Posts Tagged ‘internet’

NSA Struggles to Make Sense of Flood of Surveillance Data

December 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

William Binney, creator of some of the computer code used by the National Security Agency to snoop on Internet traffic around the world, delivered an unusual message at a recent privacy conference to an audience worried that the spy agency knows too much. It knows so much, he said, that it can’t understand what it has. “What they are doing is making themselves dysfunctional by taking all this data,” Mr. Binney said. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

Read More

Tech Stocks Hover Near 2013 Highs, Paving Way for 2014 IPOs Like Alibaba, Box and Dropbox

December 26, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

iStock Today, the tech sector got a pretty nice post-Christmas present, as stocks of many companies in the sector continued to remain near their highs for the year. And with 2013 seeing the most U.S. tech IPOs since 2000 — according to a recent report, there were 45 in the year — 2014 is looking to be another strong year for public offerings. Those include, though will not be limited to: Alibaba Group, which could exceed Facebook’s $16 billion outing; Box, the file-sharing site; Dropbox, the online storage upstart; Candy Crush maker King.com; Coupons.com, the digital couponing site; Lending Club, the peer-to-peer lending service; clean-tech firm Opower; and Internet dating company Zoosk. The impact of the upcoming IPOs has already been felt on existing issues, most especially Yahoo. Though some of the excitement around the stock has been due to the shimmery image of CEO Marissa Mayer, its continued core business declines have been largely ignored by investors in favor of its 24 percent stake in Alibaba. In contrast to Yahoo’s lagging results, the Chinese Internet giant’s performance has been spectacular, and it has had more than a halo effect on shares of the Silicon Valley company. Yahoo’s stock is close to its 52-week high — reached on Tuesday at $41.05 — and is up 104.6 percent in the year to date. Search giant Google is getting its bump from its own strong performance, up 57.6 percent for the year and hovering close to its $1,118 per share high. The same goes for Microsoft — despite all the uncertainty around the identity of its new CEO, the pending departure of Steve Ballmer has its shares up 40 percent for the year and also close to its nearly $39 high. Retail giant Amazon is up more than 60 percent, close to its $405 high

Read More

Merry Christmas From ATD and the Gift of a YouTube Yule Log

December 25, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

One of my favorite memories of Christmas as a kid was watching the annual yule log broadcast on TV, as I was sitting next to a real fireplace. I will readily admit that this holiday story is warped. Moving on! In the digital world of today, you can enjoy the tradition via the Internet. So, here’s a hour of a cracking fire on Google’s YuleTube, oops , YouLog, oops , YouTube:

Read More

Rampant Returns Plague E-Retailers

December 23, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Free shipping and lenient return policies have given online retailing a huge boost. Now, chains are mining their order data to get shoppers to keep more purchases. Behind the uptick in e-commerce is a little known secret: As much as a third of all Internet sales gets returned, according to retail consultancy Kurt Salmon. And the tide of goods flowing back to retailers is rising. Shipper United Parcel Service Inc. expects returns to jump 15 percent this season from last year, making them a significant and growing cost for retailers. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

Read More

Has Justine Sacco Been Fired Yet? Barry Diller’s IAC Isn’t Saying

December 21, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

IAC, the Internet media company run by Barry Diller, removed the name and contact info for communications director Justine Sacco after her racially charged tweet about AIDS and Africa spawned a massive wave of outrage on Twitter. But the company has not yet confirmed whether she has been fired for the offending tweet. On Friday,... Read more

Read More

Top Products in Two Decades of Tech Reviews

December 18, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

This is my last column for The Wall Street Journal, after 22 years of reviewing consumer technology products here. So I thought I’d talk about the dozen personal-technology products I reviewed that were most influential over the past two decades. Obviously, narrowing so many products in the most dynamic of modern industries down to 12 is a subjective exercise and others will disagree. Though most were hits, a couple weren’t blockbusters, financially, and one was an outright flop. Instead, I used as my criteria two main things. First, the products had to improve ease of use and add value for average consumers. That was the guiding principle I laid down in the first sentence of my first column, in 1991: “Personal computers are just too hard to use, and it’s not your fault.” Second, I chose these 12 because each changed the course of digital history by influencing the products and services that followed, or by changing the way people lived and worked. In some cases, the impact of these mass-market products is still unfolding. All of these products had predecessors, but they managed to take their categories to a new level. Some readers will complain that Apple is overrepresented. My answer: Apple introduced more influential, breakthrough products for average consumers than any other company over the years of this column.

Read More

You’ve Come a Long Way, Silicon Valley

December 17, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

At the first big technology conference I attended, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas a decade ago, I squeezed past hundreds of attendees on the show floor and was surprised to find myself alone in the ladies’ bathroom. Down the hall, the line for the men’s bathroom snaked out the door. Throughout my career at The Wall Street Journal, I’ve used my casual ladies’ bathroom observations as my own barometer to measure the number of women at events and, more broadly, in the tech community. The more women I see in the field, the less likely it is that just a team of guys are making and marketing tech products. Eleven years later, I’m happy to report I now regularly wait in line for the ladies’ rooms at conferences and product announcement events. A lot has happened since that first conference and I’ve had a front-row seat on this ever-changing industry. I’ve never written exclusively for or about women; rather, I hope my columns are read by anyone interested in learning more about a product. But privately I’ve noted the industry’s shift away from masculine marketing and product designs. In my final column this week, I’m taking a moment to look back at a few examples of how products geared toward women shaped this industry, counting failures and successes. First, the misses. A great example of a now-defunct company that tried entirely too hard to appeal to women with its product was the 2009 Palm Pre. The pebble-shaped smartphone had a slide-out keyboard and the company was proud to note that women would like the mirror that was revealed on the back of the pulled-down keyboard. On top of that, its commercial felt like a cross between a coordinated dance routine and a soap opera, complete with a woman standing on a rock in a windblown dress while she organized her digital life on a Palm Pre. A woman’s breathy voice-over said she was working on sorting “my family’s lives, friends’ lives, work life, play life, my life today and my life next week.” At the end of the commercial, the woman sat on the rock in the middle of a field with her dress tucked under her. All women do this, right? One of the most well-known failed attempts to design for women came in the shade of pink. After years of designing dull black and silver products, tech companies seemed to think they found the solution for appealing to all women by slapping a rosy hue on a device and calling it a female favorite. As laptops, cameras, cellphones, headphones, Bluetooth headsets, portable speaker docks, mice, keyboards and other products flooded the market, women continued to look for the best products with the best user interfaces—not just the pink ones. Another more recent failure: Verizon’s Droid

Read More

Verizon In Advanced Talks to Buy Intel’s Internet TV Unit

December 13, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Verizon Communications is in “advanced talks” on a deal to acquire Intel Media, which has aborted plans to launch an over-the-top pay TV package, Variety has confirmed. The deal, if it happens, would signal Verizon’s move to become the first “virtual” subscription TV service in the U.S. Verizon offers a traditional facilities-based TV service through... Read more

Read More

With Private Messaging, Instagram and Twitter Continue Their Arms Race

December 12, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

So Instagram introduced a version of private messaging on Thursday morning, allowing users to send photos to only one or a few of their followers at a time. And it’s a fine decision. Communication between Instagram users has been limited mainly to proxy networks to date. This knits the service together more cohesively. But more than that, it heightens the continuing battle with another popular social network: Twitter. And Twitter should be worried. Consider the similarities: Both Twitter and Instagram are based on blasting out wide distribution of content to a public follower network. Both now allow users to send media privately on a one-to-one basis. And Twitter is looking much more like Instagram lately, shifting toward full in-line photos inside users’ Twitter streams (though users can still choose solely to communicate via text). Both are trying to be, in a nutshell, the premier public media-sharing service on the Internet. “Instagram is here today because we were public from the start,” Instagram founder Kevin Systrom said in an interview. “And I think if we were a private network or if we had a symmetrical following model, we wouldn’t nearly be as big as we are today.” And make no mistake: Twitter may have 232 million monthly active users, but Instagram is big . The photo-sharing service has garnered more than 150 million monthly active users in half the time Twitter has existed. And more than 50 percent of Instagram’s users return to the service on a daily basis . That’s got to be unsettling for Twitter. The curveball in all of this, however, has been the rise of private messaging over the past few years. While Twitter and Instagram rose to prominence based on the premise of being public, both companies realize that the general public has room for forms of both public and private online expression, rather than one over another. And if not given the choice to share and communicate privately within a network, users will go elsewhere to find it

Read More

Two Houses, One Cable TV Bill

December 11, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Q: I have a vacation home and I am paying for cable service at two houses. Is there a practical way to stream TV from one house to another and eliminate one cable bill? A: Probably the easiest option is to buy a Slingbox, a device that starts at $180. It connects to a cable box and streams the programming over the Internet to a PC or Mac, smartphone or tablet, using Sling’s SlingPlayer software. If you want to watch the streamed content at the other house on your TV screen, you can either beam it from a mobile device to the TV via a Roku or Apple TV, or purchase a small set-top box from one of several companies, like Western Digital, which build in the SlingPlayer software. Q: In my work I often visit places that don’t allow camera phones for security reasons. I currently have a BlackBerry Torch without a camera. I would like to upgrade to an iPhone or Android device. Do any of these type of phones come without a camera? A: There are no iPhones sold without cameras.

Read More