Weekly Science Links Pt. 2

I Love Science

I’ve decided to share another set of “science and technology” links for the week. Part of the reason is because this week seems to be filled with interesting technology news; but the more salient reason is that I am totally smashed today and don’t have it in me to complete my intended post on “Angel Investing 101”. I’ve drafted half of the “Angel Investing 101” post but the mind is not working effectively so I will postpone completing it for a day or two. I will provide more details as to why I am feeling smashed when I post my “Race to 40!” goal update tomorrow.


In my “Weekly Science Links” post from earlier in the week, I shared some of my favorite sources of science news and analysis. Another tip is to subscribe to science news letters. I subscribe to a series of newsletters from “Seeking Alpha” which provide cutting edge (i.e. first thing in the morning daily; fresh) news and analysis on salient business topics. One of the newsletters covers technology (the “Eye on Tech” newsletter). Interestingly, this newsletter designed for Wall Street investors, is one of the best newsletters I have found to stay ahead of near term technology trends as they are deployed and brought to market (over the next few years).


This week’s (second) edition of Science Links features several articles from the Seeking Alpha “Eye on Tech” newsletter, which is authored by Eric Jhonsa. I would like to attributed the summaries to him as they are paraphrased from the newsletter. The graphics are also attributed to the newsletter and/or the linked articles (the original source material for Eric).


Even if you don’t read through the technology news, scroll down to the end of this blog post for the bonus reference: the “2016 Internet Trends Report” by Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. This market report (216 slides!) can be viewed on SlideShare as well as downloaded.



Intel Launches Server CPUs Optimized for Cloud Video and Virtual PCs

Summary: Intel’s new Xeon processors based on the company’s recently launched 14nm Skylake architecture, come with an integrated Iris Pro GPU, and support a new video transcoding solution called QuickSync. The chip giant argues they’re ideal both for doing HD/4K online video transcoding and streaming – it observes video now makes up nearly 80% of web traffic – as well as for delivering quality graphics experiences in remote desktop virtualization environments. Desktop virtualization environments where PC/workstation deployments in which servers handle the processing and storage, have seen growing enterprise uptake due to their IT management and security benefits.



Nvidia Gets Good Reviews GeForce GTX 1070 GPU

Summary: Nvidia first announced the GTX 1070 GPU in early May, along with the more powerful 1080 ($599 MSRP) – both are based on the company’s next-gen Pascal architecture. While reviews show the 1080 soundly outperforming Nvidia’s Titan X GPU (its prior flagship model), the 1070 shows just slightly better performance on average, with the Titan X occasionally winning. However, the 1070 costs far less than Titan X ($999 MSRP at launch time) originally did.


BGR declares the 1070 “might be the best value proposition in PC gaming history” (if you’re willing to pay $300+ for a graphics card, anyway). GameSpot: “With a 12-23 percent delta between it and the GTX 1080, the GTX 1070 certainly isn’t as fast as its big brother, but it also costs roughly 36 percent less. When you compare it to the Titan X, it’s up to nine percent faster and up to 55 percent cheaper. That’s a crazy good deal.”



Facebook is Planning to Show Ads to Non-Facebook Users

Summary: Facebook shows plenty of ads to Facebook users on other sites/apps through its Audience Network, which was on a $1B/year revenue run rate in late 2015 (Facebook gets a ~30% cut). It’s now planning to use cookies and Facebook sharing buttons/plugins – the latter can send basic info about browsing sessions regardless of whether someone is a Facebook user or not – to deliver targeted ads to non-users.


Interestingly, Facebook thinks the mountains of data it has on its own users can (per the WSJ) “help it spot patterns in people’s behaviors and better infer what a non-Facebook user might be interested in based on a relatively small amount of information.” The company has long argued its reliance on Facebook user IDs for targeting lets it better target users across devices than display ad rivals relying on cookies, such as Google’s AdSense and DoubleClick platforms.


Facebook is restructuring its ad operations towards solutions for which the company directly controls the targeting and delivery of ads (and collects all related data), and lets it cut out middlemen in favor of directly interacting with advertisers and ad agencies. Facebook would prefer to be the one interacting with advertisers/agencies, but the company seems OK with letting publishers do so with the help of Facebook data if they’re intent on it.



CNET: Apple’s Amazon Echo Rival Could Have Camera Able to Detect Faces

Summary: Conflicting reports suddenly abound regarding Apple’s home voice assistant/speaker plans. The Information reported Apple is prepping a standalone Amazon Echo rival; VentureBeat followed up by reporting the company will integrate assistant/speaker functionality into a future Apple TV set-top. CNET suggests a standalone device is being developed, and that it could use a camera and face recognition technology to detect who’s in a room and adjust its behavior accordingly. The site cautions, “Apple could change its plans to include a camera – or even scrap the device entirely.”


One simple explanation for the differing reports: Apple is still figuring out what its home assistant solution will look like, after having recently decided to offer one in response to the Echo’s success. Google appears to be scrambling to offer an Echo rival as well: The Google Home assistant/speaker, though it hasn’t yet decided on a price or ship date.



Twitter Execs Responsible for Moments Leave the Company

Summary: Reports of Twitter executive departures continue. Business Insider observes the product manager and engineering chief for Twitter’s much-hyped Moments feature (launched last fall) are no longer with Twitter. The product manager now works for Facebook’s Oculus VR unit.


Moments, which uses editors to create feeds of Twitter content related to major stories/events, aims to boost user growth by appealing to social media users who don’t like or are intimidated by Twitter’s standard Timeline firehose. But it hasn’t done much to boost active user growth to date. One likely issue: Moments tends to lacks the real-time feel Twitter is well known for.

62% of U.S. adults get news on social media, and 18% do so often, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center. In 2012 49% of U.S. adults reported “seeing news” on social media.

66% of Facebook users; 59% of Twitter users; 70% of Reddit users; 31% of Tumblr users; and 19% of LinkedIn users say they get news on the site.




Microsoft Creates Ventures Startup Investing Unit

Summary: As part of its mobile/cloud bet, Redmond is creating a unit focused on making “strategic and financial bets” on early-stage startups and in doing so, sell them on using its developer tools and cloud services.


It’s betting the creation of a new Ventures unit will include investing in  startups developing products that complement or enrich Azure, Windows, HoloLens, and Office 365, as well as companies working on machine learning and security offerings. Google and Intel are among the tech giants which have been investing aggressively in startups large and small; the latter just called off plans to sell a chunk of its VC portfolio.



Instagram Announces for Business Tools

Summary: Parent Facebook has long provided easy-to-use tools to help businesses promote themselves via Facebook Pages (with the hope that they’ll subsequently promote the pages via Facebook ads). Instagram, whose ad sales are believed to have skyrocketed in recent quarters, is now doing something similar by giving businesses on its platforms tools for letting users contact them, seeing data about who their followers are and how posts are performing, and promoting posts via ads. The changes come with Instagram rolling out an algorithmic timeline view that could force some businesses to buy ads to maintain their past visibility.

Instagram officially announces its new business tools


Microsoft Opens up its Windows Holographic Platform to Third-Party Hardware

Summary: Windows Holographic is the software platform underlying Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality (“AR”) headset, which recently saw developer kits begin shipping. Microsoft wants Holographic to not only support AR headsets such as HoloLens, but also headsets that combine VR and AR functionality (Microsoft uses the term “mixed reality”). That’s likely to spell competition with Facebook’s Oculus unit. Given how competitive the VR space has quickly become, and the early lead Oculus is generally seen as having in VR software, it makes a lot of sense for Microsoft to sacrifice some hardware sales to create a strong Holographic ecosystem, at least if one expects AR and VR to converge over the long run.

http://seekingalpha.com/news/3186693-microsoft-opens-windows-holographic-third-party-hardware-himax-gains (requires free subscription to access full article)


Google Updates Now on Tap to Understand Photos; Facebook Using AI to Understand User Posts

The Now on Tap service, which lets Android users pull up info about whatever is on their screen by pressing/holding the home button, can now identify objects within photos, whether still images or images produced by a camera app. And users can highlight words on a screen to specifically get info about them.


Facebook says it has a long-term goal of using neural networking (a subset of AI) to immediately understand the meaning of anything a user posts, and immediately make content/feature recommendations – it’s not hard to see how this could be used for ad-targeting purposes.

Google updates Now on Tap to identify objects in photos and define highlighted words



Uber Receives a $3.5B Investment from Saudi Arabia

Summary: The Saudi fund’s investment is the largest in Uber’s history, and involves the $62.5B valuation the ride-sharing giant received in its most recent funding round. It should help Uber finance its massive overseas expansion, as well as its very costly efforts to gain ground against Chinese ride-sharing leader Didi Chuxing.



Source for above articles: Seeking Alpha “Eye on Tech” newsletter, authored by Eric Jhonsa.


Bonus Reference:

2016 Internet Trends Report by Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

The annual report on web and mobile trends is packed with interesting stats. Some of the notable ones this year:

  • Internet users rose 9% in 2015 to 3B (42% global penetration);
  • Smartphone shipment growth slowed to 10% in 2015 from 2014’s 28%;
  • The average mobile user has 33 apps installed, but only 12 are used daily and just 3 account for over 80% of app usage;
  • 65% of U.S. smartphone users now rely on voice assistants, and 1 in 5 searches made via Google’s Android search app involve voice.


By adrian_jonklaas

Aspiring Author and Entrepreneur.

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