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Forecasting 2016
December 23, 2015
My favorite Boston FM radio DJ was Charles Laquidara, who would end his show with the words, "If the creek don't rise, if the good Lord's willing, if there ain't no meltdown, we'll do it all over again tomorrow right here on The Biiiiig Mattress!" It impressed me that even one day out, he'd caveat his prediction of being there tomorrow. Unlike my hero, I will attempt to forecast the year ahead.
CRM Predictions: Spotting the Critical Connections
December 22, 2015
At this time of the year, there's a clamoring among the business publishing class for predictions. That is partly because prediction stories are considered easy to write, and once they're done the staff can go celebrate the holidays while their publication continues to deliver content. However, having written a lot of prediction stories in the past, I can tell you that they are not easy to write.
2015: Looking Back at an Amazing Year
December 21, 2015
I'm kind of surprised it took us so long to figure out that an iPod-like product with a Siri-like voice interface would be a massive hit in the home. As I write this, the numbers suggest the breakout product this holiday is the Amazon Echo. It once again showcases that if you create something that is plug-and-play easy and does at least one thing folks want to do well, it will be a hit.
Google, Facebook and Twitter Agree to Pull Hate Speech in Germany
December 18, 2015
Germany on Tuesday announced that Google's YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have agreed to its demands to remove hate speech appearing on their networks within 24 hours after a removal request has been made. The measures include best practice mechanisms that FSM, a nonprofit association dedicated to the protection of minors, and its members, including Google, have developed.
WhatsApp Brouhaha Breaks Out in Brazil
December 17, 2015
A Brazilian judge on Thursday lifted the ban a different judge had imposed on WhatsApp hours earlier, according to reports. It did not seem reasonable to affect millions of users to penalize Facebook, WhatsApp's owner, for failing to cooperate with judicial rulings, the judge reportedly said, suggesting that the imposition of a larger fine would have been more appropriate.
UK Police Pinch Suspect in VTech Hack
December 16, 2015
UK police have arrested a 21-year-old man as part of their investigation into last month's hack on VTech's systems. The man was arrested in Bracknell, 30 miles west of London, on suspicion of unauthorized access to a computer to facilitate the commission of an offense and suspicion of causing a computer to perform functions to secure or enable unauthorized access to a program or data, police said.
Star Citizen's Second Alpha Hurtles Past $100M Landmark
December 16, 2015
Racking in more than 200 times its original asking price, the crowdfunded space simulator Star Citizen recently reached a landmark 100 million in backer dollars. At the same time, developer Cloud Imperium released version 2.0 of the game's Alpha build. It's billed as the biggest Star Citizen update yet. The update puts to use the Star Citizen's multi-crew component.
Disgruntled Yahoo Investors Suggest Different Paths Forward
December 16, 2015
Two Yahoo investors, acting independently, have publicly called for radical changes or a potential sale of the firm. Both Canyon Capital Advisors and SpringOwl Asset Management apparently were unappeased by last week's announcement that Yahoo would spin off its core Internet business. Canyon Capital Advisors on Friday sent a letter urging Yahoo to find a buyer for its core Internet businesses.
Twitter Alerts Users to State-Sponsored Cyberattack Threat
December 15, 2015
Twitter last week began warning some of its members that they may be the target of a state-sponsored attack on their accounts. Coldhak posted to its Twitter account a copy of the warning it received. It's among a small number of accounts that state-sponsored actors may be targeting in an attempt to obtain information such as email addresses, IP addresses and phone numbers, Twitter warned.
T-Mobile Sets Hulu Lure to Snag Verizon Customers
December 14, 2015
T-Mobile last week introduced its latest promotion aimed at attracting subscribers from rival mobile phone carriers: 12 months of Hulu streaming service for Verizon customers who switch to T-Mobile. In addition to a year's worth of Hulu service, T-Mobile will give Verizon customers who switch up to $125 off in-store accessories such as smartwatches, speakers, fitness trackers and headphones.
Yahoo Ropes In Gmail
December 14, 2015
Yahoo last week announced that it had integrated Gmail with the online version of Yahoo Mail, just two months after integrating Outlook.com, Hotmail and AOL Mail in a major redesign. It also has integrated Gmail support in Yahoo Mail for Android 5.1 and Yahoo Mail for iOS 4.0.4. Yahoo Mail for Android 5.1 began rolling out to Google Play last week.
Twitter Sics Promoted Tweets on Logged-Out Users
December 11, 2015
Twitter on Thursday revealed it's testing the expansion of promoted tweets aimed at logged-out users. The company has been searching for ways to monetize the patronage of the roughly 500 million logged-out users per month who hop off Google for a moment to read tweet or two. The glue here is more tweets, more content. The test will enable logged-out users to view promoted tweets.
Zuckerberg Has Muslims' Backs
December 10, 2015
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday posted a message of support to Muslims in the Facebook community and around the world. Zuckerberg's post stands in stark contrast to presidential candidate Donald Trump's verbal attacks on all Muslims, including his call earlier this week to ban them from entering the United States. Supporters cheered when Trump suggested the ban at a rally.
Mozilla Gives Up Firefox Phone Ambitions
December 10, 2015
Mozilla on Wednesday confirmed that it has hung up on the Firefox OS mobile phone and will try using the operating system to dial into other connected device uses instead. The company spent several years developing a browser-based smartphone OS. It ended its sales program of the Firefox mobile operating system to carriers and will no longer develop the OS for smartphones, Mozilla said.
Feinstein Revives Terrorist Activity Reporting Bill
December 10, 2015
Sen. Dianne Feinstein has reintroduced a bill that would require technology companies to alert law enforcement of certain activities that might be related to terrorist threats. It would mandate that technology companies notify authorities of communications regarding attack planning, recruitment, or distribution of information relating to explosives if they should become aware of that activity.
27 Highly Desirable Gifts for Apple-Loving Fanatics - and 1 to Skip
December 10, 2015
Chances are, you know an Apple fanatic -- someone whose iPhone, Mac or iPad is a prized possession. If you don't know a true fanatic, you probably know a fan -- or barring that, someone who might appreciate an Apple-made gift this holiday season. To help you cut through the chaff, from one Apple fanatic to... someone else entirely, I've put together a list of the best Apple gifts.
Final Fantasy VII Remake: More Story, Less Action
December 9, 2015
Square Enix last week offered some tidbits about its upcoming Final Fantasy VII remake, which likely will be episodic in nature with the emphasis on action toned down. The company revealed the first gameplay footage of the remake at the PlayStation Experience 2015 event in San Francisco. The game likely will be released exclusively for Sony's PlayStation 4 game console, at least at launch.
Yahoo Spins in Reverse
December 9, 2015
Yahoo on Wednesday announced that its board of directors decided to suspend plans to spin off its Alibaba holdings and instead will undertake a reverse spinoff, transferring its other assets and liabilities to a newly formed company. The stock of the newly formed company will be distributed pro rata to Yahoo shareholders, resulting in two separate publicly traded companies.
Microsoft to Open Source Chakra JavaScript Engine
December 9, 2015
Microsoft last week revealed that it will release the core components of its Chakra JavaScript engine to open source as ChakraCore. It will be available next month on GitHub under the MIT license. ChakraCore offers best-in-class JavaScript execution with the broadest set of ES2015 feature coverage and dependable performance, reliability and scalability, Microsoft said.
Social Media Firms Face Quandary Over Terror Prevention
December 8, 2015
Following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., social media companies are coming under increased pressure, both internally and externally, to protect their networks from being used as platforms for operational planning and propaganda. "We should build tools to help de-escalate tensions on social media," wrote Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt in an op-ed.
Apple Cranks Up Music Storage to 100K
December 8, 2015
Apple has increased from 25,000 to 100,000 the maximum number of music tracks that can be uploaded to the personal libraries of Apple Music and iTunes Match users, according to media reports Sunday. When Apple launched its streaming music service, Apple Music, in June, company exec Eddy Cue revealed on Twitter that the company was working on raising the library ceiling for iOS 9.
Hello Barbie, Can We Talk About Your Security Issues?
December 8, 2015
New security issues that surfaced last week in connection with Mattel's Hello Barbie doll, which talks back to kids, have heightened fears that hackers could use the toy to steal information about its owners and their families. The Hello Barbie app, which is available for iOS and Android, uses an authentication credential that can be reused by hackers, Bluebox disclosed.
Wii U at Long Last to Share Minecraft Gold
December 8, 2015
Mojang on Monday announced that Minecraft finally is headed for the Wii U, with touchdown scheduled for Dec. 17. The lack of Minecraft availability long has been a legitimate reason to skip the Wii U in favor of another console. Although Minecraft is just the type of family-forward experience Nintendo pushes, it's surprising how long it took for it to reach Nintendo hardware.
Facebook Lets Ordinary People Try Out Live Video
December 7, 2015
Facebook last week launched a beta of its Live Video service for a small percentage of iPhone users in the United States. Live Video reportedly will be available for the Android platform at a later date. Facebook also has launched a pilot to make it easier to share videos from mobile devices. Some iPhone and Android device users can tap the "What's on your mind?" prompt to trigger a drop-down menu of the options they can share.
VTech Hires Mandiant to Shore Up Security for Kids
December 4, 2015
VTech on Thursday revealed it has hired FireEye's Mandiant to help improve security after reaction from parents around the world over news that its servers were hacked. It also is cooperating with law enforcement agencies worldwide to investigate the incident and has temporarily shut down several websites, its Learning Lodge app store, and its Kids Connect service.
Social Media's Troubling Terrorist Infestation
December 4, 2015
For individuals, social networking means sharing small moments and major events in life. For businesses, social media marketing can help build brands. For terrorist groups such as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, social networks increasingly are the tool of choice for delivering messages of hate and recruiting new members to their cause. ISIS has exploited Twitter to send out propaganda.
At $60K, Nokia's Ozo VR Camera Is Priced Right for Pro Filmmakers
December 3, 2015
Nokia this week revealed its Ozo virtual reality camera system. Priced at $60,000, it will ship in the first quarter of 2016. While its price may be too high for many YouTube content creators, it's low enough for studios that previously may have been hesitant to embrace VR because of the cost of equipment. Before the Ozo, experimenting with VR came at a high cost, Nokia said.
Yahoo May Be on Road to Oblivion
December 3, 2015
Up for discussion at Yahoo's next board of directors meeting is the sale of its Bing-powered search, longstanding mail service, aggregator-propped news platform, and the rest of the company's Internet business, according to reports. The possible spinoff of Yahoo's 15 percent stake in Alibaba also may be on the table. Yahoo has struggled mightily over the last decade.
EFF Sues Google for Snooping on Students
December 3, 2015
The Electronic Frontier Foundation on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that Google has used personal student data mined from its school Chromebook distribution, and requesting an investigation and an injunction against the practice. The EFF also launched a campaign to educate parents and school administrators about the risks of student data collection.
Zuckerberg and Chan Pledge Billions to Charity in Love Letter to Baby
December 2, 2015
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan posted an open letter to their baby daughter, Max, explaining why they plan to give away 99 percent of their Facebook shares -- worth about $45 billion currently -- to philanthropic causes. The couple intend to make the donations gradually over the course of their lives. Zuckerberg and Chan seek to advance human potential and promote equality.
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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.
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