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Paul L.

Paul L.

Whether you're a one-person operation or 100-employee company, ongoing improvement is the name of the game. Businesses are not static. Your business is either on an upward track or it is on its way down. Making consistent improvements to make your business better is a conscious choice. Not only must you balance your time, but you must also choose the right area of business that will make the biggest impact.

These 10 tips will help you focus on improving areas of your business that offer the biggest gain.

1. Keep Score

It's amazing how few small businesses have an accurate idea of the daily, weekly and monthly numbers and financial trends in the organization. It's vital that you spend the necessary time keeping current on cash flow. If you lack the financial skills then hire an accountant, but still stay in the loop.

2. Set Goals

Like keeping score, setting goals and objectives is an essential part of business success. Set goals and use them as an ongoing planning tool to ensure you continue to move forward in your small business.

3. Use High Impact Marketing

It's easy to waste money on ineffective marketing. Learn how to use low budget high impact marketing to improve your small business. Test one or two new tactics and see which perform best before adding them to your marketing mix.

4. Master Business Presentations

A powerful business presentation can help improve your small business by leaps and bounds.

Start by learning the essentials of a memorable business presentation.

5. Monitor Trends

No business operates in a vacuum. The events and changes in the global landscape have an effect on your business. Stay current on trends and issues happening in your industry and local community.

6. Sharpen Your Selling Skills

A high return area for business improvement is the sales function.

Whether you're managing a sales team, never forget to focus on sales improvement.

7. Find Best Practices

Every industry habs its own ways of doing things that are tried and true. Avoid wasting money and time reinventing the industry is generally a good approach unless you're set on building the next Google.



8. Motivate Staff 

Talented and motivated staff members can bring on big improvements in business. Learn what motivates your employees to higher levels of performance.

9. Know Your Limits

Every successful business owner has a clear idea of their limitations. By knowing your entrepreneurial personality type, you can manage your resources and find help in areas of weakness.

10. Take a Break

Running a small business is hard work. Sometimes the best way to improve your business and re-ignite your passion is to take a vacation.Business improvement is a way of life for succeeding. Apply these 10 quick tips to fast track your small business.

The Arkansas investigators who asked Amazon.com for data from an Echo device are unlikely to find much. But the request raises the prospect of authorities harnessing digital assistants in order to prosecute suspects in novel and controversial ways.

The investigators in an Arkansas slaying who asked Amazon.com for data gathered by an Echo device are unlikely to find much there. But the request raises the prospect of authorities harnessing digital assistants in order to prosecute suspects in novel and controversial ways, a University of Washington cyberlaw expert says.

Police in Bentonville, Ark., obtained a search warrant to get data that may have been recorded by an Echo speaker in the home of James Bates, who is accused of killing a visitor, Victor Collins, late last year.

The Echo is a popular device that connects its owners to Alexa, the cloud-based, voice-activated digital assistant that’s at the forefront of Amazon’s artificial-intelligence efforts. Police suspect that audio recorded by the device and held in Amazon’s data centers could hold clues to what happened the night Collins was killed.

Ryan Calo, a professor at the UW School of Law who specializes in privacy, robotics and cyberlaw issues, says the Bentonville Police Department’s fishing expedition is “unlikely to yield anything.” The reason is that the Echo sends information up to Amazon’s cloud only when it hears a wake word, usually “Alexa” or “Echo.”

Even though the device can turn on accidentally by mistaking another sound for its wake word, it would be a huge coincidence that it managed to have recorded something pertinent to the alleged crime. “That’s so unlikely, it seems to me a big waste of time,” Calo says.

What’s more interesting, in Calo’s eyes, is what police could do in other cases. For example, they might get a warrant to activate an Echo or some other digital assistant remotely — turning it into what’s essentially a bugging device.

“Then you’d have a microphone in someone’s house,” Calo said.

Authorities could also search a person’s history of interactions with the device to check alibis out, for example. Or goad a fugitive’s Waze or Google Maps itinerary to lead them to a checkpoint where they can be arrested.

It’s unclear whether it’s technically possible to turn the Echo or other devices into a remote listening device under someone else’s control. But the possibility raises legalistic and technical issues not dissimilar to last year’s dispute between Apple and federal investigators who wanted the Cupertino, Calif., tech titan to help them break in to the iPhone of one of the shooters in the 2015 San Bernardino, Calif., massacre.

“As these things become more interactive and interpersonal, you can imagine some pretty tricky ways of getting information out of people,” Calo said.

Calo said tech firms should strongly resist those requests from the authorities “because they really should be putting their customer first.”

Amazon didn’t speak specifically about the Bentonville case after a recent request for comment, but it said it “will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us. Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course.”

Nathan Smith, a Benton County, Ark., prosecutor, said in an emailed statement that after the slaying of Collins that allegedly took place in Bates’ home, “it is incumbent on law-enforcement officers to examine (the Echo’s) data to determine if it has any relevance to the crime.”

Smith acknowledged the reactions of privacy advocates to the search warrant served on Amazon, but “this case is really about seeking justice for the victim, who was a husband and a father.”

“Since law-enforcement officers followed the constitutionally mandated procedures to obtain a lawful search warrant in this case, I am hopeful that Amazon will agree to fully comply with it,” Smith said.

Author : Ángel González

Source : http://www.seattletimes.com/business/amazon/amazon-echo-search-warrant-could-portend-new-prosecution-methods-expert-says/

WhatsApp might stop working for many users as the company made it public that it would end support for the popular chat app on older handsets by the end of 2016.

The company said dropping support on older devices would give it the opportunity to focus more on mobile platforms used by the vast majority of the people.

The mobile platforms that would no longer enjoy WhatsApp are Android 2.1 and Android 2.2, Windows Phone 7, iPhone 3GS and iOS 6. The reason is lack of functionality to support the upcoming features.

"While these mobile devices have been an important part of our story, they don't offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app's features in the future," the company wrote in an official blog post last February.

For the owners of the affected devices, the only way to start using WhatsApp again is by upgrading to a newer version of Android, iPhone or Windows Phone.

The Facebook-owned company earlier said it would end support to BlackBerry OS and BlackBerry 10, Nokia S40 and Nokia Symbian S60, but later it said it was extending the support for the devices until 30 June, 2017.

These changes are believed to allow WhatsApp to deeply integrate encryption and other privacy features, reports the Independent.

WhatsApp might introduce more new features. The changes rumoured to be part of updates scheduled for 2017 include a feature that would allow users to edit or delete messages after they are sent.

Author: Sarmistha Acharya
Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/whatsapp-might-stop-working-for-older-android-iphones-and-windows-devices/ar-BBxOZbp

Columnist Chris Silver Smith takes a look at what could be a recent policy shift in Google's longstanding informal policy of granting court-ordered defamation removal requests.

A number of attorneys who specialize in online defamation/libel cases have reported to me that Google has recently suspended its longstanding, informal policy of removing URLs from US search results that are specified in duly executed court orders. This poses a major paradigm shift for many victims of online reputation attacks.

Beginning around August or September of this year, a number of attorneys from across the US began receiving blanket denials after submitting requests to remove defamatory content from Google’s search results.

Since at least 2009, Google has had an informal policy of accepting many removal requests when accompanied by a properly executed court order specifying defamatory/libelous content at specific URLs. I’ve personally seen a number of cases where hundreds and even thousands of URLs have been submitted with court orders, and Google has removed those URLs from search results.

But they’ve now stopped. Not for every single request, but for a sufficient number that it’s clear something has changed.

Background: Search engines immune to libel removal demands

It’s worthwhile to note that search engines, and various other types of online sites and services, were made immune in the United States from liability for things like defamation/libel by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”). For hundreds of years of established law, publishers (such as of books and newspapers) could be held responsible for content published through them.

With the advent of the internet age, it was initially unclear how some types of websites should be categorized — were they publishers, and should therefore be held directly accountable for defamatory content, or were they merely distributors of others’ content, similar to libraries and bookstores, and should therefore not be considered liable for their content? There were concerns that categorizing all types of sites as publishers would potentially have a depressing effect on innovation and business in the nascent internet.

As the Digital Media Law Project states, in 1996, Congress elected to clarify any ambiguity and to simultaneously provide protection for many types of sites by legally defining them as not being publishers:

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.

“interactive computer service” means any information service, system, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server.

Most courts have held that through these provisions, Congress granted interactive services of all types, including blogs, forums, and listservs, immunity from tort liability so long as the information is provided by a third party.


Google’s help page for requesting removal of content cites Section 230 of the CDA for US users:

Google Defamatory Content Removal Request Form

Despite this signpost that outright states, “Google does not remove allegedly defamatory material from our search results…”, in practice, Google has long chosen to act upon court orders and removed libel and defamation from the search results (legally speaking, court orders identifying such content makes it no longer “allegedly”).

For victims damaged by false statements online, Google’s de facto policy of removing defamation from their results has been a godsend.

Google alters its policy around defamation removal requests

I spoke with multiple attorneys specializing in online defamation across the country, and they all report similar responses from Google recently where the company declined to act on requests to remove URLs listed in court orders. The responses for these included a brief statement reading:

“At this time, Google has decided not to take action.”

It’s not unusual for Google to sometimes push back on such requests in instances where a court order is not specific enough, where the legal work has been sloppy or where URLs are incorrect. But the current denial responses do not appear to be due to those types of protocol mistakes.

Some requests appear to be still undergoing reviews and consideration, and some related to prior removals appear to be still pending consideration. The door to defamation removals may not be completely closed. But some requests are simply being declined with no indication as to why. And they are the sorts of requests that were previously being reliably removed.

Why has Google decided to halt this practice?

We reached out to Google, but they have chosen not to make any official statement at this time. I’ve been informed that Google may still elect to act upon court-ordered libel/defamation removal requests if they choose, on a case-by-case basis. As their help page established, they consider themselves not legally obligated to do so.

For the professionals who assist companies and individuals with legal removals, the lack of explanation around the apparent policy-shift or process-shift is very disturbing, and makes it difficult to convey reasonable expectations to defamation victims. And, in many cases, lack of action on Google’s part will create greater hardship for victims, or will even eliminate any real recourse at all.

The abrupt change in policy has invited a lot of speculation.

I know from multiple past discussions with various search engine company insiders that they consider removals to be undesirably costly, and that materials published on others’ websites are not particularly their responsibility. Quoting what one insider once told me, “This is a project that does not make money for the company, and does not save money for the company, so it is a low priority.”

Electing to not take action on defamation removal requests seems in line with this. They are a business, and should not necessarily be motivated purely out of altruism, according to this line of thinking.

It is undoubtedly costly. Google processes thousands of URL removal requests and maintains staff dedicated to all types of legal removal reviews.

Removal requests may also be philosophically troubling in many instances. According to their Transparency Report, many removal requests citing defamation originate from government agencies and law enforcement. (Albeit, it seems likely that many of these removal requests may originate from countries that do not have as strong freedom-of-speech laws as found in the United States.)

Government Removal Requests for Defamation - Google Transparency Report

Perhaps Google is halting many US defamation removals to make a statement against censorship, here at the tail end of what could be the most rancorous political race in the world’s history.

It’s undoubtedly upsetting for fair-minded employees to be in the position of sometimes removing URLs that critique governments and politicians for countries where it may be deemed illegal to say negative things about officials. But this does not seem to explain what is going on here, since the requests being submitted do not appear to be unfair attempts to censor, but rather malicious and untrue attacks on individuals and companies.

Another explanation could be due to revelations from earlier this year that some unethical attorneys and reputation agencies have abused Google’s removal process and perhaps committed fraudulent actions in the process.

In the spring, Pissed Consumer reported that a number of suspicious lawsuits with purportedly bogus defendants were filed in California courts to obtain defamation court orders enabling URLs to get delisted by Google. In October, Pissed Consumer sued a reputation management company and attorneys that are alleged to be behind “sham lawsuits” and “stooge defendants” that were used to fool Google into removing undesirable consumer reviews.

It seems likely that the revelations around these abuses may have factored into the company’s decision to decline to act on some removal requests. Could it be that Google is now applying some more restrictive requirements around court orders that it will accept in the wake of the unethical manipulation?

Possibly. But, having reviewed some of these requests, I don’t see sloppiness or commonalities with the sorts of things that Pissed Consumer has complained of. If motivated by the abuses alleged by Pissed Consumer, Google could merely be starting to demonstrate that they are autonomous in their decisions about whether or not to remove something.

For the attorneys and their clients who are now failing to procure intervention on the part of Google after they have gone through ofttimes-lengthy and costly litigation processes, the abrupt apparent change in policy and lack of explanation are upsetting and confusing. Is this shift temporary? Should they continue to submit the requests again later? Should they modify the requests in some way? Does Google desire different verbiage in court orders now?

Google is currently silent on the matter. But the statements that Google will not take action may be communicating all that victims may now expect: Your removal requests may be futile.

Should search engines be immune from defamation removal demands?

To a very large degree, search engines have become the internet. If something is not indexed by Google or Bing, or it isn’t searchable and prominent within the search engines, it might as well not exist.

When people are seeking information about a subject, they turn to search engines. So, if the listings on the first page or two of search results contain false, negative and damaging items about a subject, this is where people are often most likely to encounter them. The search engines are the starting point, the gateway to the internet.

Being able to remove results directly from Google largely snaps the connection between the public and the libelous/defamatory content. This option has been the best path for obtaining relief for many victims in terms of comprehensiveness and speed.

Google’s suggestion that one should seek relief by going directly to a webmaster to get the damaging content removed at the source will not work for victims in many cases. If the originating site is also immune under the CDA, then one may not be able to get materials removed, and they will live on in the search results.

Consider Ripoff Report — a site that allows people to post any claims, false or otherwise, about individuals and companies, but does not allow people to subsequently delete what they wrote. Ripoff Report’s policy is to never remove materials, even where one has court orders establishing that content is completely false and defamatory.

Heretofore, one could obtain a court order to present to Google (read the definitive article on the subject, “How To Remove Ripoff Reports From Google — Not Just Bury Them“). Where sites like Ripoff Report are concerned, Google’s willingness to remove URLs with court orders has been the only source of relief available. The Section 230 protections of the CDA have resulted in many similar situations where no one may be legally required to correct or remove misleading and harmful materials.

In yet other cases, websites hosted in foreign jurisdictions may also be beyond the reach of victims based in the US; the internet is a global economy, and without a global solution for false and damaging libel, people simply can become harmed in perpetuity.

Few victims can afford to hire attorneys in other countries where defamation may be hosted, and some other countries may not provide the legal protections established through hundreds of years of tradition and precedent that are found in western countries. (Ironically, a person with dual US/EU citizenship might be able to legally require Google to remove damaging materials from being viewed by searchers within Europe, but not from searchers located within the United States.)

If the only solution available is to take court orders to the websites where defamatory materials are published and persuade them to remove the stuff, then costs increase for victims, as their attorneys or online reputation agencies must go to many sites to remove stuff, rather than to a single source.

I’ve seen multiple cases where defamatory content was spread across hundreds and even thousands of URLs. Instead of communicating with one entity, representatives must go to many, monitor them to see if they comply and follow up when they don’t.

Inevitably, removal of defamatory content will also take longer if Google does not assist. Even if you persuade an originating website to remove something, the listing for it and cached version of the page can live on in Google’s search results for months or even years, continuing to damage one’s reputation. (Professionals may also circle around to ask Google’s automated system to remove the URL due to the page being removed, or one may request the Googlebot to respider the page to update the cached copy to eliminate removed content.)

The human cost

Most people do not feel strongly about online reputation attacks. That is, until their own reputations become impacted by some negative things.

Those of us who work on these sorts of cases are aware that everyone is vulnerable to significant damage from misrepresentation. Many have a notion that they are good people, and therefore do not expect to have their reputations attacked in any way. But it only takes one obsessed customer. One crazy ex-girlfriend/boyfriend. One disgruntled employee.

Once someone libels you on the internet, there’s a very good chance that the materials may find their way up on the first page of search results. Many people make the mistake of thinking that if they avoid having much about themselves on the internet, their reputation and privacy are protected. But privacy and reputation are separate and frequently unrelated entities. So, when something negative gets published into the mix, it can abruptly become prominent.

Your data privacy is maybe intact, but your public reputation can be trashed. Even when one has a strong and established web presence, negative materials can often have an unfair advantage in rankings. Tomorrow, you can wake up and have your reputation ruined.

Online lies can be horrific to endure. They can be so malicious.

Imagine you’re the brilliant doctor who is falsely accused of malpractice. You are the business accused of being a scam and cheating your clients. You’re falsely accused of doing shoddy work. You’re accused of being a Mafia collaborator, a Nazi sympathizer, a pedophile, a nymphomaniac, a rapist or an adulterer. (This isn’t merely melodramatic hyperbole on my part — I’ve worked on cases where people were falsely accused online of each of these things.)

When the lie is the thing that defines your identity, then you lose business, your company fails, and you cannot make new relationships. It can affect everything about your life.

Defamation victims experience deep depression and sometimes consider suicide. Due to the frequency of psychological distress associated with online reputation issues, I interviewed a psychologist, and I refer my reputation clients to them. This stuff takes an extremely heavy toll on people. I’ve had clients who genuinely feared going out to restaurants because they had been accosted by people who had read and believed misrepresentation posted online about them.

In a completely opposite direction last year, Google announced that they would accept removal requests for revenge porn — without even a court order being required. However, a number of porn revenge victims I’ve assisted had instances of defamatory written statements on various web pages in addition to images and videos published to harm them. So, ironically, Google’s current policy shift will make it so that these victims can theoretically get their images taken out of search with just a note to Google, while related defamatory written content might not be removed, even with a court order.

If this new paradigm becomes status quo, the attorneys expert in these matters will likely halt assisting new clients, because there will be no way to reasonably predict positive outcomes, and risk of failure will be too high. If you’re defamed on Ripoff Report, which has over two million reports posted, you’ll be out of luck. Your only recourse in that case may be to change your name, as Google’s Eric Schmidt once infamously suggested. So, defamation victims in the future may find less legal representation available to assist them.

In multiple cases I’ve worked on, reputation attack victims were subjected to extortion. They were threatened that if they did not pay or do something demanded, then an individual would ruin their reputation online by posting falsehoods or private information about them. When they did not pay up, the extortionist followed through, harming them severely.

Here’s an example: “Convicted Search Engine Optimizer Indicted For Retaliating Against Former Victim.” While dramatic, this sort of case where the threat of online damage is used to extort people is not all that uncommon. In another example, one of Google’s own employees was arrested and convicted for attempting reputation extortion to compel women to send him nude photos.

By revoking recourse to have defamatory listings removed, Google will be effectively enabling more criminally minded people to use the search engine’s inflexibility as part of their extortion schemes. Google’s policy change is exposing the large legal loophole created by the CDA: One may launch terrifically damaging materials, and those can rocket up in visibility and never be removed.

Companies threatened by this may decide to simply pay up, rather than risk having to shutter, go bankrupt or lay off employees. It’s satisfying to have extortionists arrested and convicted, but from a business point of view, it’s a losing proposition if you can’t undo the evil damage that has torpedoed your company.

There’s always the “Eric Schmidt solution”: change your name. But changing one’s name to side-step online reputation damage is very costly, too — in terms of money and/or emotional currency.

If you’ve witnessed the costs for a company with a well-established brand name to change that name, you’ll know that this can be extensive and risky — replacing all signs, logos on letterheads, business cards, products, websites — all while losing the equity and recognition built in the name. I’ve also had a porn revenge victim that elected to change their name; it’s not an easy process, fraught with all sorts of issues you can’t foresee, and very difficult to explain to all who have known you by your original name.

Even when you go through a business name change, the loss of identity can sink your company. As I described in “When Brand Names Are Destroyed By Damaging Doppelgangers,” some companies don’t survive this process, since it’s like starting all over with an unknown name.

So, there’s nothing simple about a name-change, and one may not have the necessary amount of money on hand to even make that work.

Is Google liable? Or could the immunity of the CDA be revoked?

I’ve long thought that Google chose to act upon defamation removal requests out of a desire for self-preservation. I thought it was a calculated strategy both to avoid risks of legislature removing some of the immunity provided by Section 230 of the CDA and to reduce lawsuits that they might have to face from desperate people. The immunity provided by the CDA is a huge value to Google, and processing of defamatory removal requests is a relatively small price to pay.

It’s possible for the legislature to modify the Section 230 protection. As I described above, it has enabled situations where horribly damaging false content can be published, and there’s no effective way to help the victims.

It’s possible for legislators to wake up to this and to try to address the lacuna in the current laws. I think all it might take would be a handful of defamed children of congressmen and senators, and legislators might become very motivated to take action.

There is also the fact that the largest search engines are quite different in nature than smaller forum operators, and even the social media services. The search engines are not the equivalent of small libraries or booksellers (which are considered “distributors” and therefore not responsible for the content they have under offline defamation assessments); they are frequently the doorway of the internet.

And the search engines are large enough to be able to afford the costs and the scale of evaluating removal requests. Demonstrably, Google has been absorbing these costs for the better part of a decade, at least, while their stock value has consistently risen across this period. So concerns about absolving them from the costs of handling defamation are likely minor and irrelevant.

Assisting online attack victims should perhaps be considered the cost of success. The search engines bear responsibility for the policing of the internet by making themselves so very central to people’s online activities. They created this large, public marketplace, so they inherently bear some responsibility for it.

Why should they declare themselves responsible for making the internet faster, or for safeguarding privacy by browbeating webmasters into using SSL (secure sockets layer), or trying to make the internet more secure by flagging or suspending websites for malware — and then turn about to disavow any responsibility at all for defamatory content they index that destroys companies and lives? The omnipresence they’ve created means they must share some responsibility.

The search engines have to employ removal evaluation staff anyway, because they are also receiving many other types of legal removal requests, such as in instances of trademark infringement, copyright infringement and personal privacy issues. There has been something of an imbalance in how the US has provided a high level of immunity around defamatory liability to online distributors/publishers of third-party content, while simultaneously ensuring the interests of big business are represented by making those same types of sites handle copyright infringement claims.

There are also alternative options for addressing the costs, if that is the driving reason for suspending assistance. As I pointed out last year, it should be possible for Silicon Valley companies to set up a commonly supported online reputation clearinghouse that they could all utilize to share the evaluation costs.

Take-down requests could be sent to a single location, evaluated, and then acted upon by the major players in concert with one another. This would potentially save on costs for all of those companies and also reduce some costs for reputation attack victims. Sure, this requires a level of cooperation among big tech companies, but the rewards could be significant. Costs of evaluations of removal requests are not going away.

One attorney I spoke with stated that he would even be happy to pay a fee to Google for submitting removal requests. He acknowledged that there are costs involved for the search engines, and a handling fee might be reasonable — especially if the alternative is to lose any real substantive recourse.

There is a possibility that Google’s abrupt about-face on these requests may open them up to legal liability now, in spite of the CDA protections.

One might argue that Google’s long practice of honoring court-ordered defamation removals was an implicit acknowledgment of responsibility and liability for content presented through search results. Or a claim could be made on the basis of promissory estoppel — that attorneys and individuals have been reasonably assured by long practice that Google will remove content based upon court orders specifying defamatory content, and this abrupt and seemingly arbitrary suspension of that policy is wantonly damaging.

Some of the instances where Google denied take-down requests have happened after victims pursued months or years of litigation to obtain court orders, and they did this with the reasonable expectation that Google would take action. These people are arguably damaged because they based their decisions to litigate on Google’s years of consistent policy.

The timing for Google’s change in practice is surprising, because the legal climate around defamation laws is less certain right now. Back in February, Donald Trump made a campaign promise that he would “open up” libel laws, making it easier for famous persons to sue the press.

Even more recently, Melania Trump is involved in a defamation lawsuit, claiming the press and a blogger have made false and damaging statements against her. As things currently stand, it’s conceivable that Mrs. Trump could win her case, but if her defamatory content were replicated on sites like Ripoff Report and elsewhere, then the content could live on, easily accessible via Google search results.

Is it realistic that Trump might be able to change libel laws, and, if so, could it provide greater protections for all individuals or lessened immunity for web companies? It’s purely speculative, but the incoming administration definitely has a conservative philosophy about unfettered speech, and their party is in charge of both the Executive and Legislative branches of government. One has the feeling that they can enact any changes to the law that they might wish. And one can imagine they might be motivated if Mrs. Trump were to find herself balked subsequent to winning her case in court.

Conclusion: Inconclusive, for now

So, how should the online reputation management industry respond to Google’s recent de facto paradigm shift? Will they begin to grant such requests again, with the same level of consistency?

Some types of websites and online services will respond to court-ordered defamation removal requests. I suggest that one first send those court orders to every single site and ISP where defamatory material is specified.

After you’ve gotten as much removed at the website level as possible, then follow up with a submission of remaining URLs to Google, explaining you have attempted to get everything removed but you cannot do anything about the remaining URLs, and plead for them to take those last URLs out of search.

Please let me know if you are successful, and I may post a follow-up report later.

Likewise, if Google later responds, we will try to post an update on this article.

Author : Chris Silver Smith

Source : http://searchengineland.com/paradigm-shift-google-suspends-defamation-removals-266222

The Echo, Amazon’s voice-controlled speaker, was a big hit this holiday season. Amazon is keeping specific sales figures under wraps, but the company says it sold nine times as many Echo devices during the holidays as it did a year earlier.

It’s the latest example of Amazon pioneering a new product category and then going on to dominate it. Amazon has become the leader in the e-book market on the strength of its Kindle line of e-readers. And it dominates an important segment of the cloud computing market; Amazon Web Services is expected to generate $12 billion in revenue this year.

Next year, Amazon is hoping to start doing something similar for brick-and-mortar retailing. The company recently unveiled Amazon Go, a convenience store whose no-checkout technology could revolutionize the retail sector.

In short, Amazon has shown a remarkable ability to succeed in a wide variety of different product categories. That’s a contrast to most other high-profile tech companies that are really good in one area — Google’s dominant online services or Apple’s extraordinarily profitable hardware — but struggle when the quest for growth pushes them outside their zone of core competency.

“There's an opportunity to do innovation in big companies,” says author and startup guru Eric Ries. “But very few big companies have done this really well. Amazon is one of them.”

Amazon has figured out how to combine the entrepreneurial culture of a small company with the financial resources of a large one. And that allows it tackle problems most other companies can’t.

Most tech companies struggle outside their comfort zones

Corporate And Media Leaders Attend Allen & Company Media And Technology Conf.

Google created or acquired a remarkable string of hit products during the 2000s, including Gmail, Google Maps, Google Docs, YouTube, Android, and Chrome. These products have a lot in common. Most are online services like Google’s original search engine. The two major exceptions — Android and Chrome — are software that help people access Google’s online services.

During the 2010s, Google has gotten more ambitious, funding a series of “moonshots” that aim to solve big technology problems far removed from the company’s traditional focus on online services. Indeed, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin felt so strongly about this mission that they re-organized Google itself, creating a new parent company called Alphabet to serve as an umbrella for moonshot projects.

But so far, Google has had little to show for these efforts. Google Glass was a flop. The company has developed some impressive self-driving technology over the past six years but has still not turned it into a commercial product. Google bought Nest in 2014, but the company has struggled to expand beyond smart thermostats. Google acquired some robotics startups in 2014, but hasn’t figured out what to do with them and wound up putting one up for sale.

One of the big problems here seems to be that Page and company are a little too focused on solving hard technical problems. Creating a new computer platform around a pair of glasses is a hard and interesting technical challenge, for example. But it was never clear that solving it would produce to a viable product.

Google’s most promising “moonshot” is its self-driving car project, which is widely regarded as the technology leader. But top engineers on the project have grown impatient with the company’s slow pace in getting to market. A team of Google engineers left Google to found Otto, a self-driving truck company acquired by Uber earlier this year. The leader of Google’s self-driving car project, Chris Urmson, recently quit to create a self-driving car startup of his own.

Similarly, robotics is an important area of computer science research. But it was never clear what Google was going to do with a menagerie of robot startups. The thinking seemed to be that Google would acquire the best talent first and come up with a plan to make money later.

Of course, it’s possible that Google’s self-driving car project or one of the other moonshots will produce a spectacular business success that will justify the costs of the other failures. But so far, at least, Google’s efforts to branch out into markets other than online services haven’t borne much fruit.

Amazon focuses on meeting user needs

Amazon Holds News Conference

Google’s approach — solve the hard technical problems first, worry about the business model later — is rooted in the engineering background of Google Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In contrast, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos spent almost a decade working for several Wall Street firms before starting Amazon — a background that gives him a more pragmatic outlook that’s more focused on developing products customers will actually want to pay for.

Bezos has worked to create a culture at Amazon that’s hospitable to experimentation.

“I know examples where a random Amazon engineer mentions ‘Hey I read about an idea in a blog post, we should do that,’” Eric Ries says. “The next thing he knows, the engineer is being asked to pitch it to the executive committee. Jeff Bezos decides on the spot.”

A key factor in making this work, Ries says, is that experiments start small and grow over time. At a normal company, when the CEO endorses an idea, it becomes a focus for the whole company, which is a recipe for wasting a lot of resources on ideas that don’t pan out. In contrast, Amazon creates a small team to experiment with the idea and find out if it’s viable. Bezos famously instituted the “two-pizza team” rule, which says that teams should be small enough to be fed with two pizzas.

Ries says that new teams get limited funding and clear milestones; if a team succeeds in smaller challenges, it’s given more resources and a larger challenge to tackle.

But Amazon doesn’t spend too much time on internal testing. “They prioritize launching early over everything else,” one engineer wrote in an epic 2011 rant comparing Amazon’s culture to other technology companies. Launching early with what Ries has dubbed a “minimum viable product” allows Amazon to learn as quickly as possible whether an idea that sounds good on paper is actually a good idea in the real world.

Of course, this method isn’t foolproof; Amazon has had plenty of failures, like its disastrous foray into the smartphone market. But by getting a product into the hands of paying customers as quickly as possible and taking their feedback seriously, Amazon avoids wasting years working on products that don’t serve the needs of real customers.

This seems to be the approach Amazon is taking with Amazon Go, its new convenience store concept. It’s a technology that could work in many different types of retail stores, but Amazon’s initial approach is modest: a single, relatively small convenience store. Media reports suggest that Amazon plans to open 2,000 retail stores, but the company disputesthis. The Amazon way, after all, isn’t to open one store because there’s a plan for 2,000. It’s to open one store and then open thousands more if the first one is a big success.

Why big resources often don’t lead to innovation

TechCrunch Disrupt London 2016 - Day 1

In the abstract this approach — minimize bureaucracy, start out with small experiments, expand them if they’re successful — sounds so good that it’s almost banal. But it’s surprisingly difficult for big companies to do this, especially when they’re entering new markets.

Over time, big companies develop cultures and processes optimized for the market where they had their original success. Companies have a natural tendency to establish uniform standards across the enterprise. When I spent a summer as an engineering intern at Google in 2010, much of my time was spent learning how to use the company’s powerful suite of proprietary software tools. Google employees are expected to use these tools across a wide variety of projects. That approach works great when it’s creating a new online service that’s similar to early hits like search or Gmail. But the tools can become a hindrance if a Google team is trying to build something that’s very different from a search engine.

You can make a similar point about Apple. The company is famous for its elegant user interface, a reflection of the central role of designers — rather than engineers or project managers — in the company’s development process. That’s a good way to develop user-friendly gadgets like the iPhone or Apple Watch, but it doesn’t necessarily work well for other product categories. Apple struggled for years to make its iCloud service (and predecessors like .Mac and MobileMe) reliable.

In contrast, Jeff Bezos has been fanatical about letting teams operate independently of one another. “It doesn't matter what technology” teams use at Amazon, one of the company’s former engineers wrote in 2011. Bezos has explicitly discouraged the kind of standardization you see at companies like Google and Apple, encouraging teams to operate independently using whatever technology makes the most sense.

Bezos has worked hard to make Amazon a modular, flexible organization with a minimum of company-wide policies. That has made Amazon’s internal culture somewhat chaotic and balkanized. An engineer on one Amazon project can’t easily jump to another the way they can at Google or Apple. Friction between teams with different cultures may explain why some people find Amazon a stressful place to work.

But this chaotic culture is also hospitable to innovation. A new team can use the tools and processes that make the most sense instead of feeling pressure to conform to company-wide standards.

Amazon is well positioned for the next decade of innovation

Uber Experiments With Driverless Cars

The reason Amazon’s organizational choices are significant is that there are a lot of opportunities for big companies that can emulate the best characteristics of a startup.

Amazon Go is a good example. It’s hard to imagine a small startup pulling this off. The technology that makes the store work — using cameras and other sensors to track a customer’s every step and instantly detect when he takes an item off a shelf — is a sophisticated feat of computer science that undoubtedly cost millions of dollars to develop. To recoup those investments, Amazon is going to have to spend years — and millions more — opening stores in an industry not known for its fat profit margins. That requires the kind of deep pockets and longtime horizons that startups rarely have.

Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, the high-tech frontier was on the web. Scaling a website from hundreds of users to millions is technically challenging, but it doesn’t necessarily require a huge team or a ton of physical infrastructure. That’s why companies like Google and Facebook grew from nothing to billion-dollar companies.

In contrast, the next generation of innovations is likely to be more tied to the physical world and to conventional industries: apartment sharing, self-driving cars, retail stores, health care innovations, and so forth.

Google, Uber, Tesla, and conventional car companies are all working on self-driving technology. To succeed in this market, companies are going to have to bring together software, hardware, sophisticated maps, and a strategy for navigating complex regulatory issues — a combination that could be too difficult for an independent startup to manage.

Amazon and Google are both working on drone delivery technology, which has a similar mix of hardware, software, and regulatory challenges. The companies’ existing financial, technical, and lobbying infrastructure will give them a big leg up in these markets.

One way to deal with the conundrum is for big tech companies to acquire startups early in their growth. That allows a startup’s innovations to be combined with the resources of a big company. Uber acquired the self-driving truck startup Otto less than a year after it was founded. GM paid a billion dollars for the self-driving car startup Cruise in March.

But acquiring fast-growing startups is a very expensive way for a big company like Google or Uber to stay on the cutting edge. And in many cases, this strategy doesn’t even work. Google’s $2 billion acquisition of Nest was supposed to accelerate the company’s growth, but instead the company has struggled under the Alphabet umbrella.

This is what makes Amazon’s evident success at nurturing entrepreneurial projects internally so significant. Amazon doesn’t need to rely so heavily on expensive and risky acquisitions because it has developed a system for nurturing entrepreneurial projects internally. And as technology invades the real world, there are going to be more and more opportunities for these kinds of entrepreneurial projects.


Author: Timothy B. Lee
Source: http://www.vox.com/new-money/2016/12/28/13889840/amazon-innovation-google-apple


Wednesday, 28 December 2016 07:00

How has technology changed in 2016?

2016 has seen many significant strides in technology and some major setbacks. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle showed us the grim consequences tech failures can lead to. The rise of Donald Trump to soon-to-be president of United States raised eyebrows of the tech-elite who opposed him. The fake news issue created a stir all over and online polls have made us revisit the fundamental ethics of journalism. Virtual reality has got to go mainstream with an all-new start. 
Tech giants such as Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon continued the winning streak of being the most powerful companies in the world. All this happened under the sharp scrutiny of government. 
Amid the apprehensions of fake news and social network’s influence over politics, Mark Zuckerberg finally conceded Facebook is a new age media company , after being known for long to be straddling between media and tech company. 
Amazon’s no-checkout store was a breakthrough which drew focus back to automation and how it kills jobs. 
Google had another eventful year in terms of profit and revenue. The company for the first time launched a smartphone much to the surprise of iPhone users at a time when Apple started losing its sheen. The search giant however, faced severalantitrust charges by European regulators on its increasing sway in search results and its influence over Android handset makers to carry Google’s search as default. 
Uber, Airbnb didn’t go public, Snapchat did. The innovation king Apple was finally out of ideas which saw its first decline in annual revenue since 2001. This happened despite the evident success of the Apple Watch . 

China is moving beyond creating things for others to making brands for its own. The smartphone companies from the next innovation powerhouse have started gaining spotlights with quite a few of them already proved incredibly promising. 

The gadget story of 2016
The South Korean electronics giant Samsung faced the biggest consumer safety catastrophe in history. With the next big launch set to happen in next few months, the company is making sure things are on track before it goes off the ground withGalaxy S8 . Apple went on to ditch the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack on the latest iPhone. 

Virtual reality, the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, Amazon Go were amongst the highlights of 2016.
Virtual reality, the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, Amazon Go were amongst the highlights of 2016.

Fitbit acquired select assets of Pebble creating trouble for the two million Pebble watch owners out there. Touted as the most innovative company, Snapchat went on to become a hardware company this year. Rebranded as Snap, the company released its new Spectacles sunglasses, which let you take 10-second snippets of video and upload them to Snapchat. 

After years of public hype, virtual reality finally made a serious comeback with VRheadsets from Facebook, Sony, Google and more hitting the market. 
The India story
Prime Minister Modi had scrapped 500 and 1000 rupee notes overnight to draw flak from millions of people forced to queue up in banks and ATMs. In the attempt to curb the black money menace, the proposed move has resulted in a massive mess India has ever seen. 

This came as a big opportunity for digital wallet service companies like Paytm, which has witnessed 1000% growth in money and 435% growth in traffic postdemonetization . 

Net banking and POS machine sales have experienced a never before surge amid the escalating apprehension. 

Reliance shocked the world with the rollout of its Jio 4G LTE networks. The company managed to cross 50 million subscribers in 83 days and is expected to reach 100 million mark in over six months, according to Fitch Ratings. 

The biggest bet of Mukesh Ambani, Jio has grown faster than global tech giants like Facebook or WhatsApp. In fact, Jio has literally shaken the telecom industry with its unmatched voice and data services. 

India continues to be a hotspot for tech giants like Facebook, Google and Microsoft. Year 2016 has seen rollout of several new India-first initiatives. Google Station , launched a year ago to offer free Wi-Fi to the busiest rail stations, has helped connect over 10 million people across 100 stations every day. The railways minister Suresh Prabhu wants to extend free Wi-Fi to another 200 stations by 2017. 

Facebook has failed with its free basic internet plan. But Zuckerberg’s optimism for markets like India continues unabated. 

We, at TechRadar India, made an attempt to look back at some of the best products and technologies of 2016 as we move forward to 2017.

Author : Mastufa Ahmed

Source : http://www.in.techradar.com/news/computing/how-has-technology-changed-in-2016/articleshow/56216701.cms

Saturday, 24 December 2016 08:12

Fake goods sold on social media are seized

Counterfeit goods being sold by traders using Facebook and Instagram have been seized during a series of raids.

Thousands of items including dangerous cosmetics, electrical products and chargers were seized.

Counterfeit footwear, leather goods and tobacco were also found in various raids across the UK.

The operation, led by the Trading Standards e-crime team, targeted markets where the suppliers of these traders were thought to operate.

The raids were the result of intelligence work including information recovered from mobile phones and satellite navigation systems found during previous raids.

Officers seize counterfeit goodsImage copyrightTRADING STANDARDS

"When criminals infiltrate and undermine social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram consumers are put at risk of injury and harm," said Graham Mogg, who chairs the Anti-Counterfeiting Group.

"Targeting the wholesale suppliers at markets and retail premises, as well as the traders operating on social media, has removed tens of thousands of unsafe and other counterfeit goods from the market place."

Details were released on the same day as Christmas shoppers were warned to check their presents after a raft of fake goods were seized on their way into the UK.

More than 83,000 items were confiscated by the Border Force at airports in one operation over six days in December.

Source: This article was published on bbc.com by Kevin Peachey

If there's a word that describes the retail space in 2016, it's change. Change in technology, tools and best practices. And, (no surprise), 2017 promises more of same.

Here are five trends destined to make retailing more effective and profitable in 2017.

Multi-channel data integration

After using data analytics for several years, retailers are getting a clear idea of the benefits that high-volume, high-speed data analytics can provide. Unlimited computing capacity in the cloud and advanced analytics enable retailers to overcome a familiar challenge: collecting and analyzing huge volumes of different types of data (databases, social media and instant messages, reports).

More recent developments show by using data analytics software, retailers can unify online and offline data by:

  • Extracting data from different places such as legacy systems and database platforms on-premises or in the cloud.
  • Using new sources of data from commerce, supply chain and customer channels.
  • Integrating conventional retail information and data from new channels with company ERP, order management and warehousing software.
  • Delivering useful operations suggestions quickly enough to capture business opportunities as they occur. Modern data analytics software can cut the time from weeks to minutes.

Modern retail analytics software packages customer and supply chain data and trends in a single view of what's going on. Putting all relevant data into a form that's easy to understand and use helps business users set up operational and promotional strategies and continue to improve efficiency and performance.

Predictive data analytics

Every retailer wants to have the right products available to customers at the right place and time. Making this happen, however, is not an easy matter.

Data analytics provides retailers with a better understanding of their current business.Predictive analytics provides retailers with a look into the future.

Until recently, retailers had to rely on insights gained from their own experience and retailing skill, analyst forecasts and customer feedback. But it all added up to high-quality educated guessing.

Predictive analytics uses mountains of data, which retailers already have, and a wide array of technologies and approaches (statistical modeling, data mining and other techniques) to analyze and project the likely outcome of future events and consumer behavior.

The biggest business value of predictive analytics is its ability to help retailers stay ahead of the expectations of discerning, tech-savvy consumers. This includes:

  • Delivering a better shopping experience. That is, enabling customers to shop whenever and wherever they want in an attractive, no-worries environment, in the store or online.
  • Getting a clearer view of customers. This includes a 360-degree view of customers and click-stream analysis.
  • Merchandizing and planning. Add real-time promotions, demand forecasting, pricing and markdown optimization and out-of-stock analysis and management.

One of the biggest changes in retail analytics lies in where all this data comes from.

Internet of Things in retail

Pioneering major retailers are scrambling to collect and analyze data from the Internet of Things. Customers provide useful IoT data by using and connecting to smartphones, tablets and wearables. Brick-and-mortar stores use IoT data generated by digital signage and other in-store sensors and devices.

Together, these sources generate massive data stores that describe customer behavior. Retailers use this data to make decisions and create sales strategies for their brick and mortar stores and distribution centers.

Innovative uses of IoT data and technology enable retailers to:

  • Customize a shopper's in-store experience. Increasingly, customers expect personalized service. Data collected from in-store IoT devices and the shopping history of connected consumers enable retailers to create a shopping profile of each customer. IoT data analysis discovers shopping patterns that help retailers deliver a more customized shopping experience.
  • Make in-store operations more efficient. Data harvested from in-store, IoT-enabled smart cameras, beacons, and sensors provide store managers and employees with a deeper understanding of what does and doesn’t work well on the floor. For example, analysis of real-time location datafrom smartphone apps can be transformed into customer traffic patterns and buying behaviors. With this information, employees can be alerted to bottlenecks immediately and reduce customer wait times at the cashiers.
  • Improve inventory and supply chain management. Smart transportation management applications and demand-aware warehouse fulfillment are two ways to transform IoT data to into an understanding of what’s underperforming, overstocked or running out of stock at your store.
  • Take advantage of new revenue opportunities: Leading-edge retailers are using the IoT to find new methods of acquiring customers and increasing revenues. For example, beacons and Wi-Fi can create an in-store environment, in which customers engage in contests, meet-and-greet events and social media product reviews.

Self-service analytics software  

Not long ago, data analytics software users had to wait for reports designed and delivered by data analyst middlemen. When customers lobbied vendors for change, they got results. Business users got self-service applications that included easy-to-use dashboards and enabled direct queries. The software empowered business users to ask relevant questions and get answers—quickly—without data science degrees.

Specialized retail analytics software enables store managers and retail decision makers to:

  • Use easy-to-understand analytics methods on data relevant to their store.
  • Easily access, explore, and analyze data with just a few clicks
  • Quickly and easily engage with supply chain data.
  • Make decisions by analyzing products and merchandising methods.
  • Identify spending patterns and gain insight into customer behavior by choosing from a library of interactive visualizations.

Mobile to the rescue

We’ve all heard the complaint that customers enter brick-and-mortar stores with more product information than the staff. Equipping staff members with mobile devices linked to key internal applications and databases enables associates to personalize customer services and perform "save the sale" rescues with pricing, promotion and product information.

Author:  Ilan Hertz

Source:  http://www.retailcustomerexperience.com/blogs/data-analytics-and-the-changing-world-of-retail-in-2017

Friday, 23 December 2016 07:19

Google hits the reset button

For eight years, Google always held its biggest event of the year, its I/O developer conference, in San Francisco.

This year, however, it moved it out (and outdoors) to an amphitheater in Mountain View, right next to its campus. Looking back, that move now feels symbolic. In many ways, 2016 was a year of change for Google: It was the first full year after the surprise Google/Alphabet reorg and the year that saw Google get serious about its own hardware, the cloud and the enterprise. Across the industry, 2016 was also the year of AI and machine learning — and Google was very much at the forefront of this.

Let’s get Google’s misses right out of the way: the launch of its Allo and Duo messaging apps only led to mass confusion and very little adoption; smartwatches are struggling and the fact that Google delayed the launch of Android Wear 2.0 to early next year isn’t helping its wearables strategy; Project Ara, Google’s Lego-like smartphone project, also died a sudden death.

But given the amount of products Google offers, it’s no surprise the company occasionally misses the mark. So let’s get to the good part.

Google used the last year to sharpen its product portfolio and to go after potentially lucrative markets that it previously allowed to linger. Hardware is an obvious example here. After years of working with different hardware manufacturers to produce what were essentially Android reference phones under the Nexus brand, Google ditched that effort this year and launched its Pixel phones under its own name and brand.

That itself would have been a big deal, but Google also launched Google Home (its Amazon Echo challenger), Google Wifi, a new version of the Chromecast dongle and the Daydream VR headset. That’s an unprecedented amount of hardware from Google — and even more so because virtually all of these were developed from the ground up.


If you needed any evidence that Google is serious about making its own hardware, just read over that list again (and you could maybe even add the Pixel C tablet to it, though that launched late in 2015 and has lingered ever since).

At the core of a lot of these products and Google’s overall AI ambitions is the Google Assistant, Google’s effort at building a conversational personal assistant that’ll work across its product line.

The company’s interest in machine learning and AI isn’t new, of course, and the Assistant built on years of developing the Google Knowledge Graph and other projects (which include Google building its own machine learning chips).

But in 2016, Google found a bunch of new surfaces to highlight its AI smarts that actually make sense to consumers. While the Assistant in Google Home wasn’t first to market, I find it to be smarter and more useful than Amazon’s current efforts. And with TensorFlow and other projects, Google has also found a way to seed the developer community with the tools to replicate and improve upon its own work (which will eventually flow back into its own products, too).

As Google competes with Microsoft and others in the productivity space, it has also started to bring some of those AI smarts to its own productivity tools. Those tools previously fell under the Google Apps for Work (or Education) moniker. This year, Google decided that name wasn’t good enough, so it went for “G Suite” instead. I’m not a fan of that name, but that, too, shows how Google is trying to reset expectations.

Indeed, maybe the one area that most clearly shows the changes Google went through last year is its Google Cloud (there’s another new name) division. As Google announced at a small and exclusive event in late September, both the G Suite and all of its products for developers and small businesses now fall under the Google Cloud umbrella. Internally, Google had been using “Google Enterprise” as the name for all of these efforts, but somehow decided that wasn’t the right name, either.


A lot of that change — and Google’s clearly renewed efforts to finally take the enterprise seriously after letting both its productivity tools and cloud platform linger for a bit as both Amazon and Microsoft made huge strides in the last few years — comes down to Google bringing Diane Greene onboard in 2015. Her arrival signaled that it wasn’t going to cede a lucrative market like that to its competitors.

Over the course of the last year, it finally started opening up more data centers for its Cloud Platform, launched a slew of new cloud products (including a series of machine learning-based services) to better compete with AWS and Azure, made Firebase its core developer platform, and bought a training company to help enterprises teach their employees how to use Google Apps the G Suite apps. It even launched low-code enterprise app development tools. It also made a number of updates to the G Suite apps to help make them more useful for large enterprises.

Most of these are small moves, but taken together, they show Google has hit the reset button on its enterprise efforts and started to go after this market.

The Alphabet/Google reorg probably helped to push some of these changes along, but it also complicates things. Waymo, formerly known as Google’s self-driving car project, is now an Alphabet company, for example. It does seem to have served its purpose in getting Google itself to look at its own projects, though, and search for revenue opportunities beyond the advertising machine that continues to print virtually all of its money.

As for next year? Google I/O will be at Moscone again, but I don’t think Google is done reinventing itself just yet.

Author : Frederic Lardinois

Source : https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/22/google-hits-the-reset-button/

Friday, 16 December 2016 14:15

Apple iOS 10.2 Has Three Nasty Surprises

iOS 10 is only three months old but with iOS 10.2 Apple AAPL +0.16% is already onto its fifth update (sixth if you include iOS 10.0.1 which Apple quickly bolted into the original release) and iOS 10.2.1 is already in testing. Why? Because ladies and gents, while iOS 10.2 does contain a fun surprise, it doesn’t bring the crucial fixes many users crave and instead carries something else you might not have been expecting…

‘Great Features’ and ‘Nasty Surprises’ are my regular columns investigating operating system updates for the best features / biggest problems hidden behind the headlines.

Apple iOS 10.2. Image credit: Gordon Kelly

Nasty Surprise #1: ‘30% Bug’ Made Even Worse

Remember the ‘30% Bug’ I brought attention to in November? It is a problem which causes many models of iPhone to die when their battery reaches about 30% of charge remaining. The problem was subsequently referenced by the Chinese Government’s watchdog the China Consumers’ Association in a warning to Apple as it was failing to “meet basic consumer needs for normal wireless communication.”

Well iOS 10.2 brings no fixes for this issue. Given Apple continues to deny any model other than the iPhone 6S is affected (though it has widened the range of affected 6S model numbers entitled to free battery replacements), this is probably no surprise.

That said this also won’t do much to pacify affected users, notably on Apple’s official Support Communities forum where the 11 page thread I previously reported on has now ballooned to 50 pages. Moreover some users are reporting iOS 10.2 makes the problem even worse on their devices.

“Same here, iOS 10.2 actually made the problem worse,” says Apple Support Communities poster ricardo jb in response this growing theme on thread. “The battery percentage seems to get stuck at some level for a while, even with battery draining apps such as pokemon go running, then it drops different percentages at different moments, it’s really random.”

Many users claim the issue began with iOS 10.1.1 and it can affect all iOS 10 compatible iPhones (the iPhone 5 and above). So perhaps a fix can indeed be made in software without the need for a battery replacement, but if so then iOS 10.2 isn’t it.

Nasty Surprise #2: New Tracking Telemetry Is On Your Device

The plus side to the 30% Bug is Apple has promised to look into it and said it would release a software update this week which would track the battery consumption on iPhones to help the company get to the bottom of the problem.

That’s all well and good but – surprise – it turns out the tracking software is baked into iOS 10.2 and no mention of this was made in the release notes. Apple exclusively confirmed the integration of the telemetry tool with iOS 10.2 to me today and that it is installed on every compatible device, regardless of whether they are affected by the bug.

Concept render of the 2017 10th anniversary iPhone alongside current models - what Apple should be focusing on but for ongoing battery issues. Concept image credit: Veniamin Geskin

Concept render of the 2017 10th anniversary iPhone alongside current models – what Apple should be focusing on but for ongoing battery issues. Concept image credit: Veniamin Geskin

Needless to say that’s good news for some, but there’s no transparency here. Many would have expected the tool to be its own separate update and some users do not want new forms of tracking software on their phone – whether through personal preference or professional need. Especially when no specifics have been officially disclosed as to how it works, exactly how it tracks, where the information it gathers is sent, if it is anonymised or how long the data will be kept.

There’s no reason to believe Apple is doing something deliberately nefarious here, I suspect the intentions are well meant – it’s just good manners to ask first.

And, at the very least, to put the inclusion of the tracker on the release notes. After all if “Fixes an issue where VoiceOver users could not re-order items in lists” was deemed important enough to make it then so should “[Temporary anonymised] battery tracking telemetry to investigate battery problems as reported by users/Forbes/the Chinese government’s consumer watchdog”.

Update: Apple has contacted me to say the battery data reporting software is a diagnostic tool not a tracker and is for users who have opted into diagnostic tools.  If it provides further information on how the software works or why it was left out of the release notes I will update again. 

Nasty Surprise #3: Broken EarPods Stay Broken

Another Apple Support Communities hot topic, this 11 page thread has grown to 24 pages since I reported on it two weeks ago and affected users have been complaining about it since September. In short: the microphone from Apple Earpods is malfunctioning during calls due to a software glitch.

Ending and restarting calls can temporarily rectify the problem but not for long and even a full Factory Reset has not solved the issue for affected users. Posters say Apple Support has only suggested they keep restarting their devices for now, so there were high hopes iOS 10.2 would provide a better solution – but the response is pretty uniform:

Apple Support Communities users consistently point our there is no improvement in iOS 10.2 for their EarPod problems. Image credit: Apple
Apple Support Communities users consistently point our there is no improvement in iOS 10.2 for their EarPod problems. Image credit: Apple

As such, while iOS 10.2 brings niceties like ‘TV’ (which replaces the ‘Videos’ app) and 100s of new emoji, it seems a smaller number of more pressing issues will have to wait for the arrival of the iOS 10.2.1 – at the earliest…

Author:  Gordon Kelly

Source:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2016/12/14/apple-ios-10-2-battery-tracking-bluetooth-problems/#2620dafb2499

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