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Earnings roundup

Microsoft succeeds... and stagnates. The tech company beat fiscal first-quarter earnings and revenue but issued lower quarterly revenue guidance, resulting in minimal stock movement, CNBC reports.

Microsoft beats on revenue and earnings; stock is little changed

Microsoft continues to roll on, but investors will likely start to worry if the growth in Azure, a large part of its cloud business, continues to contract. Other interesting facts: LinkedIn is apparently growing, as are Windows licenses for other computer makers. Revenue for Microsoft's own Surface products

Microsoft continues to roll on, but investors will likely start to worry if the growth in Azure, a large part of its cloud business, continues to contract. Other interesting facts: LinkedIn is apparently growing, as are Windows licenses for other computer makers. Revenue for Microsoft's own Surface products, however, contracted in the quarter. Perhaps everyone knew new products were on the way.

Zuckerberg's battle with trust

Billionaire Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t understand the unbanked. Not everyone is the eighth-richest person in the world. How are you supposed to use Libra if you can't afford a phone?

Billionaire Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t realize other people don’t have money

What US lawmakers continually fail to see is that Facebook is a global company, just based in the US. I actually completely disagree with this article’s author and the senators quoted from the hearing. While it does seems that Zuckerberg is out of touch with the plight of the American poor, I would argue

What US lawmakers continually fail to see is that Facebook is a global company, just based in the US. I actually completely disagree with this article’s author and the senators quoted from the hearing. While it does seems that Zuckerberg is out of touch with the plight of the American poor, I would argue that his Libra solution is very well suited for poor people in developing countries across the world. “Can’t afford a mobile phone” is the lamest argument I’ve ever heard. In the US there are programs at the state and federal level to provide assistance to people who can’t afford a mobile phone. And across the world, where mobile phones leapfrogged landlines and traditional banking, people own mobiles (some “smart” some traditional) and use them to pay for everything in their daily life, completely digitally. Some people in parts of Asia and Africa have consistent access to cell phones and cell service before having access to air conditioning or clean water. The blank stares in that room are because Libra is a tool for the larger world and the common problems out there, not just what goes on in the confines of the USA

"There's underbanking because people are broke," said Rep. Pressley, a Massachusetts Democrat. "I fail to see how [Libra] helps people with virtually no money. You are attempting to use technology to solve what is inherently an issue of wealth."

The fact that Zuckerberg used people’s trust in sharing their content with Facebook as a foundational reason to trust its currency is lunacy. I guess he’s been too busy isolating himself on his private island to remember the last three years of public conversation. It’s almost hilarious.

Google’s quantum leap

Google achieves "quantum supremacy." After publishing—and swiftly deleting—a paper claiming to have built a machine that could do 10,000 years of supercomputations in mere seconds, CEO Sundar Pichai finally talked to MIT Technology Review about his company's latest breakthrough.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai on achieving quantum supremacy

While this is indeed a milestone (even with a little help by means of sticking to a very narrow task), it's not really relevant for the average person. It just proves in practice something computer scientists expected in theory. That we can prove it now (like what happened with many of Einstein's hypothesis

While this is indeed a milestone (even with a little help by means of sticking to a very narrow task), it's not really relevant for the average person. It just proves in practice something computer scientists expected in theory. That we can prove it now (like what happened with many of Einstein's hypothesis) is a great milestone but not very functional.

On the bright side, the milestone puts pressure on the competition, which will have to accelerate their investments.

Whether or not quantum computing will ever be something that mere humans would need on a daily basis the idea of data analysis on the scale of populations by companies would seem a valuable skill. What will Google ir any social media do if the public decides to protect their data and switch to free access

Whether or not quantum computing will ever be something that mere humans would need on a daily basis the idea of data analysis on the scale of populations by companies would seem a valuable skill. What will Google ir any social media do if the public decides to protect their data and switch to free access systems paid for by advertising.

Putting real women on pedestals

Exceptional humans

Hearing aids are due for an upgrade. New research into the brain's sound mixing capabilities could radically improve how hearing aids work.

A new look at how the brain processes sound could radically improve hearing aids

Different from hearing aids but related: We actually have the technology to address these hearing issues in cochlear implants.

I'm a cochlear implant user (Cochlear, if you're familiar with implant processor companies) and we have features to help us better hear in loud or busy situations mentioned

Different from hearing aids but related: We actually have the technology to address these hearing issues in cochlear implants.

I'm a cochlear implant user (Cochlear, if you're familiar with implant processor companies) and we have features to help us better hear in loud or busy situations mentioned in the article, like the "cocktail party."

We have "Beam," for my implant microphone to specifically focus on one speaker and where my processor lowers the sound of distracting background noise, best for a one-on-one conversation at a crowded restaurant. And we have "Scan," where I can open my implant microphone's focus to hone into about 1-3 people I'm facing, for casual conversations with friends in a loud setting and where multiple people are talking (sort of an "expansion" of the "Beam" setting).

There are other features I haven't mentioned——My audiologist and I can place these settings on certain "programs" (I have four of them on my current processor) and I can toggle between them anytime I'd like. I use the features here and there when they may come in handy.

I had no idea loss of hearing can increase incidence of cognitive decline, like dementia. I also never realized that scientists still do not understand quite how the brain chooses which voice to concentrate on and listen to in chaotic or layered auditory environments (bar, sporting event or cocktail

I had no idea loss of hearing can increase incidence of cognitive decline, like dementia. I also never realized that scientists still do not understand quite how the brain chooses which voice to concentrate on and listen to in chaotic or layered auditory environments (bar, sporting event or cocktail party). I take a lot of my day for granted.

Marking 30 years of the web

The Steve Jobs speech that made Silicon Valley obsessed with pirates. In the early 1980s, Steve Jobs delivered a speech to Apple employees that included a metaphor about pirates. Since then, startups and tech companies have embraced the tale, while simultaneously misinterpreting it.

The Steve Jobs speech that made Silicon Valley obsessed with pirates

It's a tale as old as time: scrappy, innovative outsider becomes the establishment, and the ethos that helped make them that way becomes warped by copycats. The phrase is a perfect microcosm for the tech industry as a whole.

Great article. There is an investor-fueled myth that being a “pirate” is required. Surely, no one gets to define new categories without challenging the status quo. But pirates will be more effective if they can scale like the navy... that’s where the big returns come from.

I’ve had the opportunity

Great article. There is an investor-fueled myth that being a “pirate” is required. Surely, no one gets to define new categories without challenging the status quo. But pirates will be more effective if they can scale like the navy... that’s where the big returns come from.

I’ve had the opportunity to advise some startups and have seen the gamut of overly ambitious with no execution to the opposite end of purely tactical with no bigger ambition. Neither extreme is the place to be over the long term.

But from a cultural perspective, I agree, perhaps new symbols are needed to enable a culture that challenges rules while respectful of individuals...

Jobs was being literal about pirates. According to Wikipedia Jobs misled Atari, lied to Wozniak so he could rip him off and broke laws selling blue boxes to phone phreaks.

Lying stealing greed and a willingness to break the law sounds like a pirate.

Don't understand the confusion.

Technology has opened different doors that make this happen. Remember Napster? It opened the door to music subscriptions and looking at music distribution in a different way, while breaking nearly all the rules in the industry.

To me, Jobs understood the Sillicon Valley ethos long before it became

Technology has opened different doors that make this happen. Remember Napster? It opened the door to music subscriptions and looking at music distribution in a different way, while breaking nearly all the rules in the industry.

To me, Jobs understood the Sillicon Valley ethos long before it became mainstream. He was one of the original pirates, before it became cool to want to break the way things have worked. I suppose there’s an allure to the notion of being iconoclastic, and Jobs inspired that within Apple’s walls.

White House under pressure

US tech grows globally

Snapchat is finding new life outside the US. Parent company Snap posted its third-quarter earnings report this week, which revealed that it added 7 million new daily active users. The bulk of the new users, 5 million of them, are from new, burgeoning markets.

Snapchat is finding new life outside the US

Netflix’s quarterly report showed that the bulk of their growth Q3 was also outside of the US. Aside from the day-to-day business struggles of a giant silicon-valley funded company, US consumers need to take note that they may be playing second fiddle before long when it comes to their favorite brands and Apps

Positive signs for Snap, but I still think it’s going to be a massive test for them to compete for ad revenue against Instagram and now TikTok. It’s great that they’re experimenting and finding new users outside of the US, but without new revenue streams, I can’t see how they get to profitability anytime

Positive signs for Snap, but I still think it’s going to be a massive test for them to compete for ad revenue against Instagram and now TikTok. It’s great that they’re experimenting and finding new users outside of the US, but without new revenue streams, I can’t see how they get to profitability anytime soon. Hope I’m proven wrong though, as they’re one of the few social sites constantly taking risks and trying new things.

India's coal addiction

What makes coal so dirty? It’s a crucial question, given that without cutting its use drastically, the world won’t hit its greenhouse gas emissions targets. Quartz reporter Akshat explains the trouble with the sedimentary rock, which India uses for 55% of its energy. ✦

The science of what makes coal so dirty

Coal's many sins shouldn't be used to forget the value it has offered to humanity. Coal powered the industrial revolution and it continues to pull people out of poverty in much of the world. During the 17th and 18th centuries, coal helped create the carbon-based branch of chemistry we call "organic chemistry,

Coal's many sins shouldn't be used to forget the value it has offered to humanity. Coal powered the industrial revolution and it continues to pull people out of poverty in much of the world. During the 17th and 18th centuries, coal helped create the carbon-based branch of chemistry we call "organic chemistry," which I studied to gain my PhD from the University of Oxford. Organic chemists have won one in five of all Nobel Prizes in chemistry awarded over the last 120 years.

Coal is typically just carbon when taught in chemistry class. I had no idea that in reality, it contains so many other elements (mercury, cadmium, etc). The coal scientist Akshat quotes sums it up nicely: “coal is the most complex solid we’ve ever found and analyzed”.

Quartz at Work

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Paper money is the state of the art technology for anonymity

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From Our Members

  • Really super annotation of Square’s earnings report. It’s shares are up 80% this year so the details are closely scrutinized by shortsellers and others in the industry. One thing that stood out for me is the need to introduce payment terminals, as sellers don’t always want to use their personal devices with the Square dongle.

  • Looking for data anonymity? Try cash.

    Here’s the problem though, we’ve all seen the movies with suitcases of cash being used for large transactions—a bit unwieldy though, no?

    There’s only so many hundreds you can fit in a carry on. It’s not very convenient.

    But how you’re going to make your illicit

    Looking for data anonymity? Try cash.

    Here’s the problem though, we’ve all seen the movies with suitcases of cash being used for large transactions—a bit unwieldy though, no?

    There’s only so many hundreds you can fit in a carry on. It’s not very convenient.

    But how you’re going to make your illicit purchases aside, the biggest hurdle is the inability to shop online with cash. If you want to pay with anonymity, you better be able to walk to the store. And for many Americans, that’s just not how we do things anymore.

  • This research made me a little more optimistic about things like bitcoin. Crypto is clunky, volatile, and expensive. But it can provide payment privacy in a time when that privacy is going away. Maybe that will be limited to a niche usage for rebels and activists and will never make it into the mainstream

    This research made me a little more optimistic about things like bitcoin. Crypto is clunky, volatile, and expensive. But it can provide payment privacy in a time when that privacy is going away. Maybe that will be limited to a niche usage for rebels and activists and will never make it into the mainstream. But that still seems like a pretty big success?

  • A terrorist or money launderer’s currency of choice is not cryptocurrency: it’s actually the U.S. Dollar.

    The future is cashless.

  • Important reminders.

    “There is no such thing as technology that is strictly for good,” said Max Levchin, a PayPal co-founder and CEO of online lender Affirm. While the rise of digital payments has been overwhelmingly positive for society, he said there is always a flip side to such a major shift.

    One

    Important reminders.

    “There is no such thing as technology that is strictly for good,” said Max Levchin, a PayPal co-founder and CEO of online lender Affirm. While the rise of digital payments has been overwhelmingly positive for society, he said there is always a flip side to such a major shift.

    One person’s data doesn’t matter all that much. But on a national scale, it showed how an immense cache of such information could be powerfully able to influence society.”

  • I hadn't thought of the anonymity factor but for a lot of things cash is possible & preferred for other things I like digital. I find using cash makes it easier to monitor/control my spending.

  • I love the movie “Project Gutenberg” which speaks well to this, although in a sensationalized form. I don’t think cash will ever go away, but it will become a more rare and secure method of transaction over time as the economy continues to move to being digital.

  • Does papier money represent liberty ?