Tech News

Tech News and Analysis from around the web

Ingrid Lunden / TechCrunch:
Signal AI, formerly Signal Media, which offers AI-backed media monitoring and market intelligence services, raises $25M Series C led by Redline Capital  —  Media monitoring — where news sources and other public information outlets are scanned regularly for mentions of specific organizations …

Andrew Nusca / Fortune:
A look at the revival in digital music sales, which have grown from $14.3B in 2014 to $18.1B in 2018, mainly thanks to paid streaming services like Spotify  —  Imagine, for a moment, that Taylor Swift was wrong.  The reigning queen of country-tinged pop shocked fans in 2014 by abruptly …

Cameron Faulkner / The Verge:
Google's Nest Mini is a great-sounding upgrade over the Home Mini, its ability to be mounted to a wall is nice, but it still lacks a 3.5mm jack, unlike Echo Dot  —  It can't hang with more expensive speakers, but it can hang on the wall  —  The main thing you need to know about the new Google Nest Mini …

Shelby Brown / CNET:
Devumi settles FTC charges that it sold fake followers and likes; cosmetics firm Sunday Riley also settles with FTC for allegedly posting fake online reviews  —  The Federal Trade Commission uncovered and stopped the misleading online marketing tactics of two different companies, it announced Monday.

Josh Constine / TechCrunch:
Facebook now requires some page owners to disclose the orgs running them and if they're tied to state-owned media, will add labels to pages run by state media  —  Heaven forbid a political candidate's Facebook account gets hacked.  They might spread they're already allowed to do in Facebook ads...

Greg Sterling / Marketing Land:
IAB and PwC: US online ad spending reached $57.9B in H1 2019, up 16.9% year-over-year but lower than the 23.1% growth in the same period last year  —  Mobile ad revenues were $39.9 billion or 69% of the total.  —  U.S. online ad spending reached $57.9 billion, representing growth of 16.9% year-over-year …

Researchers find open database that leaked 179GB+ of customer, US govt, and military records from Autoclerk, a travel reservations system owned by Best Western  —  Led by Noam Rotem and Ran Locar, vpnMentor's research team discovered a breach in a database belonging to Autoclerk …

Mitt Romney is a victory for our country -- a Republican senator who is speaking the truth about Trump and isn't retiring. We can't afford a But Her Emails type of campaign against him. Watch out for it, they're going to do it.

Sources: Adobe will preview Illustrator for iPad at its Max conference in November before launching it in 2020  —  - Company to announce plans at Max conference in early November  — Illustrator is key Adobe app for graphic design and drawing  —  Adobe Inc. has picked Illustrator …

Natasha Lomas / TechCrunch:
EU says preliminary results of its probe into software used by EU institutions raises “serious concerns” over Microsoft's compliance with data protection rules  —  Europe's chief data protection watchdog has raised concerns over contractual arrangements between Microsoft …

Sarah McBride / Bloomberg:
Instabase, which sells app making tools to enterprise, raises $105M Series B at a $1.05B valuation  —  Silicon Valley got another addition to its stable of unicorns on Monday: Instabase Inc. The business tools company said it has raised $105 million at a $1.05 billion valuation.

Short podcast. The battery on my new Subaru Forester died today, resulting in an interesting mystery of user interface design. I got the car going again, btw. All is well.

Nat Levy / GeekWire:
SAP has struck a three-year deal where Microsoft will sell a bundle of SAP cloud services directly to customers who run SAP on Azure  —  SAP and Microsoft struck a three-year partnership to help companies move their data to the cloud, a move that tightens the already close relationship between the two tech giants.

I think a blog should be like an old Herb Caen column in the SF Chronicle. A goings-on-around-town type flow of mostly gossip. Short items not essays. Caen's first columns were literally columns. I wonder if there are online columnists who use this style. Send pointers if you know of any (I assume there are many).

Have you noticed that Rachel Maddow talks about Trump having been impeached, in the past tense. I like it, and I also like that no one challenges her chutzpah. She sometimes says it as part of interviews, in front of guests.

One of the best purchases I've ever made -- a Brita water pitcher. It fits perfectly in the door of a refrigerator. Fill the top with water, put the pitcher in the fridge. It takes a few minutes to filter the water. Next time you want a glass of cold water, just open the fridge and pour a glass. It has no taste. I used to drink bottled Poland Springs water, but I prefer this to the bottles. I still keep some bottled water around for guests.

Self-driving car startup Zoox raises $200M in convertible note funding that will be folded into a Series C, its first raise since firing CEO Tim Kentley-Klay  —  Self-driving startup Zoox has raised $200 million in new convertible note funding, which will be folded into a Series C round that's expected …

Jon Brodkin / Ars Technica:
Verizon's rollout of 5G to three NBA arenas and over a dozen NFL stadiums only covers some of the seating areas in each facility  —  Verizon 5G can't cover all the seating areas in any NBA or NFL facility.  —  Verizon on Friday announced that its 5G network is now available in three NBA arenas …

Ina Fried / Axios:
Google hires Javier Soltero, Acompli co-founder and former head of Microsoft Outlook, to run G Suite  —  In its bid to take on Microsoft Office, Google has hired someone who knows the product well: Former Outlook boss Javier Soltero.  —  Why it matters: Google and Microsoft are in a tough battle …

Sources: SoftBank to take control of WeWork, spending $4B-$5B on new funding and existing shares in The We Company, valuing it between $7.5B and $8B  —  KEY POINTS  — Softbank to spend $4 billion to $5 billion on new equity, existing shares, sources say.

I wish Florida congressperson Francis Rooney would run for re-election. He's one of the few politicians of either party who makes sense. He's leaving when we need people like him the most.

Robert Reich has decided no one but Biden, Warren or Sanders could be the Democratic nominee, before a single vote has been cast. Whether the pundits like it or not, the voters still decide. Remember what they said about Trump at this stage in 2015.

I wish we had never let Facebook become so powerful, but we did. Eventually there will be a Murdoch version of Facebook, that’s what Zuck is trying to head off. That’s why he’s meeting with the stars of Fox and Breitbart, to assure them Facebook can be their home.

Had a dream last night where it turns out my mother didn't die after all. It was all a big mistake. She was healthy and feisty. Across the street. Of course impossible for me to reach. It was a dream after all.

A permanent citizen's occupation of DC.

We don't leave until Trump does.

You sign up for one full day of your choosing.

There's room for say 100K people.

Once 100K people have committed for a given day, that's it, the day is full. You have to sign up for another day.

You arrange to get yourself to DC and back home.

Carry a sign or wear a button or clothing that says you're there to demand Trump's impeachment and removal.

Go anywhere in the space between the Capitol and the White House.

Flood the zone. Rain or shine.

To reporters: Someone should ask Trump how relevant he feels the Constitution is to his job and Congress's job.

This started out being a review of the new Apple TV but the real story is same as it ever was, the living room networking situation is still a mess.

The reason -- too many remotes.

This tale started when the Spectrum app for Roku broke, I could no longer access my favorites. That meant every time I wanted to find a program, I had to fish through all the channels. I've learned over the years which channels I need, basically MSNBC, CNN, HBO, Showtime, the stations that have Law & Order, channels that carry the sports teams I follow. I imagine it's pretty similar for other people. After all these years you develop paths, and program the system accordingly. At this point, I'm not willing to use Spectrum without favorites. But I have been, and it's unacceptable.

Their support is also ridiculous. They want you to jump through the same set of hoops every time no matter what the problem is. I do what they ask, even though I have a theory about what happened. I'm pretty sure they broke something in an upgrade. I can tell I'm using a new version, they made little UI changes, at the same time Favorites stopped working. That's an Occam's Razor type thing. More evidence -- my Favorites are still there on my iPhone, iPad and in the new Apple TV.

Which brings me to why I was interested in Apple TV in the first place. I thought perhaps I could just use Apple TV to access Spectrum, working around the breakage. $199 is a lot of money to spend to do that, but I had an extra HDMI port open on my TV, and I wanted to see what's new there, so why not. I had an old Apple TV, btw -- but the Spectrum app wasn't available for it.

So I've spent a few days with Apple TV, trying to fit it into my routine. But it's not a good fit for mostly UI reasons.

  • I have to use their remote. The Roku remote, which to me is the most natural, doesn't work with Apple TV. The Apple remote is innovative. Now I see why they were making a big deal about track pads. But it's slow and error-prone, compared to clicking the arrows on the Roku remote.
  • But there's the problem now of having two remotes. One of my rules for design is "One way is better than two, no matter how much better the second is." I bet Apple can prove that their remote is better. But on Rokui I think they should just use the Roku remote. I remember when I first shipped Mac software in 1984, I wanted to design my own (better) user interface. After a year or so we gave up on that and just used the Mac standard interface, even though it wasn't good for what we were doing. The pressure not to make people master a second UI was too great.
  • And there's a third way -- the Mac mouse and keyboard to control Mac Mini, that I've had hooked into my living room TV for 15 years or so. In the old days it was very useful. These days, I prefer to use the streaming services. I use the Mac for demos, and to show videos of my own, though I could use the Apple TV for that. Honestly I don't know why I have a Mac under my TV these days, but I do.

The net-net is that the Apple TV will not get a lot of use. It doesn't have anything over Roku, and they make me put down the Roku remote and pick up theirs. The Apple remote is weird, it doesn't work the way I feel it should. I'm sure they think I'm wrong, but I remember that I'm the customer, and there's an adage that goes with that too.

I'm trying to think but nothing happens!