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Mac Innovation vis-à-vis Microsoft’s Surface Line

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David Gewirtz, in a ZDNet piece headlined “Maybe It’s Time for Apple to Spin Off the Mac as a Separate Company”:

All that brings us back to the idea of spinning out the Macintosh business. I know, I know. There are lots of structural reasons why this might not be possible for Apple. The company has merged development groups, macOS and iOS are growing ever closer, yada, yada, yada. Let’s set all that aside and just brainstorm the idea for a few minutes.

Ask yourself a few questions. Would a stand-alone company on the verge of market dominance ever let its flagship top-end machine languish for five years? What about its most versatile (the Mac mini)? Would it let that machine languish, without even a processor bump, for three years? Apple went two years without updating the iMac, and that’s a top-seller.

The answer to these questions is “of course not.” Think about the Apple of the past, the one fully-focused on the Mac. Would it have allowed Microsoft to gain such innovation ground with the Surface Studio and Surface Book products? Would it have gone years without even processor-bumping its models?

The whole notion of spinning off the Mac into a separate company is so dumb it isn’t worth addressing. But the last paragraph quoted above is. I’ve seen this argument made multiple times recently — that Microsoft’s innovative and deservedly well-regarded Surface lineup was only enabled by Apple taking its collective eye off the ball in the PC space. I don’t buy that at all.

There are two Macs that have languished in recent years: the Mac Pro and Mac Mini. Microsoft’s Surface lineup doesn’t have an entry in either of those categories. The Surface lineup is comprised of laptops and the iMac-esque Surface Studio.

Apple’s MacBook and iMac lineup lacks touchscreens not because Apple hasn’t paid attention to them but because Apple genuinely doesn’t think these machines should have touchscreens. Maybe Apple is wrong. Maybe Microsoft is onto the future of these form factors and Apple will have to play catch up. I don’t think so, but time will tell. But Apple has invested significant time and resources into the MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, and now iMac Pro as they are.

If Microsoft’s Surface lineup has taken advantage of complacency, it’s on the part of existing Windows PC makers, not Apple.

Link: zdnet.com/article/maybe-its-time-for-apple-to-spin-off-the

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gglockner
52 days ago
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From everything I've heard, the desktop Surface computers are not selling, but the laptop ones are. Additionally, the laptop ones are poor as a tablet but quite good as a laptop. They seem to have some interest among road warriors, which is different than the personal/creative market for the iPad.
Bellevue, WA
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Tesla's Semi, new Roadster distract from Model 3 production problems

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Tesla SemiNever let it be said that Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his event producers are not masters of showmanship. Last night's launch of the Tesla Semi heavy-duty commercial truck tractor came with a surprise: a new Tesla Roadster emerged from the back of the trailer. The wow factor was ... high. DON'T MISS: Tesla Semi: 500-mile range, lower running costs...
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gglockner
99 days ago
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Spot on.
Bellevue, WA
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National Park Service Wants To Charge Up To $70 To Visit Grand Canyon & Other Popular Parks

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Most national parks are free to enjoy, but some of the most popular destinations overseen by the National Park Service charge entrance fees of around $25 to $30 for a full vehicle. Today, the Trump administration announced a proposal to more than double some of those fees for visitors during peak seasons.

The White House contends that these increased fees are necessary to pay for maintenance that the park system has deferred for too long.

“The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration,” Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in a statement. “We need to have the vision to look at the future of our parks and take action in order to ensure that our grandkids’ grandkids will have the same if not better experience than we have today. Shoring up our parks’ aging infrastructure will do that.”

Raising fees for 17 of the most-visited parks would mean that the NPS would collect an additional estimated $70 million per year, with at least 80% of that sum required to be spent on the park where it is collected.

Less than one-third of all national parks charge admission fees, and annual passes would still be available individual parks and for all federal lands for just a bit more than it would cost to enter a park with one passenger vehicle.

Which parks are the popular ones where fees would go up? If the proposal goes through, the higher fees would be in place when each park’s respective peak season starts, or the five months when it receives the highest traffic.

Here are when the peak seasons would begin, and the parks that would begin collecting $70 per carload on that date:

May 1, 2018: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion

June 1, 2018: Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Shenandoah

Joshua Tree: As soon as possible in 2018, since the peak season begins on Jan. 1.

If you have any insights or thoughts to share with the National Park Service about the proposal, you can submit them to the National Park Service comment page until Nov. 23.

Here’s a handout from the NPS that lays out different fees for different vehicle types, and how they would change from the current structure to the proposed one in both the regular season (yellow) and peak season (green).







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gglockner
122 days ago
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The NPS has no choice. The infrastructure is crumbling and congress keeps cutting their budget. The only alternative is to raise entrance fees. Sad.
Bellevue, WA
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Airbnb Is Working On Its Own Branded Apartment Complex

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What’s one surefire way to make sure you’re not annoying your neighbors with a constant stream of Airbnb guests? Live in an Airbnb-branded building, where all your neighbors are also renting out their apartments.

That’s the future the home-sharing company is dreaming of: Airbnb says it’s teamed up with Newgard Development Group to create a branded apartment complex with 324 units in Kissimmee, FL.

Dubbed “Niido Powered by Airbnb,” the concept could be a hit with hosts who want to travel — and use the money to fund those trips — or just anyone looking to for some help with the rent.

“As​ ​the​ ​cost​ ​of​ ​living​ ​increases,​ ​apartment​ ​renters​ ​are​ ​under​ ​intense​ ​financial​ ​pressure,”​ Harvey Hernandez, chief executive of Newgard said in a statement.

The company notes it also provides tourists with “unique​ ​listings​ ​that​ ​come​ ​with​ ​a​ ​set​ ​of amenities​ ​and​ ​conveniences​ ​specifically​ ​designed​ ​for​ ​travelers,” like keyless entry and shared common spaces, which are both handy to have when you’re sharing your home.

Residents have to sign annual leases, and will then be able to share either individual​ ​rooms​ ​or their​ ​entire​ ​units for up to 180 days per year. Anyone renting out their place will have access to a new Niido app that’s integrated with Airbnb. Not only will it support things like guest check-in, but it enables tenants to order up things like cleaning and linen service from a “MasterHost” on the property.

Anyone who chooses to share their homes will also be part of Airbnb’s Friendly Buildings Program, a revenue-sharing initiative aimed at helping landlords, tenants who rent out their homes on Airbnb, and their neighbors get along.

“This​ ​partnership​ ​shows​ ​how​ ​landlords,​ ​developers​ ​and​ ​Airbnb​ ​can​ ​work​ ​together​ ​to​ ​create​ ​value​ ​for everyone​ ​and​ ​better​ ​serve​ ​tenants,”​ ​said​ ​Jaja​ ​Jackson,​ ​Airbnb’s​ ​director​ ​of​ ​global​ ​multifamily​ ​housing partnerships.​

There will be more to come, as the two companies say this is just the first of a chain of Niido buildings they’re panning for the southeastern U.S.





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gglockner
136 days ago
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They would call it a "hotel", but that wouldn't be "disrupting the old economy".
Bellevue, WA
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Are The Social Security Number’s Days Numbered?

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Though we may treat our Social Security numbers like confidential information, those nine digits are just about everywhere: Your bank, school, cable company, phone company, and more probably have this information, and may not be storing it securely. In a world where everything from fast food chains to massive global accounting firms are vulnerable to cybercrime, some are wondering if it’s time to say goodbye to the SSN.

That’s apparently option officials in the Trump Administration are weighing in the wake of rampant data breaches, such as the one suffered by credit reporting agency Equifax.

Bloomberg reports that Rob Joyce, special assistant to the president and White House cybersecurity coordinator, floated the idea of replacing the SSN as a way of proving one’s identity.

“I feel very strongly that the Social Security number has outlived its usefulness,” Joyce said during a cyber conference, as reported by Bloomberg. “Every time we use the Social Security number, you put it at risk.”

How’d We Get Here

A lot has changed in the 81 years since the SSN was created, from the way the numbers are used to the risks associated with the wrong person getting their hands on your information.

According to the Social Security Administration, the SSN was developed in 1936 as a way to track U.S. workers’ earning to determine their Social Security benefits. Since then, more than 454 million numbers have been issued.

The card was never intended to serve as a personal identification document, as it does not establish that the person presenting the card is actually the person whose name and SSN appear on the card, the SSA notes.

However, over time, the convenience and simplicity of the number has created a more wide-spread use by both government and private agencies.

In the 1940s, the government began requiring federal agencies to use SSNs for the purpose of identifying individuals in new records. With the creation of computers, the uses of the number increased.

In the 1970s, the SSA studied the use of the SSN for non social security uses. The resulting report suggested that using the nine-digit number as a national identifier wasn’t a great idea.

But that didn’t stop the government or private companies from requiring the number be used for a number of programs, including eligibility for Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, eligibility under Housing and Urban Development programs, as well as, for a time on driver’s licenses, death certificates, and other materials.

“Unfortunately, this universality has led to abuse of the SSN. Most notoriously, the SSN is a key piece of information used to commit identity theft,” the SSA points out.

Possible Options

For now, there isn’t a plan in place to change the SSN system, but the administration is looking into “what would be a better system” to not only identify consumers, but also protect them from hacks.

One possible option could be a “private key,” perhaps like a token or other physical item.

The token, similar to a credit card chip, would be embedded with a long cryptographic number. Once the token is presented, consumers would have to enter a PIN to enable its use, Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, tells Bloomberg.

While it would be an expensive and timely endeavor to change the SSN system currently in use, Joyce says it needs to happen.

“It’s really clear, there needs to be a change, but we’ll have to look at the details of what’s being proposed,” Joyce said.

Another possibility is the use of a blockchain technology to create a nearly impossible to duplicate DNA fingerprint identifier.

The number could then be stamped on all important documents used by the individual.

It’ll Take Time

If the use of SSNs is going to change, it won’t be quick.

“You’d need to change a lot of existing public law,” Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, tells Bloomberg. “There would need to be extensive hearings and study about the consequences. It’s a complicated issue.”

Calls For Change

The Trump Administration isn’t the first group to look for or call for changes related to the use of SSNs.

In May, the Federal Trade Commission hosted an Identity Theft workshop focusing on how the fraud has evolved and what can be done to address it in the future.

Eva Valesquez, CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center, noted during the panel discussion that the SSN should not have the level of important or weight that it is currently given.

“They are being used for something they were not designed for,” she noted. “In the perfect work we wouldn’t use as the main identifier.”

She pointed to the need to put a system in place that would allow for more verification of consumers’ identity.





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gglockner
144 days ago
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Sure, until the new numbers get compromised.
Bellevue, WA
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Bill Gates Now Using an Android Phone ‘With a Lot of Microsoft Software’

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I say this with no snark intended: who would have guessed 10 years ago that Bill Gates would be using a personal computing device running a non-Microsoft OS? Or really, an OS that didn’t have “Windows” in the name?

I wonder what’s more popular among Microsoft employees — iPhone or Android? I’m guessing iPhone.

While I”m at it, it occurs to me that Apple is the only company left where all its employees are using only systems made by their own company. Microsoft employees need to use phones running iOS or Android. Google employees need to use MacOS or Windows (there might be some administrative jobs where they can use Chromebooks, but I doubt there are any engineers or designers getting by with Chrome). But at Apple, it’s MacOS on your PCs, iOS on your phone and tablet, WatchOS on your watch, and even tvOS on your set-top box. Microsoft use to have a slogan “Windows everywhere”. Apple doesn’t have one OS that runs everywhere (although it’s close with iOS — WatchOS and tvOS are really just offshoots of iOS with different UI layers), but there is a sort of cultural “Apple everywhere” mindset that I worry could lead to the sort of insularity that blinded Microsoft in the early ’00s.

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gglockner
151 days ago
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No surprise. Microsoft is no longer in the phone business. And Android is more similar to the Microsoft business of an OS that runs on hardware from multiple vendors.
Bellevue, WA
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