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

Archive for February 2018

Big Tech Regulation

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Axios posted some survey results a few hours ago that suggests a majority of Americans are now concerned that the government won’t do enough to regulate How us technology companies operate.

According to the story, across-the-board concern about government in action is up significantly – 15 percentage points – in the past three months. And Axios suggests that it shows how worried Americans are about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but also a growing anxiety about the potentially addictive nature of some of the tech companies’ products, and the relentless spread of fake news on their platforms.

More highlights:

  • More than 8 out of 10 people, including big majorities across party lines, blame the technology companies for not doing more to safeguard their platforms against election interference.

  • When asked whether social media does more to help promote democracy and free speech or does more to hurt democracy and free speech, most Americans (55%) now say social media does more to hurt democracy and free speech.

Axios suggests that major tech firms response thus far has been to “tout the fact that consumers love their free, innovative products that have become staples of every day life.” But also that these new numbers suggest more people are trying to square their affinity for those services with the downsides that have reared their heads over the past year.

Still, more than 7 out of 10 Americans still believe that technology has had a positive effect on society.

We’ll just have to wait and see if it stays that way.

Written by turbotodd

February 28, 2018 at 9:38 am

X Marks the Spot

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Yesterday was Samsung S9 day.

Today is Apple iPhone whatever-comes-next day.

Bloomberg is reporting Apple is preparing to release three new smartphones later this year, including the largest iPhone ever, along with an upgraded handset the size of the current iPhone X and a less expensive model that has the X’s flagship features.

According to the report, Apple is trying to appeal to consumers who “crave the multitasking attributes of so-called phablets while also catering to those looking for a more affordable version of the iPhone X.”

What, you mean people aren’t responding kindly to having to spend $1,000+ for a phone-slash-computer in their pocket?!

Bloomberg assets the iPhone X has not sold as well as had been expected, which has led to Apple trimming the supply. Apparently consumers want something somewhere between the iPhone 8, which doesn’t have enough new widgets and whistles, and the iPhone X, which requires a mortgage.

The article also suggests the larger screen should appeal to business users, who could use the new iPhone to write emails and manage spreadsheets on a screen “about as big as a small tablet.” The new device would also likely include split-screen mode for certain apps, another feature that would make it more attractive to business users.

Now the question is will Apple come up with the equivalent of Samsung’s DeX docking station, a device that will soon take a Samsung S9 smartphone and turn it into a working desktop computer?

That surely is the direction all this has to be going, right?

Written by turbotodd

February 27, 2018 at 9:25 am

Posted in 2018, apple, iphone x

Peak Smartphone?

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Samsung’s new S9 and S9+ smartphones are in just in time for Mobile World Congress (MWC) to kick into high gear.  What a coincidence!

The Verge has a hands-on look at the two devices, claiming they have the same look and fell as the S8, and a welcomed and improved fingerprint reader placement. The S9 will launch with Android 8.0 Oreo, and the S9 and S9 Plus will work with the Gear VR that launched last year (as well as with Google’s Daydream View headset). 

The Verge also makes much of the S9’s new camera system, with a single lens on the S9 and a dual camera on the S9 Plus, noting that the new camera is Samsung’s first with a mechanically adjustable aperture and can switch between a very bright f/1.5 to a smaller f/2.4. For true photo junkies, I would imagine the “manual” overrides are much welcomed.

Pre-orders from Samsung and T-Mobile start March 2 for $720 for the S9 and $840 for the S9 Plus. AT&T comes in at $79/$915, $800/$930 from Verizon, and $792/$912 on Sprint.

Back in Barcelona, MWC gets underway as worldwide smartphone sales have dropped for the very first time after years of unbridled growth. The decline, 5.6 percent YOY in the last quarter of 2017, can likely be attributed to a confluence of factors, including consumers moving more upscale in the smartphone feature sets and thus being able to hold on to their devices longer than they used to.

Or could it just be we’ve all grown weary of looking down all the time, ignoring everyone and everything around us?

Me, my iPhone SE still chugs along just fine, and when I want to look at a bigger screen?  Well, that’s what an iPad is for.  

They still make those too, right?

Written by turbotodd

February 26, 2018 at 9:06 am

Oh Snap!

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Oh Snap!

Watch out when Kylie Jenner starts talking smack about your brand, because bad things can and will happen.

Yesterday, in fact, Snap stock slid 6+ percent after analysts warned of the negative reaction to Kylie’s Tweet suggesting she uses Snapchat less than she used to prior to the app’s latest update.

Here’s the Tweet she sent: “sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad”

Cost Snap about $1.3 billion in market value, according to Bloomberg.


And getting back to the topic of better, smarter, faster AI-driven voice assistants, Google Assistant is going multilingual, with 9to5Google reporting it will soon have support for English, French, German, and 30 additional languages by the end of the year (that’s up from a current total of 8).

Additional languages include Danish, Dutch, Hindi, Indonesian, Norwegian, and Thai, a rollout Google claims will reach 95 percent of all eligible Android phones.

And if you’re tired of telling your Google Assistant what to do over and over, The Verge is reporting Google is announching a number of new updates, including its “routine” feature that allows Assistant to perform multiple actions at once from a single command that you set up in advance.

Kind of like this: Hey Google, sell all my Snap stock, buy me a new Mercedes, go do my grocery shopping, plan my vacation to Tahiti, and, oh yeah, turn out the lights and turn up the heat.

Okay, maybe not like that, but you get the picture.

Written by turbotodd

February 23, 2018 at 9:24 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Summoning Siri

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Apple apparently thinks it can improve upon its extremely popular wireless AirPods headphones. 

Bloomberg is s that the company is working on a new version for release as soon as this year which has an upgraded wireless chip, and another model next year that makes the headphones water resistant.

This year’s update will allegedly allow one to summon Siri’s digital assistant without physically tapping the headphones by instead saying, “Hey Siri.”

To which I would say, can I ask it to refer me over to “Google Assistant.”

I’m all for improved hardware, but IMHO, Apple needs to be focusing much more attention on the software side of things, and specifically, having Siri continue her education to train up to better respond to what are increasingly table stake queries.

Don’t get me wrong — I love me some AirPods, and don’t know how I got along without them for so long.  All those wires, all those times I was on my bike tangling up and dropping my phone. Love me no wires!

But Apple, please, do yourself a favor and make Siri smarter before worrying so much about whether or not I have to tap my AirPods to summon her! Because if she doesn’t get smarter and soon, there won’t be any reason to say, “HEY, SIRI!”

Written by turbotodd

February 22, 2018 at 9:47 am

Posted in 2018, AI, airpods, apple, siri

Tagged with , ,

AT&T’s 5G Rollout

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Getting ready for Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week, much?

Apparently AT&T is.

According to Engadget, AT&T is starting to show its hand on its 5G rollout, having confirmed that parts of Atlanta, Dallas, and Waco, Texas will be the first to adopt the next gen mobile technology by the end of this year.

That is expected to be followed by nine other yet-to-be-publicly-named cities in coming months.

Engadget reports that AT&T’s initial 5G coverage will use "millimeter wave" spectrum, which is very high frequency but apparently not great for range. Greater range will only come later when AT&T moves its 5G to more commonly used bands.

"Can you hear me now?" Oh, wait, sorry, that’s Verizon.

TechCrunch also reported this story, and spoke with an AT&T exec about the rollout:

“After significantly contributing to the first phase of 5G standards, conducting multi-city trials, and literally transforming our network for the future, we’re planning to be the first carrier to deliver standards-based mobile 5G – and do it much sooner than most people thought possible,” said Igal Elbaz, SVP of Wireless Network Architecture and Design at AT&T.

The roll-out is ahead of availability of consumer 5G devices. It’s a chicken and egg problem. Both hardware makers and wireless carriers need to closely time launching 5G devices and networks so the return on investment is maximized. If one launches significantly early or late, the other will suffer. There’s a good chance major hardware makers will announced some of the first 5G devices next week at Mobile World Congress.

​Did you hear that pin just drop?


Todd "Turbo" Watson
Blog: www.turbotodd.com
Email: toddhttp://about.me/toddwatson

Written by turbotodd

February 21, 2018 at 9:13 am

Posted in 2018, 5G, telecommunications

Tagged with ,

Russians, Bots, Guns, Rinse, Repeat

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So how long did it take before the Russian Twitter bots kicked into high gear after last week’s tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida?

According to a story in The New York Times, it only took about an hour:

The accounts addressed the news with the speed of a cable news network. Some adopted the hashtag #guncontrolnow. Others used #gunreformnow and #Parklandshooting. Earlier on Wednesday, before the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., many of those accounts had been focused on the investigation by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

If you want to keep a lookout for such bots, the Alliance for Securing Democracy has some recommendations: Look for a high volume of posts or content that conspicuously matches hundred of other accounts.

And this is just the latest example of Russian bots going into action…they were also seen in the Russian election manipulation, as seen in the first major Robert Mueller indictment last week…they were featured in the national anthem NFL boycott (#standforouranthem, #takeaknee)…and now, guns.

Seeing a trend yet?

Any significant issues dividing the American public along partisan lines, there’s an increasingly good chance at least a few Russian bots will be standing smack dab in the middle of the dividing line.

Written by turbotodd

February 20, 2018 at 11:56 am

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