PTJ 73 News: MAVEN and Mavis

The Console Race is on! The Sony PS4 went on sale last Friday in North America and has already made a lot of money, selling more than one million units in the first 24 hours of release. As with any massive launch, there were reports of server overload and dud consoles harshing some gamer joy, but Sony’s PS4 support site and live chat technicians are trying to keep up with and resolve the complaints. Microsoft’s Xbox One enters the fray later this week.

Samsung says its sold 800,000 units in the two months since it released the $300 Galaxy Gear. And Bloomberg News is reporting that leaks from “people familiar” with the company’s future plans point to an upcoming Galaxy smartphone next year with a three-sided display that wraps around the edges of the handset so messages can be read at an angle.

Google announced this week that it will soon display warnings above the search results on 13,000 terms it believed are associated with child sexual abuse and pornography; Microsoft is following suit with Bing. While the companies first made the change at the request of Prime Minster David Cameron of the United Kingdom, Google said it plans to display the warnings worldwide. Detractors of the new policy question its usefulness as pedophiles tend to surf anonymously.

As many news organizations reported late last week, Facebook has amended its privacy policy to basically say, why yes, we are gonna use anything of yours that you post that we want to and turn it into advertising to bombard your friends. Meanwhile, Marissa Mayer over at Yahoo took to the corporate blog this week with a post titled “Our Commitment to Protecting Your Information.” In the post, she reiterated Yahoo’s commitment to keeping its users mail private and away from the watchful gaze of snoops, governmental or otherwise.

Sprint and Best Buy are teaming up to help out students this holiday season. Those young academics who buy a smartphone with Sprint service from Best Buy, will get a free year of unlimited talk and text on the phone and one gigabyte of data month. The iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S class and several LG models are included in the deal, but keep in mind that because you’re buying the phone without a two-year contract, you’re paying full price for the device up front.

Slingbox — that handy piece of hardware that hooks up to your TV and lets you watch your programs on tablets and computers over the Internet — has updated its apps for Android and iOS to add support for the Roku box. The new SlingPlayer 3.0 is available now and an app for Windows 8.1 is due next month.

The Google Play Music app has also arrived for iOS at last, optimized for the iPhone and ready to go. Those with iOS devices can now stream their $10 a month Google Music All Access subscriptions although new users on Apple gadgets get that first month free. All Access is Google’s stake in the online radio station game where Pandora and iTunes Radio also play, but unlike other services, Google’s radio does not limit the amount of songs listeners can skip.

Also in the Google-Apple mix, the Big G has agreed to pay $17 million dollars to 37 states and the District of Columbia to settle that lawsuit over Google blowing by the privacy settings in Apple’s Safari browser. In brighter legal news, Google did win 8-year-old library book-scanning lawsuit last week.

CNN Money and other sites are reporting that some of the Android sales figures may be erroneously based on so-called Android TV sticks and set-top boxes commonly used in certain parts of the world to bootleg movies. But on a more legitimate commerce note, Google is opening snow-globe-shaped popup stores called Winter Wonderlabs in six cities around the country. Step into the globe and check out the Google merch.

If you were planning on making a trip top New York City to see the Broadway musical, Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, you may want to hurry. The big-budget show, which had a very rocky and accident-plagued start, is scheduled to close in New York early next year and move to Las Vegas for a run beginning in 2015.

cowrobotOxford Dictionaries has announced its Word of the Year and the 2013 winner is….selfie.  And speaking if Australia, researchers at the University of Sydney are testing a four-wheeled robot to herd cows.

In NASA news, the agency successfully blasted off its Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission on Monday from Cape Canaveral. When it arrives, hopefully on September 22, 2014, the 8-foot, cube-shaped MAVEN spacecraft will fall into an elliptical orbit above the Red Planet to study the atmosphere.

Celebrations and anticipations for the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who are running high this week. The special episode, “The Day of the Doctor” will be globally simulcast around the world this Saturday. In the meantime, you can find plenty of interviews, episode marathons and retrospectives on various BBC outlets, including Radio 4’s audio archive and the BBC and BBC America sites. And in the slim chance that you haven’t seen it yet, DO NOT MISS the prequel Webisode, The Night of the Doctor, that We Shall Not Spoil Here.

And finally, we here at Pop Tech Jam note the passing of Mavis Batey, one of the top female codebreakers at Bletchley Park during World War II. Ms. Batey, who died last week at the age of 92, was the last of the great break-in code crackers, and the messages she helped decipher from Nazi Enigma machines played a significant role in the Allied effort, especially for the D-Day landings in 1944. Thank you, ma’am!

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