When The Giants Are Scared There's Opportunity

Over time in the USA, opportunity has created lots of wealth. Railroads. Oil companies. Transportation systems. But when it comes to broadband, the oligopolies in the country have always seemed to want to hold others back. 

In the dawn of the Internet, DSL came to fruition a few years ahead of cable modems. But DSL providers where tied to the legacy carriers who had to allow them to connect to the Internet. Those connections could take weeks or months for customers who were forced to pay for higher priced ISDN and T-1s. Over time most of the DSL providers evaporated or were rolled up to where they are now almost invisible. The telcos for the most part have stopped rolling out DSL, and instead, with only four real players in the USA left standing (AT&T, Verizon, Century Link and Frontier) pretty much trying to do with DSL what they did with land lines. Milk them for all they're worth before finally going all in on fiber (FiOS being the best example).

Enter muni-broadband. Perhaps it should have been known as muni-broadbad as the first attempts last decade were largely fraught with less "doing things the right way" and more of  "doing things the wrong way." That's what happens when big telco can sway thinking, influence the process and cause things to be done wrong through FUD. The approach is let others leave carnage and they'll come in and do it right. But something happened along the way. Cable broadband. As soon as @HOME came into being, the telcos and DSL providers had a real threat they couldn't reign in. The threat was not from some small group of upstarts, it was from some of their biggest customers on the data transmission side and from some of the richest media companies in the country. Cable broadband trumped DSL from day one. And today, it still does with speeds of up to 350 megs being offered and soon one gig. Along the way, Muni-Broadband got lost but it never died.

Today's New York Times writes about muni-broadband and it's as important as ever. The jockeying we're seeing in the courts isn't about what's good for America. It's about what's good for the telcos, and to some extent, the cable operators. While the latter is more in a back seat to the telcos, the reality is that Muni-broadband done right, is good for everyone, as it fosters competition. 

Our country was built by competition of newer technology replacing the old. The train replaced the stagecoach. The plane replaced the train. We were also built with local governments starting quasi-governmental authorities to deliver power, oil, water, gas which in time became private enterprise or public-private partnerships. Rural telcos need to work with government, support municipal efforts, and be cooperative so they can move their communities they serve forward, as without a cooperative approach, rural America will be stuck in the last century, not help drive us to the next. To me, broadband, unfettered and at the best speeds possible isn't a right, it's a necessity, and no court, law or organization should stop another group from moving it forward so those who made pioneering moves in the past could continue to hold the reigns.


Been Quiet Too Long-Time To Speak Up Again

Yes, I've been quiet lately. Perhaps it's the summer. Maybe it's just as Dean Bubley and I were talking over dinner in London. The world of VoIP, Unified Communications and Collaboration has hit a point of being a bit of the same or a repeat of what was originally envisioned finally becoming commonplace. In my view after almost 17 years in the space since I first learned what VoIP was, had my first VoIP client (Comgates) and have been writing about the sector since 2003, it's kind of old hat to me. Seriously though, it really takes something to get me excited to bang away with what the news means.

That said, I haven't exactly been silent. I've been penning a piece each week for my friends at Xceptional, the San Diego Managed Service Provider with a kick - butt team of real pros in more than just voice/video and collaboration. Founder Chris McKewon and I have been friends for 12 years or more and I've watched his biz blossom over the years. The team there are great at networking (the set it all up at my old house), Wi-Fi, cloud and more. And, what they don't know can't be done. If you need what they do don't look any farther.

So what has me excited these days? Well, API's and WebRTC for sure. There's so much that can be done and is being done with WebRTC by so many companies. API's are hot and getting hotter. When you think about it, they are a major part of the new tech led economy. I'm also high on bots and messaging platforms and apps.

The more I use Slack the less I like email. The more I use Telegram the less I like SMS. The more I use iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp the less I want to even be paying for SMS from my mobile operator. Oh, and the more I travel, the less I care about voice from any mobile operator, when I have Dialpad and Telzio each with VoIP calling over 4G/LTE...now I guess if I was in places without killer LTE an Wi-Fi I may feel differently, but both on my iPad, iPhones and even my One Plus Two Android, I'm not touching the PSTN to originate or terminate on my end.

Most of all what I'm looking more closely at remains the idea of Working-Anywhere. Over the past five weeks I've been on my second "workcation." A workcation is where you go someplace that feels like a vacation, allows you to do the best of that while still getting work done. The more I travel, the way I travel, the more I find the whole idea of people stuck in offices, having a daily place to call "work" so outmoded for those who are knowledge workers.

As long as you can run your calendar, schedule your day around your "work" you can have a "-cation" every day. In the course of a 15-18 hour day I'm enjoying more of life than those who fight traffic, deal with internal gossip, or have to be somewhere physically. It does take planning, but being connected and knowing when to disconnect is the key.

Alas it's Sunday here in sunny Portugal. Time to enjoy some of the "cation" time..

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Skype Meetings is A Me To, Me Also Service

We who hailed Skype, saluted and praised it, now are mostly part of the world that damns it. The service under Microsoft has become more challenging than useful. Calls don't always connect. Billing issues with credit card fraud turn off services of the legitimate user and with so many other options, Skype of old is much like AIM or ICQ (remember them)..

This week, the Skype for Business team unveiled Skype Meetings. If it reminds you of Google Hangouts, it should. A free offer, all designed to get you to subscribe to Office 365. It is also like the offer from Citrix for GoToMeeting. After a while you can have three people on a call, but no more.  Personally I find conference calls with more than five people to be few talkers, mostly listeners. But the real sadness here is that Skype and Microsoft have so much technology and talent that they acquired (Sunrise team being one) that you would think there would be more than a "me too" or "me also" type of product offering with Skype Meetings. Can you say, MSFT is feeling the heat from Slack and HipChat, which via their Jitsi purchase is able to do all this and more via WebRTC..Come one Microsoft, do something good.......

Well, I need to run..Time for another Zoom.us call.....cheerio...


Uber Picks UberConference and Dialpad to Modernize Business Communications

Ride sharing service Uber is following Lyft for a change. While Lyft has been using Los Angeles based Telzio as their communications provider, Uber has turned to Dialpad in addition to using UberConference, The choosing of cloud based communications solutions providers is making it far easier for both companies to communicate better internally and get things going faster, as the game changing ride services both expand into new cities and countries around the world.

Dialpad founder Craig Walker told VoipWatch exclusively yesterday, "we started working with Uber as they were heavy users of UberConference for a while before we even launched Dialpad. Both products fit their culture of innovation and disruption, so Dialpad was a natural fit once they started looking for a modern business communications service."

The move to adopt what Walker has labeled "modern business communications" falls well in line with a long belief that disruptive startups, especially those from Silicon Valley, want more and want different in what their telco can provide them and are bypassing the long established companies like AT&T and Verizon.  Instead the newly minted, high growth companies are choosing to embrace the more nimble, service providers that have come on stream post the birth of the cloud era.

These newer companies are the earlier adopters of where businesses are going, and they want services that are easy to deploy and cloud based, just like the way their own businesses are based, using similar service from the likes of Amazon Web Services. So while they still need and require the core features that the traditional telcos provide, these new companies also need modern era features that were birthed by companies like Skype and GrandCentral (Walker sold that to Google and led the transition to GoogleVoice. Google are  now investors in Dialpad) with the online management that Vonage and 8x8 pioneered in telecom.

These new, modern services and the companies delivering them are largely being fueled by API's both public and private. The API's are spawning a new economy, new ways of doing business, and entire ecosystems. That's something that will be well talked about and explored at All About The API, the upcoming conference being held in Las Vegas in July.  An example of how API's work is best seen in the Dialpad app today on the iPhone and iPad. By connecting to an SMS interconnection provider like recent Vonage acquisition Nexmo, Twilio or Syniverse, modern UC companies able to enable SMS to the desktop and from within their apps, much like iMessage or Google Hangouts. The API's allow for the interconnection and interfacing to between customers and the carriers in the middle making them the modern day middleware. 

And, Apple, long resistant to opening up the iOS dialer to Unified Communications providers gave them a big shot in the arm on Monday. At the World Wide Developer Conference Apple announced the opening up of the dialer on the iPhone. This is a significant move as it will allow unified communications providers like Dialpad, Telzio, 8x8 and others to no longer need to use plain vanilla softphones that have been the only way users could interface with UC providers.  Once released the UC players will be able to make use the iPhone's native dialer as the front end for dialing, while allowing their own apps to be where the more customized features are placed.

"Since launching GrandCentral and Google Voice nearly 10 year, we always were frustrated by the inability to make our services work smoothly with the iPhone. The announcement today opens the market up to the type of competition Judge Green envisioned back then. Now businesses again can choose. Of course, I hope they choose Dialpad," said Walker.

The opening up of the iOS dialer by Apple parallels that 1984 decision in opening up the Bell System to alternative long distance carriers. Previously, the only long distance carrier that a caller could use was the one that was aligned with the local Bell operating company, and that was usually AT&T. With the Telecommunications Act of 1984 consumers and businesses were free to choose any long distance carrier. In essence, with Apple opening up the dialer, they are doing the same thing, turning the mobile operator into a pipe. With LTE and LTE-A coming online, those in the more built out mobile high speed data areas will be able to avoid using their mobile operator for voice, and text, and move everything over to the data side where a more feature rich experience will be had.

"This is the missing link that we have been waiting for on iOS ever since the first iPhone came out. Android has had this for years, and Apple did add VoIP specific features a while back such as  battery saving via the background notification feature, but we have been missing the ability to have a VoIP services coexist on an iPhone," said Peter Rank Schrøder, CEO of Telzio. "This will make life much easier for anyone using a secondary number such as a business number, on an iPhone."

Apple's move further makes the mobile operator, the modern day "dumb pipe" something smart entrepreneurs like Walker have been exploiting for years dating back to his days at the original Dialpad, and which new kids on the block like Schrøder are also breaking new ground.

 

 

 


The Comunicano Communique for Wednesday April 13th, 2016

 
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This week is best viewed as Facebook's Week. With their F8 conference they are setting things up for their next few years of growth. This basically means now that they have attracted enough of us to be regular "users" and we're "hooked" it's really time to make money. The two big themes coming out of the event are API's to work with Facebook and Live Video.  Thus Facebook is really going after the ability to be present in your life all the time. The series of stories below are a nice primer, so I encourage you to look at what they are up to and draw your own conclusions so needless to say, "the Times, they are a changing.

So read today's Comunicano Communique and get into the news.

Yesterday on Business Rockstars with Ken Rutkowski, we talked about the cool apps, sites and tools to make you a better entrepreneur. The three you can watch from yesterday were:

FastLane - gets you an Uber from your Mac.

Teleport - Uber for Groups. You book. They ride. You pay.

WeLive - WeWork For Living spaces. In NYC and D.C. now...

By the way, don't miss the API event of the summer in Las Vegas. "All About The API"......

 
 
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Technology to Connect the World: F8 Day One Roundup

F8 2016 kicked off today, with a packed house of more than 2,600 people and hundreds of thousands of people watching via Facebook Live. Mark Zuckerberg kicked the conference off with a keynote detailing Facebook's 10-year technology roadmap, and the ways those technologies will help bring people together and give everyone a voice.
 
 

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Facebook Bets on a Bot Resurgence, Chattier Than Ever

To browse for a pair of brown loafers on Facebook Messenger, you can now text a message to the service to begin a conversation with the mobile shopping start-up Spring. Spring will ask you for a preferred price range for the shoes and show a smattering of what it thinks you might like.

 
 

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Live, local, late breaking: On Facebook Live, news outlets take a cue from TV (but don't call it TV)

Around 5 p.m. on April 1, everyone in our little office crowded around my desk, watching a live video of baby goats roaming inside BuzzFeed Motion Pictures president Ze Frank's office - a prank by staffers for his birthday. Would Frank be angry? Would the goats escape?? Would chaos ensue?!
 
 

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Facebook Opens Up Live Streaming API to Allow Streaming from Any Device

Facebook just took video streaming on its Live platform beyond the mobile phone: CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced during his keynote at the company's f8 developer conference in San Francisco Wednesday that it is making its Live API publicly available. This will allow developers to integrate live streaming into third-party apps and devices.
 
 

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This is the first official camera for Facebook's Live Video: the Mevo

Facebook has made a huge push into live broadcasting recently, including putting a new video discovery hub right in the center of its app. And now Facebook has its first official hardware partner for live video, and it's a nifty camera from industry pioneer Livestream.
 
 

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Facebook launches "Agents On Messenger" platform with chatbots

Facebook will now allow businesses to deliver automated customer support, ecommerce guidance, content, and interactive experience through "Agents on Messenger", Facebook's term for chatbots.
 
 

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Inside Microsoft's build-a-bot strategy | ZDNet

Tomorrow, Facebook is expected to roll out new bot-related programming interfaces and possibly new chatbots of its own at its F8 developer conference. Microsoft recently used its own Build developer event to talk up our bot-centric future. In the couple of weeks since then, I've been watching recorded Build bot sessions and following various links to understand more about Microsoft's approach.
 
 

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Find time for your goals with Google Calendar

Whether it's reading more books, learning a new language or working out regularly, achieving your goals can be really hard. One day it's "I got called into a last-minute meeting." The next day it's "I have a friend in town." And before you know it, your goals are delayed or forgotten.
 
 

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Nearly 40,000 Verizon workers just went on strike

NEW YORK - About 39,000 Verizon landline and cable workers on the East Coast walked off the job Wednesday morning after little progress in negotiations since their contract expired nearly eight months ago.
 
 

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How to Find the Customers Who Need Your Product

Aspiring founders who think they've developed an amazing offering often believe that their product will sell themselves. While there are occasional instances of unique apps, software, hardware, and services that were so valuable that they instantly made their founders famous, this is rarely the case.
 
 

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Building more accessible technology

Nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population will have a disability during their lifetime, which can make it hard for them to access and interact with technology, and limits the opportunity that technology can bring.
 
 

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The Comunicano Communique for Friday April 8th 2016

 
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Good Morning. It's Friday and it's been a busy week. Our big client news was YipTV joining T-Mobile's BingeOn. For the New Jersey based company this is a major milestone and likely a harbinger of things to come......The news cycle this week has also been fast and furious as next week tax day looms on April 15th, so it "usually" slows down. We'll see.

What company is hot? Facebook. Why? Start with pal Stephan Rust's blog post from last Thursday and then read the following few stories about the social network giant and I think you'll agree that we all can begin to drop "social" from the description of Facebook. They are really cresting into an all everything company.

Then there's the "let's buy Yahoo" news. I bet shareholders are wishing they took Steve Ballmer's offer a few years ago now.....What is it about Pigs and Hogs? Of courseencrypted communications remains in the news. What'sApp did it this week (read what the EFF has to say). Signal is available to more now via the desktop (as announced on their blog). The Amazon Echo remains the hottest product on the market ,and as I have all three, I can say that first hand, having been a user and raving fan since the Beta over a year ago. Talk about a daily experience changer, the Echo is just that, all of which rolls nicely into the talk about Bots...yes Bots. Not Bats..

There's all that and more in today's Comunicano Communique, so grab your coffee mug, tea or chai and get on with the news.

By the way, don't miss the API event of the summer in Las Vegas. "All About The API"......

 
 
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Facebook leading the way in Mobile disruption

After digesting some of the insights from Barcelona during Mobile World Congress, it's becoming more and more apparent that Facebook, not Apple or Google, nor Ericsson or Cisco, and especially not Vodafone or China Mobile, is leading change in mobile.
 
 

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Facebook Messenger now lets you start a chat by scanning profile codes

Becoming friends with someone on Facebook Messenger just became a lot easier. In a new update that started to roll out Thursday, Facebook's chat app now has Messenger Codes - circular patterns around a user's profile photo, which can be scanned to start a chat with that person.
 
 

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Facebook Messenger may soon have more bots

Facebook Messenger will soon have more bots. According to a leaked slide deck, the company will announce a bot platform for its chat service at next week's F8 conference. According to TechCrunch, Facebook is seeding APIs to developers that allow them to build bots for Messenger and Web plugins for Live Chat.
 
 

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When do bots beat apps? When context and convenience matter most

 
  There's a question I've been asking founders when they pitch me their bots: "Why is this a bot and not an app or a website?" I've been fascinated by the explosion of developer interest and startup activity around chatbots and am pretty bullish on their potential as both a user and an investor, but it's important to take a step back and think about why we're all so focused on conversational interfaces.  
 

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Video game Olympics announced for Rio

A new eGames international gaming tournament will make its debut in Rio during this summer's Olympic Games. The event, launched as part of this week's London Games Festival, offers medals and national pride rather than cash prizes for the winners. The competition, backed by the UK government, will be run by the new International eGames Committee (IEGC).

 
 

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Verizon to Proceed With Yahoo Bid, Google Weighs Offer

Verizon Communications Inc. plans to make a first-round bid for Yahoo Inc.'s Web business next week, and is willing to acquire the company's Yahoo Japan Corp. stake to help sweeten the offer, according to people familiar with the matter. Google, the main division of Alphabet Inc., is also considering bidding for Yahoo's core business, a separate person said.
 
 

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Is That Email Really From Your CEO?

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) this week warned about a "dramatic" increase in so-called "CEO fraud," e-mail scams in which the attacker spoofs a message from the boss and tricks someone at the organization into wiring funds to the fraudsters.

 
 

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Taking Alexa for a ride

Alexa, the ever-present voice control assistant living inside Amazon's Echo, Echo Dot and Tap products, has been a useful addition to the CNET Smart Home -- our spot in the Kentucky countryside for testing out all sorts of connected gadgets and gizmos (the Echo, Echo Dot and Tap included).
 
 

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Amazon expands free same-day delivery to 11 mid-sized cities, increases coverage in existing metro markets - GeekWire

Amazon continues to increase the value of its Prime membership, this time expanding its network of free same-day delivery options for members. The retail giant announced today that same-day delivery options are available to Prime members in 11 new cities, bringing the service's footprint up to nearly 30 metro areas across the U.S.
 
 

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Reddit launches official iOS and Android apps

Remember when, in October 2014, Reddit bought the unofficial Reddit mobile app Alien Blue? Even though the app was quickly relaunched, that was the first step towards Reddit launching its own official apps. That moment has finally arrived. On Thursday, the official Reddit apps landed on Android and iOS (iPhone only).
 
 

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Now's your chance to try Signal's desktop Chrome app

The desktop version of Edward Snowden's favored end-to-end messaging system, Signal, is now available to anyone who wants to check it out. Open Whisper Systems announced the desktop version back in December, but until today it was invite-only.
 
 

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Tesla Proclaims Early Model 3 Demand A Victory For EVs

A week after the Model 3 unveiling, and Tesla is in the endzone doing a touchdown dance. A blog entry on the official Tesla blog boldly states that this past week was "The Week that Electric Vehicles Went Mainstream." Elon also couldn't contain himself and let the good news from the summary of reservations for the week overflow onto Twitter.
 
 

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Most Airbnb hosts flout SF laws, city report says

More than a quarter of San Francisco homes listed as vacation getaways on Airbnb violate the city's 90-day annual limit on such rentals, while the vast majority of Airbnb hosts have yet to register their properties, flouting a law enacted last year, according to a report released late Thursday by the San Francisco Budget and Legislative Analyst's Office.
 
 

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YipTV Joins 'Binge On' Mix

YipTV said it has joined Binge On, T-Mobile's controversial optional service that delivers mobile video in 480p resolution and zero-rates the streams of its growing list of OTT partners. YipTV is a no-contract OTT-TV offering launched last May that's focused on Spanish-language video and features plans from more than 100 international and domestic live TV channels.

 
 

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YipTV, Dailymotion, others bulk up T-Mobile's Binge On streaming ...

International-focused streaming service YipTV and OTT provider Dailymotion are among a block of over-the-top providers and TV networks that have signed on to T-Mobile's ( NYSE:TMUS) streaming service, Binge On, setting a challenge to its primary mobile-first video streaming challenger, Verizon's ( NYSE: VZ) Go90 service.
 
 

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StubHub Will Use Virtual Reality to Let You Preview Your Seat

Like many companies, eBay is convinced virtual reality is the next big thing. But also like a lot of companies, eBay is trying to figure out just what that means for its business. On Thursday, the company is announcing its first small foray into the VR arena, as subsidiary StubHub offers Final Four ticket buyers the option to get an immersive, 3-D view of available seats.
 
 

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Regis McKenna's 1976 Notebook And The Invention Of Apple Computer, Inc.

At first blush, it appears to be an utterly unexceptional spiral-bound notebook. Manufactured in the U.S. by the National Blank Book Company of Holyoke, Massachusetts, it's got a light green cover and 80 sheets of narrow-ruled 8-by-10-inch paper. The first sign that its contents might matter is a request haphazardly rubber-stamped on the front: "RETURN TO REGIS McKENNA HIMSELF."
 
 

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The Hidden Economics of Porn

A gender-studies professor explains how the industry works.
 
 

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Andy's App of the Week - SENDERS

Back in the day, Rapportive was a great go to app to discover more about the person you were engaged in an email conversation. Then it was acquired by LinkedIn and its usefulness waned. Fortunately a new service has come out and it's awesome. I'm referring to Senders, which I talked about on Thursday's BusinessRockstars. Senders does for social and contact information what USA Today's bite size round-up stories did to the news. Makes it easy to know all you need to about someone in one place with their LinkedIn, Twitter, About, Angels List data and a quick search on Google all baked in.

Senders is still in beta, so expect a bug here or there, but after a day of using it, I can't live without it.

 


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The Comunicano Communique for Thursday March 31st 2016

 
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Good Morning. It's Thursday and as I wrote earlier in the week, the NEWS is happening. Today there is more than double the usual number of news stories you'll receive, with 18, and also far less feature content.....so grab the coffee and get ready to read.

In technology we'll go well beyond the FBI iPhone Hack and all the news surrounding that, much of which is more speculation than fact.

The tech news is from the usual and some unusual suspects. Microsoft with their Build 2016 Conference is dominating the tech press with stories surrounding their Hololens, API's, Bots, Cortana, their new Edge browser and how it deals with Ad blocking, Skype and more. To parry Microsoft's news a bit, Google is coming out with news about their efforts in Virtual Reality, with an update on their cardboard viewer with 360 degree viewing. Then there's news on Tesla's new car debut and how the tax credits for buying one may not last...

Of course Apple has well timed news around their Major League Baseball sponsorship all based upon the iPad going in the dugout and getting mentioned on air.  There's more news about their "New" iPhone, the SE with a strong review leading the way for that and the better way to charge iPad Pro 12 inchers...

Oh, and Uber announces how they are improving customer service by moving it into the app which makes things easier and also lets the world know how they have expanded what they are doing with Hilton. In the world of "what's old is new again", we have AOL's Tim Armstrong, who is now working for Verizon, with access to their war chest, going on record on wanting to buy Yahoo which some may remember used to power the telcos DSL, now he wants to power their ad network with their platform. 

There's all that and more in today's Comunicano Communique.

By the way, don't miss the API event of the summer in Las Vegas. "All About The API"......

 
 
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BUILD 2016: Microsoft talks Cortana, Skype, bots, and intelligence APIs

On March 30th, during the BUILD 2016 keynote presentation, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talked about "Conversations as a platform." That means conversations between two or more people, between people and digital assistants, and between people and bots, which are intelligent applications that humans can converse with.
 
 

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Microsoft launches HoloLens emulator so developers can test holographic apps, no headset required

As promised, Microsoft today started shipping its $3,000 HoloLens development kits. In addition to sharing that bots are coming to the new platform, the company also released a HoloLens emulator, which lets developers test holographic apps on their PC without the need for a physical HoloLens.
 
 

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HoloLens, A Year Later: A New Demo At Build 2016

A year ago at Build 2015, we got our first demo of Microsoft's HoloLens. At this year's event, we got a second crack at seeing the augmented reality device in action, and it was a completely different experience. Or, we should say, Microsoft took a completely different approach.
 
 

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Microsoft plans to build ad blocker into its Microsoft Edge browser | ZDNet

One of Microsoft's biggest gambles in Windows 10 is its decision to turn Internet Explorer into a legacy product, primarily for enterprise customers. Its replacement, Microsoft Edge, has been developing slowly since its version 1.0 release with the first release of Windows 10.
 
 

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Skype is getting Cortana and crazy bot messaging

You'll soon be able to use Skype to books trips, shop, and plan your schedule, just by chatting with Cortana. During its Build conference, Microsoft demoed how Skype users will soon be able to start a chat with Cortana and get things done just by having a conversation.
 
 

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Google makes it really easy to embed 360-degree VR experiences

You've tried out Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR, you've seen those nifty virtual reality experiences, and now you want to create your own and put it on your website. Well, Google just made that a pretty simple task.
 
 

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Google tackles simple 360 content embeds with VR View, introduces Cardboard SDK for iOS

Virtual reality is great for gaming and movies, but when it comes to real-world use cases there's still quite a bit of room for VR to prove itself. Google is hoping to kickstart this process by making 360 VR content a bit more simple to implement and, in the process, way more spontaneous for users to discover and view.
 
 

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AT&T moving away from Social Security numbers for customer security, will use pass codes instead

AT&T ( NYSE:T) is asking its customers to use pass codes rather than Social Security numbers when dealing with the carrier in an apparent effort to better protect users' sensitive information. "Previously, we required the last four digits of your Social Security Number as part of the process to access your account when calling Customer Service or visiting some Retailers," the carrier recently wrote in an e-mail to subscribers.

 
 

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Meet The iPhone Dream Team Hackers: FBI, Japanese Pinball Machine Maker, Israeli Cyber Firm

FBI Director James Comey leads a dream team which pulled off the iPhone hack.
 
 

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Apple strikes deal with MLB to provide every team with iPad Pros

Apple and Major League Baseball have signed a multi-year deal that will see every team receive iPad Pro tablets for use in the dugout, reports The Wall Street Journal .
 
 

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iPhone SE review: It's a pocket-size powerhouse

The SE is the little iPhone that could. With a 4-inch screen and the body of an iPhone 5s, it fits in my pockets better than my iPhone 6s, and it's easier to use one-handed. But it doesn't compromise much over its bigger, more expensive siblings.
 
 

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Testing Apple's 29W USB-C Power Adapter and iPad Pro Fast Charging

When Apple refreshed its online store with a new USB-C to Lightning cable with support for fast charging through a 29W power adapter on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro last week, the addition immediately caught my interest. You can also use the cable with an Apple 29W USB-C Power Adapter to take advantage of the fast [...]
 
 

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With Model 3, it's make or break for Tesla

On Thursday night, at an invitation-only, Hollywood-style premiere on his SpaceX campus in Hawthorne, Elon Musk and his Tesla team will unveil their latest creation: the Model 3, Musk's long-awaited electric car for the masses. Few details have been revealed so far, but the car is essentially a...
 
 

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Report: AOL's Tim Armstrong wants Verizon to acquire Yahoo to build an ad powerhouse

AOL, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong has grand plans to turn parent company Verizon, Inc. into an ad powerhouse, and acquiring Yahoo, Inc. may be a part of that plan, according to a new report Wednesday.
 
 

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Drone Startup Airware Raises $30 Million, Adds Former Cisco CEO To Board

A drone powered by Airware technology inspects the roof of a home. (Photo courtesy of Airware) Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration projected in a report that 7 million drones will be sold annually in the U.S. within four years. Some 4.3 million, the FAA forecasted, will be bought and operated [...]
 
 

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Checking Your Uber Rating Or Getting Your Purse Back Just Got Much Easier

After years of forcing customers to use email to complain about anything, Uber is now committing to more updated technology. On Wednesday, the ride-hailing giant announced it plans to roll out globally its in-app customer service support features, which it has been quietly implementing in the U.S. since late 2015.
 
 

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Hilton Deepens Its Uber Relationship in New Loyalty Push

Hilton may not have been the first hospitality company to partner with Uber - that distinct honor goes to Starwood - but it is the first hotel company that's allowing its loyalty members to view their hotel stay information and be able to check-in from the Uber app, all while they travel to their hotel in the very Uber they were reminded to book from their Hilton HHonors app.
 
 

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Why Do the Feds Usually Try to Unlock Phones? It's Drugs, Not Terrorism

Until the FBI backed down from its battle with Apple over accessing the iPhone 5c of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, it seemed the agency had chosen a near-perfect case on which to make its stand against encryption.
 
 

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The Comunicano Communique for Wednesday March 30th 2016

 
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Good Morning. It's Tuesday and it's the kind of NEWS day I love. That's when there is actually NEWS to read. What's happening? Lots of new features in apps and from services. It's the storm before the Tax Time lull so expect lots of "we have something new" to be coming out the next week or so. Take a look. See which companies are actually doing something NEW....All that and more in today's Comunicano Communique.

By the way, don't miss the API event of the summer in Las Vegas. "All About The API"......

 
 
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Digital Asset Holdings signs deal Depository Trust & Clearing Corp for Blockchain repos trial

Blockchain startup Digital Asset Holdings, LLC has signed a new deal with the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. to trial the company's Blockchain technology at the firm.
 
 

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AT&T to Add an Unlimited Data Option for Home Internet and Will Better Enforce Overages on Other Plans

On May 23, the company will introduce a new unlimited data option for its U-verse home Internet subscribers. AT&T customers who have only the U-verse home Internet service can add unlimited data for $30 more a month.
 
 

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Introducing Fiber Phone

Whether it's calling mom or ordering take-out, we rely on our phones to help reach the people and things that matter. And while mobile phones have pushed us toward the future, home phone service is still important to many families. Landlines can be familiar, reliable and provide high-quality service, but the technology hasn't always kept up.
 
 

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'Burner' phones might be made illegal

Burner phones might be about to be banned in the US. A Congresswoman has proposed that everyone buying a phone in the country would have to register with personal ID, to stop criminal activities being planned with handsets that can be bought anonymously and then thrown away. Forcing shops to require customers to give over identification when buying cheap phones or pre-paid SIMs could be one of the most important ways that terrorists are able to communicate, according to Ca...
 
 

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Facebook's Messenger lands first airline as chat app pushes into commerce

SAN FRANCISCO - KLM Royal Dutch Airlines passengers will soon be able to check in, get flight updates, make travel changes and talk to customer service reps straight from Facebook's Messenger chat app. KLM is the first airline and the first major European partner for Messenger, which is used by 800 million people around the globe.
 
 

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Snapchat Wants You to Video Call Your Friends and View all their Stories

Snapchat has taken to the official blog to announce new features that allow users to place audio and video calls. Over 200 stickers have been added to the mix, allowing you to send stickers of things such as aliens, Snapchat's ghost, and walruses to your added contacts.
 
 

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Instagram Increases Video Length From 15 Seconds To 60

Users will soon be able to record and post Instagram videos that are as long as 60 seconds. Instagram has increased the video limit on posts because users have been watching more videos on the service. "In the last six months, the time people spent watching video increased by more than 40 percent," the company said on its official blog.
 
 

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SoundCloud Starts Subscription Plan, Taking On Spotify and Apple

Two weeks after signing its final licensing deal with a major record company, the online music service SoundCloud has introduced its long-awaited subscription plan. The new program gives customers access to a much wider range of music than is available on competing services like Spotify and Apple, and it offers artists and their labels the promise of royalties.
 
 

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Spotify raises $1 billion in debt with devilish terms to fight Apple Music

On-demand streaming music is inevitable, so Spotify is taking whatever fuel it can get to win the race against Apple. Whoever can sign up customers faster to consume their data and network effect could earn money off them for a long, long time.
 
 

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Waze rolls out speed alerts to tell you when you're driving too fast

Google-owned GPS driving app Waze is making it easier to avoid speeding tickets today, with the launch of a new speed alerts feature. Now when you're driving on unfamiliar roads, or perhaps find yourself somewhere where the speed limit isn't clearly signposted, you can set up alerts for when you're moving too fast.
 
 

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Lyft wants to make 'casual carpooling' a thing again

Ride-hailing service Lyft is launching a new carpooling service in the Bay Area today that it insists is entirely different from all the other carpooling services out there, including its own Lyft Line.
 
 

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Plot twist: I'm working for Google

So that's a headline I never thought I'd be writing. But it's true. I recently flew out to Mountain View for orientation, meetings and my first visit ever to Google HQ. To clarify though, I haven't earned one of the Noogler hats that my son has coveted for so long.
 
 

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Business Rockstars: Apps For Entrepreneurs

Yesterday, on Business Rockstars with Ken Rutkowski, as one of their group of "Insiders," I highlighted three apps to help entrepreneurs operate their business better:

The first was GetAccept. This is a cloud based solution that helps with proposal management and closing.

Next up was SIFT, a way to sort through all the comments and suggestions made to companies via customer support and comment pages using Natural Language Processing.

Last was Cabalot, an iOS app that compares the current rates where you are between the different flavors of Lyft and Uber so you save money.

Catch me weekly on Business Rockstars, usually at 1:45 PM on Tuesdays, but possibly at other times.

The video is here, and I'm on at about 15 minutes into the program.

 
 

The Comunicano Communique for Monday March 28th 2016

 
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Good Morning. It's a Monday and the stories today are going to help you do better business.  Take the changes going on in Social Media. Instagram. Snapchat. Facebook. News about each of them leads things off. Then there's growth. Netflix and Spotify both are changing the ways we consume entertainment. All that and more in today's Comunicano Communique.

By the way, don't miss the API event of the summer in Las Vegas. "All About The API"......

 
 
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Snapchat users now spend 25 to 30 minutes every day on the app, and it's trying to attract the TV money because of it

Snapchat's photos and videos are famous for disappearing after a few seconds, but its users are spending as much as a half-hour every day playing with its app. The company is touting the time users spend on the app in its efforts to lure big brand advertising dollars away from television.
 
 

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Instagram is changing - here's how to make sure your posts still get seen

Rumour has it that Instagram 's new algorithm will be dropping tomorrow, resulting in a big change to the way posts are displayed. Rather than presenting users with a chronological list of posts, the algorithm will sort posts based on "the likelihood you'll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting, and the timeliness of the post".
 
 

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Facebook's Safety Check malfunctions after Pakistan bombing

Facebook activated its Safety Check tool to help people stay in touch after a deadly terrorist attack Sunday in Pakistan, but the feature strayed far afield from the carnage. Safety Check automatically sends Facebook users in an affected area a note asking if they're safe.
 
 

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Spotify hits 30 million subscribers

Spotify has 30 million paid subscribers, CEO Daniel Ek announced today in a tweet. This is the first subscriber update Spotify has given out since it announced it had 20 million subscribers days before Apple Music hit the market last June, and shows the increased competition has had little to no effect on Spotify's growth.
 
 

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Netflix's Grand, Daring, Maybe Crazy Plan to Conquer the World

Late into the night on St. Patrick's Day, Netflix hosted a makeshift "war room" at the company's Silicon Valley headquarters. Engineers and product wranglers sat loosely around a long, U-shaped formation of desks, monitoring diagnostics and Hipchat conversations. Linguists and translators patrolled a ring of television sets to check subtitles and dubs in a dozen languages.
 
 

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Google To Open A Dozen New Data Centers To Take On AWS

Google is planning to open 12 new data centers over the next 12-18 months. This has come just weeks after Google nabbed Spotify and Apple as its cloud customers. The huge cloud push by Google could see Google Cloud become its biggest growth engine a few years down the line.

 
 

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Forget the Small iPhone. Is Apple Going Charger-Free?

Apple might be ready to ditch some of its charger cords by 2017 with a plan to charge next-generation smartphones through the air. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a track record of solid Apple hardware predictions, told 9to5Mac over the weekend that he thinks next year's iPhones will charge wirelessly.
 
 

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Enterprise IoT rollouts still need outside assistance, but new software can help

The industrial Internet of Things doesn't just show up in a box at the door ready to use. It takes integration to deploy IoT systems and get the maximum benefit. That's because IoT isn't one thing, but many linked together in pursuit of a business objective.
 
 

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Japan's NTT to Buy Dell Systems for $3.055 Billion

 
  NTT Data Corp., a unit of Japan's former telephone monopoly, agreed to buy technology services businesses from Dell for $3.055 billion. The acquisition was announced by the unit of Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. in a statement to the Tokyo Stock Exchange Monday. The company didn't give a date for when it will acquire the Dell units.  
 

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The Inside Story of How Oculus Cracked the Impossible Design of VR

Palmer Luckey has never used an Oculus Rift. That's what the founder of Oculus keeps telling himself as he unboxes the commercial version of the virtual reality system he invented. Opens the package. Takes out the few elements-the headset, the single cable that connects it to a computer, the small cylindrical infrared camera that tracks it in space.
 
 

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Searching For Google CEO Sundar Pichai, The Most Powerful Tech Giant You've Never Heard Of

The Consumer Electronics Show, universally known as CES, is a riot of technology. Held annually in the bleak Nevada desert town of Las Vegas, it is a great blinking din, jammed with screens, speakers, automobiles, whirling drones, blooping robots, e-cigs and e-cigs and ever more e-cigs, plus some 170,000 people bumping around inside a disease-ridden convention center.
 
 

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Why the Most Talented People Copy - ReadThink (by HubSpot)

We have an insatiable thirst for the new. In business, we want new products, new campaigns, and new ways of reaching consumers. The shiny object syndrome isn't just about being easily distracted. It's also the result of thinking that what is new - and seemingly unique - is better.
 
 

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