(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: International Keyboards to Go

Many people communicate in more than one language and today’s technology keeps up with this global worldview. While your phone or tablet’s operating system may have a default language for the menus and interface, you can go multilingual when it comes to dashing off texts, e-mail messages and other bits of writing.

Apple makes this quite easy to do on its iOS devices and offers a wide range of languages to choose from, including Arabic, most European and Asian languages and Cherokee. You can even choose regional variations like French Canadian or Brazilian Portuguese. Emoji, those popular little pictographs favored by teenage girls, are also an option.

If you are linguistically gifted, you can set up multiple keyboards for all the languages you need and just toggle between them by tapping the globe key that now appears on your iOS keyboard. Apple has instructions for setting up international keyboards on iOS devices right here.

Most Android devices also let you add international keyboards to your typing arsenal, but the steps for doing so vary by phone model, carrier, Android version, moon phase, sun sign and other assorted fragmentary factors. (Just kidding about a couple of those, but you knew that already.) Here’s one walkthrough for adding a keyboard, but check with your phone or tablet’s manual for precise instructions of you need them. If you want more flexibility, consider an alternative keyboard app. Yes, Google Play has Emoji options for Android as well.

Episode 09: J.D. and the Kaiser get THUNDERSTRUCK!

Pedro on game console media streaming servers and J.D. highlights some gold medal apps just in time for the 2012 Olympic Games. In the news, Youtube ticks off Wesley Crusher…well they’ve cheesed off actor and producer Wil Wheaton who played Ensign Crusher on ST:TNG while Apple and Samsung continue their slapfight in various coutrooms around the world and Amazon might rolls out a whole slew of tablets.

Episode 09 News: Law & Orders

Hardcore trolls will still hide behind their handles YouTube (owned by Google, you know) is encouraging members to link their user names on the video site to their real names on the Google+ service. The whole universal Google-wide identity thing is not going over well with everyone — most notably with the actor Wil Wheaton, who went on a rant last spring after being asked to sign up for Google+ in order to give the thumbs up to a video he liked on YouTube. (Quick tip: Got Firefox and want to filter out the more offensive spew in the comments area? Try the YouTube Comment Snob add-on for cleaner living.)

Need some beach reading? The Justice Department has released its lengthy response to public comments on the proposed final judgment on its e-book price-fixing lawsuit.  Apple, which is heavily involved in the e-book case, is also battling Samsung Electronics over patent issues and would like $2.5 billion for its troubles. That rock’em, sock ‘em court battle is scheduled to begin next week. With all this litigious action, it’s a wonder Apple has time to make all the products people are whispering about online. (Yes, the amount of sheer speculation on Apple’s plans can cause problems, but even Apple CEO Tim Cook knows you can’t stop the chatter.)

Amazon is reportedly cranking out a fresh pile of tablet hardware as well (and so, for some reason, is RIM with a new BlackBerry Playbook). For the camera hardware fans, Canon finally hit that sweet spot between pocket point-and-shoot and bug burly digital SLR with its Canon EOS M mirrorless model. (Some folks have even tested it out already, even though it’s not due in stores until October.)

Hey, if you jumped in early with the Windows 8 Preview, the 7digital music service is right there with you and has a preview version of its Windows 8-ready app available to try out. The store has several AC/DC covers, so you can rock out just like the Iranian nuclear scientists, who have been supposedly hit by a new cyberattack that makes their computers blast “Thunderstuck” in the wee hours. (While accounts of this latest worm seem dubious and unverified, admit it: It does get you duck-walking, doesn’t it?)

And finally, we note the passing of Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. Thanks, Dr. Ride, for smashing through the glass ceiling and take the dreams of young geek girls right into orbit with you.

Gold Medal Apps for the 2012 Olympics

Need an app that lets you keep up with the 2012 Summer Olympic games in London? If you’re cruising the mobile Web on an Android or iOS device, quite a few await you. The London 2012 Organising Committee, for example, has three apps of its own, including Join In and Official London 2012 Results. The Results app is also available for BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 users. If you need to pass the time between events, there’s also a game app where you can actually play a few sports on the screen while you’re waiting to find out who won men’s single canoe slalom.

NBC, which has the U.S. broadcasting rights for the Games has a mobile Web site for phones with browsers, plus two apps for Android and iOS users. The NBC Olympics app offers live event updates, medal counts, video clips, photos and more. If you have a user name and password from your cable or satellite provider, you can use the NBC Olympics Live Extra app for real-time streams and full video replays of all 302 events in the Summer Games. (For those in the U.K., the BBC has its own app action.)

Want to know more about the athletes on the American squad? The United States Olympic Committee has a free app called Team USA. The USOC app takes a personal look at members of the US Olympic and Paralympic teams, with bios, photo galleries and video clips, plus social media connections for Facebook and Twitter. And if sports photography is your cup of tea, the Thomson Reuters news service also has its own London Olympics 2012 app for iOS devices. Now then, let the Games begin!

P.S. The official London 2012 mascots still kind of creep me out… Are they staring at you, too?


(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Creating Hard-to-Crack Passwords

Thievery and hacking never go away, and tech nerds like us always advise coming up with “strong,” hard-to-guess password for your computer or other accounts. But many people don’t exactly know what exactly constitutes a strong password. Fortunately, you can get some password-creation advice on your computer — right there in the control panel where you go to change your password in the first place. Isn’t that convenient?

In Windows, just go to the Start menu to Control Panel to User Accounts and Family Safety to User Accounts. Click on Change Your Password. This opens up the box where you type in your old and new passwords. If you need some help with the strong stuff, look closer. Right in the box is a link called “How to create a strong password” (circled below). Click there for advice. Microsoft also has a site that checks the strength of your chosen password.

On a Mac, just pop open the System Preferences box from the Dock or Apple menu and click on the Users & Groups icon. Make sure your user account is selected on the left side of the box and then click the Change Password button. Here, you also get the familiar Old Password/New Password box, but look on the New Password line. As circled below, there’s a key icon there. Click that icon to call up the Mac OS X Password Assistant, which offers a strength indicator and can even generate strong passwords for you so you don’t have to burn the brain cells thinking them up yourself.

There. You now have no excuse for still using password as your password. It’s time to show your strength!


Episode 08 News: Dolphins and Sea Lions and Penguins, Oh My!

Yahoo is busting a move and has nabbed Marissa Mayer, an engineer and one of the earliest employees at Google, to be the company’s new chief executive. Yahoo has had a rough time of it in the CEO department the past year, so here’s hoping Mayer gets the ship back on course. (Maybe give Flickr a tune-up? Pleeeease?)

A lot of people watch TiVo, but who knew TiVo was watching back? The digital recorder company said this week that it was buying the advertisement research company TRA Inc. for about $20 million. The TRA technology allows networks and advertisers to measure the effectiveness of advertisements on television and which networks sell stuff the best. (Hey, does the old TiVo 30-Second Skip trick still work?)

Microsoft continues to churn out announcements and updates this summer. This time, the news concerns the company’s flagship business software, Microsoft Office. A public beta preview version of the new software, Office 2013, is now available for the curious and the company is also revving up its cloud version, Office 365, to draw users away from the likes of Google Docs and Apple’s iWork/iCloud combo.

And now, a paragraph about robots — because the PTJ blog here has not had a paragraph about robots in awhile. Navy scientists are working with several research institutions with an ultimate goal of to creating mine-sweeping autonomous robots for dangerous missions under the sea. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is in on the project with some spiffy new algorithms and there’s more information and some cool video on the MIT site.

Valve Software is dedicating a team to bring the Steam gaming service to the Penguin Nation. A blog post on the Valve site states that the team’s current goal is to get the Steam service fully working on Ubuntu Linux 12.04, the system otherwise known as Precise Pangolin.

Samsung may be having trouble with Apple in the Federal courts, but the South Korea-based electronics company is winning in the people’s court of retail sales. According to a Reuters poll, from April 1 to June 30, analysts estimate that Samsung had sold over 50 million smartphones, overshadowing Apple’s projected sales of 30.5 million iPhones. Keep in mind that an iPhone 5 looms and people may be holding back on Apple purchases in anticipation.

Also, in anticipation by Batman fans everywhere: The Dark Knight Rises, and he rises this weekend in movie theaters. The Los Angeles Times is predicting big box office for the third film in the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale take on the Caped Crusader. Early reviews have been largely positive, but there was a bit of a dust-up for those expressing more negative views on the film. Please folks, leave the explosives to the mine-sweeping robots with their fancy MIT algorithms, okay?



Episode 07: Platforms and the Chunkiest Tech News Around

This week futurist, polymath, technology expert, and author Phil Simon visits Pop Tech Jam. In the news segment J.D. and Pedro crank up the rumor mill, Microsoft gets into the touch screen business get set to release the latest version of their OS. Also in the news Google gets a smackdown from the U.S. government, the DNSChanger threat and a new Open Source game console gets ready to make a play for your living room.