The ‘Future Book’ Is Here, but It’s Not What We Expected

Books have been unchanged for a century or more. Even ebooks are just print books digitized. But digital technology has transformed the entire ecosystem around them: Print-on-demand, Kickstarter, social media, email newsletters, audiobooks, podcasting, and more. [Craig Mod] www.wired.com

I can think of two reasons why books themselves have been unchanged, despite breathless 1990s predictions to the contrary — and yeah these reasons are contradictory:

  • Books are perfect for what they are. Mass-published print books have been evolving for a thousand years, and the written word has evolved over ten thousand years. Books are mature technology, like shovels and forks and tables, refined to perfection with only a little bit of fiddling left to do around the edges. Sure, other media emerge, but they’re other media; a movie is not a book, nor is a podcast.
  • Monopolization by Amazon stifles innovation. We’re not going to see ebook innovation until somebody competes with the Kindle.

That Bloomberg Supply-Chain-Hack Story [Schneier on Security]

Bruce Schneier is skeptical of the Bloomberg supply-chain attack on Apple and Amazon servers, among others. He said if it was true, we’d have seen a photo of the chip by now.

That raises a good thumb rule for judging the veracity of any explosive investigative report. Particularly high-profile sexual harassment charges, like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein. Corroborating reports start to come out after the initial expose.

The Singularity is a white person’s problem

terminator

Rich white folks worry about the Singularity, but AI is already making problems for the rest of us.

Kate Crawford, The New York Times:

According to some prominent voices in the tech world, artificial intelligence presents a looming existential threat to humanity: Warnings by luminaries like Elon Musk and Nick Bostrom about “the singularity” — when machines become smarter than humans — have attracted millions of dollars and spawned a multitude of conferences.

But this hand-wringing is a distraction from the very real problems with artificial intelligence today, which may already be exacerbating inequality in the workplace, at home and in our legal and judicial systems. Sexism, racism and other forms of discrimination are being built into the machine-learning algorithms that underlie the technology behind many “intelligent” systems that shape how we are categorized and advertised to.

Software used to assess the risk of recidivism in criminals is biased against blacks, as is software used by police departments across the US to identify hotspots for crime. Amazon’s same-day delivery service was initially unavailable for ZIP codes in predominantly black neighborhoods, “remarkably similar to those affected by mortgage redlining in the mid-20th century.” And women are less likely than men to be shown ads on Google for highly paid jobs.

Thanks, Cory!

RIP

AWS CEO: Enterprise Data Center Is Doomed

Enterprise data centers are on their way to becoming rare beasts, as nearly every enterprise is going to move nearly all their computing to the cloud, Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy said Tuesday.

“In the fullness of time, whether it’s ten years or 20 years, very few companies will own their own data centers, and those that do will have a smaller footprint than they have now,” Jassy said during a presentation at the AWS Summit in Washington, D.C. and streamed live.

The transition will lead to qualitative changes in the enterprise, Jassy said.

[Me/Light Reading]

Apple is becoming like Microsoft in the late 90s

Google, Amazon, and Facebook are betting big on AI and virtual assistants. If those are the wave of the future – and it seems likely they are – then Apple is screwed, says Marco Arment. Apple is lagging badly in those areas, and it’s not the kind of thing you can develop in secret and spring in a keynote.

Arment is not only a smart industry observer, but he’s also an Apple enthusiast and iPhone app developer. He’s the opposite of an Apple hater.

In 2007, BlackBerry was the pinnacle of mobile email and voice devices, which was what mobile phones were for. But the market moved on and BlackBerry didn’t. Apple is at risk of the same here in 2016, Arment says.

Avoiding BlackBerry’s fate – Marco Arment

Related: I recently had my first experience with Apple CarPlay and was delighted. Pairing your iPhone to the car is accomplished with a single tap, and after that you can get your Maps, messaging, phone calls, and listen to podcasts on the screen on the car’s dashboard and using the car’s speakers. Like the Apple slogan used to go: “It just works.” And, quoting another old Apple slogan, “you already know how to use it” – even if, like me, you’ve never used it before, have never read about it, and have had no training.

And that reminds me of how so many Apple tools don’t “just work” anymore. My MacBook Air freezes up sometimes. It seems to not do that if I don’t use Safari and I reboot every day. Not sure though. Haven’t found a cause. And recently I was getting quite exasperated figuring out how to share an album in Apple Photos. I’m still not sure I did it right.

Hence the title of this post.

Putin riding a bear action figure, $69.95 on Amazon

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“A shirtless Vladamir Putin riding a Russian Bear.”

I hear Donald Trump buys them by the gross.

Top review:

Anytime I need to emphasis that I mean business, I just pull out my Putin Riding a Bear. This will usually result in submission by the aggressor. My landlord was being a jerk while trying collect the lot rent. When I pulled this out, his drunk butt fell off my block step.This talisman will also make the ladies throw themselves on you. It’s really not fair to them that this exudes so much testosterone. I mean really….what chance do they stand with this in your pocket?

Buyer beware! Do not carry this while wearing a lone wolf t-shirt. I made the mistake of doing that (because I forgot I had the Putin in my pocket) and there was almost a riot in the Walmart cigarette line. Thank goodness my wolf shirt got ripped off (maybe it leaped off to defend me…i will never know) and I was able to get away.

Via reddit.com

Millions and millions

Billing by Millionths of Pennies, Cloud Computing’s Giants Take In Billions

Quentin Hardy at The New York Times:

SAN FRANCISCO — Imagine building an enormous beach resort, maybe the best in the world. Instead of renting the rooms, you charge guests based on the grains of sand they touch. You charge very little per grain, but if they lie on enough of them, it adds up.

That is one way to think about what is going on at the world’s biggest cloud-computing companies.

Good article. Good metaphor.

Amazon’s Lofty Profits Open Cloud to Rivals – Shira Ovide / Bloomberg

Amazon, which has  used razor-thin margins to undercut rivals, is susceptible to the same competitive pressure because of its fat AWS profits.

“Your margin is my opportunity.”

It’s a quip often attributed to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to explain his zeal for high-volume sales at teeny-to-nonexistent profits. It’s ironic, then, that in Amazon’s cloud business it is Bezos’ margin that is providing an opening to rivals like Google.

Amazon’s Lofty Profits Open Cloud to Rivals [Shira Ovide / Bloomberg]

If you want to keep using your pre-2012 Kindle, you need to update it right away

The new update is required for pre-2012 devices that haven’t connected to the Internet since Oct. 5 2015. Do it by Tuesday.

Failure to do so, the company warns, and you won’t be able to connect to Amazon’s Cloud, access the Kindle Store, or use any other services through the device. After March 22nd, you will also have to update the device manually, by downloading the patch and updating it through your computer.

[If You Want To Keep Using Your Kindle, You Need To Update It Immediately / Andrew Liptak / Gizmodo]

This Amazon review cracked me up, proving once again that I am 14 years old

fannypack

I found this review on the Amazon listing for this fannypack, while shopping for a replacement for a fannypack I bought 20 years ago on our honeymoon in the UK. For the past six years, I’ve been wearing that fannypack daily while walking. The zipper on that fannypack broke. I felt like I should have some kind of decommissioning ceremony for a tool that had done honorable service for a full generation. Instead I just threw it out.

I bought the fannypack reviewed at the link, and I’m very happy with it after several days’ use. It’s a good size — all the other fannypacks I’ve seen that hold water bottles are either too small or too big. This one is just right.

I have not put it to the purpose the reviewer describes. AND I NEVER WILL.

This review seems to be gone now. Some people just don’t appreciate literature.

How to reset the furthest page read on your Kindle

Go to the Manage Your Kindle page on the web, and navigate to the list of your books. Find the book you want to reset. Click the icon with three dots next to the book title. Select “Clear furthest page read…. ” And you’re done.

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The next time you open the book, the furthest page read will be set to the current page on that device.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a novel with footnotes. You can read the footnotes by just tapping on the screen, but I made the mistake of going to the footnotes section in the back of the book. Since then then remember-furthest-page-read feature has been broken, making it inconvenient to switch off reading the book on my Kindle and iPad. But now that’s fixed. Nice!

Via Evan Kline at 40Tech who says you have to be on a computer. Not so — I did it on my iPad.