Episode 30 News: Gonna Build a LEGO Mindstorm Dalek

The holidays are over and we’re back to business. While Apple just announced it hit the 40 billion downloads mark for its App Store since it opened for business in mid-2008, it may not be enough to beat Google to the Million App Mark this year, as growth-rate calculations favor the Google Play Store to get there first. Google Play is currently estimated to have 800,000 apps available. Android-based devices are also taking a bite out of Apple’s iPhone sales. ComScore’s November 2012 Mobile Subscriber Market Share Report shows Samsung on top with 26.9 percent of US sales compared to Apple’s 18.5 percent of users. The iPhone also has a Consumer Reports ranking behind Samsung and LG handsets.

Way back in 2010, the Library on Congress signed an agreement with Twitter to gain access to all public tweets sent since the microblogging service went live in 2006. As of last week, the archive now holds 170 billion Twitter messages and continues to grow. If you have an unprotected Twitter account, odds are, you’ve been archived. So remember, tweet for posterity!

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Walmart has enhanced its Vudu To Go app for the PC and Mac and will soon let customers do their disc-to-digital copies at home without having the schlep a bunch of previously purchased DVD and Blu-Ray discs to the nearest Wal-Mart for conversion. AT&T is also dabbling in the streaming business with its new $5-a-month U-Verse Screen Pack, although it doesn’t quite have the massive inventory of Netflix. Still, if you have AT&T U-Verse and want to stream flicks like St. Elmo’s Fire, Hudson Hawk and The Care Bears Movie all month, it’ll cost you less than a movie ticket, even with matinee pricing.

Get ready Lego Mindstorms EV3! The new kit, due out in the late summer/early fall features all kinds of fun stuff for your do-it-yourself robot. The $350 EV3 system includes an infrared sensor, the ability to be controlled by a smartphone or tablet and a Linux-based system for programming the robot. Remember kids, practice your robotics and someday maybe you can build rovers for NASA missions. (Speaking of NASA. The agency has scheduled a press conference at the Johnson Space Center next Thursday, January 17, to preview the next two missions to the International Space Station.)

And finally, Walt Disney theme parks are going high-tech with the new MyMagic+ vacation management system, which comebines a new integrated Web site, mobile app and electronic wrist bracelet called the MagicBand to handle all your scheduling, housing and monetary needs during your stay in the Mouse House. The potential for data gathering and tracking has not gone unnoticed by privacy advocates, but the MyMagic+ system won’t be mandatory. It may be a small world (after all) — but big data is growing.

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