January 9, 2017

Article: January 9, 2007

There will be plenty of articles published today looking at the tenth anniversary of the introduction of the iPhone. We’ll most likely see another round of items shared on June 29, the tenth anniversary of when you could actually buy one. The thing is, both were special, but the launch of the iPhone itself left a lot of people unprepared for how massively it would reshape the technology and communications industries…

January 4, 2017

“Apple, for the first time in over a decade, simply isn’t firing on all cylinders. Please don’t interpret that as ‘Apple is doomed’ because it’s not, but there are things it’s doing a lot less well than it could — and has. Apple’s out of sync with itself.”

January 2, 2017

Link: ‘Profitable’ Washington Post Adding More Than Five Dozen Journalists ☍

Ken Doctor for POLITICO Media:

The Post newsroom will number more than 750, third among the national newspaper-based press and moving it closer to the Times, with which it increasingly competes for high-end talent. The Times complement stands at about 1,307, the company says. USA Today’s newsroom stands at about 450, while the Journal, after its recent buyouts, tells me it employs 1,500.

While a story about a newspaper isn’t the normal technology things covered on this site per se, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos does own the paper and has been making some big changes. Throughout the course of the election, I’ve been impressed with some of the coverage and decided to get a digital subscription. That carried over to Apple News, too. The aspect of it being dirt-cheap for Amazon Prime members, and cheaper than The New York Times for everyone else really pushes it to impulse-subscription territory.

December 22, 2016

Link: Facebook Already Has a Muslim Registry—and It Should Be Deleted ☍

Peter Bright for Ars Technica:

One company, however, stands head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to collecting personal data: Facebook. Facebook’s business is data collection in order to sell more effectively targeted advertisements. While massive data collection is not new or unique to Facebook—search engines such as Google and Microsoft’s Bing have the same feature—Facebook is unusual in that it actively strives to make that information personally identifiable. Facebook accounts tend to use our legal names, and Facebook relationships tend to reflect our real-life associations, giving the company’s data a depth and breadth that Google or Microsoft can only dream about.

Among the pieces of personal information that the site asks users for is religion. As with most pieces of information that Facebook requests, this is of course optional. But it’s an option that many people fill in to ensure that our profiles better reflect who we are.

This data collection means that Facebook already represents, among other things, a de facto—if partial—Muslim registry. Facebook has the data already; the company can provide a list of self-attested Muslims in the US simply by writing a query or two. That data could be similarly queried for anyone who isn’t straight.

As such, government coercion of Facebook—or even a hack of the company—represents a particular threat to civil liberties. Accordingly, Facebook should take a simple and straightforward protective step: delete that information. Remove the field from our profiles, and discard the historic saved data.

None of this should be a surprise, and my dislike of Facebook has been well-documented, but this still should get us thinking about what kinds of information we willing volunteer to some technology companies.

Link: DirecTV Now Problems ☍

Nat Levy for GeekWire:

DirecTV Now subscribers have been complaining on social media in recent days about problems with the service using #QP1502, a nod to an error message some viewers have run into.[…]

We reached out to AT&T, and the company issued the following statement: “With any new technology there are going to be fixes that need to be made. While we understand we still have work to do, overall feedback on DirecTV Now has been very positive. In this instance, only a limited amount of customers are affected and we are working quickly to address.”

I wrote about some early impressions after a day of use, and while there are a lot of positives, it’s also frustratingly bad that some things just don’t work or don’t work consistently. Besides the QP1502 error making an appearance every now and then, Fox regional sports networks are still hopelessly broken, starting a just-aired or in-progress program from the beginning sometimes just dies, as do some streams. The best example is that I favorited Fox Sports Networks, a channel that looked like it was mostly Fox Sports Ohio, but was later removed. Unfortunately, the favorited channel still shows up on my list and there is no way to remove it. When I asked DirecTV Now’s customer service via Twitter, it turns out, there is no way to remove the favorite designation.

At this point, some issues have been fixed, but the mess of regional sports networks is especially baffling, considering that both AT&T’s U-verse and DirecTV products could’ve been used as a baseline for many, if not all, areas. The lack of customer service is also disappointing, turning early adopters off. I’m prepaid through March (the “free” Apple TV was worth it), but I’ll be anxious to try Sling and PlayStation Vue when it comes time to renew. Basically, AT&T is showing how not to treat early adopters and kill enthusiasm for a new service.