Google Pumps $300 Million into Saving Online Journalism; IBM Rolls Out Watson Assistant; 100 TB SSD Drive; IoT Mousetrap-Wait, What?

Google has announced that they are launching the Google News Initiative with $300 million. According to mashable.com, the intent is to fight fake news by providing publishers online tools. No list of the publishers was released at the announcement. Facebook started a similar initiative last January, but so far, not much impact has been felt the past 14 months.

In an effort to build an assistant for the business world, IBM has showed off Watson Assistant. Big Blue has been working on the project for a year, and hopes to get established in the business world before Amazon can with Alexa. Cnet.com reports that Watson won’t be for asking what the weather or a sports score is, but more of a behind the scenes brain. It is already in use in the airport in Munich, Germany for a robot that can give directions and gate info. IBM is also working with BMW for an in car voice helper. No, it doesn’t look like you will be able to use it to play Jeopardy if you’re bored in your cube, but it will be great, according to IBM, for crunching sensitive info companies may not want being bounced out into the world to Amazon, Google, Apple, or Microsoft servers.

Bigger is better, right? Now, a company in Irvine, CA, Nimbus Data, has showed the biggest SSD drive ever, a 100 Terabyte job. To give you an idea of how insanely big that is, thenextweb.com says it would hold half of Spotify’s catalog…in something that fits in a pocket!! Its not really designed for home for office use, actually…more for enterprise customers that need to cram more storage into their space that requires less cooling expense. Speaking of expense, no price is out yet, but as a comparison, Samsung has a 15TB drive that came out in 2016 for 10 grand!

A company named Victor has claimed to have built a better mousetrap…it’s connected to the Internet of Things. If this seems silly and massive overkill for way more than you’d spend on a mousetrap, you’re right. According to zdnet.com, it’s really aimed at restaurants and businesses where traps need to be set in attics and cellars that are not very accessible….because seeing visible rodents can be a sure fire business killer. The IoT mousetrap runs on Comcast’s MachineQ platform, and has a dashboard for monitoring. Victor claims they have improved battery life and WiFi range to the point that they can be left unattended for long periods, saving on labor for pest control in larger facilities. Finally….a trap that catches mice and ‘rats them out.’

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Facebook Hires Digital Forensics Firm to Audit Cambridge Analytica; Apple Developing Own MicroLED Screens; IBM working on World’s Smallest Computer; Woman Killed by Self-Driving Uber

Facebook…after failing to stop the publication of the news that Cambridge Analytica had harvested personal info from 50 million + users….has hired Stroz Friedberg to audit Cambridge. The firm, which played a big digital role in the Trump campaign, and Aleksander Kogan, the psycology professor involved in obtaining Facebook’s (and your) data, have both agreed to comply with the audit. Engadget.com says Facebook has also called on Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower who disclosed Cambridge’s use of the data, to submit to the audit. Stay tuned.

Apple is working on developing its own MicroLED displays, and has actually already built some units for testing, according to reuters.com. The next-gen screens are being made at a plant in California, and Apple has allegedly made a giant investment in this. First to get the MicroLED screens will probably be wearables like the Apple watch, with the tech then moving to iPhones and iPads.

IBM, which pioneered the personal computer, is now downsizing…ultimately to the size of a grain of sand. TechCrunch.com reports that they already are working on one in the lab that is about one millimeter square. The little computers are intended to attach to all kinds of things…and can be used to authenticate products, track medications, and more. They only have the computing power of a chip from 1990, but will also include a solar cell for self power.

Not a first anyone wants to hear about…the first fatality involving a self-driving car. Reuters.com says an Uber self-driving SUV struck and killed a woman pedestrian in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe, one of the cities where they are testing the automated cars. There was a safety driver along, who failed to react quickly enough when the woman jaywalked in the wee hours of the morning Monday. Uber has suspended all US testing until an investigation can be completed.


Snap May Buy Chinese Drone Maker; Huawei Nearly Even With Apple in Phone Sales; IBM Crams 330TB into the Palm of Your Hand

Because selfies from phones, and Spectacle glasses for short clips just aren’t enough, Snap is looking at picking up Zero Zero Robotics, a Chinese drone maker. According to thenextweb.com, they make the ‘Hover Camera Passport’ drone for $500. It is tiny, made of light carbon fiber, and uses facial recognition to track the user…making sure you’re in those shots you can later filter or plaster with stickers! The drone is being sold through the Apple Store, and so far, Zero Zero denies any deal with Snap.

Huawei is relentlessly pushing to be the world’s largest smartphone maker, and wants to do it by 2021. Macrumors.com reports that they are nipping at the heels of Apple right now, with 38.4 million shipped in the 2nd quarter of this year, compared with Apple’s 41 million. It’s still a ways to top dog Samsung, at 79.5 million. These 3 brands account for nearly half the 360 million smartphones shipped out in the 2nd quarter of 2017.

While some chase the dream of storing nearly unlimited data in your genetic material, the scientists at IBM have managed to cram 330 TERAbytes of data into a cartridge that will fit in the palm of your hand. Theverge.com says that’s enough for 330 million books! The IBM folks went old school for the medium, too, with a twist. It’s a special prototype sputtered magnetic tape. The original back up tape drives IBM made 60 years ago could hold 2 megabytes on reels of half inch wide tape! They think the medium will work well for cold storage of vast amounts of data being stored in the cloud.


Next MacBook Pros May Be the Real Deal; Apple Patents Foldable Smartphone; Amazon Rules the Cloud; Mobile Web Passes Desktops; Facebook Extends Longevity

With the continued griping that the new MacBook Pros aren’t all that ‘pro,’ here’s an interesting tidbit…9to5mac.com reports that KGI Securities says Apple was constrained by a late release of new Intel chips that are more powerful but use less juice. If the next Intel chips are more timely, 2017 may see faster, more powerful MacBook Pros with 32 gigs of ram!

Meanwhile, Apple has patented a bendable or foldable smartphone. Patentlyapple.com says this is different than Samsung’s designs…it uses advanced carbon nanotube structures. This could be done with a ceramic case…something the top Apple Watch uses, and rumored for the iPhone 8. the iPhone 9 or 10 could fold up and slip into a shirt pocket if this is put into use.

Synergy Research Group has crunched numbers, and Amazon Web Services is truly the 800 lb. gorilla of public cloud infrastructure…at 45%, they have more than Microsoft, Google, and IBM combined. According to Geekwire.com, this remains true even though Microsoft and Google are growing cloud revenue at over 100% per year. IBM does lead in managed private clouds, however.

Mobile internet use has passed desktop use for the first time, according to techcrunch.com. Mobile is now at 51.2%, with 48.7% of use still on desktops. Mobile is a whopping 75% in emerging markets like India!

Shades of ‘I want to believe’ from “X Files,” thenextweb.com has picked up a report that moderate Facebook use can lead to longer lives. It has been long known that people with strong social networks live longer, but what about online friends? A study of 12 million Facebook users by UC San Diego says yes. One of the researchers has ties to Facebook, but they claim the social media giant didn’t have a hand in determining the results. The average Facebook user is allegedly 12% less likely to die than non-users. Fox Mulder is using Facebook to look for aliens, and thinks you’re one.


New HTC Phone Revealed that Mimics iPhone

A big leak has revealed the next big HTC smartphone…the Aero…and surprise! It looks a lot like an iPhone, right down to several of the colors it will be available in. HTC has a product unveiling September 29th, when the smartphone will be officially introduced to the world. It features at 5 inch AMOLED screen, 2 gigs of RAM and 16 gigs of storage, with a micro SD slot for more memory. The Aero has a fingerprint sensor, and a 13 megapixel camera. It will run Android 6.0 Marshmellow. Six color choices are available, including the three that mimic Apple’s. We should see pricing on the 29th.

IBM has announced that it’s opening a second headquarters in Sn Francisco next year for it’s AI system Watson. The New York Times reports the center will eventually employ several hundred people. Watson is also getting additional capabilities including speech, language understanding, image recognition, and sentiment analysis. IBM already has 350 companies partnering and using Watson to make products, with about 50 of those on the market. It could eventually become something of a super operating system…doing much more than winning at Jeopardy!


New Force Touch Macbook Pro and iMac Out This Week

Wednesday looks to be the day that Apple drops new 15 inch Macbook Pros and 27 inch iMacs with Force Touch baked in to the track pads. 9to5mac.com says that otherwise, the update will be a minor one, with upgrades to the CPU and graphics processors.

In a story from tech crunch.com penned by the CEO of Zuora, the present car industry is compared to the early PC industry of the mid 80’s. The auto makers are cast as being as clueless as giant IBM was at that time, and Digital Equipment…remember them…even more out of touch. IBM went on to be clobbered as the platform…like Windows or Mac…became much more important to consumers than the brand itself. With Gartner predicting that there will be 250 million connected cars on the road by 2020, the platform makers, like Google with Android Auto and Apple with Car Play, may become far more important that the actual brand of cars…causing a gigantic shakeup in the auto industry.


The Nexus 6-Bigger than iPhone 6 Plus, With a Price to Match

Google’s monster 6 inch Nexus 6, just introduced yesterday is $650, up from the $350 of the old Nexus 5. Geek.com says they’re positioning it as a flagship handset. Preorders start October 29th.

Lenovo, the Chinese laptop company spun off from IBM, already makes smartphones, but is starting a new company to focus exclusively on smart devices. Cnet.com reports they will primarily focus on internet sales in China.

Another use for 3D printing…WonderLuk is using it to customize fashion accessories. Techcrunch.com says they believe in 5 years, 3D printing will allow for perfectly fitted clothes, delivered to your door.