Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Bot Smoke

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Happy Monday. Tech conferences and announcements worthy of note this week.

India Mobile Congress got started earlier today in New Delhi. The always-interesting Gartner IT Symposium|Expo starts this weekend.

And tomorrow Google’s hardward event is expected to see the announcement of the Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, Pixelbook, and new Google Home speakers.

Rumor is the Pixel 4 will include its iteration of a Face ID tech for secure authentication, and support for gesture commands using radar-detection technology.

Story this AM about a congressional committee and the MA attorney general investigating whether millions of bot-generated social media messages about e-cigarettes misled consumers about safety and health issues.

Specifically, the committee is looking for evidence of deceptive or misleading use of social media for targeted marketing and advertising.

Nicotine marketers, you’ve come a long way, baby!

And, the winner of the 2019 Call for Code was announced at a gathering at the UN this weekend. The Barcelona-based Prometeo team built an AI-based platform to monitor and act on firefighter health and safety in real-time and over the long-term. Congrats!

Written by turbotodd

October 14, 2019 at 10:10 am

A Changing SAP

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Big news on the enterprise software front overnight. SAP announced that CEO Bill McDermott would be leaving the company after nearly a decade at the helm. McDermott has overseen SAP’s shift to the cloud, and the company’s stock was up 75% over the past five years.

Board members Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein were appointed co-CEOs.

For SAP clients out there, also know that IBM just rolled out a new open source SDK that lets users call Watson services directly from ABAP code in SAP systems. ABAP is the primary programming language supported on the SAP NetWeaver ABAP server platform.

On the frenzied AI dealmaking front, AI-powered checkout firm Standard Cognition has bought DeepMagic, which provides autonomous retail kiosks. This apparently to better compete with Amazon Go’s checkout experience.

DeepMagic allows customers to swipe a payment card when entering a smaller kiosk or store, pick up items that are detected by cameras and then walk out while having their card charged.

Sorry, no cash!

And for those of you who are using G Suite (especially those in newsrooms) who thought your documents were encrypted end-to-end, the Freedom of the Press Foundation says differently. 

Written by turbotodd

October 11, 2019 at 10:45 am

Good Grammar

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An update on the HKMap live app that Hong Kongers were using to keep abreast of protests in the semiautonomous city. Apple has now removed that app from its App Store just days after approving it.

This after the People’s Daily published an editorial hat accused Apple of aiding “rioters” in HK, according to a report in the NY Times. “Letting poisonous software have its way is a betrayal of the Chinese people’s feelings,” said the editorial.

Apple’s response: “…This app violates our guidelines and local laws.”

The Times: “With its reversal, Apple joins a growing list of corporations that are trying to navigate the fraught political situation between China and Hong Kong, where antigovernment protests have unfolded for months.”

Uh, more like a minefield.

Today’s funding feature: Grammarly, the nifty AI tool that currently helps 20M+ correct their written grammar, has raised an additional $90M round that brings its total to $200M and a valuation of $1B.

Grammarly is currently available via a number of web browsers and in Microsoft Word. The company will use this investment to suppor more platforms and focus more on the enterprise.

I look forward to leveraging Grammarly to address the elephant in the room and to do a deep dive..now, let’s take this offline!

Written by turbotodd

October 10, 2019 at 10:31 am

Diablo Winds

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Buenos dias.

The “diablo” winds have pushed CA’s Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to an unprecedented power shut-off that will affect up to 600K customers.

Those dry, warm winds can reach speeds upwards of 70 MPH, especially coming down mountain slopes,. P&E is playing offense by shutting the power down to try and avert any fire catastrophes like those witnessed in Paradise, CA last year.

Stay safe, my western amigos.

Meanwhile, Wired is reporting on a braindrain of astrophysicists leaving academia to work in the data science realm (particularly in machine learning). The lure? Job security, no tenure-track bottlenecks, money, and interesting work.

More interesting than studying the cosmos?! Apparently, as studying human beings can be just as complex and complicated as the heavens.

Back here at home on our little blue marble, right here in Austin, Austin AI startup SparkCognition has raised $100M in a Series C led by March Capital Partners, making that a total of $175M.

SparkCognition focuses on AI for specific industries, including oil and gas, defense, utilities, aviation, and financial services, and recently partnered with Boeing to form SkyGrid, a joint venture focused on unmanned aircraft system traffic management.

#whyaustin

Written by turbotodd

October 9, 2019 at 9:59 am

Not Playing Around 

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Happy Tuesday.

If you’re an macOS user the new Catalina version has now been released, and includes new apps like “Find My” and “Screen Time.” Also new apps like “Music,” “TV,” and “Podcast” apps to replace iTunes.

RIP, iTunes…we’ll miss you (not really).

And Apple’s new gaming platform, “Arcade,” is also now available and ready to give corporate American a massive productivity hit.

On the subject of hits, while most of the attention currently on China has to do with the NBA, the Trump Administration continues to wage economic war on the Middle Kingdom.

Bloomberg reported yesterday PM that the U.S. Placed eight Chinese tech giants on a U.S. blacklist on Monday, “accusing them of being implicated in human rights violations in the country’s far-western region of Xinjiang.

Those targeted include Hangzhou Hikvision and Zhejiang Dahua, which control as much of a third of the global market for video surveillance and have cameras around the globe.

This is the first time the administration has cited human rights as a reason for action.

Finally, to Playstation 5, which Wired is reporting will be available for the holidays in 2020. Not many deets yet, but the 5 will go SSD which will likely speed up game play.

Written by turbotodd

October 8, 2019 at 9:30 am

Posted in 2019, apple, china

Tagged with , ,

Droid Hole

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Breathe easy, it’s Friday.

The U.S. Job numbers are out and the country added 136K jobs last month, and the jobless rate fell to 3.5%…despite evidence of a broader economic slowdown.

The Dow is on the rise as it attempts to recover from the turbulence earlier in the week.

Speaking of turbulence, the WSJ just reported that Disney is banning advertising from Netflix across its entertainment TV networks. The streaming wars are going full bore.

And the cyberwars continue. Ars Technica is reporting a 0-day vulnerability that gives attackers full control of Android phones. Lots of ‘em, including Pixel 4 models.

A member of Google’s Android team indicated the vulnerability would be patched in the October Android security update.

Funding rounds: Scooter firm Bird raised a $275M Series D led by CDPQ and Sequoia. That makes for a $2.5B valuation. I look forward to dodging more Birds while biking around LadyBird Lake here in Austin.

And Indian hyperlocal delivery startup Dunzo raised $45M from Google, Lightbox Ventures, and others, a Series D, valuing the company at $200M.
Dunzo delivers across several categories, including groceries, dinner, and even medicines, and will pick up and deliver anything within a city (within reason).

Flashbacks to NYC’s Kozmo, circa 1999!

Written by turbotodd

October 4, 2019 at 10:41 am

Posted in 2019, cybersecurity, netflix, scooters

Tagged with ,

Hiding in Plain Sight

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Happy Thursday. 

The U.S. Markets are only down about 3% for the week…then again, it’s only October 3.

Friendly reminder: It was October 19, 1987 that saw the biggest one-day percentage loss in history: 22.6%. If we panic hard and enough, we can try and break the record!

A quick Hong Kong update…after dampening the CCP’s 70th anniversary on Tuesday with more protests, HK protesters are losing a tech edge in their ability to elude authorities.

Fast Company is reporting that Apple has removed an app from its app store called “HKmap Live,” which allowed anyone using it to track both protesters and police movements around HK. The app was removed on Tuesday, the same day as the Chinese celebration, and the makers of the app suggest that Apple’s decision was “more a bureaucratic f up than censorship.”

Whatever the case, the web-based version of the HKmap is still live….For now.

Today’s tech funding brief: Unqork, a platform for developing enterprise app without code, has raised an $80M Series B led by CapitalG. 

The company is focused on “no-code” solutions for enterprise insurance and financial services (Think drag and drop development.)

Hello world.

Written by turbotodd

October 3, 2019 at 9:56 am

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