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anthony noto, business, economy, SoFi, Software, TC, the wall street journal, Twitter

Twitter COO Anthony Noto resigns to become SoFi CEO

 Twitter COO Anthony Noto has left the company, Twitter announced Tuesday. Noto’s leaving because he accepted a CEO role elsewhere, according to the release. Just last week, the WSJ reported that Noto was mulling the top executive job at finance startup SoFi, and indeed SoFi confirmed today that he’s joining effective March 1. Regarding Noto’s Twitter departure, CEO Jack… Read More

Apps, california, computing, Instant Messaging, Media, photo sharing, Snap, snap inc, Snapchat, Social, Social Media, Software, TC

Snapchat will now let you share some Stories outside the app


There’s no getting around the fact that Snapchat has a user growth problem, so it’s smart that the company is making it easier for people who like and use Snapchat to share content they find within beyond the app itself. Today, Snap is launching the ability to share some public Stories via links that then display the Story selected on Snapchat.com.

Stories eligible for sharing right now include those Official Stories and Our Stories found in the Discover tab, as well as Search Stories, though Snapchat says those are just what’s included “at launch,” which indicates that the types of Stories you could share will expand over time. This feature is also going live to anyone running the redesigned Snapchat app as of today, which includes test markets like Australia and Canada, and will become available for iOS and Android over the next few weeks to the rest of the world as the redesign expands globally.

Snap says that part of its motivation for launching this feature is to allow users to share content from within the app to demonstrate to people who aren’t already on the platform what it can do. It’s also aiming to make it easier for outside parties, including media outlets, to incorporate Snap-based content in their reporting. That suggests that while this feature is launching as a simple link that leads to a web-based replica of the in-app Story, eventually the plan could also involve more embed-friendly formats, similar to what Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have rolled out for their respective platforms.

  1. Fire Example – Story on Snapchat.com

  2. Concert Example – Story on Snapchat.com

Already, Snapchat Stories shared directly via some platforms will support in-line playback, including on Twitter, using the same web link. Also, on Facebook, you’ll see a link to the full content along with a preview, similar to how YouTube video sharing works on the platform. Snap also says that for now it’s not running Snap Ads on the web-based versions of shared stories, but that it isn’t totally ruling out monetization strategies for shared content.

While in some ways external sharing of Snapchat Stories is counterintuitive to the app’s focus on ephemerality, Snap has built that in to its sharing mechanism, too. Our Stories will last only 30 days outside of Snapchat, even via the link, for instance, and Search Stories will also expire after 30 days. Official Stories will only remain live for 24 hours – so each external share has an expiry date, which could be an interesting challenge for those looking to use them to support stories and content that outlast the Snapchat Stories themselves.

Apps, blockchains, cryptocurrencies, ethereum, Linux, Software, Startups, TC

How to price cryptocurrencies | TechCrunch

Predicting cryptocurrency prices is a fool’s game yet this fool is about to try. The drivers of a single cryptocurrency’s value are currently too varied and vague to make assessments based on any one point. News is trending up on Bitcoin? Maybe there’s a hack or an API failure that is driving it down at the same time. Ethereum looking sluggish? Who knows: maybe someone will build a new smarter DAO tomorrow that will draw in the big spenders.

So how do you invest or, more correctly, on which currency should you bet?

The key to understanding what to buy or sell and when to hold is to use the tools associated with assessing the value of open source projects. This has been said again and again but to understand the current crypto boom you have to go back to the quiet rise of Linux.

Linux appeared on most radars during the Dot Com bubble. At that time, if you wanted to set up a web server, you had to physically ship a Windows server or Sun Sparc Station to a server farm where it would do the hard work of delivering Pets.com HTML. At the same time Linux, like a freight train running on a parallel path to Microsoft and Sun, would consistently allow developers to build one-off projects very quickly and easily using an OS and toolset that were improving daily. In comparison, then, the massive hardware and software expenditures associated with the status quo solution providers were deeply inefficient and very quickly all of the tech giants who made their money on software now made their money on services or, like Sun, folded.

From the acorn of Linux an open source forest bloomed. But there was one clear problem: you couldn’t make money from open source. You could consult and you could sell products that used open source components but early builders built primarily for the betterment of humanity and not the betterment of their bank accounts.

Cryptocurrencies have followed the Linux model almost exactly but cryptocurrencies have cash value. Therefore when you’re working on a crypto project you’re not doing it for the common good or for the joy of writing free software. You’re writing it with the expectation of a big payout. This, therefore, clouds the value judgements of many programmers. The same folks that brought you Python, PHP, Django, and Node.js are back… and now they’re programming money.

This year will be the year of great reckoning in the token sale and cryptocurrency space. While many companies have been able to get away with poor or unusable codebases I doubt developers will let future companies get away with so much smoke and mirrors. It’s safe to say we can expect posts like this one detailing Storj’s anemic code base to become the norm and, more important, that these commentaries will sink many so-called ICOs. Though massive, the money trough that is flowing from ICO to ICO is finite and at some point there will be greater scrutiny paid to incomplete work.

What does this mean? It means to understand cryptocurrency you have to treat it like a startup. Does it have a good team? Does it have a good product? Does the product work? Would someone want to use it? It’s far too early to assess the value of cryptocurrency as a whole but if we assume that tokens or coins will become the way computers pay each other in the future. This lets us hand wave away a lot of doubt. After all, not many people knew in 2000 that Apache was going to beat nearly every other web server in a crowded market or that Ubuntu instances would be so common that you’d spin them up and destroy them in an instant.

The key to understanding cryptocurrency pricing is to ignore the froth, hype, and FUD and instead focus on true utility. Do you think that some day your phone will pay another phone for, say, an in game perk? Do you expect the credit card system to fold in the face of an Internet of Value? Do you expect that one day you’ll move through life splashing out small bits of value in order to make yourself more comfortable? Then by all means buy and hold or speculate on things that you think will make your life better. If you don’t expect the Internet of Value to improve your life the way the TCP/IP Internet did (or you do not understand enough to hold an opinion) then you’re probably not cut out for this. NASDAQ is always open, at least during banker’s hours.

Still will us? Good, here are my predictions:

Here is my assessment of what you should look at when considering an “investment” in cryptocurrencies. There are a number of caveats we must address before we begin.

  • Crypto is not a monetary investment in a real currency but an investment in a pie-in-the-sky technofuture. That’s right: when you buy crypto you’re basically assuming that we’ll all be on the deck of the Starship Enterprise exchanging them like Galactic Credits one day. This is the only inevitable future for crypto bulls. While you can force crypto into various economic models and hope for the best, the entire platform is techno-utopianist and assumes all sorts of exciting and unlikely things will come to pass in the next few years. If you have spare cash lying around and you like Star Wars then you’re golden. If you bought bitcoin on a credit card because your cousin told you to then you’re probably going to have a bad time.
  • Don’t trust anyone. There is no guarantee and, in addition to offering the disclaimer that this is not investment advice and that this is in no way an endorsement of any particular cryptocurrency or even the concept in general, we must understand that everything I write here could be wrong. In fact, everything ever written about crypto could be wrong and anyone who is trying to sell you a token with exciting upside is almost certainly wrong. In short, everyone is wrong and everyone is out to get you so be very, very careful.
  • You might as well hold. If you bought when BTC was $18,000 you’d best just hold on. Right now you’re in Pascal’s Wager territory. Yes, maybe you’re angry at crypto for screwing you but maybe you were just stupid and you got in too high and now you might as well keep believing because nothing is certain or you can admit that you were a bit overeager and now you’re being punished for it but that there is some sort of bitcoin god out there watching over you. Ultimately you need to take a deep breath, agree that all of this is pretty freaking weird, and hold on.

Now on with the assessments.

Bitcoin – Expect a rise over the next year that will surpass the current low. Also expect bumps as the SEC and other federal agencies around the world begin regulating the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies in very real ways. Now that banks are in on the joke they’re going to want to reduce risk. Therefore the bitcoin will become digital gold, a staid, boring, and volatility proof safe haven for speculators. Although all but unusable as a real currency, it’s good enough for what we need it to do and we can also expect quantum computing hardware to change the face of the oldest and most familiar cryptocurrency.

Ethereum – Ethereum could sustain another few thousand dollars on its price as long as Vitalik Buterin, the creator, doesn’t throw too much cold water on it. Like a remorseful Victor Frankenstein, Buterin tends to make amazing things and then denigrate them online, a sort of self-flagellation that is actually quite useful in a space full of froth and outright lies. Ethereum is the closest we’ve come to a useful cryptocurrency but it is still the Raspberry Pi of distributed computing – it’s a useful and clever hack that makes it easy to experiment but no one has quite replaced the old systems with new distributed data stores or applications. In short, it’s a really exciting technology but nobody knows what to do with it.

digital media, documentary, fake news, Software, sundance, TC

Sundance doc Our New President presents psychedelic vision of US election through a fake news lens


If the feeling at the fairly liberal leaning Sundance Film Festival — held last year after Trump’s election but before the inauguration —was one of impending doom, this year it’s all about prophecy fulfilled.

From asides about how terrible last year was by program directors before screenings to a slate peppered with documentaries and other programs that explore the impact of social media and the changing nature of news on society, the President is a presence.

One such doc was Our New President, by Maxim Pozdorovkin. Assembled completely out of either amateur or Russian television news footage that the director hoped would compose “a film that uses the news to tell a story without a single true statement.”

For the film, Pozdorovkin assembled a bunch of Russian news footage, mostly from RT and NTV, which are both government controlled now. The footage contains statements designed to craft an image of Hillary Clinton as an ailing, insane, inept leader and Donald Trump as a conquering hero that respects and loves Russia. It also paints all Russian citizens with a broad brush as unable to make up their own mind because they are brainwashed by falsehoods pounded into the shape of truth by state media.

None of those things are true, but the power of repetition with authority to warp minds is sort of the point of the film.

There are two major themes. One is a straightforward through a mirror darkly vision of the US election through Russian media machine eyes. Some of the statements in the news clips in the film made the audience laugh out loud (the “ha ha, we know better” reaction) and some made them gasp in horror (“who would believe such an outlandish thing?”)

Nothing here is all that fresh. If you’ve spent any time on the Internet, regardless of whether you’re a Trump supporter or horror struck at his governance, the topic of Russian media, hacking to support (or later discredit when necessary) Trump’s Presidency and whether news is ‘fake’ or ‘real’ has been at the top of every family meal discussion list. Many of these clips have been widely circulated before, especially the one of now indicted Trump Advisor Michael Flynn at a dinner with Russian President Putin.

The second meta theme is the decimation of the basic concept of truth. In one standout clip, Russian ersatz-right-wing-pundit Dmitry Kiselyov flat out tells a group of journalists at RT being transitioned into government control that if the media says something that is not fact-based, but supports the government agenda, then that’s truth enough.

It’s this constant pounding and cross-referencing of falsehoods as truth or, even more sinister, the 1-to-1 alignment of truth and opinion as equal and equivalent, that threatens to break through the relatively rapid fire and context-free clip assembly job of Our New President.

It’s too bad I didn’t like it more.

Much of the impact of the whole thing is unfortunately blunted by the fact that RT and NTV are state run media and are therefore expected to exert their power to present a “truth” that supports the state agenda. I would have watched the heck out of a doc like this that assembles a narrative from both Fox News clips and liberal media in the US and presents them as a juxtaposition. Our New President is content to stand at arm’s length.

It’s the documentary equivalent of a late night substance altered YouTube crawl through Russian propo clips where you say “wow, isn’t this crazy” before passing out with a Dorito bag on your chest.

The lack of context, the clumsy framing of the story as a curse put on Clinton by a Russian mummy that itself turns out to be fake and the lack of willingness to say something beyond “look at this” reduces the impact of the themes above, ones that are well worth investigating.

Mainly, I think it’s just too long.

When I was going into the screening I mis-read the running time and thought that it was going to be 15 minutes long. It is not, it is instead 77 minutes of clips strung together. By the 40th minute I couldn’t wait for the 78th minute.

In fact, this is an extended version of a 15 minute short that Pozdorovkin made last year. I haven’t seen that version but I imagine that it was probably a lot better by nature of having to get in and get out and make its point.

In an interview this week, Pozdorovkin said that he and editor Matney Kulakov knew that “one creative question towered above all others: how the hell do we make this watchable for 78 minutes?”

Unfortunately, the answer is: you don’t.

Computers and the Internet, Software, Windows (Operating System)

See Everything That Starts Up With Windows 7

Q. I have a few programs in my Windows 7 Startup folder, but my PC is slow. I think there’s a lot more happening when the computer boots up. Is there one place to look to see everything that’s running instead of poking around in a bunch of different windows?

A. If you want a detailed overview of all the programs, services, drivers, tool bars and other bits of code that start up along with Windows, Microsoft has a free utility for you. The program is called Autoruns. It has been around for several years and works on several recent versions of Windows. A page on Microsoft’s site calls it “the most comprehensive knowledge of auto-starting locations of any start-up monitor.”

Microsoft’s site has a link to download Autoruns and brief instructions for using it after you install it. With Autoruns, you can see and manage everything that starts up with Windows. Click any of the various tabs at the top of the window, like Scheduled Tasks, Office or Internet Explorer, to see what is running in those categories. Right-click on an entry to get more information and a menu of actions.

Photo

The Autoruns utility, available free on Microsoft’s website, provides an overview of everything that automatically runs when Windows starts up.

Credit
The New York Times

For the less technically inclined, Autoruns may seem like a bewildering eyeful, but the Microsoft Press site has a longer, illustrated guide to the software. Windows-themed sites like the Windows Club or the How-To Geek also have helpful tips for using the utility.

In addition to several programs in the Startup folder, PCs can take their time booting up as antivirus programs run their scans or online file-sharing services update their files, or if the hard drive is overstuffed and in need of defragmentation. Microsoft’s support site has its own page of suggestions and an automated Fixit tool designed to help improve system performance.

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