Archive for the ‘tech’ Category
Kevin Roose, writing at NY Magazine’s Daily Intelligencer:
So far, people seem to think that Amazon’s incipient drone-delivery program, which was announced to great fanfare on 60 Minutes last night, is either a short-term publicity stunt designed to draw attention to Amazon on Cyber Monday, or a long-term publicity stunt meant to convince us of “Amazon’s indomitable spirit of innovation,” while not actually requiring Amazon to do anything yet. (Since, by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s own admission, there’s no way the FAA will allow unmanned aircraft to deliver Amazon packages before 2015.)
Instead, I think Bezos is up to something much more practical. By unveiling a huge drone program in progress, he’s sending a message to the FAA regulators and Senate committees who are currently considering how unmanned aircraft can be used commercially. And that message is: Don’t even think about getting in our way.
I think it’s all those things. Of course it’s a stunt. Of course it remains vaporware. But I really do think Bezos wants to build and deploy these things.
[Considering how every year there's a raft of stories about how much working in an Amazon warehouse sucks and how by promising so many jobs they get huge tax breaks that are ultimately anti-competitive etc. that drones of any sort fit in the scheme. There's also been stories about the Kiva robots that would replace all the folks complaining about how much it sucks. And Amazon continues to improve the density of the packing in their warehouses by organizing items in the warehouse for "packability", which means items unrelated by "what" they are are in bins together because you can fit more items in the space that way. All of which points to a computerized robotic future that, of course (!?!), includes drone delivery. I'd be hugely surprised if they're not working on systems for 3D printing of various items as well. It only makes sense form that sort of forward looking approach.
I do not claim to know what "jobs" the workforce being displaced will be able to fill, but maybe we need to fundamentally reconsider the role of the individual contributor anyway. If the work is as difficult as it seems (boring and physically demanding), maybe we're better off not having people do it. But I've got nothing beyond that...]
Source: Daring Fireball
OTOH, another approach:
I don’t own any guns, but the Amazon Air drones tempt me to buy a rifle. It would be so much fun to sit on my front porch and shoot at the drones as they buzz by.
It’s cold today in Ballard but the sky is marvelously blue. Today I’d put on a ski cap and grab a bottle of good whisky and do my part to keep the sky clean.
I might argue it’s a matter of collateral damage. I don’t know how I could tell Amazon’s harmless, happy-day drones from Google’s real-time people-watchers — or those of the police or the NSA. It’s best to shoot them all down.
Or I might argue that it’s just plain fun. So much fun.
[I'd also add that I'd probably come to hate the drones pretty quickly considering my current thoughts on leaf blowers. I'd adjust my weapon of choice to a shotgun though, it would increase the odds in my favor considerably. And no, I don't think Brent is serious, or would mix alcohol with firearms. but you'll have to ask him. Jim commented: "Seriously, how are they going to stop people from shooting them down. It’s got to be a problem, right?" What stops people from shooting at things now? (an arguable position depending on where you live and what you see being shot).]
Here’s a screen shot of the criteria you can use to filter out policies. I played with it quite a bit and learned a lot about insurance that I didn’t know before. I didn’t make a decision right now, I want to read some more, and think. But I was overall quite pleased with the process. Now maybe there are still more glitches to come, so I’ll have to let you know.
But one thing’s for sure — it’s been a long time since the insurance industry thought I was a useful customer. They control the health care market in this country, and health care is important. The experience here, though it had its glitches, made me feel welcome. If this is what it took to straighten things out, then I’m all for it.
[Progress. I wonder how much better this all could have been if the Feds had built an API instead of site and let the rest of the universe build sites....]
Source: Scripting News
That Otellini found the inner calm to publicly admit his mistake — in an article that would be published on his last day as CEO, no less — is a testament to his character. More important, Otellini’s admission unburdened his successor, Brian Krzanich, freeing him to steer the company in a new direction.
And Krzanich is doing just that.
[In business that's one earmark of leadership.]
Source: Monday Note
The more likely story is that J.D. Power tweaked the survey’s scope to get the result they wanted to publish. By restricting the survey to certain models, price ranges, and survey respondents, and then denying that their published comparison chart has any mathematical relation to the scores, they can justify almost any manufacturer “winning”.
Why might they want to say that Samsung’s tablets are better than Apple’s?
Samsung spends a ton of money on marketing — far more than Apple — and frequently employs unethical marketing techniques. Apple isn’t known to play ball very well with the enterprise analyst or market-research rackets, which often implicitly require companies to pay for their high-end services in order for them to recommend the companies’ products. And publishing a conclusion like this gets J.D. Power a lot of attention in a market that the internet is constantly making less relevant.
With even their apparently arbitrary chart denying their conclusion and the numbers not making much sense, it’s at best a desperate stretch. They’re not even good at this game.
[And more yuck, from the "who can you trust?" dept.]
If you want to argue that the whole patent system stinks, and that all of these tech giants are abusing it, I agree. But if you want to argue that Apple and Microsoft are in the wrong, and poor Google and their Android partners are victims of one-sided abuse, I’m going to have to disagree. If there’s a difference between Apple/Microsoft and Google in this war, it’s not over nobility, but rather over how well each side has played the game. It’s looking more and more like Google made a strategic blunder, underbidding for the Nortel patents and then subsequently overpaying for Motorola Mobility.[Snip -ed]
The difference between Lodsys and Rockstar is that Lodsys is a bully, suing small (and in some cases, downright tiny) companies that lack the financial wherewithal to fight back. And in fact, when Lodsys’s targets do fight back, Lodsys runs away — settling for nothing in order to avoid a trial. Rockstar may be a patent troll, but they’re a patent troll that at least is picking on someone its own size.
[It is an incredible mess. So is it fighting fire with fire? Or worse? Or better?]
Source: Daring Fireball
I’ve said this multiple times in the past, and I’ll say it again: I don’t like this game. Rockstar looks, smells, and now acts like countless NPE’s that have done more harm than good — namely Lodsys, which has been aggressively harassing Apple’s own ecosystem. It’s extremely disappointing to see Apple facilitate this kind of behavior. At the same time, the missed Nortel auction and dubious Motorola purchase look as awful a strategic blunder as ever for Google. They kept their head in the sand for too long.
Source: Apple Outsider
But what happens when using profiles for non-security, non-enterprise features becomes widespread? Won’t Google, Facebook, Twitter, and just about every social or ad-supported service want the same access to make it easier to mine your private data, spam your contacts, and evade App Store restrictions? It won’t be hard for the big services to come up with compelling features and friendly messaging to get millions of people to install their profiles, too.
[It's a mess to be sure. Don't miss the original if you want the nitty gritty.]
For OEMs, this means they aren’t allowed to slowly transition from Google’s Android to a fork. The second they ship one device that runs a competing fork, they are given the kiss of death and booted out of the Android family—it must be a clean break. This, by design, makes switching to forked Android a terrifying prospect to any established Android OEM. You must jump off the Google cliff, and there’s no going back.
Any OEM hoping to license Google Apps will need to pass Google’s ”compatibility” tests in order to be eligible. Compatibility ensures that all the apps in the Play Store will run on your device. And to Google, “compatibility” is also a fluid concept that an Android engineer once internally described as “a club to make [OEMs] do what we want.” While Google now has automated tools that will test your device’s “compatibility,” getting a Google apps license still requires a company to privately e-mail Google and “kiss the ring” so to speak. Most of this is done through backroom agreements and secret contracts, so the majority of the information we have comes from public spats and/or lawsuits between Google and potential Android deserters (see: Acer).
Another point of control is that the Google apps are all licensed as a single bundle. So if you want Gmail and Maps, you also need to take Google Play Services, Google+, and whatever else Google feels like adding to the package. A company called Skyhook found this out the hard way when it tried to develop a competing location service for Android. Switching to Skyhook’s service meant Google would not be able to collect location data from users. This was bad for Google, so Skyhook was declared “incompatible.” OEMs that wanted the Google Apps were not allowed to use them. Skyhook sued, and the lawsuit is still pending.
[Surprised? Why would you be?]
Yet it may be unable to get much closer to its lofty goal of compiling all human knowledge. Wikipedia’s community built a system and resource unique in the history of civilization. It proved a worthy, perhaps fatal, match for conventional ways of building encyclopedias. But that community also constructed barriers that deter the newcomers needed to finish the job. Perhaps it was too much to expect that a crowd of Internet strangers would truly democratize knowledge. Today’s Wikipedia, even with its middling quality and poor representation of the world’s diversity, could be the best encyclopedia we will get.
[I've experienced the pain. It drove me away. I had stuff to contribute, but I don't care to contribute my way past their walls.]