PayPal to Acquire Honey



PayPal announced that it has agreed to acquire Honey Science Corporation, a rapidly-growing technology platform for shopping and rewards, for approximately $4 billion.

The acquisition supports PayPal and Honey’s shared mission to simplify and personalize shopping experiences for consumers while driving conversion and increasing consumer engagement and sales for merchants. The combination will help accelerate growth across both companies.

Honey posted on its website about the acquisition. “When we started Honey, our mission was to make money fair. What started as coupons has since grown into multiple products that work together to turn inefficiencies into time and money savings for everyone.”

PayPal was the first company to pull out of Facebook’s Libra project. At the time, PayPal said it wanted “to continue to focus on advancing our existing mission and business priories as we strive to democratize access to financial services for underserved populations.” It sounds like PayPal and Honey have matching goals.

I find this acquisition to be interesting because it appears to be consumer-focused. TechCrunch reported that Honey has a suite of money-saving tools to help people track prices, get alerts, and browse offers. It also has a rewards program. PayPal hopes to add Honey’s technology to its own product line, which would open up Honey’s tools to PayPal’s 300 million users.


Getting Enough Snooze?



It’s hard to get enough sleep in today’s busy world. You get home from work, cook dinner, help with homework, get the children to bed, tidy up, put the laundry on, do some ironing and it’s midnight before you know it. Where did the evening go?

And if that’s not bad enough, some people are making it worse by taking their mobile phones into the bedroom, as revealed by a UK survey of 2,000 people from OnePoll. The survey found that:

  • 86% of millennials reported sleeplessness from staying up too late on their phones.
  • A quarter of 35-44 year-olds experience problems followed by 17% of 45-54 year-olds and 9% of the over-55s.
  • The bedroom (38%) is second only to the living room (47%) as the most common place for adults to be using their phones
  • Londoners (51%) are the most likely to be on their phones in bed, followed by the Welsh (43%) and those in the North East (42%)

At an obvious level, smartphones represent a distraction from the business of getting to sleep but there’s more to it than just too much Facebook. Studies suggest that the blue light produced by the displays of digital devices mimics daylight, and this reduces the body’s production of melatonin, which is the hormone that makes you sleepy.

Lisa Artis, head of The Sleep Council said: “While these results are not surprising, it is eye-opening to read that taking a phone to bed is causing sleepless nights for so many. We know that blue light inhibits sleep because the short wavelength stimulates sensors in the eyes to send signals to your brain’s internal clock, tricking it into thinking it’s daytime. Blue light is beneficial in daylight hours as it boosts mood, reaction times and concentration but in the evening, the recommendation is to avoid screen time for an hour before bedtime to help increase melatonin levels.

The Sleep Council has some really good resources for getting a good night’s sleep – check out their “Seven Steps” in particular. I really need to get my bedroom tidied into a peaceful sanctuary.

If you can’t put the phone down, smartphone makers like OnePlus (who commissioned the survey) are increasingly offering both hardware and software tools to reduce the problem. The new E3 display panel on the OnePlus 7T cuts blue light by 42% and “Dark Mode” ensures low-light conditions are easier on the eyes. And if you really need to take a break from the phone, there’s “Zen Mode” which disables access to the phone. You can even set a prompt to start Zen Mode at, say 11pm for an hour, to ensure you’re not distracted when heading off to bed.

I’m feeling a little smug….even though I have a OnePlus 6T, I leave my phone downstairs when I go upstairs to bed. Still don’t get enough sleep, mind you…

Photo by Kate Stone Matheson on Unsplash.


The Mustang Mach-E #1405



The Mustang Mach-E has debuted and it will be all muscle without a muscle engine. It will have a battery instead. Hey family, nothing like a snowstorm to mess up production. All good plans went in the toilet last week when the weather went sideways. I’m back and will be in the Michigan Studio on Thursday

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Google has Acquired CloudSimple



Google announced that is has acquired CloudSimple, which Google describes as “a leading provider of secure, high performance, dedicated environments to run VMware workloads in the cloud.” CloudSimple has its headquarters in Santa Clara, California. It also has locations in Ukraine and India.

Google started a partnership with CloudSimple earlier this year. The purpose of the partnership appears to be a way for Google to “accelerate a fully integrated VMware migration solution with improved support for our customers.”

This is something for Google’s enterprise customers, and intended to help them to modernize their IT infrastructure. Perhaps that is a smart move on Google’s part, considering that the company dropped its focus on non-enterprise customers in May of this year when it announced that ad blocker extensions on Chrome would be restricted to its enterprise customers.

Through our existing partnership with CloudSimple, our customers can migrate VMware workloads from on-premises datacenters directly into Google Cloud VMware Solution by CloudSimple, while also creating new VMware workloads as needed. Their apps can run exactly the same as they have been on-premises, but with all the benefits of the cloud, like performance, elasticity, and integration with key cloud services and technologies.

In their own blog post, CloudSimple stated: “We are thrilled to join Google Cloud and its journey to establish the most modern public cloud for the enterprise.”

CNBC reported that the terms of Google’s acquisition of CloudSimple were not disclosed. It also reported that the deal follows the buys of data integration company Alooma, storage file company Elastifile, and cloud migration company Velostrata. Google also acquired Looker, but CNBC says that deal hasn’t closed yet.


Microsoft to End Cortana Services in Some Countries



Cortana’s days are numbered. Microsoft announced that Cortana services will no longer be supported after January 31, 2020. This warning could give those who were using Cortana some time to find a different digital assistant. Here is the support note from Microsoft’s UK site:

To make your personal digital assistant as helpful as possible, we’re integrating Cortana into your Microsoft 365 productivity apps. As part of this evolution, on January 31, 2020, we’re ending support for the Cortana app on Android and iOS in your market. At that point, the Cortana content you created – such as reminders and lists – will no longer function in the Cortana mobile app or Microsoft Launcher, but can still be accessed through Cortana on Windows. Also, Cortana reminders, lists, and tasks are automatically synced to the Microsoft To Do app, which you can download to your phone for free.

Microsoft continued by stating that after January 31, 2020, the Cortana mobile app on your phone will no longer be supported and there will be an updated version of Microsoft Launcher with Cortana removed.

The Verge reported that Microsoft is “planning to kill off” its Cortana app for iOS and Android users in the UK, Canada, and Australia. The Verge also reported that Microsoft confirmed that the Cortana app will disappear in the UK, Australia, Germany, Mexico, China, Spain, Canada, and India on January 31, 2020.

It appears that Cortana users in the United States will still have access to the Cortana app, but it is not certain for how much longer after the end of January. Now is a good time for Cortana users decide if they want to start using the Microsoft To Do app, or if they need to start looking for another digital assistant.


Google Upgrades Android Messages with RCS



Google announced that it will be upgrading Android Messages with RCS. This new feature has already begun rolling out to users in the United States. Those who already have Messages will be prompted to enable chat features in the coming weeks. Android users who don’t yet have it can download it in the Play Store. Google expects to have this service broadly available in the U.S. by the end of the year. Google enabled the RCS upgrade earlier this year for anyone in the UK, France, and Mexico.

To make your conversations more seamless, we’ve worked on upgrading traditional SMS text messaging with more useful chat features, powered by RCS (Rich Communication Services). When you and your friends message each other with these chat features, you can chat over Wi-Fi or mobile data, send and receive high-resolution photos and videos, and see if people have received your latest messages. Plus, you’ll get better group chats, with the ability to name groups, add and remove people to and from groups, and see if people haven’t seen the latest messages.

TechCrunch described RCS as “the next generation of SMS”. According to TechCrunch, the push for RCS is a way for Google to compete with Apple’s iMessages, (though Google’s RCS doesn’t feature end-to-end encryption). In addition, TechCrunch makes another interesting observation. Google is taking control of this rollout, and that means it will be responsible for keeping the network running.

ArsTechnica also points out that Android Messages is not end-to-end encrypted, stating that “Google or your carrier (or the NSA) could read your messages”.

The Verge reported that many Android phones use Android Messages as the default texting app, but Samsung users will need to go to the Google Play Store to download Android Messages and then switch it to their default. The Verge also noted that the big four US carriers just announced that they will offer RCS in 2020.

In my opinion, it seems like Google has gotten ahead of the big four carriers with RCS implementation – but not by very much. It sounds like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint are heading in the same direction, and could potentially be rolling that out a few months from now. The bigger concern, though, is that Android Messages is not end-to-end encrypted. That could result in privacy issues.


Amazon will Challenge the Department of Defense’s Decision about JEDI



The Department of Defense selected Microsoft over Amazon on a contract for their Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project. In short, the Department of Defense selected Microsoft’s Azure Cloud over Amazon’s AWS business. As you may have expected, Amazon is displeased by this decision.

The Washington Post (which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who is also the founder of Amazon), posted an article stating that Amazon will challenge the Pentagon’s decision on the JEDI project. From the article:

“AWS is uniquely experienced and qualified to provide the critical technology the U.S. military needs, and remains committed to supporting the DoD’s modernization efforts,” Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener said in an emailed statement. “We also believe it is critical for our country that the government and its elected leaders administer procurements objectively and in a manner that is free from political influence. Numerous aspects of the JEDI evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias – and it’s important that these matters be examined and rectified.”

Reuters reported that Amazon filed the notice that it will formerly protest the decision on JEDI. Reuters also reported that President Donald Trump has long criticized Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos. CNBC reported that the decision about which company would get the JEDI contract was postponed until Secretary of Defense Mark Esper completed a series of thorough reviews of the technology.

Personally, I think this situation could potentially turn into a long series of court cases. In the meantime, it seems to me that the Department of Defense is not going to wait for the outcome, and will continue working with Microsoft.