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Birth of the Modern
February 5, 2016
Nearly every generation sees the birth of what, for it, will define modern life going forward. As uncertain as the twenty-teens have been, in retrospect economists may point to this decade as being as important as the tipping points of the 1870s and 1920s. If so, there may be no better event to symbolize the beginning of the era than the Salesforce fiscal-year kick-off this week.
Google to Put Self-Driving Cars Through Rainy-Day Paces
February 4, 2016
Google on Wednesday announced that it has chosen Kirkland, Washington, as the next location to test its self-driving cars. It picked Kirkland as the third test city to give the cars more experience driving in new environments, traffic patterns and road conditions. Google has conducted testing mainly at or near its campus in Mountain View, California. Last year it expanded to Austin, Texas.
The Next President's Alternative Energy Agenda
February 4, 2016
Alternative energy has become a real growth engine during the last several years. It seems to bounce up and down, depending on the leadership in the White House. President Obama is a supporter, so growth has been relatively strong in recent years. The big question is, what will happen under a new president? That is a question every investor and industry worker is asking.
Alphabet Leapfrogs Apple to Top of the Heap
February 3, 2016
Google's new parent, Alphabet, sent a tingle up the spine of investors on Monday after reporting fourth quarter earnings that exceeded expectations. The good news sent its share price skyward, resulting in a market valuation that surpassed Apple, which for years has been the most-favored technology firm on Wall Street. Alphabet reported adjusted earnings of $8.67 per share.
Europe, US Cut 11th Hour Safe Harbor Deal
February 3, 2016
Europe and the United States on Tuesday announced a new Safe Harbor agreement that neutralizes the threat of enforcement actions against domestic companies handling overseas data. The EU-US Privacy Shield aims to protect the privacy of data belonging to European citizens when it's handled by U.S. companies. It "will protect the fundamental rights of Europeans," said EU Commissioner Vera Jourová.
Harvard Researchers Debunk Warnings of Terrorists 'Going Dark'
February 2, 2016
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University on Monday released a report that questions the so-called "going dark" phenomenon. The U.S. government and surveillance and law enforcement agencies have been calling for an end to encryption because they say it lets terrorists communicate with impunity and is responsible for the inability of law enforcement to monitor communications.
Microsoft's Project Natick: Data Centers Better Down Where It's Wetter?
February 1, 2016
Microsoft on Monday unveiled Project Natick, a research initiative aimed at developing underwater data centers that could be built near coastal cities. The project is still in its infancy, but Microsoft built one test facility last year. It was deployed 30 feet underwater off the California coast in August and was tested through December, when it was returned to the Microsoft campus.
How Analytics Could Upset the Presidential Frontrunners
February 1, 2016
Given all the campaign drama, there was little else on my mind when I started to write my column at the end of last week. The also-rans really didn't understand how suicidal Trump's comments were about fans supporting him even if he shot someone in New York. Also, Clinton's use of a nonauthorized BlackBerry revealed what she really thought of the Obama administration.
Google's AlphaGo Defeats Human Master of Ancient Game
January 29, 2016
Research at Google on Wednesday announced that AlphaGo has become the first computer software system to beat a human at the ancient game of Go. There are more possible positions in Go than there are the number of atoms in the universe, and it has a googol more positions than chess, Google pointed out. That complexity makes it difficult for computers to play Go.
Walmart Opens OneOps Cloud Management to the Masses
January 28, 2016
Walmart on Tuesday announced that it has posted the code for its OneOps cloud application life cycle management platform on GitHub. The company developed OneOps for building and launching cloud applications across frequently changing storage environments. It lets e-commerce vendors deploy apps on platforms from Microsoft, Rackspace and CenturyLink to OpenStack private or hybrid environments.
FCC Chief Proposes End of Set-Top Box Rule
January 28, 2016
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Wednesday announced that he'd shared with colleagues a long sought-after proposal to loosen the set-top box's grip on home entertainment. The proposal seeks to spur competition and consumer choice in an arena dominated by large cable and satellite television providers. Wheeler's proposal would provide a mechanism for creating new ways to access video content.
Feds Embrace Salesforce Platform Offerings
January 28, 2016
The U.S. government has authorized an information technology contract with a potential value of $503 million that is designed to meet newly adopted goals for greatly improving IT acquisition. The General Services Administration, which issued the contract for software and cloud-related services, described the acquisition approach as a first-of-its-kind initiative.
FDA Guidelines Target IoT Medical Device Security
January 28, 2016
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week took a step toward addressing the threat the Internet of Things poses to patients and their data by releasing some proposed guidelines for managing cybersecurity in medical devices. "Networked medical devices, like other networked computer systems, incorporate software that may be vulnerable to cybersecurity threats," the FDA says in its proposal.
An Idea Whose Time Has Come... Again
January 27, 2016
Whether you call it "industry CRM," "vertical CRM" or something else, the concept is gaining altitude. Not that it's new or ever been gone, but today's vertical CRM is different -- a constellation of quantitatively and qualitatively different and better CRM solutions than we've ever seen. Vendors like Veeva, Vlocity and Salesforce are getting into the act.
Panel: Time Is Running Out to Address Killer Robot Threat
January 25, 2016
The rise of autonomous war machines is outpacing policies and technological countermeasures, weapons and robotics experts warned last week at the World Economic Forum. Autonomous weaponry potentially is a $20 billion industry that has taken root in 40 countries, said BAE Systems Chairman Roger Carr. He was one of four panelists at the session titled "What If: Robots Go to War?"
California Bill Would Ban Encrypted Smartphone Sales
January 25, 2016
California State Assemblyman Jim Cooper last week introduced a bill seeking to ban the sale of smartphones that include unbreakable encryption. It would require smartphones made on or after Jan. 1, 2017, and sold in California to be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by manufacturers or OS providers. Knowingly failing to comply would subject a seller or lessor to a fine of $2,500 per device.
How Trump Wins: Master Manipulator, Meet Analytics
January 25, 2016
Given President Obama's success in the last two elections, I was convinced that we would see a major emphasis on the use of analytics in this election season. It seemed that Clinton, in particular, would have been drawn to it after Obama used it to defeat her in the 2008 primaries. Although some of the PACs have embraced analytics, I haven't seen a similar effort on the part of any candidate.
Consumer Advocates Push FCC on Broadband Privacy Rules
January 22, 2016
A coalition of 59 organizations on Wednesday sent a letter to U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler calling on him to get cracking on privacy protection rules for consumers. The groups include consumer advocates such as Consumer Watchdog and the Chicago Consumer Coalition as well as the Center for Democracy and Technology and the American Association of Law Libraries.
Apple Stats Reflect Slow Slog Toward Diversification
January 22, 2016
Apple this week released a diversity report showing that initiatives to broaden the makeup of its U.S. workforce haven't been as successful as CEO Tim Cook suggested last year. The EEO-1 report filed with the federal government covers Apple's 2015 hires in the United States. Its numbers vary widely from the diversity numbers the company revealed in August.
Microsoft Cloud Rains Free Services on Nonprofits
January 21, 2016
CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday took the occasion of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to announce that Microsoft plans to donate US$1 billion worth of cloud services to serve nonprofits and university researchers over the next three years. The company's recently formed Microsoft Philanthropies unit will manage the contribution as part of a three-part effort.
Cloud Research
January 20, 2016
Last year, uber-analyst Esteban Kolsky and I did a research project to better understand cloud computing's uptake and related issues, and last week Financial Force, our sponsor, made the results public. The findings are interesting to me because they reveal a more or less typical adoption cycle for cloud, by which I mean that some of the downstream effects are only gradually becoming apparent.
Ukraine Mounts Investigation of Kiev Airport Cyberattack
January 20, 2016
Ukrainian officials earlier this week said they had launched a probe into the source of a cyberattack that targeted a Kiev Airport. The attack may be related to the BlackEnergy malware attacks that recently targeted Ukrainian infrastructure facilities, apparently from Russia. CERT-UA on Monday warned system administrators to be on the alert for the presence of BlackEnergy malware.
FTC Issues Regulatory Warning on Big Data Use
January 20, 2016
The Federal Trade Commission is extending its regulatory reach to the e-commerce impact of big data. For years, the FTC has asserted vigorously its authority to apply existing consumer protection laws to emerging developments in the IT realm. Now it is signaling that it will apply that same vigor to big data under the regulatory authority it possesses through the FTC Act and other laws.
Demandware Teams With eBay on Omnichannel E-Commerce Solution
January 19, 2016
Demandware and eBay Enterprise on Monday announced an alliance to develop a fully enabled omnichannel commerce solution that will provide integrated access to Demandware's Commerce Cloud platform and eBay Enterprise's suite of back-end and fulfillment technologies and services. The solution will let clients significantly reduce the complexity of managing their front- and back-end systems.
Cook Slams Door on Backdoor Discussions
January 19, 2016
Privacy advocates from around the globe have taken heart from reports that Apple CEO Tim Cook pushed hard against the Obama administration's efforts to reach a compromise on encryption during a recent Silicon Valley meeting. Cook reportedly lashed out at administration officials who were calling for a way to grant law enforcement officials limited, backdoor access to computer systems.
NASA Advances Mission to Protect Earth From Asteroids
January 15, 2016
NASA last week announced that it has established the Planetary Defense Coordination Office to formalize its efforts to detect and track near-Earth objects. The PDCO will supervise all NASA-funded projects to find and characterize asteroids and comets that pass near Earth's orbit around the sun. It will issue notices of close passes and warnings of any detected potential impacts.
Cisco Aims to Pin Down Shadow IT
January 15, 2016
Cisco has unveiled Cloud Consumption as a Service to help enterprises discover and continually monitor public cloud use -- aka "shadow IT" -- across their systems. Shadow IT systems in an enterprise or organization expose it to security risks and hidden costs, and may give rise to compliance issues. Organizations are using up to 20 times more cloud services than IT is aware of, according to Cisco.
Google's Self-Driving Cars Still Need Human Touch
January 14, 2016
Google's self-driving cars showed major safety improvements over the past year -- but there were dozens of incidents when test drivers had to intervene, the company said in a report recently filed with California regulators. There were 272 so-called immediate manual control disengagements due to a failure of the autonomous car technology, between September 2014 and November 2015, Google reported.
Privacy as a Service Advocates Promise Better Data Protection
January 14, 2016
There's been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth about the Sisyphean task of protecting privacy in the Digital Age, but that hasn't stopped innovators from searching for ways to preserve it. One of the latest ideas to emerge in the field is Privacy as a Service. As with many emerging technologies, the definition of "PaaS" (not to be confused with Platform as a Service) is in flux.
EFF Urges Revival of Human Rights Case Against Cisco
January 13, 2016
The Electronic Frontier Foundation on Monday pressed to revive a lawsuit against Cisco Systems for violating human rights in China, in a brief filed with a U.S. Court of Appeals. Members of Falun Gong, a religious group persecuted in China, originally filed the lawsuit in 2011, but a federal district court in California dismissed it in 2014. The federal appeals court now is considering a challenge to that dismissal.
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What is your reaction to the rumored
4-inch iPhone?
I'm in -- I'd love to have a smaller iPhone.
I prefer a larger iPhone, but it's good to have more options.
I expect innovation from Apple -- seems it's running out of ideas.
I'm not interested in an iPhone of any size.