Category: Web

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Indochine My Morning

I can’t speak, nor do I comprehend, more than ten words of French. But I love this band’s music, nevertheless. At 10:45 PST this morning, Indochine streams live from Paris, and I am so down for it. Maybe I’ll Chromecast to the tellie from one device, while working on another (got lots of writing to do).

The live stream is one of the many benefits subscribing to Tidal, which now sells lossless albums, too. Oh la la. The $19.99 monthly service gets better and better. I hear the difference listening to tracks encoded with the 1411kbps Free Lossless Audio Codec versus AAC or MP3. 

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I Love ‘X Factor UK’ But Must Leave It

Six months ago, nearly a year after cutting the cord, the Wilcox household reattached—to AT&T U-verse. At the time, my daughter was moving back home, and Cox cable comes into the room where she would reside. Given the importance of the Internet to my daily work,and not wanting the modem and WiFi access point to be in a place with limited access, we signed up for AT&T Internet service and television with it. The connection is in the main room of our apartment, where Cox can’t come without drilling and cabling the landlord won’t allow.

Before the Fall college semester started, Molly moved out to a group place near the ocean. Around the same time, U-verse started to behave badly. We had bandwidth, but some websites consistently hung or slowly loaded. Top of list: Anything Google. I would later learn that, coincidentally or perhaps not, Google Fiber courted San Diego County

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Red radically improves YouTube Viewing

Wow, weird is my reaction to YouTube Red, which is live starting today. The experience is so different from the regular service, I am stunned. Fast-loading is the first thing, so be careful what you click—or turn off autoplay. Videos on Facebook feel like a moped racing a Lamborghini compared to YT Red.

Using this 2012 MissFender video as example: Pressing the stopwatch on my Nexus 6P at the same time I click to enter the URL, 9 seconds passes before I can start watching the vid. The time includes the auto-loading ad, how long it plays before YouTube permits me to skip, and lag caused by my own responsiveness dismissing the advert. 

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What Is Your Flickr Anniversary?

I can’t count how many times my relationship with Flickr nearly ended over the past decade. I subscribed in October 2005, making 10 years ago this month. For reasons I cannot guess, my oldest uploaded photo is the Pelican, on Ground Hog’s Day 2006. I shot the bird with Nikon D70 and Nikkor 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens while vacationing in San Diego (where I now live) in August 2004.

I don’t have an exact date during the month, just a receipt for a Pro membership on May 6, 2006. I maintained Pro until Flickr (more or less) ended the option in May 2013. But Yahoo brought back Pro accounts in July 2015, offering perks to previous subscribers. Last month, I renewed mine for two years, for $44.95. 

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Google OnHub Review

One word: Fantastic! That should be enough said, but one of my colleagues asked me how much OnHub costs. He bristled at $199.99, calling it too much. So, okay, let’s do a real review that explains the magic that Google and partner TP-LINK accomplish with this remarkable router. But I warn you now: Buying one, even for two C notes, isn’t easy. This thing is out of stock most everywhere, as it has been for weeks.

Simply stated: OnHub is the best router ever to anchor my home network. Beauty, simplicity, availability, and extensibility are OnHub’s defining characteristics. Sold in blue or black enclosures, the thing is gorgeous, and it feels as solid as it looks. Setup and maintenance are frightening for their ease. The usable wireless range far exceeds the Apple AirPort Extreme router that OnHub replaces in my home. The network device packs protocols and other features you won’t need now but will want later on. 

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Apple Ad Blocking Blasts the Google Free Economy

On Sept. 16, 2015, Apple released iOS 9, which enables users of iPad and iPhone to disable ads. The company claims the capability improves the overall user experience. As someone covering the tech industry for more than two decades, I perceive it as something else, too: Competitive assault against Google and means of pushing publishers to iOS 9’s new News app. There is nothing friendly about Apple’s maneuver. It is aggressive and tactical. But does it really matter?

Stated simply: More than 90 percent of Google revenue comes from contextual and search-related advertising. Apple derives about the same figure from selling devices and supporting services. At the same time, mobile is the future of Internet advertising and the battleground where the two meet. The entities’ respective mobile platforms, Android and iOS, long ago put the tech titans on a collision course. Conceptually, what Apple can’t gain from iPad and iPhone sales, it can take by shaking pillars supporting its rival’s business. 

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Gimme Google Fiber, San Diego!

Please take my money, Google. Tap the vein right here if blood is the currency you need. I am ready, willing, and over-excited. If you disappoint, I understand, though. My city is a brick wall when it comes to new commerce. It’s regulation central. So good luck to you, GF.

This afternoon I received email from the Google Fiber team that stopped my heart: “We wanted you to be among the first to hear the news. Today we announced we’re exploring bringing Fiber to San Diego”. Hell, yeah, baby. Sign me up. Which up-for-reelection-politician needs me and other native and transplanted San Diegans to be thorns in the butt? Give us more speed than we possibly need for prices we probably can’t afford. 

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I Don’t Trust Travelocity, Should You?

On June 29, 2015, I received email from Travelocity thanking me for creating an account. I did no such thing—or, wait, did I have an account already? Sure enough, I set up one in 2006, according to my archived emails. Why this notification now? I wrongly assumed the thank-you message was a mistake, or even a marketing ploy, to get me to sign into the account. But who remembers a password from 9 years ago? So I clicked the forgot password link and had a new one sent.

I wouldn’t understand until later that someone in Florida created a new account using my email address. But Travelocity never sent confirmation to verify that the email address was valid or belonged to the person who signed up for the service. As such, by resetting the password, I had access to someone else’s account, which, fortunately, contained no personal information (like credit card numbers). But I didn’t understand this circumstance until later, when, in a routine check of my online accounts. I discovered an itinerary for a hotel stay that had just passed. 

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What Google gets from Alphabet

I predict that the innovation of the year will go, not to a tech product, but to Google’s creation of a new company: Alphabet. The search and information giant that disrupts so many other companies on and off the Internet essentially disrupts itself. By doing so—divesting the core, established business from future research and inventions—cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin unshackle weights dragging growth.

To recap: Page announced the dramatic change after the market closed yesterday. Google becomes secondary to Alphabet, which will hold a collection of related entities. Page hands over Google chief executive reigns to Sundar Pichai, while becoming CEO of the new entity. Brin is president. Can we call him letterhead instead of figurehead? 🙂 

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Apple Music Will Surely Succeed

Seven days ago, CEO of the most valuable, publicly-traded technology company on the planet unveiled a potentially category-changing online streaming service. In 15 more, you will be able to subscribe—three months for free. Pundits wave the Spotify flag and spit out diatribes of disgust, much as they did when Apple launched iPhone eight years ago or iPad in 2010. Wrong again is their destiny. Will they ever learn?

Many of the doomsayers forget, or maybe just ignore, the fruit-logo company’s success disrupting category after category. They also start out from a misguided premise: That Apple is a latecomer who cannot catch up with competitors like Spotify. How ridiculous. iTunes debuted in January 2001, iPod nine months later, and iTunes Music Store in April 2003. By longevity and reach, which includes exclusives (like The Beatles) and large catalog, Apple is the status quo. On June 30, the giant awakes, and the smidgens shake as it walks. 

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WWDC 2015: My Story in Tweets

As the week closes, I reflect on Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference, which commenced on June 8, 2015. I watched the keynote on Apple TV and live-tweeted from my comfy couch. Fittingly from Chromebook Pixel LS.

I find iOS 9 interesting enough to test. Today, I signed up for an Apple Developer account; my old one expired years ago. The process took a phone call, because Apple claimed my bank declined to pay. How strange. So I tried another card. Then a third. Hey, my accounts are good! I called the bitten-fruit for assistance, and someone senior in developer support manually processed the $99 fee, because of the glitch. How fraked is that?