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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Trump-Amazon spat puts Pentagon's cloud bid in spotlight – CNET

The Department of Defense is working on a multibillion-dollar cloud services contract. Amazon’s rivals are already claiming Amazon is being favored for the job.
Source: CNET

Ford Escape biffs IIHS crash test as airbag fails to deploy – Roadshow

The Insurance Institute’s latest round of crash testing evaluated 7 different small SUVs, including the BMW X1, Chevy Equinox, Jeep Compass and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.
Source: CNET

Shocker! VR has a harassment problem too – CNET

Could the internet’s issues with harassment spill into virtual spaces? One survey says yes.
Source: CNET

Amazon’s Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 tablets get hands-free Alexa access – CNET

Available only for current models, the new feature rolls out this week via a free, over-the-air software update.
Source: CNET

Facebook rewrites Terms Of Service, clarifying device data collection

Facebook is spelling out in plain english how it collects and uses your data in rewritten versions of its Terms Of Service and Data Use Policy, though it’s not asking for new rights to collect and use your data or changing any of your old privacy settings.The public has seven days to comment on the changes (though Facebook doesn’t promise to adapt or even respond to the feedback) before Facebook will ask all users to consent to the first set of new rules in three years.

Unfortunately since the changes to the language and structure of the terms are so wide-reaching, it’s difficult to do a direct comparison of the differences between the old TOS and DUP, and the new versions embedded below.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the expanded, plain language terms are the specifics of how Facebook collects data from your devices. Conspiracy theories about it snooping on people through its microphone, and confusion about it collecting SMS and call log history likely pushed Facebook to give people details about what data its slurping up.

Facebook now explains that:

Information we obtain from these devices includes:

• Device attributes: information such as the operating system, hardware and software versions, battery level, signal strength, available storage space, browser type, app and file names and types, and plugins.

• Device operations: information about operations and behaviors performed on the device, such as whether a window is foregrounded or backgrounded, or mouse movements (which can help distinguish humans from bots).

• Identifiers: unique identifiers, device IDs, and other identifiers, such as from games, apps or accounts you use, and Family Device IDs (or other identifiers unique to associated with the same device or account).

• Device signals: Bluetooth signals, and information about nearby Wi-Fi access points, beacons, and cell towers. • Data from device settings: information you allow us to receive through device settings you turn on, such as access to your GPS location, camera or photos.

• Network and connections: information such as the name of your mobile operator or ISP, language, time zone, mobile phone number, IP address, connection speed and, in some cases, information about other devices that are nearby or on your network, so we can do things like help you stream a video from your phone to your TV.

• Cookie data: data from cookies stored on your device, including cookie IDs and settings. Learn more about how we use cookies in the Facebook Cookies Policy and .

Facebook has also clarified how new products it’s launched since the last TOS update like Marketplace, fundraisers, Live, 360, and camera effects work. It explains how every user’s experience is personalized. Facebook also makes it clear that it, WhatsApp, and Oculus (as well as Instagram) are all part of one company.

If Facebook can give users a better understanding of how it works, it might be able to diffuse privacy scandals and backlashes before they happen.

Facebook updated Terms Of Service – 4/4/18 by Josh TechCrunch on Scribd

Facebook updated Data Use Policy – 4/4/18 by Josh TechCrunch on Scribd


Source: TechCrunch

Skimlinks CEO & founder Navarro moves on, hands reigns to new CEO

Founders don’t always see a startup all the way through to an “exit”. It happens a lot more often than you realise. In fact, it’s quite often the case in Silicon Valley, despite the mythic status the ‘founder story’ has attained there in recent times. So it’s actually a sign of maturity that founders in Europe are making moves of this nature.

The most recent was George Bevis, founder of startup business bank Tide, who has decided he’d rather find a CEO experienced at scaling a business after the initial startup phase. And today two more UK founders have decided to call it a day and move on.

Alicia Navarro will today step down from the role of CEO of Skimlinks — the commerce monetisation platform for content publishers — handing the reigns to Sebastien Blanc, currently Chief Revenue Officer. Sources say the move was been amicably approved by the Skimlinks board. Both Navarro, and her co-founder Joe Stepniewski who was Chief Product & Strategy Officer, are to now leave the day to day running of the company, although Navarro will become “President” and maintain a role as “founding visionary, client and partner advocate, and board member.” The company will also now go on the hunt for a Chairman.

Under Navarro’s leadership, Skimlinks raised $25 million in venture funding and built a monetisation platform that today includes over 57,000 publisher clients running Skimlinks technology on 4.5 million websites around the world, driving billions in e-commerce sales.

Blanc brings a wealth of experience to the role. In a statement, Navarro said “he has a drive for excellence and a disciplined growth mindset that will take Skimlinks to the next level. As our Chief Revenue Officer for the past two years, Seb was instrumental in driving an acceleration in growth and efficiency that helped Skimlinks reach profitability. Skimlinks’ culture is one of our most important assets. Seb’s deep appreciation for our team, our customers, and our mission make him my natural choice to take over the responsibility of the company I started and led for ten years.”

Blanc has over 15 years experience in the media and advertising industry as an investor, advisor, and senior executive. Prior to joining Skimlinks, Blanc was a director at Quantcast, where he built and led the global media buying operations across five countries and signed the first 3,000 private deals with premium publishers. He joined Quantcast through their acquisition of the UK startup Struq, a programmatic advertising and retargeting specialist, where he launched the US operation and took revenues from $0 to $10 million in 18 months.

Blanc said: “Over the last two years, as CRO of Skimlinks, I have enjoyed working with Alicia and seeing her lead with a level of passion and dedication that only a founder can truly bring. She built a great business and a great team. I am looking forward to building upon what already makes us special, and finding new ways to deliver value for our customers and opportunities for growth to our people.”

He told me: “The main plan is to continue the current strategy of encouraging large content publishers to increase the amount of commerce they do as part of revenue. The goal is to double down and give them better tools to do that. Big publishers have just started working on eCommerce revenue. But most publishers are making very low revenue per user. So “service journalism” and “commerce journalism” can become a real revenue source.”

John Brimacombe, Partner at Sussex Place Ventures and lead investor in Skimlinks’ Series A, will assume the role of interim executive chairman while the company conducts a search for a permanent chairman. Brimacombe commented, “Alicia is a model founder. Along with her co-founder Joe Stepniewski, Alicia took Skimlinks from an idea to more than $50 million in annual revenues. As the company now enters a new chapter of growth, Alicia made the bold decision to find a successor and guide the board through a thoughtful process to select a new CEO. I deeply respect and appreciate all that Alicia and Joe have done, and I’m delighted to work with Seb in his role as CEO.”

Joe Krancki, Partner at Frog Capital commented: “Since we led their Series C, Skimlinks has solidified its position as a lucrative partner to many of the world’s best-known digital publishers, becoming the undisputed leader in the category they created for commerce-related content monetisation. We’re thrilled to have Seb carry Alicia’s vision forward as the new CEO of Skimlinks and continue transforming the way publishers earn revenue from their content.”

So what will Navarro do now?

She plans to help start and build other early-stage companies, mainly in an advisory role, and also public speaking.

“This has not been an easy decision, as you would expect. I am incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved as a team. However, my passion and talents lie in turning an idea into a thriving business,” she says. People will now be able to follow her exploits on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Source: TechCrunch

Amazon is bringing hands-free Alexa to Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 tablets

Amazon is bringing “hands-free” access to Alexa – a feature currently found on its flagship Fire HD 10 tablet – to the rest of its Fire tablet line, the company announced this morning. Starting this week, owners of either the Fire 7 and the Fire HD 8 (2017) will be able to launch Alexa using their voice, whenever the tablet’s screen is in use or the device is connected to power.

While Alexa has been available on Amazon’s devices for some time, it wasn’t until the Fire HD 10 arrived that Alexa could be used in a hands-free mode. Now that same functionality will roll out to Amazon’s other tablets through a free, over-the-air software update.

Once enabled, device owners will be able to talk to Alexa without touching their tablet – asking her to do things like play a song, turn off the lights, start or pause a movie, check your calendar, control your smart home (including viewing video from connected cameras or doorbells) and more.

The feature essentially turns the tablet into a poor man’s Echo Show, the $230 Echo device with a screen. Of course, there are some drawbacks to Alexa on tablets. The speakers aren’t as good as a full-sized Echo, and tablets don’t have the mic array you’d find on an Echo, either. But being able to say “Alexa,” is a familiar experience for users who expect to be able to talk to a device’s virtual assistant hands-free, as they can with Siri or Google Assistant on other devices.

Alexa on the Fire HD 10 is a better experience than on the 7 or HD 8 because customers can access Alexa hands-free even when the screen is on standby. It also doesn’t require a power connection.

But because the Fire 7 or Fire 8 HD device has to be plugged in or the screen has to be in use, it’s a better option for using the tablet as a smart display, rather than a full replacement for an Echo that works anytime.

Amazon says the feature is rolling out this week.

Source: TechCrunch

Is venture capital ready for companies with no founders?

Initial coin offerings (ICOs) — a funding mechanism based on the technology behind cryptocurrencies like bitcoin — are a hot new way to launch a startup and they’re forcing investors to look at the startup process anew.

Venture firms like mine understand that ICOs can reinvent how entrepreneurs bring innovations to life, but no one is quite sure how this will play out.

The tech community is so perplexed by the swelling interest in ICOs, notable firms that traditionally compete to invest in the early stages of a company are trying to figure it out together, and often end up co-investing in the ICOs.

Until recently, investors in Silicon Valley were obsessed with finding founders who have a great sense of purpose and a vision for a product or service. All the great companies have been driven by visionary founders, from Bill Hewlett and David Packard, to Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. So early-stage investors spend all their time looking for great founders and helping them build a company behind their instincts and leadership. This has been the model for 50 years.

In many ways, that model has been beneficial to the economy. We’ve built a lot of companies that have had an astounding impact on our lives and employed massive numbers of people. But the model has also created problems. The most formidable companies have accreted tremendous resources and power and are responsible for making profound decisions that affect whole industries and billions of people. Ultimately, all that power now lies in the judgment of a very few people — founders such as Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Google’s Larry Page.

But all this could be about to change. Just like the origins of cryptocurrency were in deep dissatisfaction with hyper-scaled banks, initial coin offerings are in response in part to the lack of transparency and misalignment of interests between companies and consumers.

ICOs won’t just break traditional company models – they may also temper the concentration of power brought on by traditional company models. For instance, a company’s ICO could be set up to encourage responsible innovation that benefits society, and ICO-backed collectives owned and operated by billions of people worldwide could challenge tech monopolies and spread wealth beyond the richest 1 percent.

But first, we have to make ICOs work in an acceptable, repeatable way. Right now, the ICO frenzy seems like a whirlwind of experimentation, and none of the outcomes have had much commercial impact.

ICOs are based on blockchain technology. A key component of blockchain is that it allows two entities (or people) to exchange value without a central authority (like a stock exchange or bank) executing the transaction. The transactions are tracked and carried out in software that runs on computers distributed all over the world. This mechanism is great for issuing a kind of software-based stock called tokens.

These tokens can be embedded with software instructions that dictate the rules of that investment. A token doesn’t have to be a passive share of a company like traditional stock. It might instead include a promise to deliver a service or product, which is similar to the way fundraising campaigns work on Kickstarter. Tokens can govern themselves and track every transaction, so no central stock exchange is necessary and no nation’s government can easily regulate the instruments.

An ICO company might, for instance, decide it will reveal financial information weekly — or annually, or never –depending on how management wants to run the company. Investors get to see those rules and decide whether they like the idea of investing in such a company.

Unlike today’s startups, an ICO can be a completely decentralized way of founding and running an enterprise. A person or collective could set up an ICO and program it with all the parameters that govern the entity – what it will do, how it will operate, and so on – and start a company that builds itself. That’s a more sophisticated version of how Wikipedia became the biggest encyclopedia on the planet: it set up rules for writing and editing, and then the community took over.

Can this work in real life? Pavel Durov, the Russian founder of popular messaging app Telegram, got global press coverage for his $1.7 billion pre-ICO sale to create a cryptocurrency that would become a way for Telegram users to make payments anywhere in the world. But keep in mind that Durov is using his ICO to raise millions for a global project that so far has no product. If he’s successful, the resulting cryptocurrency can become a platform for apps and financial transactions. But whatever this becomes, the rules embedded in the ICO will operate it – not Durov.

Pavel Durov, Telegram CEO

Imagine services or applications built on blockchain that no company or person can dominate. A collective version of Facebook could make users and developers feel more in control, and less subject to Facebook’s whims. You could set your own rules on how much privacy to give up, or how much you’d get paid by every person who listens to the music you post. I’m convinced that at some point, someone will set up a blockchain social network that gets all the rules right and becomes an attractive alternative to Facebook.

As a long-time investor in startups, though, I have concerns about ICOs that I can’t yet resolve. Getting consensus among a large group is harder and slower than a powerful leader issuing orders. Social good is wonderful, but it won’t get anywhere unless the entity can execute and build great products and services – hard to do without a structure and dedicated staff.

The decentralized nature of ICO enterprises seems to often lead to chaos. One company, Tezos, raised $232 million in a 2017 ICO, but now seems to be falling apart. The founding team is fighting among themselves, the ICO participants can’t get access to the tokens they bought, and at least four class-action lawsuits have been filed, most charging Tezos with violating security laws and defrauding those who joined the ICO.

Then again, some run-of-the-mill venture-backed startups end up in similar messes.

I am keen to see early success with the ICO model because I believe it will benefit society. Entrepreneurs in small towns who have crazy ideas would typically find it impossible to even get a meeting with a top-tier VC. ICOs give them a way to get funded by a broader range of individual investors, and that should help spread wealth to more people in more places.

Blockchain today, as many have said, seems a lot like the internet in the early-1990s, when the internet’s rules were evolving and few people understood what it could be used for. Like the internet, blockchain is a free protocol on which all sorts of new products and services will ride. It’s going to drive massive innovation, and as investors, it’s our job to support that innovation and bring it to market. Now we have to figure out how to best do that.

As I orient myself to ICO-based opportunities, I’ve come to realize there are some important questions we have to ask of these new ICO ventures. Is there economic alignment between the company and its investors or token holders? Is the crypto-token model essential for the technology under consideration, or is someone just taking advantage of the cryptocurrency frenzy? Is an ICO raising the right amount of money – or raising a crazy amount of money that will never pay off?

I also think it’s more important than ever to ask if the ICO’s rules are aligned with society’s core values instead of with the motivations of a founder.

And then, odd as it can seem, VCs need to retrain themselves to assess blockchain-based algorithms in the way we’ve long assessed founders. After all, the next time we find ourselves considering an investment in a company that might change the world, we might be examining blockchain code and reading a governing white paper. There won’t even be a founder to talk to.

Source: TechCrunch

Some data science on the newly-released Trump and China tariffs

War! The Trump administration announced late last night its next daring attack on China’s unfair trade practices, and it has gone straight for the jugular, announcing that it is putting tariffs on about 1330 goods including “Parts for air conditioning machines” and “Bakery ovens, including biscuit ovens.”

Including biscuit ovens! Without the heat emanating from our precious biscuit ovens, we will be able to avoid using air conditioning when all the A/C parts run out. Brilliant.

There’s even more heat packed into these tariffs though, since Chinese-made flamethrowers were included on the list. No word yet on whether Elon Musk’s Boring Company Not A Flamethrower Flamethrower will be counted as a flamethrower (or made in China for that matter).

Of course, the Chinese have responded with their own new tariffs list (a list different from the new tariffs the country announced on Monday). The new new tariffs includes soy, cars, and other goods from America.

Okay, I admit it: tariffs are really boring. The tit-for-tat attacks are like a really boring game of Battleship. Actually, that’s redundant — it’s just a game of Battleship, so I am going to try to spice things up with some data science.

The modern economy is complicated. What exactly is a “biscuit oven” anyway? How does the government know when to apply a tariff to a good and when not to? To solve these dilemmas, the U.S. government invented a mechanism called the Harmonized Tariff Schedule which has categories for every product in the world organized into chapters numbered 1 through 99.

Some chapters, like chapter 86 (“Railway or tramway locomotives, rolling-stock and parts thereof; [blah blah blah]”) have only a couple of dozen categories, while chapter 84 (“Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances; parts thereof,” i.e. the cool stuff) has by my count more than 2000 categories.

I wanted to look at the 1333 categories the Trump administration picked to understand what goods seemed to draw the most attention from the trade team. Unfortunately, the list of categories was released as a PDF (thanks government!), so I had to perform several conversions to get the raw data. The entire Harmonized Tariff Schedule is available in a machine-readable format through Data.gov.

Using Python, I performed counts of the various HTS numbers to compare the number of categories available under the schedule with the number of categories that the Trump administration proposed for tariffs. This is a pretty rough analysis, since the categories are administrative and not economic (in other words, some categories could be worth billions of dollars while others are much less valuable). That said, this analysis can still give us a sense of where the administration focused on.

Two categories were hit hard by the tariffs – Chapter 30 pharmaceuticals and Chapter 86 locomotive parts. Both had more than a third of their categories added to the tariffs list with China, far above the percentage of other categories. From there, precision equipment and machinery (Chapters 90 and 84 respectively) were hit, covering roughly a quarter of products each. My complete analysis list is included below.

One hypothesis I would take from these tariffs is that they could actually be quite a bit more punitive than first meets the eye. While the tariffs are being applied to roughly $50 billion worth of goods, the goods appear to have been specifically chosen to encompass a range of parts and machines required in manufacturing.

For instance, imagine that your “Instrument panel clocks” suddenly got more expensive, so you have to source clocks from a new vendor in another country. If you have to find new sources for enough parts, you might just consider adjusting your entire supply chain in the process, even for parts that didn’t come under the new tariffs regime. It’s this second-order economic effect that I think will be important to pay attention to.

No one should read the Harmonized Tariffs Schedule, but these categories do matter for the economy, and companies are going to be racing to understand the decisions made by the administration and what it means for them. As typical with proposed rules, there is a public comment period, so expect heavy lobbying from companies to get certain items off the list (or even maybe on the list in order to drive away cheaper competitors).

Data on Trump Tariffs

Ordered by percentage.

  • Chapter 30: 47 of 129 categories (36.43%) (“Pharmaceutical products”)
  • Chapter 86: 17 of 47 categories (36.17%) (“Railway or tramway locomotives, rolling-stock and parts thereof; railway or tramway track fixtures and fittings and parts thereof; mechanical (including electro-mechanical) traffic signalling equipment of all kinds”)
  • Chapter 90: 164 of 569 categories (28.82%) (“Optical, photographic, cinematographic, measuring, checking, precision, medical or surgical instruments and apparatus; parts and accessories thereof”)
  • Chapter 84: 537 of 2173 categories (24.71%) (“Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances; parts thereof”)
  • Chapter 88: 16 of 72 categories (22.22%) (“Aircraft, spacecraft, and parts thereof”)
  • Chapter 89: 11 of 54 categories (20.37%) (“Ships, boats and floating structures”)
  • Chapter 85: 241 of 1222 categories (19.72%) (“Electrical machinery and equipment and parts thereof; sound recorders and reproducers, television image and sound recorders and reproducers, and parts and accessories of such articles”)
  • Chapter 93: 15 of 93 categories (16.13%) (“Arms and ammunition; parts and accessories thereof”)
  • Chapter 76: 27 of 176 categories (15.34%) (“Arms and ammunition; parts and accessories thereof”)
  • Chapter 72: 108 of 731 categories (14.77%) (“Iron and steel”)
  • Chapter 87: 48 of 470 categories (10.21%) (“Vehicles other than railway or tramway rolling stock, and parts and accessories thereof”)
  • Chapter 73: 44 of 746 categories (5.90%) (“Vehicles other than railway or tramway rolling stock, and parts and accessories thereof”)
  • Chapter 40: 8 of 272 categories (2.94%) (“Vehicles other than railway or tramway rolling stock, and parts and accessories thereof”)
  • Chapter 29: 38 of 1409 categories (2.70%) (“Vehicles other than railway or tramway rolling stock, and parts and accessories thereof”)
  • Chapter 94: 5 of 310 categories (1.61%) (“Furniture; bedding, mattresses, mattress supports, cushions and similar stuffed furnishings; lamps and lighting fittings, not elsewhere specified or included; illuminated sign illuminated nameplates and the like; prefabricated buildings”)
  • Chapter 28: 4 of 430 categories (0.93%) (“Inorganic chemicals; organic or inorgani c compounds of precious metals, of rare-earth metals,of radioactive elements or of isotopes”)
  • Chapter 83: 1 of 117 categories (0.85%) (“Miscellaneous articles of base metal”)
  • Chapter 91: 1 of 230 categories (0.43%) (“Clocks and watches and parts thereof”)
  • Chapter 38: 1 of 250 categories (0.40%) (“Miscellaneous chemical products”)

Source: TechCrunch

Cheap PS4 and PS4 Pro Bundles and Deals (2018)

If you’re hunting for a PS4 or PS4 Pro, these are the cheapest bundles you’re going to find.
Source: Wired