Wise Guys on WHO Radio - April 30, 2016
Please note: These show notes may be in various stages of completion -- ranging from brainstormed notes through to well-polished monologues. Please excuse anything that may seem rough around the edges, as it may only be a first draft of a thought and not be fully representative of what was said on the air.
In the news this week
- E-Week says that Microsoft is tying Cortana more closely to the rest of Windows, forcing it to show search results exclusively on the Edge browser
- Tivo has been sold for about a billion dollars
- The first few buildings in Nashville are now getting Google Fiber. Pricing: $130 per month for gigabit Internet access and TV.
- Don't read too much into Amazon making a profit in the first quarter. They probably won't let that last for long.
Figuring that the preponderance of the world's population lives close to the ocean, they're trying to figure out how to deliver things like cloud computing without taking up valuable landside real estate
And the company is dependent upon iPhone sales, so that shrinks the revenues to the company
Always beware mandates like this one: Ordering everyone to do the same thing in the same way, even on a scale as small as a city, leaves no room for the subtle variances in life that make things that can be seemingly sensible turn into total disasters. Today's solar panels are better than yesterday's, and tomorrow's will almost certainly be better still. Requiring people to install technology that is in the middle of a rapid evolution can backfire: What if all houses in 1990 had been required to include giant satellite dishes, or all cars of the same time required to be equipped with bag phones? And what of flexible circumstances -- like a house that's always in the shade, due to hills, trees, or tall surrounding buildings? It's not like San Francisco is a place of cheap real estate to begin with -- it's already preposterously expensive. Mandates only compound that effect, raising the cost of living for people who already may be finding it hard to get by.
Your role in cyberwar
He wants the US Armed Forces to have "the capability and credibility to assure our allies and partners, deter aggression and overmatch any potential adversary"
- Uninstall QuickTime for Windows. It's not going to be supported anymore, and security companies think they've found vulnerabilities that already threaten users. Apple appears to officially recommend the removal. In moving the product to an unsupported status, Apple has sealed its fate.
Street-smart social media
Words like "never" can be costly when you're trying to get people to pay for things you're selling
Money and technology
Deposits from people who open savings accounts give them financing that makes the regulators happy
Dispatches from the flying-car future
Sure, there are plenty of circumstances under which people might want to use natural language in order to interact with a firm or organization. But there are also plenty of times when the scope of what a person can actually do with such an organization are fairly narrow and the exchange is best conducted with something like an interactive contact form instead.
DNA is, after all, just a means of biological data storage. Whether it can be used synthetically for the same purpose but on a very large scale? That's what Microsoft wants to figure out.
Politics of technology
I went last night to hear Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska give an after-dinner speech. For as easy as it is to criticize politicians, I think it's important to highlight when they get things right. Senator Sasse said at least three tech-related things -- one light, two heavy -- that I think were right on the money:
- The light stuff: The Senator pointed out that he has two different Twitter accounts -- one for his official press department, and one that he manages entirely by himself. He shares this in common with Senator Chuck Grassley, but not with as many politicians as I think he should. I don't particularly care what communication tool you choose -- be it Twitter, or Facebook, or an e-mail address that's open to the public -- but if you're an elected official, I think it's important for you to have one conduit for the public to reach you directly without going through anyone else. One for which you and you alone are entirely responsible. This doesn't mean I think elected officials should waste their time responding to every troll and hack out there. But I do think that if we expect our politicians to remain grounded, there needs to be a way for people outside the "bubble" to reach through to them.
- More seriously: He was dead right when he said that we are woefully wrong about the way that we approach education -- thinking that it needs to be driven from the top-down, and that it somehow stops when someone walks across the stage.
- Of the gravest seriousness: Senator Sasse said he is deeply troubled that 15 years after 9/11, we still don't have a strategy for dealing with 21st Century asymmetric warfare, especially of the cyberwarfare variety.
You ought to follow...
Money and technology
Which makes it intriguing that the Alphabet (that is, Google) team took a pass on so doing this year. Aside from a five-sentence intro, the "founders' letter" didn't come from the founders. Meantime, they're moving its hardware products to a new dedicated division.
...so Apple is trying to pivot harder into service businesses
Comcast, once just a simple cable company in Tupelo, Mississippi, has gone full-bore for content creation since becoming majority partner in NBCUniversal in 2011. The deal is being spun as a way to get stronger in "family" programming -- though Comcast carefully calls it "the highly competitive kids and family entertainment space". If it weren't "highly competitive", they might face tougher odds gaining regulatory approval. Of course, Disney bought Pixar, and arguments are made that Pixar is the better studio.
Stock markets can be terribly irrational sometimes. The tech industry is a brutal marketplace. Together, it adds up to a highly un-enviable spot for Yahoo.
Also in the news this week
On this issue, at least, he's a supply-sider
The one-time dominant phone maker is out of that game entirely, and now looks at wearables as a growth industry
Beware any government that would shut off the flow of knowledge
It may start in school, but it's a terrible idea to let it end there
Listen again on-demand
- Podcast of this episode - segment 1 (Titans of technology report on their business successes in the first quarter)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 2 (Uninstall Quicktime for Windows)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 3 (Dreamworks sold)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 4 (Solar panels on every roof in San Francisco)