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  • Geebo 9:15 am on April 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Google’s new data center aims to make internet a better experience for Cubans 

    Google's new data center aims to make internet a better experience for Cubans

    Google recently announced they have opened a data center in Cuba, being the first American company to do so. Cuba’s internet is incredibly slow compared to other Western nations. Cuba receives its internet through an underground cable provided by the government of Venezuela. The distance between the countries is roughly 1300 miles. This would roughly be the equivalent of someone living in New York having an internet service provider whose only servers were in Dallas. While Google’s new data center won’t speed up current Cuban internet, it will make some content easier to access.

    Google’s servers in Cuba will fetch information through the existing Venezuelan cable but will then store it on their servers. This will make it much easier and a little faster for Cuban internet users to access popular or viral content.

    What hasn’t been discussed is how Google is going to get along with the Cuban government. While advances in freedom have been made in Cuba in recent years, it’s still not the most democratic country in the world. Cuba’s internet is still heavily regulated by the government. Google pulled out of China after the Chinese government made incessant censorship demands. Will the Cuban government ask the same of Google and if so, will Google abandon their Cuban project if the Cuban government pressures them into acting against the people?

  • Geebo 9:05 am on April 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Facebook locks out Marketplace users in bid to fight fake news 

    Facebook locks out Marketplace users in bid to fight fake news

    Recently this blog posed the question “Is Facebook too big for its own good?” Another issue has arisen that requires that question to be asked again, as it seems the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Users of Facebook’s classifieds section called Marketplace have been complaining about being locked out of their Facebook accounts after placing an ad.

    The problem stems from Facebook’s continuous promise to combat fake news among its pages. Users claim after posting an ad for the first time on Marketplace that they’ve been locked out of their accounts while the ad is being reviewed. However, it’s not the content of the ad that’s causing any red flags, but the ads often include pictures which for some reason is triggering Facebook’s review process for fake content. This is similar to the temporary ban some Facebook users have received for posting inappropriate content.

    Facebook has claimed the glitch in the Facebook Matrix has been corrected and only affected a small number of its users. No answer was given as to what caused the problem in the first place. While Facebook is far from infallible one would think they would test these features more thoroughly before implementing them site-wide. As has been stated before, when Facebook tries to be all things to all people it seems they lose a little bit more quality each time a new feature is implemented.

  • Geebo 8:59 am on April 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: flying cars,   

    Is Uber’s flying car announcement a case of wagging the dog? 

    Is Uber's flying car announcement a case of wagging the dog?

    Say that your multi-billion dollar transportation company has been embroiled in some recent controversies ranging from dubious immigration policy decisions to a an alleged culture of sexual harassment and misogyny. What should be your next step in trying to get the public back on your side? Announcing a fleet of flying cars of course. The much embattled Uber recently announced a plan to have a fleet of flying vehicles in both Dallas and Dubai by 2020.

    While Uber has had this announcement in the works for some time now, the timing of this announcement seems to have the added benefit of distracting the pubic from the real problems plaguing Uber’s corporate culture. That’s not even mentioning that the flying cars are not cars at all but flying vehicles called VTOLs, which is short for Vertical Take Off and Landing. Most of these VTOLs are still in the testing phase and could be more than three years from being commercially viable.

    This service could be a hit in Dubai as their citizens tend to enjoy an extravagant lifestyle, however, there’s a major hurdle that Uber needs to clear for this to be a viable program in the US. The Federal Aviation Administration,aka the FAA, has never had a favorable view of these types of vehicles. In the past they have claimed the vehicles could interfere with commercial air traffic that could cause a catastrophic event if the pilots are not careful. As awash with capital as Uber is, it’s doubtful that the FAA under any administration will ever allow these vehicles to be used as a form of mass transit in the US.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on April 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Jimmy Wales, , WikiTribune   

    Another ironic name pledges to fight fake news 

    Another ironic name pledges to fight fake news

    The concept of fake news continues to make headlines in the real news. First it was Mark Zuckerberg and the monolithic Facebook who vowed to combat fake news, even though most fake news is spread like an office cold through Facebook. Then it was Craig Newmark of craigslist fame who poured millions of dollars into fighting fake news while his site continues to house racists, scam artists and criminals. Now, another person who shouldn’t throw stones in a glass house has thrown his weight behind the fight against fake news. Jimmy Wales is the founder of Wikipedia, and he just launched a new platform called WikiTribune to help combat the supposed menace that is fake news.

    So I’m sure you’re asking. “What’s wrong with WikiTribune”? On the surface, nothing yet. However, if it follows the same pattern as Wikipedia before it, WikiTribune could eventually end up propagating the fake news it claims to prevent.

    While Wikipedia is a valuable resource on the web, it’s not 100% reliable. Go to just about any page on Wikipedia that deals with a controversial topic and click on the ‘Talk’ tab and you might just be able to see the heated arguments over facts that go on behind the scenes. Also, some trusted Wikipedia editors have been known to have biases on certain subjects and edit their pet pages to reflect that. That’s not even taking into consideration that Wikipedia is often subject to cyber-vandalism since the pages can be edited by just about anyone.

    So far it seems the Generals leading the fight against fake news have never heard the phrase “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

  • Geebo 8:59 am on April 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Tim Cook, Travis Kalanick,   

    If you wanted another reason to delete Uber this may be it, as long as you don’t have an iPhone 

    If you wanted another reason to delete Uber this may be it, as long as you don't have an iPhone

    The problem with being the CEO of a controversial multi-billion dollar Silicon Valley startup is once controversy darkens your door it inevitably seems their business-related skeletons come crashing out of the closet, or boardroom as it may be. The New York Times has reported that Apple CEO Tim Cook accused Uber CEO Travis Kalanick of tracking iPhone users even after the Uber app was deleted from the device. In 2015, Cook was said to be so annoyed over the matter that he threatened to drop Uber from the Apple app store if they didn’t comply.

    This is just one more black eye to the company that was once heralded as being on the edge of ingenuity. From multiple sexual harassment accusations to lawsuits from Google over alleged stolen technology to the company allegedly taking advantage of their drivers. Uber has vehemently denied Apple’s accusation saying it wasn’t tracking iPhone users but were protecting themselves from people who would use stolen phones to try to get out of paying for expensive rides. Uber specifically has said this is mostly a problem in China.

    While Uber may seem like a morally ambiguous company at best, are any of these scandals really hurting their business? Do the everyday users of Uber know of the company’s many PR woes and if they do has it discouraged anyone from continuing to use the ride sharing app? So far competitors have failed to capitalize on Uber’s supposed downfall. Competing services like Lyft have started to make moves into formerly exclusive Uber markets but is Uber’s cache so great that their brand will be like the Xerox of their industry? Only time will tell.

  • Geebo 9:02 am on April 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: coin, , , plastc   

    Add Plastc’s name to the startup graveyard 

    Add Plastc's name to the startup graveyard

    Plastc promised its backers a credit card-like device that you could pre-load all your credit and debit cards to it, along with your various discount cards. They promised you would only need your card and it would make your life a utopia of convenience. Check out what the features of Plastc were intended to be in their own YouTube video.

    Wow. Doesn’t that look like an amazing device? It’s no wonder they were able to obtain $9 million in funds from pre-orders alone. This doesn’t even take into account they were entering into a market where there were already players who had shipped product. Coin was a company that promised a similar device and even shipped units. Coin left the market after their device couldn’t overcome technical problems that caused its users to have to continue to carry their cards with them, totally negating the purpose of it. Yesterday, Plastc announced that they were declaring bankruptcy, and it seems like they’re taking the $9 million and going home without ever delivering a single unit.

    So far Plastc has not given any reason why they’re declaring bankruptcy or what is going to happen to their backers’ money. What could have been a contributing factor to Plastc’s demise was the new chip and pin form of credit and debit cards. Instead of swiping, if your card has one of the new chips you have to insert the card into the machine. Could Plastc have failed to foresee the surprisingly quick adoption of this new technology? Could they even have changed the technology used in their devices to accommodate chip and pin?

    With technology developing at an ever-increasing rate, the time between being the next hot thing and the proverbial buggy whip manufacturer is becoming even shorter.

  • Geebo 9:02 am on April 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Juicero, juicing, , tech bubble   

    Does the Juicero show that we’re headed for another tech bubble burst? 

    Does the Juicero show that were headed for another tech bubble burst?

    Juicing is one of those types of diets that’s practiced by celebrities, high-profile businessmen, and various other trend setters. While its health benefits can be debated, as opposed to eating fruits and vegetables, one can’t deny its popularity. Leave it to Silicon Valley to come up with a gadget marketed directly to juicing fans. Enter the Juicero which is a machine that’s designed to press proprietary bags of fruit and vegetables into juice. It presses the bag with the force of four tons and will run you around $400.

    This is actually not a bad idea as it’s been called the Keurig of the juicer set. The man who founded Juicero even went as far as to refer to himself as the Steve Jobs of juicing. That comparison is in fact correct, that is if you’re comparing yourself to the Steve Jobs who released the Apple Lisa. It turns out that for the $400 price tag the Juicero can’t compete with another device that can squeeze the bags of juice just as well and doesn’t cost as much. As a matter of fact they don’t cost anything. The Juicero bags can be squeezed just as well by using your own two hands.

    Between this debacle and other newsworthy startups that have failed to meet expectations one can’t help but be reminded of the dotcom bubble bursting in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Do these failures indicate the beginning of the end for startup culture? Will we soon be talking about the startup bubble bursting? If current trends are any indicator, we just might be.

  • Geebo 9:01 am on April 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Kyrsten Sinema,   

    Arizona pols rush to dump Backpage donations 

    Arizona pols rush to dump Backpage donations

    While a federal grand jury was investigating Backpage founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, it was discovered that the pair made a number of financial donations to various politicians in the Grand Canyon State. While the amount of donations wasn’t that large when it comes to politics, it can appear tainted since Backpage is the largest online avenue of sex trafficking in the US. While the duo also made donations in New Mexico and Colorado, the amount they donated in Arizona was reportedly around $60,200.

    One politician who has come under recent scrutiny due to the donations is US Rep. Kyrsten Sinema. She received a donation that exceeded $10,000. Like many of the other politicians who received these donations, once Sinema was made aware of where the money came from she attempted to donate the money to charity. However, should she be under such criticism since Backpage seems to have made some of these donations in ways that seem somewhat underhanded?

    In some cases rather than Lacey or Larkin donating the money themselves, they allegedly either had their spouses or other Backpage employees make the donations. Much like their legal defenses, everything Backpage seems to do is questionable at best, or at least unethical. It almost seems like Backpage can’t do anything that is above-board.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on April 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Robert Godwin, Steve Stephens   

    With the latest controversy is Facebook too big for its own good? 

    With the latest controversy is Facebook too big for its own good?

    It happened again, another gruesome crime has been committed with the video being shown on Facebook. This seems to be an unfortunate recurrence for Facebook lately. Already, two violent crimes from Chicago had made national headlines after they were broadcast on Facebook live. Now, as I’m sure you’ve heard, a man from Cleveland was shot and killed randomly and a video of the murder was uploaded to Facebook. On Easter Sunday, 37-year-old Steve Stephens allegedly shot and killed 74-year-old Robert Godwin and recorded himself in the act before uploading the video to Facebook.

    The video of the murder stayed on Facebook for two hours before it was pulled. Facebook claims that they didn’t receive a report about the video until 23 minutes prior to them not only removing the video, but also shutting down Stephens’ Facebook. With Facebook’s desire to keep all their users in their walled garden do they have some responsibility to bear with the crimes that are broadcast on their platform?

    Facebook is trying to be all things to all people with photo sharing, video sharing and now live streaming alongside the regular features they’ve promoted over their long history. However, is Facebook scaling their workforce at the same pace as they keep releasing new features? As was mentioned in the video above, YouTube, which also offers live streaming, states that they employ an army to moderate content and so far have seemed to escape the criminal controversy that Facebook continues to court. There are many livestreaming services available to users that have had their own similar controversies, just not on the level of tragedy that Facebook has. Those other services also don’t have the gigantic userbase that Facebook does. Had they done their homework correctly, Facebook may have implemented better safeguards from keeping these horrific acts from being shared on their pages.

  • Geebo 9:02 am on April 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Evan Spiegel, India,   

    Snapchat CEO accused of insulting an entire country 

    Snapchat CEO accused of insulting an entire country

    Snapchat is not having the best week ever. It wasn’t bad enough that Instagram was copying Snapchat’s stories feature, but Instagram was bragging that their stories feature had more users than Snapchat Stories. This really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as Instagram is owned by the juggernaut that is Facebook. What did come as a surprise was Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel allegedly insulting an entire country. Not just any country but the 2nd most populous country in the world. Late last week, it was made public that Spiegel allegedly said that he did not want to expand into countries like India saying that Snapchat isn’t for poor people.

    This became public buzz after it was unsealed in a lawsuit against Snapchat by former employee Anthony Pompliano. Pompliano alleges that Spiegel said that Snapchat is for rich people only and didn’t want to expand into ‘poor countries’ like India and Spain. This caused not only a multitude of Indian users to boycott the app, many worldwide users have as well. Many of its former users have even taken to the various app stores to give it one star reviews in protest. This has affected Snapchat in the wallet too as their recently made public stock took a big hit in the market.

    If Spiegel did in fact make these comments, it’s incredibly short-sighted on his part to say the least. Some of the most popular apps in the world are used in India that U.S. users never even heard of. Messaging app WhatsApp is massively popular worldwide due to text messaging being overly expensive in certain overseas markets. The main market for WhatsApp users is India. India also has a larger percentage of mobile users than most countries. This is why Facebook bought WhatsApp and didn’t fold it into Messenger, because they knew that India was such a lucrative market.

    Snapchat has denied the allegations, but in today’s start up culture of trying to get rich quick by men with massive egos, it wouldn’t be surprising if it was true. We’re looking at you Uber.

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