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Verizon May Be Tuning Up for Yodeling Contest
April 9, 2016
Verizon reportedly is planning to make a formal first-round bid for the core assets of Yahoo when the company begins fielding offers on Monday. Verizon, whose CEO last month confirmed his company's interest, is working with executives of its AOL subsidiary and three financial advisors to put together a bid by the April 11 deadline, according to the report.
Disrupting Software Development in an On-Demand World
April 8, 2016
The idea that software is eating the world has become a generally accepted dictum. Everywhere you look, industries and institutions are being disrupted by the unprecedented power of software. Now, the world is demanding a new way to develop software to keep pace with the pace of disruption. The greatest poster child for the brave new world of software-driven business is General Electric.
Report Throws the Book at Yahoo
April 8, 2016
Yahoo is in the midst of a financial freefall, based on a report that claims the company's deal book shows a muddled and confusing financial picture that has made potential investors nervous about any effort to salvage the business. Yahoo's internal presentation for investors paints a picture of a company moving entirely in the wrong direction, according to the report.
Please Hold the Music
April 6, 2016
Remember when your mother used to yell up the stairs to get you to turn your music down? Sometimes, in the age before sensitivity awareness, your dad would do the yelling and he'd substitute noise for music. Ah, the good old days. Too bad they aren't here right now yelling at vendors. ConsumerAffairs.com is the brainchild of James R. Hood, a former Washington, D.C., journalist.
Gadget Ogling: Food Frenzies and Rollerblade Off-Roading
April 6, 2016
Of all the kitchen gadgets I own, the rice cooker is possibly my second-most favorite after the tea kettle. Sure, I could make rice in a pot, but the dedicated rice cooker makes it much easier to attend to other details instead of watching the pot. Xiaomi's pressurized version might prove even better. It recognizes the type of rice from a barcode scan and cooks it perfectly.
The Sales Process Starts With Retention
April 5, 2016
Despite the numbers that show how lucrative retention is in an increasingly subscription-driven economy, the emphasis has been on new customer acquisition. That is still true, according to a recent study. Forty-two percent of the firms surveyed said they were increasing their budgets for customer acquisition, while only 33 percent said the budget for retention would increase.
4-Inch iPhone: Slow and Steady May Win the Race
April 5, 2016
Apple appears to have experienced a lost weekend with the 4-inch iPhone SE failing to rack up significant sales. When the period ended, the SE claimed only 0.1 percent of the iPhone market, Localytics reported Monday. "The new phone was unable to take away the iPhone 5's share, the model it most closely resembled, suggesting that small-screen lovers have not yet been convinced to upgrade."
FBI May Help Local Law Enforcement Agencies Crack Encrypted iPhones
April 4, 2016
Weeks after backing down from its litigation demanding Apple's help to access encrypted data on the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone, the FBI appears to be taking full advantage of its newly discovered forensic prowess by offering assistance to law enforcement agencies across the country. The agency has sent out letters letting local officials know that it has gained access to the encrypted data.
The Hololens Academy: How I Became a Novice Wizard
April 4, 2016
At last week's Microsoft Build conference, I attended the Hololens Academy -- a whirlwind effort to turn me into a master programmer able to create things out of thin air. It failed. Apparently it takes longer than an hour to teach someone who hasn't coded in decades to be a master programmer -- go figure. However, by the end of the class I was gleefully throwing fireballs.
FCC Extends Broadband Lifeline to Low-Income Subcribers
April 2, 2016
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted 3-2 to approve a $2.25 billion program to subsidize broadband Internet service and bundled voice and data packages for low-income consumers. The new subsidy is part of a major overhaul of the agency's Lifeline program, which has provided affordable phone access for decades. The vote was a long-awaited reform for many low-income communities.
That Time When Instead of Saying 'April Fool!' Google Had to Say 'Sorry!'
April 1, 2016
Unintentional consequences led Google to pull its April Fools' prank, Gmail Mic Drop, a few hours after launching it on Friday. The joke let users claim the last word in an email thread by clicking on the "Send + Mic Drop" option. A GIF of a minion from the animated movie Despicable Me -- would accompany the reply, and the sender would not receive any further responses to the thread.
CNBC's Password Security Lesson Fails Spectacularly
March 31, 2016
CNBC earlier this week published a piece with the goal of helping users strengthen their password security, but the attempt backfired badly. An interactive tool provided to help readers detect the strength of their passwords was to blame. Readers were asked to enter potential passwords into a field, and see how long it would take the system to crack them.
CPQ's Challenge
March 31, 2016
Virtually every CPQ -- configuration, price and quote -- software vendor on the planet has a credible solution for the processes from which the category gets its name. That's the good news. Unfortunately, the world has moved on. Most CPQ is effective for helping promote transactions, especially the sales transaction, in which a buyer or buying entity makes a one-time purchase of a bill of goods.
The Calm Before the Next US vs. Apple Storm
March 31, 2016
Apple got a last-minute reprieve last week. The U.S. government no longer is going after the company to break into the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone, for now. It found another way. So Apple dodged a bullet, this time. However, as terrorism rises, this sticky question will rise again -- count on it. Now, when things are quiet, is the best time to debate this issue and come up with a solution.
Gadget Ogling: Honey, I Shrunk the iPhone
March 31, 2016
The iPhone SE packs almost everything from the iPhone 6s into a handset that looks almost identical to the iPhone 5. The only thing that's really missing is Force Touch. It's a smart play, trying to convince iPhone 4 and 5 owners that they can still upgrade to -- almost -- the latest model without the need to take on a device with a larger screen.
FCC Commissioner Sounds Alarm Over Netflix Throttling
March 30, 2016
FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly on Tuesday suggested the government should investigate Netflix's practice of throttling video content delivery to customers using mobile devices. However, Netflix's video throttling was not a violation of the FCC's Net neutrality rules, O'Rielly also said. Netflix last week announced plans to offer a data saver feature for mobile apps beginning in May.
Study: Enterprises Shift Analytics Focus to Back Office
March 30, 2016
Companies have shifted their analytics efforts from consumer-focused processes to operations, according to the results of a survey released last week by Capgemini. Seventy percent of 600 executives said they focused more on operational analysis, and more than 80 percent said analytics in operations plays a pivotal role in driving profits or creating competitive advantage, according to the survey.
Feds Crack iPhone, Warn Apple to Keep One Eye Open
March 29, 2016
After a bitter legal battle over encryption and privacy rights, the Department of Justice on Monday announced it would back out of its case against Apple because the FBI was able to crack the code of the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters. The department had asked a federal magistrate judge to force Apple to help the FBI crack open the encrypted smartphone.
FCC Privacy Proposal Troubles Broadband Internet Providers
March 29, 2016
Broadband Internet service providers are wary of a government plan to impose consumer privacy protection regulations on the sector. The Federal Communications Commission likely will issue the proposed regulations by Friday. It will accept public comment on the proposal before taking final action. The program would require ISPs to meet privacy standards similar to those covering phone companies.
Chinese National Cops Plea in Defense Secrets Case
March 29, 2016
A Chinese aviation and aerospace businessman last week pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to steal sensitive military and export-controlled data from major U.S. defense contractors and send the information to China, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Su Bin, also known as Stephen Su and Stephen Subin, entered the plea before Judge Christina A. Snyder.
A Dramatic 16 Years for 4 Tech Titans
March 28, 2016
Following Apple's latest announcements, I noticed a number of reports on how disappointed customers were that there was nothing they wanted to wait in line for hours to buy. I personally thought they should have been excited about that, because I hate to stand in lines. I've never really figured out an Apple fanatic's penchant for pain. Still, it is very clear that today's Apple is very different.
Microsoft Apologizes for Corrupted Chatbot's Nasty Comments
March 28, 2016
Microsoft last week apologized for its Tay chatbot's bad behavior. It took the machine learning system offline, only 24 hours into its short life, after Twitter trolls got it to deny the Holocaust and elicit pro-Nazi and anti-feminist remarks. "We are deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and hurtful tweets from Tay, which do not represent who we are or what we stand for," said Peter Lee, corporate vice president at Microsoft Research.
Angry Investor Aims to Kick Yahoo's Board to the Curb
March 28, 2016
Starboard Value last week launched a proxy fight to replace the board at Yahoo, blasting the company's management and nominating its own slate of board members. One of Yahoo's largest investors, Starboard has a 1.7 percent stake worth about $570 million. It has been "extremely disappointed with Yahoo's dismal financial performance," said Jeffrey Smith, managing member of Starboard.
Blendle Bets Readers Will Micropay for Good Journalism
March 25, 2016
Blendle, a Netherlands-based news aggregation site that draws comparisons to Spotify, on Wednesday announced its beta launch in the U.S. Blendle made its debut with the participation of several major new organizations and financial backing from Axel Springer and The New York Times. The 5-year-old company, which recently expanded into Germany, has opened the beta phase to 10,000 users.
Commoditizing Software
March 24, 2016
For more than 50 years, the IT industry has followed a well-known script associated with emerging and evolving paradigms: First a product or category is introduced, then it gains wide acceptance (or dies on the vine), followed by a long period when vendors and customers seek out more efficient ways to produce the thing. Ultimately, the category becomes so important that all must have it.
FBI Would Rather Crack Terrorist's iPhone Itself
March 23, 2016
On the eve of a court showdown with Apple over unlocking the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, the FBI put its case on pause Monday to pursue an attack method that could allow it to crack the phone without Apple's assistance. After reviewing the FBI's request for postponement of oral arguments in the case, a U.S. District Court in California granted the delay.
Amazon Power User Excommunicated
March 23, 2016
Amazon has carved another notch in its belt, adding one more customer to what it has called a "tiny fraction of cases" of people who make too many returns. The company banned Greg Nelson, a computer programmer, from shopping at the site because he returned 37 of 343 items purchased, according to a report last week. The returned products were damaged, faulty or not as described, Nelson asserted.
Supreme Court to End Samsung, Apple Patent Brawl
March 22, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an appeal from Samsung regarding its patent dispute with Apple. The case stems from a 2011 lawsuit by Apple that alleged Samsung copied certain design elements and features from the iPhone and iPad and used them in Samsung Galaxy phones and tablet computers. A jury in 2012 awarded $1 billion to Apple.
Gadget Ogling: Bathroom Bots, Bedroom Bulbs, and Doorbell Detectives
March 22, 2016
Can you imagine a time before robot vacuum cleaners? The world was a messier place, certainly in the homes of those with too little impetus to pick up a broom or vacuum cleaner once in a while. Thankfully, for those of us who don't mind sweeping but are less enthused about using the mop, robotic help is on its way in a more affordable model: the Braava Jet from iRobot.
Judge Delays Encryption Hearing After FBI Says It May Not Need Apple's Help
March 21, 2016
A federal magistrate judge on Monday granted the Department of Justice's request to delay a much-anticipated court hearing that had been scheduled to take place on Tuesday in Riverside, Calif. The court granted an indefinite stay, after the DoJ said it had found a possible method of accessing the encrypted iPhone of the San Bernardino terrorist without the help of Apple.
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What best reflects your opinion on online privacy?
We need new laws to curb government spying.
It's dead -- Google, Facebook and others killed it.
Personalized advertising is the worst -- it's creepy.
It's achievable through encryption and other tech.
It's an overblown issue -- I have nothing to hide.