Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mobile: Shameful Chinese Courts Employed Double Standard On Copyrights

Source:  WSJ.

A Chinese court fined Apple for copyright-related ebooks in its App Store.  Well, well, well.  Isn't that interesting since China is one of the biggest violators of copyrights, trademarks, and patents.  Yet, finds Apple in the wrong here?


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Starbucks CEO Tries Again To Make Case For Political Sanity

Source:  CNN, Politico, Starbucks.

It's time to come together

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has been active in a semi-political sense and I’m glad for it.  The reason is it’s “semi-political” and not outright political.  See, he’s been pushing for jobs (CBS) in America via Starbucks and the simple and aptly titled Create Jobs For USA.

I’m not sure but this is probably only the second letter he has penned publicly to his workforce, advocating for a fiscal deal on Washington.  I doubt anyone is listening there but I’m hoping more and more of us are.

I mean if this was anyone else, I probably would think they’ve got an agenda here.  But hey, this is Starbucks we’re talking about.  I mean it’s not like if more people are working, Starbucks won’t benefit or even a stronger economy, Starbucks won’t see better sales.  It well and Schultz is simply making that point.

He’s not directly advocating what other CEOs are asking for – like a tax holiday for overseas profit like some others have, including Tim Cook of Apple.  No way President Obama would go for that.  So, Schultz is the next best thing for his company, and for America buy trying to push for more job creation and fiscal responsibility here.

Unfortunately, I have to say that there isn’t a lot of folks in the media who is giving him a lot of attention.  Sure, once in a while, we’ll see a short piece on this but I like to see other CEOs join Schultz in advocating self-growth and political sanity in Washington.

Starbucks will kick things off with a Come Together campaign.

What do you think? I think it's a brilliant move.  Regardless of your political beliefs, we've got someone who is richer than most of us will ever be and, yet, he cares enough about all of our future as a nation.  

Monday, December 24, 2012

Apple Positioned Very Well For Tomorrow

Here is a video from Bloomberg interviewing David Kirkpatrick of Facebook Effect and seemingly nice guy John Scully, failed CEO of Apple because he's a marketing guy and not a product guy, on the future of Apple.
  • Hardware success
  • Software success
  • Cloud - Apple has challenges but is getting there.  
On Apple's competitors, Amazon is great at cloud but is finding hardware difficult and challenging while it does no understand software at all.  For Microsoft, it has no history of success in hardware which I beg to differ since the Xbox has lay waste to Nintendo and Sony in the console business.  However, I have to agree that Microsoft's other ventures have not done well, Zune and Surface to date.

For Samsung, it has a supply chain like that of Apple but relies on Google for software and cloud support and doesn't see it build out its own ecosystem like Apple's iOS-iTunes empire.

Both men are very bullish on Tim Cook but they don't say why.  At one point John Scully said Silicon Valley needs an autocratic product guy.  Obviously, Tim Cook isn't.  In fact, the top-end changes in the executive suites at Apple showed that Tim Cook isn't one but was actively trying to fix that by putting product guys in charge of hardware and software development and designs.

On television, they believe the world is waiting for Apple to reinvent how we watch televsion.  Maybe the key is about video consumption rather than trying to duplicate or making the television experience better - to do away with that completely.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Social: Facebook Gives Perverts Safe Haven With "Poke" App

Source:  Facebook.

Facebook came out with a new app today essentially ripping off another app called "Poke" for the iPhone. Seriously, with all the privacy issues that Facebook users have had to contend with, now this?  And what's worse is that this is a total rip-off of another app that does kinda of the same thing, Snapchat.

The going joke today is that this is great for sextexting.  I don't think so.  This is good for those who wants to send inappropriate pictures or messages but don't want to leave a trail.

And here's the thing I don't get.  Why would Facebook come out with this?  To make money off these kinds messages, a vast majority of them will be inappropriate anyway?  You have to wonder what is Zucker's team thinking here.

And this being Facebook which will also try to leverage information that it collects from users, I hope Poke users will understand that there is a good chance FB will be saving those disappearing messages somewhere, somehow, and hope to sell that information to advertisers.

I don't plan on downloading this app because for the reasons I mentioned above.  Frankly, I don't need it. But I reckon that the handy screen capture feature on the iPhone may way make this whole disappearing thing kinda moot.

NRA Issues a Big “F---YOU” To Shooting Victims, The School, And Parents

Source:  Los Angeles Times.

Update:  While the NRA was holding its "don't blame us and we don't want sensible gun control discussion or laws" press conference, there was another shooting happening...I'm no Gawker fan but they did catch this one.

Yeah, so instead of saying they’re gonna try to work with the president and Congress on limiting fun violence like the Newtown massacre, instead, it issued a big FU to everyone else by saying it’s everyone else’s fault but theirs.

They blame the schools, media, music, video games.  Everyone but the good-old gun folks.

Now, the gun debate is well, debatable in that people are still trying to dance around the issue.  Guns are easy to buy and obtain but it’s also doable, in least in my humble mind, that we can keep crazies from gaining access to assault rifles – like that Virginia Tech shooter.

So what’s NRA’s solution?  Arm the schools.  NRA blames society for not arming schools to protect children.

Look, I’ve had experience with guns in unpleasant manners.  My dad pulled a gun on me once.  He’s a big NRA fan.  And it way to easy for him to buy those guns.  Even if I could (he hid the fact that he bought guns from the rest of the family), there probably was no way that I could have prevented him from buying them.  And my dad had issues but not to the extent that was medically documented.

I am sure there is a middle ground to the gun issue.  But groups like the NRA has just put the fear of the gun god into these politicians that even the White House, until the latest episode, happily avoided.

Not even the attempted assassination of a congresswoman did it.  And Gabrielle Giffords belonged to President Obama’s own party!  And not even the shooting of a midnight viewing of the latest Batman movie did it.  It took an appalling killing of twenty 6 to 7 year olds to shock America into thinking we probably should do something.

And let’s face it.  Whatever comes of this, it’ll be so watered down, challenged in the courts, and eventually allowed to lapse (yes, conservatives will eventually return to power in Washington once the political seasaw swings back their way).

We live in a society where gun ownership is celebrated – even in a blue state California where I live in.  So, if anyone is shocked that the Nation Rifle Association thumb its nose at calls for stricter gun laws, don’t be.  This is our culture.  It’s not an excuse but a fact.

And the fact is…expect more Newtown style killings and the NRA saying “I told you so”.  Call it a new Christmas tradition.

Note: For the record, I don’t have a stance on guns.  I am against gun violence and violence of any time.  Who isn’t?  But I do support much stiffer penalties for who are irresponsible with guns, provide guns to those who should not own guns, and using guns to commit crimes of any type.  And here’s an idea.  If you want to own guys, maybe you need like a family member or neighbor to co-sign for it.

Killing Digitimes: Maybe When Apple Moves Manufacturing Away From Asia

I really detest DigiTimes, you know, the go to site that Apple and tech bloggers, publications, and even Wall Street analysts go to to spice up their readership or report.  But the inside joke here is that everyone and their grandmother know that DT is almost always wrong when it comes to Apple news.

Even now, bloggers would quantify what they report from DT by saying that this bit of news is probably wrong.  So why report on it?

I'm hoping that once Apple shifts manufacturing away from Asia to Brazil, NY, or wherever else, DT will have less leverage over time.  And what's funny, at least to me, is that I'm now able to detect which blog posts are using DT as their source.

These days, bloggers are now adding that while DT is wrong on Apple facts, they're generally okay when it comes to components so it's okay when it comes to reporting on their information as it relates to Apple.  Well, as bad as DT's record is even now regarding components, even that should go away once Apple manages to move production out of China.

So, as always, stop click on rumors that come from DT.  I mean I love reading Apple rumors but even I have my limits.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Apple, Google, Microsoft Possibly Interested In Same Home Automation Startup

Source:  Appleinsider, WSJ.

While I hate to report on rumors, I kinda want to take this up because of the implications for not only mobile, as you will see, but how we live our lives going forward.  The WSJ is reporting that Apple is interested in acquiring a home automation company started up by Blake Krikorian.

You might not know who BK is but you’ll know his previous work:  the SlingBox, which I’ve got two of.

So, the story goes that Apple is interested in acquiring the company Group R2 Studios.  However, both Google and Microsoft are also interested.  So far, R2 has only an Android app.  It’ll be interest to know what is it that has three of the biggest mobile, cloud, and computing companies on Earth so interested.

What’s worth noting is that Microsoft has made some wave into the living room with Xbox while Google is dominating with Android units sold. However, it’s Apple that has third party gears, albeit only a few, that can be referred to in any home automated manner.

The Nest Thermostat comes to mind as some LED light bulbs.  But that hardly qualify Apple has having any expertise in this area.  Or anyone else for that matter.

And on the market, I’ve seen a few WiFi monitoring devices and locking mechanisms.  I reckon that anyone that comes from Apple, Google, or Microsoft will be much more comprehensive.  And if the WSJ report is true, look for the mobile war currently being waged and won by Google to move to the housing market as well.

There will come a time when homebuilders will have to consider the type of technology that they incorporate into homes.

Here’s the interest part about inviting these three companies into your home.  On one hand, you’ve got Google.  You will probably have to let it know everything that you do around the home.  Maybe ads?  And as for Microsoft, imagine trying to get into the home only to have your system crash on you – bad times to have the runs.  Or Apple’s walled garden?  Literally.

All kidding aside, I’m sure these three companies, probably Samsung, and a few others also have designs on the home automation market.  I figure green tech and conservation will also play a big part as well.

It’ll be interesting to see where this all leads.  You can bet on a few issues that will matter. Privacy is will start off this list.  So will ease of use – what’s the point of home automation if your home won’t let you in or out of the house or if you can’t figure out how to control the environment in the family room but make it different in the kitchen.

What do you think?  Which of these companies will have what it takes to create the ultimate home?

There isn't a whole lot of information specific to R2.  It's quite possible that all this is nothing but patent grabs as well.

Blackberry's iPhone, Android Killer Will Be Called Z10

Soruce:  Business Insider.

Here you go.  This is what the next Blackberry will look like.  And it'll be called the Z10.

Interesting that it's gone two tones:  black or white.

Reminds me of iSomething here.  Anyway, while I won't go near it, it won't mean that I'm not gonna pull for RIM to make a strong comeback.

leaked blackberry z10 ad

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Never Figured Peter Parker To Be A Republican

Source:  Yahoo.

This is a pretty sweet picture.  A couple of observations.  I guess the Secret Service agents were all "tied up" in some web.  And I never figure Spiderman to be a Republican.

This is one of my favorite Obama picture.  It's good to see the most powerful man in the world less loose a bit.

Everything Wrong About The Avengers In Three Minutes

Source:  Blastr.

Here is a most excellent comedic take on the Avengers and about what's wrong with it.  Seriously never thought about it because the whole movie taken as a whole was just mind-blowingly awesome!

Still, until Avengers 2 comes out, we can still get a few laughs out of it.  And after watching this video below that nitpick what was wrong with the Avengers, look for one of your geekier friends to do the same next time you guys sit down to watch the movie.


Social: Applying For College Could Mean Finding Waldo

Source:  LA Times.

Imagine after filling out the college application and then being asked to write an essay.  Nothing to it right?  Not if the essay topics are designed to throw you for a loop like asking you to find where Waldo really is.

Going to college is more and more complicated with each passing year.  Forget about the rising monetary cost for a moment.  SAT, AP courses, play two or three different musical instruments, and tons of other extracurricular activities.  High school certainly ain’t what it used to be.  Then these the scary application process.  Now, some colleges are throwing prospective students with weird essay questions.

However, it is a new start and I’m sure the admission offices mean well.  And colleges want to make sure they’ve got the right kind of students joining its student bodies.  So, this LA Times article touches on some questions that are being posed to students.

But why are they doing this?  It’s simple.  College admissions hate read the same freaking thing over and over and over.  On top of that, they want to draw out the real you, if you happen to be a student.

Makes sense.  And let’s be honest.  Who doesn’t have near perfect SAT scores or GPA over 4.0 these days?  Still, I’m glad my college days were years and years ago and don’t have to go through today’s much tougher admission processes.

Instagram – Never Looked Back After Facebook Buyout And This Is Why (Update: National Geographics Suspected Its Account)

Source:  NY Times.
For all those Instagram users out there who are outraged by Facebook’s about-face in terms of privacy and use of Instragram pictures that users share, you shouldn’t be.  This is Facebook and Zucker after all.  You didn’t think that Facebook would keep Instagram policies unchanged did you?

This is the Facebook that time and time again move the privacy goal line and made it more and more difficult for users to figure out what the the heck is going on with their posts, pictures and videos that they “share” online.  This is the same Facebook that has come under government scrutiny.

So, if you’re pissed, well, you shouldn’t be. I’m here to say I told you so.  I’m here to say that I only started using Instagram a couple of weeks before news of Zucker foolishly buying it for $1 billion and deleted the app immediately afterward and never looked back.

And yes, Facebook will back down.  But just a bit.  And when no one is looking and some heat has passed, it’ll try to screw its users over again.  That’s Facebook’s MO and it’ll be Instragram’s too.

CNET’s post here has some alternatives to Instagram.  I suggest you take a look at it.  And yeah, just so you know.  Some of these other guys could do the same to you one day.  So choose wisely.

Note: Instragram has updated their blog to address this issue.  I can only say that if you’ve decide to move on or are leaning towards moving away from Facebook, it’s time.  Nothing in the blog suggests that Facebook won’t try this trick again in the future.  Nothing in this blog suggests lawyers won't use legalese to give Facebook greater control and users less.

Another Note:  National Geographics has suspended their account (via Fast Company).  A very quick move.  A very wise move.  If anyone knows about disclaimers, contracts, agreements, it's another company with its own army of lawyers.  What it's say when they don't even believe what Facebook/Instagram is saying?

Redbox Instant – How To Sign Up And Who Best To Revolutionize TV?

I think the best company on Earth that can upend the cable companies and the way television is being watched right now isn’t Apple.  Yeah, I think you’re surprised this.  And no.  It’s not Netflix.  And not Redbox along with Verizon.

And certainly not Amazon.

It’s Google.  I think Google is the best company in the world that can make this happen.  Think about it.  They’ve got the infrastructure and they’re laying ground world for very, very fast Internet.  Why have ultra-fast Internet connection if not for video.  Yeah, on top of that, they’ve got the will to make it happen.

Unfortunately for us, they lack someone who can make the right deals.  Not even Steve Jobs managed to do it.  But if Google can find that right guy to charm the studios and other media companies into giving Google a shot, wow.

Until then, there’s Netflix and Amazon.  Now on to Redbox.  Here is the link for you to go to Redbox Instant to sign up for a private beta.  And yes, I signed up first before I let this out to you.  I don’t want the competition.

So, Google.  What’s it gonna be?

Source:  Gizmodo.

Apple Should Prepare to Leave China (There Is Still Time To Execute Such A Plan)

At first glance, you might think that the title of this article is a clickbait considering that China is the second biggest economy in the w...