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How China Could Take Over the World's Tech and Automotive Markets
September 12, 2016
Nvidia and Baidu recently made an announcement with regard to self-driving cars that deserves closer attention. China currently is behind the U.S. in automotive technology, but it has passed the U.S. and Japan in automobile production -- I actually thought Japan was still ahead. China is producing twice the number of cars the U.S. is producing right now.
Dreaming Up Einstein
September 10, 2016
Salesforce isn't waiting for Dreamforce to begin the drumbeat over its AI offering called "Einstein." There is so much to discuss about this turn of events that it's hard to begin, so rather than starting at a conventional jumping-off point I'll start with the name. You couldn't have lived at any point in the 20th century and not have some idea of who Albert Einstein was.
Apple Puts Its User-Friendly Stamp on Fancy iPhone 7 Cameras
September 9, 2016
Apple raised the ante for cameras in flagship phones with the announcement of its iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Others already have taken the dual-camera approach to smartphone photography -- notably HTC, LG and Huawei. "While it's not the first dual camera mounted in a smartphone, it's on par with the others in terms of basic functionality," said Brian Blau, a research director for Gartner.
Sony's PS4 Pro Gets the Jump on 4K, HDR TVs
September 8, 2016
Sony on Wednesday officially unveiled the powered-up PlayStation 4 Pro, which features smoother graphics, thanks to higher frame rates. This new version of Sony's bestselling video game console includes support for 4K resolution and high dynamic range, making it fully compatible with 4K/UHD displays. Some developers will add PS4 Pro support to existing games, as well as upcoming releases.
Apple Hopes iPhone 7 Extras Will Make Up for Missing Headphone Jack
September 8, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday officially unveiled the iPhone 7 and iPhone Plus, confirming a rumor that has evoked widespread dread: The traditional headphone jacks are gone. The new iPhones are sleeker than their predecessors, though, as well as water resistant. Their biggest plus might be the advanced lenses in what Apple claims is the most sophisticated smartphone camera in the world.
Google's Russian Android Appeal Falls Flat
September 7, 2016
A Russian appeals court has rejected Google's appeal of a $6.75 million fine regulators imposed for anticompetitive behavior -- that is, for forcing mobile device vendors to put Google Play apps on the main screens of devices using the Android operating system. The Ninth Arbitration Appeal Court handed down its ruling last month, confirming the decision of Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service.
Gadget Ogling: Smart Desks, New-Wave Gaming, and Roaming Routers
September 7, 2016
After a long, laborious process and a lot of scraping paint splotches from the floor, the office space in my new apartment is ready for me, and I will soon no longer need to write this column from my kitchen table. So, I'm in the market for a desk. With my nascent interest in standing desks, the Gaze Desk seems a decent option. It switches between standing and seated modes with a button press.
Nvidia, Baidu Team on Cloud-to-Car AI Platform
September 1, 2016
Nvidia and Baidu have agreed to collaborate on the incorporation of artificial intelligence in a cloud-to-car autonomous vehicle platform, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said Wednesday. The companies plan to integrate Baidu's cloud platform and mapping technology with Nvidia's self-driving computing platform. They also will work together to create solutions for high-definition maps.
Echo Owners May Get Their Own Kind of Music
September 1, 2016
Amazon is planning two music subscription services, according to rumors that began circulating last week. One is a $10 a month offering that is similar to Spotify and Apple Music, and the other is a $4-$5 a month cut-rate service available only on Amazon's Echo device. Amazon reportedly wants to launch both in September, but it has yet to finalize deals with major music labels and publishers.
Intel's Kaby Lake Chip Promises Deeper Internet Immersion
August 31, 2016
Facing a shrinking market for personal computers and a stalled market for tablets, Intel on Tuesday unveiled its 7th-generation processors, code-named "Kaby Lake," which deliver more speed and power than its 6th-generation chipsets, while improving battery efficiency. Intel has positioned the new Kaby Lake chipsets as ideal for the immersive Internet.
Europe Duns Apple for $14.5B in Illegal Tax Breaks
August 31, 2016
The European Union on Tuesday nailed Apple with a $14.5 billion bill for back taxes. "The European Commission has today has adopted a decision that Apple's tax benefits in Ireland are illegal," said EC Competition Chief Margrethe Vestager. Tax breaks Ireland granted to Apple for more than two decades artificially reduced Apple's tax burden, in breach of European Union rules, she explained.
HPE, HP Sued for Elbowing Out Older Employees
August 30, 2016
HPE and HP are facing a potential class action lawsuit brought earlier this month by four former employees. The companies engaged in widespread age discrimination during a restructuring of the legacy computer and printer manufacturer, according to their complaint. HP from 2012 to 2015 made a series of discriminatory job cuts involving tens of thousands of workers, the suit alleges.
Snazzier Fitbits Sport Beefed-Up Feature Sets
August 30, 2016
Fitbit on Monday announced two new fitness trackers with sleeker looks, more durable construction and greater data-gathering capabilities. The Fitbit Charge 2, priced at $149.95, features continuous heart-rate tracking. It uses the data to generate a cardio fitness score and provides guidance for improving it over time. The Charge 2 displays real-time exercise stats.
American Breaks People
August 30, 2016
It's easy to lose sight of people in a CRM discussion, focusing instead on the great technology and what it does under optimum circumstances. We should keep the customer in mind at all times, however, for without them what are we? Forgetting the customer is dangerous both for customers and vendors in this social age. Far from being a universal good, automation can obstruct human interactions.
Amazon Sets Up New Auto Research Shop
August 25, 2016
Amazon on Thursday launched Amazon Vehicles, a research and community site that will let users compare new and used cars, and shop for auto parts, among other things. The site will let customers view everything from specs, images, videos and customer reviews of thousands of brand new to classic vehicles, potentially offering stiff competition to Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader.com.
Einstein to Make Dreamforce Appearance
August 25, 2016
Salesforce plans to unveil Einstein, an artificial intelligence product, at next month's Dreamforce 16. Einstein integration will give Salesforce's sales, service, marketing, collaboration and e-commerce products predictive suggestion and insights capabilities. It will serve as a new nerve system across the entire business. AI is key to Salesforce's future, CEO Marc Benioff has emphasized.
Gadget Ogling: Musical Pizza Boxes, Backup Backpacks, and Tattooing Robots
August 25, 2016
Call it a gimmick, but I'm very much into the idea of having a pizza box that doubles as a turntable. Pizza Hut partnered with Novalia to make the box, which includes pitch and volume controls, a mixer, and touch-sensitive decks. Using printed electronics, DJs can crossfade, rewind and even scratch. The box pairs with smartphones and computers using Bluetooth and works with DJ software.
In a Political Season
August 24, 2016
Many, if not most, people I know don't want to talk about it -- the election, that is. Lots of them have views but they don't want to share them, based on a dislike of contentiousness. Who likes conflict? There is an article floating around the Internet that I lost track of that says nobody's mind ever changes in a heated debate about something so vital, so why engage?
Kobe Bryant Pours Energy - and Money - Into Tech
August 24, 2016
Kobe Bryant, the retired Los Angeles Lakers basketball champion, has expanded his burgeoning suite of business interests with Monday's launch of Bryant Stibel, a $100 million venture capital fund for technology, data and media companies. Jeff Stibel, the vice chairman of Dun & Bradstreet, is Bryant's long-time business partner. Bryant and Stibel plan to self-fund the new firm for several years.
Apple Buys Healthcare 'Magic Machine'
August 24, 2016
Apple has purchased medical records startup Gliimpse in order to broaden its presence in the personal healthcare information management market. Apple reportedly confirmed that the purchase took place earlier this year. Apple in recent years has delved into healthcare with offerings such as HealthKit, CareKit and ResearchKit. The Gliimpse acquisition is seen as an extension of those efforts.
Netgear's Orbi WiFi Promises Strong Signal All Through the House
August 23, 2016
Netgear on Monday announced the Orbi WiFi System, designed to eliminate dead spots in smart homes. Orbi's system "is similar to using a network extender, but Netgear has improved on this approach with a dedicated band for communication with the satellite devices," explained Bill Ablondi, a research director at Strategy Analytics. The initial Orbi system will be available in September for $400.
Sony Tips PS4 Slim Standard Strategy
August 22, 2016
Sony reportedly plans to roll out a slimmed-down standard version of its popular PlayStation 4 video game console next month. The news follows the company's announcement earlier this year that it would introduce a higher-end version of the console with enhanced graphics, aimed at hard-core gamers. The new PS4 standard model could be Sony's way of attracting more casual users.
From the Olympic Non-Robbery to Ford Getting Out of Cars, to Evil NSA: A Strange Week
August 22, 2016
There were three stories that caught my eye last week that I think deserve some additional discussion. One is the alleged robbery of U.S. Olympians followed by questions of whether it really happened because their phones weren't stolen. There may be a legitimate reason for that, and it's one that suggests a lot of folks will be getting huge cellphone bills next month.
Lights Out for Gawker.com
August 19, 2016
Gawker Media owner Nick Denton has revealed that Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Kotaku, Jalopnik, Jezebel and Deadspin will continue with their current writers and other staff members following the company's sale to Univision, but that neither he nor Gawker.com will be included in the transition. The Gawker sites will be joining The Onion, ClickHole and other Web properties in Fusion Media Group.
Uber Revs Engine in Self-Driving Race
August 18, 2016
Uber on Thursday announced plans to begin testing semi-autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh later this month. Its first partially self-driving Volvo XC90 vehicles reportedly will be assigned at random to customers who use the company's app. Each of the prototype cars will have an actual human on board to act as copilot and monitor the vehicle's performance from the driver's seat.
Intel's Project Alloy Tosses Reality Into a Blender
August 17, 2016
Intel on Tuesday presented its virtual reality vision -- a vision that mixes virtual and real worlds into a kind of merged reality -- to developers attending a conference in San Francisco. Mixing reality and unreality sometimes can be a recipe for disaster, but Intel thinks it will be a formula for success. At the center of Intel's vision is its Project Alloy mobile headset and its cutting edge RealSense software.
The Growing Scourge of Cyberbullying, Part 2
August 17, 2016
The digitization of everything has decreased the degrees of separation between everyone. While that interconnectedness has solved many problems, old and new, digitization has worsened one age-old problem: bullying. An online bullying epidemic is now pushing parents, teens, teachers and technology companies to try even harder to mitigate the misery inflicted on its victims.
Intel Snaps Up Nervana to Jump-Start AI
August 16, 2016
Intel last week announced the acquisition of startup Nervana, in a bid to enhance the company's capabilities in artificial intelligence and deep learning. Nervana jumped out of the gate at its 2014 launch with a robust platform for deep learning, a framework called "Nervana Neon," and the Nervana Engine -- a groundbreaking ASIC chip scheduled for introduction by the first quarter of 2017.
Gadget Ogling: Levitating Smart Things, Making WiFi-Perfect Wine, and Staying Safe While Solo
August 16, 2016
Lift is an antigravity charger for Apple Watch and Pebble. The charger is wireless, so there's almost no clutter involved -- except, I suppose, when you have to charge the charger. The watch wraps around a portable battery pack, which the base keeps elevated using magnets. There's a Pro version of the base, which you can use as an iPhone or iPad stand and charger.
Microsoft to Add Beam's Live-Streaming Skills to Xbox
August 16, 2016
Microsoft last week announced a deal to acquire live-streaming startup Beam. It plans to use Beam's interactive technology to enhance the Xbox Live experience. Beam, which was the winner of Techcrunch Disrupt earlier this year, has attracted a number of top investors, including Techstars, Courtside Ventures and Ore Ventures. The deal is designed to help make Xbox Live more social and fun.
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What do you think of politically inspired Internet memes?
They tend to be brutally honest about their targets.
They're usually cheap shots based on lies.
They're often stupid but amusing.
They can have a dangerous influence on uninformed people.
They don't impress me one way or the other.