The Geek’s Reading List – Week of February 21th 2014

The Geek’s Reading List – Week of February 21th 2014

Hello,

I have been part of the technology industry for a third of a century now. For 13 years I was an electronics designer and software developer: I designed early generation PCs, mobile phones (including cell phones) and a number of embedded systems which are still in use today. I then became a sell-side research analyst for the next 20 years, where I was ranked the #1 tech analyst in Canada for six consecutive years, named one of the best in the world, and won a number of awards for stock-picking and estimating.

I started writing the Geek’s Reading List about 10 years ago. In addition to the company specific research notes I was publishing almost every day, it was a weekly list of articles I found interesting – usually provocative, new, and counter-consensus. The sorts of things I wasn’t seeing being written anywhere else

They were not intended, at the time, to be taken as investment advice, nor should they today. That being said, investors need to understand crucial trends and developments in the industries in which they invest. Therefore, I believe these comments may actually help investors with a longer time horizon. Not to mention they might come in handy for consumers, CEOs, IT managers … or just about anybody, come to think of it. Technology isn’t just a niche area of interest to geeks these days: it impacts almost every part of our economy. I guess, in a way, we are all geeks now. Or at least need to act like it some of the time!

Please feel free to pass this newsletter on. Of course, if you find any articles you think should be included please send them on to me. Or feel free to email me to discuss any of these topics in more depth: the sentence or two I write before each topic is usually only a fraction of my highly opinionated views on the subject!

This edition of the Geeks List, and all back issues, can be found at www.thegeeksreadinglist.com.

Brian Piccioni

 

PS: Google has been sporadically flagging The Geek’s Reading List as spam/phishing. Until I resolve the problem, if you have a Gmail account and you don’t get the Geeks List when expected, please check your Spam folder and mark the list as ‘Not Spam’.

 

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1.        Apple exploring cars, medical devices to reignite growth

One thing that 20+ years being a research analyst taught me is that you can never assume any idea, no matter how blatantly stupid it may appear (and actually be – see item 15, below), nothing can stop the management of a tech company from blowing its shareholders’ money on acquisitions. So: Apple cars – why not?

“Taken together, Apple’s potential forays into automobiles and medical devices, two industries worlds away from consumer electronics, underscore the company’s deep desire to move away from iPhones and iPads and take big risks.”

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Apple-exploring-cars-medical-devices-to-reignite-5239850.php

2.        Why It’s Getting Harder to Sue Illegal Movie Downloaders

This legal trend makes perfect sense because, at best, an IP address tells you which LAN the download occurred, not who actually did it. Indeed, with malware, it may be possible for you to hack my computer and have my computer, NAS, or whatever, downloading movies without my consent or knowledge. Interestingly, this trend also suggests that, if you are downloading movies, don’t try and secure your network.

“The company behind the Oscar-nominated film Dallas Buyers Club sued 31 people in a federal district court in Texas this month for allegedly using the legal file-sharing service BitTorrent to download the movie illegally. The lawsuit is one of thousands that have been brought by companies against BitTorrent users in recent years, in an effort to crack down on Americans who are stealing movies, music, porn, books, and software. But it could have a tough time. Recently, several federal judges have ruled that key information—computer Internet Protocol (IP) addresses— used by film studios and others to target supposed thefts is insufficient proof to proceed with the lawsuits. And copyright experts say that even though companies are still winning lots of settlements, these firms are going after fewer plaintiffs at once than they were a few years ago. This suggests that their ability to pursue large piracy cases has been hampered.”

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/02/bittorrent-illegal-downloads-ip-address-lawsuit

3.        Breakthrough in Superconductivity – Université de Sherbrooke Physicists Put an End to 20 Years of Debate

Not sure I entirely understand this breakthrough, but it sounds impressive. Room temperature superconductivity is a ‘Holy Grail’ of physics and could be transformative to humanity. If, as this article suggests, the scientific consensus has been wrong for the past 20 years, then, chances are, development has been misdirected. Being on the right track is far more likely to bear fruit.

“Three physicists at the Université de Sherbrooke led an international team to first direct measurement of the critical magnetic field in cuprates, the most promising materials for superconductivity. This breakthrough resolves an enigma that has baffled researchers for 20 years and clears the way for major advances. The study is published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.”

http://www.sacbee.com/2014/02/14/6158846/breakthrough-in-superconductivity.html

4.        Keep Learning Linux—It’s The Future

Yes, Linux is the future and the present. After all, Android is extremely popular and it is Linux. Plus, Linux is popping up in a vast array of embedded applications, networking applications, etc.. Microsoft or fans may think otherwise, because the desktop is mostly Windows, but you probably own 5 Linux devices for every Windows device you use.

“Everyone’s a tech company these days. From new-school video streaming services like Netflix to old-school grocery businesses and government agencies, technology increasingly drives business productivity. At the heart of this movement is Linux, resulting in exceptional, highly paid job opportunities for Linux professionals.”

http://readwrite.com/2014/02/20/linux-jobs-report

5.        Slow as maple syrup: Canada ranks 54th in global Internet upload speeds

Upload speeds are less important to consumers than download speeds, but this speaks volumes about the quality of infrastructure in Canada. It is important to remember that this nation once had global leading telecommunications infrastructure before a series of profoundly stupid government policies rendered us comparable to the likes of Kenya. It is interesting that even in the 1950s the size and low population density of the country was not a barrier to excellence.

“It likely comes as no surprise that Canada is far from the top of the list of countries with the fastest upload speeds. According to a report from Ookla, a company that crowdsources data on Internet connections, Canada is ranked 54th in the world. That’s right, residents in 54 countries have Internet speeds faster than any Canadian does.We rank just below Kenya, and just above Mexico.”

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-buzz/slow-maple-syrup-canada-ranks-54th-global-internet-200815194.html

6.        Windows 8 UX designer on Metro: “It is the antithesis of a power user”

A bit rambling, however the article tries to explain the Windows 8 fiasco from the perspective of those who were responsible. I don’t really buy the arguments which smack more of arrogance than anything else: yes, you can separate users into advanced and consumer, but what of the vast middle ground? Is an office worker or small business person supposed to somehow invest time and effort to become an advanced user? After all, Windows 8 is so badly designed, a relatively advanced use like me can spend an hour trying to figure out how to turn the damned computer off.

“Since the first beta leak, well, since the first pre-beta image leak, Windows 8 has had a mixed reaction. Some believe that the new Metro– or Modern– interface has seriously affected their workflow, whereas some accepted the Start Screen as a welcomed addition and replacement to the cluttered almost 20 year old Start Menu. Whatever your view is on the new interface, Jacob Miller, a UX designer for Microsoft that worked on Windows 8, has shared some personal views and responses to criticisms on the /r/technology subreddit of Reddit under the username “pwnies.””

http://www.neowin.net/news/windows-8-ux-designer-on-metro-it-is-the-antithesis-of-a-power-user

7.        3D Printing Promises to Revolutionize Defense, Aerospace Industries

Most of the 3D printing articles we see are about consumer or medical applications and most of the consumer applications are rather silly: it is hard to see significant demand for 3D printers to make chess pieces. The sort of hard core industrial applications mentioned in this article are probably more representative of where the money is going. Thanks to my friend Duncan Stewart for this article.

“New manufacturing processes, such as 3D printing, have gained worldwide attention for creating everything from entire houses to guns. While used for many novel purposes, the defense and aerospace industry is eyeing it as a way to cut costs and improve efficiency.”

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2014/March/Pages/3DPrintingPromisestoRevolutionizeDefense,AerospaceIndustries.aspx

8.        Weight Watchers Loses Customers as Mobile Apps Lure Dieters

It had not occurred to me that these sorts of services would be impacted by the emergence of smartphones, but it makes perfect sense. You don’t need to pay Weight Watchers to get almost all of the benefits of a weight loss program, online or otherwise. The same fate awaits this company as befell Encyclopedia Britannica.

“Weight Watchers International Inc.’s disappointing profit forecast provided further evidence that new mobile applications and bracelets that track calories are hurting traditional diet companies.”

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-02-14/weight-watchers-plunges-after-profit-forecast-trails-estimates

9.        Do you really need a 4K smartphone screen?

Long story short: no, you don’t. You don’t even need a 4K TV and you don’t need a camera whose pixel count well exceeds the resolution of the crappy lens in your smartphone. Nonetheless, smartphone vendors will try and shill these features as breakthroughs, and I predict most consumers will largely ignore them. As I have said repeatedly in the past: expect smartphone and tablet prices to plummet over the coming year or so.

“Pretty soon the smartphone will have the same resolution as the much bigger panel (a 27-inch Dell U2711 monitor with 2,560 x 1,440 pixels). While the snappiest CPUs, more RAM, better cameras and other frills are a must for the latest handsets, the current marketing pièce de résistance is a higher-resolution screen. In four years, we’ve passed from a norm of 800 x 480 to 960 x 540 and up to 720p, 1080p and soon — likely on Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S5 — 2,560 x 1,440 Quad HD (QHD). That works out to a borderline-insane 500-plus pixels per inch (depending on screen size) and manufacturers aren’t stopping there. But is more resolution worth the extra expense if you can’t even see the difference? Well, it’s complicated.”

http://www.engadget.com/2014/02/18/do-you-really-need-a-4k-smartphone-screen/

10.   Virtual Vandalism: Firm Warns Of Connected Home Security Holes

Security, in the literal sense, is an emerging issue with the Internet of Things (IoT), and I don’t mean coopting your fridge to send spam, but potentially for your toaster to burn down the house. Given the advanced state of security research, you’d think companies like Belkin would be more careful. Thanks to my friend Humphrey Brown for this article.

“A researcher with the respected security firm IOActive says that he has found a number of serious security holes in home automation products from the firm Belkin that could allow remote attackers to use Belkin’s WeMo devices to virtually vandalize connected homes or as a stepping stone to other computers connected on a home network.”

https://securityledger.com/2014/02/virtual-vandalism-firm-warns-of-connected-home-security-holes/

11.   Debunking four myths about Android, Google, and open-source

There has been a fair bit of coverage recently suggesting that Google has made Android proprietary, but it is hard to see how that could be the case, and even if it was, alternative Linux platforms would spring up in fairly short order, now that it has been established there is a market for such a thing. This article deconstructs the ‘closing source’ myth.

“You would think that Android relationship with Linux and open source would be fairly well understood by now. However, recent articles in the tech and general press have created confusion where none ought to exist. Let me see if I can un-muddy the waters.”

http://www.zdnet.com/debunking-four-myths-about-android-google-and-open-source-7000026473/

12.   High-tech ‘whole body’ scan could improve treatment of bone marrow cancer

MRIs are cool, and diffusion weighted MRI, which has been around for a few decades, is particularly cool – it tracks the diffusion (spread) of certain molecules (usually water). This has been used in a variety of applications, including detecting and diagnosing the effects of stroke. This applications is interesting because it should be able to direct treatment, including, I imagine, targeting radiation treatment. I can’t help but wonder if this has broader application in cancer therapy.

“A pioneering scanning technique that can image a patient’s entire body can reveal where cancer is affecting the bones and guide doctors in their choice of treatment, new research reveals. The new type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan could improve care for a type of cancer called myeloma and reduce reliance on bone marrow biopsies, which can be painful for patients and often fail to show doctors how far the disease has spread.”

http://www.icr.ac.uk/press/press_archive/press_releases_2014/24496.shtml

13.   Google Fiber chooses nine metro areas for possible expansion

Early on, it was not abundantly obvious what the thinking behind Google Fiber was. Did they intend to scare the characteristically awful American ISPs (almost as bad as those in Canada) to providing cost effect, competitive broadband, or did they intend to make a business of it? The way things are going, I am beginning to think it is the latter. Bloated and uncompetitive US ISPs, which is most of them, should be very worried.

“Google Fiber is ready to expand, as Google has identified nine metro areas scattered around the country as possible sites of deployment, the company said. “We’ve invited 34 cities in nine metro areas across the US to work with us to explore what it would take to build a new fiber-optic network in their community,” Google said in an announcement today. “Many of these cities asked for Google Fiber in 2010 and have since continued to try to bring better Internet access to their residents.”

http://arstechnica.com/business/2014/02/google-fiber-chooses-nine-metro-areas-for-possible-expansion/

14.   See How the CPU Works In One Lesson

I admit I did not watch this video through to the end because I know how a CPU works (I’ve designed one), but what I watched looked pretty good. Most people, including most people who fancy themselves computer literate, haven’t a clue, so even if you think you know, you might consider having a look.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNN_tTXABUA

15.   Facebook to buy WhatsApp for $19 billion in deal shocker

Confirmation of two major themes regarding technology: 1)the market is in Dot Com Bubble II with batsh*t crazy transactions like this and the fawning praise heaped upon Facebook for this stroke of genius and 2)high tech executives are much better at enriching the shareholders of other companies than their own. After all, $19B for 2013 revenue of $20 million is 960x revenue, and the half –life of successful apps is measured in months.

“Facebook Inc will buy fast-growing mobile-messaging startup WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock in a landmark deal that places the world’s largest social network closer to the heart of mobile communications and may bring younger users into the fold.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/20/us-whatsapp-facebook-idUSBREA1I26B20140220

16.   Inside DuckDuckGo, Google’s Tiniest, Fiercest Competitor

DuckDuckGo is a useful search engine, however, its results are often incomplete. Regardless, I think it should be your first choice because of the absence of tracking and other privacy violations. Then, if you can’t find what you are looking for, let the diabolical fiends at Google or Bing have their way with you.

“When Gabriel Weinberg launched a search engine in 2008, plenty of people thought he was insane. How could DuckDuckGo, a tiny, Philadelphia-based startup, go up against Google? One way, he wagered, was by respecting user privacy. Six years later, we’re living in the post-Snowden era, and the idea doesn’t seem so crazy. In fact, DuckDuckGo is exploding.”

http://www.fastcolabs.com/3026698/inside-duckduckgo-googles-tiniest-fiercest-competitor

17.   This Man Says He Can Speed Cell Data 1,000-Fold. Will Carriers Listen?

This sort of approach has been proposed before and it is not without its problems. The infrastructure is likely pretty costly (though, arguably better spectrum efficiency may provide more than enough offset) and you have the issue of how well the phones work in the various and variable environments they are expected to perform in in. Realistically, cells can be made very small (apartment sized) and the smaller they get the cheaper they get, so there are other ways to arrive at the same result.

“Steve Perlman is ready to give you a personal cell phone signal that follows you from place to place, a signal that’s about 1,000 times faster than what you have today because you needn’t share it with anyone else.”

http://www.wired.com/business/2014/02/steve_perlman_pcell/

18.   Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols: You can keep using XP for another year, but do you really want to?

The thing about Windows XP is, chances are you aren’t just going to be able to install Windows 7 on your XP machine, and if you could, chances are many of your drivers and so on wouldn’t work. So, you would be replacing the entire system, possibly along with your printer and any other dated hardware you might own. Plus, you may not be able to buy Windows 7, which is being pulled off the shelves, so you will face the nightmare that is Windows 8. And don’t get me started about embedded systems (Point of Sales terminals, etc.), running Windows 8. So, all in, unless you actually want to, and can afford to, replace almost all your equipment, you are going to stick with Windows 8.

“On April 8, Microsoft will pull the plug on Windows XP SP3 when it issues the final security patch for the 11-year-old operating system. So it’s high time to switch to Windows 7, right? Probably. But it’s still going to be possible to hang on to XP for another year or so, and given the number of users still clinging to it, I’d guess a significant chunk will do so. But is that wise? Not really. Security risks are just going to keep mounting.”

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9246413/Steven_J._Vaughan_Nichols_You_can_keep_using_XP_for_another_year_but_do_you_really_want_to_?taxonomyId=125&pageNumber=1

19.   Volvo’s ‘Roam Delivery’ Service Puts Junk In Your Trunk While You’re Not Around

A remarkably good idea, so it is hard to believe Volvo came up with it. Of course, such a system would only have appeal if it were adopted by all car makers and not just Volvo.

“We’ve all been there, waiting for UPS or FedEx or the Post Office, rescheduling important appointments because we really need to stay put and get that package. Now, Volvo has proposed a solution to this dilemma, and it’s called “Roam Delivery”.”

http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1090467_volvos-roam-delivery-service-puts-junk-in-your-trunk-while-youre-not-around

20.   This Machine Kills Trolls How Wikipedia Robots Snuff Out Vandalism

This is a fascinating overview of how Wikipedia manages things like malicious edits. It should be fairly obvious that any system which anybody can contribute will be defaced, and the size of Wikipedia makes it impractical to manually ‘scrub’ such a system, so automation is the way to go. No doubt Google and others employ similar technology.

“Wikipedia is the encyclopedia “anyone can edit,” and as of this writing it’s had nearly 700 million edits — not all of them well-meaning. Sometimes the mischief is directed, as when The Oatmeal encouraged readers to include Thomas Edison under possible references for “douchebag,” or when Stephen Colbert sends his viewers out to alter “Wikiality” by, say, “proving,” that Warren G. Harding’s middle initial stands for “gangsta.” Mostly, though, it’s predictably uninteresting — shout-outs, profane opinions, keyboard-mashed gibberish — happening thousands of times a day over more than 4 million articles.”

http://www.theverge.com/2014/2/18/5412636/this-machine-kills-trolls-how-wikipedia-robots-snuff-out-vandalism

 

The Geek’s Reading List – Week of February 14th 2014

The Geek’s Reading List – Week of February 14th 2014

Hello,

I have been part of the technology industry for a third of a century now. For 13 years I was an electronics designer and software developer: I designed early generation PCs, mobile phones (including cell phones) and a number of embedded systems which are still in use today. I then became a sell-side research analyst for the next 20 years, where I was ranked the #1 tech analyst in Canada for six consecutive years, named one of the best in the world, and won a number of awards for stock-picking and estimating.

I started writing the Geek’s Reading List about 10 years ago. In addition to the company specific research notes I was publishing almost every day, it was a weekly list of articles I found interesting – usually provocative, new, and counter-consensus. The sorts of things I wasn’t seeing being written anywhere else

They were not intended, at the time, to be taken as investment advice, nor should they today. That being said, investors need to understand crucial trends and developments in the industries in which they invest. Therefore, I believe these comments may actually help investors with a longer time horizon. Not to mention they might come in handy for consumers, CEOs, IT managers … or just about anybody, come to think of it. Technology isn’t just a niche area of interest to geeks these days: it impacts almost every part of our economy. I guess, in a way, we are all geeks now. Or at least need to act like it some of the time!

Please feel free to pass this newsletter on. Of course, if you find any articles you think should be included please send them on to me. Or feel free to email me to discuss any of these topics in more depth: the sentence or two I write before each topic is usually only a fraction of my highly opinionated views on the subject!

This edition of the Geeks List, and all back issues, can be found at www.thegeeksreadinglist.com.

Brian Piccioni

 

PS: Google has been sporadically flagging The Geek’s Reading List as spam/phishing. Until I resolve the problem, if you have a Gmail account and you don’t get the Geeks List when expected, please check your Spam folder and mark the list as ‘Not Spam’.

 

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1.        LEDs Change Thinking About the Light Bulb

A rather disappointing article: LED lighting changes many things and focusing on woo (i.e. likely pseudo-science regarding lighting and health) doesn’t do the subject justice. Item 18, below, is a much better read. Regardless, LED technology is moving rapidly, prices are coming down and I firmly believe LED will displace all forms of lighting within a decade or so.

“Lights are no longer just for lighting. With the development of LED lamp technology, the lowly light bulb is doing more than turning on and off. A lamp can be the centerpiece of an environment meant to improve health, moods and even food.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/06/technology/personaltech/leds-change-thinking-about-the-light-bulb.html?_r=0

2.        Perspective: Microsoft asks for volunteers to join its kill-XP army

I guess it can’t hurt to ask your customers to do your promotion for you, however, it is hard to imagine there are enough Microsoft fanboys to make a measurable difference. If I were running Windows XP and a friend suggested I move to Windows 8 (the only option left), I’d probably lose a friend right then and there.

“Microsoft today implored its technically astute customers to help friends and family who are still running Windows XP get rid of the soon-to-be-retired operating system. The Redmond, Wash. company’s appeal was akin to General Motors asking customers to help the Detroit automaker sell new 2014 Cadillac Escalades, or General Mills asking consumers to convince friends to switch from their monochrome Cheerios breakfast cereal to something more colorful, like Trix or Lucky Charms.”

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9246122/Perspective_Microsoft_asks_for_volunteers_to_join_its_kill_XP_army

3.        Phones, Browsers, and Search Engines Get a Privacy Overhaul

Every crisis presents opportunity, and the NSA revelations have created many opportunities for vendors of secure products. Unfortunately, there is a good chance some of these products are ‘honeypots’ for security agencies, or will be co-opted by those agencies (or the corporate equivalents like Google) over time. Only active open source projects should be considered as potentially secure and/or private.

“Some small companies are now redesigning smartphones and Web browsers to give people more control over that kind of data collection. The founders of these startups claim that many people want an alternative to the data-slurping status quo, and that services such as search engines can be run profitably without harvesting much data.”

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/524046/phones-browsers-and-search-engines-get-a-privacy-overhaul/

4.        The fall of MtGox: MtGox down for hours may herald the end of an era

Lots of hilarious news regarding Bitcoin over the past week. Anybody who understands capital market knows that a loss of liquidity should result in devaluation of a commodity, so the recovery of Bitcoin pricing subsequent to the closure of Mt. Gox and a massive denial of service attack on Bitcoin exchanges demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt this unregulated market is a scam.

“Reports are flooding in that MtGox has been down for several hours. This comes on the heels of an announcement by the Bitcoin exchange that bitcoin transfers out of the exchange had been frozen. As this news hit the market, BTC market price began to plummet, falling from $810 and down to $684. People unable to move BTC off MtGox and unable to easily turn it into local currency means that the service itself is non-functional.”

http://siliconangle.com/blog/2014/02/09/the-fall-of-mtgox-mtgox-down-for-hours-may-herald-the-end-of-an-era/

5.        Silk Road 2.0 ‘Hack’ Blamed On Bitcoin Bug, All Funds Stolen

Yet another tragic outcome for the fools who speculate in Bitcoin. An exchange or marketplace was set up, ‘deposits’ taken, and Bitcoins pillaged by persons unknown (but who are almost certainly the folks who set up the business). After all, there is no reason to believe ‘stealing’ Bitcoins is even illegal so it truly is the perfect crime.

“On Thursday, one of the recently-reincarnated drug-selling black market site’s administrators posted a long announcement to the Silk Road 2.0 forums admitting that the site had been hacked by one of its sellers, and its reserve of Bitcoins belonging to both the users and the site itself stolen. The admin, who goes by the name “Defcon,” blamed the same “transaction malleability” bug in the Bitcoin protocol that led to several of the cryptocurrency’s exchanges halting withdrawals in the previous week.”

http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2014/02/13/silk-road-2-0-hacked-using-bitcoin-bug-all-its-funds-stolen/

6.        What the Heck is Happening to Windows?

Apparently, the author is, in general, a Microsoft fan, so his angst must be viewed in that context. What the heck is happening to Windows is that Microsoft screwed up, badly, by trying to move its customer base onto tablets and phones and managed to alienate a broad swath of the customers who matter. Now Microsoft is in a state of panic: their mobile strategy is a fiasco and, while they cram Windows 8 licenses down the throats of anybody who buys a PC, few are happy with the lack of choice and most businesses prefer to reinstall Windows 7.

“When critics described Windows 8.1 as a step backwards, I disagreed: Responding to customer complaints is never wrong, I argued, and the new version of the OS made it more acceptable on the many different types of PCs and devices on which Windows now runs. With Update 1, however, I’m beginning to question the validity of this new direction, and am now wondering whether Microsoft has simply fallen into an all-too-familiar trap of trying to please everyone, and creating a product that is ultimately not ideal for anyone.”

http://winsupersite.com/windows-8/what-heck-happening-windows

7.        Over 50% of All Homes to Have 3D Printers By 2030 – Market Worth $70 Billion Annually

My usual caveats regarding the complete absence of value or utility of industry reports particularly applies here. I am a big fan of 3D printing but the idea half of homes will have one by 2030 – or 2200 is flat out silly. How many homes have an electric drill or a complete set of hand tools? The word consumer means just that: most people buy their clothes rather than knit or sew and few people will find any use whatsoever with a 3D printer.

“We have seen a lot of research analysis on the 3D printing market over the last year. Gartner has estimated that the market could grow as much as 1900% over the next five years, while others think that the consumer market will be slower to grow than the manufacturing market. Either way, 3D printing is here to stay and will likely continue its torrid growth rate. The questions is, “how much will it grow, and when will the fastest growth |occur?”.”

http://3dprint.com/915/over-50-of-all-homes-to-have-3d-printers-by-2030-market-worth-70-billion-annually/

8.        Experiment Alleges Facebook is Scamming Advertisers out of Billions of Dollars

These sorts of stories have been around for some time now, along with others suggesting the youth are turning away from Facebook. Nothing seems to affect the stock, however. Mind you, the way Wall Street works, things don’t matter until they matter and then they matter a lot.

“The world’s largest social media network is scamming advertisers out of billions of dollars, according to a popular science blog who put Facebook’s paid reach system to the test. A video posted to Veritasium’s YouTube channel Monday alleges that Facebook’s advertising model – designed to generate page likes, and increase post engagement – is flawed.”

http://www.thedailyheap.com/facebook-scamming-advertisers-out-of-billions-of-dollars

9.        New fossil bed found by scientists hailed as ‘motherlode’

The Burgess Shale was an extremely important find when it was made 100 years ago because it held the fossils of numerous soft bodied critters which represent likely ancestors to all present day species. This is a similar find, however, it may be more scientifically significant due to the variety of novel forms present.

“Scientists say a recently located fossil site west of Calgary in B.C. is already yielding major new discoveries about early animal evolution. The Marble Canyon fossil beds were located in 2012 by a team of Canadian, U.S. and Swedish researchers in Kootenay National Park, about 40 kilometres from the 505-million-year-old Burgess Shale in Yoho National Park — which is considered one of the most important fossil fields in the world.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/new-fossil-bed-found-by-scientists-hailed-as-motherlode-1.2531990

10.   Microsoft Earns $2 Billion A Year From Android: Is It Time To Drop Xbox?

I’d hesitate to refer to Microsoft’s Android revenues as royalties, because royalty implies a proprietary relationship to property. In this case “the proceeds of extortion” is the most suitable description as Microsoft has become the world’s largest patent troll.

“Android is a more profitable business for Microsoft than the combination of their Skype, Windows Phone, and Xbox units according to Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund. The tech giant earns $2 billion a year from patent royalties on Android alone, and according to Business Insider, Sherlund estimates that this figure has a 95% profit margin.”

http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2013/11/08/microsoft-earns-2-billion-a-year-from-android-is-it-time-to-drop-xbox/

11.   Pentagon’s Robot Sewing Machines Take Aim at China’s Factories

A big part of the industrial revolution was the development of looms and other machines which drove prices down and rendered many unemployed. Given the dexterity required for sewing, I am rather skeptical that such a modest investment could lead to a robotic tailor. No doubt it will happen eventually, but we are probably talking decades, not years.

“Americans may never again buy clothes labeled “made in China” if robot sewing machines can beat Chinese costs of labor. The Pentagon has given $1.2 million to a Georgia Tech spinoff company to turn that futuristic concept into reality.”

http://www.livescience.com/20814-pentagon-robot-sewing-machines-aim-china-factories.html

12.   New iPhone – now upsized – set for release in September

It must be hard to stoke hysteria when you lead with “been there, done that”. The Sapphire glass sounds cool, however, it is a lot more expensive ($10 vs $3) than Corning’s market leading “Gorilla Glass” and it will be interesting to see whether consumers consider better scratch resistance at the expense of greater susceptibility to shattering is worth it.

“App developers need to be poised for a redesign because Apple’s iPhone is getting bigger. The tech giant will roll out the iPhone 6 in two sizes – 4.7 inch and 5.5 inch – in September, according to industry insiders who have seen the prototypes. The new iPhone screen will be made entirely from scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass, they said. Sapphire crystal, second to diamond as the hardest material, is now used by Apple for its iPhone camera lens cover and touch identification.”

http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/technology/article/1426288/new-iphone-now-upsized-set-release-september

13.   Mozilla plans to sell ads in Firefox browser

Mozilla is my preferred browser, mostly because of things like AdBlocker and other products which limit tracking and distracting content. I don’t see a downside to advertising on “Directory Tiles”, but I guess that depends on how much bandwidth it uses and how annoying it is. No doubt a ‘blocker’ will emerge for that as well, and if it doesn’t there is always the option of IceWeasel, which is an unbranded version of Firefox and which will likely not include the ads.

“Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox Internet browser, will start selling ads as it tries to grab a larger slice of the fast-expanding online advertising market. The company said in a blog posting on Tuesday that it has reached out to potential corporate sponsors about its fledgling “Directory Tiles” program, targeted at first-time users.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/12/us-mozilla-advertising-idUSBREA1B1OW20140212

14.   Scientific method: Statistical errors

I recently listened to an interesting podcast (transcript www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/5-out-of-4-americans-do-not-understand-statistics/) which demolished the use of p-values in medical research. The problem is that good statistical results can’t make up for badly designed experiments, small sample sizes, and miniscule effects. Besides p-values are supposed to be tested after multiple independent experiments to determine whether the data even hold up.

“The results were “plain as day”, recalls Motyl, a psychology PhD student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Data from a study of nearly 2,000 people seemed to show that political moderates saw shades of grey more accurately than did either left-wing or right-wing extremists. “The hypothesis was sexy,” he says, “and the data provided clear support.” The P value, a common index for the strength of evidence, was 0.01 — usually interpreted as ‘very significant’. Publication in a high-impact journal seemed within Motyl’s grasp.”

http://www.nature.com/news/scientific-method-statistical-errors-1.14700

15.   … the Internet of Things is more on par with the Industrial Revolution than the digital revolution.

This is probably a teaser for the guy’s conference presentation, however, the idea is a good one: Internet of Things (IoT) is more than a bunch of soft drink machines doing data dumps or ‘smart’ thermostats. It is big data (for better or for worse), control, and optimization, on a highly granular scale. The technology will probably spawn benefits which we can scarcely understand today.

“The 1876 exposition didn’t mark the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, says Stogdill. Rather, it signaled its fruition, its point of critical mass. It was the nexus where everything — advanced steam technology, mass production, railroads, telegraphy — merged.”

http://radar.oreilly.com/2014/02/more-1876-than-1995.html

16.   Boom or bust: The lowdown on code academies

Code academies, or programming boot camps, smack of the expensive (faux) technical colleges and diploma mills which crank out unskilled graduates by the tens of thousands. I recall near the end of my hardware engineering career, when digital design skills were scarce, such companies popped up to ‘fill the need’, though I suspect they mostly lined their own pockets. Computer languages can be learned fairly quickly – programming and program design is another story completely. If you could learn those in a few months there would not be a shortage.

“On any given day, the school’s single “classroom” is hot, cramped, and buzzing with activity. Dozens of instructors and students sit cheek to jowl in front of 40-inch monitors set up on rows of conference room tables. They are learning how to code in JavaScript. Fluorescent lights and ventilation ducts hang from the ceiling, and the exposed brick walls make it look more like a not-quite-converted warehouse than an elite learning institution.”

http://www.infoworld.com/d/application-development/boom-or-bust-the-lowdown-code-academies-235812

17.   The ReactOS Project

I don’t think I have covered this before. As near as I can tell, this is a Free Open Source Software (FOSS) effort to replicate Windows. It is probably pretty rough around the edges, however, it might provide an alternative to those who need to run a Windows application but have no desire to buy a Windows license (in particular a Windows 8 license). Lots of FOSS projects fizzle, but you never know.

“The main goal of the ReactOS® project is to provide an operating system which is binary compatible with Windows. This will allow your Windows® applications and drivers to run as they would on your Windows system. Additionally, the look and feel of the Windows operating system is used, such that people accustomed to the familiar user interface of Windows® would find using ReactOS straightforward. The ultimate goal of ReactOS® is to allow you to use it as alternative to Windows® without the need to change software you are used to.”

https://www.reactos.org/

18.   How Philips Altered The Future Of Light

This is a much better article on LED lighting. I am not sure that consumers will express much interest in different hues except in rare circumstances however other attributes will be of considerable interest. One remarkable thing about LED lighting is that Philips is a market leader – I used to work for Philips and many of my former Philips colleagues believe Dilbert is a documentary about life as a Philips engineer.

“Not far from its Amsterdam headquarters, at the end of a hallway on the ground floor of a squat modern office building in the small Dutch city of Eindhoven, Philips has set aside space for what it calls an Innovation Lab. It looks a lot like a living room, with a large-screen television, soft leather couches, and a plush beige carpet. There are no windows, and when the door shuts it seems easy to imagine nodding off to a soccer game and awakening in what you think is not a cozy den in the middle of Holland but a high-end apartment in New York or London.”

http://www.fastcompany.com/3025604/philips-lighting-the-way

19.   GE develops high-tech fridge magnets that could save the world billions of dollars in energy costs

Of course, like many apparent breakthroughs, real world considerations like cost and reliability could be very important. This system appears to have no moving parts, such as compressors, which should be good for durability, provided the fluids last. As for cost, none is mentioned, which probably means “too high”. My heating system is geothermal, which is basically a large refrigerator, and systems such as heat pumps would similarly benefit.

“One of the world’s biggest draws of electricity is refrigeration and air conditioning. … General Electric, GE, believes it has discovered a new method of magnet-based refrigeration that is 20-30% more efficient than existing refrigeration technology, which almost universally uses a liquid refrigerant and compressor. GE launched the first commercial electric refrigerator in 1927 — and fridges have fundamentally remained unchanged for almost 100 years. GE hopes that its magnet-based tech can become the refrigeration method of choice for the next 100 years.”

http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/176393-ge-develops-high-tech-fridge-magnets-that-could-save-the-world-billions-of-dollars-in-energy-costs

20.   Tesla Model S catches fire while sitting in a Toronto garage

I can almost predict the company’s reality distortion field issuing a press release to the effect that there is “Nothing to see here: cars catch fire all the time and the owner was pleased with his vehicle up to the point it spontaneously burst into flames.” The facts are that cars rarely burst into flames, even in collisions, and most of those which do are old and poorly maintained. Fires of any type are extremely rare in brand new vehicles. Tesla clearly has a problem. Hat tip to my friend Luigi Di Pede for this item.

“Earlier this month, a Tesla Model S sitting in a Toronto garage ignited and caught on fire. The car was about four months old and was not plugged in to an electric socket, says a source. Fires are a touchy issue for the company, which reports Q4 2013 earnings on February 19th.”

http://business.financialpost.com/2014/02/14/tesla-catches-fire-while-sitting-in-a-toronto-garage/

 

The Geek’s Reading List – Week of February 7th 2014

The Geek’s Reading List – Week of February 7th 2014

Hello,

I have been part of the technology industry for a third of a century now. For 13 years I was an electronics designer and software developer: I designed early generation PCs, mobile phones (including cell phones) and a number of embedded systems which are still in use today. I then became a sell-side research analyst for the next 20 years, where I was ranked the #1 tech analyst in Canada for six consecutive years, named one of the best in the world, and won a number of awards for stock-picking and estimating.

I started writing the Geek’s Reading List about 10 years ago. In addition to the company specific research notes I was publishing almost every day, it was a weekly list of articles I found interesting – usually provocative, new, and counter-consensus. The sorts of things I wasn’t seeing being written anywhere else

They were not intended, at the time, to be taken as investment advice, nor should they today. That being said, investors need to understand crucial trends and developments in the industries in which they invest. Therefore, I believe these comments may actually help investors with a longer time horizon. Not to mention they might come in handy for consumers, CEOs, IT managers … or just about anybody, come to think of it. Technology isn’t just a niche area of interest to geeks these days: it impacts almost every part of our economy. I guess, in a way, we are all geeks now. Or at least need to act like it some of the time!

Please feel free to pass this newsletter on. Of course, if you find any articles you think should be included please send them on to me. Or feel free to email me to discuss any of these topics in more depth: the sentence or two I write before each topic is usually only a fraction of my highly opinionated views on the subject!

This edition of the Geeks List, and all back issues, can be found at www.thegeeksreadinglist.com.

Brian Piccioni

 

PS: Google has been sporadically flagging The Geek’s Reading List as spam/phishing. Until I resolve the problem, if you have a Gmail account and you don’t get the Geeks List when expected, please check your Spam folder and mark the list as ‘Not Spam’.

 

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1.        Apple’s iWatch Will Be A $17.5 Billion Business After 12 Months, Says Morgan Stanley

I should start a regular segment called “Analyst or Jackass” for this sort of garbage. This genius is predicting sales (to three significant figures, no less) of a product which hasn’t been released and has an unknown price based upon assumptions as firmly rooted in reality as astrology. While professionals might laugh off this sort of stupidity, investors who don’t know any better might act upon the “insight”. So Analyst or Jackass? You decide.

“Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty is out with a very bullish forecast for Apple’s iWatch. Huberty is predicting Apple does $17.5 billion in iWatch sales after the first twelve months it’s on the market. That’s 58.5 million units at $299 per iWatch.”

http://www.businessinsider.com/iwatch-sales-estimate-from-morgan-stanley-2014-2

2.        US to push for mandatory car-to-car wireless communications

I suspect this technology will be upon us sooner than we expect. There are bound to be bugs, of course, and it is unclear to me how much of the fleet will have to support the technology in order for it to be of value. After all, it’s a bit like a vaccine: herd immunity is an important component of public health but it only works once a significant portion of us have been vaccinated.

“The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said Monday it’s finalizing a report on the subject based on a 3,000-vehicle study of vehicle-to-vehicle communications that began in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 2012. That report should be released in the coming weeks — and then the Department of Transportation’s push for using V2V technology in cars and light trucks will get serious.”

http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-57618258-76/us-to-push-for-mandatory-car-to-car-wireless-communications/

3.        Disruptions: Paying to Travel in the Internet’s Fast Lanes

Net neutrality is an absolutely critical aspect of the web, especially in banana republics like Canada where it is most under threat. Telecommunications companies have managed to craft regulation which benefits them and maintains their oligopoly or duopoly (in the US) and presents an insurmountable obstacle to competition. If they can then selectively destroy content providers (the goal of subverting net neutrality) they will have more or less an OFF switch for the economy. In Canada, where cable and telephone companies control a substantial majority of media as well, the prospects are horrifying.

“The idea behind net neutrality is that the web material we see on our laptops and smartphones, whether from Google or a tiny little blog, should flow freely through the pipes of the Internet, regardless of origin, destination or content. No one gets special treatment.”

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/02/disruptions-paying-to-travel-in-the-int ernets-fast-lanes/

4.        Kansas teen uses 3-D printer to make hand for boy

The fall of 3D System’s stock price probably means that investors have decided there may be no future for 3D printing. I tend to think it has been overhyped: after all, few people have power drills, let alone a complete workshop so the buy/build decision has already been made for most things. Nonetheless, one thing 3D print allows is for people to put an idea into practice without access to a complete shop. Hat tip to my friend Allan Brown for this story.

“Using a 3-D printer at the Johnson County Library, Wilde made a prosthetic hand that opens and closes and can even hold a pencil.”

http://www.kansascity.com/2014/01/31/4790811/kansas-teen-uses-3-d-printer-to.html

5.        Bionic hand allows patient to ‘feel’

This and the preceding articles are related: while touch is an important emerging feature for bionic limbs in general, mechanical innovation will be needed to take advantage of these new capabilities so the evolution of bionics should be helped by even amateurs working in the field.

“Scientists have created a bionic hand which allows the amputee to feel lifelike sensations from their fingers. A Danish man received the hand, which was connected to nerves in his upper arm, following surgery in Italy. Dennis Aabo, who lost his left hand in a firework accident nearly a decade ago, said the hand was “amazing”.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-26036429

6.        Tim Berners-Lee: we need to re-decentralise the web

This is the beginning of an answer to item 3, above, however there are powerful economic and government interests keen on moving in the very direction Berners-Lee is warning against.

“Twenty-five years on from the web’s inception, its creator has urged the public to re-engage with its original design: a decentralised internet that at its very core, remains open to all.”

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-02/06/tim-berners-lee-reclaim-the-web

7.        In One Month, Everyone In Iceland Will Own Cryptocurrency

Nothing like free money, or free make pretend money, to get people’s attention. Mind you, at the rate new ‘Bitcoins’ are beng launched, it is simply a matter of time before Oprah has a cryptocurrency.

“The cryptocurrency craze spun into a new realm of ridiculous with Kanyecoin, Dogecoin, Ron Paul Coin and the bounty of other clone-coins that sprung up to ride the Bitcoin wave. But the latest altcoin to enter the market, Auroracoin, wants to take the futurist trend back to its cryptoanarchist roots. The altcoin was designed specifically for Iceland, and the creator plans to give every citizen of the Nordic country a digital handful of Auroracoins to kickstart their use.”

http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/in-one-month-everyone-in-iceland-will-own-cryptocurrency

8.        Paging Mythbusters Again: Did Microsoft’s Windows Phone Really Grow More in 2012 Than Android or iOS?

This is an interesting and somewhat amusing deconstruction of claims an industry analyst has made regarding purported rapid growth in demand for Windows Phone. Of course, in my experience, industry research reports are scarcely worth the paper they are printed on, let alone the thousands they charge for them. Unfortunately, many investors and managers take them seriously and actually make decisions based on this sort of rubbish.

“Mark Twain quoted Benjamin Disraeli saying that there were three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. This is the mythbusters edition about Canalys the supposedly professional mobile industry analyst house who would like to sell you their expensive reports. its been a while since we’ve had to do some work as the industry’s stats police but unfortunately for the supposedly trustworthy Canalys, this is already the second time they are on our agenda.”

http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2014/02/paging-mythbusters-again-did-microsofts-windows-phone-really-grow-more-in-2012-than-android-or-ios-h.html

9.        Bitcoin Miners Building 10 Megawatt Data Center in Sweden

Golly – 10 million watts of power to make magic numbers fools are willing to pay for. You’d think the normally environmentally sensitive Swedes would object to wasting so much electric power on a frivolous undertaking like this, but, hey, Bitcoin! Thanks to my friend Humphrey Brown for this item.

“Facebook has new neighbors in Sweden, and they’re building Bitcoin’s version of the Death Star – a 10 megawatt data center filled with high-powered computers mining for cryptocurrency.”

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2014/02/06/bitcoin-miners-building-10-megawatt-data-center-sweden/

10.   Evidence Emerges That Google’s Quantum Computer May Not Be Quantum After All

We noted recently that it seemed puzzling the burden of proof would be on D-Wave to show they actually have a quantum computer, but I assume they have some pretty impressive sales brochures.

“Back in 2011, the aerospace giant Lockheed Martin paid a cool $10 million for the world’s first commercial quantum computer from a Canadian start up called D-Wave Systems. In May last year, Google and NASA followed suit, together buying a second generation device for about $15 million with Lockheed upgrading its own machine for a further $10 million.”

https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/117bff657da1

11.   Improved ultrasound imaging provides alternate way to visualize tumors

Hmmmm. Well, MRIs do not use radiation, just a very powerful magnetic field and a radio signal (the way they work is probably the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen), and contrast agents are invasive and therefor inherently dangerous. Still, this looks interesting.

“While ultrasound provides a less expensive and radiation-free alternative to detecting and monitoring cancer compared to technologies such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, ultrasound has seen limited use in cancer treatment due to clarity and resolution issues. But researchers at the UNC School of Medicine have overcome this limitation by combining ultrasound with a contrast agent composed of tiny bubbles that pair with an antibody that many cancer cells produce at higher levels than do normal cells.”

http://news.unchealthcare.org/news/2014/january/improved-ultrasound-imaging-provides-alternate-way-to-visualize-tumors

12.   Pet Lovers Beware: When The Drugs Don’t Work

One thing about treating animals is that you rarely get written complaints from patients. It is not surprising many of the treatments don’t work since some treatments and drugs used on people don’t work either. Heck – billions of dollars are spent on SCAM (Supplement, Complimentary, and Alternative Medicine) which are proved not to work and people buy them anyhow.

“At least we did, until an email hit my inbox some weeks back, sent to a discussion list of science writers. It referred to a study indicating that two food supplements—glucosamine and chondroitin—do little to help cats with disintegrating joints. I recognized the names as ingredients in Kaleb’s breakfast: Our dog-feeding ritual involves taking a chew containing these nutrients, then adding a dollop of peanut butter containing a couple of pills of a painkiller called tramadol.”

https://medium.com/evidence-base/95ea62df3951

13.   New lawsuit against Bitcoin miner manufacturer alleges fraud, negligence

I had to laugh when I read this article: Bitcoin miners being ripped off by Bitcoin mining appliance makers? Is nothing sacred? Is there no honor amongst thieves?

“One of the world’s most mysterious Bitcoin-related companies is now facing its first civil lawsuit in a United States federal court, with many more likely on the way.”

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/02/new-lawsuit-against-bitcoin-miner-manufacturer-alleges-fraud-negligence/

14.   Semiconductor Industry Posts Record Sales in 2013

Solid State Drives (SSDs) are only around 13% of Hard Disk Drive (HDD) sales but growing rapidly while HDD sales are declining rapidly. It may be premature to announce the death of the HDD industry, but that fate clearly looms: HDD vendors’ efforts to enter the SSD market will ultimately prove futile as SSD market share shifts to Flash memory manufacturers.

“The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), representing U.S. leadership in semiconductor manufacturing and design, today announced that worldwide semiconductor sales for 2013 reached $305.6 billion, the industry’s highest-ever annual total and an increase of 4.8 percent from the 2012 total of $291.6 billion. Global sales for the month of December 2013 reached $26.6 billion, marking the strongest December on record, while December sales in the Americas increased 17.3 percent year-over-year. Fourth quarter global sales of $79.9 billion were 7.7 percent higher than the total of $74.2 billion from the fourth quarter of 2012. Total sales for the year narrowly exceeded expectations from the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization’s industry forecast. All monthly sales numbers are compiled by WSTS and represent a three-month moving average.”

http://www.semiconductors.org/news/2014/02/03/global_sales_report_2013/semiconductor_industry_posts_record_sales_in_2013/

15.   Hunger Games to use CGI technology to replace Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final scenes

I don’t mourn celebrities who overdose, however much I may have enjoyed their work. This article shows how far animation (CGI) has come since the likes of Toy Story and The Mask.

“It had originally been thought that the death of Hoffman on Sunday from an apparent drugs overdose on Sunday had left a week’s worth of shooting unfinished. However, Filmmakers, Lionsgate have said that despite Hoffman’s character, Plutarch Heavensbee holding a major role in the film franchise, his death will have ‘no impact’ on production and the final two movies will be released on time.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2552568/Hunger-Games-use-CGI-technology-replace-Philip-Seymour-Hoffmans-final-scenes.html

16.   Facebook is 10 years old. And half of users are sick of the oversharing.

Facebook and social networking in general is a mystery to me, but, based on what I have seen and read, these are very popular. From an outsider’s perspective it seems that much of the media associated with Facebook is now negative. One issue worth pondering is the apparently aging population of users which seems to be driving kids (the next generation of users) away.

“Facebook is 10 years old today. And nearly everyone and their mom is on it — or to be more exact 57 percent of all U.S. adults and 73 percent of those ages 12-17 according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. But that doesn’t mean everyone likes it.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/02/04/facebook-is-10-years-old-and-half-of-users-are-sick-of-the-oversharing/

17.   UMHS doctors implant first bionic eye

Bionic vision appears to be progressing rapidly and it is easy to imagine current breakthroughs will appear downright primitive within 10 years or so. I hope they can ‘upgrade’ today’s patients when that time comes.

“Ever thought about what it might be like to have a bionic eye? Surgeons at the University of Michigan Health System have. On Jan. 16 and 22, UMHS retina surgeons performed the first-ever surgeries that implanted artificial retinas into the eyes of patients with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that eventually causes blindness.”

http://www.michigandaily.com/news/umhs-doctors-implant-first-bionic-eye

18.   Sony Sells Off PC Division To Japan Industrial Partners, Reduces Forecast To $1.1 Billion Loss

It is interesting to watch an iconic technology company implode (yes – Sony once was leading edge). In many ways they modeled their demise on Philips, which went from being technological leader in consumer electronics to a premium brand to an ‘also ran’ with premium pricing. The company is also exiting the e-book business (http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/06/sony-closing-reader-store/).

“In an unexpected turn of events, Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE) sold off its Vaio personal computer business to investment fund Japan Industrial Partners. After slashing its outlook for the year to a loss of $1.1 billion, the company also plans to cut 5,000 jobs by March 2015 — 1,500 in Japan and 3,500 overseas —  to fulfill its restructuring plans.

http://www.ibtimes.com/sony-sells-pc-division-japan-industrial-partners-reduces-forecast-11-billion-loss-1553669

19.   Veterans gather for Colossus 70th anniversary

The geniuses working at Bletchley Park cracking the German Enigma code made a huge impact on the course of WWII. Of course, it is simplistic to ascribe victory to a single weapon, let alone country, however, it is helpful to know what the enemy knows. I recently watched a documentary on the Atanasoff Berry Computer which appears to predate even Colossus, though it appears it was never really completed (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atanasoff%E2%80%93Berry_Computer).

“The 70th anniversary of the pioneering Colossus computer is being celebrated at Bletchley Park. The machine was first used to crack messages sent by Hitler and his generals on 5 February 1944. The celebration will bring together some of the machine’s creators and operators at The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC).”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26033681

20.   Think wearables are the next tech boom? Cisco’s numbers beg to differ

Actually, I think people are fixated on iWatch because the Jobsian reality distortion is gone but people still assume Apple has a revolutionary product poised for release which will somehow justify their expectations. I haven’t seen a product description for wearable technology which threatens to become mass market: a watch with a 1 day battery life which shows a subset of your smartphone’s display seems more bother than it is worth, and as for Google glasses, well, I figure after you’ve been told to take them off and/or punched in the nose a few times the allure will dissipate.

“Excitement about the potential size of the wearables market is why we read about every rumour of an iWatch release date. It’s also why Samsung felt it had to respond with Galaxy Gear and why every wearable device patent is fallen upon with anticipatory glee.”

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/02/07/think_wearables_are_the_next_tech_boom_think_again/