who do contract work. Read more.
Disney+ Strategy: Genius or Madness?
Disney+ launched to great fanfare (with a few technical glitches) and people are talking. There is the usual chatter about “a new service,” and the “transformation of the television business,” but something far more interesting is happening. People are talking about episode one of The Mandalorian and you know what they’re saying? “I can’t wait for episode two.” Read more.
Apple Airpods Pro
I don’t usually wax poetic about Apple products. In fact, I don’t actually remember the last time I said something nice about an Apple product. Today will be different. If you have an iPhone, go to apple.com and order a pair of AirPods Pro earbuds now. You will find all kinds of reviews online, read them, don’t read them. Here’s my take. Read more.
Driving Social Media Addicts Underground
Adam Mosseri, who runs Instagram, is about to change the world. Like it or not, Instagram is going to make “like” counts private. This is a bold, (but well tested) move. The company has previously hidden likes in Canada, Japan, Brazin, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and Italy. Now, Instagram will expand its testing to the US. Read more.
Does 5G Cause Cancer?
Does 5G cause cancer? No. No one knows what causes cancer. There are scientific theories, some with extraordinary supporting evidence, that clearly identify carcinogens. But when I asked Dr. Michael La Quaglia, my granddaughter’s cancer surgeon, how a 2½-year-old gets pancreatoblastoma, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “If we knew, we could prevent it. All I can do is try to remove it. And, with God’s help, I will be successful.” Those words ring in my ears to this day. So, it is with a great deal of humility, personal experience and a strong belief in the scientific method that I submit to you a reasoned rebuttal to the meme that “5G causes cancer.” Read more.
How long does a digital file last?
How long does a digital file last? It depends how and where you save it. On a hard drive? It will last longer than 5 years, but less than 30 years. On a commercial CD, maybe 100 years, no one really knows. On a recordable CD or DVD? Less than 10 years for sure. On magnetic tape? More than 10 years, less than 100 depending upon how the tapes are stored. Sit with 100 digital archivists and you will get 100 different opinions about how to save digital files for future generations. Read more.
Super Nasty Viruses
I got a note yesterday about a new virus targeting QNAP storage devices. QNAP is not a popular consumer brand, they make storage devices for businesses (and aggressive amateurs). The virus is called QSNATCH. Do not be confused by the cute name. It tunnels into your network attached storage device and destroys your data. It’s not ransomware, it’s not targeted at anyone in particular — this virus is like a biological virus — it’s just out in the wild. If it infects your drives, they die. Read more.
Apple TV+ is live. You can start watching from the Apple TV app on your iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, online at tv.apple.com and on a whole bunch of non-Apple devices. Remarkably, Apple is the low-cost provider in the space. It’s free if you purchased an Apple device recently, and it’s free for 7-days if you just want to check it out. When you do start paying, it will only cost $4.99/month for up to six users. Apple is even offering a “deal.” If you act now, you get 12 months for the price of 10. Too good to be true? I’ll let you be the judge. Begun, the streaming wars have. Read more.
Twitter CEO: Hero, Coward, Or Something Else Entirely?
Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, announced that Twitter will no longer accept paid political advertising. He tweeted his reasons, “This isn’t about free expression. This is about paying for reach. And paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle. It’s worth stepping back in order to address.” Read more.
PlayStation Vue RIP
Blaming “the highly competitive Pay TV industry,” Sony will shut down PlayStation Vue (its video streaming service) on January 30, 2020. Ironically, this announcement comes as Disney, Apple and WarnerMedia are all entering the business. Read more.
According to Reuters, Google has made an offer to acquire Fitbit. The report explicitly states that there is no certainty that the offer will lead to a deal. But think about this… what could Google/Alphabet be thinking? Google’s existing wearable strategy is not working. Fitbit’s wearable strategy is not working. WearOS requires more processing power and battery life than can be had in a smartwatch, so the user experience is awful (and I’m being kind). Read more.
People Hate Ads
There’s an article in today’s New York Times with the title, “The Advertising Industry Has a Problem: People Hate Ads.” It says, “the advertising industry faces an ‘existential need for change,’ according to a blunt report published on Monday by the research firm Forrester. Now the agencies must ‘disassemble what remains of their outmoded model’ or risk ‘falling further into irrelevance,’ the report concludes.” Read more.
Apple, Disney, WarnerMedia, and just about everyone who can configure a streaming server is getting into the direct-to-consumer (DTC) content business. In a couple of weeks, you’ll have so many options to pay for content à la carte, you won’t really know where to start. Wondering what all this will cost? Forget your calculator, you’re going to need a spreadsheet. Read more.
If you look at the numbers in a vacuum, Comcast is losing over 2,586 Pay TV subscribers every single day. At that pace, about a million subs will vanish in the next 12 months. Or will they? Read more.
Zuckerberg Back on the Hill
Mark Zuckerberg was back on the Hill yesterday getting grilled by lawmakers on topics from Libra (Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency) to political advertising. Read more.
Facebook: Platform, Publisher, or Ministry of Truth?
Facebook is being pilloried for its unwillingness to remove a paid advertisement by President Trump’s reelection campaign after Facebook was notified by the Biden campaign that the ad contained false statements about Joe Biden and his son. On the surface, this seems simple, and Facebook’s decision not to remove the ad seems wrong. Read more.
Have you started hitting your caps on Gmail or Google cloud storage? Lots of people have. Alphabet (Google) took the email market by storm when it launched by offering more free storage than any of the competitive services. That seems to be completely over. Read more.
The introduction of CRISPR changed the world of genetic engineering by allowing researchers to “cut and paste” DNA. But the process can introduce errors that produce unpredictable results. A recently published report in the journal Nature by David Liu, a Harvard university biologist, describes a new process that is more like a “search and replace” function than a “cut and paste” function because the DNA strand is not severed during the process. Read more.
With a population of 2.3 billion, Facebook is the largest assembly of people in history. Facebook’s users are the willing subjects of Mark Zuckerberg, a benevolent monarch who has complete control of what his subjects see and do on Facebook. As far as I can tell, he is a good king whose stated mission is “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” Zuckerberg became king because he offered his subjects safety, security, and prosperity (in this case, for their digital lives). The people have self-assembled around his mission, and the population of Facebook continues to grow. Read more.
There are two basic camps in the world of marketing: numbers camp and pretty pictures camp. I live in both camps, and you should too. If you live in the numbers camp, I’m going to confirm what you already know. If you live in the pretty pictures camp, buckle your seatbelt, because this is going to be a fast, bumpy ride. Read more.
You probably don’t have a Yahoo Group or know anyone who does. So you probably won’t care that Yahoo is shutting down Yahoo Groups. That said, while Yahoo is all but irrelevant today, there was a time when it was at the center of the online universe. Read more.
Ronan Farrow brought the Matt Lauer #MeToo story back into the spotlight this past week and it made me think about how our reactions to that hashtag skew the algorithms that govern what we see online. Read more.