Without net neutrality, the Internet will never be the same

Most folks who use the Internet might not be concerned, or even know of, the issue of net neutrality, but if we don’t take it seriously, it’s the consumers that will lose out in the end.

We’re About to Lose Net Neutrality — And the Internet as We Know It

The implications of such a decision would be profound. Web and mobile companies will live or die not on the merits of their technology and design, but on the deals they can strike with AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and others. This means large phone and cable companies will be able to “shakedown” startups and established companies in every sector, requiring payment for reliable service. In fact, during the oral argument in the current case, Verizon’s lawyer said, “I’m authorized to state from my client today that but for these [FCC] rules we would be exploring those types of arrangements.”

Wait, it gets even worse. Pricing isn’t even a necessary forcing factor. Once the court voids the nondiscrimination rule, AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast will be able to deliver some sites and services more quickly and reliably than others for any reason. Whim. Envy. Ignorance. Competition. Vengeance. Whatever. Or, no reason at all.

BitTorrent Sync reaches 1 million active users, opens up API

Sync, BitTorrent’s Server-Less Dropbox Competitor, Hits 1M Active Users, Now Available As An API

With more attention being paid to privacy now that the NSA’s snooping has been made public, it might be an opportunity for a decentralized file sync platform to pounce on. With the announcement of the Sync API, the battle for your files continues.

Sync, a file synchronization service from P2P platform BitTorrent that works as a kind of server-less Dropbox, has picked up some good traction since launching earlier this year, with 1 million active users archiving and synchronizing some 30 petabytes of data on the service to-date (up from 8 petabytes in July). Now BitTorrent is hoping to turn up the volume on that usage: today it’s releasing its first Sync API, which will let developers incorporate the service into their own apps as a way for users to access and share data.

Google Helpouts brings paid real time help to you

Google Announces Live Video Tutorials Called ‘Helpouts’

YouTube already offers plenty of tutorial videos, but Helpouts takes things one step further and removes another barrier between people. As certain folks and services become more popular on the platform, it’ll be interesting to see if personalized one-on-one Helpouts will be scalable.

Google on Tuesday announced Helpouts, a new tool that connects users via live video chat with experts who can help them with questions about home improvement, cooking or even medical advice. Helpouts serves as a Google-vetted marketplace where approved companies such as Sephora, One Medical and Rosetta Stone can offer their services to interested parties in real-time over live video.

AppStorm reviews Numbers 3 for Mac

AppStorm with a detailed review of the new Numbers for Mac.

If you look at Numbers 3 from a newcomer point of view, like someone who has never used Numbers on OS X before, and/or uses its iOS version, and/or comes from more “traditional” softwares like Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice Calc, you should be happy with the release. The freeform canvas is a breeze of fresh air and an invitation to creativity. The UI is modern, uncluttered, fresh. You can get a working and professional looking document in minutes thanks to elegant and easy-to-use templates. Just focus on the data and Apple takes care of the rest.

But if you’re an experienced Numbers (power) user, you’ll be disappointed, for sure. Lots of functionalities have been removed, and it’s hard to swallow you have to rethink your workflow and maybe even rework your tables for just a fresh coat of paint and full compatibility with iCloud and the mobile version. Let’s hope this new Numbers is just a new start from a blank canvas, the foundation for great things to come that will bring back much more power and customization. Fortunately, iWork ’09 apps should still be available in a dedicated folder after the installation of the new versions, so you can get the best of both worlds.

Users have a choice not to upgrade or embrace the new app. A refresh is due and it is better for the long run.

Apple to build factory in Arizona creating 2000+ jobs

Apple announced a second Apple factory in the US, in Mesa, Arizona.

The purpose of the factory hasn’t been named specifically by Apple, though GT Advanced says it has entered “into a multi-year supply agreement with Apple Inc. to provide sapphire material.” Sapphire is used abundantly in Apple products, including the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and camera lens in the iPhone 5S. This gels nicely with the word about “components” Apple gave us.

Any chance of sapphire replacing gorilla glass in future iOS devices?

MacKenzie Bezos wrote an Amazon review of a book on Jeff Bezos and Amazon

MacKenzie Bezos wrote an Amazon review of *The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.

For example, when the author does include people whose accounts of a supportive and inspiring culture contradict his thesis, he refers to them dismissively throughout the book as robots. In an archive of the thousands of thank you messages written to Jeff over the years, a small sampling includes “I just wanted to thank you for giving my husband the opportunity to work for your company so many years ago and let you know that he always spoke kindly and enthusiastically of the distribution center, the people and you.” “Having finished my shift I thought I would send you a short email to say thank you. There is a fantastic team based here and we have super support. Our mentors are true Amazon angels providing guidance and showing great patience.” “I cried as I read the Career Choice announcement on Amazon today. What Amazon is doing to help its employees is affecting lives in the most meaningful way I can think of. It restores my faith in humanity.” It seems like unbalanced reporting to avoid including the point of view of more people like these (and to use narrative tricks to discredit those who are included), given how plentiful they are.

Bezos’s wife writes on his company’s site a review of a book about him and his company.

T-Mobile trashes the wireless business model

Businessweek reports on T-Mobile’s disruption of the wireless telecommunications business.

Legere has not been overcome by a temporary spasm of crazed generosity. His is merely the first company in the U.S. market to acknowledge reality. Wireless telecommunications in the U.S. is on its way to becoming what the industry has fought against for two decades: a commodity business, where carriers and un-carriers all look the same and prices keep going down.

Legere displayed his Jawbone bracelet and Samsung smartwatch. “People are going to have devices,” he said. “As a new connected capability comes about, customers should be able to use it. No reason they should restrict it.” By “they,” he means the carriers, the other guys, who are trying to cheat you.

Tim Cook supports workplace equality

Tim Cook writes about workplace equality on Wall Street Journal.

Long before I started work as the CEO of Apple, I became aware of a fundamental truth: People are much more willing to give of themselves when they feel that their selves are being fully recognized and embraced.

As we see it, embracing people’s individuality is a matter of basic human dignity and civil rights. It also turns out to be great for the creativity that drives our business. We’ve found that when people feel valued for who they are, they have the comfort and confidence to do the best work of their lives.

This is a stark contrast to a certain CEO or a certain president.

Overview of iCloud Keychain

Jon Brodkin gives a good overview of iCloud Keychain.

It is a very good read to understand the function, and limitations, of iCloud Keychain. However, Brodkin needs to manage his expectations. You get what you paid for.

But in almost every other way, iCloud Keychain falls short of the functionality one expects from a paid password manager.

I think this is precisely what iCloud Keychain is built for: users who don’t have a password manager or refuse to pay for one.

iCloud Keychain is indeed a useful addition to OS X and iOS, especially for people who use Safari across both operating systems. On iOS, iCloud Keychain fills the chief gap in third-party password managers—the lack of integration with Safari. For something that comes free with the operating system, that’s a nice feature. Combined with the automatic password generator (despite its non-customizability), iCloud Keychain can help people who don’t already use a password manager improve their defenses against hackers.

BlackBerry new lease of life?

The Globe and Mail reports Fairfax injecting funds instead of buying BlackBerry

Instead of proceeding with a buyout deal, Fairfax and a group of unnamed investors – which sources say includes a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund – agreed to pump $1-billion into the smartphone maker, giving it more money to work with as it tries to arrest a downward spiral in sales and market share.

A second group, led by BlackBerry co-founder Mike Lazaridis and private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, came forward with a highly conditional takeover offer during a dramatic weekend of negotiations that also resulted in the departure of Thorsten Heins, who has been BlackBerry’s chief executive officer since early 2012.

This is probably a smarter move than to buy the company and watch it fail.