Annie Gaus is on the show and we’ll talk about what Comcast’s customer service rep. call means in the light of monopolies and net neutrality. Plus a little insight into the Uber and Lyft fights, and IBM and Apple partner up.
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Today’s guest: Annie Gaus, technology journalist
Bug hunters unite: GigaOm reports Google’s Chris Evans announced Project Zero today, a team of security pros hired by Google to look for vulnerabilities in non-Google software. Any software depended on by a lot of people is fair game. Ben Hawkes, Tavis Ormandy and Brit Ian are apparently on the team, and GeoHotz is the first intern, but they’re also hiring.
Layoffs to hit Microsoft: Bloomberg reports Microsoft is planning its biggest round of layoffs in five years as part of the integration of Nokia’s handset division. Bloomberg’s sources say the reductions will probably be in engineering, marketing and areas of overlap with Nokia. Microsoft’s biggest round of job cuts ever happened in 2009 when they let 5,800 people go.
“Cortana, where’s my car?” The Verge reports Microsoft is beginning to distribute Windows Phone 8.1 to existing Lumia devices. 8.1 includes the Cortana digital assistant, new customizable Live Tile layouts, a new keyboard and more.
Let’s get connected: The Next Web reports Samsung, Google and ARM have teamed up to develop an Internet-of-Things wireless networking protocol called Thread. Sound familiar? That’s because the other day Samsung and Intel were among several companies proposing the Open Interconnect Consortium as a new standard for Internet of Things. Thread isn’t an application protocol or a connectivity platform; it’s a networking protocol that has been built upon open standards. A current version of Thread is already in use by Nest thermostats.
Apples cuts out the middleman: The Next Web reports Apple has announced a new service in Japan that lets customers add cash to their iTunes account in store. ‘iTunes Pass’ lets users purchase credit in-store for the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore, and have that money immediately applied to the Apple ID account instead of needing to receive a gift card and enter a redemption code.
Smart eyeballs: Well, now we know why Babak Parviz left Google for Amazon. His work on Google smart contacts must have been done. Engadget reports Google has licensed its smart eyewear to healthcare specialist Novartis, which will develop new products. The first will be lenses that measure glucose levels in tear fluid to help diabetics. The second will restore focus on near objects so farsighted people can have contacts. Google will develop the electronics and Novartis’ Alcon will supply the medical knowledge.
Get commenting: Ars Technica reports the U.S. FCC extended the deadline for submitting comments on its Open Internet Guidelines. You now have until Friday, July 18 at midnight. The FCC website suffered under the strain of last-minute commenters, prompting the extension. People can also get their views into the official record by e-mailing email@example.com. At the same time, TechCrunch reports 13 senators sent a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler requesting Internet service be classified as a common carrier under Title II of the telecommunications act.
Drop me a Line: Reuters reports Japanese messaging app Line intends to go it alone rather than look to get acquired. Reuters source says Line applied for an initial public offering (IPO) valued at over 1 trillion yen ($9.85 billion) around two weeks ago at the Tokyo Stock. The company recorded 14.6 billion yen in revenue in January-March — a more than threefold increase on the year. The app has more than 480 million downloads.
Big brains build a big artificial brain: Microsoft’s team showed off a new deep-learning AI this morning in Redmond called Project Adam. Rather than trying to have a better algorithm than other efforts like Google Brain, Adam optimizes data handling and fine-tuning communication between machines. The system is based on technology developed at the University of Wisconsin, called Hogwild that for asynchronous processing across the chips within a single machine. Microsoft’s Trishul Chilimbi and team have made it work across an entire network of machines. So far, it has only been deployed through an internal app that recognizes objects based on a photo. It can even identify specific dog breeds. Microsoft is still developing the research and has no consumer plans for the system yet. Microsoft claims it uses 30x fewer machines with double the accuracy of other deep-learning systems.
I’m shrinking: The Next Web reports Mozilla announced the release of mozjpeg version 2.0, a JPEG encoder capable of reducing the size of both baseline and progressive JPEG images by 5%. Images make up a lot of the bandwith used by web pages. Facebook is testing mozjpeg 2.0 on Facebook.com. In fact, the company gave Mozilla $60,000 to help develop the technology.
Q reports: Re/Code reports Intel benefited from an improved PC market to beat analyst estimates in its quarterly earnings. Intel reported earnings of $2.8 billion, or 55 cents per share, on sales of $13.8 billion for the three months ending in June. Desktop chip unit sales were up 8 percent from a year ago and average selling prices increased 2 percent as well. Notebook processor unit sales increased 9 percent. Intel’s mobile unit posted revenue of $51 million, down 83 percent year-on-year and off 67 percent from the first quarter.
YahooOOooo: TechCrunch reports Yahoo reported Q2 revenue of $1.04 billion and non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.37. Revenue including TAC was $1.08. Analysts had expected the company to earn $0.38 on revenue of ex-TAC $1.08 billion. Yahoo sold 24% more ads in the quarter than the year prior, which was strong, but saw its price per ad fall by 24% as well.
Apple and IBM going steady: Apple and IBM announced a partnership today on CNBC, putting IBM made-for-business apps on iOS devices. IBM said it would create a class of more than 100 business applications exclusively for iPhones and iPads to run on Apple’s iOS platform. In return, IBM will sell Apple’s products filled with 100 industry-specific apps to its clients worldwide. Some of the services IBM will provide via iOS include device management, security, analytics and mobile integration.
News From You
normgregory and tm204 both submitted articles from Ars Technica and Hollywood Reporter about Dish’s victory over Fox in the Hoper lawsuit. Fox had asked for a preliminary injunction and pointed to the Supreme Court’s determination that Aereo was a public performance claiming, Dish’slingbox-like service in the Dish hopper was the same thing. On Monday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a district court didn’t abuse discretion by denying Fox’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The underlying case, Fox et al v. Dish et al, will continue to move towards a trial set to begin in federal court in Los Angeles on January 13, 2015.
habichuelacondulce posted the Mashable article on leaked Windows screenshots appearing on mydigitallife.info showing the restored Start menus. The size and format of the menu is the same as what Microsoft showed off at the Build conference in April, but the tiles themselves are different. The watermark on the images reads “Windows 8.1 Pro,” and ‘confidential’ However The forum where the screenshot appeared says it’s from Build 6.4.9788 of Windows 9.
michsineath submitted the GeekWire story that Transportation startups like UberX, Lyft, and Sidecar will finally be able to legally operate in Seattle. The City Council there voted 8-1 to approve a new law providing a regulatory framework for Transportation Network Companies. The 150 vehicle cap has been removed, insurance requirements adjusted and 200 taxi licenses added over the next four years.
Pick of the Day: FB Purity
Dan White in mostly rainy Bristol, UK has our pick of the day: Hi Tom, I’ve been following the comments about Facebook and the annoying way that they mess with your news feed, changing the order and stuffing unwanted junk in to annoy you. I’d like to recommend a free browser plug in called “FB purity“. I like to think of it as what Facebook would look like if they didn’t hate their users! It’s compatible with Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, Opera and Maxton.
It has an awesome collection of features, including:
Force news feed onto chronological order. Block in line video playback. Hide or block posts based on keywords or phrases (handy for those Game of Thrones spoiler posting idiot friends) Revert news feed to single column. Stop external links from being tracked by Facebook. Block applications directly from your news feed. Receive an alert if someone de-friends you. And lots more.
Naturally Facebook hates this idea and regularly tweaks their code to overcome some features, even claiming that it is “unsafe” (well they would, wouldn’t they!). However, the plug in is inevitably updated almost immediately to restore sanity to your experience.
I don’t work for or have any connection to the FB Purity coders. I just think it’s an awesome plug in, and apparently about 160,000 other people agree with me.
EXTRA Message: TVsEgon has posted tons of Nerdtacular pics to a dropbox. You can find the link in the subreddit or the show notes!
Forced lowercase i in title is standards-compliant thanks to a suggestion from biocow.