PTJ 113 News: Close Encounters

iBabyApple continues its fall rollout of hardware and software, and even smarthome devices designed to work with the iOS 8 HomeKit software in iOS 8 can be found in the Apple Store. Need a connected kitchen thermometer, baby monitor or weather station? How about digital door locks? They all await you. And the  Apple Pay service may launch this weekend — the MacRumors site posted an internal note from Walgreens telling stores to be ready to go live with Apple Pay on October 18th.

redcrossGoogle is  experimenting with video links for live medical chats with doctors over a video link. The feature is still in the experimental phase, but could wind up as one of the Google “Helpouts” video sessions that connect a user to experts or professionals for online help.

Symantec now says it’s breaking up into two separate companies, probably because everyone else is doing it. One of the new firms will keep concentrated on security and the other on information management.

Aereo — the feisty little company with the tiny antennas that got slapped down by the Surpeme Court last spring — has not given up the fight to remain in business and has sent a letter to the FCC saying it would be willing to accept new regulations like cable and satellite companies do. If that all goes through, it means Aereo will also have to start negotiating for retransmission fees with all the broadcasters that massively sued it in court the past few years.

Some people are interested in Windows OS X, er, Windows 10. A Microsoft blog reports that more than a million people have registered for the Windows Insider program that gives users access to the Windows 10 Technical Preview.

qikMicrosoft continues to tinker with the Skype voice and video-calling service. This week, the company announced the new Skype Qik mobile app for sending short video messages to friends. The Skype Qik app, available for Android, iOS and soon Microsoft’s own Windows Phone, is a little bit Vine and a little bit Snapchat. Perhaps Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella can use Skype Qik to send personal video apologies to the women who attended his appearance at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference last week, where he told the audience that women should trust karma if they don’t get the raise they want. As an F5 vortex of backlash ensued, Mr. Nadella quickly sent out a memo to Microsoft employees and the world saying “I got that question completely wrong.” No argument here.

Samsung announced that it’s working on its new 60 GHz Wi-Fi technology that allows for data speeds of up to 4.6 gigabits per second. All this is five times faster that the current possible speeds. The new Wi-Fi flavor is officially called 802.11ad and Samsung hopes to get it out there for consumers by next year.
Please hurry, Samsung!

tux_cloudsWe’ve heard all about the Google, Facebook and Amazon drones this year, and now the Linux Foundation is encouraging developers to check out the new Dronecode project that unites the existing PX4 open-source hardware and APM Autopilot projects. The Linux Foundation would like to remind us that drones can be used for good, too!

Dropbox posted a statement online this week saying that it wasn’t hacked and it was third-party services leaking user credentials. (So there.) The company also advises turning on two-step verification for your Dropbox account.

Snapsaved, one of those third-party services designed to save self-destructing Snapchat messages, got hacked and 500 megabytes of images that the original senders probably wanted to disappear forever are now free in the wild. Yeah, didn’t see that one coming.

nasamarsAnd finally, two little nuggets of Mars-related news. For one, technology developed to help the Mars Curiosity rover look for methane on Mars is being adapted by California’s Pacific Gas & Electric Company for a hand-held device that can locate gas leaks here on Earth for immediate repair. And second, comet watchers at NASA and other space agencies around the world will be tuning in on October 19th when Comet C/2013 A1 will fly within 87,000 miles of Mars. Now, 87,000 miles is practically spittin’ distance in space terms, and thanks to all the orbiters and rovers up there on the Red Planet, we ought to have a pretty good view of things. In fact, NASA already has an info page and its “Near Miss With Mars!” logo up and ready for your visit.

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