All posts by J.D. Biersdorfer

Stream “Trek”

The discerning pop-culture geek has so many video services to choose from these days, all without being yoked to a pricey cable TV subscription. Netflix and Hulu are the obvious big players here, with shows like Stranger Things or Marvel’s trio of  Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage on Netflix; Hulu’s got 10 seasons of Smallville and the upcoming original adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale among its nerd bait. Cable-free fans of Game of Thrones can now watch legally with the a la carte HBO Now streaming service, while Showtime has its own standalone streamer for those who only want to watch Homeland. Life is good.

But for Star Trek fans, there’s only one service if you want to see the entire television canon — including all 22 episodes of Star Trek: The Animated Series:  The CBS All Access streaming channel. Among tons of other CBS shows, the service hosts almost 700 episodes of Star Trek programs. That number will get higher soon because there’s another entry in the works.

Star Trek: Discovery is currently in production and will hopefully debut later this year (after slipping from January to May as possible arrival dates). For those who vaguely remember the announcement, the series will have a new ship, new characters and new missions, all firmly rooted within the established Star Trek Universe. The show is set about a decade before the events depicted in The Original Series and the season-long storyline reportedly revolves around “an incident and an event in Star Trek history that’s been talked about but never been explored.”

According to early reports, the new show focuses on Lieutenant Commander Rainsford, the Number One serving aboard the USS Discovery. She’s played by Sonequa Martin-Green, who many genre TV fans will recall from her work on Walking Dead and Once Upon a Time. James Frain, who played Ferdinand on Orphan Black, is in the cast as a younger version of Sarek, Spock’s father. You can’t have a Star Trek show without Klingons, and Chris Obi from Ghost in the Shell, Shazad Latif, (MI-5 and Black Mirror), and Mary Chieffo represent Team Bat’leth. And fans of Michelle Yeoh will get to see her in a recurring role as captain of the USS Shenzhou.

If you’re on the fence about plunking down either $6 or $10 a month for CBS All Access (prices varying based on limited or no commercials), you should be able to see the first episode for free when the series kicks off, as CBS plans to show it on its regular broadcast TV channels before switching over exclusively to the streaming service. The extra cost may be annoying, but some may find it a small price to pay for fresh new Star Trek stories.

PTJ 222: Noises Off

On this week’s episode,  Don Donofrio returns to discuss possible paths ahead for of Apple this year as the company comes off a record-breaking quarterly profit and a surging stock price.  El Kaiser and J.D. have some things to say about Facebook’s new autoplay audio on videos, the price war between Verizon Wireless and
T-Mobile for unlimited data plans, and new tools for Google Maps. Oh, and the Queen of England is doing her part in the global war on cybercrime. Tally-ho!

Links to Stories in This Week’s News Segment

PTJ 221: Watching and Waiting

On this week’s episode, El Kaiser and J.D. discuss the collision of the technology industry with the government, smart television sets that watch you, the ongoing battle with fake news and the demise of the message boards on IMDb.com. Get out of the winter weather and fire up Episode 221!

Links to This Week’s News Stories

PTJ 220: Lost Worlds

Politics body-slammed the tech world this week, cyber-criminals have figured out yet another way to rip off unsuspecting victims and an enterprising young archaeologist has come up with a way to let volunteers help look for lost ruins from the comfort of their own homes. And when El Kaiser and J.D. finish the news, it’s time to pour one out for the Father of Pac-Man. Welcome to Episode 220!

Ghostbusters

Masaya Nakamura, known to many as the Father of Pac-Man, died earlier this week at the age of 91. In 1980, his company, Namco, released the original Pac-Man game by designer Toru Iwatani — and we’ve been busting ghosts ever since. The influence of Pac-Man on popular culture these past 30-odd years is hard to underestimate, but if you’re feeling nostalgic, fire up the Android, iOS and Windows app versions of the game.

If you prefer a desktop experience, download the ROMs to play on an emulator with your PC or Mac. The Internet Archive’s software repository has several versions of Pac-Man for your web browser. Google even did a browser-playable Google Doodle of the game for its 30th anniversary in 2010. You can buy the chomping yellow fellow for consoles or even in standalone gadgets.

Many live-action versions of the game have popped up over the years, with people running through the streets. (The Pac-Manhattan event here in New York City is a big one.)

And if you grew up playing Pac-Man in the big console cabinet at the video arcade in the mall, you can relive those days, too — for about $3000, Amazon will ship a 237-pound working replica to your home.

PTJ 219: Blue Skies

Samsung thinks it’s solved the mystery of the exploding Note 7, Sprint grabs a new business partner, SpaceX returns to work and oh, cars might fly soon. On this week’s episode, El Kaiser and J.D. dive into a pile of tech-news headlines before Apple-watcher Don Donofrio drops by to discuss the company’s 2016 efforts.

PTJ 218: Some Bot to Watch Over Me

The Consumer Electronics Show is over for another year, leaving a pile of press releases, product releases and demo videos in its wake. El Kaiser and J.D.  discuss the highlights of the 2017 mega-gadgetfest, and sample a few other stories in the tech headlines this week. Also on the show, J.D. points NASA fans in the direction of the new movie Hidden Figures — and the apps and sites celebrating these inspiring women. Through hardships to the stars, indeed.

Links to This Week’s News Stories

I have seen the future: Alexa controls everything (Ars Technica)

All the cool new gadgets at CES 2017 (CNET)

Battle of the CES 2017 coffee and tea robots (CNET)

Nokia 6, Asus ZenFone AR and Other CES 2017 Launches, Vodafone’s Rs. 499 Plan, More News This Week (Gadgets360)

Marissa Mayer is resigning from Yahoo’s board (Business Insider)

After Verizon deal, Yahoo to become ‘Altaba’ and Marissa Mayer to step down from board (The New York Times)

United State Securities and Exchange Commission Form 8-K

Facebook is going to start showing ads in the middle of its videos and sharing the money with publishers (Recode)

Cybersecurity vulnerabilities identified in St. Jude medical’s implantable cardiac devices and Merlin@home transmitter (FDA Safety Communication)

Commission proposes high level of privacy rules for all electronic communications and updates data protection rules for EU institutions (EU Commission press release)

Our continuing commitment to your privacy with Windows 10 (Windows blog)

One place to manage your privacy (Microsoft)

Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 15002 for PC (Windows blog)

Coming Soon to Windows 10 (Microsoft)

Facebook, Google face strict EU privacy rules that could hit ad revenues (Ars Technica)

KGI: 3 new iPads to debut next quarter will slow decline in sales, 10-10.5 inch model wildcard (9to5Mac)

Apple releases fix to MacBook Pros in response to Consumer Reports’ battery test results (Consumer Reports)

Subject: The iPhone turns 10: a visual history of Apple’s most important product (The Verge)

Phil Schiller on iPhone’s launch, how it changed Apple, and why it will keep going for 50 years (Backchannel)

Ad Astra Per Aspera

Nonfiction or fiction plot, space rules at the cinema this month. For those who may have missed it, the movie Hidden Figures dethroned Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as the Number One film at the box office this past weekend.

Hidden Figures tells the story of a group of African-American female mathematicians working at the NASA facility in Virginia in the mid-20th century, and how they used their skills as human computers to calculate trajectories for launches, landings and other things you need to do to get to and from space. It’s based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly. The film is set in the years right up to and including the early Project Mercury missions that put the first American astronauts into suborbital and orbital flight.

The film is set in the years right up to and including the early Project Mercury missions that put the first American astronauts into suborbital and orbital flight. The late John Glenn is portrayed in the movie, as are his fellow Mercury astronauts.

Hidden Figures focuses on three women who had to battle not only sexism — but racism as well — in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s. Mathematics wizard Katherine Johnson, engineer Mary Jackson and computing supervisor Dorothy Vaughn were all integral members of NASA back then, and their stories have been largely overlooked. For that reason, go see this movie. It’s an inspiring story brought to life by wonderful actresses that gives long overdue credit where credit is due. And if the film piques your interest about that era, there’s more to learn.

IBM, which has a bit pf product placement in the film, weighs in with an inventive augmented reality app called Outthink Hidden for Android and iOS. The app, developed with the T Brand Studio arm of The New York Times, lets users activate text, photos and video content about the women depicted in the movie. This is done by tracking down AR markers within ad units on nytimes.com, via ads in select print editions of The New York Times, and at 150 geofenced locations throughout the U.S. The app also celebrates diversity in STEM education.

If you want background reading on the black female computers of the NASA facility in Virginia, the Smithsonian, New York magazine and Popular Mechanics have all done stories in the past few months. For the story of women working for NASA out west at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California, check out The Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars, by Nathalia Holt. That book was also published last year.

As it did with Matt Damon’s The Martian movie in 2015, NASA fully supported Hidden Figures and has rolled out educational pages on its site for those who want to know more about this particular chapter of the agency’s history. Check out the Hidden Figures to Modern Figures section of the NASA site. You can also find the agency’s coverage when Katherine Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

And continuing its visible progress in diversity issues, NASA also announced new crew members for the International Space Station last week. In 2018, Dr. Jeanette Epps will become the first black American astronaut to serve a term aboard the station.
Congratulations, Dr. Epps!

PTJ 217: She’ll Always Be Royalty to Us

After a tumultuous year that saw the sad passing of actress and author Carrie Fisher (as well as Kenny Baker) the year 2017 has arrived. And so, coincidentally,  is Episode 217 of Pop Tech Jam.

On this week’s show, El Kaiser and J.D. discuss some early announcements out of the Consumer Electronics Show, what Facebook’s been up to lately and explore suggestions to the Twitter’s CEO about improving the bird-themed microblogging service.

J.D. also has a (Hopefully) Helpful Hint about watching the skies. While you’re looking up, raise a glass to the memories of the actors that brought Princess Leia and R2-D2 to life all those years ago. They will be with us, always.

Links to Stories in This Week’s Episode