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Tech, Obsessions, and Thoughts from the Dome: Issue #1

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Welcome to my new newsletter where I fill you in on the tech that matters, where I’ve been clicking,
 

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March 1 · Issue #1 · View online
Tech stories that matter, Gadget Quests, nerd pursuits, and other things you ought to know.

Welcome to my new newsletter where I fill you in on the tech that matters, where I’ve been clicking, and random stuff I love or hate. [All subject to change]

Clicking
Elon Musk may fear it, but I love AI and especially the power of Machine Learning. This deep dive on a months-long contest to create a natural, 20-minute conversation between a human and Amazon Alexa is fascinating. The varying approaches between full-on-ML and ML/hand-crafted response options led to some disappointments and real breakthrough. Read this to learn how your Alexa conversations may be changing in the not-too-distant future.
Alexa Prize: Amazon's Battle to Bring Conversational AI Into Your Home | WIRED
Have you heard of Vero? It’s the latest in a long-line of “We really understand what you want from Social,” social media platforms. Like Path before it (remember Path?!), Vero is less concerned with helping users build followings than connecting with their IRL circle of friends, contacts, co-workers. I’ve been on it for a few days (yes, you can find me under my name). It does provide some of the smoothest controls for managing how broadly you share. For now, Vero sits among the Top 10 Free Apps in the App Store, but it remains to be seen if it can scale enough to challenge Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter. Get the lowdown on Vero here.
Vero app: What to know about the small but growing Facebook challenger
I’m not a fan of change for the sake of change, which is why I appreciate what Samsung’s done with the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+. These new 5.8- and 6.2-inch slab Android phones look a lot like the Galaxy S8 and S8+. Those were excellent handsets, so this is okay. The good news, though, is that Samsung did make a handful of crucial changes that take the whole Galaxy S experience up a notch (without The Notch). Check out my first impressions and stay tuned for a deeper dive.
Samsung Galaxy S9: A familiar first look – Lance Ulanoff – Medium
Time is running out for Net Neutrality. The rules that protect the unfettered flow of data and information on the Internet is set to end on April 23 and the only thing that could stop FCC Chair Ajit Pai’s plan (which he, oddly, seems to think happened last year), is a majority Senate vote. In the meantime, here’s something to help you get up-to-speed on what’s at stake.
Net neutrality rules will officially end on April 23 - Feb. 22, 2018
Random iPhone Tip
iPhone 3D Touch Text Tip - YouTube
Gripe of the Week
Perhaps you’ve seen them, those “Congratulations Amazon User” pop-ups on mobile sites. First you get the old-school pop-up window over the content you want to read and then you get shuttled to a fake Amazon page promising you free gift cards.
Amazon is not sending me or anyone else this stuff. In fact, it would be damn-near impossible for the average Internet user to track down the dastardly dudes doing this.
I have, more than once, called on Amazon to do something about these spammy pop-ups. I know, it’s not Amazon, but since someone is using their brand to fool consumers, you would think they’d want to stop it. And if anyone has the technology and reach to do it, it’s Amazon (another option might be Google, but then why would they want to help Amazon?). 
What do you think? Is this an annoyance we should just learn to live with? Am I wrong to call out Bezos and Amazon for seemingly doing nothing? What can and should be done? I’m all ears. Also, where’s my gift card? 😉
Coming Up
I recently made the big switch from Verizon FiOS to Altice (formerly Cablevision)! How did it go? Watch my Medium for all the details.
Next week is the huge SXSW conference in Austin, Texas (March 9-18). I will be there, in the heart of weirdness, working with my friends at Capitol One. They set up a house on 5th St. (Antone’s) and I’ll be hosting a pair of panels, running some live streams and eating all their free food. If you’re in town, drop by, say hi, and stay for a panel or two
A Look Inside the Capital One House | SXSW Conference & Festivals
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