DTNS Briefing – Mobile World Congress

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comA quick look at the latest announcements from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

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Weekly Tech Views – Feb 20, 2016

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

Because this blog–filled with the least accurate tech analysis available–is where you naturally turn for breaking political news… the Republican South Carolina primary has been called for ol’ what’s-his-name, referenced in our fourth story today.

Who needs CNN?

 

For the week of February 15 – 19, 2016…

 

I’m Sure Artificial Intelligence Robot Barbie Will Love It
At the New York Toy Show, Mattel unveiled the View-Master DLX, a virtual reality device in which the imagery is provided by an app downloaded to your smartphone, which you then insert into the viewer.

Uh huh.

That is not a View-Master.

I don’t know what the “X” stands for, but the “DL” must be “Damned Lie,” because a View-Master does not require apps or smartphones. A View-Master requires a cardboard disc with some film on it and a finger to press the lever that rotates the disc. This device looks very cool, and appears to do some amazing things, but it’s a Google Cardboard Extra Special Super Deluxe or something, not a View-Master. What was at the next booth, a GeForce GTX 970 graphics card-bearing, Logitech Extreme 3D Pro joystick-compatible Etch-A-Sketch?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s nearly four o’clock, and I have to get to dinner so I can be back for the Matlock marathon.

It Is, After All, One Of The Higher-Point Scrabble Letters
Google parent Alphabet renamed it’s think tank–tasked with solving your standard tech company issues like privacy and security; oh, and terrorism and human trafficking–from Google Ideas to Jigsaw. Why Jigsaw? Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt explained, “the new name acknowledges that the world is a complex puzzle of physical and digital challenges.” He then held up a hand, cutting off the next question, and added, “Yes, okay, and we needed a ‘J’.”

It’s Not Yeezy Earning Green
Streaming music service app TIDAL became the number one app in the iTunes Store after Kanye West announced his new album, The Life of Pablo, would be available only through TIDAL for a week, before being sold on his website. He then said it will never be for sale, and TIDAL was the only way to (legally) hear it. Unfortunately, this all came after Kanye had started taking orders for the album on his website. When he changed his mind, TIDAL was flooded with complaints by fans who pre-ordered the album, saw their credit card charged (sometimes twice), but received approximately zero albums. For all we know, Kanye may next decide Pablo will be included in specially marked boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but for now, congratulations, TIDAL.

We’re Hackers, Not Hagglers
A California hospital’s computer network was hacked with ransomware, making access to some patient data impossible without a decryption key to unlock the data. The hackers were reportedly demanding $3.6 million in bitcoins as ransom, but eventually settled for $17,000.

“Look, we’re really proud of the technical work we did here,” said Gotcha!23, the hacking team’s spokesman. “We had absolutely zero issues bringing an institution focused on healing illness and injury to its knees. It really couldn’t have gone smoother.

“But…” here Mr. Gotcha!23 hesitated and shifted in his seat. “But… well… the negotiations were a joke. We obviously need somebody with some business savvy in here. Our initial demand of $3.6 million was really cool and got us some nice press. But letting ourselves get talked down to $17K made us look like chumps. It’s embarrassing. I even read what’s-his-name’s book–the big-mouthed, tomato-faced guy–The Art of the Deal, but look where that got us.

“Frankly, it hardly seems worth the effort of crippling a life-saving facility. I mean, if someone was going to die being transported to another hospital, it was supposed to be for an estate on a tropical island, not, what, a few grand in everyone’s 401k and some pizza? Okay, maybe we get Netflix hooked up again; I’ve heard good things about Jessica Jones. But the 4K TV is definitely out.” He stared into the distance, obviously envisioning the visual clarity of the television that was not to be. “It’s on me,” he said, weakly thumping his chest. “I talked big to the guys, swore I wouldn’t take less than a million.” He shook his head. “I don’t know, the hospital negotiator sounded hot; I guess I let her get in my head.”

Hospital spokesman Bud “Marcus” Hermann commented, “Obviously, nobody wants to give in to extortion, no matter the amount. It sets a bad precedent, bowing to lawless thugs. That said, we recouped the $17,000 this morning by telling a few walk-ins with low grade flu symptoms–and decent insurance–that we suspected the Zika virus. They’ll be here a few days and–heh-heh–we’ll probably come out a little ahead.”

A Mobile Payment Method By Any Other Name
Apple Pay is teaming up with UnionPay to begin business in China and compete with AliPay. Which mobile payment service achieves dominance in this massive, burgeoning economy is interesting, I suppose, but takes a back seat in my mind to understanding the logic behind Papple, Punion, and Pali adopting this Pig Latin naming convention.

I’m Hoping Jokes At My Expense Lower Expectations
A winner of Amazon’s Internet of Things Mega contest was a drone that can be launched by voice control via an Amazon Echo and Raspberry Pi. Version 2.0, which can be told to go to a nearby store to retrieve one or two small items–and accomplishes the feat nearly half the time–has been codenamed “Husband.”

Can You Ear Me Now?
Doctors have 3D printed living tissue that formed blood vessels and cartilage when implanted under the skin of mice. In this particular case, a printed human ear was attached to a mouse. “Oh, sure, everyone’s all, ‘Ewww, that’s weird, a human ear on a mouse,” said the mouse. “I can’t turn around without somebody in the lab telling me that Dr. Moreau is looking for me. But, somehow, tourists at Disney World are ‘cute.'”

How Much Do We Want To Please Our Users? Check Out This GIF Of A Monkey Bending Over Backwards!
Twitter will be adding a GIF button to its app over the next few weeks, allowing users to easily communicate their feelings via all the chuckle-inducing clips of cute animals and precocious kids their hearts desire. Moments after the announcement, a Twitter executive poked his head out of his office and asked, “Did it work? Are they still pissed about the timeline? What about stickers? Would they like stickers?”

 

You made it. It’s over. Congratulations.

 

Mike Range
@MovieLeagueMike

 

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DTNS 2693 – Encryption Depiction

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comIt’s Fanmail Friday with perspectives on Apple’s encryption fight from SysAdmins law enforcement and more. Plus why one mobile carrier in Europe is putting in network-level ad blocking.Tom Merritt and Darren Kitchen discuss and Len Peralta illustrates.

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DTNS 2692 – Federal Bureau of iPhone

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comSome law enforcement professionals write in with their thoughts on Apple’s resistance to helping the FBI. Plus the FCC frees cable boxes just in time for cable boxes to go obsolete. Tom Merritt and Justin Young discuss.

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DTNS 2691 – VRophiles

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comApple takes a principled stance on encryption. Darren Kitchen gives us insight into the tech. And Erin Carson talks with Tom Merritt and Scott Johnson about what Google’s Cardboard means for the future of VR

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DTNS 2690 – Twitter Quitter

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.com
People seem to quit social media with regularity. Are we doomed to a cycle of abuse in online communities? Iyaz Akhtar Patrick Beja and Tom Merritt discuss.

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DTNS 2689 – Headlines Edition

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comIt’s Presidents Day in the US so everyone gets the day off but Tom Merritt brings you the headlines.

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DTNS 2688 – Garlic and Lard

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comThe first day 6 episode from Australia, with Peter Wells and Hannah Francis.

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Longer Term Changes From Self-Driving Cars

This was sent to us by Brian Henry, Assistant Professor of Finance at Benedictine College and listener to the show. Thanks Brian!

Cars are going to drive themselves, this is no longer an if, but a when. Right now people are focusing heavily on regulation barriers and safety as well as public perception surrounding autonomous vehicles. I would like to look a little farther down the line.

Safety is a prerequisite, but as soon as they are safer than human drivers, and significantly so to convince the luddites, I think adoption of the technology will be swift assuming affordability. Once we have lots of vehicles driving themselves, our world is going to start looking very different.

In a lot of ways our country is shaped by the car. The interstate system being the most obvious example, but drive through an East Coast city and then a Midwestern one and see what a city developed pre and post automobile looks like. Infrastructure follows energy, transportation, sanitation, and increasingly technology. That infrastructure will look different with self-driving cars versus human guided. Also, some businesses are built for auto services and those are going to be greatly affected, and in some cases may disappear in favor of new business models. I will start with the infrastructure changes and then how those and the technology will shape the businesses surrounding automobiles.

As self-driving cars become a big thing, there are several changes I assume will happen. The most important of these is that fewer people will own cars as they transition into a service rather than a necessary asset. Monthly ride time plans, bundled with your cell service and cable! Okay, hopefully not that. This leads to more efficient use of each vehicle, and fewer vehicles overall as one car can take me to work and then spend the day taking other people around town rather than sitting in a parking lot. Ford or General Motors would be scared of that, but GM’s buying into Lyft points to them trying to be ready if they need to shift their business model. They might sell fewer cars mostly to ride service providers, or they might produce cars and generate revenue from them by being the provider of ride services like Lyft is already doing.

This idea of cars as a service leads to several infrastructure changes. The first is that parking lots will become significantly less necessary, which is a great benefit to cities that have to build parking structures and such in high demand areas that might need other things on those parcels of land. Plus, it means we don’t have to find parking spots, a pretty nice quality of life change. I also think roads will change in meaningful ways. Rush hour demands lots of excessively wide roads in busy commuter cities, but cars that drive themselves that are safer can probably drive closer together and with less variance relative to each other. Also, if people rent it would make sense to have one passenger cars pick up solo passengers, thus reducing the average size of vehicle as well. Roads that are smaller are cheaper to maintain, though the way we finance roads could change too.

Gas stations are somewhere in between the infrastructure and business discussion. If GM is renting a fleet of vehicles, I find it unlikely that they will want to have the cars gas up at thousands of random stations strewn about the land. Part of not owning cars will mean most people no longer stop to gas up unless they are on long trips that need more than one tank. The answer to this is likely service providers having their own stations set up, and that likely means a lot of old gas stations being part of that system or big changes in how they operate. Rest stops and other things built to serve the trucking industry would be in a similar boat as truckers go the way of the dodo.

The infrastructure impacts will be less significant in my opinion than the business side. First think about all of the car industry offshoots. Custom wheels, trees that smell good, those weird sun blocker things for the windshield, etc. If a lot less people own cars, these are not things people will buy. Cars are already heading more and more toward technology as we see at auto shows. Tech will likely be the most important attribute of autonomous vehicles. People who are freed from the need to drive are going to want to stream music and movies, do work, play video games, read books, and all manner of other things as they travel. For family road trips I want a pod rather than a car where we sit in a circle and can play cards on a table in the middle. My dreams are huge, I know. I can’t wait for the fight before that because the kids would rather be on their devices than playing cards with dad.

The desire for entertainment will push for good wireless connections in the vehicles, and subsequently increase demand for streaming services among other things. It might even lead to whole new business ideas that are trying to capture the attention of people stuck in a small space with little to do. Restaurants only for cars maybe, you order a car and what you want for breakfast at the same time. General Motors or Uber as the leading fast food restaurant would be quite a shocker.

Delivery services in general are likely to significantly change as well. Flowers, pizza, groceries, lumber, a baseball bat, or almost any other consumer good becomes easy and cheap to deliver. If you don’t have to pay someone to deliver things then delivery becomes much more practical for both sides of the transaction. No tipping and a smaller fee for delivery are likely to happen if the car can ping you when it pulls up outside your door. You go out and grab your delivery, done. Amazon’s drones might beat the cars to the punch on this one though.

Emergency services are the last one I can think of at the moment, there are likely others I am not considering. Right now ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars rush to wrecks all the time. The need for this is going to go down because we will not adopt self-driving cars unless they are safer than us. That means fewer accidents due to driver error, teenagers being allowed to drive, drunk driving, and other hazards of the road. We have seen with modern materials a decline in the instance of house fires, and so far that has not lead to a decline in fire stations that need to be run and staffed. Fires are rare, but when they happen we need a fire truck there quick. Instead of reducing the number of emergency responders, what we may need is to find other productive things for their time. For police I don’t think this is at all a challenge. For the others I am uncertain on what sorts of things they can do while still being prepared for their main task.

Transportation has been relatively similar since commercial airlines came on the scene. We have a lot more amenities in our cars now than 50 years ago, but more cup holders has not significantly changed how we get around. We are now on the verge of the largest disruption to transportation in a very long time. My even longer range vision, since DTNS has convinced me hyperloops might eventually be a thing, is that cars only operate in cities or to get to nearby towns while we shoot around in tubes at 700+ MPH for trips of any significant length. All I know is that I am very excited to see where we end up, and to get grading done during my commute so I don’t have to work on weekends as often.

Brian Henry
Assistant Professor of Finance
Benedictine College

Weekly Tech Views – Feb 13, 2016

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

Only one thing heightens the romance of Valentine’s weekend more than lovingly reciting tech news to your significant other, and that’s reciting badly-analyzed tech news. Tell your sweetheart to brace themselves…

For the week of February 8 – 12, 2016…

Now What Do We Do With All These Shoeboxes?
Google apparently has plans to offer a more substantial version of their Google Cardboard VR device, with a headset made of plastic. This move would skip right over the rumored straw edition. Future premium upgrades Google Wood and Google Brick are still on track. This in no way affects work on the super-economy version Google Wet Paper Bag.

And One Guy Who Blew Off Work In Case Coldplay Did “Viva La Vida”
Super Bowl 50 set a record for Super Bowl streaming views, with a total of 315 million minutes, an average of 1.4 million people per minute. Viewers were split pretty much as expected–10% Panthers fans, 15% Broncos fans, and 75% Beyonce worshippers.

We Recommend Grape With Meat, Cherry With Fish
Amazon Japan has a sommelier (French for “without me, you wouldn’t know a good wine from a bottle filled with melted grape popsicles”) service which will recommend a wine based on your planned meal and budget and then have it delivered to you. I’d like to assume he delivers it personally, hangs around while I do the whole cork-sniffing, sip-swishing routine that I saw somebody do in a movie, waits for me to nod awkwardly so he can facetiously fawn over my exquisite taste like he’s dealing with James Freaking Bond, pockets the ridiculously extravagant tip I give him in a futile attempt to look cool, and returns to the Amazon warehouse where he swaps his tux for sweats and melts some more grape popsicles for the next rube.

There Are No Non-Users, Just Friends That Haven’t Signed Up Yet
Facebook has been given three months by the French government to stop tracking non-users via the use of cookies. This after the French rejected Facebook’s proposed compromise of providing government officials a “People We May Have Tracked” section in their News Feed.

Look, I’m Not Saying You Have To Dream About Me Or Anything…
Twitter has gone ahead and pulled the trigger on its rumored timeline changes. The first dozen or so tweets–if you decide not to opt out of the feature–will now be presented according to how many times the letter P appears. Well, probably not. More likely, you’ll see tweets from people you interact with most. The folks at Twitter aren’t revealing the algorithm, but have referred to the new feature as While You Were Away 2.0.

Okay, fine, Twitter, try something new. It’s optional, so why not? There is one vital question, however, that I am stunned has not yet been addressed: Do I ever appear in anyone else’s While You Were Away section? Frankly, I don’t hold out much hope. I haven’t seen my name in my own wife’s WYWA, and I know she has favorited/liked many of my tweets (I stare at her over the top of her iPad until she does). I can’t get anyone at Twitter to confirm it, but I’m nearly certain I’m populating some undisclosed demographic’s Who You Were Avoiding section.

I’d Help Clean Up, But I Don’t Like The Way The Dishwasher’s Been Looking At Me
The government reportedly could use the “Internet of Things”–basic household devices connected to the internet and each other–for identification, surveillance,  location tracking, and access to networks. I’m already longing for the good old days when I only had to hide my late night five-cheese-and-bean burrito binges from my wife,* not Homeland Security.

Jim Cramer Downgraded Them From “Buy” To “Looking For A Fight”
On Wall Street, Twitter met analysts expectations by pissing everyone off (and also by matching expected revenue of $710M).

I’m Afraid “Interferometer” Quashed The Interest “Laser” Had Sparked
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory Scientific Collaboration has confirmed a direct observation of gravitational waves, a result of two black holes merging. According to all the hubbub, this is apparently a big deal. You have to wonder, though, what this organization has been doing since its founding in 1992. Twenty-four years before getting their first result? I’m just saying, that doesn’t fly here. Sure, these Tech Views posts are hilarious,** but even I can’t say they’re worth waiting twenty-four years for. Ten, tops.

And all this time and expense for what? To prove that Einstein was right about this in 1918? How about we agree to just assume Einstein was right about everything and put this research money toward something that can really make a difference, like, say, a tech blogger retirement fund or something.

I Almost Didn’t Know That This CVS Had Two-Liter Sierra Mist On Sale!
Chrome for Android will soon start supporting bluetooth beacons. People near the beacons can access the “physical web” via notifications on their smartphones, where links provide information on one’s surroundings. A beacon might relay a nearby restaurant’s menu, sale prices at a store, or historical landmark information. Some of you may remember an early precursor to this, experienced on childhood trips to the zoo. This device was called “The Big Metal Box That, After You Stick A Big Plastic Key Shaped Like An Elephant Into It, Yells Stuff At You About The Animal You’re Looking At.” I learned a lot of important information from those boxes, most importantly that if I played the same monkey spiel three times in a row I really had to hustle to catch up to my parents, who usually weren’t much for running.

When Will People Realize That, No Matter What It’s Called, All Encryption Is A=1, B=2, Etc?
Under England’s Investigatory Powers Bill, internet firms would be banned from offering unbreakable encryption. “Unbreakable encryption? Uh, okay, if you say so. What about unicorns? Can we offer unicorns?” said a spokesman for every internet firm.

Now I Won’t Be Late For That Appointment On October 12, 733842016
Physicists in Germany have made the most accurate clock ever by using ytterbium ions (pronounced “eye-ons”). The clock would not gain or lose even a single second over several billion years, and will be ready for retail sale once leap years stop making it think it’s March 43rd.

 

* Fun Fact: It takes seventeen dish towels to sufficiently muffle the beeps of a microwave so they aren’t heard in our upstairs bedroom.

** Granted, you and I may define this word differently.

 

Okay, Valentine’s Day celebrants, I’ve supplied the sweet, sweet aphrodisiac of botched tech analysis, the rest is up to you.

Mike Range
@MovieLeagueMike

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Weekly Tech Views by Mike Range is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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