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Faster, Cheaper Fiber Could Rev Up Internet
June 30, 2015
Researchers have found a way to significantly improve the performance of fiber networks, which could lead to benefits for both consumers and Internet service providers. Information in fiber optic cables degrades with the distance it travels. When you try to increase the speed at which the data is traveling by boosting the power in the network, degradation gets worse.
Microsoft Is Looking More Like the House Nadella Built
June 30, 2015
Some aspects of CEO Satya Nadella's vision for Microsoft are becoming more clear. For one thing, the company's interest in advertising is seriously on the wane. Microsoft reportedly has handed off most of its digital advertising sales business to AOL. Microsoft will retain control of its search advertising sales, however, and Bing will replace Google as the engine powering AOL's consumer searches.
Yelp Study Blasts Google for Screwing With Search
June 30, 2015
Google has been tampering with the responses its search engine gives to queries and, as a result, has been hurting social welfare, alleges a survey conducted by Michael Luca, a Harvard Business School economist, and Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School and former FTC advisor. Yelp sponsored the research. The team last week sent a paper reporting the results to the European Commission.
The Encryption Software Scuffle
June 29, 2015
In the face of encryption that could block brute force attempts for years, law enforcement agencies at every level have been calling for keys that allow investigators to crack open smartphones and court cases alike. Some of the world's leading tech companies and privacy advocates have called for the White House to stand against any proposal to weaken the security software on consumer products.
IBM, Box Team Up to Conquer the Cloud
June 26, 2015
IBM and Box have entered a global partnership to combine the two companies' best-in-class technologies and resources to transform work in the cloud. The two will offer customers IBM analytics and social solutions, IBM security technologies, the IBM cloud, and Box's cloud content collaboration platform. "IBM provides Box with a global go-to market footprint," said IDC's Chris Chute.
Time of the Season for Innovating?
June 25, 2015
Not all innovation is good. Let me illustrate with a few examples of how poor innovation can harm a company. Bad innovation can quickly cut down a brand that took years to build. Generally speaking, innovation is good. Without innovation, we would still be driving a Model T and getting blocks of ice delivered to keep our refrigerator cool while sitting in our uncooled home listening to our radio.
Red Hat, Samsung Ramp Up Enterprise Mobility
June 24, 2015
Red Hat and Samsung Business Services on Tuesday announced a strategic alliance to deliver the next generation of mobile solutions for the enterprise. The alliance, announced at the Red Hat Summit 2015, combines the strengths of each company -- Samsung's mobile device portfolio and Red Hat's open source middleware, mobile and cloud technologies.
Internet Players Wrestle with Proposals to Prevent Capture
June 24, 2015
The Internet is run by a bunch of geeks sitting in a darkened space, lit only by the glow from LED screens, right? That Hollywood image may be how the general public perceives what it takes to send and receive emails, deliver apps, enable electronic transactions, and store great gobs of data. There is much more to operating the Internet, however, including a challenging management environment.
Data Requests Put Amazon Between Rock, Hard Place
June 23, 2015
Amazon's recently released first report on government requests for information revealed that from January to May, it received 813 subpoenas and 25 search warrants. The company fully responded and provided all the requested information sought for 542 of the subpoenas. It provided only some of the requested information for 126 of the cases, and it did not respond to 145 requests.
Apple Knuckles Under to Taylor Swift
June 23, 2015
Apple has given in to a demand from pop diva Taylor Swift to pay royalties to owners of music streamed by its Apple Music service. "We hear you, @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple," tweeted Eddy Cue, who oversees Apple's content stores. "Apple will always make sure that artist[s] are paid." Cue's tweets might resolve the firestorm Swift ignited over the weekend.
AT&T, Verizon and WhatsApp Flunk Privacy
June 22, 2015
An Electronic Frontier Foundation survey published last week gave AT&T, Verizon and WhatsApp the thumbs down when it comes to protecting user privacy. Google and Twitter also got a black eye. The five were among 24 companies the EFF evaluated on criteria worked out over the past four years. WhatsApp, now owned by Facebook, also took criticism in the EFF's fifth annual report, "Who Has Your Back?"
Skies May Soon Be Friendlier to Amazon Drones
June 19, 2015
Amazon on Wednesday appealed to members of Congress to approve use of its fleet of drones for package deliveries. Electrically powered drones could deliver packages to consumer homes and offices faster, more efficiently and with less environmental impact than automobiles, Paul Misener, vice president of global public policy at Amazon, suggested in testimony before the House Oversight Committee.
US Internet Handoff Generates Sparks in Congress
June 19, 2015
The U.S. government has played a central -- perhaps critical -- role in the development of the Internet. Currently the U.S. retains a stewardship position in the worldwide operation of the Internet through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an agency within the Commerce Department. That stewardship is slated to end, however.
Google Takes It to the Streets
June 18, 2015
Google last week announced the formation of a new company that will develop technology to improve city life for residents, businesses and governments. Google has teamed up with Dan Doctoroff -- former Bloomberg CEO and ex-deputy mayor of economic development and rebuilding for the City of New York -- to advance the effort. Doctoroff will be CEO of Sidewalk Labs, which will be based in New York.
Uber Loses Crucial California Legal Battle
June 18, 2015
Uber on Tuesday filed an appeal of a California Labor Commission ruling that is widely viewed as a threat to the company's business model. The ruling resulted from a claim filed by a San Francisco driver against Uber last year. The commission found that the plaintiff was an employee of Uber rather than an independent contractor, as the company had maintained.
Senators Aim to Ground FBI's Warrantless Spy Planes
June 17, 2015
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require federal government agents to get a warrant before snooping from the sky. "Americans' privacy rights shouldn't stop at the treetops," Wyden said. The issue came to a head following the revelation earlier this month that the FBI was engaged in warrantless aerial surveillance across the U.S.
Anatomy of a CEO Failure
June 15, 2015
Much to Apple's dismay, I cover Apple events. One of the questions that frequently came up during its recent developer conference centered on Tim Cook. Was he becoming Steve Ballmer? The implication was that Steve was a failure at Microsoft, so the comparison didn't reflect well on Cook. I think this idea is wrongheaded, although Tim Cook's situation bears some similarity to Steve Ballmer's.
Costolo Out in Twitter's Latest Round of Musical Chairs
June 12, 2015
Twitter is changing CEOs for the fourth time in four years. Incumbent Dick Costolo is stepping down July 1 and company cofounder Jack Dorsey will take over as interim CEO while the board searches, both internally and externally, for a suitable candidate to hold the post. Costolo will remain on Twitter's board, and Dorsey will continue to serve as CEO of Square, which he also cofounded.
Spotify Ain't Afraid of No Apple
June 11, 2015
Spotify has raised $526 million in its latest round of funding, according to reports that surfaced Wednesday. That's more than half the $1 billion Spotify raised in funding over the past nine years, said Susan Schreiner, analyst at C4 trends. Given that Apple just announced its new music-streaming service, why would companies pump all this money into Spotify?
The Changing Faces of the Wireless Industry
June 11, 2015
There seem to be two distinct sectors forming in the wireless industry. One side is wireless as part of a bundle of services. The other is wireless as a standalone product. This is not a case of one side being a winner and the other a loser -- they're just different. The rules for success seem to be changing as well. That means how we measure and track companies on both sides may have to change.
US Snooping Costs High-Tech Sector $35B and Counting
June 10, 2015
Other countries' concerns over U.S. government surveillance programs likely will cost American businesses more than $35 billion, according to a report released Tuesday by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. Originally it was thought that the fallout from Edward Snowden's revelations of U.S. mass surveillance programs would be limited to cloud service providers.
WWDC 2015 Didn't Need to Rouse Investors
June 10, 2015
Apple shares were down half a percent about an hour before the company set the tone for the next 12 months with its keynote address at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday. That story continued through day two of WWDC 2015. Still, the lead that couldn't be buried was the fact that Apple was still moving at a pace that saw the biggest quarterly profits in corporate history.
Cisco, IBM Bet Big on OpenStack
June 9, 2015
OpenStack, a free and open source cloud controller package that has been struggling to gain acceptance in the enterprise, took a giant stride forward when IBM and Cisco opened up their wallets last week. IBM announced it would buy hosted OpenStack private cloud provider Blue Box Cloud. Cisco announced plans to purchase Piston Cloud Computing, developer of the CloudOS operating system.
It's Streaming Time for Showtime
June 8, 2015
CBS-owned pay-TV service Showtime on Monday announced that it will make its standalone streaming service available on Roku players and Roku TV models, as well as via Sony's PlayStation Vue, for US$10.99 per month. The service will be accessible through those channels in July -- coinciding with the season premieres of Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex, which are slated to air on July 12.

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Is Microsoft starting to get cool again?
Yes - thanks to Satya Nadella's vision.
Yes - but only in certain areas, like AI and VR.
Maybe - it doesn't seem as stodgy as before.
No - it never was.