Where one big economy leads the Internet, others must follow

20 May 2018 by Steve Blum
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A flood of odd looking messages are swelling email boxes in the U.S., telling recipients that they have to take action – click a button, enter an email address, log on to an account – because of something called GDPR. That’s not something that was dreamed up by a Nigerian prince to funnel millions of dollars your way (but be careful – it is a golden opportunity for fraudsters to exploit complacency). It’s a new European Union online privacy rule that’s about to effect – the general data protection regulation, as it’s formally known.… More

ZTE shutdown could lead to a mobile OS startup

13 May 2018 by Steve Blum
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A major Chinese smart phone and telecoms infrastructure manufacturer was stopped cold by U.S. trade sanctions, after it 1. did business with Iran contrary to U.S. rules and 2. didn’t adequately punish the executives responsible for the violation. ZTE announced last week that “the major operating activities of the company have ceased”. It’s number two smart phone maker in China, behind Huawei, but has a low profile among U.S. consumers.

The U.S. commerce department issued an order that bans U.S.… More

California allows driverless car testing, if anyone still cares

3 March 2018 by Steve Blum
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Driverless vehicles can be tested on California streets and highways beginning next month, but they won’t be completely on their own. The California Department of Motor Vehicles posted new regulations (and supporting arguments) for autonomous vehicles this week. Among the changes is a way for manufacturers or developers to get permission to run vehicles without anyone physically behind the wheel.

Physically. A remote operator is required, someone who “is not seated in the driver’s seat of the vehicle; engages and monitors the autonomous vehicle; is able to communicate with occupants in the vehicle through a communication link” and is “available to assist law enforcement at all times that the vehicle is in operation”.… More

Wireless charging is less fussy, but still a work in progress

24 February 2018 by Steve Blum
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One of my goals for CES was to see if wireless charging technology is ready for mainstream consumer adoption. The answer is yes if you’re making contact with a charging pad, but only maybe if you’re not.

Charging pads, of one kind or another, were easy to find at CES. Near field charging – putting a gizmo in direct contact with a wireless charging device – appears to be a maturing technology. Although the Qi standard is gaining – Samsung, LG and Apple support it in some of their models – compatibility is still an issue.… More

Santa Cruz techies get to CES the hard, fun way

10 February 2018 by Steve Blum
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Four thousand companies brought their products to CES last month, but only one was brought by its product. A five person team from Santa Cruz – Jane Campbell, Elai Dankner, Nicola Hopwood, Cade Vlacos and Christian Shaw – rode 300 miles from Palm Springs to Las Vegas on a Onewheel+ XR, the new, extended range version of Future Motion’s single wheel, electric powered board.

“It was the most epic journey I’ve ever done”, said Campbell. “You feel so free.… More

Big brother, small ball and connected cars at CES

13 January 2018 by Steve Blum
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CES 2018 marked a turning point in the consumer electronics business. For the first time, the big companies talked more about services than products. This shift has been long in the making – it’s why the organisers no longer refer to it as the Consumer Electronics Show – and 2018 was the tipping point. It was all about connected home products, with long neglected categories like kitchen appliances and washers and dryers suddenly taking center stage.… More

CES 2018 kicks off with cars, phones and artificial intelligence

7 January 2018 by Steve Blum

I’m en route to CES (don’t dare call it the Consumer Electronics Show anymore) for my annual exercise in continuing education. It’s a total geek holiday, but the fun you get out of it is directly proportional to the work you do. There’s a lot to learn.

Self driving cars are the market segment where mobile broadband, artificial intelligence and consumer electronics intersect, and it’ll be well represented at CES. I’ll be alert for clues as to how manufacturers and platform operators intend to balance on-board processing with real time data connectivity.… More

Artificial intelligence, led by voice recognition, will redefine digital world in 2018

6 January 2018 by Steve Blum

Three consumer technology trends gained speed in 2017: the shift from fixed to mobile video consumption, as I blogged about previously, the increasing utility and use of voice recognition technology and the adoption of the push model for artificial intelligence platforms and services.

In 2017, voice recognition technology reached the point where it can replace manual data and command entry on a routine basis. Usability is a work in progress – you can’t just look at a screen and say copy that and paste it over here – but the technical capability is there.… More

Happy holidays, and a huge thank you to everyone who browsed this blog in 2017

25 December 2017 by Steve Blum

If you’re reading this holiday post, then you truly are a dedicated reader. I’m thoroughly grateful for your interest. 2017 has been a wonderful year in many respects, but a writer’s greatest joy is to be read. Thank you for making this daily excursion into cyberspace so rewarding.
I hit a major milestone this month: five years of uninterrupted daily posts, at least one per day, every day, seven days a week. It’s been a pleasure and, it appears, useful.… More

Wet string delivers faster broadband than AT&T or Frontier for 1 million Californians

20 December 2017 by Steve Blum
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The best broadband that AT&T and Frontier Communications offers to more than one million Californians is advertised at a download speed of 3 Mbps or less, if it’s available at all. That’s slower than the 3.5 Mbps that a British techie achieved using a couple of pieces of wet string and some ADSL gear.

He was sitting around the office one day and decided to give it a go. That earned him serious geek cred with his boss, Adrian Kennard, who runs Andrews and Arnold, an ISP in the U.K.… More