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Data Sheet—Monday, August 31, 2015

I just spent 12 days cruising the “last frontier” of Alaska via ocean and asphalt. It’s an apt description geographically and technologically. The state’s capital city Juneau can be reached only by air or water, while residents and tourists must go to extraordinary lengths and expense to reel in an Internet connection.

If you think inflight WiFi is ridiculously overpriced, you’ll be flabbergasted by how quickly your bill for the maritime wireless network adds up. I found out by accident. Even though I consciously switched my smartphone into “airplane mode” during my vacation—opting mainly to use it to photograph both glacier and moose calves—I inadvertently incurred more than $100 in data charges over the course of just one day, simply because of the notifications associated with my ever-active email inbox.

I’m sure many of my fellow passengers faced a similar bill. Cruise lines love preying on our collective addiction to connectivity. Almost everyone I encountered lurching down the gangways was clutching a smartphone.

This visual leapt to mind as I skimmed Pew Research Center data awaiting in email last night suggesting that at least one-third of all Americans never turn their mobile phone off. Remember when it wasn’t socially acceptable to call someone after 9 pm? It may be time to re-embrace that etiquette, lest you wake person you’re calling.

Another stat illustrates how much these gadgets are stretching the bounds of socially acceptable behavior: almost 90% of mobile phone owners have used their device at least once during a social occasion, albeit mostly to share photos or commentary about the event in the moment. The researchers note: “As a general proposition, Americans view cell phones as distracting and annoying when used in social settings—but at the same time, many use their own devices during group encounters.” A Catch-22 dilemma for the mobile age.

I witnessed this firsthand during a family wedding on Saturday when I watched one of my nephews crawling around near his table in his tie and man bun, looking for a place to charge up. As for me, I left my smartphone tucked into the glove compartment on purpose, although it’s already at the ready early on this Monday morning.

Sincere thanks to Fortune assistant managing editor Adam Lashinsky and reporter Robert Hackett, who brought Data Sheet to your inbox for the past two weeks while I was gawking at glaciers and three different whales species. Send feedback and coverage ideas to Or tweet at me @greenTechlady.


Google’s lost maps project. The Internet giant killed secret plans to infuse Android apps with additional location awareness earlier this year, according to documents examined by Fortune writer Erin Griffith. The project, Google Here, was deemed potentially too invasive for consumers and retailers to stomach. (Fortune)




Facebook faces up to video copyright criticisms. It’s teaming with experts on detection technology that thwarts duplicate uploads from unauthorized creators. (Wall Street Journal)

More regulatory woes for Google, in India. It is accused of cooking search results to the detriment of competitors. (Economic Times)

U.S. economic sanctions over Chinese cyberthefts. Hackers have stolen everything from nuclear plant designs to search engine software code. As sensitive trade negotiations near, the Obama administration is considering far tougher economic retaliation. (Washington Post)

Will Acer be the next big hardware company to go? Founder Stan Shih is open to a takeover. (Reuters)

Apple has plenty to discuss during its Sept. 9 launch. Its most conventional update: next-generation iPhones sporting 12-megapixel cameras, which could kickstart a healthy upgrade cycle. The most controversial topic: the ad-blocking features in iOS 9. The most compelling: the brand-new operating system underlying Apple TV. (Fortune, WSJ, TechCrunch)

Netflix parts ways with content partner Epix. It’s concentrating on original and exclusive programming. That means rival Hulu gets the streaming rights to forthcoming movies like “Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” (WSJ)

The quest to protect student data. As advanced learning technologies work their way into K-12 curriculum, legislators in 46 states are moving to safeguard email addresses, test results, grades, and other socioeconomic information. (New York Times)

Alibaba eyes up rural China. Reaching far-flung communities over bumpy roads isn’t easy, but it wants to bring e-commerce to 100,000 remote villages by the end of the decade. (WSJ)

Toshiba can’t close its books quite yet. But its CEO is downplaying newfound accounting errors. (Reuters)


Straight A’s don’t matter. As a woman who pursued a male-dominated field in computer science, IBM master inventor Lisa Seacat DeLuca encourages young girls to take the harder road in their career and education. Her answer: more real-life internships to help more would-be engineers experience what the job is like on a day-to-day basis. (Fortune)


Warning for data-hungry T-Mobile subscribers. CEO John Legere may have a different concept of “unlimited” usage than you. (Verge)

New-age skeet shooting. Is a drone blocking your view of the Eiffel Tower? You’ll appreciate Boeing’s new drone-killing laser cannon. (NYT, Fortune)

Smartwatch speculation. Huawei may be among the first companies to support technology that lets Android Wear gadgets synchronize with Apple iPhones. Plus, Sony is crowdfunding its addition to the category. (Fortune, Verge)

Could virtual reality be HTC’s salvation? Co-founder Peter Chou just got involved with the company responsible for visual effects in movies like “Iron Man 3,” “Transformers,” and “Titanic.” (Engadget, TechCrunch)

No more blind Windows 10 updates. Microsoft will now share more data about patches before forcing IT teams to click download. (Computerworld)

Europe’s abysmal e-waste recycling record. Just one-third of discarded electronics were handled “responsibly” as of 2012. Even though the data is pretty old, that doesn’t bode well for nascent U.S. regulations. (Reuters)


Project Fi shows promise, suffers from poor device selection by Jason Cipriani

Furniture shopping with … Anna Brockway, co-founder of Chairish by Britanny Shoot

Quicken Loans founder buys Detroit’s Book Tower skyscraper by Jonathan Chew

Disney Infinity 3.0: What the critics say by Michal Addady

Tesla agrees to buy lithium from Mexican mine for its Gigafactory by Katie Fehrenbacher


Mourning a pioneer of speech recognition. The late AT&T Bell Laboratories researcher James Flanagan, 89, authored a seminal article back in 1976: “Computers That Talk and Listen: Man-Machine Communication by Voice.” (NYT)