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[June 19, 2014]
Boot up: on Andreessen, tweaking Bitcoin?, Surface Pro 3 (and con)
(Guardian Web Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) A burst of 8 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team Dear Marc Andreessen >> Alex Payne Former Twitter-staffer and occasional angel investor Payne comes not to praise Andreessen: I grew up using your work. Thanks to one of my parents being employed by a university, I got to use Mosaic to browse the early Web way before most people had even heard of it. My first software development internship was a summer spent using beta versions of Netscape technologies – what was then "LiveScript" and "dynamic HTML" – to sketch new interface elements for a protean web collaboration app. I rooted for Netscape when Microsoft came barging in to the browser market. When you started A16Z a few years ago I was excited to see what you'd invest in.
You've got a big audience of admirers. I've counted myself amongst them, but lately you've made it a challenge. I just can't square with the way of looking at our industry, political economy, and the future laid out in your latest post.
You seem to think everyone's worried about robots. But what everyone's worried about is you, Marc.
Clayton Christensen one day, Marc Andreessen the next..
Bitcoin may be altered after fears of manipulation by powerful players >> MIT Technology Review Tom Simonite: postdoctoral researcher Ittay Eyal, told MIT Technology Review that the Bitcoin protocol should be updated to prevent mining pools from being able to amass so much computing power.
Discussion about how to do that has begun, but no easy-to-implement front-runners have yet emerged. There is also little precedent for such a tweak to Bitcoin's design, Eyal says. "A change like that has to be done extremely carefully," he says. "At its core right now Bitcoin mostly works according to Satoshi Nakamoto's original paper." The process is complicated by the fact that any such change could potentially invalidate much of the specialized hardware that bitcoin miners have built up over the years and that powers the processing and verification of bitcoin transactions (see "Custom Chips Could Be the Shovels in a Bitcoin Gold Rush"). "That industry is the reason that Bitcoin is secure, and so it needs to be kept happy," says Eyal.
Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 is better than Apple's MacBook Air - here's 5 reasons why >> Betanews Brian Fagioli: The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and Apple MacBook Air are great balances between portability, power and cost. Yes, there are more powerful computers, but they are often very heavy and have terrible battery life. Portability cannot be underestimated when it comes to a laptop's value and both of these machines are super thin and light. Last month, my colleague Mihaita pondered the question of which was better based on specs alone. However, as someone who has used both, hands-on, for long periods of time, I am ready to definitively tell you that the Surface Pro 3 is better. Do you agree? One question: if the Surface Pro 3 is a tablet - and Fagioli insists so - where is its array of truly tablet-focussed apps (besides those for cartoonists)? Does it have an array of touchscreen-focussed games, and apps designed with tablet use in mind? (Thanks @EasilyLead for the link.) Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 isn't for everybody >> NYTimes.com Farhad Manjoo: For the better part of a month, I've been trying to replace the laptop that I use for my daily work, an Apple MacBook Pro, with Microsoft's new tablet computer, the Surface Pro 3. I say "trying" because that's what it has felt like; this is a machine that I've had to put a lot of work into adjusting to, in the hope that, at some point, I'd get used to it and see some kind of payoff.
In the end, I didn't see that payoff. My time with Microsoft's new tablet computer began with a feeling of minor annoyance and eventually leveled off into a sense of settling for something less than ideal. I never felt fully at ease with the Surface Pro 3, and I'm typing this review on the MacBook.
But don't let my experience put you off from trying the Surface Pro 3. In fact, I encourage you to think of this review as something like a George Costanza breakup: Dear Surface Pro 3 — we're not right for each other, but it's not you, it's me.
Well, specifically, it's the keyboard and trackpad. And a couple of other things.
Pantech survival hinges on wireless operators >> Korea Times The fate of debt-ridden Pantech hinges on the country's three telecom carriers agreeing to turn their accounts receivable into equity capital in the handset maker.
If they do not, the nation's smallest smartphone maker will either be sold to a foreign company or go bankrupt.
The Korea Development Bank (KDB), the key creditor bank of Pantech, has asked SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus to take part in a capital-increase plan to addressing the debt of the handset maker.
The three have a total of 180 billion won [about $175m] in accounts receivable.
Squeezed between LG (whose phone business has also been lossmaking, but is part of a much bigger business) and Samsung.
Glass At Work >> Google Developers Glass Certified Partners are authorized by Glass at Work for delivering enterprise solutions for Glass. They are also eligible for co-branding and listing on the Glass at Work website.
APX ("provides workers with hands-free, real-time access to enterprise data"), Augmedix ("pushing and pulling information to and from the Electronic Health Record"), CrowdOptic ("detects significant broadcast events from mobile and wearable devices"), GuidiGo ("inspire people to connect with art and culture through a compelling mobile storytelling experience"), Wearable Intelligence ("Glassware for energy, manufacturing, healthcare, and more").
Increasingly feels like Glass will be a business-to-business product - rather like ruggedised computers.
Google faces fresh antitrust complaint in Europe >> WSJ Google is facing fresh accusations of anticompetitive behaviour in Europe over its Android operating system for mobile phones, even as the web giant struggles to overcome separate concerns over its dominance of online search.
In a complaint it said it filed with European Union regulators on Monday, Aptoide — a Portuguese company that runs a marketplace for mobile applications, or app store — claims that Google is abusing its dominant position in the smartphone market to push users away from app stores that rival its own, Google Play.
"We are struggling to grow, even to survive, in the face of Google systematically setting up obstacles for users to install third-party app stores in the Android platform and blocking competition in their Google Play store," said Paulo Trezentos, Aptoide's co-founder and CEO.
The Lisbon-based company, which says it has six million unique monthly users, said it planned to "join forces with other independent app stores to forge a common front" against Google.
Being dominant carries risks, it seems. The Aptoide blogpost is titled "Enough is enough: when Google Evil reaches Android App Stores".
E-Commerce gives a lift to China's rural farmers >> Businessweek The online grocery, officially known as the Young Village Officials' Farm, has customers in Beijing, Shanghai, and elsewhere, and about 10,000 followers on Weibo. Twenty-seven farms now fill orders, including that of Li and Cheng, who sell dried radishes. Customers place orders online, and Zhang visits farmers to inform them of the order and work out logistics and shipping. Zhang says the reason for their success is a renewed interest in local farming traditions—which she documents in lush photographs on social media—and strict quality control. Her team inspects harvests and literally throws out bad apples. "We prefer to work with farmers in mountainous regions with better natural environments," she says.
In an area where the average monthly household income is only about 600 yuan ($99), farmers selling produce through the online grocery store can increase their income by a third, according to Zhang. The store's most popular items include dried bamboo shoots, firm tofu, and jars of honey. Many of the farmers can't read and have never used the Internet. But they can still reap the economic benefits of e-commerce with the help of younger villagers who "use the Internet on our phones," says 20-year-old Mu Er, general manager of an inn in Bishan. Zhang sends Weibo postings from her Xiaomi smartphone.
This is the true benefit of smartphones and their internet access: bringing economic opportunity to people and places which would have been too remote and too poor for PCs and wired access.
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