Posts tagged Screwed
Something is rotten in the state of Redmond.
When Microsoft said that it would fork its new Windows 8 operating system in two to support both x86 and ARM-based chips, most pundits figured that was a good idea. Windows had for too long been stuck in the world of x86 and was missing the Mobile Revolution with its reluctance to adopt ARM. Henceforth, two types of Windows tablets were born: Windows 8 on x86 and Windows RT on ARM.
And both have more or less flopped.
Research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) has revised its tablet predictions for 2013-2017. Surprise, surprise: Microsoft is projected to get its butt kicked by iOS and Android.
Windows 8 is expected to garner a 2.8% market share of tablets in 2013. Windows RT is projected towards a sickly 1.9%. Android is expected to take the lead in tablets this year with 48.8% of the market and Apple’s iPad comes in at 46%.
Not much changes in IDC’s predictions by 2017. Android will sit at 46%, the iPad at 43.5% with Windows 8 (or whatever derivations of Windows is available at the time) and RT expected to take 7.4% and 2.7%, respectively.
Overall, IDC has pegged the 2013 worldwide tablet market in 2013 to 190.9 million, ahead of its 172.4 million projection. This is the second straight quarter that IDC has increased its tablet projection.
The reason for the increase comes as IDC recognizes a growing market for smaller, cheaper tablets. That means tablets that are below 8-inches and likely below $500. That bodes well for Android, an operating system that has a plethora of commendable tablets like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD, which retail at $199. Even a company like HP may benefit from the cheap Android tablet market with its $169 – the Slate 7.
Microsoft will have to learn to change its wicked ways if it wants to get into game. It will need to produce (or encourage its manufacturing partners to produce) cheaper, smaller tablets running either Windows 8 or Windows RT, and price them to sell.
“Microsoft’s decision to push two different tablet operating systems, Windows 8 and Windows RT, has yielded poor results in the market so far,” said Tom Mainelli, IDC’s research director for tablets in a press release. “Consumers aren’t buying Windows RT’s value proposition, and long term we think Microsoft and its partners would be better served by focusing their attention on improving Windows 8. Such a focus could drive better share growth in the tablet category down the road.”
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Telecommuting Is Never The Real Problem
I’m not saying the moves weren’t necessary to help the struggling companies recover, but everyone knows that telecommuting per se is not the problem here. The problem, in both cases, is a company culture of negativity, “coasting” and lax management.
How can you tell? Easy.
Lots of companies – probably including yours – have sensible policies allowing telecommuting for certain workers under certain conditions. Heck, increasing numbers of companies are run totally virtually, with no central offices at all – people work from wherever they are, and get together whenever and wherever they need.
In those kinds of companies, people mostly work remotely to avoid long commutes or to work for companies where they don’t happen to live. Companies save money on office space and other fixed costs and get access to talent they might not otherwise attract.
It’s a win-win situation for everyone. And they have productivity studies and management consultants by the bushel to prove it.
That’s what happens in a well-run company, one with a future, and one where the vast majority of employees are committed to the company’s success. No doubt, that’s what it was like for Yahoo and Best Buy. In the beginning.
Telecommuters Get Blamed When Things Go Bad
But Yahoo’s and Best Buy’s fortunes soured and management clearly lost control over their increasingly disillusioned workers – who often wanted nothing more than to spend as little time as possible at the office. According to a New York Times story on Tuesday, many Yahoo telecommuters were working harder on side projects than their actual jobs. The Times claims that new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer “made the decision not as a referendum on working remotely, but to address problems particular to Yahoo.”
That’s exactly it. “Problems particular to Yahoo.” And Best Buy. And whatever company announces a policy like this next.
If your company starts to make noises about banning telecommuting, you can be competely confident that it’s not about telecommuting at all. You can also be confident that your company has some serious cultural and productivity problems that it feels powerless to fix without drastic action.
They Had To So Something
Do Yahoo and Best Buy know that their Draconian new policies will turn off some of their best workers unfairly targeted by telecommuting bans? That they won’t be able to hire some valuable people who desire or require more workplace flexibility? That the polices will make them look technologically backward and borderline incompetent? That the policies actually mean they are technologically backward and borderline incompetent?
But they’ve decided that things are so bad that they don’t have a choice. That if they don’t do something about their real problems, things will only get worse. These companies aren’t in trouble because they banned telecommuting. They’re in trouble because they had to ban telecommuting.
You could look at this as smart management taking required corrective action. Or you could look at it as a giant, lit-up red flag that the company is reeling out of control, sacrificing its long term reputation and success for a short-term shakeup.
Either way, one thing is certain: If your company bans telecommuting, your company is screwed. After all, do you really think a little thing like banning telecommuting is going to fix a company so messed up it had to actually ban telecommuting?
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Boy, am I glad I didn’t upgrade my iPhone to iOS 6 last week. Apple’s new mobile operating system became available just as I was boarding a plane from Philadelphia to San Francisco to attend a conference and explore the city. I figured it would be better to wait on the upgrade than try and find my way around unfamiliar terrain using a brand new – and untested – mapping application. That turned out to be a good choice.
The rivalry between Google and Apple isn’t new, but in the last several days, it’s gotten personal for users. As the companies butt heads, that’s who has ended up stuck in the middle, left with an experience that’s markedly worse than it was before.
Tech blogs have been flooded with negative assessments of iOS 6 Maps. The main complaints have to do with the app’s lack of transit directions and local search, as well as the accuracy of some of the maps. There are enough visual bugs in the 3D Flyover maps to fill at least one dedicated Tumblr blog, but that’s more a cosmetic issue than a functional one. Apple Insider put together a thorough break-down of the key problems.
Some users reported a pain-free experience using Maps in iOS 6 in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s possible that the blowback has been disproportionate, but Apple still has a mess on its hands.
Why Did This Happen?
Apple shipped a product that wasn’t entirely ready for its millions of users, however attractive and full of potential it may be, presumably to boot Google from the heart of iOS. Meanwhile, it sounds like Google has taken its time submitting its own native iOS Maps app (even though it was quick to push out its own version of YouTube to fill that particular gap on iOS 6 users’ home screens). Eric Schmidt told reporters today that the company’s engineers “haven’t done anything yet” on the iOS Maps front.
It’s tempting to ascribe Google’s foot-dragging to a desire to drive frustrated users toward Android, but that theory is a stretch. Indeed, the launch of Apple’s new mapping app may have come as a total surprise to Google, as reported by The Verge. Allegedly, Apple’s sudden change came more than a year before its partnership with Google was supposed to end and left the search giant scrambling to cobble together its own iOS mapping solution. If this account is true, then what Schmidt meant by “haven’t done anything” was “haven’t submitted an app yet.” Still, some observers have expressed skepticism that Google was completely blindsided by this.
While Google likely hasn’t deliberately delayed the app, the company probably doesn’t mind watching Apple take heat from users and the press. Whatever happened, it doesn’t serve users well.
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The trouble started with what should have been a routine file backup. In midsave, the external hard drive Kyle Goodwin was using slipped off his coffee table and onto the floor, rendering the data on it inaccessible.
It wasn’t the end of the world, Goodwin reasoned, because he knew the videos he had were backed up online since he had exchanged project files with colleagues using a premium cloud locker service. What he didn’t realize was that the service had just been shut down by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Goodwin, who operates a local high school sports broadcast site in northwestern Ohio, was one of millions of people who regularly used Megaupload, the controversial file-sharing site that has long been in the crosshairs of the entertainment industry for the role it plays in pirating copyrighted content. The site was seized and shut down in January following a raid on founder Kim Dotcom’s New Zealand mansion.
Dotcom is currently awaiting extradition to the United States, where he faces charges related to widespread copyright infringement. In the meantime, Goodwin – and an unknown number of users like him – is stuck in the dark, unable to access his files.
“I brought up the website and it brought me to the main page, but I couldn’t do anything else,” Goodwin says. “I just freaked out, and I had no idea what to do.”
Goodwin got in touch with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who is representing former Megaupload users in a legal effort to have their noninfringing files retrieved.
“This piracy, that has nothing to do with me,” Goodwin says. “Everything on there is mine. It’s everything we filmed for OhioSportsNet in the last six months.”
A Fiasco Without Precedent
It wasn’t even 24 hours after the shutdown that reports began to surface of legitimate, nonpirating users being blocked from accessing their files. While Megaupload was undoubtedly used by many for piracy, it was also used as a cloud storage locker for users’ personal files. In Goodwin’s case, he had backed everything up locally, but was the victim of a poorly timed hard-drive crash.
“My business kind of came to a standstill when this happened,” Goodwin says.
For now, his files are sitting on servers owned by Carpathia Hosting, a company from whom Megaupload had rented server space. The data is trapped in a sort of legal limbo as the justice system grapples with how to handle a situation that has few, if any, precedents.
The shutdown of Megaupload may or may not have put a dent in online piracy, but for users like Goodwin, it’s having a very tangible effect. Most of the missing videos are archived on his website, but not in a way that makes them particularly easy to download and edit. As a result, he has to turn down paying customers who want him to put together a montage of their performances in past games. For student-athletes, such a reel could help them land a scholarship to get into college. For Goodwin, his inability to offer it means lost revenue.
“It makes me look foolish, and it costs me a lot of money,” he says.
For Now, the Wait Continues
A hearing held in Virginia last week didn’t come any closer to resolving the matter, as Federal District Judge Liam O’Grady declined to intervene and instead deferred to another court. In the meantime, Carpathia continues to weather the financial cost of hosting data for what used to be one of its most lucrative clients.
The whole affair is a mess, to say the least. It’s unknown how long it could take for a judge to make a decision about what to do with the data of innocent users, let alone what the logistics of sifting through every terabyte might look like.
Goodwin says he expects an “all-or-nothing” approach, meaning that the government could either release all of the data, or it could end up being permanently deleted. He would prefer to see it analyzed so the noninfringing content can be identified and saved, but concedes that such an endeavor could be incredibly time-intensive and logistically challenging.
Among the most troubling aspects of this experience for people like Goodwin is that they were not warned. Even though piracy was widespread on Megaupload, users who paid for premium accounts and didn’t use the site for illegal purposes had no reason to expect that their data would suddenly disappear. It would be akin to a Dropbox user trying to log into their account, only to find that the domain had been seized by U.S. authorities.
“I came to the conclusion that everything’s gone,” Goodwin says. “That way, I don’t have any false hopes, and I’m not holding on the idea that maybe I’ll get it back. If I get it back, it’ll be like Christmas morning.”
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Facebook can’t just up and change its privacy settings whenever it wants to. It must now obtain express consent from its users, first.
Since the settlement, Zuckerberg has penned a blog post outlining the Facebook features that the site has launched, which include friend lists, the ability to review tags before they appear on a profile, mobile versions of privacy controls, amount other notable updates. He also announced the splitting of the Chief Privacy Officer position into two parts, to be held by Erin Egan and Michael Richter in product and policy, respectively.
Facebook will now undergo privacy audits every two years for the next 20 years, which is similar to what Google experienced after the Google Buzz privacy breach.
Here are the eight big offenses that led to the FTC complaint straight from the Bureau of Consumer Protection:
1. Facebook Privacy Settings. Facebook promised its users that they could keep their information to a limited audience given the site’s privacy settings, yet the FTC found that third-party apps had access to personal information.
2. Privacy Changes: Material Omission. Information that Facebook told its users was deemed private, such as friend lists, were made public.
3. Privacy Changes: Unfair Practices. Facebook did not ask for users’ consent when changing the privacy of users’ information and retroactively applying these changes to previously collected information.
4. Info Accessible Via Apps. Facebook claimed that the apps would only have info about users “that it requires to work.” The FTC discovered that this was not true.
5. What Info Facebook Shares With Advertisers. The FTC found that from September 2008 to May 2010, Facebook “ran its site so that in many instances, the User ID of a person who clicked on an ad was share with the advertiser.” This went directly against the statement that Facebook made, saying that it did not share information with advertisers.
6. Facebook’s “Verified App” Program. The FTC states that Facebook “did not verify the security of a Verified App’s website or the security the app provided for the information it collected, beyond the steps Facebook took for any other app.” In other words, the “Verified App” seal did not symbolize anything.
7. Photo and Video Deletion. Facebook told its users that they could permanently delete photos and videos from the site. Yet each piece of content had a unique URL which, when accessed, would bring up supposedly deleted photo or video.
8. US-EU Safe Harbor Program. The FTC questions statements made by Facebook when it said it was in compliance with the US-EU Safe Harbor Framework, a way for US companies to transfer data from the EU to the United States in a way that’s consistent with European law.
According to the Sophos Security Blog, in addition to the privacy audits, if the settlement proceeds, Facebook also must stop misrepresenting its security and privacy policies, obtain consent when handing personal data, establish a stronger privacy program and, perhaps most importantly, prevent people from accessing information from deleted/deactivated accounts 30 days after they have been closed.
With Facebook’s new privacy audits in place and a pending IPO next summer 2012, you can bet that the 800 million-user-strong social network will start taking privacy more seriously.
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At a press briefing at the Google I/O developers conference today, Google cofounder Sergey Brin didn’t mince words about his company’s accidental collection of wifi data. “We screwed up,” he said.
He was asked about the incident, where last week Google admitted it accidentally gathered data from private wifi networks around the world over the past [...]
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