Another Comic-Con International is in the books but despite it being held in the City of Motion it was Tinseltown that grabbed the headlines at the convention. In the news, Netflix added 630,000 subscribers but Wall Street is still disappointed; the United Kingdom moves to block online pornography; a German security expert is warning of a flaw in SIM card technology; the Leap Motion controller finally begins shipping; Apple confirm that people are indeed still listening to podcasts; researchers get one step closer to building Replicants and a Holodeck; and you can donate the spare processing power from your Android device for a worthy cause.
Summertime, and the TV is binge-worthy. Netflix added 630,000 subscribers during the second quarter (perhaps due to an influx of Arrested Development fans who giddily signed up to watch the first new episodes in years. (However, investors were hoping for more like 880,000 to 900,000 new customers. Picky, picky investors.)
It wasn’t all bad for Netflix, though. The company snagged 14 Emmy nominations earlier this month for Arrested Development and the political thriller House of Cards, its new original series, Orange Is the New Black, is getting greeat reviews and plans for documentaries and stand-up comedy specials are in the works. And should Facebook go to a paid subscriber plan? In a blog post last week, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone suggested that The Social Network offer a premium option for say, $10 a month, that gets rid of all that annoying advertising all over the site.
Meanwhile, over in Europe — and not from the Royal Baby News Network — the United Kingdom is moving to a new policy where the government automatically blocks online pornography unless users specifically request to opt in through their Internet providers. Things are a little less top-down up in Finland, though. The Finnish Parliament will soon be discussing the Common Sense Copyright Act, said to be the first law crowd-sourced by the public.
A German security expert is warning of a flaw in SIM card technology that could allow criminals to steal cash or eavesdrop on calls. The researcher said he discovered a way to hack into the SIM card by sending it a text message with a bogus digital signature from the carrier network, which could allow an intruder to upload malware to the card.
Let’s hope nobody jumps in with malware for the Leap Motion controller for PC and Mac computers, which finally began shipping this week after a lot of early buzz and production delays. Developers have created about 75 apps so far to work with the controller so far.
Apple announced this week that it had one billion podcast subscriptions and counting. The company also announced — through e-mail — that its Web portal for third-party developers was hacked last week and went offline for an extended period of time. A Turkish programmer came forward to confess he was behind the whole hack after finding 13 bugs, and said the developer site went down shortly after he contacted Apple with his findings. (Also in developer news, Samsung is busting a move, putting a little air between itself from Google’s software and starting up its own developer’s conference this fall.)
In the world of science, researchers at the University of California Berkeley are working on a user interactive sensor network on flexible plastic, otherwise known as electronic skin. Disney Research is working on a haptic technology to help people feel virtual objects and experience textures. The system, called AIREAL, that uses controlled puffs of compressed air to provide tactile feedback to someone using a motion sensor to play a game, move through a virtual environment or control a computer.
Over at NASA, the agency is still looking into what caused an astronaut’s helmet to leak water and interrupt last week’s spacewalk up on the International Space Station. The space agency also released photos this week of the Earth — taken from the Cassini spacecraft 900 million miles away out by Saturn.
And finally, you can now donate the spare processing power from your Android device to one of six worthy causes crunching distributed data for research on math, physics and pharmaceutical projects with the BOINC app from the University of California-Berkeley. It’s volunteer computing and no, it won’t eat your battery or your data-plan bytes so your idle Android can help scientists study diseases and do humanitarian research, predict global warming, or discover pulsars.
No Android device — but a burning desire to help save the world? No problem there because you can also volunteer your desktop of laptop for the greater good.