Tile Teams Up With Amazon To Try And Fight Apple AirTag… And In My Mind It’s A #Fail

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 8, 2021 by itnerd

Clearly Tile is feeling the pressure from Apple AirTag. So much so that according to CNBC, Tile has cut a deal with Amazon:

Amazon’s partnership will allow it beef up its tracking network, called Sidewalk, by letting Tile and Level devices tap into the Bluetooth networks created by millions of its Echo products. Tile will start working with Amazon’s network beginning June 14.

It needs the help because from what I can tell, Tile has a network of roughly 30 million users. Compared to the billion or so Apple devices leaves Tile at a significant disadvantage. Amazon will sort of help with that. I say sort of because:

Amazon said Sidewalk will also strengthen Tile’s existing in-home finding experience with Alexa. Customers can say, “Alexa, find my keys” and their Tile tracker will start ringing from a coat pocket or from under the bed signaling where to find their lost item.

Amazon also said users with multiple Echo devices connected to Sidewalk will be able to find misplaced items around their homes even faster. Alexa can tell users which Echo device their Tiled item is closer to, whether it is the kitchen speaker or their bedroom speaker and the day and time it was last seen near that device.

In other words, this won’t help you find your keys in Downtown Toronto. Which means Apple likely still has the advantage here. But I guess Tile had to do something to stay in the game. And this qualifies as Something. So let’s see how far this deal gets them.

Petition Opposing Rogers/Shaw Merger Passes 61,000 Signatures

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 8, 2021 by itnerd

It appears that the Rogers/Shaw merger which is already being opposed by the Conservative Party Of Canada is also opposed by a whole lot of Canadians. Open Media put out a press release on Friday saying that a petition opposing the merger has surpassed 61,000+ Canadians. According to the press release, OpenMedia and a number of other civil society groups have issued a joint statement, warning Canadians of the merger’s dire implications, encouraging them to speak out.

Clearly Canadians are responding to this and don’t want this merger to go through. The question that you have to ask if the Canadian Government is listening.

Ransomware Attack Forces Major US Pipeline Company To Halt Operations

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 8, 2021 by itnerd

If you needed proof that ransomware is extremely dangerous and can have far reaching effects, here’s a example. Colonial Pipeline which accounts for 45% of the US East Coast’s fuel supply has had to halt their operations because of a ransomware attack. In a statement, Colonial Pipeline said:

On May 7, the Colonial Pipeline Company learned it was the victim of a cybersecurity attack. In response, we proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat, which has temporarily halted all pipeline operations, and affected some of our IT systems. Upon learning of the issue, a leading, third-party cybersecurity firm was engaged, and they have already launched an investigation into the nature and scope of this incident, which is ongoing. We have contacted law enforcement and other federal agencies. 

Colonial Pipeline is taking steps to understand and resolve this issue. At this time, our primary focus is the safe and efficient restoration of our service and our efforts to return to normal operation. This process is already underway, and we are working diligently to address this matter and to minimize disruption to our customers and those who rely on Colonial Pipeline.

The word on the street is that this is a ransomware attack.

This is a big deal. Colonial Pipeline delivers refined petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, home heating oil and fuel for the U.S. Military. So this is far from trivial as it is likely the price for gas and the like is about to skyrocket. And it illustrates that everybody, and I do mean everybody needs to up their game when it comes to defending themselves from this sort of attack.

Reviewer VS. Influencer…. What’s The Difference?

Posted in Commentary on May 8, 2021 by itnerd

I’ve been doing this blog for years now. And I do a lot of product reviews. But a recent conversation with a colleague was a genesis for this article. In short, we were having a conversation about the differences between a reviewer and an influencer. I consider myself the former, but the real question was, what’s the difference between the two?

Let’s start with the influencer. An influencer works with brands to tell a story about a product or service from the brand’s perspective. It’s typically all positive with little to no negatives mentioned. If you’ve seen a celebrity talk about a product or service on TV and claim that because they like the product or service in question that you’ll love it, and they avoid talking about any negatives, then you’ve seen an influencer in action. The thing about influencers is that you won’t get an objective opinion from an influencer. So if you are looking to buy a product and you want an objective opinion, you won’t find it with an influencer.

A reviewer on the other hand speaks to the positives and negatives of a product or service. Which makes what they say a lot more objective and useful to someone who wants details about a product or service. A reviewer may work with a brand in terms of getting products, but the brand doesn’t have editorial control over what a reviewer says.

So as I mentioned earlier, I consider myself to be a reviewer. Here’s why. If you see anything on my blog that starts with the word “Review” in the title, then what you are reading are my thoughts about the product. Brands do not get a say in what I write. And they have to be fine with that if they want to work with me. Now I do get stuff from some brands either on loan or for free. But I also purchase products products as well. The bottom line is that I like to think that I am as objective as possible. And I won’t trash a product needlessly. Now that doesn’t mean that influencers are bad people. Because they are not. But if you’re looking for the best possible information on a product or service, you should be seeking out reviews whenever possible.

So do you agree or disagree with what I have written? I welcome your feedback and I encourage you to leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Google Adds YouTube TV Channel To Main App To Get Around Roku Related Dispute… Get Ready For Vengeance From Roku

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 7, 2021 by itnerd

You might remember that Google and Roku were in a dispute over the YouTube TV channel that Roku has characterized as an anti-trust dispute. Then Roku pulled the YouTube TV app from Roku’s their store. To get around this, it appears that Google has added a new “Go to YouTube TV” option within the primary YouTube app on Roku which remains available to download on the streaming platform. In short, Google has put the YouTube TV channel into the YouTube channel. And by extension, they’ve now basically dared Roku to pull the main YouTube channel. The Verge has additional details:

In essence, Google has basically stuffed the YouTube TV app into YouTube itself, a solution that seems unlikely to make Roku very happy. Google says it’s “still working to come to an agreement with Roku to ensure continued access to YouTube TV for our mutual customers,” and it notes the YouTube TV app remains usable for those who already have it installed.

But in the event that things totally fall apart, Google says it’s “in discussions with other partners to secure free streaming devices in case YouTube TV members face any access issues on Roku.” A Google spokesperson told The Verge that this workaround is only for consumption of YouTube TV; customers cannot sign up for new subscriptions through the YouTube app at this time.

Roku had this to say:

Google’s actions are the clear conduct of an unchecked monopolist bent on crushing fair competition and harming consumer choice. The bundling announcement by YouTube highlights the kind of predatory business practices used by Google that Congress, Attorney Generals and regulatory bodies around the world are investigating. Roku has not asked for one additional dollar in financial value from YouTubeTV. We have simply asked Google to stop their anticompetitive behavior of manipulating user search results to their unique financial benefit and to stop demanding access to sensitive data that no other partner on our platform receives today. In response, Google has continued its practice of blatantly leveraging its YouTube monopoly to force an independent company into an agreement that is both bad for consumers and bad for fair competition.

It now seems that this dispute has gone nuclear. And I’ll be watching for the mushroom clouds.

Your Event Guide To The Rainbow Six Invitational – 2021

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 7, 2021 by itnerd

The Six Invitational is finally right around the corner! Taking place in Paris, France, from May 11th to 23rd. watch your favourite Rainbow Six Siege Pro’s battle it out for the top prize of $1 million dollars and the title of Six Invitational Champions.

You can access the full guide to the Six Invitational HERE and see below for a visual of participating teams and the first group stage!

Six Invitational Participating Teams:

Group Stage (May 11 – 16):

Analytics Suggest 96% Of U.S. Based iOS Users Leave App Tracking Disabled in iOS 14.5

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 7, 2021 by itnerd

Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature has been available to iPhone users for a couple of weeks now. And early metrics suggest that an overwhelming 96% of users in the U.S. leave app tracking disabled. In other words, 96% of iPhone users do not want to be tracked at all. This comes from analytics firm Flurry who looked at 2.5 million users in the U.S.

In short, only 4% of users opted into app tracking in the U.S. When looking at users worldwide who allow app tracking, the figure rises to 12% of users in a 5.3 million user sample size. Flurry’s figures also show a stable rate of app-tracking opt-outs. The U.S. figure hovers between 11-13%, and 2-5% worldwide.

Flurry themselves point out what is at stake here:

With opt-in rates expected to be low, this change is expected to create challenges for personalized advertising and attribution, impacting the $189 billion mobile advertising industry worldwide. 

In other words, if you’re Facebook, and your revenue model relies on being able to track users all over the Internet, you have a serious problem. And it highlights that users on the iOS platform overwhelmingly value their privacy above all else.

If you want to learn more about App Tracking Transparency and how you can disable it or enable it on an app by app basis, I wrote an article about it here.

Procore Acquires Construction Artificial Intelligence Company, INDUS.AI

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 6, 2021 by itnerd

Procore Technologies, Inc., a leading provider of construction management software, today announced it has acquired INDUS.AI, makers of an artificial intelligence-powered analytics platform for the construction industry. This acquisition adds computer vision capabilities to the Procore platform, helping owners, general contractors, and specialty contractors realize greater efficiencies, safety, and profitability. Terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.   

The construction industry is undergoing a digital transformation. While this transformation is producing mountains of previously inaccessible data, up to 96 per cent of construction data goes unused. INDUS.AI’s AI engine learns from project management platforms, cameras, sensors, drawings, building information models, schedules, and more — and creates observations, recommendations, and alerts that help project teams make data-driven decisions. INDUS.AI’s solutions are used to track and review construction progress, ensure safety and compliance, gain real-time project visibility, view labor deployment, minimize equipment idle time, and resolve claim disputes. 

Every day, INDUS.AI monitors over 100 million square feet of construction sites with its AI engine detecting anomalies and progress. It has been trained with millions of images and videos specific to construction, and is able to identify more than 70 metadata labels per image. The INDUS.AI acquisition builds on Procore’s acquisition of Avata Intelligence in 2020, which brought world-class AI talent to Procore and is delivering smart automation solutions and predictive insights to Procore customers. Procore plans to integrate INDUS.AI’s capabilities into the Procore platform. In the interim, INDUS AI’s solutions will not be commercially available to new customers. 

Procore is a leading provider of construction management software. Over 1 million projects and more than $1 trillion USD in construction volume have run on Procore’s platform. Our platform connects every project stakeholder to solutions we’ve built specifically for the construction industry—for the owner, the general contractor, and the specialty contractor. Procore’s Marketplace has a multitude of partner solutions that integrate seamlessly with our platform, giving construction professionals the freedom to connect with what works best for them. Headquartered in Carpinteria, California, Procore has offices in Canada and around the globe. Learn more at Procore.com.

INDUS.AI’s construction intelligence solution enables real estate investors, owners, developers, and general contractors to have real-time visibility and actionable insights into all activities, productivity, and risks at their construction sites. A Procore App Marketplace partner since 2018, INDUS.AI seeks to make construction sites and projects safer, more efficient and completely transparent. Learn more at www.indus.ai

TELUS Investing $54 Billion In Infrastructure & Operations Through 2024

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 6, 2021 by itnerd

TELUS announced today it is investing an additional $54 billion in infrastructure and operations across the country through 2024 to further support Canadians through the Covid-19 pandemic and the country’s economic recovery. These investments will create important and tangible social outcomes for Canadians by enabling us all to work, learn, access healthcare, and socialize from home during these unprecedented times. To help us achieve these remarkable outcomes, TELUS will expand their next-generation 5G network to an additional 529 new urban and rural communities by the end of the year and bring our gigabit PureFibre Internet network to more than one million additional homes and businesses, exceeding a total of 3.5 million Canadian premises by the end of 2021. Together, our expanded and enhanced wireless and wireline technologies will enable improved health and educational outcomes for Canadians, support environmental sustainability, foster entrepreneurship, unleash human productivity, bridge the socio-economic divide, and drive economic growth, which is crucial to Canada’s fiscal recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to the 38,000 job opportunities TELUS will create for Canadians in the next four years across their vast partner ecosystem, the deployment of 5G will create 250,000 jobs and contribute $150 billion to Canada’s economy over the next 20 years.

By the end of the year, TELUS’ 5G network will cover 70% of the Canadian population utilizing their current spectrum holdings. Below is the breakdown of new communities being upgraded to 5G by province:

  • British Columbia: 187 communities
  • Quebec: 161 communities
  • Alberta: 136 communities
  • Manitoba: 12 communities
  • Ontario: 24 communities

See TELUS’ current coverage map here.

In addition to unleashing human productivity and supporting Canada’s economic recovery, TELUS’ networks will further bridge digital divides and socio-economic inequality by ensuring that safe and quality healthcare is accessible for all Canadians through the use of TELUS Health’s digital solutions. In the near future, 5G will improve health experiences for Canadians with faster, more secure connections for video health consultations and remote health monitoring. Eventually, remote surgeries will be made possible as innovation is enabled by their robust networks. 

To support students, faculty, and researchers working to advance the technologies of tomorrow, TELUS is partnering with the University of Windsor and St. Clair College in Ontario to make each institution a 5G Connected Campus. Fully funded by TELUS, each institution will receive a TELUS-designed, 5G-enabled wireless network. TELUS will operate these networks at no cost to the institutions, provide complementary connectivity to students, faculty, and researchers, and collaborate on research projects to further understanding and use cases of 5G technologies. These partnerships will bring some of the most cutting-edge telecommunications technology available to students that will advance higher education and science, and unlock new ways for technology to improve Canadians’ lives.

These investments build upon TELUS’ continued commitment to bring world-leading connectivity to communities across the country, providing the technological backbone for our economic recovery and strength well into the future. Since 2000, TELUS has invested nearly $240 billion nationally in network infrastructure, operations, and spectrum to enhance the coverage, speed, and reliability of their networks. 

Hit Game, My Time At Portia, Is Coming Soon To Mobile

Posted in Commentary on May 6, 2021 by itnerd

After selling over two million copies worldwide on PC and console, Pathea Games and Pixmain today announced the hit game, My Time at Portia, is coming to mobile. Fans of the original will now be able to explore and craft their way through the Town of Portia in a seamless mobile experience for iOS and Android devices.

My Time at Portia became a blockbuster title through its PC launch in 2019. Receiving praises from players and reviewers globally, the Town of Portia has since become the top destination for farming and crafting. Once stepping upon the land of Portia, one will be tasked with restoring a neglected workshop and fulfilling the destiny of becoming the number one builder in town! Besides setting up shop and fulfilling workshop commissions, one will also experience other aspects of farm life such as exploring beautiful landscapes and ruins, taking down monsters through combat, and charming one’s way through new friendships that could turn into more!

All the ingredients that made the success of the original release and what players came to love will be present in the mobile launch! Portia’s post-apocalyptic farming and town life sceneries, 3D crafting and farming, relationship systems will all become available on mobile. The mobile version benefits from a few necessary and welcome upgrades, such as full touchscreen, UI redesign and new manual and auto-save functions to ensure a smooth portable gaming experience.

My Time at Portia mobile will be released on iOS and Android this summer. 

To keep up to date with the mobile release of My Time at Portia please visit them on Facebook and Discord.