Turbo Todd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Facebook’s One Billion and Counting: The Pity of Global Attention

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Facebook reported drawing 1 billion users to its site yesterday. That’s one in seven people on earth.

And you thought you were sick of all your now-ex-high school buddy’s political rants or those ads that make you feel like a poster child for your demographic.

Well, look at it this way, you’re not alone. At least not on Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg had this to say about the milestone: When we talk about our financials, we use average numbers, but this is different. This was the first time we reached this milestone, and it’s just the beginning of connecting the whole world.

While Facebook was drinking champagne, Avid Life Media was putting out a press release this morning indicating that its CEO, Noel Biderman, was stepping down. Avid Life Media is the parent company of the recently hacked Ashley Madison website. Such a move demonstrates how serious the potential consequences for not maintaining vigilance when it comes to the security and privacy of customer information.

Avid Life Media this week put out a bounty of $500,000 Canadian dollars for information leading to the arrest of the hackers, who have called themselves the "Impact Team." There have also been two suicides attributed to the hack, although those are still being investigated by Toronto police.

Combine this with the macabre live Tweeted and Facebooked shooting on Wednesday in Virginia, which resulted in the tragic deaths of reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, and you have to wonder if more tragic episodes are just around the corner.

Social media has become part of the fabric of our lives, around the world, and it’s certainly not without its benefits. Like so many others, I use Facebook to keep closer in touch with far-flung friends and colleagues in ways that weren’t imaginable when the commercial Internet first exploded 15 or 20 years ago.

At the same time, we’ve seen more and more cases arise around darker uses of the Web that seem to bring out the worst in humanity. (There’s good reason the darkest sides of the Internet are, in fact, referred to as the "Dark Web.") But sometimes I begin to wonder if the Dark Web’s shadows aren’t moving into the light of day.

I fear even more, and more sinister, uses of the network will grow as its size becomes proportionally as massive as humanity’s reach and diversity. And I suspect there’s no audience too large for the most disturbed among us to try and seek our collective attention in a vain attempt to fulfill their hopeless horror and emptiness.

All I believe we can do is make a personal decision to not pay attention to those situations, to look away, to not click on that YouTube link or to Retweet that Tweet of the latest horrific circumstance.

Not as a way of putting our heads in the sand, but in an acknowledgement that the currency of our attention in this new and strange world is as valuable a currency as that of our personal data or even our digital money, and that we’re going to try and make a vigilant decision to save it to spend on precious things.

If you don’t give those bad actors what they want, the pity of gargantuan global attention, perhaps they’ll stop wallowing in their self-pity or desperate cries for an audience of strangers and instead reach out to their own Facebook friends and get the help they need.

Whatever they do otherwise, I don’t have to "like" it.

Written by TurboTodd

August 28th, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Siri Soothsaying

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Welcome to my late in the day quick blogging break.

There’s more Apple-related pixels being spilt about the just announced September 9th iPhone event, with media invites having recently gone out under the tagline “Hey Siri, gave us a hint.”

Macrumors is already reporting some of the apparently-not-so-top-secret details, writing that we should expect a next-gen of iPhone 6s and 6s Plus(es) that will include a reinforced body made from 7000 Series aluminum (would you use any other kind?!!), Force Touch, an A9 processor, 2 GB RAM, and a better camera. Always a better camera.

But the folks at C:NET are the clever ones. They figured they’d go straight to the source and ask Siri herself what we can expect from the big September 9th reveal.

Siri’s response apparently came in many forms: “Why don’t you check a rumors blog? That’s what I do.”

Then there was this one: “You’ll have to wait until September 9. I bet you were one of those kids who snuck downstairs to open presents early, weren’t you?”

And this: “You’re cute when you’re desperate for information.”

Okay, I’ll bite. I asked Siri on my own iPhone 5S, “Can you tell me about the September 9th Apple event?”

Siri’s reply: “I didn’t find any events about ‘Apple’ on September 9, 2015.”

Of course you didn’t.

Written by TurboTodd

August 27th, 2015 at 8:14 pm

Time Will Tell

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Good morning, Thursday.

Some new news on the cloud computing front: Fortune’s reporting that Velostrata has raised a $14 million Series A funding round. The company’s plan is to make hybrid clouds that mix private and shared public cloud infrastructure faster and more efficient.

The story indicates the secret sauce is technology that "will let companies keep the bulk of their data in-house, in private cloud, or data centers controlled by them, and just offload, or stream, the compute portion of their workloads to the public cloud of choice."

Wherever you may be keeping your latest workloads, you’ll be glad to note that here in the U.S. economy grew faster than initially thought in the second quarter.

Solid domestic demand expanded at a 3.7 percent annual pace (well over the initial 2.3 percent reported in July), and may well offer reassurance to investors about the shape of the U.S. economy’s ability to weather the recent turbulence.

And if you’ve been thinking about a newfangled wearable device to put on your wrist to track everything from the markets to your heart rate in real-time, don’t rule the Apple Watch out just yet. Despite persistent rumors on the underground the Apple Watch wasn’t quite keeping the needed time, IDC is reporting Apple shipped a total of 3.6 million units in 2Q15.

"About two of every three smart wearables shipped this quarter was an Apple Watch," said Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. "Apple has clearly garnered an impressive lead in this space and its dominance is expected to continue."

But the IDC story observes that what’s really worth watching is the continued development of the watchOS, the next version of which will allow for native apps (lest we forget what a boon native apps on iOS became for the iPhone).

Me, so far I’m a holdout on this first gen of the Apple Watch, but time will tell if I give in (which I certainly did with the initial iPad).

Written by TurboTodd

August 27th, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Smartphone Slowdown

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IDC just came out with a smartphone growth estimate, and the headline is that global smartphone growth is expected to grow 10.4% in 2015.

That’s down from 27.5% in 2014, but still racks up a nice 1.44 billion units this year.

As with everything this past week, all eyes are on China, which consumed 32.3% of all new smartphone shipments last year, and yet with forecasts of only 1.2% YOY growth in 2015 (down from 19.7% in 2014).

How’s that for a leading smartphone economic indicator?

IDC’s research also suggests that despite Apple’s big moves into the Chinese market, Android is still expected to carry 81% share of the smartphone penetration into 2019.

Lest we forget there are also formidable Chinese smartphone brands like Xiaomi gaining device market share in the Middle Kingdom.

Windows Phone brings up the rear with 2.6% expected market share growth this year.

Too soon to tell if Windows 10 Mobile’s tree falling in the smartphone forest makes much of a ringtone.

Written by TurboTodd

August 26th, 2015 at 9:11 pm

Posted in china,mobile,smartphone

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The Jack Daniels Drone

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No doubt, it’s been a rough street in public markets around the globe. It’s enough to drive one to drink.

Thankfully, Amazon is about to start delivering booze in Seattle (perhaps even to workers at its downtown HQ?)

re/code’s reporting that Amazon has started offering one- and two-hour delivery of beer, wine and hard liquor with the launch of its Prime Now service in the Seattle area.

Me, I can’t wait for when they start delivering Jack Daniels via drone in the woods of East Texas. It’ll be the Hatfields and McCoys all over again, only they’ll be fighting to shoot down the drones without busting the booze.

It’s all reminds me of the Kozmo.com halcyon days back in dot com manic New York. I could get all kinds of things delivered via bike messenger, and if memory serves, they were like Domino’s pizza, delivering in 30 minutes or less. Kozmo also went out of business in record time.

Hey, it wasn’t my fault, I tipped well, having been a NYC bike messenger and lived to tell about it myself.

The Wall Street Journal’s
Digits blog wrote a story three years ago revisiting the why’s behind Kozmo’s downfall, noting the company was slow to implement delivery fees and minimum order sizes. Ultimately, however, it was the fact that their costs far exceeded their revenue.

Those costs exceeding revenues, getcha every time!

For those wunderkind startups who never got to breathe the rarified entrepreneurial oxygen of 1999, check out The New York Times’ piece entitled, “The Upside of a Downturn in Silicon Valley.”

When you start having your booze delivered via Amazon Drone to your startup’s doorsteps, it may prove wise to order Bud instead of Stella as just the thing to help you save some of your Series B for a rainy day imminent in the looming venture capital storm.

Written by TurboTodd

August 26th, 2015 at 2:28 pm

IBM Expands Storage Software to Help Meet Hybrid Cloud Requirements

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IBM today announced that it is adding new cloud features to two IBM Spectrum Storage offerings as part of the company’s investment in software defined storage. Over the last six months, more than 1,000 new clients have chosen products from the IBM Spectrum Storage portfolio for their data storage needs.

IBM has been recognized as a “Leader” in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup Software and Integrated Appliances for five consecutive years for IBM Spectrum Protect. With new features, IBM Spectrum Protect can now help businesses back up data to on-premises object storage or the cloud, without the need for cloud-gateway appliances.

IBM Spectrum Protect supports IBM Cloud infrastructure today with a plan to expand the support to other public clouds in future.

A single IBM Spectrum Protect server performs the work of up to 15 CommVault servers. This means that large enterprises can consolidate backup servers to reduce cost and complexity, while managing data growth from mobile, social and Internet of Things.

Small and medium size businesses (SMBs) can eliminate the need for additional backup servers, media servers or deduplication appliances. Cost analysis with several beta customers indicates that the enhanced IBM Spectrum Protect software can help clients reduce backup infrastructure costs on average by up to 53 percent.

IBM Spectrum Accelerate on Cloud provides IBM Spectrum Accelerate as a service to IBM Cloud customers via its SoftLayer infrastructure. It helps companies to deploy block storage on SoftLayer without having to buy new storage hardware or manage a large appliance farm.

IBM is also enhancing the software-only version of IBM Spectrum Accelerate to reduce costs by consolidating storage and compute resources on the same servers. IBM Spectrum Accelerate is now available with portable licensing across XIV systems, on- premises servers, and cloud environments to offer greater operational flexibility and help support clients as they transform their IT infrastructures to software defined storage.

IBM’s Spectrum Storage portfolio can centrally manage more than 300 different storage devices and yottabytes of data. This device interoperability is the broadest in the industry – incorporating both IBM and non-IBM hardware and tape systems.

IBM Spectrum Storage can help reduce storage costs up to 90 percent in certain environments by automatically moving data onto the most economical storage device – either from IBM or non-IBM flash, disk and tape systems.

You can learn more at www.ibm.com/spectrumstorage.

Written by TurboTodd

August 26th, 2015 at 2:02 pm

IBM To Bring Blue Box Cloud to Global Data Centers

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Less than 90 days after its acquisition of Blue Box, IBM has integrated its Blue Box Cloud Dedicated private-cloud-as-a-service into its broader portfolio of OpenStack based solutions.

The announcement, made today at the OpenStack Silicon Valley event, further highlights IBM’s continued support to deliver OpenStack solutions across all cloud deployment models—public, private and hybrid.

Customers use Blue Box Cloud Dedicated to combine the performance and cost management benefits of private cloud with the ease of provisioning and operations support of public cloud. It offers a single management tool for OpenStack-based private clouds, regardless of location, bringing greater simplicity and consistency to the operation of public, private and hybrid cloud infrastructure globally.

Cloudsoft, an open source application management company, will operate its Application Management Platform (AMP) via Blue Box Cloud. By doing so, Cloudsoft will give its customers dedicated infrastructure to accelerate cloud adoption, enabling them to run business critical applications and services worldwide with greater transparency and efficiency—all without risking lock-in.

Key Benefits of Today’s News:

  • Customers experience the benefits of open source private cloud powered by OpenStack, delivered on dedicated servers.
  • Customers can consume OpenStack-powered infrastructure from a data center in their preferred geography, isolating data within SoftLayer’s global data centers, driving down latency and improving application performance for their end users. This also provides customers with an easy entry point into hybrid cloud.
  • Open source software gives customers greater choice, flexibility and a rapid innovation cycle of new features and capabilities.

You can learn more about IBM Cloud here and about Blue Box Cloud at www.blueboxcloud.com

Written by TurboTodd

August 26th, 2015 at 1:52 pm

Litigating Insecurity

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As the aftershocks from the Ashley Madison hack continue to reverberate, Brian Krebs reports that while AshleyMadison.com is portraying itself as a victim of malicious cybercriminals, leaked emails from the company’s CEO suggests that AshleyMadison’s own leadership hacked into a competing data service in 2012.

Read Kreb’s post for some of the more salacious details, but as he observes, the reverberations from the AM hack are likely an affair that is just beginning to heat up.

Meanwhile, playing out in a U.S. Federal Appeals court Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that the Federal Trade Commission has the power to take action against companies that employ poor IT security practices.

This came about as part of a lawsuit between the FTC and Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, a company with a range of hotels throughout the U.S.

The Wyndham security breaches stretch back seven years, when it suffered three different breaches of its network and lost payment card information for more than 619,000 clients and caused some $10.6 million in losses due to fraud.

ArsTechnica has a good rundown on the ruling, but the net is that the court noted the FTC could use its authority to pursue “cybersecurity” cases under 15 U.S.C. Sec.45, which is part of a 1914 law providing the FTC to the power to “prohibit unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.”

Wired writes that the ruling “more widely cements the agency’s power to regulate and fine firms that lose consumer data to hackers, if the companies engaged in what the FTC deems ‘unfair’ or ‘deceptive’ business practices.”

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Uncle Sam’s new digital watchdog?

Well, considering the current state of the fragmented security landscape, it’s probably high time someone or some agency stepped in to be Wyatt Earp on the cybersecurity frontier.

I just hope they don’t misplace their password.

Written by TurboTodd

August 25th, 2015 at 2:45 pm

Invest Like It’s 1999?

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What a day on Wall Street.

I’d barely had time to make my coffee when alerts starting going off like tornado sirens announcing the Dow was opening 1,000 points down.

Good morning to you, too, Monday.

The tech world certainly wasn’t immune to the decline.

Tech Trader Daily related a few of the dents:

  • Alibaba down 3.5%
  • Apple down 2.5%
  • Google down 3.7%
  • IBM down 3.6%
  • Microsoft down 3.2%
  • Netflix down 7%

Then there’s this New York Times piece headlined “Hot Tech Start-Ups May Face a Long and Bumpy Fall.”

Quote: The number of start-ups valued at $1 billion or more has jumped to at least 131, up from less than a dozen in 2010.” And “The total amount of venture money invested has also more than doubled, to $50 billion in 2014, from $23 billion in 2010.” And venture capital in the second quarter of this year exceeding $17 billion.

Are we going to party like it’s 1999???

Written by TurboTodd

August 24th, 2015 at 9:43 pm

IBM Introduces New Cloud Services To Help Integrate Java Resources Into Bluemix

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IBM is announcing general availability and improvements to a set of services for IBM’s platform-as-a-service (PaaS), Bluemix, that enable developers to more seamlessly integrate Java-based resources into their cloud-based applications.

The new IBM Cloud tools are designed to help developers broaden the capabilities of their applications to give users a more robust cloud experience, by leveraging added security and flexibility to use a vast array of resources for their development. They include:

  • Liberty Buildpack updated the Liberty runtime to make available or preview the latest Java EE 7 Liberty features, and while IBM JRE 7.1 remains the default it is now possible to test and run applications in Bluemix with Java 8. Additionally, among other improvements, the jsp-2.3, el-3.0, and jdbc-4.1 Liberty features, previously in beta, are now available as production-ready.
  • IBM Eclipse Tools for Bluemix is launched with a new version that now includes JavaScript Debug, support for Node.js applications, Java 8 Liberty for Java integration, Eclipse Mars support for the latest Eclipse Mars version as well as an improved trust self-signed certificates capability. Additionally, incremental publish support for JEE applications has been expanded to support web fragment projects.
  • XPages on IBM Bluemix brings the power of Domino XPages to the cloud, allowing developers to create feature-rich, responsive, and secure applications that can be quickly brought to market on Bluemix.

Developers can access these new services here: https://console.ng.bluemix.net/

Written by TurboTodd

August 21st, 2015 at 3:33 pm

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