Gongol.com Archives: April 2015

Brian Gongol

April 15, 2015

Computers and the Internet Nokia is buying Bell Labs
Bell Labs, previously a branch of the AT&T telephone monopoly, became part of the spinoff Lucent Technologies, which merged with Alcatel of France in the early 2000s, and the combined Alcatel-Lucent is now being merged into Nokia. Nokia, notably, sold its consumer-phone business to Microsoft back in April 2014. Microsoft has continued to sell the former Nokia line now under the "Microsoft Lumia" name, though the legacy "Nokia" name survives as well. (Of note: They had some fun on April Fool's Day, teasing the launch of MS-DOS Mobile.) Regardless, the acquisition of Bell Labs, among the many other parts of Alcatel-Lucent, is intended to enhance Nokia's sharpened niche in network backend technology, "location-based technology", and high-end research and development. It's been a bold change of course for the company that at one time was the dominant handset maker.

Business and Finance Shale oil production expected to drop by 57,000 barrels in May
If the EIA's forecast is correct, that would be the first month-over-month decrease in production since 2013. Prices are in the tank, and there's a glut of oil in storage waiting for refinement, so nobody should be surprised that the well owners are cutting back on production.

Computers and the Internet Companies face a huge risk in trying to be cross-culturally clever
Apple's digital assistant Siri is famously clever and sometimes cheeky in her American iteration. But it's being suggested that the Russian version is either uncomfortably coy or possibly even downright homophobic in Russian, suggesting that the very words "gay" and "lesbian" were rude and potentially offensive. Apple seems to have reprogrammed Siri quickly upon discovering the quirk (which, of course, could have been a deliberate bug planted by a contractor) -- or if you're suspicious of the company, you may think it deliberate. Russian law, of course, is very unfriendly towards homosexuality, and the inherent conflict between trying to satisfy lots of local cultural norms all over the world and trying to deliver products that act and behave in a human-like manner is an enormous challenge. Much like the difficulty that Google will almost certainly have with curating "kid-friendly" content on YouTube, anytime a neutral corporation tries to make money and in the process has to make cultural judgments, it's going to be especially tough for technology companies -- which by nature tend to have technocratic attitudes and a general indifference to sensitive feelings.

News Sad: Dogs are getting a serious flu bug
It's spreading among canines in the Midwest

Business and Finance How to succeed in life by really trying
Charlie Munger: "[A]ll I was capable of doing in life was thinking pretty hard about trying to get the right answer, and then acting on it."

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