Sunday, November 16, 2014

Boot up: Glass dating, Microsoft and LinkedIn?, mapping London, and a wave

A burst of 9 links - and a note - for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

A Hewlett-Packard (HP) executive today warned people not to wear Google Glass on a first date - at least, not if they want to ensure they get a second. 

Silicon Valley-based Ray Edwards used Wearable World's Glazed conference in East London to make his feelings on the £1,000 augmented reality headset's appearance known, before going on to outline which bit of the wearables market HP wants to focus on. 

The managing director for HP's New Ventures division, which offers venture capital financing for the most promising technology companies worldwide, took aim at wearable devices like Google Glass and Apple Watch after flying across the Atlantic to make his presentation. 

Bonus point for the headline.

Nicholas Carlson:

Here's some fun scuttlebutt we heard this week.

In the years before LinkedIn's 2011 IPO, Microsoft entered into talks to buy LinkedIn several times.

At one point the deal was close to happening for around $500m.

Microsoft's last offer, in the months before LinkedIn's IPO, was somewhere close to $2bn.

We're told Microsoft's (now departed) deal whiz Hank Vigil thought that was a price too dear, and refused to pull the trigger.

Microsoft declined to comment; LinkedIn said "oh, that." What would Microsoft have done with LinkedIn, though?

Apple Pay contains a variety of major shortcomings that will likely limit its ability to be the dominant form of payment in the future, according to a UBS note released to clients this week by analyst Steven Milunovich, quoting payments expert Richard Crone at Crone Consulting. The problems with Apple Pay stem from technical shortcomings of the system relative to other alternatives and the large fees Apple plans to charge, which banks will be eager to escape, the report says.

…many banks jumped initially on the Apple Pay bandwagon at launch. But banks are likely to build their own apps using more modern technology with clearer benefits for merchants and security for consumers over the next year to three years, the report says.

Published 7 October. That's, what, two weeks ago. Let's see how those apps go over the next few years.

Lee Gomes (who has written repeatedly about the self-driving cars:

Another problem with maps is that once you make them, you have to keep them up to date, a challenge Google says it hasn't yet started working on. Considering all the traffic signals, stop signs, lane markings, and crosswalks that get added or removed every day throughout the country, keeping a gigantic database of maps current is vastly difficult. Safety is at stake here; Chris Urmson, director of the Google car team, told me that if the car came across a traffic signal not on its map, it could potentially run a red light, simply because it wouldn't know to look for the signal. Urmson added, however, that an unmapped traffic signal would be "very unlikely," because during the "time and construction" needed to build a traffic signal, there would be adequate opportunity to add it to the map.

But not always. Scott Heydt, director of marketing at Horizon Signal Technologies, says his company routinely sets up its portable traffic signals at road construction sites. Frequently, they are simply towed to a site and turned on. "We just set one up like that in New Jersey," said Heydt. "You can be driving to work and everything is normal, but on your way home, discover a new traffic light." (Of this possibility, a Google spokesperson said, "We will have to be ready for that.")

Samsung Electronics will reportedly withdraw from the global LED lighting market due to low-price pressure from China-based makers, while Taiwan-based TSMC Solid State Lighting will reportedly cease operations, according to industry sources.

As Samsung is at a disadvantage in terms of technology and patents compared to Japan-based Nichia, and has relied on low quotes to compete, the sources said. However, China-based makers, by virtue of government subsidies for production equipment, have offered even lower quotes to compete with South Korea-based makers including Samsung, the sources indicated.

Software is eating the world, but Shenzhen is eating the world of hardware.

While speaking at a Purdue University event, Google's Paul Eremenko, director of Project Ara, recently revealed that the company will be taking a cue from the Play store to create a similar shopping experience for its modular smartphone. What this means, essentially, is you'd be able to buy or sell different components from a single hub, just as is the case now with apps, music, books and more on Google Play - and it would also include reviews and recommendations.

At a guess, Ara isn't going to end up as a phone project at all, but something more like Arduino or Rasberry Pi - a playground for hacking things together. The talk is here.

Looking at Android use in developing countries, particularly Asia (excluding China):

Worldwide, over 70% of traffic to the mCent app comes from just 20 manufacturers. Of the approximately 1,300 device models that make up the user base of the mCent app, 41% are Samsung devices, 7% Motorola, and 7% Sony. Far from being enormously fractured, the Android ecosystem – even in emerging markets where homegrown, low-cost devices are popular- is fairly uniform.

Over half the devices used to access the mCent app for Android are accounted for by the 50 most popular smartphones. Although this may look like a fragmentation problem, these 50 devices come from just 12 manufacturers: 52% are Samsung, 12% are Sony, and 12% Micromax (demonstrating mCent's popularity in India).

The screen resolutions are quite a surprise.

If you live in London, find out which of eight different "tribes" (city vibe, urban elites, etc) you belong to, based on data from the 2011 Census. A fabulous use of the London Data Store's data, and a great use of free data.

Stroll down the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, and you'd be able to see driverless buggies cruising down the paths at a leisurely 10km/h. These vehicles, which ferry passengers around free-of-charge, is part of a trial by researchers and engineers from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) and the National University of Singapore (NUS).

The experiment will last from October 23 to November 1 from 8am to 2pm. It will resume again after an evaluation. Visitors to the gardens can book a ride through this website.

This is the first time two driverless vehicles have been unleashed for public use. Having two robot buggies in the vicinity also makes things interesting: vehicle-to-vehicle communication. Indeed, the two buggies can talk to one another and figure out ways to move passengers more efficiently.

You can follow Guardian Technology's linkbucket on Pinboard

This is the last Boot Up I'll be doing, so I thought I'd look back on where it came from.

The very first "Newsbucket" (here's the series link) appeared on 25 September 2007, by Jemima Kiss, entitled "PDA's Newsbucket". It was a collection of eight links, with very brief commentary. The links came via It was part of the Guardian's "Media" section, rather than Technology.

The idea of the "Newsbucket" was to collect links from all over the web that might be interesting, but didn't merit a separate story in their own right, or where they offered background information. It's a place for all the things that you might want to store.

Around March 2010, we decided to introduce the "Technology newsbucket" - aiming to be the same thing as the PDA version, but housed in "Technology". The first appeared on 29 March 2010, and had 11 links - including one about "Why the iPad will change everything", by arch Apple-sceptic Dan Lyons.

• To collect the links, we first used Delicious, and then (after Delicious morphed from a bookmark service into something indescribable, with a flaky API) Pinboard
• a PHP script I wrote queried Delicious/Pinboard and formatted the links, and output them on a web page;
• the output of the script was put into our content management system.
This worked well, and is still how it's done. I also now use an app called Fake to fill out fields in the CMS, speeding the process further.

There was only one problem with calling it "Technology newsbucket": it didn't leave much room for the rest of the headline. People like to know what they're going to read about, even if only approximately.

It took us a year to realise this, but once we did, action was swift. After nearly five minutes of discussion, the decision was made to shorten its name to "Boot up", because it was meant to start the day, when you'd boot up your.. anyhow.

The first post with that prefix appeared on 18 March 2011, when it attracted a grand total of three comments. The Boot Up blogpost has run more or less continuously every weekday since then, garnering a consistent number of page views most days. It's rarely the most-read, but it's been a resource you could rely on.

It's been a fun ride, and I'd like to thank readers, and especially the many commenters for the insightful and helpful additions to the day - the links, shared experiences, discussions, and calming voices brought to exchanges before they got out of hand. Thanks for all the contributions.

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