Ever wish you could celebrate and share your personal gaming triumphs with others who didn’t happen to be around for the moment of glory? If so, check out the new Plays.tv service that was publicly launched today by the gaming company Raptr.
The Plays.tv software (shown below) includes a video recorder that starts up when you begin playing so you can capture clips of your best moments — and show them off to the world on the Plays.tv site or your favorite social-media outlet. We get the details directly from the source on this week’s episode of Pop Tech Jam, when Raptr chief executive (and former professional gamer) Dennis Fong joins us. Grab the episode now and listen in to the conversation!
The announcement of a series reboot of “The X-Files” with the original stars, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, fill me with a mix of excitement and dread.
I was a late-comer to “The X-Files” in the 1990s, but once I was introduced to the series, I plunged into it like a scalpel in an alien autopsy.
As a kid, pre-“X-Files,” I had a particular fascination for all things unexplained.
I devoured books on UFOs and articles on Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, alien abductions, etc.
I was a big fan of the late Leonard Nimoy’s series “In Search of…” that explored the mysteries of the world.
“The X-Files,” with its combination of creepy, paranoid, funny and inventive plot twists, coupled with the witty repartee between Mulder and Scully, made for a great escape for one hour a week on Sunday nights.
I hesitate though to think about a reboot.
In many ways, “The X-Files” was a product of its time:
There were deepening divisions and a growing distrust about Washington, an uncertainty about the world as the school shootings in Columbine and the stand-off in Waco, Texas, dominated headlines and as the U.S. sought to redefine itself in the world after the end of the Cold War.
Somehow the show tapped into those uncertainties by presenting story lines that challenged your beliefs about the “known world” and your confidence in institutions like the government and schools.
Viewers could take a perverse pleasure in “The X-Files” as a safe outlet for these anxieties.
But all that existential navel-gazing aside, “The X-Files” was just good, fun television.
The young Mulder as the believer in things mysterious and Scully as his skeptical science-grounded partner made for a terrific contrast and interchange of ideas.
Add a dose of simmering sexual tension (when will they ever get it on?!), conspiracy-laden plot lines (hello Cigarette-Smoking Man!) and some loveable but smart goofballs (The Lone Gunmen), and you had a recipe for the equivalent of television potato chips: You kept coming back for more.
Part of the fun for me was getting on the phone with a friend immediately after an episode and trying to unravel WTF had just happened.
I was so into the show, that I got the action figures and one of the very first computer games my oldest son was exposed to was a parody called “The X-Fools.”
That experience inspired him to make for me a beloved drawing that I have in my bedroom.
So, yes count me as a big fan.
But…the movies were an affront to all that the TV series had built. And, not to engage in ageism, but part of the appeal of the original was having the baby-faced (bordering on naïve), Scully and Mulder teaming up to uncover the truth.
I think Duchovny and Anderson have only matured in their acting chops, but will a series about mid-to-late career FBI agents investigating the paranormal in a modern age of Google, smartphones and social media be as engaging as the original, which was technologically in the Stone Age?
Last, and perhaps most importantly, a reboot would be overshadowed by real-life world events.
In an age of NSA spying, Wiki leaks, Edward Snowden and a pervasive (well-deserved) cynicism about government, the show’s underlying premise would be surplus to our required dose of the kinds of bogeymen that were the signature of “The X-Files.”
As excited as I would be by a reboot, and as much as I want to believe in it, it might just be best to X-out a reprise of this excellent TV series.
Ahead of their F8 Developer Conference rumors swirl that Facebook is in talks with big news organizations to host their content directly on the Social Network. In his latest Tech Term segment, El Kaiser explains USB Type-C and J.D. helps us earn free additional storage on the most popular Cloud services. We also bring you the latest tech news with that perfect blend of snark and sass you’ve all come to love.
March marches on! Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference kicks off this week and early word has it that the Social Network could become a host for the content written by major media outlets. The company in talks with big news organizations as it tests new formats for the project, in which advertising revenue (as always) could be the big lure for all parties involved.
Facebook’s Instagram service has a new app called Layout that lets smartphone photographers remix up to nine images from their camera rolls into customizable collages. Layout (shown here) is free and now available for iOS users, with an Android edition, as usual, currently in the works.
Oh, and the Toronto Globe and Mail is among those who noticed that Facebook seems to be making corporate and brand pages less of a place for angry customers to post angry rants about lousy customer service and product complaints. A recent tweak by Facebook collapses user comments so they are not as easily visible — and readable — on corporate pages.
Samsung seems to be grabbing the reins on the bloatware. People posting in the XDA Developers Forum online are chattering that many pre-installed apps for the new Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge phones can be easily removed without hassle. Removable apps are said to include Samsung’s S Voice and S Health apps, Google’s troika of Gmail, YouTube and Google+ and Microsoft’s OneNote, OneDrive and Skype. Microsoft and Samsung aren’t parting wys across the board, though, as the two companies announced earlier this week that Samsung will pre-install Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Skype and a few other company apps on certain Samsung Android tablets this fall.
Two lawsuits have been filed against the Federal Communications Commission’s new rules for net neutrality. Yes, these are probably the first of many.
Amazon has gotten approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to test out commercial drones. The super-uber-mega-everything store has been issued an “experimental airworthiness certificate” from the FAA that allows Amazon to conduct the research it says it needs to train crew and further develop its Prime Air package delivery system. Amazon’s ambitions do have some skeptics, the Network World site for example, which points out that the problem with drone deliveries is practical, not regulatory. Amazon thought the whole FAA-approval process was way too slow.
And finally, if you love spectacular photos of rockets, space and other celestial subjects, NASA’s official website and dozens of social media feeds have traditionally been great places to go for new and interesting material, but now even the private space contractors are sharing their snaps. SpaceX, which makes cargo capsules, rockets and other spacecraft, has now put a number of breath-taking images on its Flickr page. The SpaceX pictures also sport a Creative Commons license that allows noncommercial re-use without a license with attribution, so hey, that photo at the top of this post is totally courtesy of SpaceX. So if you need a handsome photo for your blog or lesson plans, check it out. And don’t forget to grab a few inspiring pix for your desktop wallpaper, too.
If you use one of the popular webmail services, odds are you have a few gigabytes of online storage included for storing your messages, photos and documents. But the longer you have the account, the more you’re likely to fill it up. Then you either have to delete stuff — or whip put the plastic and pay money for more storage space from the provider.
Unless you’ve gotten warnings about running out of room, you may not have had to check your current storage situation. But do you know what types of files actually count towards your storage total — or ways some sites give you way to earn free additional storage? Read on.
First off, Yahoo Mail users: You get a get a free terabyte of space for your mail. So unless you’re running an enormous mailing list or have a digital hoarding problem, you’re going to be okay for awhile.
If you use Google products to store your life online — Gmail, Google Drive and Google+ Photos — you get 15 gigabytes for free to divide up between the three services. Your Gmail attachments count toward this limit, as well as the files you’ve stored on your Google Drive — unless those files are Google Docs, Sheets or Slides files. Files that have been shared with you also don’t count, and neither do photos smaller than 2048 x 2048 pixels and videos longer than 15 minutes. (Brevity is the soul of wit, and it has other perks, too.)
If you think you may be getting close, check your Google Storage page to see how your 15 gigs are carved up between the services you use regularly. Google occasionally offers a free gigabyte or two, as it recently did for users who completely a security checklist on their Google accounts, so keep an eye out for those types of things. But if space gets tight, an extra 100 gigabytes is about $2 a month, a terabyte is $10 a month — and you can even get more if you need it.
Microsoft OneDrive also provides 15 gigabytes of free storage when you sign up for an account or use it with your Outlook.com mail or other Microsoft service. As a perk, you also get to use Office Online. As an even bigger perk, Microsoft will double your overall storage locker and give you another 15 gigabytes of space if you use the OneDrive app on your iPhone, Android phone or Windows Phone to automatically back up the photos you take on the mobile device. You can get another 500 megabytes of space if you refer a friend to OneDrive — and the friend gets 500 megabytes, too. (You can refer up to 10 of your pals, which gives you a max of 5 extra gigs you can add on through referrals.) Still need more? Microsoft has plans: 100 gigabytes for $2 a month, 200 gigabytes for $4 a month or a whole terabyte for $7 a month — and you get Office 365 with that big TB.
In comparison, Apple’s iCloud is quite stingy, perhaps in the hope that you’ll fork over some bucks to upgrade your space. The five starter gigabytes are divided up between your iCloud mail, online backup, iCloud Drive and iCloud Photo Library.
Need more? To get a total of 20 gigs, you pay Apple a buck a month. And there are other plans — a total of 200 gigabytes costs $4 a month, 500 gigs is $10 monthly and a terabyte is $20 a month. If you buy a lot of content from iTunes, though, you don’t have to worry about those purchases eating up your space — all those items don’t count toward your iCloud total.
And last but not least. Dropbox starts you off with two gigabytes with your free account, but gives you all kinds of ways to add extra space to your storage total. If you use the company’s new photo gallery mobile app, Carousel, you get an extra 3 gigabytes of space. You can also earn extra storage space for linking Dropbox with its Mailbox app, referring your friends, sending feedback to the company, connecting your Dropbox to your Facebook and Twitter accounts and following the company on Twitter. If fact, Dropbox has a whole Get More Space page you can visit to learn all the ways you can add on to those original two gigs if you start running low. And if you still need more, you can always upgrade to Dropbox Pro, which starts you out at a terabyte of storage space for $10 a month.
To keep up with demand, these companies seem to be adding server racks left and right to store the bits and bytes of the world. In that regard, it seems like this sort of space isn’t the final frontier after all.
This week on the podcast journalist Laura Holson returns to discuss how technology is influencing the next generation of filmmakers and in the news we bring you the latest from the annual SXSW conference in Austin, Texas.
Also in the news, seven years removed from its launch at SXSW, Twitter lays the ban hammer on new video app Meerkat.; regional cable company joins the HBO Now party; YouTube introduces interactive 360 degree videos; and late author Sir Terry Pratchett’s name will live in the Intertubes.
There’s a ton of news coming out of the SXSW conference down in Austin, Texas, this week, including a new smartphone app called Meerkat that lets its users broadcast live video from their smartphones to their Twitter followers. Part of Meerket’s ease of use was that it can tap into a user’s Twitter contacts and get the party started fast. But last Friday, however, Twitter shut down access to its social graph, citing an internal policy. Twitter may have been treating Meerkat like a parasite app, and the fact that the bird-themed microblogging site quickly turned around and announced its January acquisition of Periscope seems a bit calculated. Some worry that Meerkat’s popularity and expansion will take a fatal hit unless it in turn gets bought by Facebook or Google, but the company’s founders vow to press on after all the PR at SXSW.
HBO’s new standalone streaming service has picked up another distributor along with Apple TV. Cablevision has announced that it, too, will allow subscribers to its Optimum broadband service sign up and stream content from HBO NOW without having to already have an HBO tithe bundled in their TV packages.
But that’s not all in streaming TV news this week! The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple is talks to create a small, 25-channel bundle of TV networks that could be subscribed to and streamed across the screens of iOS gadgets and connected Apple TV boxes. Apple, of course, Is. Not. Commenting. As reported, the deal could include streams from ABC, CBS, ESPN and Fox. While NBC has been MIA on the ATV, there are reports that The Peacock Network is actually in negotiations with Apple, too.
Two notes from YouTube this week: The massive video-sharing site now supports interactive 360 degree videos. YouTube also announced its new YouTube for Artists effort, a resource portal for musicians seeking to get more audience engagement, as well as making money on YouTube through merchandise sales and online fundraising.
Google Now, the helpful-yet-creepy tool that automatically reminds you of things like restaurant reservations and flight times by using information in your Gmail, Google Calendar and other services, could be expanding its powers soon. A Google product manager said this week that the company plans to offer an open API that other companies can build into their own apps. This would move Google Now’s reach from beyond the 40 third-party services it works with already and could, in theory, add Google Now cards for things like line-wait times at theme parks, all while making Cortana and Siri feel like they need to step it up.
Google is also said to be tightening up app submissions in the Google Play Store by having a team of reviewers analyze the programs for developer policy violations before the software gets turned loose in the store. Apps will also be labeled using an age-based ratings system.
The Pew Research Center has a new report out that examines how Americans feel about their privacy (or lack thereof) after revelations and leaks from the Department of Edward Snowden. While a majority of the survey respondents are in favor of the US government monitoring communications of suspected terrorists, American leaders and foreign leaders and citizens, there was also a majority that said it was unacceptable for the US government to monitor the communications of its own citizens.
Child privacy advocates are forming petitions and making a ruckus over the new Hello Barbie doll, which is a Wi-Fi capable version of the iconic blonde toy lady. The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood is one of the groups leading the charge against the new doll because it says this $75 Internet-connected Barbie uses a microphone to record children’s voices and then uploads the audio data to servers in the sky. While Mattel says this voice-recognition process is needed to make the doll interactive and respond to the kid, some parents are concerned that the company will be storing and analyzing the child’s conversations with NSA Barbie — or possibly be eavesdropping on the whole family.
And finally, the geek world lost another cherished icon last week with the death of Sir Terry Pratchett, British author of the Discworld series of fantasy novels. In honor of Sir Terry, fans and programmers have come up with a way to keep his name alive on the Internet based on a bit from his 2004 novel Going Postal. In the book, the Clacks, a telegraph-style communications system, was used to keep alive the name of one of the novel’s deceased characters by passing the code GNU John Dearheart endlessly back and forth across the network. So the fanbase came up with GNU Terry Pratchett, a snippet of code that can be added harmlessly to website HTML, mail servers and even WordPress blogs. Because:
Thanks to inexpensive tools, new distribution systems and crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, filmmaking and technology are grooving together better than ever these days. Journalist Laura M. Holson drops by PTJ HQ this week with some insights on how the traditional methods of making and watching movies are changing — while giving more young filmmakers a chance to show their stuff, whether it be on YouTube, Vimeo, Amazon, Netflix or any of the other emerging sites dedicated to producing and streaming original content.
The Apple Watch is here but the reaction has been tepid at best. J.D. and El Kaiser break down the goings-on at this week’s product announcement where the fruit-themed toy maker unveiled revamped Macbooks and a sweet deal for cable cord cutters.
Also on the show, Internet Explorer celebrates its 20th birthday but it appears Microsoft’s much maligned web browser will play second fiddle to a new browser from the boys in Redmond .
And yes we have a whole lotta tech news to drop on you!
It’s been a rough few weeks for geek fandom and its iconic actors. Harrison Ford continues to recover from this private plane crash last Thursday, which came less than a week after the death of Leonard Nimoy on February 27th. We here at Pop Tech Jam wish Mr. Ford a hyperdrive-quick recovery and send our condolences to Mr. Nimoy’s family.
Now, in hardware news, Samsung’s newly announced Galaxy S6 family of phones has retailers excited. A report in The Korea Times notes that Samsung received 20 million pre-orders for the new phones from wireless carriers and retail stores around the world.
Hillary Clinton held a press conference this week to deal with the controversy surrounding the revelation last week that she was using a private email account to conduct government business during her tenure as Secretary of State. The reason? She said she just wanted to stick with one email account and one device. (Yeah, this flap isn’t closing any time soon.)
In NASA news, the Dawn spacecraft became the first piece of human-made hardware to achieve orbit around a dwarf planet last Friday when the sprightly little probe began to circle Ceres. Go, Dawn, go!
Meanwhile, over on Mars, scientists hope the arm on the Curiosity Rover can get back to work after its built-in drill began to suffer from an intermittent short-circuit problem a few weeks ago. Engineers have been running diagnostic tests while the rover has been parked. Even though Curiosity hasn’t been rolling around the red planet wince late February, it’s still been taking scientific observations from its position and monitoring the Martian weather.
NASA’s other active Mars rover, the 11-year-oldOpportunity, is working its mission to study the Martian terrain and has rolled more than 26 miles on its most recent quest to study unfamiliar rocks. Despite its advanced age, Opportunity is still knocking around and recently got a new version of its software installed remotely from the rover team back on Earth. It’s also scheduled for a little memory reformat in the near future as a maintenance procedure. May all our space explorers — factual and fictional — live on in our hearts and minds.
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