Weekend’s Top 8 roundup – 28th Nov

Last week of November, we see hackers giving the residents of San Francisco a day of free rides, an anchor takes out the internet of an island, Netflix allows viewing of content in the air, FitBit rescues Pebble, Amazon beats its chest in Las Vegas, Russian bank loses a lot of shekels and once more the nation’s favorite banned executive toy, is back on the shelves.

Last week of November, we see hackers giving the residents of San Francisco a day of free rides, an anchor takes out the internet of an island, Netflix allows viewing of content in the air, FitBit rescues Pebble, Amazon beats its chest in Las Vegas, Russian bank loses a lot of shekels and once more the nation’s favorite banned executive toy, is back on the shelves.

  1. Robin Hood Hacker, gives free rides to San Francisco’s MUNI passengers
    2016-12-04_19h42_01Last weekend, there was an attack on the network that controls San Francisco’s MUNI transit system, resulting in everyone getting free rides at the weekend, since the gates were free to walk through.

    There was some gloating from a hacker online, that said their systems was very open, another reminder that it is vitally important to keep systems updated with the latest patches.

  2. The island of Jersey taken offline, by a ship’s anchor
    2016-12-04_19h45_30.pngSometimes it is good old fashioned human error that can take networks offline.  This time it was a ship’s anchor dragging along the floor bed of the sea, that snagged 3 fibre optic cables, ripping them apart, resulting in the islands links to the UK cut.

    This has resulted in all traffic going via the line to France, with very slow connections.  The ship in question, King Arthur, is being investigated if it dropped anchor in a banned area – like say the sea!

  3. Netflix finally offers offline viewing; but there is a small catch
    chrome_2016-10-16_11-16-04This was the week that Netflix finally relented to continued pressure and released an update to its mobile apps to allow for users to download content for viewing offline.

    Only selected content, namely their own, is available, but still, that opens up a lot of options.  This closes the feature gap with other players in the market, namely BBC iPlayer and Amazon’s Prime Video.

  4. FitBit buys Pebble for $40M
    2016-12-04_19h57_03.pngFitBit has added to its portfolio by acquiring the struggling smartwatch manufacturer, Pebble.   Pebble came to prominence many years ago as a big winner of KickStarter that help raise millions and get it started.  I was one of such early investor.

    However it has been a tough road since with the company hitting hard times, laying off large portions of its workforce.  Only last year, Citizen is said to have offered $700M for the company – bet someone in Pebble is kicking themselves for saying no to that deal!  Though, now when they do kick themselves, FitBit can register it towards their daily step count!

  5. Amazon Web Services had its re:Invent conference in Las Vegas
    2016-12-04_20h05_20No denying it, Amazon is doing terribly well in the cloud space, on track to book $13B in revenue this financial year.  They are adding more servers daily, than it took to run the whole AWS cloud in 2003.

    They are showing no signs of stopping; they have added 1000 features to their offering this year alone, including lower prices across the board.  Some interesting features announced last week, including Windows 10 on Amazon Workspaces.

  6. Apple confirms they are getting serious about self-driving cars
    Apple has written to the US regulator telling them they are excited about this new space of self-driving cars and they will be working on bringing something to market.  Details are a little sketchy at the moment, if this means a car, or just the software that other car makes can license.

    Comes at an interesting time, as analysts at Oppenheimer have announced they believe Apple will no longer lead the charge in innovation for the next 10 years and they will see their dominance shrink.  Don’t think Apple is going anywhere, but these things come in cycles.

  7. Russian bank, runs foul of hack, loses $31M
    2016-12-04_20h22_38.pngNo small change, but the Central Bank of Russia, has been compromised with $31M being removed through fraudulent client accounts.  This one could easily not be anything that sophisticated but merely relied on social hacking – the ability to convince another human you someone you are not.

    Though, silver lining it could have been worse, they were wanting to get away with double that amount, but failed.  Failed I would use in the loosest sense of the word!

  8. Metal Balls .. they are once more allowed in the USA
    2016-12-04_20h30_10Got to love the land of the free; you are free to buy a gun that can result in untold mayhem, but don’t you dare buy small magnetic balls that you might swallow, resulting in them being attracted to large magnets, you know, like an MRI machine!

    A Judge however has seen sense and once more allowed them to be sold, so a whole legion of desk bound people can once more buy them as your classic fidget toys.  I loved my blue metal balls – until I started losing them (or was someone eating them?!?)

 

… and this week’s soundtrack is brought to you from the grandfather of Christmas music, Bing Crosby with his classic White Christmas, which first appeared in the 1942 movie  Holiday Inn, and not as people think, White Christmas.

Last Weeks Top 8 Tech Stories – 31st Oct

It was the week that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, Facebook and GoPro released their quarterly earnings and Samsung find themselves with some more consumer problems.

It was the week that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series (and I had the honor of seeing the team parade the trophy through the streets of Chicago), Facebook and GoPro released their quarterly earnings and Samsung find themselves with some more consumer problems.

  1. FaceBook stocks plunges even though they exceeded all expectations
    chrome_2016-11-06_13-08-48.pngThere seems to be no logic to the stock market at times.  It was Amazon’s last week, now this week it was the turn of FacePaint.  Even with announcing it had blew past last quarters earning numbers by 56%, the investors heard something that made them extremely nervous – they had run out of room to deliver ads – sending the stock down from 130 to 120.

    Though, from the users perspective this could be great news – what you are looking at now, the ads can’t get any worse.   Every cloud eh?

  2. Samsung recalls 2.8 million washing machines as bits start to fly off
    chrome_2016-11-06_13-14-10.pngJust as it is sweeping up the literal ashes of its fire starter Note 7, another safety scandal has beset the South Korean company – its washing machines may have  a tendency to have bits come flying off.  Machines from 2011 and 2016 are being recalled as the number of people to report injury from laundry mounts.

    This couldn’t have come at a worse time.  Quality Assurance seems to be a byword at Samsung.  My concern is that Samsung are also one of the worlds largest ship makers!

  3. NASA completes its Hubble successor, the James Webb telescope
    chrome_2016-11-06_13-28-44.pngCan you believe the Hubble telescope is 26 years old?  So it comes as no surprise that NASA has been spending time (and $8.7B) on creating an update to it, called the James Webb telescope.   This 18 carat gold plated beauty is extremely powerful and makes the current Hubble look like a 1st generation Kodak compared to today’s high end smartphone cameras.

    Though don’t expect to be seeing water on far off planets just yet, they are just going into testing and if all goes well, it will be launched in 2018.

  4. Oracle will close the NetSuite deal this coming Monday
    chrome_2016-11-06_13-44-41.pngIt has taken a while to get this one over the line, but Oracle’s big push into the accountancy SaaS world will be complete this Monday, when it completes the $9.3B purchase of NetSuite.

    It hit a speed bump when it first made the offer back in July when a prominent NetSuite investor thought the share price was under valued.  This is a big piece on the corporate chess board that Oracle has bought.

  5. Trendy camera company, GoPro, has a bad week, shares drop 20%
    chrome_2016-11-06_13-50-22.pngIn another quarterly earnings report, GoPro had a rough week with its investors, as it announced that it is not as bullish on the number of units it expects to sell.  GoPro point towards production problems that are not allowing them to make the volume they want to.

    Investors are not buying that reason though.  It would appear there is only so many sports/active people that want to strap a square camera onto their body.   This is a big upset in the industry of wearables, especially as FitBit faced the same problem a couple of weeks ago.

  6. NetFlix will introduce offline viewing; but not for American’s
    chrome_2016-10-16_11-16-04NetFlix have been talking around the much wanted feature of being able to offline content for viewing in poor-networked areas, on the road and up in the air.  However, before you go running to purchase extra large SSD cards to start downloading, it won’t be for those of us in North America.

    Netflix wants to keep the feature back for those counties that have severe connectivity issues.  Bugger.  Oh well – The Crown will just have to wait until I am grounded.

  7. We finally see Amazon’s Alexa in the flesh; Billy the Fish
    chrome_2016-11-06_14-05-04.pngIs the genius in the physical pairing of the classic Billy Bass talking fish with a Raspberry PI and Amazon’s Alexa?  Or is the genius simply coming up with the idea in the first place?

    If anyone ever doubted the power of the API, then doubt no more.  You will never look at Alexa in the same light again after watching this video of Billy answering Alexa queries.

  8. The future has arrived; bicycle tires that never go flat
    chrome_2016-11-06_14-13-45.pngThere are certain problems you would have thought that should have been solved by now.  The light bulb we never have to change or bicycle tires that never go flat.  Oh wait a minute, scratch that last one, this week we can put a check box against that.

    Nexo Tires have innovated a tire that has the feel of rubber with air, without the air. Therefore it will take thorns, nails and anything else you want to throw at it.  As someone that just last week purchased two new sets of tubes for his mountain bike this couldn’t have been more timely.

 

… and this weeks soundtrack was courtesy of Twenty One Pilots and one of their earlier albums, Vessel, that features the excellent House of Gold track.

Weekly Top 8 Tech Stories – 10th October

This weeks top tech stories for the week of the 10th Oct. Amazon, SalesForce, Netflix, Twitter, Samsung, AOL

Another week in the world of tech and here are the stories that caught my attention on this week starting 10th October 2016.

  1. Samsung pull the plug on its flagship Note 7
    chrome_2016-10-08_07-28-02After all of its woes, and for the first time a manufacturer has done such a step, Samsung have finally stopped making and shipping the Note 7.  Too many flames in that smoke.  This whole incident will cost the company $5B in real money and likely a more in customer goodwill and brand damage.   It is a complete nightmare.

    After recalls and units still bursting into flames, the Department of Transport officially ban people from flying with the phone, there is no recovery from this, so Samsung are looking to S8 due out in the 1st quarter of 2017.   You can be rest assured the likes of Apple, Google, HTC and LG are looking into the quality of their supply chain.

  2. Twitter is the house on the block no one wants to buy
    chrome_2016-10-16_10-37-48The last few weeks had a lot of buzz around the potential buy-out of Twitter by the likes of SalesForce, Google or even Disney.  However, all parties have had a deep look at the in’s and out’s and opted to walk away, citing they aren’t the right fit.

    This is seriously bad news for Twitter, because if those big players are out of the picture, who else is left that thinks they can monetize this medium that fits between the cracks of social media.  Stock price depressed upon this news.

  3. Yahoo fighting for survival on a number of fronts
    chrome_2016-10-08_07-32-32Yahoo is trying to close the sale to Verizon, however Verizon are now looking to walk away from the deal due to the huge data security breach of its user base. If that isn’t enough, those people still using @yahoo.com email accounts, discovered this week that Yahoo pulled the feature to auto-forward emails.   This effectively is locking people into Yahoo and not making it easy for them to migrate off.  As you can appreciate this is infuriating its user base.  Yahoo put it back in again at the end of the week, but its excuse was awfully flimsy to why it pulled the feature in the first place.

    Marissa Mayer looks to be blundering here at the very time Yahoo needs a strong and determined CEO.   She can still save this so the next couple of weeks is going to be crucial.

  4. Germany votes to ride the combustion engine by 2030
    chrome_2016-10-16_10-51-37The home of the automobile (BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Porsche) have voted to stop manufacturing and selling traditional gas powered engines by 2030.  A bold step but their hopes is to speed up the innovation around alternative fuels.  Tesla has already set the bar very high as to what electric cars can do, and Mercedes has declared they will over take Tesla’s innovation in 10 years time.

    The reality here is that they looking to have zero-emission engines.  Be interesting to see if other countries will follow suit here, but one upside is that we are going into a phase of extremely clean air in our cities.

  5. Amazon calls bullshit on Oracle’s cloud claims
    chrome_2016-09-24_05-16-50Oracle has never been shy about its boasts on its own technology.  Do you remember the whole ‘Unbreakable Linux’ claim 15 years ago, until it was proven it was indeed breakable?   Well Larry Ellison is at it again, claiming that Amazon is 20 years behind Oracle’s cloud and up to 24 times slower.   Oh dear.

    Well Amazon, who usually do not dignify such claims by getting involved, fired back at Larry.   Oracle is desperately trying to be relevant in the cloud space and the reality is that they are the ones that are years too late with too little services too late.  Gartner noted that Amazon is 10x bigger than its next 14 competitors combined.  There is a reason for this – it works and works very well.

  6. Morgan Stanley updates its yearly 30 top stocks to look for
    Morgan Stanley released the top stocks that they believe will do best when should the economy slow down a little.  We have Amazon, Google, Netflix, Facebook in there from the world of big tech.
  7. Netflix will offer offline viewing by year end
    chrome_2016-10-16_11-16-04Speaking of Netflix, it looks like that they can’t dodge the disconnected offline world we live in and are going to finally allow its content to be downloaded to be viewed later.  Applaud Netflix for listening to its paying customers.

    This could actually lessen the bandwidth load as people can download quicker in short bursts and then enjoy the content at their leisure in the air for the example.

  8. The history of the AOL CD
    This week, we seen the head of sales leave AOL, reminding us all that AOL still exists (part of Verizon if you recall).  You have to wonder just how hard a job that is, when you have a brand that people associate most with is dial-up internet access and their infamous CD ROM.

    Mental Floss published a fascinating look back at the history of the CD ROM this week.

 

and finally, this week’s audible distraction was provided by Nate Ruess and his, Grand Romantic album released last summer.