Personal Technology – East Bay Times

Personal Technology – East Bay Times

Personal Technology – East Bay TimesPersonal Technology – East Bay TimesShining light on the case for diversityWolverton: Price right, service not with DirecTV NowNetflix download option breathes new life into old tablets

http://www.eastbaytimes.com/tag/personal-technology/feed/ http://www.eastbaytimes.com/tag/personal-technology/feed/ http://www.eastbaytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/32×32-ebt.png?w=32 http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/12/09/shining-light-on-the-case-for-diversity/ https://www.eastbaytimes.com?p=4361208&preview_id=4361208 <div><img src=”http://www.eastbaytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/sjm-svchat-1212-01.jpg?w=1024&amp;h=687″ class=”ff-og-image-inserted”/></div><p>SAN FRANCISCO — Lynn Jurich was in somewhat of a hurry to start a company. The second-year Stanford Business School student wanted to try starting a business from scratch after working at an investment bank.</p> <p>Her then-fiance, Brad Murray, was across the country at Harvard Business School and also itching to launch a startup. The couple agreed that the first one to launch would be the entrepreneur — at least in the short-term — while the other partner took a stable job to pay the bills.</p> <p>Jurich won the race. In 2007, she joined fellow Stanford graduate student Ed Fenster to co-found Sunrun, a residential solar system provider. They wanted to tackle a potentially huge market. Jurich became one of the few women CEOs in the renewable energy industry. Sunrun has about 100,000 customers in 15 states, including California. It’s one of the leading residential solar providers in the U.S.</p> <p>The interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.</p> <p><strong>Q How has your business changed?</strong></p> <p><strong>A</strong> We had a big vision when we started. It’s fun to see how much of that has been realized. The original thesis was: Solar is getting really cheap, technology is getting more and more distributed (and) the whole energy industry can be reshaped with renewables and distributed renewables.</p> <p>At the time, it was fairly controversial because most people saw our focus on the residential rooftop market as just a small niche market. There were many years where we were just getting it up and running, plugging it along in one house at a time. It was very stressful in the early days.</p> <p>Now, I think we feel very proud that that vision has played out. Many others now recognize that rooftop solar and distributed solar may be one of the fastest ways to switch the energy away from fossil and on to renewable. It’s working and consumers want it.</p> <p><strong>Q At other solar companies, the move is away perhaps from leasing and on to buying. Is that what you see? Where is the consumer now?</strong></p> <p><strong>A</strong> The consumer is starting to get comfortable with the inevitability of rooftop solar. In the early days, you were really counting on early adopters. Now, I think we see this really appealing more to a mainstream consumer. They are comfortable with it.</p> <p>In terms of leasing versus owning, we still believe that for the most part, delivering energy as a service is the mainstream way consumers want to buy it. Your average consumer doesn’t necessarily want to take care of the equipment — use their equity, debt capacity for buying.</p> <p>We sell both ways. The majority still choose to go with the lease.</p> <p>In the future, we also believe the system will likely get more complex. It’s not just going to be solar panels. We’ll also start to incorporate storage. We’ll also start to incorporate technologies that are happening in the smart home.</p> <p><strong>Q What happens in the regulatory climate with President-elect Donald Trump?</strong></p> <p><strong>A</strong> Speaking for our industry, distributed solar, I don’t think much changes. It’s being played out at the state level. If you look at the most recent election, take Florida for example. In Florida, the voters elected (Sen. Marco) Rubio and Trump. Republican administration. The same voters also defeated a ballot (measure) where the utility was trying to block rooftop solar. The interesting thing about rooftop solar is it has about 85 percent public support. Of Republicans, it’s 84 percent. It’s actually quite nonpartisan.</p> <p>The tax credit we benefit from at the federal level was passed by a Republican-led Congress. It was enacted under (President) George W. Bush. There’s really strong bipartisan support.</p> <p>Our energy source is very “of the moment.” It’s very “of the people.” It’s a massive job creator. The theme of the administration so far has been, we want to create jobs, we want to create jobs in the country. The solar industry has created about 200,000 jobs. It’s been a huge win. You can’t export those jobs.</p> <p><strong>Q Are there advantages to being a woman in a mostly male environment?</strong></p> <p><strong>A</strong> (Laughs) On balance, probably not. No.</p> <p><strong>Q (Laughs) I guess I was looking for a silver lining.</strong></p> <p><strong>A </strong> I’ve written a lot about this. There’s no question, in an operating company, and in trying to build something, a diversity of views is massively important. And different ways of approaching things — that is definitely an advantage. Just a different world perspective.</p> <p><strong>Q What do you tell young women who want to become entrepreneurs?</strong></p> <p><strong>A</strong> My advice to women typically is two things: One is to get really comfortable with money and finances and not to be intimidated by it.</p> <p>You have to just recognize that, hey, I can just ask questions. I don’t have to be an expert in this. These people across the table from me, they are all men and that can be intimidating — you don’t see examples that look like yourself. You just have to have confidence. Some of the smartest people I ever worked for played dumb and asked the questions. Just get your hands in there and get really comfortable with the money side of it.</p> <p>The other piece of advice I give is, if you are honest and you work hard, there’s no shame in any outcome. It’s very freeing if that’s your philosophy. Be straightforward. Work hard. Be honest. Get yourself in uncomfortable situations, because that’s where you grow. There’s no shame in any outcome after that.</p> <hr/><p><strong>Five things about Lynn Jurich</strong></p> <p><strong>1.</strong> Jurich was recruited by Harvard and MIT for multiple sports, including volleyball and basketball.</p> <p><strong>2.</strong> She met her husband while working for Summit Partners, a growth equity firm. The two kept the relationship together through graduate school on opposite coasts: Jurich went to Stanford, Murray went to Harvard Business School. They married in the middle of their second year.</p> <p><strong>3.</strong> Jurich meditates to help balance her life.</p> <p><strong>4.</strong> She has returned to Stanford as a guest lecturer, talking about Sunrun and growing a company from the ground up.</p> <p><strong>5.</strong> She’s an avid reader of biographies, nonfiction and fiction. She recently finished the novel “The Sellout.”</p> <hr/><p><strong>Lynn Jurich</strong></p> <p><strong>Position:</strong> Co-founder and CEO of Sunrun, a leading residential solar energy system provider</p> <p><strong>Born:</strong> Tacoma, Washington</p> <p><strong>Age:</strong> 37</p> <p><strong>Education:</strong> Stanford University, bachelor’s in science, technology and society; MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business</p> <p><strong>Experience:</strong> Associate at Summit Partners, investment company. Co-founder, CEO of Sunrun</p> <p><strong>Family:</strong> Husband, Brad Murray, co-founder and president of cosmetics company Tatcha; and a 1-year-old daughter</p> <p><strong>Home:</strong> San Francisco</p> <hr/> <p><strong><a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org”>Let’s block ads!</a></strong> <a href=”https://github.com/fivefilters/block-ads/wiki/There-are-no-acceptable-ads”>(Why?)</a></p> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 14:00:48 +0000 Louis Hansen article Shining light on the case for diversity https://www.mercurynews.com/2016/12/09/shining-light-on-the-case-for-diversity/ Lynn Jurich co-founded Sunrun in 2007, and the company has grown to more than 100,000 solar energy customers in the U.S. She is one of the few women leading a renewable energy firm. http://www.eastbaytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/sjm-svchat-1212-01.jpg?w=1024&h=687 en-US text/html http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/12/09/shining-light-on-the-case-for-diversity/ Business Latest Headlines Technology Green Energy Personal Technology Solar http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/12/08/wolverton-price-right-service-not-with-atts-directv-now/ https://www.eastbaytimes.com?p=4350038&preview_id=4350038 <div><img src=”http://www.eastbaytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/sjm-techfiles-12111.jpg?w=1024&amp;h=739″ class=”ff-og-image-inserted”/></div><p>If you’re looking for a low-cost alternative to pricey pay TV service, you’ve a got new option from AT&amp;T.</p> <p>Late last month, AT&amp;T became the <a href=”http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/09/02/cutting-the-cord-gets-easier-with-sling-tv-directv-now-other-alternatives-to-cable/”>latest player</a> to offer a pay TV bundle that’s streamed over the Internet rather than delivered through a cable service or satellite transmission. Its <a href=”http://about.att.com/story/att_offers_three_ways_to_stream_premium_video_content.html”>DirecTV Now service</a> joins Dish’s <a href=”http://www.mercurynews.com/2015/01/30/wolverton-sling-tv-a-promising-new-take-on-pay-tv-but-needs-work-2/”>Sling TV</a>, Sony’s <a href=”http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/03/25/wolverton-sonys-playstation-vue-worth-a-look-but-not-a-long-one/”>PlayStation Vue</a> and Comcast’s <a href=”http://www.siliconbeat.com/2016/02/08/wolverton-comcast-tests-fccs-resolve-rules-on-net-neutrality/”>Stream TV</a>.</p> <p>I wanted to like DirecTV Now, and it certainly has some attractive features, including its price. But I found the overall service disappointing and, at least for me, an inadequate substitute for a traditional pay TV package.</p> <p>As with its rivals, DirecTV Now is largely directed at consumers who have either ditched their pay TV service or never signed up for one. As such, it offers terms that are designed to be more consumer friendly than those you usually get from the cable or satellite companies.</p> <p>With DirecTV Now, like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue — but unlike traditional bundles — you don’t have to sign a long-term contract; instead, you can sign up one month and cancel the next. Rather than having to rent pricey set-top boxes, you can tune in the services via your smartphone or with one of several different digital streaming devices, including Google’s $35 <a href=”http://www.mercurynews.com/2015/10/16/wolverton-googles-chromecast-is-tops-for-inexpensive-streaming/”>Chromecast</a>. And you don’t need an installer to come out to your house to set up the service; instead, all you do is download an app and sign in to your account to start watching programs.</p> <p>As with any video service delivered over the internet, the quality of the picture will depend on factors like the amount of traffic on the network and interference from nearby wifi networks. But with my relatively fast broadband connection, programs delivered through DirecTV Now came in sharp and clear, and I could change channels fairly quickly.</p> <p>For many consumers, one of the biggest attractions of DirecTV Now is that it generally offers lower prices than you’ll find for a traditional pay TV package, even an entry-level one. DirecTV Now’s base package, dubbed “Live a Little,” costs $35 a month. Unlike some traditional services, that price includes the ability to get all its channels in high-definition. And that’s a standalone price; you don’t have to sign up for a bundle that includes AT&amp;T’s voice or broadband service. Indeed, you can subscribe to Comcast or some other broadband provider and still get DirecTV Now.</p> <p>The lower prices do come with trade-offs. Most notably, you get access to fewer channels with the internet-delivered pay TV services than you would with a traditional cable bundle. The “Live a Little” package <a href=”http://cdn.directv.com/content/dam/dtv/gmott/html/compare-packages-account.html”>comes with about 60 channels</a>, compared with more than 100 that you might get with a traditional pay TV service.</p> <p>But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Traditional pay TV packages have ballooned in recent years with channels that few people either want or watch. By contrast, DirecTV Now and its rivals are generally offering what might be thought of as “the essentials.” Of the top 25 cable <a href=”http://www.medialifemagazine.com/this-weeks-cable-ratings/”>channels that are most watched in prime time</a>, DirecTV Now offers 23, all of which come included in its basic “Live a Little” package.</p> <p>Still, DirecTV Now is missing some notable cable channels, including the NFL Network and Adult Swim. And it only offers local broadcast channels in about 25 metro areas. In some of those markets, it only offers one or two of the channels — only the Fox station, say, or the just the ABC one. Meanwhile, it doesn’t offer CBS or CW channels to any customers.</p> <p>DirecTV Now has more serious shortcomings than its channel lineup. The biggest for me was that unlike its rivals online and off, it doesn’t offer a way to record programs. AT&amp;T spokesman Leland Kim said the company plans to add a DVR feature sometime next year.</p> <p>The service does have some 15,000 programs that are available on demand. But the selection is spotty. When I checked recently, DirecTV Now had the first episode of the current season of “The Walking Dead” available on demand, but none of the other six episodes that have already aired. By contrast, I could choose from four on-demand episodes of “Empire” and seven from “Project Runway.”</p> <p>With some networks, DirecTV Now also allows you to watch shows that have aired up to 72 hours prior to when you are tuning in. But again, the selection is hit and mostly miss. Fewer than half the networks it offers officially support the 72-hour lookback feature. And when I checked recently, many of the networks that do support the lookback feature didn’t list any programs that I could actually watch. Kim said that shows available for lookback depend on many factors, including access rights, and AT&amp;T expects the number to grow “in coming weeks.”</p> <p>Besides the lack of recording, another area where DirecTV Now comes up short is in search. Instead of helping you find something to watch, the search feature often makes it more difficult.</p> <p>When I searched for “Modern Family,” for example, DirecTV Now listed 64 results under “programs,” all of which pointed to individual episodes. Of those, only one was a listing I could actually tune in right that second. The rest were either not actually “Modern Family” episodes or were episodes that were scheduled to run sometime in the future.</p> <p>Listing those wasn’t super-helpful, because I obviously couldn’t set up the service to record them. Although DirecTV Now has a “watchlist” feature where you can create a list of your favorite shows, it doesn’t allow you to add shows from the search results. I couldn’t even set some kind of reminder that the shows were going air at a future time.</p> <p>More broadly, I often found DirecTV Now’s service difficult to navigate, at least on my Apple TV. It was hard to know for sure whether to access a particular feature, I was supposed to hit the menu button or swipe in a particular way across the touch-sensitive area of the Apple TV remote. Sometimes when I pressed the menu button, I was taken back to the Apple TV home screen. Often when I was trying to get to the channel guide, I found myself changing channels instead.</p> <p>So, I wouldn’t recommend DirecTV Now, at least not yet. It’s great to have another alternative to cable TV, but this particular one needs more time to mature.</p> <hr/><p><strong>DirecTV Now internet-streamed pay TV service bundle</strong></p> <p><strong>Troy’s Ratin</strong>g: 6.5 out of 10</p> <p><strong>Likes</strong>: Offers many of the top cable networks; offered as a month-to-month service rather than requiring a long-term contract; doesn’t require pricey equipment rentals or time-consuming installation; can be tuned in via phones, tablets and televisions; relatively inexpensive.</p> <p><strong>Dislikes</strong>: Poor selection of local channels; missing some popular cable channels, including NFL Network; lacks a recording function; on-demand and 72-hour lookback offerings spotty; search feature unhelpful; confusing interface.</p> <p><strong>Price</strong>: Plans range from $35 a month for around 60 channels to $70 a month for more than 120 channels. For a limited time, AT&amp;T is offering the 100-channel “Go Big” plan for $35 a month.</p> <p>_______________________________________________________________________</p> <p><strong><a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org”>Let’s block ads!</a></strong> <a href=”https://github.com/fivefilters/block-ads/wiki/There-are-no-acceptable-ads”>(Why?)</a></p> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 15:05:03 +0000 Troy Wolverton article Wolverton: Price right, service not with DirecTV Now https://www.mercurynews.com/2016/12/08/wolverton-price-right-service-not-with-atts-directv-now/ DirecTV Now has some attractive features, including its price, but the overall service is disappointing and an inadequate substitute for a traditional pay TV package, Tech Files columnist Troy Wolv… http://www.eastbaytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/sjm-techfiles-12111.jpg?w=1024&h=739 en-US text/html http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/12/08/wolverton-price-right-service-not-with-atts-directv-now/ Business Technology Personal Technology Tech Files TV http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/12/01/netflix-download-option-breathes-new-life-into-old-tablets/ https://www.eastbaytimes.com?p=4320089&preview_id=4320089 <div><img src=”http://www.eastbaytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/20110517__netflixlosgatos3.jpg?w=400&amp;h=294″ class=”ff-og-image-inserted”/></div><p><span>Shortly after Steve Jobs announced the iPad in 2010, I wrote a column titled, “The iPad is Underwhelming.” Boy, was I temporarily wrong.</span></p> <p><span>For about three years, iPad sales kept climbing into the stratosphere, but sales started to decline in 2014. Apple’s tablets – along with tablets from other companies – have since been on a steady decline.</span></p> <p><span>Back in 2010, I wrote, “The problem with the iPad is that it doesn’t do anything that you can’t already do with a smartphone and a laptop,” which remains largely true.</span></p> <p><span>What I didn’t realize is the people would flock to any easy-to-use and easy-to-carry device with a great screen.</span></p> <p><span>But that was before today’s “phablet” – phones that are big enough to rival small tablets. Now, many people who might have carried a tablet back in the first half of this decade are satisfied with what they can do with an iPhone 7 Plus, a Samsung Galaxy S7, a Google Pixel XL or any of several excellent phones with screens that – while decidedly smaller than the original iPad – are big enough to make tablets a bit less desirable.</span></p> <p><span>I bought one of those early iPads, but it mostly hung out in a drawer. I rarely used it. Then I bought an iPad mini, thinking that the smaller form factor would make me more likely to take it along. It didn’t. That, too, lives pretty much in a drawer along with a couple of Android tablets I picked up over the last few years.</span></p> <p><span>On the other hand, I use my smartphone multiple times every day. Unlike those tablets that are too big for a pocket, my smartphone is always with me. I don’t have to plan to bring it along, nor do I have to put it into my backpack. It just hangs out in my pocket, ready for me whenever I want it.</span></p> <p><span>When I can, I prefer using a computer. At home, I have a Mac mini attached to two large screens. I love all that screen real estate as well as the terabyte of storage on the Mac and the ability to work with a mouse. When I travel, I carry a 3-pound laptop – currently an HP Spectre x360 or a MacBook Air, which I’m happy with because of their decent keyboards and more-than-adequate screens.</span></p> <p><span>But, like most people today, I’m often out and about, so if I need to check email, catch up on the news or even read a Kindle book, I’ll reach into my pocket for my ever-present smartphone.</span></p> <p><span>One thing I rarely do with my phone, however, is watch TV shows or movies. For me, it’s not as enjoyable as watching them on a larger screen. So, when I’m in a hotel room and want to watch a movie, I bring out my laptop.</span></p> <p><span>Some airlines let passengers use laptops as well as mobile devices to watch video, which they stream via the plane’s Wi-Fi network without having to make an internet connection.</span></p> <p><span>But free video streaming isn’t available on all flights, and there are times when I’d rather watch something else. On most airlines, the Wi-Fi is much too slow to use services like Netflix. There are even times while on the ground when the internet is either non-existent or too slow for streaming.</span></p> <p><span>Now, relief has arrived. Netflix just made it possible to download TV shows and movies to watch online – so when I am next on a plane, I will be able to access Netflix content.</span></p> <p><span>However,  there is a catch. You can only download Netflix’s video programs to iOS or Android mobile devices. You can’t download them to laptops. A less bothersome catch is that not all Netflix programs can be downloaded, but there are plenty to choose from.</span></p> <p><span>So, now that Netflix is allowing people to download video to a mobile device, those tablets taking up space in my drawer don’t seem so underwhelming. I’m still not enamored with them as production devices, but they will let me watch movies and TV shows offline, so I might just bring one along on my next trip.</span></p> <p><span>If you are tempted but don’t have a tablet, there are many to choose from, but Amazon Fire tablets are great values. As far as I can tell, you won’t be able to download Netflix videos on a Fire tablet, but you can download Amazon Prime videos if you’re a Prime member.</span></p> <p><span>Netflix’s decision to let customers download video to their mobile devices is a great first step. Now I’m hoping it will offer this feature for Mac and Windows users, for those of us who prefer to carry a laptop rather than a tablet. Laptops typically have more storage than tablets or phones (essential for large video files), and many have excellent screens and speakers, adding to the user’s viewing pleasure.</span></p> <p><span>It’s all about choice. Companies like Netflix should let users access content on whatever device works best for them, rather than dictating how customers should consume their content.</span></p> <p><strong><a href=”https://blockads.fivefilters.org”>Let’s block ads!</a></strong> <a href=”https://github.com/fivefilters/block-ads/wiki/There-are-no-acceptable-ads”>(Why?)</a></p> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 22:38:12 +0000 Larry Magid article Netflix download option breathes new life into old tablets http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/12/01/netflix-download-option-breathes-new-life-into-old-tablets/ Underwhelmed by tablets and don’t find them very useful? Netflix could change minds through its new download option for mobile devices. http://www.eastbaytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/20110517__netflixlosgatos3.jpg?w=400&h=294 en-US text/html http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/12/01/netflix-download-option-breathes-new-life-into-old-tablets/ Business Entertainment Latest Headlines Movies News Technology Television Apple Netflix Personal Technology

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Published at