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SCOTUS Turns Its Back on Google Books Challenge
April 19, 2016
The Supreme Court has declined to hear a petition to review a lower court decision allowing Google to scan and publish excerpts of copyright-protected books without seeking permission from the authors or paying them. The petition, filed at the end of last year, was the latest move in the Guild's decade-long war with Google, which has said that its searchable digital books database is fair use.
What the Traditional Car Companies Don't Seem to Get
April 18, 2016
Two interesting events took place this month. Tesla announced its Model 3, a relatively affordable electric car, and it attracted around 180K preorders on the same day. That was before the company actually revealed the car. There were more than 250K preorders in the first 36 hours. Oh, and the run rate is about 1,500 per hour of pre-orders for this car right now.
Verizon Strikers Highlight Lost Jobs, Broken Promises
April 15, 2016
An army of 39,000 workers this week went on strike against Verizon in one of the biggest labor actions in the U.S. in several years. Fast food workers have joined in a show of support, and both Democratic candidates for president have entered the fray. Thousands of wireline workers from Massachusetts to Virginia walked off the job at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Microsoft Sues DoJ Over Spying Gag Orders
April 15, 2016
Microsoft on Thursday filed suit against the U.S. Department of Justice challenging the gag orders that accompany requests to access customers' private emails and other data. The orders prevent the company from notifying affected customers about the government's demands. The case is the fourth public lawsuit it has filed against the Justice Department in three years.
Publishers vs. Brave Software: Battle for the Ad Viewer
April 14, 2016
Brave Software is a startup that has ratcheted the ad-blocking game to a new level, and it is raising a lot of stink in the online community. For many people, Web-based ads have become an intolerable, costly distraction. That has led to a variety of ad-blocking approaches. The use of ad-blocking software is growing, because users feel they are being attacked by distracting Web-based ads.
Gadget Ogling: Smarter Notes, Livelier Virtual Reality, and Bigger In-Flight Movies
April 14, 2016
We've for some time had Moleskine's Smart Notebooks, which allow you to jot down your thoughts and upload them to Evernote through an app. The new Smart Writing Set takes that idea and elevates it to a new plane, letting you quickly turn scrawled notes or doodles into digital files you can edit using a computer or any mobile app -- no smartphone camera required.
Fake Loyalty
April 13, 2016
There's an interesting connection between customer relationships in subscription businesses and loyalty, Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo wrote recently. His article had particular resonance for me, since I just wrote a book about customer loyalty myself. My research is full of old-style approaches to customer loyalty that aren't really about loyalty so much as they are about, shall we say, customer coercion.
Male Snubbing Ride-Sharing Service Postpones Launch
April 13, 2016
Chariot for Women, a ride-sharing service that excludes males 13 and older, reportedly has postponed its launch to sometime this summer due to heavier-than-anticipated demand. The company originally had planned to debut the service in Boston next week. Chariot for Women is open to all women, including transgender women. Children, including boys under the age of 13, also may ride.
Officials Named in Panama Papers Cower Behind China's Great Firewall
April 13, 2016
Chinese authorities have issued censorship instructions to the media following the release of the Panama Papers, according to news reports published last week. The leaked documents reportedly listed several top Chinese officials who used Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to set up offshore companies. The names include President Xi Jinping's brother-in-law Deng Jiagui.
Marketers Poised to Run the Customer Experience Show, Survey Says
April 12, 2016
Marketing will shape the customer experience by 2020, based on a recent Marketo study of nearly 500 chief marketing officers and senior marketing executives worldwide. The Economist Intelligence Unit conducted the research on behalf of Marketo. Eighty-percent of the respondents believed their departments would exercise significant influence over business strategy by 2020.
Daily Mail Joins Yahoo Bidding Queue
April 11, 2016
The parent company of British tabloid the Daily Mail apparently has entered what's shaping up as frenzied round robin bidding war for Yahoo, a firm that long has worn the mantle of a technology relic incapable of exciting interest. The Daily Mail & General Trust on Monday confirmed a report that it has approached private equity companies on a possible joint bid for the firm.
Ford After Dark: Self-Driving Car 'Sees' All
April 11, 2016
Ford on Monday announced that it has been testing its Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicle with no headlights on remote desert roads at night. While such a task would be quite perilous for a human driver, it was an important step in developing a fully autonomous vehicle, the company said. The test vehicle relied on LiDAR technology for navigation.
Learning to Love Virtual Reality
April 11, 2016
At Nvidia's technology conference, I saw a variety of new technologies showcased. From deep learning systems -- computers that arguably are smarter than we are -- to self-driving cars that can drive better than we can, the technological advances on display made me feel just a tad inadequate. One way to get over my sudden concern over obsolescence was to check out the virtual reality showcase.
Verizon May Be Tuning Up for Yodeling Contest
April 9, 2016
Verizon reportedly is planning to make a formal first-round bid for the core assets of Yahoo when the company begins fielding offers on Monday. Verizon, whose CEO last month confirmed his company's interest, is working with executives of its AOL subsidiary and three financial advisors to put together a bid by the April 11 deadline, according to the report.
Disrupting Software Development in an On-Demand World
April 8, 2016
The idea that software is eating the world has become a generally accepted dictum. Everywhere you look, industries and institutions are being disrupted by the unprecedented power of software. Now, the world is demanding a new way to develop software to keep pace with the pace of disruption. The greatest poster child for the brave new world of software-driven business is General Electric.
Report Throws the Book at Yahoo
April 8, 2016
Yahoo is in the midst of a financial freefall, based on a report that claims the company's deal book shows a muddled and confusing financial picture that has made potential investors nervous about any effort to salvage the business. Yahoo's internal presentation for investors paints a picture of a company moving entirely in the wrong direction, according to the report.
Please Hold the Music
April 6, 2016
Remember when your mother used to yell up the stairs to get you to turn your music down? Sometimes, in the age before sensitivity awareness, your dad would do the yelling and he'd substitute noise for music. Ah, the good old days. Too bad they aren't here right now yelling at vendors. ConsumerAffairs.com is the brainchild of James R. Hood, a former Washington, D.C., journalist.
Gadget Ogling: Food Frenzies and Rollerblade Off-Roading
April 6, 2016
Of all the kitchen gadgets I own, the rice cooker is possibly my second-most favorite after the tea kettle. Sure, I could make rice in a pot, but the dedicated rice cooker makes it much easier to attend to other details instead of watching the pot. Xiaomi's pressurized version might prove even better. It recognizes the type of rice from a barcode scan and cooks it perfectly.
The Sales Process Starts With Retention
April 5, 2016
Despite the numbers that show how lucrative retention is in an increasingly subscription-driven economy, the emphasis has been on new customer acquisition. That is still true, according to a recent study. Forty-two percent of the firms surveyed said they were increasing their budgets for customer acquisition, while only 33 percent said the budget for retention would increase.
4-Inch iPhone: Slow and Steady May Win the Race
April 5, 2016
Apple appears to have experienced a lost weekend with the 4-inch iPhone SE failing to rack up significant sales. When the period ended, the SE claimed only 0.1 percent of the iPhone market, Localytics reported Monday. "The new phone was unable to take away the iPhone 5's share, the model it most closely resembled, suggesting that small-screen lovers have not yet been convinced to upgrade."
FBI May Help Local Law Enforcement Agencies Crack Encrypted iPhones
April 4, 2016
Weeks after backing down from its litigation demanding Apple's help to access encrypted data on the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone, the FBI appears to be taking full advantage of its newly discovered forensic prowess by offering assistance to law enforcement agencies across the country. The agency has sent out letters letting local officials know that it has gained access to the encrypted data.
The Hololens Academy: How I Became a Novice Wizard
April 4, 2016
At last week's Microsoft Build conference, I attended the Hololens Academy -- a whirlwind effort to turn me into a master programmer able to create things out of thin air. It failed. Apparently it takes longer than an hour to teach someone who hasn't coded in decades to be a master programmer -- go figure. However, by the end of the class I was gleefully throwing fireballs.
FCC Extends Broadband Lifeline to Low-Income Subcribers
April 2, 2016
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted 3-2 to approve a $2.25 billion program to subsidize broadband Internet service and bundled voice and data packages for low-income consumers. The new subsidy is part of a major overhaul of the agency's Lifeline program, which has provided affordable phone access for decades. The vote was a long-awaited reform for many low-income communities.
That Time When Instead of Saying 'April Fool!' Google Had to Say 'Sorry!'
April 1, 2016
Unintentional consequences led Google to pull its April Fools' prank, Gmail Mic Drop, a few hours after launching it on Friday. The joke let users claim the last word in an email thread by clicking on the "Send + Mic Drop" option. A GIF of a minion from the animated movie Despicable Me -- would accompany the reply, and the sender would not receive any further responses to the thread.
CNBC's Password Security Lesson Fails Spectacularly
March 31, 2016
CNBC earlier this week published a piece with the goal of helping users strengthen their password security, but the attempt backfired badly. An interactive tool provided to help readers detect the strength of their passwords was to blame. Readers were asked to enter potential passwords into a field, and see how long it would take the system to crack them.
CPQ's Challenge
March 31, 2016
Virtually every CPQ -- configuration, price and quote -- software vendor on the planet has a credible solution for the processes from which the category gets its name. That's the good news. Unfortunately, the world has moved on. Most CPQ is effective for helping promote transactions, especially the sales transaction, in which a buyer or buying entity makes a one-time purchase of a bill of goods.
The Calm Before the Next US vs. Apple Storm
March 31, 2016
Apple got a last-minute reprieve last week. The U.S. government no longer is going after the company to break into the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone, for now. It found another way. So Apple dodged a bullet, this time. However, as terrorism rises, this sticky question will rise again -- count on it. Now, when things are quiet, is the best time to debate this issue and come up with a solution.
Gadget Ogling: Honey, I Shrunk the iPhone
March 31, 2016
The iPhone SE packs almost everything from the iPhone 6s into a handset that looks almost identical to the iPhone 5. The only thing that's really missing is Force Touch. It's a smart play, trying to convince iPhone 4 and 5 owners that they can still upgrade to -- almost -- the latest model without the need to take on a device with a larger screen.
FCC Commissioner Sounds Alarm Over Netflix Throttling
March 30, 2016
FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly on Tuesday suggested the government should investigate Netflix's practice of throttling video content delivery to customers using mobile devices. However, Netflix's video throttling was not a violation of the FCC's Net neutrality rules, O'Rielly also said. Netflix last week announced plans to offer a data saver feature for mobile apps beginning in May.
Study: Enterprises Shift Analytics Focus to Back Office
March 30, 2016
Companies have shifted their analytics efforts from consumer-focused processes to operations, according to the results of a survey released last week by Capgemini. Seventy percent of 600 executives said they focused more on operational analysis, and more than 80 percent said analytics in operations plays a pivotal role in driving profits or creating competitive advantage, according to the survey.
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On texting and driving:
It's dangerous and I never do it.
I know it's dangerous but I do it anyway.
I do it but I'm extra careful.
It's only dangerous if you're a bad driver.
It's less dangerous than many other driver distractions.
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