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Tech News: Can Apple Convince Customers to Buy iWatch?


Plus, apps help people find a date on Valentine's Day, and a professor creates an algorithm to write niche books.

This column brings you the most interesting and useful business and financial commentary on technology from around the Web every day.
"With the new dating apps, users simply flip through photos of people in nearby locations and express their interest in dating someone. If there's a mutual attraction, the app connects them for a conversation. If not, their feelings remain anonymous.

"Makers of the Tinder app, which is available worldwide for iPhone, said it has matched more than 10 million couples since it was launched in September.

"The app pulls in member photos of people from Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), and then it's as simple as anonymously indicating interest in that person. If both people like each other, messages can be sent between the two users.

"Rad said most users are between 18 and 30 years old.

"Let's Date, which was released across the United States last week for the iPhone, is a similar app. But rather than simply focusing on the photo, the app provides the person's interests from Facebook for a broader view of the potential date."

HuffPost Tech
Link: Philip Parker's Trick for Authoring Over 1 Million Books: Don't Write

"INSEAD marketing professor Philip Parker has, by his estimation, authored over 1 million books. His name is on their covers, but he hasn't actually written them all -- that chore falls to a machine. Parker has developed a small arsenal of algorithms capable of automatically generating textbooks, crossword puzzles, poems and books on topics ranging from bookbinding to cataracts.

"The software isn't intended to replace Shakespeare or Updike (though a fiction-writing algorithm is in development). Rather, Parker hopes to generate written materials on niche topics and in rare languages that would be economically unfeasible for traditional publishers to produce. His titles on (NASDAQ:AMZN), more than 100,000 in all, range from economic reports ('The 2007-2012 World Outlook for Luggage and Utility Racks,' priced at $795) to Unami-to-English crossword puzzles to medical guides ('The Official Patient's Sourcebook on Vocal Cord Paralysis.')

"Parker started by generating market reports sold to banks, consulting firms and government trade agencies interested in the sales outlook for, say, rubber or corrugated cardboard. Now, he hopes to use the algorithms to help with language learning and education in developing countries. Thanks to Parker's automated radio broadcasts, people in parts of Malawi are hearing weather forecasts in the local language for the first time -- and are already changing their farming patterns as a result."

"Iranian state television reports that the country's military has not only successfully decrypted surveillance video from the Scan Eagle drone "captured" last December but have reverse engineered the avionics and are now rolling out a domestically-produced version of its own.

"According to Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy, the IRGC Naval and Aerospace Division has already deployed the home-brew models.

"His comments regarding the production start up reportedly came on December 17, less than two weeks after the drone was supposedly captured of the Iranian coast on December 4. Even with the Scan Eagle's primarily off-the-shelf construction, such a rapid turn-around from discovery to replication seems abrupt at best. Let's just hope they are more air-worthy than that 'stealth fighter' the IRGC debuted last week."

"VMware (NYSE:VMW) has released a patch for a security vulnerability in its ESX, Workstation, Fusion and View virtualisation software.
The patch fixes a flaw that could be exploited to escalate a user's privileges on a host or guest machine running Windows. Privilege escalation exploits make it possible for an application or user to perform actions within a system they would not normally have permission to carry out.

"The release addresses a vulnerability in the handling of control code in vmci.sys. The flaw allows a malicious local user to use the Virtual Machine Communication Interface code to manipulate memory allocation."

"More information on the vulnerability and the patch is available in VMware's security advisory."

"Is it possible that Foxconn could be forcing Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) hand, as it were, into the smartwatch market? I know, this sounds like a plot right out of Netflix's new House of Cards, where Kevin Spacey's loyal Majority Whip, Frank Underwood, goes from servant to master through his intricate knowledge of getting things done in DC. Strange as this may sound, such intrigue may be the way the putative iWatch gets done. Consumers are not exactly clamoring for the thing. Could the prospect of this wearable device technology falling into the hands of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) or Samsung (PINK:SSNLF) (for instance) prompt Apple to expedite its own product development? Or, to put it another way, could the component supplier play its customers off against each other to make new product lines inevitable?
"The question that most interests me, though, is what is the minimum viable product that could constitute an Apple smartwatch? I'm not talking about how the aluminum bezel would be chamfered, or other Jony Ive fetishisms. I'm not even talking about the rumored inclusion of Corning bendable Willow glass that would make it more than a Nano with a strap. I mean what is the compelling idea for why I have to have one?"

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