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US Comptroller Gears Up for Blockchain and Internet Finance
November 16, 2016
The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has a lot of catching up to do in dealing with innovative information technology, as it affects not only conventional finance, but also new channels of e-commerce made possible through advances in IT. These channels include cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, related "blockchain" technologies, and other Internet-driven financial services.
Google Clamps Down on Sneaky Malicious Sites
November 16, 2016
Sites that repeatedly violate Google's safe browsing policies will be classified as repeat offenders, the company said. A small number of websites take corrective actions after Google displays alerts on their landing pages warning visitors that they're harmful. However, they typically revert to violating the policies after Google verifies that they're safe and removes the warnings.
Post-Election Backlash Spurs Fake News Crackdown
November 15, 2016
Facebook and Google have amended their internal policies regarding advertising on fake news posts in response to increasing pressure from users and a growing controversy within the company. There are mounting concerns that the presidential election may have been influenced by unvetted fake news stories trending on the network during the past few weeks of the cycle.
Conspiracy Theories in the Information Age, Part 2
November 15, 2016
In the past, heightened rhetoric and propaganda were the tools of choice for those looking to convince an electorate to vote them into office, and conspiracy theories were their bane. This election season has seen the rise of a new form of persuasion, one that's unique to the Information Age. For months, WikiLeaks creator Julian Assange had promised to rain bombshells.
Hype Video Broadcast App Has Niche Potential
November 14, 2016
The folks who brought Vine into the world last month introduced a new video broadcasting app called "Hype." Available for free from Intermedia Labs in the iTunes App Store, Hype not only allows users to broadcast live to the Internet, but also lets followers interact with their broadcasts in real time. At first blush, it might seem that Hype's offering closely mirrors Periscope and Facebook Live.
Facebook Share Price Falls Despite Blowout Quarter
November 4, 2016
Facebook on Wednesday reported a record Q3, beating analysts' expectations for the fourth straight quarter, but concerns among investors about increased expenditures and the company's future prospects drove down share prices. They closed Thursday at $119.95, down more than $7 from Wednesday's closing price of $127.17. Friday saw little movement, with a closing price of $120.75.
Bot Armies Boost Candidates' Popularity on Twitter
October 29, 2016
Internet bots have many useful online purposes, but they have a dark side, too, as three researchers demonstrated in their analysis of Twitter traffic during the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Bots are used to automate functions on the Net. For example, if you belong to several social networks, you could use a bot to post a photo to all of them at once.
Stock Price Rises as Twitter Slashes Jobs, Uproots Vine
October 28, 2016
Twitter shares were up Friday following a third-quarter earnings report that beat Wall Street estimates despite declining revenue growth. Twitter also announced a widely expected round of job cuts and the unexpected shutdown of Vine. Twitter has been on financial oxygen in recent weeks, after failing to find a buyer. Investors applauded the news that it will slash 9 percent of its workforce.
Conspiracy Theories in the Information Age, Part 1
October 28, 2016
One of the most volatile conspiracy theories in recent times ended with a whimper last month, when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made the terse statement, "President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. Period." Though birthers may be with us always, it seems many have turned their attention to other potentially scandalous topics -- and they need look no further than the Internet.
Tech on TV: A Little Realism Goes a Long Way
October 27, 2016
Watching TV shows often requires the suspension of disbelief -- that is, a willingness to press pause on one's critical faculties in order to believe the unbelievable. Realism often must be secondary to story, in other words. This very often is necessary when computers are used to advance plot lines, when programmers and hackers alike can produce tremendous results in seconds.
Social Media Analytics, Meet Big Brother
October 26, 2016
The ACLU recently uncovered evidence that led Twitter, Facebook and its Instagram subsidiary to stop sharing data with Geofeedia, a firm accused of improperly collecting social media data on protest groups, and sharing that information with numerous law enforcement agencies. Geofeedia, a developer of location-based analytics, had been marketing its technology to law enforcement agencies.
Twitter May Kick 300 Employees Out of Its Nest
October 25, 2016
Twitter appears close to slashing another 300 jobs, or about 8 percent of its workforce, as it works to recover from a failed round of acquisition talks with several suitors. The job cuts likely would be in sales. Twitter might be taking steps to make itself look more attractive to investors in preparation for its third-quarter earnings report later this week.
Battlefield 1: Big, Bombastic and Very Loosely Based
October 25, 2016
If filmmaker Michael Bay -- known for the Transformers and other over-the-top films -- were to decide to make a World War I movie, and if he chose to rely on comic books for research, the result would be very much like Electronic Arts' newly released video game Battlefield 1. This latest entry in the popular series moves the action from recent modern settings to the Great War.
DDoS Attack Causes Waves of Internet Outages
October 22, 2016
Hundreds of websites -- including those of biggies such as Netflix, Twitter and Spotify -- on Friday fell prey to massive DDoS attacks that cut off access to Internet users on the East Coast and elsewhere in the U.S. Three attacks were launched over a period of hours against Internet performance management company Dyn. The first attack started at about 7:10 a.m. EDT.
Airbnb Offers to Give a Little in NY, SF Tussles
October 21, 2016
Airbnb recently proposed changes to its listing policies for short-term rental property owners in New York City and San Francisco, possibly in response to threats of aggressive action from state and local lawmakers. With respect to New York operations, Airbnb on Wednesday proposed a set of five changes in an article penned by Chris Lehane, the company's global head of public policy.
Red Hat and Ericsson Forge 5G, IoT Open Source Alliance
October 20, 2016
Red Hat and Ericsson on Wednesday announced an alliance meant to speed adoption of open source solutions in the information and communications technology space. The alliance will help promote a range of fully open source and production-ready cloud solutions, spanning OpenStack, software defined-networking and software-defined infrastructure, the companies said.
New Tag Helps Google News Readers Unearth Facts
October 19, 2016
Google last week launched a Fact Check tag to help readers find fact-checking in major news stories. Readers will see tagged articles in the expanded story box on news.google.com and in the Google News & Weather apps for iOS and Android. One factor the Google News algorithms consider in determining whether an article might contain fact checks is the Schema.org ClaimReview markup.
Twitter Hopes Fade as Salesforce Deal Slips Away
October 18, 2016
Salesforce, the last known suitor for Twitter, last week officially bowed out of the running for an acquisition deal, a move that forces the embattled company either to look for a new savior or find some internal answers to its lingering inability to find a winning growth strategy. Salesforce walked away from the deal because it wasn't the right fit, CEO Marc Benioff said.
This Election May Be Scarier Than You Think
October 17, 2016
Not that it isn't scary enough -- but if you look at both candidates, who have had their images destroyed largely by technology, i.e., tapes and emails -- there is a huge warning inherent in the process. Email really wasn't a big thing until the late 1990s and even having your own email server wouldn't have been likely before 2005, let alone thinking through the security aspects.
Big Data and Analytics: Creating New Value
October 14, 2016
The massive amount of data available from connected devices creates an unprecedented opportunity for increased optimization of products and services -- and, consequently, revenue. The deep investment in big data gathering and analytics is fueled by an ability to create added value for companies based on actionable business insights, and for consumers by providing lifestyle benefits.
Amazon Music Unlimited Rolls Gently Down the Stream
October 13, 2016
Amazon on Wednesday rolled out its Music Unlimited cut-rate subscription streaming service, available on its Echo, Echo Dot and Amazon Tap devices for as little as $4 a month for a single device. Setting a low-entry price point "is a logical move, given that the company has invested heavily into the AI and voice recognition powering Alexa," said IHS Markit analyst Paul Erickson.
Snap Lines Up Bankers for Spring IPO
October 13, 2016
Snap this week hired Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group to manage its IPO, according to multiple reports. JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Allen & Co., Barclays and Credit Suisse Group reportedly also will play a role. The IPO, expected as early as this spring, could result in a valuation of $25 billion or more. That would make Snap one of the highest-profile IPOs in years.
Amazon Throws the Books at Prime Subscribers
October 13, 2016
Amazon last week launched Prime Reading -- a new benefit for subscribers to its US$100-a-year Amazon Prime service that lets them access content for free. That content will come from more than 1,000 top Kindle books, Kindle Singles, magazines, comic books, children's books, and classic works from writers such as Kurt Vonnegut, Norman Mailer and Gloria Steinem.
Gadget Ogling: Google Embraces a Hardware Future
October 12, 2016
The first smartphones Google has made by itself, Pixel and Pixel XL, are the first to bear Android 7.1 and the first to have the impressive Google Assistant built in. The Pixel has a 5-inch HD screen, while the Pixel XL offers a 5.5-inch QHD display. The phones have a quad-core processor and 4 GB of RAM. I like that the fingerprint sensor is on the back.
Yahoo Makes It Harder for Email Users to Jump Ship
October 11, 2016
Yahoo in recent days disabled autoforwarding for Yahoo Mail -- and in at least one corporate client's case, it disabled the webmail deletion feature. The autoforwarding feature "is under development," reads a statement on the Yahoo site. "While we work to improve it, we've temporarily disabled the ability to turn on Mail Forwarding for new forwarding addresses."
Google: There's No Hub Like Home
October 6, 2016
Google on Tuesday officially launched Google Home, its long-awaited wireless hub. Google Home is an interactive personal assistant and entertainment center that takes full advantage of the company's deep advantages in Web search, AI and machine learning. Google's vision is to place a customized version of its Google Assistant technology into the hands of every customer.
IoT Could Become Playground for Botnets Gone Wild
October 6, 2016
The source code for Mirai, the malware behind the botnet that launched a massive attack on the Krebs on Security website -- the largest DDoS attack on record -- has been released in the wild, according to Brian Krebs. A hacker who goes by the handle "Anna-senpai," apparently because of increased scrutiny from the cybersec industry, last week announced the release on Hackforums, Krebs said.
The Lack of Strategic Thinking in Election 2016
October 3, 2016
One of the problems facing the technology industry right now is the critical lack of strategic thinking. Hedge fund managers and activist investors increasingly are forcing tactical decisions that raise stock prices over the short term, largely by destroying the firm's long-term viability. Most top executives don't seem to understand they are destroying their companies until it's too late.
Gadget Ogling: Streaming Merrily, Snapping Happily, and Listening My Way
October 1, 2016
Roku has refreshed its lineup of media players with lower prices, so bringing streaming video to every screen in your home just got a little more accessible. At the lower end, the Roku Express costs $30. The lineup includes $40, $50, $80 and $100 models with a variety of feature combinations. At $130, the Roku Ultra, pictured here, is the feature-loaded top-of-the-line option.
Trump Hauls Out Google Conspiracy Theory for Another Airing
September 30, 2016
Perhaps still reeling from what's widely viewed as the bruising he took in a debate watched by more than 80 million people on TV earlier this week -- countless more online -- Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Wednesday opened a campaign rally with a previously discredited attack. Google's search engine was biased in favor of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, he claimed.
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