May 23, 2015

The Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of #BlackBerry

The iPhone’s popularity with consumers was illogical to rivals such as RIM, Nokia Corp. and Motorola Inc. The phone’s battery lasted less than eight hours, it operated on an older, slower second-generation network, and, as Mr. Lazaridis predicted, music, video and other downloads strained AT&T’s network. RIM now faced an adversary it didn’t understand. 

Condensed and adapted from the forthcoming book “Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry,” to be released Tuesday.

This from the Wall St. Journal. 

The Inside Story of How the iPhone Crippled BlackBerry

Research In Motion’s Jim Balsillie, left, and Mike Lazaridis in 2006.

Research In Motion’s Jim Balsillie, left, and Mike Lazaridis in 2006. Photo: Norm Betts/Bloomberg News
ByJacquie McNish and

Sean Silcoff
Mike Lazaridis was home on his treadmill when he saw the televised report about Apple Inc. ’s newest product. Research In Motion ’s founder soon forgot about exercise that day in January 2007. There was Steve Jobs on a San Francisco stage waving a small glass object, downloading music, videos and maps from the Internet onto a device he called the iPhone.
“How did they do that?” Mr. Lazaridis wondered. His curiosity turned to disbelief when Stanley Sigman, the chief executive of Cingular Wireless joined Mr. Jobs to announce a multiyear contract with Apple to sell iPhones. What was Cingular’s parent AT&T Inc. thinking? “It’s going to collapse the network,” Mr. Lazaridis thought.
The next day Mr. Lazaridis grabbed his co-CEO Jim Balsillie at the office and pulled him in front of a computer.
“Jim, I want you to watch this,” he said, pointing to a webcast of the iPhone unveiling. “They put a full Web browser on that thing. The carriers aren’t letting us put a full browser on our products.”
Mr. Balsillie’s first thought was RIM was losing AT&T as a customer. “Apple’s got a better deal,” Mr. Balsillie said. “We were never allowed that. The U.S. market is going to be tougher.”
“These guys are really, really good,” Mr. Lazaridis replied. “This is different.”
“It’s OK—we’ll be fine,” Mr. Balsillie responded.
RIM’s chiefs didn’t give much additional thought to Apple’s iPhone for months. “It wasn’t a threat to RIM’s core business,” says Mr. Lazaridis’s top lieutenant, Larry Conlee. “It wasn’t secure. It had rapid battery drain and a lousy [digital] keyboard.”
If the iPhone gained traction, RIM’s senior executives believed, it would be with consumers who cared more about YouTube and other Internet escapes than efficiency and security. RIM’s core business customers valued BlackBerry’s secure and efficient communication systems. Offering mobile access to broader Internet content, says Mr. Conlee, “was not a space where we parked our business.”
Photo: Flatiron Books
The iPhone’s popularity with consumers was illogical to rivals such as RIM, Nokia Corp. and Motorola Inc. The phone’s battery lasted less than eight hours, it operated on an older, slower second-generation network, and, as Mr. Lazaridis predicted, music, video and other downloads strained AT&T’s network. RIM now faced an adversary it didn’t understand. 
“By all rights the product should have failed, but it did not,” said David Yach, RIM’s chief technology officer. To Mr. Yach and other senior RIM executives, Apple changed the competitive landscape by shifting the raison d’être of smartphones from something that was functional to a product that was beautiful.
“I learned that beauty matters....RIM was caught incredulous that people wanted to buy this thing,” Mr. Yach says

Read the rest of the excerpt online here: The Inside Story of How the iPhone Crippled BlackBerry - WSJ

May 15, 2015

Carl #Icahn Invests $100 Million in #Lyft - @NYTimes

At a valuation of $2.5 billion it's a bargain next to Uber at $50 billion!

Carl Icahn Invests $100 Million in Lyft -

For years, Travis Kalanick, chief executive of Uber, has been the loudest public voice on how ride-hailing start-ups will upend the transportation industry.

Now comes Carl C. Icahn.

Mr. Icahn, one of Wall Street’s most outspoken activist investors and aggressive tweeters, announced on Friday that he had invested $100 million in Lyft, the fast-growing ride-booking start-up and single largest competitor to Uber in the United States.

Along with an additional $50 million from other investors that Lyft did not disclose, the new investment is an extension of a $530 million round that the start-up raised in March, which values the San Francisco-based company at $2.5 billion.

“There’s room for two in this area,” Mr. Icahn said in a phone interview on Friday. “What I’m saying is there is a secular change going on with the way people are getting around, and with urbanization, it means more people living in urban areas.”

Read the rest of the story here: Carl Icahn Invests $100 Million in Lyft -

May 01, 2015

Everything You Need to Know to Delete Everything That #Google Knows About You

Everyone should know how to do this!

How to Delete Everything That Google Knows About You

Are you worried about your privacy?  Does the fact that Google collects information about you give you the creeps.  While many members of the global community are angry about how much information the major online and computer companies collect on you, what if there was a way to combat and stop it.  Even if it was a small part of it?

Well, Yahoo! News has the step by step instructions for “How to Download and Delete What Google Search Knows About You”:

Have you ever wondered what Google Search really knows about you? Well, now you can check, as Google has added a new feature that lets you view and download your entire search history.

Yep. Everything.

The feature, which was spotted by the unofficial Google Operating System Blog — though VentureBeat points out that the function was made available in January — gives you access to everything from what you searched for to the links you clicked on from those searches. It also shows you the addresses you’ve searched for.

I was even able to see the list of images I clicked on while searching for pictures of cats eating spaghetti. Now imagine what you’ve looked for. Oh, and clearing your browser history won’t delete this data.

But there’s no reason to panic, because in addition to being able to download your search history, you can clear it.

First, here’s how to download your history:

1. Navigate to Google’s Web and App Activity page.

2. Next, click the gear icon in the top-right corner of the screen.

3. Then select Download from the drop-down menu.

You’ll then receive a pop-up window warning you not to download your search history to a public computer, as it contains a large amount of sensitive information.

4. If you want to continue, click Create Archive.

Once your history is downloaded, you’ll receive a link in a few seconds that lets you view your data.

If you don’t want to download your data, and would rather get rid of it, you can do that as well. Of course, there are some reasons to let Google keep your search data. For one thing, it guarantees faster search results. It also ensures that Google Now has all of the latest relevant information about you. If you delete your data, your searches won’t be as tailored to your habits.

Still want to get rid of your search history? Here’s how:

Before we get started, it’s worth pointing out that if you want to keep your information hidden, you can use your browser’s privacy option, which keeps Google from saving your data — though it can still be seen by your service provider or employer.

Simply deleting you browser history won’t clear the data saved by Google, as you’re only deleting the information stored by your browser and not what’s on Google’s servers. To do that, you’ll have to:

1. Navigate to the Web and App Activity Page and click the gear icon in the top-right corner.

2. Select Remove Items and choose the beginning of time from the drop-down menu.

3.Click Remove and kiss your data goodbye.

That’s it. All of your search history will be deleted, and you’ll never have to worry about Google knowing about the time you looked for tickets to a Justin Bieber concert.

The #MESSENGER #Space-craft went out with a Bang on #Mercury @NASA

Ice on Mercury!  

The Sun's closest neighbor shares its many secrets. 

Fire and Ice: A MESSENGER Recap

April 30, 2015:  The planet closest to the Sun is, ironically, one of the coldest.

That’s just one of many mind-bending discoveries about Mercury that NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft beamed back to Earth over the past 7 years.  Earlier today, the mission ended with a crash as spectacular as some of its findings.

The colors of the solar system's innermost planet are enhanced in this tantalizing view, based on global image data from the Mercury-orbiting MESSENGER spacecraft. More information
Mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, have confirmed that MESSENGER slammed into the surface of Mercury on April 30th at 3:26 p.m. EDT. It had used the last of its propellant on April 24th and could no longer maintain a stable orbit. Traveling some 8,750 mph, the plummeting spacecraft made an unseen crater on the side of the planet facing away from Earth.

“Going out with a bang as it impacts the surface of Mercury, we are celebrating MESSENGER as more than a successful mission,” says John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Now, we begin the next phase of this mission--analyzing the exciting data already in the archives, and unravelling the mysteries of Mercury.”

Here are some of MESSENGER’s most important findings so far:

The hidden face of Mercury: In the mid-1970s when Mariner 10 flew past Mercury three times, the probe imaged less than half the planet.  Until MESSENGER arrived, the rest of Mercury was a land of mystery.  MESSENGER was the first spacecraft to view the entirety of the mighty Caloris basin—one of the biggest and youngest impact features in the solar system.  Moreover, MESSENGER spotted volcanic vents around the rim of the basin, proving that volcanism—and not only impacts—have shaped the surface of the innermost planet.

The irony of Mercury’s poles: Mercury would seem to be an unlikely place to find ice. But the tilt of Mercury's rotational axis is almost zero - less than one degree - so the floors of craters at the planet's poles never see sunlight. Scientists suggested decades ago that there might be frozen water trapped there.  The idea received a boost in 1991 when the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico and the Goldstone antenna in California detected unusually bright radar reflections from Mercury’s poles—the kind of reflections that ice would make.  From Mercury orbit, MESSENGER was able to look down on Mercury’s poles like no other spacecraft or telescope, and it confirmed the unlikely:  Permanently shadowed craters near Mercury’s poles have temperatures less than -280F (-173C), and water ice is stable on their dark inner surfaces.  Some of the polar ice is covered by a mysterious dark organic material that researchers still do not understand.

These graphics show the predicted location and time of MESSENGER's impact on Mercury's surface.  [details]
The incredible shrinking planet: The dominant tectonic landforms on Mercury are huge cliffs called “lobate scarps.”  Even before MESSENGER, researchers thought these scarps were signs of global shrinkage, like wrinkles on a raisin.  Why would Mercury shrink? The planet’s core makes up a whopping 60–70% of its mass. Cooling of this oversized core has led to a remarkable contraction of the planet.  MESSENGER’s images of lobate scarps show that the total contraction is two to seven times greater than researchers previously thought.

Magnetically speaking, Mercury is alive: Until Mariner 10 discovered Mercury's magnetic field in the 1970s, Earth was the only other terrestrial planet known to have a global magnetic field. Earth's magnetism is generated by the planet's churning hot, liquid-iron core via a mechanism called a magnetic dynamo. Researchers have been puzzled by Mercury's field because its iron core was supposed to have finished cooling long ago and stopped generating magnetism. Some researchers thought that the field may have been a relic of the past, frozen in the outer crust. MESSENGER data show otherwise: Mercury's field appears to be generated by an active dynamo in the planet's core. It is not a relic.

A planet with a tail: Orbiting Mercury, MESSENGER made the first in situ observations of Mercury's unique exosphere. The exosphere is an ultrathin atmosphere where atoms and molecules are so far apart they are more likely to collide with the surface than with each other. This material is derived mainly from the surface of Mercury itself, knocked aloft by solar radiation, solar wind bombardment and meteoroid vaporization. MESSENGER was able to determine the chemical composition of the exosphere (hydrogen, helium, sodium, potassium, and calcium) and monitor the material as it was stretched out into a comet-like tail as long as 2 million km by the action of the solar wind.  This tail, as well as Mercury’s magnetic field, was often buffeted by solar activity during MESSENGER’s long mission, giving the spacecraft a point-blank view of the roughest space weather in the solar system.

In addition to science discoveries, the mission provided many technological firsts, including the development of a ceramic cloth sunshade that protected the spacecraft’s instruments and electronics from fierce solar radiation.

“The front side of the sunshade routinely experienced temperatures in excess of 300° Celsius (570° Fahrenheit), whereas the majority of components in its shadow routinely operated near room temperature (20°C or 68°F),” said Helene Winters, mission project manager at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). “This technology to protect the spacecraft’s instruments was a key to mission success during its prime and extended operations.”

Goodbye, MESSENGER, and thanks!


Author: Dr. Tony Phillips | Production editor: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA

More information:

The spacecraft was designed and built by APL. The lab manages and operates the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The mission is part of NASA's Discovery Program, managed for the directorate by the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

For a complete listing of science findings and technological achievements of the mission visit:

Fire and Ice: A MESSENGER Recap - NASA Science

April 29, 2015

Is David Gurle’s #Symphony a Big Threat to #Bloomberg? #FinTech

In late April
the fledgling Palo Alto, California–based company launched the beta
version of a network that it hopes will unshackle Wall Street from its
terminal obsession.


is designed to be its own messaging platform and plug into all the
other tools that a financial professional might communicate through —
e-mail, internal chat network, text messaging. Gurle says there are
roughly 50,000 Symphony users today; a general market release will
follow in July, with the goal of growing to 100,000 users by the end of
the year. Content and workflows — to manage and execute trades, for
instance — will be added to the network in 2016, and Gurle plans to
build what he calls an App Store–like ecosystem that he hopes will
become a hosting ground for small, innovative fintech companies.

openness — a quality the closed-box Bloomberg terminal is often accused
of not exhibiting — price should also make Symphony’s offering
attractive. Gurle says the service will cost no more than $30 a person
per month, placing it well below the $20,000 needed for an annual
Bloomberg subscription.

Symphony is backed by some of global
capital’s heaviest hitters: 15 sell- and buy-side institutions,
including asset manager BlackRock, hedge fund firm Citadel and Goldman
Sachs Group, pooled funds to provide it with $66 million in venture
capital late last year.

Read the article on Institutional Investor here: Is David Gurle’s Symphony a Big Threat to Bloomberg? | Institutional Investor

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