Probable Galaxy S10 Launch Date; Apple to Add Campus(es); Facebook Fact Check-Stunt? $100 Grand to Give Up Smartphone for a Year

The latest gaze into the crystal ball shows February 20th as the launch date for the Samsung Galaxy S10. 9to5google.com reports that the flat 5.8 inch screen S10 will run $1117 with 128 Gigs of storage. The standard S10 will come with 128 or 512 Gigs and they rill run $1334 and $1668 respectively. Oh…and if you go for the 1TB model, that one will be a wallet crushing $1750! 9to5google.com notes these probably aren’t the final US prices, but if they are, it appears that those tariffs are really taking a toll on consumer electronics!

All the time Amazon was playing cities off against each other for it’s HQ2…which turned out to be a couple of satellite HQs, Apple was looking in stealth mode. According to engadget.com, Apple will invest a billion dollars in a new campus in Austin, TX less than a mile from its existing facilities there. The 133 acre site will house 5,000 employees, with room to grow to 15,000. This would make Apple the biggest employer in Austin! They also plan to build out new sites in Seattle, San Diego, and Culver City, CA, and expand in Pittsburg, New York, and Boulder, CO over the next 3 years! The new Austin site will have engineering, R&D, operations, finance, sales, and customer support…and as with all Apple facilities it will be powered by 100% renewable energy!

Facebook is getting slammed again…this time by former and current fact-checkers for the social media giant. Businessinsider.com says the present and former employees claim that Facebook has been more interested in ‘crisis PR’ than in actually combatting the spread of fake news. A former managing editor of fact checking site Snopes also said that was what Facebook seemed to be using them for. They had partnered with Snopes the last coupe years. The editor, Brooke Bujnowski, no longer works at Snopes. She added “They’re not taking anything seriously. They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck… They clearly don’t care.”

News item: VitiminWater will pay you $100,000 to give up your smartphone for a full year. The fancy water purveyor will allow you to utilize a 2000s ear feature phone, however. To enter the contest, you have to post a photo to your Twitter or Instagram account, tag VitiminWater, and tell them why you need a break from your smartphone. You also have to tell them what you will do to survive or pass the time over that period of a year. Now, if Apple would just pay me $100,000 to give up VitiminWater, I’d be counting the money right now!

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Google Fi; Facebook Tests Word & Phrase Blocking; YouTube Originals Going Ad-Supported in 2020; Phishing Warning- Pharma Industry Targeted

It’s been 3 years since Google first started experimenting with what they called Project Fi, an MVNO, or mobile virtual network operator. Now, rebranded as Google Fi, Google’s cell service is ready for prime time. As an MVNO, it rides on other carriers. Theverge.com says it will run on the majority of Android and also on iOS devices. A difference is that on Android phones from Google like the Pixel, it can hop between T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular. On iOS, as well as other Androids, it seems to be limited to T-Mobile. The big selling point is price…$20 per phone line and $10 per gig of data you use…capped at $60 under a program they call ‘Bill Protection.’ They are offering a special deal for phone purchases and signups today only, November 28th.

Facebook is testing out the ability to block certain words, phrases, and even some emoji from your wall. 9to5mac.com reports that such things as those spammy Ray Ban ads could become history if this makes it to general Facebook release, as could some political posts. A rub…the people who post the stuff and THEIR friends would still be able to see the words or items. It appears that the system is being built on a filtering feature already available in Facebook owned Instagram.

It looks like YouTube Originals will move out from behind the paywall, and become ad-supported. According to techcrunch.com, many Originals, which presently require a monthly subscription, will all become ad-supported and otherwise free. Some content will become free next year, but all should be out from paywall jail by 2020.

Be extra vigilant if you work in the pharmaceutical sector! Hackers are focusing phishing and cyber attacks on companies in the sector at a much higher rate, more than doubling since last year. Zdnet.com says last quarter, there was an average of 71 email fraud attacks per company…a 149% jump over last year. Construction firms are #2 for phishing attacks, getting 61 per company last quarter. Real estate is #3, at 54 attacks per firm last quarter, all according to Proofpoint. If you’re in doubt, don’t click or respond, and notify you’re IT department.


Facebook Warned About Russia in 2014; Shopping on Phones Explodes, Top 5 Amazon Items; 10% iPhone Tariff Threat

Things just keep looking worse for Facebook when it comes to protecting user data. Businessinsider.com says a Facebook engineer warned the company in 2014 about a potential giant data issue involving Russia. This info is coming out after the British Parliament got hold of a cache of sealed Facebook documents. UK politician Damian Collins, who reviewed the documents, made the disclosure today at a hearing in front of the International Grand Committee. Mark Zuckerberg refused to show for the hearing, sending policy chief Richard Allen. Allen if this information had been given to an external body (like an agency of the US government) at the time. Allen refused to answer. The documents are sealed under court order in California, but they were published in the United Kingdom under UK parliamentary privilege.

A couple months back, a panicked friend told me ‘My phone is my life,’ as it was temporarily missing. That is more true that ever now. Cnet.com reports that total sales on smartphones through Cyber Monday was $2.2 billion, up from $1.4 billion last year! On Cyber Monday, phones accounted for 47% of traffic to online stores and 36% of actual sales. Overall Cyber Monday sales were $7.9 million, so the mobile component was substantial. Since the 1st of November $50.6 billion has been spent online, up 20% from last year!

Amazon has announced its 5 best sellers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Topping the list, according to bgr.com, the Amazon Echo Dot at $29.99 instead of $50 In the #2 spot, AncestryDNA: Genetic Testing Ethnicity (still on sale at $59 btw). The third place seller was the adored Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Programmable Pressure Cooker…still at $30 bucks off. Bose Quiet Comfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones bagged the 4th place spot…and those are now sold out. #5 was Michelle Obama’s new book Becoming, which is still available at a $20 discount.

Yesterday, Donald Trump threatened to slap a 10% tariff on iPhones and MacBooks imported from China, and the stock acted accordingly. Today, Tim Cook is visiting an Idaho school district with Ivanka Trump to talk tech. Coincidence? I doubt it. So far, Cook has gotten Trump to lay off Apple products. Macrumors.com says in 2016 Apple donated an iPad to every student, a Mac and iPad to every teacher, and an Apple TV to each classroom via its ConnectED initiative. Will a ‘charm trip’ with Ivanka keep tariffs off Apple products again? Stay tuned.


Waymo Public Self-Driving Service Imminent; Facebook Patches Nasty Bug; Amazon Formalizes 2nd HQ (two of them); Apple XR Estimates Cut, but Sells Big on Singles’ Day

Waymo is apparently going to go live with their first commercial driverless car service in December. No name has been leaked yet, but cnet.com reports that the service will be a direct competitor for Uber and Lyft. Waymo will field its fleet of Chrysler Pacifica vans for the service, which will NOT be free. Expect to us an app to hail the car and pay for the ride. An article over the weekend speculated that, in a few years, we might see self-driving vehicles used for quick sex romps…but we will leave that to your imagination.

The engineers at Facebook have squashed a nasty bug in their code base that could have allowed hackers to collect highly personal info on Facebook users. According to zdnet.com, a security researcher found the bug and notified Facebook. He was browsing their online search results, and in the HTML saw iframe elements. By simple queries of yes and no, a lot could be determined about user interests and those of their friends. The researcher believes the iframe was used by Facebook itself. The bug was discovered in May, and the platform patched it shortly after being notified. The researchers, Ron Masas, points out that Facebook has become such a large and complicated platform, that there will always be bugs and hacks…even with their relatively generous bounty for people that spot problems and notify them.

It was reported here and elsewhere last week that Amazon was likely going to settle on two locations for it’s HQ2, and today they made it official. Theverge.com says Long Island City in Queens, NY, and Crystal City in Arlington, VA will share the HQ2 duties. Amazon already employs more people in these two locations than anywhere else outside of its Seattle HQ and the San Francisco Bay Area. An additional announcement was that Nashville will host a new East Coast operations hub, which will handle customer fulfillment and transportation. That facility will employ some 5,000.

The iPhone is doomed…long live the iPhone. A report from Ming-Chi Kuo cuts shipment estimates for the new iPhone XR from 100 million to 70 million, and that…coupled with the announcement last week that Apple won’t be releasing iPhone sales numbers moving forward, have whacked the stock. Nonetheless, 9to5mac.com says Apple had a huge day during Alibaba’s Singles’ Day on Sunday. Apple was the top selling mobile phone brand…one of 237 brands that pulled in over $14.36 million in sales on that one day (yes, it’s a funny number…but a nice, round 100 million yuan.) Apple even beat Chinese makers Xiaomi and Huawei. Huawei did come in 2nd, and Xiaomi was third in sales, though. Neither Alibaba nor Apple broke out what iPhone models sold the most during the giant online one-day event.


Alibaba Singles’ Day-Biggest Online Shopping Day; French Will Look at Facebook Moderation Processes, Samsung Folder Could Cost…Gulp… $1790; CLEAR Tech Moves From Airports to Stadiums

This year on Singles’ Day, a huge day in China, Alibaba absolutely blew up online shopping. They took in $30.8 billion in sales in 24 hours Sunday, according to businessinsider.com. As a point of reference, total online sales last year on Black Friday were $5 billion, and Cyber Monday hit $6.6 billion! Alibaba sold as much in 5 minutes Sunday as Amazon does on an entire Prime Day (which was 36 hours long last year, and it’s estimated to have taken in $4.2 billion.) Singles’ Day sales for Alibaba were across its main Alibaba site as well as Taobao.com and Tmall.com, two other sites it owns and operates.

Facebook continues to get heat for doing too little with regards to protecting user rights and policing fake news and other political manipulation. Now, techcrunch.com reports that the company will cooperate with the French government as they look into FB’s moderation…including Facebook giving ‘unprecedented access’ to their internal processes. France is looking for a third way to regulate tech…not the hands off of the US nor the locked down, repressed system China has in place.

We’ve now seen a glimpse of the Samsung folding phone at their developers’ conference, and now hear it should be hitting the streets by next March. 9to5google also notes that the phone/phablet with the Infinity Flex display will retail for $1790!! It will be known as the Samsung Galaxy F, as predicted. Folded, you have a 4.6 inch outside display, but unfolded, you get a nice, phablet-sized 7.4 inches. A cool tech that has taken a long time to come into being, but at nearly $1800, it may remain a boutique gadget, and not a top seller.

CLEAR…the folks that charge $179 a year to get you more quickly through airport lines using biometrics…is now up and running in stadiums. Geekwire.com says the service is free for sports events…besides handing over your fingerprints and taking about 5 minutes to make an account. Both CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field have implemented the service, which gets you in via a shorter line AND it enables you to both age verify and pay with your prints when buying a beer at concession stands! There are currently 4 stands at Seahawks games with the CLEAR scanners, so you can grab that brewski a little faster and get back to the game!


Google Announces Native Android ‘Foldables’ Support; Coming-Facebook 10 Minute Grace Period to Unsend Messages; Mercedes’ AI Package Delivery Tech

With a maker in China already having released a folding smartphone, Samsung releasing more about their Galaxy F, and LG on the verge of unveiling one, Google today announced Android support for a ‘foldables’ category. 9to5google.com reports that the new category of phone that unfolds into a tablet will have native Android support, allowing for makers to give you a phone with a screen like we all have, but unfolding to reveal a larger, phablet screen on the inside that is double the size of the ‘outside’ screen. Google’s ‘screen continuity’ will allow you to start with an app on the outside screen, then unfold and seamlessly continue on the bigger inner screen without a hitch. Samsung has been working closely with Google on this Android category, and is expected to release the Actual Galaxy F model early next year. The internal screen is said to be 7.3 inches.

If you have sent a Facebook private message, and instantly regretted it, you will like this. For some time, Facebook has had an ‘unsend’ feature for their top brass. Now, according to engaeget.com, the social media giant may be getting set to release the feature to everyone. It’s not an hour to change your mind like What’sApp, but a 10 minute grace period ought to be enough for people who hit send, and have nearly instant remorse. Of course, even with this feature, if the recipient has already seen the message within the 10 minute period, the deletion won’t undo whatever damage has been done to your relationship with them!

The engineers and programmers at Mercedes have been experimenting with a number of different ways to help automate delivery vehicles, so the driver/delivery person can get packages to you more quickly and efficiently. Some have ended hilariously…like one with a Ferris wheel and baskets…that one ended when a gallon of milk basically exploded all over a van. Now, the German conglomerate is trialing its latest idea. Cams and sensors light up shelves, and show the driver which shelf and spot is best for a package…lighting up green. On arrival at a drop off, it lights up green again…and everything flashes red if the person grabs the wrong item. The built in sensors also allow for less hand scanning, which should shave additional time off deliveries. AI not only helps figure out the best spot in the truck for the packages, but plots out the delivery route based on what packages are loaded and their destination addresses. Mercedes thinks this system will help the likes of FedEx and UPS, but will be even more beneficial to smaller delivery company, like those indie operators contracted by Amazon.


Facebook Chat Cam For TV; Netflix Roars With Q3; Tesla Buys Factory Site in China; Helm Shows Personal Private Email Server

On the heels of introducing their Portal video devices, with the cams that follow you around the room, Facebook is working on one that will live on top of your TV and make it into a giant sized Portal. Engadget.com says it’s code named ‘Ripley,’ and is expected to bow next spring.

In not-so-cool news about Facebook, they had previously announced that the Portal devices wouldn’t be collecting your data as the devices live in your house and serve you ads. Well, that may be true, BUT they will be hoovering up your data on who you call, and what apps you use, etc, and THAT data WILL be used to serve you ads on Facebook and its other platforms. Recode.net notes that this shouldn’t be a shock, since Facebook’s entire business model is based on using tons of data about you to serve you ads. Oh…and all the video views they get and how we’ve heard that video is much more important than printed content…well that was basically a big lie. Hire back writers, media…the written word still grabs lots and lots of eyeballs!

Netflix blew away Wall Street expectations, picking up 6.96 million new subscribers in the third quarter, while the Street expected 5.3 million. According to businessinsider.com, Netflix made 89 cents a share, which was 21 cents more than analysts had expected. Netflix did warn that per share earnings would be down in the final quarter…as they will have to recognize money invested in licensing and developing movies and shows, especially its ‘Originals.’

Not wanting to miss out on the big Chinese market or have sales impeded by the Trump tariffs, Tesla has bought a 210 acre site in Shanghai to build a new factory…one that will make the batteries as well as the cars. Arstechnica.com reports that it is in the so-called ‘free trade zone.’ Tesla expects that in 2 to 3 years, they can be pumping out 500,000 cars a year from the factory, and will avoid having prices increase by 60% if the tariffs continue or increase.

Now, you don’t have to be a public figure or a security wizard to rock your own private email server. Now, there’s Helm, a gadget that looks like a peaked roof on a tiny doll house or a hardcover book sitting on its edges with the spine at the top…that makes it as easy to set up a personal email server as setting up an Amazon Echo. Mashable.com notes that with your own server, your email will be physically in your home, not in the ether on some cloud server somewhere…but it’s still accessible from anywhere. The gadget has 128Gigs of built in storage and has a tray that can add up to 5 TB more. It’s $499, but you’ll need their update service (for security updates) for $99 a year, too. The Helm has a security key…actually a physical, metal key that plugs into a port on the top. Even if someone got physical access to the server, without the key, all is encrypted. There’s a back up electronic key that can live on your phone. It’s comparable with any email client that works with IMAP mail, including Apple Mail, Microsoft Outlook, and a number of others. The service will walk you through migrating cloud service mail like Gmail to the little box.