PTJ 106 News: Bait and Switch

Facebook is tinkering with user newsfeeds once again, but this time, there may not be quite the outrage from the villagers that previous fiddlings have generated. In a company blog post this week, Facebook staffers announced they were making two changes. The first is to stifle spammy, click-baiting headlines that pop up in feeds all too often. The second change is to quote “help people see links shared on Facebook in the best format” by displaying more posted items to its  “link style” format with the little picture, a headline and other information about the item .

If you’re an Instagrammer who’s also into time-lapse videos, your dreams have come true. Instagram has released a new Hyperlapse app for iOS. Hopefully, Android users won’t have to wait around too long for a compatible version.

poloThe US Open Tennis Championships are here in New York, and in addition to more people  on the 7 train to Queens for the next two weeks, there’s more news: Fashion designer Ralph Lauren is testing out iOS-connected nylon shirts that track the wearer’s fitness stats. These “Polo Tech” shirts have sensors woven into the fabric to monitor heart rate, breathing, heart-rate, steps taken and other factors. (How long before the shirts become sentient and zap you if you pick up a bag of Doritos?)

Hackers went after Sony this week, taking down the Sony PlayStation Network in a denial-of-service attack that temporarily took down the network. The group also had it in for John Smedley, the president of Sony Online Entertainment, and claimed to have tweeted a bomb threat from a Lizard Squad account that reportedly forced his American Airlines flight from Dallas to San Diego to make an unplanned stop in Phoenix.

Amazon went and grabbed the game-video streaming company Twitch out from Google and YouTube, which had been in acquisition talks with Twitch earlier this year, but is said to have pulled out due to antitrust fears. Amazon reportedly paid $970 million dollars for Twitch. The übermegastore is getting all up in Google’s online-advertisements business as well. Amazon is said to be developing its own ad software system called Amazon Sponsored Links that could grab coin from Google’s $50 billion-a-year haul with its Google Ad Words empire. And let’s not forget, Amazon also just launched its own credit-card reader and checkout software and it working to get brick-and-mortar stores to adopt its point-of-sale payment system over others. Money (that’s what Amazon wants).

DHSThose point-of-sale systems were in the headlines last fall with the epic Target hack, but that same Backoff malware that infiltrated Target’s systems is still out there and could be infecting more than a thousand businesses. This information comes from the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), who has joined forces with the U.S. Secret Service and others to sound a warning about a new Backoff malware version that’s been evading antivirus software. UPS, which announced a security breach in a bunch of its UPS Stores last week, is said to be one of the victims.

As we get closer to Labor Day, the fall season for iOS gear looms large and Apple seems to be busting a move with its newly acquired Beats Music streaming service. Many iTunes customers got email from Apple promoting the Beats Music app and Apple pushing Beats Music app via email to iTunes customers and has moved the program into the special Apps by Apple section of its online store. Guess we’ll be hearing about it soon enough.

Microsoft is also getting ready for fall. It’s whacked a hundred bucks off its Surface 2 RT tablet line until September 27th or until stocks last — which may be the point, to clear out those darn stocks.

If you don’t have cable TV but still want to record shows to watch for later, TiVo has a DVR for you — and it’s only $50, plus the standard $15 a month TiVo service fee. The new product is called the TiVo Roamio OTA and takes its input from your TV antenna instead of a cable card like other TiVo models. Cord cutters, sharpen your blades.

Also from the Department of Cords: Hewlett-Packard is recalling its LS-15 model AC power cords due to fire and burn hazards. HP said it has received 29 reports of power cords overheating and melting or charring. These incidents have resulted in two claims of minor burns and 13 claims of minor property damage. If you’ve got one of these babies, hit up the Recalls page, pronto.

hpcord

And finally, comScore has released its US Mobile App Report that looks at the growth and usage of mobile software. It also lists the current 25 most popular mobile apps in America as of June 2014. As one might except, Facebook was at the top of the heap, but no games made the list. Perhaps everyone was too busy wallowing in click-bait to get in some quality fragging time. People! Priorities!

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