Turbotodd

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

Posts Tagged ‘2019

Russian Code

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Dobroye Utro. (That’s “good morning” in Russian.)

Russia has passed a new law which will ban the sale of certain devices that are not pre-installed with Russian software. Like smartphones, computers, and smart TVs.

The law is intended to promote Russian technology and to make it easier for people to use the gadgets they buy, but will not exclude Russian users from using non-Russian software.

Apple bean counters are in high heaven. Shipments of their AirPod wireless earphones are expected to double to 60M units by the end of this year, demand driven in part by the new $249 AirPods Pro introduced at Apple’s October launch event. Current wait times for the new version on Apple’s U.S. website: 2-3 weeks.

I remember a similar production issue 2 years ago when I bought my Gen 1 AirPods. The good news? I haven’t lost them, as feared, and they still work great.

Hacker Alert: Google has announced it will pay up to $1.5M for the “most severe hacks of its Pixel line of Android phones.” That’s up 7X over the previous top Android bounty.

This to help refine the Titan M Google-designed chip that carries out core security functions for the Pixel. We’ll see if anyone can hack it.

Happy weekend!

Written by turbotodd

November 22, 2019 at 10:45 am

New (Google Ad) Rules

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Google is jumping on the political advertising guard rail bandwagon, announcing new limits on its microtargeting to age, gender, and general location (zip code). Google will also continue to allow retargeting based on content of website visits.

They will no longer allow ads to be directed to specific audiences based on public voting records or political affiliations (“left-leaning,” “right-leaning,” etc.)

The policies will impact both Google search results, on YouTube, and via the Google Content Network which displays ads on other sites.

The move left many politicos stunned, for in past campaigns they have leaned mightily on microtargeting specific sets of voters, an efficiency that makes many grassroots campaigns financially feasible.

Also on the GOOG front…remember Google Duplex, the creepy-crawly AI that would sound like a human and call to make your hair appointments? Well, Duplex is now officially moving beyond the confines of voice ops and launching as “Google Assistant in Chrome” as a streamlined workflow to help you buy movie tickets.

Next up: Streamlining the process of renting a car. And then?…maybe using Google Duplex to more easily buy political search ads from Google??!

Written by turbotodd

November 21, 2019 at 10:32 am

Growing Languages

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iFixit and others have torn down the new 16″ MacBook Pro, which has revealed, yes, a keyboard similar to the standalone Magic Keyboard (and which allegedly will not have the same keyboard woes of the more recent MBPs). Also, a new thermal system, a high-performance microphone array, and six speakers (which apparently can play quite loud so you can annoy all your cubicle amigos).

GitHub just released it’s “State of the Octoverse” report, which tracks the most popular programming languages. The top three fastest-growing include Dart, Rust and HCL. Dart is similar to Javascript and often used in conjunction with Google UI tool kit for building mobile and web apps, Flutter.

Rust is used in game engines, OSes, VR, and other systems-intensive tasks. And HCL helps developers run and secure software running in the cloud.

On the subject of cloud, Google has bought Microsoft-backed CloudSimple which enables companies to run compute workloads based on VMware’s server virtualization. No terms were disclosed.

Today’s Funding: Financing and small-banking services firm BlueVine has raised a $102.5M Series F. BlueVine is a fintech startup focused specifically on the needs of SMB, providing both lines of credit and term loans of up to $250K).

Written by turbotodd

November 19, 2019 at 9:58 am

Making Copies

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Happy Monday.

Only 10 days to Turkey Day. Get ready to gobble gobble.

I’ll tell you who’s not making copies. That would be HP, the board of which rejected Xerox’s acquisition bid over the weekend claiming the $22/share bid undervalued HP and was not in the best interest of shareholders.

Operators of Yahoo sites in Japan and the Line chat app have reached agreement on a merger, one where SoftBank Group and SK internet firm Naver will form a joint holding company. The new entity is expected to become the largest internet player in Japan.

On the funding front: AI-driven news app SmartNews has raised a $92M round at a valuation of $1.2B. The app is said to use machine learning (rather than human curation) to generate personalized news experiences.

The company is focused initially on Japan and the U.S. as key markets.

Self-driving startup Wayve has raised $20M in a Series A to help teach cars to drive autonomously using reinforcement learning, simulation, and computer vision.

Wayve is looking to improve AI through simulation and knowledge transfer to the real world, rather than “hand-coded” rules. It plans to launch a pilot fleet of autonomous Jaguar I-Pace cars in Central London which will include, for now, safety drivers. 

Written by turbotodd

November 18, 2019 at 10:53 am

Bad Weather

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Happy Friday, and TGIF.

Yesterday, some news about the weather from IBM with the introduction of its GRAF weather forecasting model.

GRAF stands for “Global High-Resolution Atmospheric Forecasting” and is the first global weather model to run on a GPU-accelerated supercomputer called “DYEUS.”

In partnership with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, this new system uses state-of-the-art science to forecast the atmosphere on a global scale, providing hourly (vs every 6-12 hours) updates and bringing forecast fidelity once limited to a few countries to the rest of the world.

Forecasts from the new system will be available via The Weather Channel and Weather Underground apps and websites, and also to businesses via IBM offerings.

IBM GRAF runs on supercomputer powered by the IBM Power9 System and CPUs and GPUs optimized on open source software for AI and high-performance computing.

Also on the cloud front…Amazon is filing a protest of the Pentagon’s decision to award the JEDI contract to Microsoft, claiming “unmistakable bias” and “errors” in process.

And Apple is just saying no to vaping, announcing it will remove all 181 vaping-related apps from its store amid growing health concerns over e-cigarettes.

Written by turbotodd

November 15, 2019 at 10:33 am

Need a New Razr?

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The original Motorola Razr flip phone came out in July 2004. It was thin and streamlined compared to most mobile feature phones of its time.

And now it’s back, this time with a 6.2″ touchscreen that folds like a clamshell, and only costs $1,500 clams running Android.

Early reviews suggest the new Razr has a much improved folding experience over what we’ve witnessed thus far in the folding phones. I still wonder if this is a problem looking for hinge…err, solution.

If your heart rate just went up, you might want to try the new Apple Research app that will allow U.S. users to enroll in one of three new health studies — one on women’s health, one on heart and movement, and a hearing study.

Developers: GitHub released its first native mobile app and improved notifications at the GitHub Universe event. GitHub Actions/Packages have also moved out of beta, and the company is also improving its code search.

Today’s funding: Password manager 1Password has raised a $200M Series A led by Accel, and will use its new capital to grow its enterprise footprint. And app-based loyalty card and analytics firm Punchh raised $40M to continue its expansion.

Written by turbotodd

November 14, 2019 at 10:50 am

Cached Check

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Good morning.

Google’s apparently following Apple and others’ leads and becoming the next big tech firm to move into finance.

Specifically, to offer checking accounts to consumers through Project “Cache,” whereby the company will partner with banks and credit unions to offer the new services.

What’s in it for Google? More consumer information and insight, particularly around personal finances. ‘Cause nothing could ever go wrong there.

To whit: The FT is reporting that popular health websites in the UK are sharing sensitive user data with dozens of companies including Google and Facebook (including medical symptoms and diagnoses). This info would presumably be protected under GDPR, but you should probably talk to your family doctor first.

More digital money stuff…Facebook has dropped Libra but added “Facebook Pay,” which will allow users to shop, donate to causes, send money to friends, etc on Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram. Don’t ask for change.

Today’s funding fun: DoorDash is raising $100M from T. Rowe Price Group and others to bring it to a $13B valuation. And digital freight marketplace Convoy, which matches truckers with cargo shippers, has raised a $400M Series D at a $2.75B valuation.

10-4, Billy Big Rigger!

Written by turbotodd

November 13, 2019 at 9:52 am

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