5 Tech Observations: 28 January 2015

Good mid-morning, I.T. entrepreneurs. Here are five technology updates, rumors, gossip, chatter and heart warming stories to keep your day humming along for Wednesday, January 28, 2015.

Actually, today's update involves 11 items.

11. Road Warrior Victory: The FCC has warned hotels and conference centers not to block personal WiFi systems. The move comes after Marriott and others had previously tried to block guest signals, essentially forcing visitors onto the hotels' own expensive WiFi networks.

10. Cyber Insurance: Worried about getting hacked? Demand for cyber insurance has skyrocketed after Home Depot, Target, Staples, Sony and other US-based networks suffered security setbacks over the past 18 months or so. Now, that demand is growing in Europe, too -- though the overall market remains at its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

9. Media King?: Dig a little deeper into Apple's record Q1 earnings results, announced yesterday, and you'll discover that the company now has about $180 billion in cash. What will Apple do with that war chest? Forget hardware and software. Some pundits are suggesting that Apple will double down on media -- music, movies and perhaps a whole lot more. In some circles, "media" has become a dirty word amid the painful shift from legacy print and analog technologies to digital alternatives. But in the After Nines Inc. world, we still rather enjoy the term and the media market...

8. Microsoft Big Data Meets Freemium: The software giant (or are they the cloud and mobile company?) has gotten really serious about Big Data. Now, the company is giving away more and more of its business intelligence tools -- including its PowerBI product. Think about the bigger picture here, folks. It looks like Microsoft is willing to give away more and more front end services (Windows 10, PowerBI, etc.) in order to hook you onto paid Office 365 and Azure cloud offerings.

7. Big Data Triple Play: After Nines Inc. (that's us) is hard at work building a second core database. The first -- our daily newsletter -- is rudimentary and continues to grow. The second, set to debut later this year, will connect you with some of the most elusive, most forward thinking technology experts in the world. A third database is waiting in the wings but we may need to dial a hotline for help with that one. The bigger picture: Making sure all of that data becomes structured and well-organized in a single master system. From there, we'll release it to the world in some intriguing formats... 

6. Key Exit: Just yesterday, we suggested that Lance Crosby is the real cloud king within IBM's halls. Talk about timing. Now comes word that Crosby has headed for the exit -- nearly two years after IBM acquired his company, SoftLayer. Big loss for IBM. Big Blue is positioning Robert LeBlanc, a 30-year IBMer, as its cloud guru. LeBlanc is certainly talented, but Crosby had in-the-trenches technology experience buying, merging, build and reinventing as-a-service businesses.

5. Game On: Lootsie, which allows game and app developers to add rewards to their software, has raised $3.5 million in seed funding. I gotta admit. After Nines Inc. doesn't have a gamification strategy. We're so concerned about gathering and managing data in the right way that we haven't passed go on the game discussion...

4. In the House: My wife and I are latecomers to NetFlix's House of Cards series. Amid the recent East Coast blizzard, we consumed all of season one in three short days. Tonight, it's onto Season 2. Please, no spoilers. I can't wait to learn how Zoe brings down Frank in Season 2. Or not...

3. Total User Experience: UserTesting has raised $45.5 million from Accel Partners to expand its user testing business beyond apps and websites. For I.T. entrepreneurs, UserTesting could allow you to gain critical feedback while designing apps and websites.

2. Our First Apple Watch App: Tim Cook says Apple Watch will ship in April. After Nines Inc.'s first app for the Watch will ship sometime thereafter. I just don't know what year -- or even which decade, for that matter.

1. Next Podcast: Actually, it debuted last night. Distil Networks CEO Rami Essaid describes how his company joined a business accelerator, raised $10 million, and built a distributed cloud system to protect websites from bots. Check out all of our weekly podcasts -- where CEOs educate I.T. entrepreneurs -- right here. Or, jump to our Apple iTunes archive

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