Posts Tagged ‘time’

What You Need to Know About Online Gift-Card Exchanges

December 30, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Chances are you received at least one gift card this week. According to the National Retail Federation, gift-card spending this holiday season was expected to reach an all-time high. Eighty percent of consumers said they planned to buy these oh-so-personal pieces of plastic. But, as we all know, gift cards often go unspent — or half-spent, with a nominal balance left on them for all of retail eternity. So if you’d rather turn them in for cash or another brand-name gift card, this column might help you out. What follows are some possible questions about how online gift-card exchanges work.

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CIOs Brand Enterprise Social Tools as Most Overhyped Technology of the Year

December 30, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

It’s the end of the year, and that means a plethora of stories and lists with a lot of hyperbolic words like “hottest” or “greatest” in the headline rendering some kind of judgment on the prior 12 months. Usually I tend to avoid these stories because there are too many of them . But I was attracted to this one in part because of its balance of the cynical and the not-cynical, and by the source of the survey data: The CIOs of large corporations. It comes by way of Sierra Ventures, the enterprise-focused venture capital firm based in Palo Alto, Calif. For years that firm has maintained a network of about 70 CIOs at some of the world’s biggest companies, and has routinely sought their input on their needs from directly in the corporate IT trenches. Sierra has in turn allowed that advice to help guide its investment decisions and how it helps its portfolio companies grow. Recently it held its annual CIO Summit, and the time came to ask about 40 of those CIOs what was on their minds. The result was a simple survey with one key question: What were the most overhyped and underhyped technologies being hawked to large enterprises during the year? The answers were pretty clear and, at least in the overhyped category, close to unanimous. The most overhyped, in their view, were social tools aimed at the enterprise. This would include products like Jive, Microsoft’s Yammer, Salesforce.com’s Chatter, Moxie, VMWare’s Socialcast and a host of others. Their reasoning, as Al Campa, a partner at Sierra Ventures put it, was equally simple: “They don’t feel there’s any evidence for a return on investment or ROI,” he said. “It just didn’t move the needle for them when compared to other technologies they looked at.” It’s a kind of predictable answer where CIOs are concerned, but not chief marketing officers, or CMOs, said Tim Guleri, a managing partner at Sierra Ventures. “CIOs are all about controlling spending and driving down their costs and finding money to fund innovation elsewhere,” he said.

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NBC Ends Fall With Dominant Weekly Performance in Demos

December 24, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

NBC closed out a strong fall last week with another victory in key demos, this time blowing away the competish behind “Sunday Night Football” and the cycle finale of “The Voice.” The Peacock also got solid perfs from limited-run series “The Sing-Off” and kept the lights on with encores of holiday faves like “SNL Christmas”... Read more

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The One Big Question About RSA and Its Relationship With the NSA

December 24, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Last week, the Internet security world was jolted by a Reuters report detailing a secret $10 million payment to the security company RSA from the National Security Agency. The source of the information, Reuters said, came from new documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The point of the payment, according to the report, was to help the NSA boost the adoption of a formula it had created for generating random numbers, which was then inserted as the default option on RSA security products. The result would essentially amount to the creation of a “back door,” giving the NSA the ability to decrypt Internet traffic that had been encrypted using a product known as BSafe. On Sunday, RSA, a division of storage and IT giant EMC best known for its widely used security tokens, denied the report in a corporate blog post. It said that it has worked with the NSA for years and has never kept the relationship a secret, doing so with the intent of strengthening security products used in both the government and private sectors. But its explanation is incomplete — RSA’s statement has been attacked by many — and leaves many questions. Among them is one big one that hangs above all the others: What did RSA know about the algorithm that was ultimately found to contain the “back door,” and, perhaps more importantly, if it did have some idea, why did it say nothing about it for six years? The problematic formula is known as Dual EC DRBG, which stands for Dual Elliptic Curve Deterministic Random Bit Generator . Generating a random number is a crucial function in encrypting communications on the Internet. RSA included the software libraries for using it in BSafe products beginning in 2004. At the time, the method was on its way to being approved by the U.S.

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All Things Walt: Mossberg’s Top Dozen Picks Over 20 Years of Reviewing Tech (Video)

December 23, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Here’s the tech reviewer Walt Mossberg talking on CNBC about his top picks for the last two decades he has written about the arena. Mossberg names Apple products as the biggest influencer over this time, although in his last column for The Wall Street Journal after more than 20 years of reviewing, he also mentions Microsoft’s Windows 95, Google Search and Twitter. Although he is leaving the WSJ on December 31 — and this site too, since it is owned by News Corp. — there is much more to come at the start of 2014. You can read a bit about that here in this Mashable exit interview , where Mossberg talks about his work over the last 20 years and more. Here’s the best part, his advice for young journalists just starting out, which never really changes: “I would tell them quality over quantity, which is one of the biggest sins on the Web, particularly today.

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In Wake of Card Data Breach, Target’s Redcard Website Has Been Down All Day

December 20, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

When Target this morning acknowledged a security breach of data from up to 40 million credit and debit cards used in its stores over a two-week period beginning around Thanksgiving, it told its shoppers to monitor their accounts for fishy transactions. But if the card you’ve used in a Target store recently is one of Target’s very own debit or credit cards, dubbed Redcards, you’re out of luck for now. The Redcard website has essentially been down all day. I tried to log in for the first time around 11 am ET, but the site wouldn’t load. More than nine hours later, at the time of this writing, the site is still down. The phone line has been down all day as well.

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Mirriad, the Company That Wants to Automate Product Placement, Gets Some High-Profile Help

December 19, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

You don’t want to watch ads. But if the ad is inserted directly into the thing you want to watch, you’ll put up with it. You might even like it. That’s the premise behind product placement, which is a very old idea. Now Mirriad is trying to update the concept, by digitizing it, and creating a marketplace that lets advertisers and content owners make deals on the fly. That means that in theory, if Coke wanted to insert some cans into reruns of “NCIS,” it could cut a deal with CBS, using a Web dashboard, and you’d never know that Mark Harmon was guzzling something else the first time around. Mirriad isn’t the first company to layer digital images onto video — if you’ve watched sports on TV over the last decade, you’ve seen it all the time, from the first-down markers on NFL games to the rotating billboards behind home plate in baseball games

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Tristan Walker’s Next Act: Building a Procter & Gamble for People of Color

December 18, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

In his first few months as an entrepreneur in residence at Andreessen Horowitz, Tristan Walker dreamed big when it came to startup ideas. There were the seeds he planted for a new kind of bank. There was the idea for a venture aimed at tackling childhood obesity. But, then, Walker decided his best bet was to found a company that was more “authentic” to him and his experiences. What he came up with was Walker & Company Brands, a next-generation Procter and Gamble with a straightforward, if ambitious, mission: To make health and beauty simple for people of color. That’s what he told me in an interview on Sunday night about his new company, which has raised $2.4 million led by Los Angeles-based Upfront Ventures, with backing from Andresseen Horowitz, SV Angel, Collaborative Fund, Sherpa Ventures and the William Morris agency’s Charles King. Prior to Andreessen Horowitz, Walker ran business development at Foursquare, where he worked for nearly three years. On the surface, at least, the switch from a social-networking site to a consumer product goods company doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But when you hear Walker talk about his reason for creating Bevel, a $29.95 a month shaving kit that is the first brand launching under the Walker & Company umbrella and accepting pre-orders today , you can understand his motivation. Here’s an edited version of our conversation. Where did this idea come from? Tristan Walker: I was at Andreessen Horowitz for about nine months and I feel personally that I spent seven months of my time there chasing problems I probably wasn’t the right guy to solve. I wanted to build a bank.

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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

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Total 2013 Box Office Poised for Record, Despite ‘The Hobbit’ Sequel Falling Short of Predecessor

December 15, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Despite a softer-than-expected landing for Warner Bros.-New Line’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” with an estimated $73.7 million domestically, the box office saw a healthy resurgence over this time last year, thanks in large part to the holdover performance of Disney’s “Frozen,” which collected $22.2 million in its fourth frame. Ultimately, “The Desolation of... Read more

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