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Mobile World Congress: Gigabit Wireless and the Anti-iPhone Set
February 27, 2017
One of the biggest disappointments at this year's Mobile World Congress is that the Samsung Galaxy 8 phone won't make it. The Galaxy line has been the ultimate iPhone fighter. Rumors around the anniversary edition of the iPhone suggest that it will do amazing, magical things, like 3D selfies. OK, I'm really missing Steve Jobs at the moment -- who the hell wants 3D selfies?!?
Could IBM's Watson Fix President Trump?
February 20, 2017
President Trump offers a good emulation for a future artificial intelligence system, suggests a column I read earlier this month, and his presidency may be an early warning of what could happen if we should fail to think through its training and information sources. Cathy O'Neil, the author of the piece, compares artificial intelligence to human intelligence that is mostly id.
Tesla Goes Underground and Uber Takes to the Skies: The Birth of Magic
February 13, 2017
As in crazy short, in a very short period of time we have two very different companies looking at two very different ways to eliminate traffic. Tesla wants to tunnel under the ground to avoid traffic, while Uber wants to fly overhead. Transportation has been a tad static for the last 40 years or so, and that apparently is about to change big time. This is just the start.
Gadget Ogling: Gaming's New Virtual Reality Frontier and Personal Cargo Robots
February 10, 2017
Regular readers will know that I've played games my entire life. I hold deep reverence for the care and attention that go into creating these experiences, and I've rarely met a game I didn't want to conquer. Yet I am nervous about virtual reality. I've tried it and found those disorientating worlds difficult to handle, though I suspect that over time I could grow more accustomed to it.
Was Apple's Outstanding Q1 a Fluke?
February 6, 2017
Apple had a good quarter, but if you look under the numbers there is a ton of trouble. It just dropped behind Google in brand value, and valuation may crater in a few months. The iPhone 7 did well, but that shouldn't be a surprise, given that its biggest competitor, Samsung, saw its phone literally go up in flames last quarter. The Galaxy 8 is coming, though, and it looks really impressive.
Tech Industry Reacts to Trump's Immigration Order
February 3, 2017
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick on Thursday resigned from President Trump's business advisory council amid fierce blowback against the president's recent executive order on immigration, and in the wake of reports that several major Silicon Valley firms, including Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Google, have been circulating a draft letter opposing Trump's action.
Silicon Valley Up in Arms Over Proposed H-1B Overhaul
January 31, 2017
Silicon Valley is in an uproar over a proposed new executive order that would overhaul existing foreign worker visa policies. The Trump administration's goal apparently is to prioritize the hiring of American workers and change the way U.S. companies can recruit skilled professionals from other countries. Policy should "prioritize the protection of American workers," the draft reportedly states.
BlackBerry, Microsoft and the Ever-Smarter Connected Car
January 30, 2017
BlackBerry last week announced that its turnaround was finished, and Microsoft finally provided some information on its new connected car deliverables. One strange thing was that after CEO John Chen excitedly pointed out that BlackBerry had displaced Microsoft in Ford, he then announced a strategic initiative to work more closely with Microsoft on BlackBerry's own market-leading QNX car OS.
The US Press Corps vs. Trump: A Teachable Moment
January 23, 2017
Life is about negotiation. We negotiate our relationships -- including marriage, which is a contract that many don't take seriously. We negotiate our jobs, and we negotiate our interactions with our families. Those who are good at this tend to have relatively happy lives. While they don't get everything they might want, they get more than most. When things degrade into wars, both sides lose.
Did BuzzFeed Just Commit Suicide?
January 16, 2017
Remember the oldie, "You Don't Mess Around With Jim"? The chorus goes like this: "You don't tug on superman's cape, You don't spit into the wind, You don't pull the mask off that old lone ranger, And you don't mess around with Jim." One of the lessons we learned last year is that what goes for "Jim" likely also goes for Peter Thiel, who is one of President-elect Donald Trump's leading supporters.
Apple May Show Up Fashionably Late at the Original TV Party
January 12, 2017
Apple reportedly plans to follow premium channels HBO and Showtime, as well as streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, in creating its own original TV shows and movies. The company may be negotiating agreements with veteran content producers to buy the rights to scripted television programs. It likely will offer its content through an over-the-top service similar to Netflix.
Gadget Ogling: The CES Spectacular Edition
January 12, 2017
Trust Razer to come up with something completely ridiculous that I need in my life immediately. Project Ariana is a projector that incorporates Razer's full-spectrum lighting system, Chroma. It uses a wide-angle lens to project images. Its 3D depth-sensing cameras detect objects in a room and adjust for them accordingly so that it still projects a flat image.
CES 2017's Magic
January 9, 2017
CES was a fascinating show this year. One of the things that made it so fascinating was that everyone and their brother had cars demonstrating one form of technology or another. It kind of makes me wonder what we'll see at the next car show -- PCs, drones, tablets and smartphones? That wasn't the only surprise at the show, though. Nvidia, long thought of as living in Intel's shadow, broke out.
Gadget Ogling: Floating Speakers, Neckbrace Audio, and Charming Caffeine Fixes
January 6, 2017
LG features twice in this edition of the column with two very different but similarly strange speakers. The "Levitating Portable Speaker" has as descriptive and accurate a name as the "Small Transparent Speaker" from last month's edition of this column. You can call it "PJ9" if you prefer the duller moniker. Yes, through the magic of electromagnets and a base station, this speaker will levitate and pump out audio in every direction.
Looking Ahead to CES: This Will Be a Big One
January 2, 2017
CES week is here, and it's the one week of the year I look forward to looking back on. CES is a killer show -- not because you are up to your armpits in interesting new products, but because it is so spread out that it'll kill your legs as you hike all over the damn place. One year, I walked so much I actually ripped the soles off both shoes. This show is weird, in that it really comes too early.
2016: The Year That Was
December 26, 2016
2016 really was a year like no other. We had yet another election defined by the misuse of analytics -- and folks seem to be getting worse rather than better at this. We had a rush to robotics, particularly self-driving cars, and some firms even leaped ahead to self-flying, people-delivering drones. We had a wave of fake news, mostly paid for by Google, because that company has no compass.
Gadget Ogling: Heightened Hearing, Toasty Toes, and Glass Speakers
December 22, 2016
Bose's latest earbuds are designed to help you tune in to the specific sounds you want to hear. Hearphones are a sort of blend of noise-cancelling earbuds and hearing aids. There are several presets in the app, with names like "focused conversation," "gym," "airplane" and "television." You can opt to crank up the volume on all sound from the world around you or turn it down.
Samsung May Unleash a Beast
December 21, 2016
Hot off the rumor mill on Wednesday is news of Beast Mode, a new feature Samsung may include in its upcoming Galaxy S8. Spotted in an EU trademark application, Beast Mode would apply to smartphones, mobile phones and application software for smartphones. The Galaxy S8 is expected to be the first smartphone built around Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor.
Waymo Offers Glimpse of Autonomous Chrysler Minivans
December 20, 2016
Waymo, the standalone venture that emerged from Google's self-driving car project, on Monday unveiled a fleet of 100 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans with the latest high-tech sensors, telematics, and other gear designed for fully autonomous operation. Modifications were made to several parts of the Pacifica to optimize it for fully autonomous driving.
Is Peter Thiel the Most Powerful Person in Tech?
December 19, 2016
There are generally two paths for dealing with someone in power when disagreements arise. One is to confront, and the other is to understand and influence. What is interesting is the most common path taken is the former while the most successful is the latter. I think the reason is that the former path is both the natural path for disagreement and the most visible.
Gadget Ogling: Rolling Records, Designing Lawns, and Placated Phones
December 13, 2016
RokBlok is a portable record player without a turntable. It's a block that dashes around the top of your records, and uses both its needle and built-in speaker to soundtrack your day. All you need to operate it are your records and a flat surface. If you'd like higher quality audio, you can connect it to your Bluetooth speaker or headphones. It's designed with protecting your records in mind.
What Trump Should Do With Air Force One
December 12, 2016
For the next eight or so years, I think a lot of what many of us are going to write will have something to do with what Donald Trump tweeted. Granted, since that has been the case for much of the last year, we have gotten comfortable with it. However, when Trump said he would kill the deal for an updated Air Force One, it hit me that we've completely lost track of what Air Force One should be.
iPhone Envy May Have Felled Galaxy Note7
December 6, 2016
Samsung's desire to match the iPhone 7 Plus led it to implement an aggressive design and manufacturing approach that led to problems with its Galaxy Note7 -- including some instances of the smartphones bursting into flames, Instrumental reported last week. Instrumental engineers tore down a Galaxy Note7, and found "tension between safety and pushing the boundaries," CEO Anna Shedletsky revealed.
Fitbit May Pick Up Pebble
December 5, 2016
Fitbit, the leader in the wearables category, is close to an agreement to buy struggling smartwatch maker Pebble for up to $40 million, in a move to gain the firm's intellectual property and software. The negotiations follow several months of financial turmoil at Pebble, which reportedly slashed its workforce by 25 percent in March and has rebuffed several prior offers to be acquired.
Isn't Fake News Propaganda?
December 5, 2016
A few years back, when it was one company, HP made a huge mistake that cost a number of people their jobs and forced the replacement of many of its board members. The company suffered through some nasty litigation and several top executives almost landed in jail. The mistake was tied back to something called "pretexting." It also went by the more common term "identity theft."
Apple Drone Fleet to Gather Maps Data
December 2, 2016
Apple reportedly has assembled a group of robotics and data-collection experts who will use drones to obtain data for updates to its Maps app. Apple, Google and others in the cartography space currently collect a lot of their data using motor vehicles equipped with high-tech gear. "That's a very expensive and time-consuming process," said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Navigant Research.
Gadget Ogling: Smarter Slumber and Pod-Free Coffee
December 1, 2016
In a previous column, I revealed how terrible a sleeper I am. My mattress is old, and there's a sizable dent on my side of the bed. It's probably time to find a new mattress, so perhaps it's time to consider one that connects with the rest of my home. Eight's smart mattress gives you a little more incentive to get out of bed, as you can set up a string of IFTTT recipes to improve your morning routine.
Samsung Floats Possibility of Split
November 30, 2016
Samsung has announced road map for a corporate restructuring that might include splitting itself into two. The company has retained external advisors to review the optimal corporate structure for its activities. The review is expected to take six months. Depending on the findings, Samsung may create a holding company structure and might list its shares on additional international exchanges.
Here's Looking at You, Alexa
November 30, 2016
Amazon is developing a premium version of its Alexa-powered Echo speaker, which will have a 7-inch touchscreen, in a bid to stave off competition from Google and other companies developing rival offerings, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. Designed for use in the kitchen, the new device would have an upward-tilting touchscreen that would permit a user to swipe controls from a standing position.
iPhone 8 Dreaming in Full Swing
November 29, 2016
Apple's latest iPhone was barely out of the gate when rumors began percolating about the company's next new phone. Although the iPhone 7 garnered mostly tepid reviews, initial inventories sold out quickly, and the company had to scramble to meet demand. That demand may have peaked, though, which may be why chasers of the next big thing are looking down the road.
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