Monday, April 30, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 04/30/2012

Microsoft invests $300 million in B&N Nook Spin off
Barnes & Noble and Microsoft have formed a partnership for a spin off of the Nook Readers. Microsoft will invest $300 million in the new venture for about 18 percent, valuing the new company at 1.7 billion dollars. This is over three times the value of B&N before the partnership. Microsoft will also get a Nook app for Windows 8. One other thing Microsoft will get is a PR friendly end to the IP lawsuit against B&N. Microsoft sued B&N for patent infringement for their use of Android. B&N fought back and it looked like Microsoft might lose the lawsuit. Part of the partnership is that the Nook will pay the license fees to Microsoft, allowing them to save face.

Want to influence music? Move to Denver
Irish researchers used last.fm to track where music trends originate from. Remarkably, it's not New York City, or Los Angeles, it's Denver, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. Unless you are into Hip Hop, then it is New York, but also Austin and Columbus are just as influential. It's an interesting read and shows how analyzing the data available can cut through misconceptions.

Will Hulu require cable subscriptions? 
The New York Post published an article stating that Hulu is going to start requiring proof of cable or satellite subscriptions, ala TV Everywhere. Further updates state that Hulu believes this won't happen for a few years. Even so, if it does happen, what advantage does this give Hulu subscribers when most providers are moving towards supplying their own Hulu-like service?

Intel announces a small form factor PC
Intel announced a 4x4in Sandy Bridge computer system for digital signage and kiosks called the Next Unit of Computing or NUC. While it is focused on industrial applications, the form factor would be great for a home theatre PC considering a $100 price point is being thrown around.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 04/29/2012

CISPA passes the House
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (or CISPA) passed the House this week. CISPA is meant to be aimed at stopping "cyber-security" threats. However many believe it opens holes for internet companies to supply information to the government without the requirement of a warrant, bypassing the National Security Act of 1947. It has even been compared to the Patriot Act. The likelihood of it being passed without change through the Senate and without a presidential veto, is small. To help the government out, GigaOM presented several ideas on how the bill could be improved.

Kindles help kids in Ghana
Earlier this month, the Economist put out an article on how the One Laptop per Child initiative was doing poorly in Peru. Now there is good news coming out of Ghana on a project to give children Kindles. The results are very positive, including increased test scores for primary school children, access to more books, and access to international news. The major problem was one in two of the Kindles broke. Maybe OLPC should work to add Kindle functionality or just build a ruggedized Kindle.

Microsoft Research working on a home automation system
Microsoft Research published a paper on HomeOS, a home automation system that treats devices in the home as an extension of a single PC. And it's not just a theoretical paper, they've been running tests in twelve homes for four to eight months.

Who is Huawei? 
Huawei is a Chinese networking and telecommunications equipment and services company. It is the second largest supplier of mobile telecommunications equipment behind Ericsson. Huawei has also been making waves in the press, including the announcement at Mobile World Conference of the well received Ascend D smartphone, and forecasts of 15-20 percent revenue growth. This week's news is that Huawei will increase R&D by 20% to introduce new disruptive technologies like touch-free smartphones and low cost cloud storage.

Fun Links of the Week
The cool Kickstarter project of the week is the Skype TinCan phone. A Skype phone designed to work like the old tin can on a string. It looks fun but I'd get it for the nostalgia rather than the functionality.
Google released Cube this week, a game based on Google Maps. It's a 3D tilt and roll cube that you maneuver to get from place to place on real Google Maps as fast as you can.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 04/26/2012

Kindle Fire is half of Android tablet market
Comscore is reporting the Kindle Fire has captured over half of the Android tablet market, up from 41.8 percent in January. I think this proves that the Android Tablet market is going to be driven by price not features. Everyone admits the Fire is feature weak, but the $199 price point allows it to out-perform more feature-rich tablets from other manufacturers.

Intel releases it's first Android Phone
The Lava Xolo X900 phone from India is Intel's first shipping android design win. With all the press ARM processors get, you'd assume that it would be slow and a battery hog. Well it appears you'd be wrong, AnandTech has a review and it is one of the best performing phones and has respectable battery life.

What's a Datasexual? 
Welcome to the new tech term of the day: Datasexual. This is a person who tracks their personal information to a new level. These are the people who uses the Nike+ Fuelband to track your physical activities or a program like PlaceMe that uses your mobile phone to track where ever you go.

NimbleTV is the next Over-The-Top cable service
NimbleTV.com is opening up a beta service for an Over-The-Top cable service that will allow you to watch your shows anywhere on any device. As opposed to Aereo, who were sued for rebroadcasting over the air channels, NimbleTV seems to have agreements with the content providers.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 04/25/2012

Google Announces Google Drive
The long awaited Google cloud storage was released under the name "Google Drive". It brings integration with Google Docs and a sync folder like Dropbox. There is also an SDK released to enable other apps to use the storage. It remains to be seen how companies like Dropbox and Box will respond.

Intel demos a Ultrabook/Tablet hybrid
What would you give up to let your tablet be a full laptop? Intel is showing a convertible Ultrabook that converts to a tablet. By using Windows 8, it can switch seamlessly between being a standard Win8 computer and a Win8 tablet. Of course it's thicker and more expensive, but if it works well enough, this could be a winning combination for Intel and Microsoft.

Words with Friends most used app
Arbitron has started to provide ratings for apps similar to TV ratings. The first release has come out and Words with Friends is the number one most engaging app, with users playing it for 6 hours a month, beating Facebook and Pandora Radio. Does this mean it's the next app to be purchased for a billion dollars?

Startup plans to mine asteroids
What would you do if you had more money than G**? Maybe invest in a startup that sounds like an April Fools Joke? That's what Google's Eric Schmidt and Larry Page did. Planetary Resources is a company founded to mine asteroids.  The idea is if most of the world's precious metals came from asteroids why not go straight to the source. Oddly enough, people seem to think it's feasible.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 04/18/2012

Microsoft reports record third quarter earnings
Microsoft's third quarter revenue was a record 17.41 billion dollars. The revenue was up across all their departments: Server, Business, Windows, Online services, and Entertainment & Devices. I find it interesting that the Online Services and Entertainment & Devices (which contains the Xbox360) generates less than 14% of that total.

Do you want to buy stocks on Facebook?
Starting in June, Loyal3 will allow Facebook users to buy stocks directly from Facebook in less than 3 clicks. No fees, no brokers, and as little as $10 increments. Best quote of the article: "This is the next evolution of the 'like' button". If people are afraid of privacy issues on Facebook now, how will they feel about their stock portfolio being on Facebook and having their purchases being placed on their wall?

Hulu announces new shows
Cordcutters rejoice, new shows are on the way. Hulu announced four new original shows, We Got Next (a sitcom), The Awesomes, (a superhero show with Seth Myers), Don't Quit Your Daydream (a talent show), and Flow (a crime mystery). This is in addition to their current original programming of Lilyhammer, House of Cards, and the resurrected Arrested Development. Buried within the announcement is the fact that Hulu earned $420 millions in revenue last year, which sounds good until you realize they paid $500 milllion in licensing and development costs.

AT&T releases voice recognition APIs
AT&T's Watson Speech engine is one of the industry's best and now AT&T is releasing APIs to allow web and app developers to access this technology.

Bonus Link of the Day: Market Forecast for Wearables.
Anyone who knows me, knows I think wearable computers are the next cool thing. All Things D has a great overview of how the major players in the market can use wearable technologies like smart watches and Project Glass-like glasses. Neatest/spookiest usage? Using facial recognition on the person next to you to look them up on Facebook to see if they are in a relationship.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 04/17/2012

Is Physical Media Dead?
GigaOM has an article on physical media being dead. GigaOM proposes that instead of CDs and Blu-ray discs, you'll use apps branded by artists and companies to view videos or listen to music. While we all see physical media going away, I question if brand apps are the answer versus aggregator apps that supply all of your content in one place and ease content discovery. The interesting article fact is the impact that this has on the Postal Service. The Postal Service is losing money because it built up a huge infrastructure that can't support the drop in mail volume. How does this get fixed?

Oakley working on a Project Glass competitor
The great thing about Google announcing Project Glass is that it flushed out all the other people working on similar technology. Sunglass manufacturer Oakley has announced it is working on a similar project. Oakley previously released sunglasses with an MP3 player built-in, the Thump. Hopefully this will be a little more successful.

Ikea announces an all-in-one TV
It looks weird but it's interesting enough to mention. The Swedish supergroup er.. I mean superstore is announcing it's own line of HDTVs. One cool feature is the cabinets allow remote signals through, so you can store boxes inside and control them without opening the doors.

Twitter announces Patent Amnesty
Twitter announced it's Innovators Agreement. This basically says that if you don't sue us, we won't sue you for patent infringement. Wouldn't be nice if others jumped on this bandwagon and we could get lawyers and lawsuits out of the technical press? I doubt it will happen, but kudos to Twitter for trying.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 04/16/2012

3D Printers are making news
The Economist has an article on the state of the market of 3D printing. With 3D printers available for less than $2000 dollars, this is a rapidly growing market. Just checkout www.thingiverse.com for some of the things that you can create. 

Valve looking at wearable computing
A developer at Valve, the game company, has come forward and said that he is working on wearable computing similar to Project Glass from Google. He admits it's an R&D project with no products yet, but it's exciting to see multiple companies jumping into this area. 

Google updates ChromeOS's User Interface
Google's lesser successful OS, ChromeOS received a face lift with an update to the Aura user interface. The update adds traditional windowing to make it look more windows-like. In addition, it's adding hardware acceleration for increased performance. Unfortunately the original Cr-48 owners won't be getting this. It's only targeted for the newer Acer and Samsung Chromebooks.

MIPS up for sale
The rumor is that MIPS is up for sale. MIPS licenses processor IP to companies like Broadcom, Cisco, LSI and many more. While processor companies like Intel and ARM have announced record profits, MIPS is losing money, and unable to make progress in the smartphone or tablet markets. 


Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 04/12/2012

Dick Tracy's watch is right around the corner 
The smart watch is quickly taking off. The WIMM module that your's truly owns is being joined by Sony's SmartWatch and the Kickstarter Project: Pebble. All of these watches will allow you to install apps on your watch that communicate with your smart phone. Since all these watches come with development kits, the usages are only limited by the developer's imagination.

U.S. homes linking TVs to the Internet
More and more homes have a TV connected to the Internet. The latest numbers are that 38% of households have a TV connected to the internet either directly, or by a IP-enabled device. This is up by over 50% from two years ago. This could be the reason cable TV ratings have dropped over the past year. With the ease of watching over-the-top video from a connected TV, less time is available or needed for cable. Stunningly, Nickelodeon's rating among its kids 2-11 is down 25%.

The Best Stylus Review
Do you want a stylus for your iPad or Android tablet? Here's the best review I've found of styluses. What's the best one? Well it depends on what you want, read the review.

A 30 year old view of an Intelligent Encyclopedia.
30 years ago Alan Kay worked with a former Encyclopedia Britannica employee to generate the ideas behind a Intelligent Encyclopedia. I love when historical future predictions come amazing close as the businessman checking stock quotes on an airplane.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 04/11/2012

Intel Pushes Tablets and Ultrabooks
Intel made two announcements recently. First, they are working with 10 vendors to release Windows 8 based tablets. While focused on the Chinese market, it could be a big win for Intel's Medfield and Clover Trail processors. More interestingly, they are announcing a $699 price point for ultrabooks. The twist on this is that Intel is looking to produce an ultrabook that can also can be used as a tablet by re-arranging the screen. If it is light enough, a transformable ultrabook/tablet could be a winner. Users who frequently travel wouldn't have to carry a laptop and a tablet.

Google re-designs the Google+ page
Google released a new layout for the Google+ page. While it cleans up the previously cluttered page, at least one developer is upset that it breaks most of the pre-existing apps and add-ons for Google+.

PayTV costs predicted to hit $200 a month by 2020
The NPD Group is predicting your cable or satellite bill will be hitting $200 a month by 2020. With most reports stating that any push to cord-cutting is being driven by economic reasons, an increase to $200 per month will open the door for an over-the-top provider. If Google, Apple, or Intel can put together a decent lineup of content, there will be a market for it, that is if they can undercut cable on price.

Apple sneaks in a new dual core processor
When the new AppleTV box came out, Chipworks did a teardown including x-raying the new processor chip, the A5X. Lo and behold, they found out that although Apple calls it a single core processor, it is a dual core processor. In addition, they dropped the manufacturing from a 45nm process to a 32nm process, which results in the processor being smaller, having higher performance and lower power usage. While it's not known why Apple is calling it a single core processor, if the A5X is a dual core processor, this would help the next generation of iPhones with size, performance and battery life.

Bonus Link of the Day: DIY'er creates his own Project Glass
Inspired by Google's Project Glass, a developer in the UK has created a prototype based on existing off-the-shelf hardware. While it's not clear where the application is running, it all is supposed to run in real-time and the video is un-doctored. I'm hoping this isn't a hoax like the flying man or tacocopter.com.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 04/09/2012

R.I.P. Jack Tramiel
Everyone knows about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, but one of the true legends of the computer industry passed away today, Jack Tramiel. Jack not only started Commodore, of the Commodore 64 fame, but later bought the Atari company and released the AtariST computer line to resurrect the company. The Atari 520ST was a low cost competitor to the Apple Macintosh and my first personal computer. Rest in peace, Jack and thanks for the fun times.

Facebook to buy Instagram
Just after Instagram released it's android version of the highly popular iPhone app, it's in the news again. Facebook is purchasing it for one billion dollars, the largest app purchase of all time. This is what happens when your app gains 2.9 million users in one day.

Power is the new specification in computing
Not so long ago, CPU performance was the measurement of a computer. Now with tablets, cell phones, and notebooks, it's moving more and more to power usage. This study shows how power efficient computers have become. A MacAir would only have lasted 2.5 seconds on it's battery if it was as efficient as computers in 1991. Add to this the research being done in different technologies to recharge batteries, everything from solar to vibration for energy harvesting, and research in new battery technologies by companies like 3M. Maybe we'll look back and laugh about making sure we charged our smartphones at night.

The Feel Good News of the Day: OMGPOP CEO rehires laid off employees
Before OMGPOP was purchased by Zynga for $210M, Dan Porter, the CEO, rehired employees that were laid off months before because of financial problems. He also made sure their stock options were vested so they benefited from the sale.


Friday, April 6, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 04/06/2012

Google's Project Glass comes out of the dark
The rumored Google Glasses have come out of the dark as Project Glass with a Google+ page and concept video. No prices or availability yet, but I can't wait.

GoogleTV comes to Europe
Sony is going to release it's next generation Google TV box to Europe in September. Interestingly, it's not dropping the price from the first generation products. I guess the move from Intel to ARM didn't result in the huge cost savings that were advertised.

Netflix under attack
Amazon Prime, Yahoo and Google announced deals with platforms, studios and content providers to add new movies and TV shows to their services. With Netflix losing Starz, how long can Netflix remain the top dog in over-the-top long format video?

Pinterest has jumped to 3rd
Pinterest is now the 3rd largest social web site behind Facebook and Twitter. It's amazing how someone can come out of nowhere and out-pace Google. But then again no one seemed to care about Pinterest's privacy issues

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 04/02/2012

April Fool's Day Joke
It's always a tradition for companies to post bogus news articles on April Fool's day. I found one of Google's pranks this year really interesting. They announced Google Racing, an initiative to build self driving race cars. While it was a joke, if Watson can compete on Jeopardy, how far away are we from one of Watson's relatives competing on the NASCAR circuit?

MicroSIM battle between Apple and Nokia
The SIM card in your phone is what gives your phone it's identity or phone number on your carrier. In the effort to reduce phone thickness, the  European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has put out request for a smaller MicroSIM form factor. Apple and Nokia both responded, with Nokia satisfying the technical requirements but Apple offering it's solution royalty-free if it is the only chosen provider. With both sides refusing to compromise, ETSI is now delaying any vote on the standard until there is broad industry support for a solution. This probably means it won't be resolved for a long time. Fortunately, phones are thin enough for me.

Tim Cook as Beloved as Steve Jobs
It only took Tim Cook 10 months to match Steve Jobs in one way, the respect of his employees. Tim Cook ranks first on Glassdoor's CEO approval rating with a 97 percent matching Steve Job's lifetime score and beating his score over the last few years.

Codecademy adds classes for HTML and CSS
Want to learn some web programming? Codecademy is a website dedicated to teaching programming. They've added classes on HTML and CSS to go along with their current classes on Javascript. If you want to learn how to program web applications, this is a pretty good site to use.

The new iPad gobbles up bandwidth
If you're a new iPad user with 4G, be careful watching HD video on that beautiful retina display. People are finding out they can run through their cell service's 3GB bandwidth allocation in a few hours using 4G. Of course, this is the definition of a first world problem, if you are whining about your new iPad eating through your 4G bandwidth because you watch too much high definition TV.