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Airbnb Holds its Breath as San Franciscans Vote on Prop F
November 3, 2015
San Franciscans will vote Tuesday on Proposition F, also known as the "Airbnb Initiative," which seeks to restrict short-term rentals. Polls will open at 7:00 a.m. At first glance, it appears that the fight is about short-term rental aggregators such as Airbnb. However, the battle lines are muddy. On one side, landlords support Prop F. However, many tenants also support it.
HP, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Go Separate Ways
November 2, 2015
The long-awaited split of HP's personal computer and enterprise operations has taken place, and CEO Meg Whitman clearly faces the most challenging crisis of her career -- trying to save a legacy business from being buried by the sands of time and progress. HP on Monday began its first official business day as a house divided into two brand new $50 billion enterprises.
Google Migrates Project Loon to Indonesia
October 30, 2015
Project Loon, part of Google's parent company, Alphabet, on Wednesday announced that it has signed agreements with three mobile network operators in Indonesia -- Indosat, Telkomse, and XL Axiata -- to begin tests of its balloon-powered Internet service in 2016. Only about one in three of Indonesia's 250 million residents is connected to the Internet, according to Project Loon.
Nintendo's Miitomo Smartphone 'Game' Fails to Charm Investors
October 29, 2015
Nintendo shares dropped 9 percent on Thursday, and partner DeNA's stock dropped 15 percent after Nintendo announced that it would wade into the mobile waters next year with social mobile app Miitomo. Based on the Mii digital avatars made popular by the Wii, Miitomo will seek to connect players through trivia, Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima reportedly said.
Library of Congress Brings Digital Rights Rules Into Modern Era
October 29, 2015
The Library of Congress, which oversees the U.S. Copyright Office, on Wednesday published new rules to replace a set of controversial -- and for many, outdated -- measures. Consumers now may hack their own tablet computers, automobile software and Blu-ray devices without fear of being sued. The ruling upgrades certain provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Europe's New Net Neutrality Law Draws Jeers
October 28, 2015
The European Parliament on Tuesday passed Net neutrality legislation to a chorus of boos from Net neutrality proponents. The European Union has found consensus on the common principles of Net neutrality -- no blocking, no throttling and no prepaid prioritization -- said Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger. However, the rules have three major loopholes, Net neutrality supporters said.
CISA Passes Senate Despite Privacy Advocates' Fear and Loathing
October 28, 2015
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted 74-21 to pass the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA, in the face of strong opposition from legal and cybersecurity experts, the high-tech industry, privacy and civil liberties organizations, and members of the public. The Act calls for several federal agencies to share cyberthreat indicators between the public and private sectors.
Microsoft Opens Tony Fifth Avenue Store
October 27, 2015
Microsoft on Monday opened its flagship store in Manhattan. At more than 22,000 square feet, it's the company's largest store and its 113th brick-and-mortar retail establishment. It's also the first Microsoft store that's two stories high. The company gutted a 1930s building that was previously a Fendi store and replaced the street-facing facade with giant glass panes.
OMB Prohibits 'Wasteful' PC Purchasing Practices
October 27, 2015
Consumers who purchase desktop or laptop computers are able to select various options. When it comes to paying for the device, however, each consumer has the buying leverage of exactly one. If the customer is the U.S. government, the transaction surely involves a lot of pricing leverage for bulk purchasing. Not really, says OMB, which has launched a program to change the way agencies purchase PCs.
NY AG Could Be Broadband-Speed Mythbuster
October 26, 2015
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched an investigation into Verizon, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable. The purpose of the probe is to determine whether three of the state's top telecom companies are providing high-speed broadband Internet as advertised to consumers and businesses. The probe was launched in response to consumer complaints on the issue.
Dish Network to Automate TV Ad Sales
October 26, 2015
Dish Network on Monday launched Dish Media Sales, an automated marketplace that will let advertisers buy TV spots the same way they can buy ads online. With the initiative, Dish will give advertisers the ability to purchase targeted, linear TV ads, impression by impression, using real-time bidding technology -- similar to the way online ads are purchased.
Google Views Itself Through Machine Learning Lens
October 26, 2015
Google CEO Sundar Pichai last week lit up his first earnings call with accounts of a solid third quarter and machine learning dreams that could permeate all the company's products. As the call drew to a close, investors asked about the vision for machine learning. Google has been rethinking everything it has been doing, and doing so through the transformative field of machine learning, he said.
Amazon Rides High on Profit Stunner
October 26, 2015
Amazon last week stunned Wall Street by releasing third-quarter earnings that blazed past consensus estimates on the strength of its growing cloud services business and surprisingly strong response to its efforts to boost membership in its Prime program. Shares rose almost 7 percent to $601.72 in late trading Friday. Net income was $79 million in the quarter, or 17 cents a share.
Why Dell-EMC Won't Follow in HP-Compaq's Footsteps
October 26, 2015
Why do some big mergers succeed while others fail? This seems to be a common question, and some of the research I've read about the Dell-EMC merger tries to connect it to the HP-Compaq merger, which apparently cost Carly Fiorina her job. I covered the HP-Compaq merger at length, and I was not a fan. I actually spoke to Compaq's CEO and argued he should pull out to save his firm.
Key EU Court Ruling Gives Bitcoin Tax-Exempt Status
October 23, 2015
The European Union's Court of Justice on Thursday ruled that bitcoin, the virtual payment system that has shown promise and potential as an emerging currency, should be considered exempt from Value Added Tax under existing law. Swedish national David Hedqvist sought a ruling from the Swedish Revenue Law Commission to determine whether bitcoin should be subject to VAT.
Tesla Stock Plummets After Consumer Reports Do-Over
October 21, 2015
Tesla Motors' stock price on Tuesday dropped more than 11 percent following Consumer Reports' withdrawal of its favorable recommendation for the company's Model S sedan. Poor reliability contributed to the decision to withdraw its recommendation, but the magazine noted that 97 percent of Tesla owners surveyed said they would buy a car from the company again despite the problems.
TWC's New Virtual Assistant Curries Customer Favor
October 21, 2015
Beset by customer complaints and struggling to get approval from the United States Federal Communications Commission for a US$79 billion merger with Charter Communications and Bright House Networks, Time Warner Cable on Tuesday announced a virtual assistant. The new Ask TWC Virtual Assistant lets customers use a mobile device or computer to type a question in their own words.
Report: Cybersecurity Pact Fails to Deter Chinese Hackers
October 20, 2015
The cybersecurity pact the U.S. and China agreed to last month apparently has not stopped Chinese hackers from trying to steal intellectual property from U.S. companies. "Over the last three weeks, CrowdStrike Falcon platform has detected and prevented a number of intrusions into our customers' systems from actors we have affiliated with the Chinese government," said CTO Dmitri Alperovitch.
Amazon Throws the Book at Fake Review Writers
October 20, 2015
An "unhealthy ecosystem" has developed outside of Amazon and it has been harming the company's website, Amazon said in a complaint filed last week in Washington State Superior Court. The suit alleges that 1,114 "John Does" placed fake product reviews on the company's website. The perpetrators apparently have been selling reviews through Fiverr, for as little as $5 each.
JPEG Committee Proposal Stirs Image-DRM Fears
October 19, 2015
The JPEG Committee last week met in Brussels to discuss a proposal to secure privacy information such as metadata for published pictures, including geographical information enabling identification of people who have given anonymous interviews to journalists, and pictures posted on social media intended only for a limited audience. The proposal also seeks to address intellectual property rights.
Appeals Court Validates Google's Mammoth Books Project
October 17, 2015
Google won an important legal victory on Friday, when the Second United States Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court's judgment in its years-long battle with the Authors Guild over Google Books. The case "tests the boundaries of fair use," Judge Pierre Leval wrote, but Google's actions did not constitute infringement, because they were for a "highly transformative" purpose.
Ingress Maker Niantic Scores $20 Million for AR Gaming
October 16, 2015
Niantic on Thursday announced that it was the beneficiary of a big bet pooled together by benefactors Google, Nintendo and The Pokémon Co. Niantic, which develops augmented reality games, will receive $20 million in the Series A funding round and could receive another $10 million if it realizes certain undisclosed goals. The company was founded by Google Earth cocreator John Hanke.
EU Court Decision Threatens US Cloud Dominance
October 16, 2015
Edward Snowden's legacy gained another chapter last week when the European Court of Justice rejected an agreement that created a Safe Harbor for U.S. companies handling personal data of overseas citizens. In essence, the agreement provided that a U.S. company's word that it had adequate privacy safeguards in place was all that was needed to permit overseas personal data transfers.
Fantasy Sports: Socializing Betting
October 16, 2015
It passes through the channels of federal laws, spills across state lines and even bleeds into the protected realm of college sports. The multibillion-dollar industry that is fantasy sports has stood up to legal challenges so far, but the surging sector still battles problems with perception and faces questions about its future. Allegations of insider trading recently aren't the only issue.
Salesforce Investors Applaud European Startup Plans
October 15, 2015
Shares of Salesforce were up Thursday as it gained momentum from investors cheering on its plans to invest $100 million into European startup firms. The company on Tuesday announced that its Salesforce Ventures unit had allocated $100 million to fund startups in the European market and improve customer service in the region. Salesforce already has partnerships with a number of European firms.
Half a Dorsey May Mean Trouble for IPO-Bound Square
October 15, 2015
Square on Wednesday announced that it had registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission for its long-expected initial public offering. A startup that specializes in electronic payments, Square has been operating in the red. It plans to raise up to $275 million in its IPO, it disclosed in its SEC filing. However, market conditions currently are not considered very favorable for IPOs.
E-Commerce Firms Need to Wise Up to Cybercrime
October 15, 2015
Every business owner and executive must think long and hard about cybersecurity -- especially considering all the break-ins and data thefts during the last several years. Data breaches and security issues are in the headlines on a regular basis. One good source for getting a grip on some possible solutions to the problem is AT&T's new report, "What Every CEO Needs to Know About Cybersecurity."
A7 Patent Suit Loss Could Cost Apple $862M
October 14, 2015
A U.S. District Court jury earlier this week found that Apple's A7 processor infringes a patent held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the patent management arm of the University of Wisconsin -- Madison. WARF alleged patent infringement and claimed damages of up to $862 million in a complaint filed early last year in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.
Twitter Slashes Workforce as Dorsey Aims to Restore Confidence
October 14, 2015
Investors cheered after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's announcement to cut up to 336 jobs, or 8 percent of the global workforce, as part of an effort to strengthen long-term growth. Dorsey, the company cofounder who last week reclaimed his former position as chief executive, announced the painful round of cuts in a memo to employees, emphasizing plans to monetize the company's core product offerings.
Apple News Goes Dark in China
October 13, 2015
Apple recently disabled its Apple News app for users in China, according to multiple reports triggered by software developer Larry Salibra's alerts last week. Although Apple is mum on the subject, users based in China have begun complaining on the Internet about the News app being unavailable there. Salibra could not connect to the News app, and he couldn't read previously downloaded content.
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I plan to do my holiday shopping…
Online only -- I like the convenience and comfort.
Online only -- I'd shop in stores if their stock weren't so limited.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I like to see what I'm getting.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I enjoy the holiday shopping atmosphere.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I want to support local merchants.
Online and in stores -- I want the best of both worlds.
I'm not planning on doing any holiday shopping.