Miscellaneous

29 May 2014

Google Releases Employee Data, Illustrating Tech's Diversity Challenge New York Times

Google on Wednesday released statistics on the makeup of its work force, providing numbers that offer a stark glance at how Silicon Valley remains a white man's world.

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26 May 2014

Info wars: why it's time for Google & Co to come clean The Guardian

The recent decision by the European Court of Justice, that EU citizens should have a "right to be forgotten" from Google search results, has picked the scab on a much deeper cultural issue; who defines the limits of free speech? American and European approaches to it could not be more divided. This has in the past been only a matter of passing curiosity, but now with US technology companies and social platforms shaping global speech and publication, the regulatory and commercial restraints on free expression are going to be a dominant theme of information policy in coming years.

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24 May 2014

Amazon Flexes Its Muscles in Fight Against Publishers New York Times

Amazon's power over the publishing and bookselling industries is unrivaled in the modern era. Now it has started wielding its might in a more brazen way than ever before.

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07 May 2014

Google's Uber power play is reminiscent of the big bad Microsoft Salon

Google Maps just told me to "Get an Uber." OK, perhaps it is more appropriate to say that Google suggested that I "get an Uber." But there's the rub -- is Google being its usual helpful self, or has the company crossed the line into domineering behavior modification?

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27 April 2014

The Economist explains: The backlash against big data The Economist

"Bollocks", says a Cambridge professor. "Hubris," write researchers at Harvard. "Big data is bullshit," proclaims Obama's reelection chief number-cruncher. A few years ago almost no one had heard of "big data". Today it's hard to avoid -- and as a result, the digerati love to condemn it. Wired, Time, Harvard Business Review and other publications are falling over themselves to dance on its grave. "Big data: are we making a big mistake?," asks the Financial Times. "Eight (No, Nine!) Problems with Big Data," says the New York Times. What explains the big-data backlash?

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20 April 2014

Why Facebook and Google are buying into drones The Observer

Back in the bad old days of the cold war, one of the most revered branches of the inexact sciences was Kremlinology. In the west, newspapers, thinktanks and governments retained specialists whose job was to scrutinise every scrap of evidence, gossip and rumour emanating from Moscow in the hope that it would provide some inkling of what the Soviet leadership was up to. Until recently, this particular specialism had apparently gone into terminal decline, but events in Ukraine have led to its urgent reinstatement.

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18 April 2014

The Apple Chronicles New York Times

So they're at it again, Apple and Samsung, fighting over patents in a courtroom in San Jose, Calif. They had a similar fight in 2012, in the same courtroom, which Apple won. Samsung has also won its share of these legal battles, including in Australia.

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06 April 2014

Technology's Man Problem New York Times

Elissa Shevinsky can pinpoint the moment when she felt that she no longer belonged. She was at a friend's house last Sept. 8, watching the live stream of the TechCrunch Disrupt hackathon on her laptop and iPhone. Entrepreneurs were showing off their products, and two young Australian men, David Boulton and Jethro Batts, stood behind the podium to give their presentation. "Titstare is an app where you take photos of yourself staring at tits," Mr. Boulton began, as photographs of women's chests on a cellphone flashed on the screen behind him.

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31 March 2014

How Michael Malone kickstarted the Australian internet Australian Financial Review

The news that iiNet supremo Michael Malone is departing the business he built from scratch marks the end of an era. He's a young man and we haven't seen the last of him, but his resignation closes chapter one of the story of retail internet access in Australia. We'll leave it to the finance writers to chronicle iiNet's stellar commercial performance. For us, it's a time to reflect on the technical dream that Malone and his contemporaries turned into reality.

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15 March 2014

Bill Gates: The Rolling Stone Interview - The richest man in the world explains how to save the planet Rolling Stone

At 58, Bill Gates is not only the richest man in the world, with a fortune that now exceeds $76 billion, but he may also be the most optimistic. In his view, the world is a giant operating system that just needs to be debugged. Gates' driving idea - the idea that animates his life, that guides his philanthropy, that keeps him late in his sleek book-lined office overlooking Lake Washington, outside Seattle - is the hacker's notion that the code for these problems can be rewritten, that errors can be fixed, that huge systems - whether it's Windows 8, global poverty or climate change - can be improved if you have the right tools and the right skills. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the philanthropic organization with a $36 billion endowment that he runs with his wife, is like a giant startup whose target market is human civilization.

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13 March 2014

New boycott called on Apple products for toxic chemical use Network World

Green America, a D.C.-based non-profit group, and The Nation magazine launched a campaign Wednesday intended to persuade consumers to boycott Apple products unless the company makes changes in its production and supply chain operations.

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Mapping the tubes: The hidden world of undersea cables that make up the internet The Independent

When former US senator Ted Stevens described the internet in 2006 as a "series of tubes" he was mocked mercilessly, but as this map of the vast network of undersea cables that the internet runs through is anything to go by, he wasn't too far off.

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06 March 2014

For Bitcoin, a Secure Future Might Require Traditional Trappings New York Times

Nearly half a billion dollars has gone missing, and nobody knows how. Some say there was outright theft. Others suspect fraud. Many blame lax controls, poor oversight and, above all, a reckless, globe-spanning, Wild West culture -- a culture that everyone agrees is ripe for wholesale reform.

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02 March 2014

WhatsApp vs. Asian Rivals: The Mobile-Messaging War Goes Global Businessweek

As more people choose to send messages through free apps instead of paying to use their smartphones' standard texting services, valuations of companies that make the apps are soaring. Facebook's $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp came just five days after Rakuten, the largest e-commerce company in Japan, snapped up messaging service Viber for $900 million. SoftBank is seeking to buy a stake in Japan's top mobile messenger, Line. Even BlackBerry could cash in. With 85 million users, its BBM messaging service suddenly looks ripe for a spinoff.

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South Korea's internet giant: Now or Naver The Economist

At home, South Korea's biggest web portal has thrashed Yahoo and kept Google at bay. Now its owner plans to conquer the world with its messaging service

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20 February 2014

Facebook snaps up messaging service WhatsApp in $19bn deal The Guardian

Facebook is to buy the messaging service WhatsApp for $19bn, the social media company said on Wednesday.

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16 February 2014

As War for Web Messaging Users Grows, Rakuten Buys Viber for $900 Million New York Times

He recently lost the pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to the New York Yankees, but Hiroshi Mikitani, the billionaire owner of the Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, may now have found some solace. On Friday, Rakuten said it would buy Viber Media, which runs a popular app for calling and messaging, for $900 million.

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The Plus in Google Plus? It's Mostly for Google New York Times

Google Plus, the company's social network, is like a ghost town. Want to see your old roommate's baby or post your vacation status? Chances are, you'll use Facebook instead.

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08 February 2014

Sony's exit from the PC market will not be the last The Guardian

Sony's decision to exit the PC business means that after 17 years in the industry, the Vaio brand will probably disappear from western retailers before the end of 2014.

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29 January 2014

Old-school Wi-Fi is slowing down networks Computerworld

The early Wi-Fi standards that opened the world's eyes to wire-free networking are now holding back the newer, faster protocols that followed in their wake, Cisco Systems said.

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25 January 2014

Google patents ad tech linking restaurant to taxi ride BBC News

Google has patented a way of linking online ads to free or discounted taxi rides to the advertising restaurant, shop or entertainment venue.

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24 January 2014

Microsoft Earnings Illustrate Move to Devices and Services New York Times

A picture of the new Microsoft, one transformed from a software factory into a maker of devices and online services, came into sharper focus on Thursday.

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21 January 2014

How can Google feather its Nest with the internet of things? The Guardian

Looking past the glitter, big names, and big money ($3.2bn), a deeper look at Google's Nest acquisition doesn't yield a good theory. Perhaps because there isn't one

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19 January 2014

From Weibo to WeChat: After a crackdown on microblogs, sensitive online discussion has shifted The Economist

When Luo Changping, an investigative journalist, tried on November 22nd to post the latest chapter of his big scoop on WeChat, a popular Chinese mobile messaging service, censors blocked it. But he was able to work round them. In a follow-up message he told his subscribers they could send him the words "Chapter Seventeen"; users who did so automatically received the post on their mobile phones, uncensored.

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The new GE: Google, everywhere - With a string of deals the internet giant has positioned itself to become a big inventor, and reinventor, of hardware The Economist

At Google they call it the toothbrush test. Shortly after returning to being the firm's chief executive in 2011, Larry Page said he wanted it to develop more services that everyone would use at least twice a day, like a toothbrush. Its search engine and its Android operating system for mobile devices pass that test. Now, with a string of recent acquisitions, Google seems to be planning to become as big in hardware as it is in software, developing "toothbrush" products in a variety of areas from robots to cars to domestic-heating controls.

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