The Comunicano Daily for Thursday July 16th


 
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Yesterday was a day in motion. Meeting with clients as early as 830 AM in Paris. Getting packed, and out of my hotel, over to lunch to catch up with uber Wine Bar and Restauranteur Mark Williamson of Willi's and Maceo fame, then literally a mad dash to Gare du Nord to catch the 1423 (243 PM) Eurostar to London so I could be back on west coast calls starting at 9 AM there and 5 PM here in London for what I call my second day of the day, a fast Indian dinner in London at 830 PM (what else do you eat here as it's the best food around) followed by more work, calls and conference calls with colleagues and friends and finally some 20 hours later than when I started - SLEEP.

A few observations about staying connected.

First is mobile coverage in France LTE/4G and 3G on the Eurostar has dramatically improved. I was able to stay connected on either of my two iPhones and iPad most of the way to and more importantly THROUGH the Chunnel. Coverage on the UK side was patchy but survivable. 

Second is retail merchant supplied Wi-Fi.  After all the time in France, UK, Belgium and Portugal this summer the percentage of retailers offering free Wi-Fi access with very good, fast and responsive throughput is outpacing the USA. And, I can see how it's affecting my consumption, where I'm using less "mobile operator data" when I'm out and about. 

Third is hotel broadband.  In Paris, and in London, this trip and last, my hotels have clearly upgraded to 802.11ac and N, boosted broadband capacity and increased speeds in the rooms. I have had perfect conference and Skype calls all trip.

The fourth and last observation is the iPad Air 2. This is rapidly becoming my main device for comms and work on the go. The SkypeGoToMeeting and WebEx experience is better than on a MacBook, Sunrise and Google Calendar, Gmail and apps are far better than a web browser to access and manage my daily interactions and avoid distraction, but most of all is the Brydge Air keyboard that I added which gives me an almost Mac Book experience for typing and audio.

Now..on to the news.....

 

 
 

 

Today's news lead ins will be brief.

Obama wants the low income housing crowd to have the Internet.

 

 
 
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Obama unveils ConnectHome to get low-income households online - CNET

The Obama administration on Wednesday announced a broad-based initiative designed to get low-income households online. Dubbed ConnectHome, the new initiative will bring high-speed broadband access to over 275,000 low-income households across the US. According to the White House, the pilot program will launch in 27 cities across the US, including New York, Boston, and Seattle, as well as the Choctaw Tribal Nation.
 
 

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Further proof traditional media is on the way out comes from the Pew Foundation.

 

 
 
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New Pew data: More Americans are getting news on Facebook and Twitter

Facebook and Twitter users across all demographics are increasingly using the social networks as news sources, though they are seeking out different types of news content on each platform, according to a study out Tuesday from the Pew Research Center and the Knight Foundation.
 
 

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Facebook and Twitter Really Are Where People Get Their News

More People are getting news from Facebook and Twitter than ever. In a new report out today, the Pew Research Center found that more than half of all Facebook and Twitter users get news from the sites, a significant increase for both services since 2013.
 
 

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Amazon turned 20 yesterday, had a sale, ran into some snags and has invaded Los Angeles to develop more original content.

 

 
 
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20 years of Amazon: 20 years of major disruptions

In July 1995, Amazon.com sold its first book online, Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies by Douglas Hofstadter. Now you can hop online from your phone, download the e-book version, bid on a vintage couch on which to read it, and hire someone to explain the concepts to you - all with one click.
 
 

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Despite Complaints, Consumer Demand For Amazon Prime Day Was Huge

Consumer demand was there for Amazon Prime Day, but the deals did not deliver. At least, that's the sentiment being shared online about Amazon's first-ever attempt at creating its own sales holiday - one which the company had promised would feature "more deals than Black Friday."
 
 

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Amazon's Jeff Bezos on Hollywood Strategy: "When People Join Prime ... They Buy More Shoes"

When Jeff Bezos launched Amazon.com from his garage in 1995, creating television shows was far from his mind. But in January, the wiry billionaire (his estimated net worth is about $40 billion) could be seen mingling at the Golden Globe awards as his Amazon Studios won two statuettes for Transparent.
 
 

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Netflix may have missed their financial mark, but they are growing.

 

 
 
 

Netflix earnings miss Wall Street forecasts

 
  Netflix Inc. on Wednesday reported second-quarter net income of $26.3 million. On a per-share basis, the Los Gatos, Calif.a-based company said it had profit of 6 cents. The results missed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 19 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 32 cents per share.  
 

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Verizon is going over the top and adding more new and different content.

 

 
 
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Verizon Adds Vice to Internet TV Lineup

Verizon today revealed the next partner for its Internet TV service: Vice. Vice content-including original programming-will be available on Verizon's upcoming mobile service. In March, Verizon said it will also air 200 hours of original content from AwesomenessTV each year.
 
 

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Get ready for beacons to enable apps to know more of what you want, where you are and why you should be offered things that are more relevant to you.

 

 
 
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Why Google Eddystone Looms as an Apple iBeacon Killer

Google Eddystone provides open source Bluetooth LE beacon technology that greatly expands on what Apple's iBeacon system can do for location-based applications. Google rolled out this week a new Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) beacon technology that competes directly with Apple's industry-leading iBeacon offering and also does a lot more than iBeacon.
 
 

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GigaOm Research is back. Pal Stowe Boyd is in the middle of it, and tells us more about new features for Google Apps that gives you more security and peace of mind.

 

 
 
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Google takes first steps toward finer-grained access in Google Drive

Google Drive has provided a simple but powerful model for file sharing. The creator of a file can invite others to share it, as readers (read-only access), commenters (read and comment access) or editors (read, comment, and edit access). But this opens the door to all sorts of issues, like being able to make a copy...
 
 

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You can now disable downloading, printing, and copying for any file stored in Google Drive

If you're not reaching, engaging, and monetizing customers on mobile, you're likely losing them to someone else. Register now for the 8th annual MobileBeat, July 13-14, where the best and brightest will be exploring the latest strategies and tactics in the mobile space. Google today rolled out a small but significant change to Google Drive.
 
 

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Founder Institute founder Adeo Ressi tells us what makes for a successful entrepreneur.

 

 
 
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What Makes a Successful Entrepreneur? Circumstance, Genetics, and Perseverance

Recently Adeo Ressi, founder of the Founder Institute, was asked, "what does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?". In Adeo's opinion, his answer was successful entrepreneurship is a combination of three things: genetics, circumstance and perseverance. Let's go through all three. 1.
 
 

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NASA proves that somethings don't happen overnight, but you have to have faith in what you started.

 

 
 
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NASA Breathes Sigh of Relief After New Horizons Passes Pluto

It was a moment nearly 10 years in the making. But for more than 13 hours, NASA scientists didn't know for sure whether the Pluto flyby had actually occurred. The suspense ended just after 8:50 p.m.
 
 

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The Comunicano Daily for Friday July 10th, 2015

 
 
 
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The VC world is on a authoring trend this week around content, the story and the deck. To me, this is all one big world and further underscores the concept that Bill Ryan is espousing around the brand narrative. As someone who thinks more like an ad guy mashed up with an ambush marketer and publicity pro (everyone knows I hate the term PR guy) the whole idea of content being king is nothing new here. But it's nice to see content now getting its day inside the sacred halls of Venture Capital firms...

 

 
 
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Why Is Every VC Suddenly Obsessed With Content Marketing?

Venture capitalists. When you hear the term in the startup world, it's met with a ton of very immediate, very opinionated reactions. These range from the good ("I wouldn't be where I am today without my investors") to, let's just say, the less than good.
 
 

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Apps, API's and cloud services are all merged and converged with what we like to call a Mobile First approach leading the way. This is where mobile device management is going to be super important, something we learned when we at Comunicano supported Nukona up through their acquisition by Symantec.

Cord cutters and the new "never corders", a term most often used by YipTV founder, client and long time friend Mike Tribolet (ex President of Vonage at their start) are driving this as the demand for new services that are more about "them" than ever before is rapidly rising. The winds of change and the market that YipTV serves are the same markets that will drive these change because they live mobile first.

Yesterday Amazon rolled out a whole slew of new services that not only further pushes their efforts into infrastructure, now they want to be more of your IT department, replacing old systems with new that run on the AWS cloud. 

 

 
 
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AWS Debuts New Tools for Cloud Developers

Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS) announced several new services for developers using its cloud platform during the keynote address of the AWS Summit that opened in New York today. Among the announcements were: a device farm for mobile testing; an API Gateway for setting up back-end services for mobile, Web and other apps; a revision control service called CodeCommit; and a software release automation service called CodePipeline.

 
 

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New Amazon app development tools sweeten the pot

AWS isn't content to stop at infrastructure -- now it's after its customers' application code, a prospect that tempts some, but has others wary about cloud lock-in. Amazon Web Services (AWS) made several products generally available here at AWS Summit this week.

 
 

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Amazon unveils new weapon in its fight to dominate software services

Amazon is continuing its push to make its massive cloud computing business a full-service IT shop Thursday, at an Amazon Web Services conference in New York, the company detailed a new service that specializes in a type of technology known as an application programing interface, or API.
 
 

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Just as Amazon is making moves to give you more to work with at the customer level, AppAnnie, long known for the stats around what app is being used by whohas just gone one step farther, linking in Google Analytics to tell app devs more about their app and what people are doing with it.

 

 
 
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App Analytics: First Stores, Then Ads, Now User Engagement! - App Annie Blog

When you've successfully released a few apps - or even your first - tracking their performance can start getting complex. With this complexity comes more tools, dashboards and APIs. While all the data you're checking is valuable, so is your time.
 
 

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Never to be beaten to the punch, or punch line, T-Mobile's colorful CEO John Legere announced free calling and roaming to Mexico and Canada this week. This changes the paradigm that many an MVNO focused on those transborder markets focus on, as now the 3rd biggest carrier is becoming imperialistic before AT&T which just sunk a lot of money into Mexico gets there.

 

 
 
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T-Mobile claims it now has more subscribers than Sprint, cuts roaming charges in Mexico and Canada

If you're not reaching, engaging, and monetizing customers on mobile, you're likely losing them to someone else. Register now for the 8th annual MobileBeat, July 13-14, where the best and brightest will be exploring the latest strategies and tactics in the mobile space. The upstart U.S.
 
 

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Up in Canada, or as pal Alec Saunders calls it, Canuckistan, some ingenious marketers have figured a way around the high calling and data rates in the more populated provinces. Buy plans in markets where service is cheaper, market and export it to the rest. Interesting, but one has to wonder if its a loophole or if the CRTC will shut that down like Bernie Parent used to do to the opposition in the halcyon days of the Philadelphia Flyers. Back then, the bumper stickers read "Only The Lord Saves More than Bernie Parent." Well maybe these folks in Canada have found a way to come close when it comes to saving!

 

 
 
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A 'black market' for wireless cell service has popped up in Canada

Two articles at iPhoneInCanada.ca and AlphaBeatic.com tell the story of one enterprising Canadian who takes advantage of a loophole to provide substantially cheaper wireless cell service for a one-time $100 payment. How exactly he does it appears to be unclear, but it involves pricing discrepancies in Canada, where lower-populated provinces like Manitoba and Saskatchewan see much cheaper cell service.
 
 

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Pals Frank Kelcz and Chris Wade were doing pioneering work for the UK Trade and Investment group a few years back when they were both serving as business ambassadors to the USA to bring investment to Britain. While Kelcz and Wade have moved onto greener pastures, it looks like their pioneering missionary work is paying of now for the UK as Cisco announced a billion dollars of investment heading that way. Sometime people do the work, while others later on get the credit.

 

 
 
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Cisco To Invest $1bn in U.K. Tech Industry Over 5 Years

Network-equipment giant Cisco Systems Inc. said Thursday it will invest $1 billion in the U.K. digital economy over next five years, through venture capital investments in local startups, education programs, and job creation. "Europe is leading in digitalization," CEO John Chambers said in a phone interview. "In the U.K., Prime Minister Cameron gets it."
 
 

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Growing up in the events business tickets were always a pain. As the agency that helped launch StubHub back in the early part of this century, we've seen firsthand how they changed the way people buy and sell tickets, creating a market that previously was dominated by ticket brokers and scalpers.  Now the market is becoming more interesting as rivals to TicketMaster and Fandango continue to come to market. And, these upstarts are getting big dollar backing because the market is so ready for change. 

 

 
 
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Funding To Global Event And Ticket Startups Hits High On Back Of 2 Big Deals

Investors are placing big bets on marketplaces for event and movie tickets, including US-based SeatGeek and Chinese movie ticket-purchase app, Weiying. The multi-billion dollar event & ticketing industry is dominated by category giants including eBay's StubHub and LiveNation's TicketMaster (NYSE: LYV, Mkt Cap: $5.56B).
 
 

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Roaming costs business money and staying connected isn't cheap. That's the results from study conducted by Rethink Research. As someone who spends more than half a year on the road annually, there's tricks to not being disconnected, as I wrote on VoIPWatch a few weeks ago. 

 

 
 
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Connectivity for travelling workforce cost businesses £855m last year

European and US employees travelling on the job cost businesses around £855 million in one year in connectivity costs, a study claims. Keeping employees online while travelling in Europe and abroad through roaming, pay-on-demand WiFi would have cost £1.42 billion in 2014, Rethink Technology Research, who conducted the survey, said.
 
 

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No industry is more familiar to me than travel.  For years I have been telling hotel guru Peter Koehler, GM of the Intercontinental in San Francisco and others in that business the role technology will be playing in the future of the guest experience. That day is more than here as the infographic below shows us...

 

 
 
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Stay-enhancing tech at hotels

A new survey of hotel guests across North America shows guests' love affair with mobile technology.

 
 

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The Comunicano Daily for Wednesday July 8th 2015

 
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It's always fun to watch the moves in big business. A few years ago Microsoft acquired Nokia, largely to help them with their hardware business. At that time, Nokia then was also partnered with Siemens to form NSN on the infrastructure side of the house. Now NSN is all owned by Nokia, and the handset division is owned by Microsoft. But as our first story tells us, that's coming to an end or sure looks that way.

 

 
 
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Major Job Cuts Expected at Microsoft

Microsoft plans to announce a major new round of layoffs as early as Wednesday, as the company seeks to further cut costs amid a shifting technology landscape. The layoffs are in addition to the roughly 18,000 employees that Microsoft said it planned to let go a year ago, according to people briefed on the plans who asked for anonymity because the details were confidential.

 
 

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But there's more to the Nokia story. One of the bright light divisions that got lost in the transition at Nokia was Maemo, a next generation Operating System (OS) that was to be the flagship to replace Symbian. The team there went off and formed Jolla, and in turn built the Sailfish OS. Yesterday we learned the company is being split into two. The reason? Smart money has Nokia snapping it up to reenter the handset business.

 

 
 
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Mobile Maker Jolla Splits In Two, With Sailfish OS Its First Order Of Business

Software or hardware? Finnish mobile device and Sailfish OS maker Jolla has always intended doing both. But that could be changing. Today the company announced it's forking itself, splitting its business into two. One of those businesses will be fully focused on pushing its Sailfish software platform forward.
 
 

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Years back pal Tom Carter, now at F5 Networks, co-invented and successfully patented the concept of the Wi-Fi network being an extension of the mobile/cellular network. That technology, called Voice Call Continuity (VCC) was first brought to market by former client BridgePort Networks is now owned by CounterPath, whose advisory board I sit on. Well Tom and Bodie Wilhoite's vision is now coming to fruition as more and more mobile operators embrace Wi-Fi calling, but the real vision of disruption is coming from elsewhere, namely Google with ProjectFi that is so close to the original vision that I recall hearing from Tom that's it's very eerie to see it all unfold.

 

 
 
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Project Fi Review: Google Masters Wi-Fi Calling, But Needs Better Phones

For millions of us, Google is the backbone of our digital lives. So it's a little incongruous that to get to its many services, we generally go through carriers such as Comcast, Verizon or AT&T. In a few towns across America, Google has eliminated the middleman and started providing broadband service.
 
 

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GigaOm Research is returning. And not soon enough. In an era where there's never enough insight, perspective and opinion, GigaOm's cadre of analysts always provided a very timely perspective. Sadly with the shuttering of GigaOm as we knew it, the last few months have left a void. Thankfully, the new owners are going to refill that void as pal Stowe Boyd shares the news with us.

 

 
 
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Rebooting Gigaom Research

On March 9 2015, Gigaom ceased operations because of the insolvency of Giga Omni, the corporation behind the scenes. As part of that cessation of operations Gigaom Research also closed its doors, and the network of analysts, editors, researchers, and other staff - built over years - was disbanded in one day.
 
 

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Ever wonder how a company's story gets told?  We at Comunicano like to call it the "Brand Narrative" and today's piece in Medium provides a very insightful read on just how the company rises, falls and rises again to be sold another day. It's a great read if you are a marketer or communications pro or junkie.

 

 
 
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How the Tech Press Forces a Narrative on Companies it Covers

The tech press moves like clockwork, fitting company narratives into a predictable arc. Here's how pros deal with it. I don't remember who told me company narratives were like a clock. I was at Google, where I'd taken a job on the communications team despite zero experience in communications.
 
 

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With the movers and shakers of content, media and technology all in Sun Valley for the Allen & Co. annual soiree, rumors will always abound. One that seems to be making th rounds is FaceBook buying Twitter. Given Twitter is searching for a new CEO, the time could be ripe for an acquisition, but given the current climate in D.C. on M&A and how consolidation of growing markets is viewed as bad it may not be as likely.

 

 
 
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Will Facebook buy Twitter?

Will Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey get caught huddling at the Duck Pond? That's a hot question as Allen & Co.'s annual Sun Valley media conference kicked off Tuesday - and some of Facebook's key investors are hoping and praying that the answer is "no."
 
 

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Over in Europe the right to be forgotten in search engines is available. But not so in the USA. A consumer group is advocating that the Federal Trade Commission looks into why Google isn't offering that same opportunity to those domiciled in the USA.

 

 
 
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A consumer group wants Google to give Americans 'the right to be forgotten'

A consumer advocacy group is urging the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate why Google has not given American internet users the "right to be forgotten." In 2014, a European court mandated that Google remove search results from individuals when asked, if the results are irrelevant, outdated, or otherwise inappropriate.
 
 

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Every Monday, I join long time pal and tech media star Ken Rutkowski on his dailyBusiness Rockstars 'cast (now video and audio) that is heard on CBS's Play.it and over 180 radio stations across the USA. During my weekly appearance I highlight a few new apps or services that can help business people do their job better or run their business more efficiently. So, in that tradition of "finding something new" today's app is "Telegram" a messaging app that works cross platform and adds some neat features like enhanced privacy.

 

 
 
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Telegram: the best messaging service you're probably not using

Every week or two a new update brings another new feature to Telegram. Photo: Telegram What Messaging App do you use? I've tried them all, settling on Telegram as my favourite cross platform chatting client. But what is the point of a great chat service if none of your friends are there?
 
 

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Why Do FaceTime Audio, WhatsApp and Viber Sound Better? It's HD Audio!

Running in 4G/LTE and being a big "latch on" user of Wi-Fi as I wander around Europe, and for the next while, Lisbon has me staying in touch more and more by voice vs. email and text messaging with friends far and wide. Depending on the person, some still use their mobile number, but more and more of my travel buddies, those other nomadic types I know from Australia and the UK are far more reachable using other means.

For starters I'm finding some like Viber while others like WhatsApp. Still others are massive users of FaceTime, and a few holdouts are still on Skype and the uber-geeky crowd is on Wire. But what is common to all the services being used is one thing that separates them all from the mobile phone. Each and every call is in glorious HD quality voice. When I'm on with someone on Viber or WhatsApp it's like a T-Mobile to T-Mobile call back home. Clear, crisp, rich and robust audio.

The more I use HD, the less I like regular calls, but alas until the entire telco world goes HD, thankfully we have those alternatives available to us.


Why Not Enough Wi-Fi Over European Skies

Here in Europe, other than Norwegian Air, Wi-Fi on flights is a missing link to my travel. It seems according to the recent Skift report, others feel in-flight connectivity is important too.

Let's face it, I love to fly on Wi-Fi equipped planes in the USA because it keeps me "connected" and when I get off the plane my inbox isn't jammed, and I know more of what is going on around me where I land. That's why, when Virgin America first launched their service with Wi-Fi on every plane I pretty much stopped flying Southwest where I was an 30+ flight a year "A" lister. As other US based airlines added Wi-Fi their flights with Wi-Fi became my chosen carriers, which meant Delta right behind Virgin America.

Wi-Fi on European airlines right now is best summarized in this report. Though it's "coming" it is still a ways off.

 


Working Anywhere Isn't Hard. It Just Takes Planning

Over the past five weeks I've gone from living in beach community of Solana Beach, just outside of San Diego, to go on a quest to be a truly global nomad, working from anywhere and functioning, time zones aside, as if I was still there. This working elsewhere mode includes traveling through nine airports in seven countries and staying in 12 different "residences" or hotels, including three AirBnBs, two winery hotels, and seven traditional hotels.

I can safely say that with planning and research, it's not hard to be working anywhere, but having experience sure helps. By experience, I mean traveling to the places you know well enough, but more importantly have the broadband infrastructure and other essential services in place to make sure that "working anywhere" is possible. But after ten years of being a global road warrior so much is changing I figured it is time again for a refresher and some tips on "living like a local" are now more timely than ever.

Here are a few observations:

1. Hotel broadband is never as good as residential broadband except in certain circumstances. Case in point. The Conrad St. James prior life as an Intercontinental provided Royal Ambassadors with 100/100 in-room Wi-Fi and Wired connectivity. Now the best I could get was 50/20. It was still very good, but a shock to have been "slowed" down. Still this is far better than most hotels.

On the other hand, whatever MamaShelter in Paris has been doing with Wi-Fi since I started staying there years ago continues to get better. I don't remember what my speeds were, but an in-room iMacs serving as an access point and entertainment center makes life easy. Speeds are awesome, and the bandwidth is always stable.

As for my experience in Prague, the Courtyard by Marriott was far better than the Four Seasons where the speeds even when upgraded were never more that 6/6 while the Courtyard was 20/20 or greater. In Vienna, the new Renaissance was fine with speeds at 10/10 but the Intercontinental in Vienna the Internet was far better and more stable, all over the hotel using a very solid Swisscom installation.

But this is where AirBnB for the business traveler wins hands down. In the three AirBnB apartments, I have been in so far my speeds have been 100/15, 10/2 (for a one-night weekend stay) and 100/12 consistently. Why? I'm asking each owner if they have fiber or ADSL. If it's fiber, and right to the dwelling it's going to rock, and it does.

Rule of thumb is thus, put yourself on a fiber (broadband) diet where you can. In every case so far, I've been able to get AirBnB hosts to verify their broadband connectivity and where it's available, have them switch to a Fiber connection from ADSL. This type of broadband means a world of difference, as working from apartments, is the same almost as if I was working from my own home.

2. Mobile Devices, Data, Voice, and Text.

Rule number one. Never roam. Rule number two. Have an unlocked phone. Rule number three. Have enough credit on your last country SIM that lets you log on when you land. Rule number four-buy local SIMs.

This is where it can get complicated so follow along closely. If you're simply making a series of one-day visits to countries, then none of this likely applies to you. In those situations the time involved will be costly, but if you are spending three or more days in a country, or visiting the same countries over and over again in short duration and live a data intensive life like me, consuming over 100 megs of data a day when not on Wi-Fi (which is essential to use) you will need a local SIM on your smartphone and tablets or you will pay the price.

For many this is where Truphone will help as their plans work in 66 countries but its not LTE/4G (yet) in many, and it doesn't matter, though I have a need for speed as I use data side communications services more and more for calls over WebEx, GoToMeeting, Skype, Wire for voice and Google Voice, WhatsApp and iMessage for text. Those apps/services and 4G/LTE makes communications often as good or better than wired broadband in some places.

To use mobile broadband like a local, or to get as much speed and high-grade connectivity, you do need the latest models of iPhones, iPads and Android devices, but when you buy them, make sure they are not "operator editions" but are truly "world phones."

My iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, along with my iPad Air2 have all the radio bands needed to work around the globe at the highest speeds available (with China being a slight exception). Buying these saves hassles, and prevents being on slower networks. For example, the T-Mobile USA unlocked editions lack the 4G radios that work at 4G in Europe except in a few situations. Once you have the real global devices, the speeds you expect all become available. Android devices require you to read and see what they have, but the OnePlus One is my chosen Android mobile solution.

When choosing a wireless operator you have to take in two network factors-speeds and coverage. To do this use Google Search and enter the mobile operator's URL and the words "coverage map." That will show you where they offer coverage and what speeds (GPRS, EDGE, 3G, 4G/LTE)

This means as time goes on things change. For example, in the Czech Republic my initial research showed that T-Mobile would be my best choice. Then as I did more reading, I learned how Vodafone, when they came into the market, went LTE, and sure enough Prague speeds and network were super reliable.

In Vienna Austria, I quickly learned that no one sold 4G mobile phone service for smartphones on pre-paid, but that Telekom Austria sold 4G/LTE for tablets. That meant my iPad was going on A1. What I also found out from the research was that the best network outside the major cities was also going to be A1 from Telekom Austria. Where again I thought either T-Mobile or 3 (Drei) would have been good for me, I would have been on 3G on the iPad and given I was in the wine country half the time I was in Austria, and where the wineries are not always as tech savvy, the LTE/4G on the iPad more than a few times saved my bacon when it came to conference calls and one on one calls using Skype or a variety of Voice over IP providers.

In France, I was a fan of SFR for many years, but the winner these days is Bouygues Telecom. For starters in Paris, they have really good coverage but in Bordeaux I never didn't have 4G/LTE. I've got a SIM from Orange also but while they have the biggest network, much of it is still EDGE in the wine regions. The bottom line for me in France is you have to look at the coverage maps and decide which carrier is for you where you will be. In my case, I hedge and have SIMs with both Orange and Bouygues in my SIM pack.

In Portugal, Vodafone has gone from number 3 to number 1 in speeds on 4G. It used to be Optimus (now NOS) on my iPad but the past year my two trips have shown that research pays off, and the coverage in Cascais has been improved and all along the train ride. That said, if I end up in the Alentejo or Algarve and coverage falters I'll just grab SIMs from MEO (Portugal Telecom) if the Vodafone coverage is sparse and pre-paid SIM's are available everywhere.

In London, 3 used to be my favorite and they remain my steady choice as they started from an all 3G network, however with the merger of Orange and T-Mobile into EE and EE's commitment to LTE-A (a for what they sell as Double Speed, their service has become my first choice. Both provide easy online management, with the key being to buy what you need and not oversubscribe to more than will do the job. Even Vodafone has improved their coverage, so when it comes to the UK, look at the coverage maps and drill down on what speeds are offered where, and then decide who has what you need.

While many may think that T-Mobile USA's global roaming is a good deal, the speeds are variable across the globe. For a quick email check in, and simply map usage it does the job, but if you are heavy app user or plan on making VoIP or Skype calls, forget it, and go local. 3 in London has a "feels like home" program with free roaming. That is enough of a reason to grab a few SIMs and keep them topped up with credit and use them in countries when I first land if I'm not sure I can roam with others before buying local SIM's and I need to check email.

As far as staying connected to the folks back home, pointing a Google Voice number to your Skype In and then forwarding Skype Out to your local number works well. So does Switch.co. And since both offer Do Not Disturb modes you can turn them off when you're sleeping.

3. You Gotta Have Wi-Fi and you need Boingo

Finding Wi-Fi access these days is pretty much like locating running water, but like running water, you need to locate it, and sometimes, even pay for it. That's where Boingo comes in. Having a Boingo Mobile account is a very useful addition to the mobile arsenal. For $9.95 a month (first month is only $4.95) you can connect two mobile devices. Boingo also provides an instant log-on feature called PassPoint in the USA, and a free VPN service as well. All in all for the price the amount of access around the globe, especially at International airports, makes Boingo a very good option. On top of that there's a global plan, a North American one, and specific offers for different parts of the world.

4. Make The Network Yours

In my AirBnB apartments, I've made them "mine." At least when it comes to technology. Given I'm on extended stays I brought along my Apple Time Capsule which has 802.11ac in it. While I also carry an Apple Airport Express, which lacks 802.11ac (as of now) so while that's good for hotels, given properties can get speeds up to a Gigabit, it makes sense to have the gear that works that fast. What you need to do usually is either wire in directly to the router or if you don't have hardwired access, extend the existing wireless network. Be sure to use DHCP to the cable or fiber modem, and then go into bridge mode, that way you avoid IP address and NAT conflict issues.

5. Make Your Place Feel More Like Home

I love Apple TV and the ability to watch the programs I want, and honestly, TV in foreign countries other than news is often lacking. Connect the Apple TV to your wireless or wired network and the content you already have is with you everywhere. To get around geographic restrictions on content from Hulu and Netflix, use MediaHint. What's great about this is you change your DNS settings on your devices and then it opens up your universe to the content you're already paying for anywhere you are. This is far better than a VPN as it doesn't slow down the traffic to your devices either plus it works as either a browser plug-in or a setting. Another great gadget in your bag to carry along is a Google ChromeCast. This lets you have a big monitor wherever you so don't forget the HDMI cable. In some cases, hotels lock down the ports and the ability to add on your devices but here is where being in an AirBnB location changes the game. It's more "open", and you don't have to Hack the House like you often have to "Hack the Hotel."

My favorite "gadget" along for the ride is the Amazon "Echo." It has become my virtual assistant. I use it as an alarm, as a temperature and weather reporter and most of all as a music source. You see, like using MediaHint, Amazon has it configured in such a way as it still thinks it's back home in California. Once you overcome the fact that you can't use any time zones outside the USA, it all becomes easy. For example, just add or subtract the time zone differences when you ask what time it is. But if you ask "specifically" what time it is in your current city by name and country, or make a similar request for weather, you get your local information. What I like is the ability for the Echo to provide me a verbal overview of my calendar for the day, plus to add things to my ToDo List. And with an IFTTT recipe, I can easily have entries populated onto my ToDoIst To Do list. I can also create similar "recipes" to add to my "shopping" list and then have that emailed to me as well or simply review it on my mobile ToDoIst apps.

6. You Have to Have an Office Address

If you're going to be residing somewhere for more than a few days and it's not a hotel, don't get in the trap of the post office being confused. In my case in Lisbon I'm in a security guard/concierge building, so I have someone who can receive packages (and provide local advice as needed) but delivery people and postmen are not always up to date on things. For that reason, I took a "local" office address in one of the Regus locations. I had my Luggage Forward shipped baggage sent there, and knew from both Regus and Luggage Forward when it was received, thus not burdening the AirBnB hosts or worse, my bags not being delivered because someone wasn't home or worse, a different guest was in the property that would have been very confused, and possibly declined the delivery.

7. Credit Cards and Your Addresses

Nothing is more challenging than being out of your hometown and using credit cards these days as the banks are all getting more security attentive. Visa is deploying its Mobile Location Confirmation technology powered by Comuncano client Finsphere which uses your mobile phone as the validator that you're where your card is, but that's just getting rolled out by Visa member banks so it will be a few more months before that is the salvation. For now here are a few tips that are very helpful:

Notify your card issuing and online banks of your travel plans. Most now have (finally) an online form to do that. Provide dates and countries of your travel plans. In the case of American Express, you can provide "alternate addresses." This is a big boon as some service providers locally in theory won't accept foreign country issued credit cards, but what it seems to be is the "lookup" that occurs. I've found using a local address on file with Amex works around some, but not all of those situations. Plus it lets AMEX know where you will be.

8. Getting Around

Being spoiled by Uber in the USA isn't just a hometown thing. In most cities I've been in of late I've used Uber far more than local cabs, but when there's no Uber using the taxi or metro is a good thing. Buying local bus, rail and train passes or local rechargeable cards for transportation is far easier than fishing for cash or fumbling with a credit card, plus it makes you less vulnerable to pickpockets which in tourist areas is always a problem.

Uber can sometimes be a challenge so remember to do the following:

  • Make sure you have your local mobile number up to date. You can do this from the app or the Uber website. If you can't just email their support team.
  • Don't expect the maps to be accurate.
  • I make a point of calling the drivers or sending them a text with specific details on where they can find me or what I am wearing.
  • Surge pricing. In some markets when UberX is in Surge Uber XL or Black isn't. For about the same price you can get a better ride.
  • If at an airport, confirm where the pickup location is with the driver. Often it's not the same place as the taxi's or Limos for UberX. I like to use the "departure" level as there's usually less chaos and confusion.

There are also local apps usually for taxi services. Just know that your costs are higher than Uber but in most cases outside the USA the fares are far better (Paris is a challenge as the fare starts when the driver goes to pick you up.)

9. Living Local

I miss Amazon Fresh. Seriously. Order what you want and the next day, or even the same day it's at your door. Well, in Lisbon El Cortes des Ingles' SuperMercado which happens to be the best market in the city delivers. And while I'm not residing that far from the store, carrying bags of groceries without a shopping cart in 88-degree heat isn't my idea of fun.

Enter their app and web shopping page and their delivery. I'm finding this type of grocery shopping, and delivery service is available in more places like London, and there are a rising number of multi-merchant services like Hubbub that are spawning globally. But just as I've found home delivery in Lisbon it's thriving as well across France with Intermarche and in the UK with Waitrose amongst others.

10. Staying Connected to The Team

It doesn't matter anymore where you are. Crossing time zones is the same as crossing the street. Using services like Slack, HipChat, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, UberConference, Yammer, Skype keeps me connected.

Having a great headset is a key for calls. Invest in NOCS or a high-quality brand. Don't go cheap.

Using music services like Pandora on the Amazon Echo, Spotify, Apple iTunes and even YouTube music keeps me jamming along. Operating the business on Google Apps for Work or Office 365 solves the "I need the file now" problem when everyone else is asleep. You can also make great use of workforce collaboration tools like DropBox, Box, BaseCamp and others. Automating processes with Zapier and IFTTT makes things faster and eliminates manual labor. Services like 99 Designs and Fiverr, plus FancyHands give you a virtual workforce army allowing you to get work done while your team back home is asleep.

12. The Work Day

You're out of the usual time zone, so setting up your day with your calendar focused on maximizing the day is key. I take my dinner 8 hours later than the west coast is at lunch. So 130 there is 930 in Lisbon and London. When I'm in Paris or anywhere on CET, I work it 8 or 9 hours apart. If I know I've got a call scheduled for after dinner, I just eat a bit earlier. Living in an AirBnB apartment means cooking in or having a delivery for those times. The mornings are my writing time and then around 11 or so I split for a few hours. Grab a workout, go for a walk, run errands (laundry) or just grab an early lunch or late breakfast.

Working across time zone is never easy. Add in Daylight Savings Time and when that arrives and ends in different parts of the globe is confusing to even the most experienced traveler. I make extensive use of the paid version of World Time Buddy. It helps me know what time it is where and allows me to easily suggest times for calls. You can also add time zones to Google Calendar and set up your smartphone or tablets with clocks for the more frequently looked up time zones but by having all the times in front of you in World Time Buddy life is simpler.

I'm also making great use of Assistant.To to get one on one meetings set up for either face to face or via a conferencing service. By choosing times that work for you, it then sends out the options and loops into Google Calendar, notifying everyone that the meeting is set up.

13. Gear Up to Go To Work

Recently I bought a new 12" MacBook, choosing the CTO edition with the biggest and fastest solid-state drive, memory and processor. It was the best move I could have made. It's as light or lighter than my iPad, fits in my snug and functional mini Tumi shoulder bag with the iPad, cables, chargers and backup battery for my iPhone, and more importantly has enough horsepower to get me through the work day, The 12 inch screen is bright and the audio is amazing. The key is the weight and power combination. It's fast and light and for people on the go, it is the best Mac out there and since I don't work on heavy graphics or any complex spreadsheets, what this has is more than enough.

14. Airports, Airlines, and Lounges

I am not anti-EasyJet or RyanAir, but I do admit that cutting costs has its challenges, but in reality the best United or American Airlines experience isn't much different than flying the discount airlines of Europe. But there are options so using SkyScanner.com or their mobile apps has given me all kinds of visibility into local routes and flights, plus the airlines own websites. The key is to find the routes and days they fly, and where they go head to head, often the mainline carriers are only a few dollars more, much like Southwest and JetBlue force in the USA.

As for getting work done, investing in Priority Pass is a given. While some lounges are accessible via the American Express Priority Pass relationship, not all are. Armed with their card and the app on your smartphone puts you in striking distance of lounges all over the world. Just learn what it means to be airside or pre-security side as the difference can mean a made or missed flight. Inside you'll find the usual amenities like hot coffee, snacks, drinks and of course Wi-Fi, and often it's better than the airport's own.

Signing up for programs like the UK's new Registered Traveler programme means getting into the country faster. While in the EU a USA chip passport carriers no sway, it will now in the UK with the start of Registered Traveller. Much like Global Entry in the USA, getting in the program takes more time than getting in the country. But once you're in, you're getting in much faster, without any long lines making this an essential for the frequent flyer into the UK.

Apps like TriptIt and FlightBoard as well as FlightStats keep me sane with alerts and flight options. There's no worse feeling when you're flights late, and you have a connection. With these apps you not only know what's going on, you end up finding your options faster, allowing you to go to the gate not wait for some customer service person to get to you in line.

Wrapping It All Up

The bottom line is that it's not really that hard to be working from anywhere. And as the on-demand economy, the app economy and the virtual workforce all merge, being local in a foreign land won't be as hard in the near future as it was as recent as ....yesterday.

 


A Travelers Trick

Often times we book flights on airlines that sell tickets under code share agreements with other airlines. Case in point my first of three "Lufthansa" flights to Prague at the start of the trip back in May was on United to Houston, while my two continuation flights were on Lufthansa. Check in on either airline, using the passenger name record (PNR) or what we usually refer to as our record locator, didn't work, and what's more, after some digging around and a call to Lufthansa it was discovered that there actually was a different PNR for the United leg of the flight even though that wasn't in any of the original flight information. 

But checking in wasn't prohibited. It was just not possible using the information that was on the itinerary. What did work was the electronic ticket number and therein lies the key to checking in and more.

Tomorrow I am flying to Paris, so naturally the ticket was purchased on Air France, but it ends up that the flight is really an Austrian Airlines flight. The check-in reminder alert that arrived by email over night from AirFrance advised that automatic check in wasn't possible, and even going through the process on their web site, ended up with the same result.

That was when I remembered the e-Ticket technique and went over to Austrian Air's web site.  As soon as that information was entered, and a vital piece of information it is, my world changed. Not only was the check-in process now available, it was offering seat selection, the opportunity to purchase additional baggage and what's more, a pre-departure upgrade option to business class. SCORE. I grabbed the business class seat, paid the upgrade fare of 139 euros, which when combined with the original fare was still a bargain (and a relief) and I'm on my way, checked-in and ticketed.

Here's the bottom line. Codeshares as they are called, especially on international flights are more common now than ever before. Knowing your way around the codeshare system will make your life easier, stress free and likely give you some perks you didn't know about. The key is to know that your electronic ticket number is not your PNR and that's the key to unlocking your flight options on the airline your actually flying on.


Twilio Goes Video, Puts Pressure On TokBox Now

For the past two years, when it came to WebRTC video many early developers would look at TokBox and use their platform. Today, the heavyweight of heavyweights in developer programs, Twilio fired a broad shot across the bow and entered the fray. This is big news for WebRTC because Twilio has the key part of the equation. The developers. And that means a lot more than what they have in their stack. Their entry also begs the question how Genband will react as they have been tossing Kandy around for months but with hardly any news about deployments.

Tsahi also raises the same concern I have towards TokBox, but overlooks a key missing piece of the equation. That is the lack of Internet Explorer or Safari compatibility that plagues both TokBox and now will impact Twilio. Both would be well served by working with client, Temasys, whose commercial plug-in brings IE and Safari to WebRTC players. 

So for now, devs working with either Twilio or TokBox will still have to go to Temasys directly to license the functionality.

If I was a developer working on IoT products, apps for iOS or Android or someone looking to appeal to the millennial generation, I'd run, not walk, to Twilio's dev program as this will speed up the adoption of WebRTC even without Microsoft being friendly today. That day will come. Just like Christmas does.

 


Getting "Back In The USA" Will be Faster

The U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement folks (not to be confused with Homeland Security) are making great strides to improve the "welcome home" and "welcome to the USA" experience. And, they're doing it with your smartphone and applications.

For years we have been filling out a form as we land, and then presented it to the Immigration officer as we entered the USA.

DeclarationformfrontAlong came Global Entry, where we insert our passport, present our fingerprints and allow a retinal scan to be taken. For those in Global Entry, the process dramatically reduces time, and if you carry on your luggage often your out of the Customs area in minutes, not hours.

With your smartphone form, this will provide CBE officer a faster way to break down the lines. But more importantly, the advanced passenger data, plus the submitted data will ensure that all your data matches up, and if it doesn't, that will provide the officers the flags in advance to have the questions ready to help get the right facts or take the right action.

But the new use of smartphone forms has another benefit. Many airports, due to FAA rules, prohibit the use of mobile phones in the Customs and Immigration area in the USA.  The fact that forms will now be filled out on the smartphone means you'll need to be using your smartphone to fill the form out and submit the form to the CBE servers. That also means you'll be able to send your SMS/Text messages, check your email and possibly even make calls. When I recently posed the question to a Customs officer he said that each airport would decide what was the rules, but to keep an eye out for the signs.

To me, this is progress. And progress, using technology, is what it's all about.

 


The Comunicano Daily for Thursday December 17, 2014

 
 
 
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Changes. Lots and lots of changes in mobile. T-Mobile rolls a stash of data. Doctors make video house calls. Sprint drops their sponsorship of Nascar. Those stories and more are all just below...So now onto the news..

 

 
 
 

T-Mobile Allows Subscribers to Hold on to Unused Mobile Data

 
  T-Mobile USA, the fourth largest wireless carrier in the United States, said on Tuesday that it would allow customers to roll their unused mobile Internet data into the next month's billing. Or, as John Legere, the company's chief executive, put it in a video broadcast: "What you don't use, you won't lose."  
 

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A Doc in Your Pocket: Doctor on Demand Gets Smarter

As you travel to your destination this holiday season, you may be bringing bags filled with presents - as well as runny noses, colds, flus, extra stress and high emotions. And there's a good chance that you'll see your primary-care doctor or psychologist before the year is out.
 
 

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T-Mobile US confirms 700MHz LTE network live in Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Minneapolis and Washington DC

TeleGeography's free daily email summary of the world's top telecom news stories.
 
 

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You may wonder why Sprint is giving almost 15 months of notice to NASCAR that it's dropping its title sponsorship. The reason is simple. It will take a long time to find a sponsor ready pony up the kind of money it takes to sponsor and support such a massive sponsorship every week during the NASCAR season...

 

 
 
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Sprint to Drop Nascar Partnership After 2016 Season

Sprint has decided not to extend its Nascar title sponsorship for the Sprint Cup Series, citing the need to focus on its core business. After the 2016 season, the telecommunications giant will allow the partnership to expire. Nascar has partnered with Sprint for years.
 
 

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In light of the Sony hack encrypted email is going to be the rage. Obviously, with Gmail and Google Apps so widely used, Google is sending a message that they're getting ready to offer that to their users.

 

 
 
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Google's alpha-stage email encryption plugin lands on GitHub

Google has updated its experimental End-to-End email encryption plugin for Chrome and moved the project to GitHub. The firm said in a Tuesday blog post that it had "always believed strongly that End-To-End must be an open source project." The alpha-stage, OpenPGP-based extension now includes the first contributions from Yahoo's chief security officer, Alex Stamos....
 
 

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NBC wants to make sure you can watch their content. Anywhere. But they've put a few catches to insure that their cable subscribers only see it--for now.

 

 
 
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NBC to roll out live streaming - but not so fast, cord cutters

Saturday Night Live isn't live streaming just yet. NBC has announced plans to begin live streaming its network shows, but cord cutters won't have access to the new service. The peacock network will start streaming to mobile and desktop devices on Tuesday, but viewers will need to provide a login tied to a cable subscription to gain access.
 
 

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Google Ventures is moving big time into healthcare. 

 

 
 
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Google Ventures Shifts Focus to Health Care

Google 's venture-capital arm is moving strongly into health care and life-sciences startups, mirroring shifts at the Internet giant. More than one-third of the money Google Ventures invested in 2014 went to health care and life-sciences companies, up from 9% each of the prior two years.
 
 

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While Marriott and Sheraton have already stated their no-key required, no check-in approaches, along comes Hilton with their own claims.

 

 
 
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Hilton's digital check-in and room selection rolled out worldwide

17 Dec 2014 | Get Free Access to Breaking Hospitality News Here [News, Information Technology] Hilton Worldwide has announced that its pioneering digital check-in and room selection technology is now live across more than 4,100 hotels spanning 11 brands worldwide. This includes more than 260 hotels across Europe, Middle East and Africa.
 
 

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Comunicano client PixiePath's CEO Bryan Field-Elliot was was interviewed on That Drone Show this morning. You can hear via YouTube just what PixiePath is all about.

 

 
 
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PixiePath CEO On Drone Fleet Management Platform

You can watch PixiePath CEO Bryan Field-Elliot talk all about Camera Drones, Quadcopters, Multirotors and more Video Podcasts at ThatDroneShow.com

 
 

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The next set of stories are all about drones. How they get used, where they can and can't and what may keep them from transforming business and privacy as we know it today.

 

 
 
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The Future of HealthTech - Ambulance Drones

In December 2013, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos caused quite a stir with the announcement of his company's plans to offer 30-minute product deliveries via unmanned aerial vehicles (more commonly referred to as "drones"). Drones have been deployed by the U.S.
 
 

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Drone Shows L.A.'s Expo Line Route from a Bird's-Eye View (VIDEO)

L.A. has become a drone development center, in part because of Hollywood's desire for great aerial shots, and in part because of the tech explosion in Silicon Beach and Downtown L.A. A journalist can pick up a phone and find out if any of the city's hottest drone companies has...
 
 

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New York City's Drone Ban Would Be the Strictest in the Country

​A New York City council member is introducing legislation that would ban drones in the city, according to draft legislation obtained by Motherboard. The bill would amend the city's existing administrative code on aviation to severely restrict drones within city limits, essentially banning them except under very specific circumstances.
 
 

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Flying a drone in the UK: What you need to know

Drones of all shapes and sizes will be popular Christmas presents this year, but while some of the most dramatic videos are shot by flying over skyscrapers and famous landmarks, few pilots are aware of the laws preventing drone flying in built up areas.
 
 

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