Turbotodd

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

Special Social Media Counsel

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Friday afternoon is usually the place news goes to die, but apparently not today.

First, indictments are coming out of the Special Counsel’s office (Robert Mueller) in the Russian election interference investigation. 

As reported in The New York Times, 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations were charged with illegally using social media platforms “to sow political discord, including actions that supported the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump and disparaged his opponent, Hillary Clinton.”

More choice details:

The indictment charges that the foreigners falsely posed as American citizens, stole identities and otherwise engaged in fraud and deceit in an effort to influence the U.S. political process, including the 2016 presidential race….

….The Internet Research Agency, operating out of St. Petersburg, was described in the indictment as a hub for a sophisticated operation designed to reach millions of Americans to disrupt the political process in the United States. Its annual budget was millions of dollars; its stated goal was to “spread distrust toward the candidates and the political system in general.”

The U.S president, Donald J. Trump, has already responded via Twitter:

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On a tangentially related front, the White House Council of Economic Advisers issued a report Friday that indicated malicious cyber activity cost the U.S. economy between $57 billion and $109 billion in 2016. According to a report from Reuters:

The report quoted the U.S. intelligence community as saying the main foreign culprits responsible for much cyber activity against U.S. targets are Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

But the report also suggested malicious cyber activity is not limited to foreign actors, and that corporate competitors, activists seeking to advance a political agenda, and organized crime are also responsible.

Written by turbotodd

February 16, 2018 at 2:36 pm

How Are YOU Watching These Olympics?

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So how are you watching these Olympics (if at all)?

I have to say, the whole time 15 hour time difference between here and PyeongChang isn’t exactly helping, either.

I don’t have cable, but have been recording the games via my TiVo and over-the-air broadcasts on NBC. 

The problem is, by the time I’m ready to watch a prior’s day performance, fast forwarding through the parts I want to watch, the morning news shows have already blown the news: Shaun White won his THIRD gold medal in snowboarding!

I guess you can’t embargo the news of a gold medal so easily (although NBC has tried). And I still go back to fast forward and see all the juicy bits, like Shaun flying through the air in one of his “1440s.” That way, I skip all the commercials.

The Wall Street Journal’s “CMO Today” e-newsletter today reported that NBC’s partnership with Snapchat for the Olympics is paying off, with 32 million users having watched its coverage thus far. Snap reports well over 90 percent of its audience watching Olympics coverage is under 35. All the people over 35 still think Snap is a tea-like drink (Snapple).

I also tried to download the NBC VR app so I could see Shaun flying through my VR goggles. Boy, was that a mistake. NBC wanted me to first lay claim to which cable provider I use.  Will they never learn?  Here I was, ready to go out of my way to download this VR app from NBC, and they were worried about whether or not I was paying a cable bill, instead of getting my eyeballs (and, presumably, driving up their ad rates).

The very same day, Ryan Murphy, he of “Glee” and “American Horror Story” fame, signed a $300 million, multi-year deal with Netflix.

Not with NBC or Disney or ABC.

This is the beginning of the end of the beginning, a new day for content consumption is at hand.

Stay tuned.

Written by turbotodd

February 15, 2018 at 9:38 am

Chrome’s New Ad Blocking

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TechCrunch is reporting that Chrome’s built-in ad blocker will go live tomorrow, the first time Google will automatically block some ads in Chrome.

They note that this is not an alternative to AdBlock Plus or uBlock Origin, but rather Google’s effort “to ban the most annoying ads from your browser.”

Uh, that would be all of them, wouldn’t it?

The user experience will go a little something like this: If you end up on a site where Chrome’s blocking ads, you’ll see a small pop-up in Chrome that allows you to sidestepFull page ads, ads with autoplaying sound and video, and flashing ads will be targeted by Chrome’s ad filtering, which will hopefully result in less of these annoying ads on the web. the ad blocker and allow ads for that site.

The Verge reports Google will be selecting for specific types of ads:

Full page ads, ads with autoplaying sound and video, and flashing ads will be targeted by Chrome’s ad filtering, which will hopefully result in less of these annoying ads on the web.

This should be fun.

Written by turbotodd

February 14, 2018 at 11:39 am

Snapchat Opens Up Its Marketing API

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Happy Humpday.

First, congrats to the Flying Tomato, U.S. snowboarder Shaun White, who flew through the bruising air of Pyeonchang yesterday to take the gold medal in the men’s halfpipe snowboarding competition. And that, ladies and germs, is a full-on gold medal American sweep of the Olympics snowboarding competition.

Now, Snap to it, because Snap is now opening its Marketing API for all developers to use.

According to a report from VentureBeat, the company first opened its API to a limited number of advertisers back in 2016, which allowed tech and creative companies to deliver ads and put it on the road to programmatic advertising.

“Our advertising business changed profoundly over the past year as we migrated the sale of our Snap Ads to an automated auction,” said Snap’s cofounder and CEO Evan Spiegel during its recent earnings call. “Over 90 percent of Snap Ads were bought programmatically during Q4, which means that the auction transition for Snap Ads is largely behind us.”

With this move to open up its Marketing API, this should provide more accessibility to Snapchat to even more advertisers, and in the process create some economic upside for developers.

Written by turbotodd

February 14, 2018 at 9:12 am

Posted in 2018, advertising, snapchat

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Google’s Getting AMPed

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How about that gold medal for America’s own Chloe Kim in the halfpipe snowboarding competition in Pyeonchang.  She was flyin’ like an eagle, in spire of the harsh winter winds.

Keep on truckin’, US of A.

Meanwhile, over at the Alphabet, Google has unveiled some new capabilities that seemed to be aimed squarely at Snapchat and Instagram in some friendly competition of their own.

The new capabilities, as reported in today’s Wall Street Journal, let publishes create visual-oriented stories in a mobile-friendly format not dissimilar from Snapchat and Instagram. 

Starting today, publishers can try out the developer preview of AMP stories, which include swipeable slides of text, photos, graphics and videos.

The Journal writes that “AMP stories are reminiscent of the immersive, vertical stories pioneered by Snapchat,” but that AMP stores don’t yet allow advertising to be incorporated, suggesting that Google is in the process of “building support for ads but didn’t disclose a time frame.”

It’s only a matter of time.

Written by turbotodd

February 13, 2018 at 9:31 am

Smarter Chips

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Couldn’t help but notice these two in-the-same-orbit headlines from Amazon and Google re: their own AI chips.

First, in The Information, it’s being reported that Amazon is developing a chip designed for AI to work on the Echo and other hardware powered by Alexa. 

They report that the chip should allow Alexa-powered devices to respond more quickly to commands, by allowing more data processing to be handled on the device than in the cloud. 

It seems the cloud’s edge is moving back towards the center.

And at Google, according to a post in the Google Cloud Platform blog, the company’s cloud Tensor Processing Units (TPUs) are available in beta to help machine learning experts train and run their ML models more quickly.

Some speeds and feeds deets:

Cloud TPUs are a family of Google-designed hardware accelerators that are optimized to speed up and scale up specific ML workloads programmed with TensorFlow. Built with four custom ASICs, each Cloud TPU packs up to 180 teraflops of floating-point performance and 64 GB of high-bandwidth memory onto a single board. These boards can be used alone or connected together via an ultra-fast, dedicated network to form multi-petaflop ML supercomputers that we call “TPU pods.” We will offer these larger supercomputers on GCP later this year.

Written by turbotodd

February 12, 2018 at 4:28 pm

Apple: Biggest Watchmaker in the World?

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Apple hasn’t exactly been forthright about the sales volume of its Apple volumes.

But with a little digging from industry researcher Canalys and IDC, and some publicly released shipment stats from the Federation fo the Swiss Watch industry, we’re seeing a little more sunlight on the Apple Watch sundial.

According to a report from Business Insider, Apple is, in fact, now one of the biggest watchmakers in the world.

Canalys’ most recent sales estimate suggests that Apple sold more watches than the entire Swiss watch industry last quarter, about 8 million during the holiday quarter.

Apple CEO Tim Cook did have this to say about Apple Watch sales volume on February 1:

“It was our best quarter ever for the Apple Watch with over 50% growth in revenue and units for the fourth quarter in a row and strong double-digit growth in every geographic segment.”

Time to put to rest the notion that the Apple Watch has no momentum (sorry, couldn’t help myself…too much time on my hands!)

Written by turbotodd

February 12, 2018 at 10:54 am

Posted in 2018, apple watch

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