TechSummit Rewind 096

This is the TechSummit Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology headlines.

Facebook updates code to nullify AdBlock Plus workaround attempt


Adblock Plus’ latest workaround to Facebook’s ad block bypass has been nullified after Facebook updated its code.

According to Facebook, the workaround ham-handedly removed posts from friends and Pages along with ads.

“We’re disappointed that ad blocking companies are punishing people on Facebook as these new attempts don’t just block ads but also posts from friends and Pages. This isn’t a good experience for people and we plan to address the issue. Ad blockers are a blunt instrument, which is why we’ve instead focused on building tools like ad preferences to put control in people’s hands.”

-Facebook, in a statement

“Anger or blame toward ad blockers is misdirected; we merely enforce ‘the will of the people’ (via the open-sourced filter lists) … it’s disheartening that a company like Facebook would abuse everyone’s experience of their site by forcing their experience into a one-size-fits-all, see-the-ads-or-else tube. The internet just doesn’t work that way. At least it shouldn’t.

“In the meantime, we’ll do what we can to keep users in control in the apparently endless loop.”

-AdBlock Plus, in a blog post

Simplenote goes open source on all platforms


Automattic, Simplenote’s parent company, has made the app available as open source software across iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, and Linux.

You can grab Simplenote’s source code from Automattic’s GitHub page.

Microsoft acquires Beam


Microsoft has acquired Beam, a Seattle-based interactive game streaming service that lets viewers interact with streamers through crowdsourced controls as they watch.

Players interacting through Beam can direct the play of the person streaming, through things like setting which weapon loadout they take into a multiplayer shooter, for example. Visual controls let viewers help players pick quests, and assign challenges that can significantly alter gameplay from a typical play through.

Beam will join Microsoft’s Xbox team, according to Microsoft, and “remains committed to its mission to importing users and streamers across platforms.”

“I’m really excited about Xbox’s focus on community. Beam is fundamentally built on a connected group of passionate individuals that love gaming, and Xbox is super in tune with that.

“Right now, it’s business as usual! We just launched three brand new interactive integrations and we’ll continue to focus on making the Beam platform an awesome place for gaming communities that want to interact with their audience.”

-Matt Salsamendi, Beam founder & CEO

Hewlett Packard Enterprise buys SGI for $275M

Hewlett Packard Enterprise installs new signage on the exterior of its Palo Alto, CA headquarters. CREDIT: Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Hewlett Packard Enterprise signage on the exterior of its Palo Alto, CA headquarters. CREDIT: Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has acquired SGI, a Milpitas, Calif.-based company that makes servers, storage, and software for high-performance computing, for $275 million in cash and debt.

“HPE and SGI believe that by combining complementary product portfolios and go-to-market approaches, they will be able to strengthen the leading position and financial performance of the combined business.”

-Hewlett Packard Enterprise, in a statement

Logitech Pop Home Switch simplifies smart home control

Logitech Pop Home Switch

Logitech’s Pop Home Switch is a noticeable step away from its universal remote past, with simplicity personified in a single button.

The Pop is roughly the size of your palm, and connects to a hub that plugs directly into an outlet with Bluetooth LE. The hub offers support for top smart home gadgets, like Philips Hue lights, LIFX connected bulbs, Lutron smart drapes, and August locks. Using a companion Android/iOS app, you can scan your WiFi network for compatible devices, then tie those devices to a Pop(s) for simplified control and recipe creation.

Individual Pops have a single button that can be programmed to do three things, using a press, double press, and long press to trigger an action. For example, you could program a Pop to turn on/off Phillips Hue lights, activate just a single room/group, and set it to dim the brightness for striking the right move. For more flexibility, you can add more Pops. The Starter Pack comes with two and a hub, while additional Pops can be added to the same hub.

“A phone is actually very, very personal to you. If your friends come over, or you’ve got a babysitter, the aspect of control that you’ve got set up on your phone, you can’t just give that person, since you’re not going to hand over your phone.

“You still want to be simple, you still want to be capable. And so we landed on three gestures, as something from a mental model that would be easy enough that a user would know those gestures.”

-Neil Raggio, Logitech senior director of home control

The Pop comes in four different colors to help people keeps track of what controls what.

Both the Pop Home Switch Starter Pack and Pop standalone add-on units are set to go on sale in the U.S. this month. The starter pack retails for $99.99, with additional Pops setting you back $39.99 each.

Microsoft Flow comes to Android

Microsoft Flow

Workflow management tool Microsoft Flow has come to Android. The app lets you mash up two or more services to create workflows – getting a text when you receive an important email, copying images from Instagram to Dropbox, and saving a Twitter search to an Excel file among other things.

Microsoft Flow significantly focuses on integrations within the Microsoft family, including Office 365, Dynamics CRM, PowerApps, and Yammer.

On mobile, the app is used to monitor/manage the workflows you’ve previously set up on the web. To use Flow on Android, you’ll sign in with your work/school account, then you can view your workflows, enable/disable them from running configure alerts, check out the workflow history, and more.

The app also includes an Activity Feed where you can see all your recent Flow actions, including if there are issues with a given Flow that needs attention. You can search the Feed and filter it, or drill down to individual results.

Flow is available now in the Google Play Store.

NVIDIA earnings: Revenue of $1.43B, EPS of $0.53/share


Nvidia reported Q2 earnings of $0.53/share on $1.43 billion of revenue.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company has forecasted Q3 revenue of $1.68 billion and gross profit margins of 58 percent.

“Strong demand for our new Pascal-generation GPUs and surging interest in deep learning drove record results. Our strategy to focus on creating the future where graphics, computer vision and artificial intelligence converge is fueling growth across our specialized platforms – gaming, pro visualization, datacenter, and automotive.

“We are more excited than ever about the impact of deep learning and AI, which will touch every industry and market. We have made significant investments over the past five years to evolve our entire GPU computing stack for deep learning. Now, we are well positioned to partner with researchers and developers all over the world to democratize this powerful technology and invent its future.”

-Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia CEO

SeatGeek wants to bring tickets to every app


SeatGeek is launching SeatGeek Open, a platform that’ll let customers buy tickets in almost every app.

Through Open, an Uber customer who was riding towards a stadium, for example, could see and purchase tickets available for a game that day.

“Ticketing has long been a closed industry, and one that hasn’t been positively by the power of technology in the same way many other industries have. We believe the open ecosystem we’ve built will transform the way people access tickets, allowing fans to go to more live events and teams and artists to reach more fans.”

-Jack Groeztinger, SeatGeek co-founder

SeatGeek Open works with apps and brands to bring tickets to their platforms. The platform is focused on apps and mobile, but it’ll work online as well.

“It bucks the trend that Ticketmaster has created over [the] past 20 to 30 years of forcing inventory through their own channels exclusively. Our approach is different. How can we empower teams to sell tickets on many, many different channels?”

-Russ D’Souza, SeatGeek co-founder

CVS Pharmacy launches CVS Pay mobile payment solution


CVS Health is launching its own mobile payments solution that allows customers to pay for products, pick up prescriptions, earn ExtraCare loyalty rewards, and pay – by scanning a barcode in the CVS mobile app. The idea, according to the company, is to eliminate the number of steps it takes today to complete a checkout.

Currently, customers either have to present their physical CVS rewards card at the register, or say their name and birthday for the store associate to look up their account information. Then, they’ll have to pay.

Now, all the verifications for the prescriptions and the payment – including name, birthdate, signature, and PIN – will take place within the app.

“What we’re trying to do is provide real utility and solve real problems for customers using digital. With one scan, we’re taking away three or four extra steps that customers have lived with for a long time.

It has to be more than just payments. The value is in combining a couple of these things… and the examples in the market where that has happened here worked really well.”

-Brian Tilzer, CVS Health chief digital officer

That app also lets you do things like store additional payment cards, including Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) or Health Spending Accounts (HSAs), to split your purchases.

The app will also work at drive-up windows, where instead of handing your phone over to the CVS employee, you’ll give them a five-digit code presented on screen to process a transaction.

Information in the app is also secured through your fingerprint, through fingerprint reader systems on your device.

CVS Pay is available now in select stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, with a national rollout coming by the end of the year. It’s available in the CVS Pharmacy iOS and Android apps.


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