Tag Archives: Amazon Fire TV

PTJ 256: Age/Old Problems

As the tired old year of 2017 limps toward the exit, it seems fitting that age discrimination is in the news this week — both for smartphones and human job-seekers. El Kaiser and J.D. sort through two weeks’ worth of headlines, share their musings on Star Wars: The Last Jedi and offer up a warning about using browser extensions.

It’s been a crazy year in many ways, but Pop Tech Jam returns in early 2018, just in time to make fun of the weirdest products at the Consumer Electronics Show. Spin up Episode 256 here and look for us in a few weeks. Happy Holidaze, Jammers!

Links to Stories Discussed on This Week’s Episode

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint

REVIEW: The Steelseries Nimbus MFi Wireless Gaming Controller

The Steelseries Nimbus wireless controller is touted as the first gamepad with official Apple TV support. I purchased mine to use with the 4th generation Apple streaming box but, truth be told, I’m playing the long game here.

The $49.95 iOS-only game controller is also compatible with iPhones, iPads and Macs, so it can pull double-duty on my television and on my iPad Pro. That is of course if I can ever afford to actually BUY an iPad Pro.

A guy can dream, can’t he?

The Nimbus looks like a cross between an Xbox and a Playstation controller but unlike either of them, it charges via an Apple lightning connector and sports a rechargeable battery that claims to offer up to 40-plus hours of life.

The joysticks, d-pad and buttons on the Bluetooth 4.1 controller are responsive and feel solid but the shoulder buttons and triggers are a tad too mushy. You can really feel the difference when comparing the Nimbus to Amazon’s proprietary game controller for the 1st generation Fire TV.

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Amazon’s controller is less “plasticy” and has a better feel while gaming and the triggers have just the right amount of give.

You’ll need to download and install a companion app on your iPhone or iPad to keep the Nimbus’ firmware up to date and for a list of supported games. Rest assured, the list of games supported on the Apple phone and tablet is extensive.

New titles are popping up regularly for both the Amazon and Apple’s streaming devices but Apple holds a commanding lead over the Amazon box when it comes to available quality games.

One annoyance that came up while using the Nimbus on iOS devices was the lack of consistent controls across games. Many iPad and iPhone games do not extend controller support through menus, so you’re forced to go back and forth to the touchscreen. Of course this problem is not exclusive to the Steelseries device. All MFi (Made for iPhone and iPad) controllers will be affected by this limitation.

Overall, the Steelseries Nimbus wireless gaming controller works as advertised. It connected via Bluetooth quickly and painlessly and worked on all Apple devices and with all games I hurled at it.

You will not be blown away by its build or features but it is a solid controller and a must have for gaming on the Apple TV.

PTJ 168: Watching Apple TV

Anybody with visions of cord-cutting probably has either a TV antenna (and a house wthin range of digital television signals) or a set-top box for streaming video. If you fall in the a latter camp, choices abound — Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Google Chromecast,  Roku’s line of boxes — so many ways to snag your shows. Oh, and there’s also the latest edition of the Apple TV, which now brings apps and games to the video party as well. On this week’s episode, Don Donofrio drops by PTJ HQ to discuss the pro and cons of Apple’s latest little black box.

PTJ 121 News: The Hit List

The continuing saga of the Massive Sony Hack keeps churning. Earlier this week, Sony’s lawyers were telling media organizations to quit reporting on the content of the leaked data, saying the material is confidential information. Meanwhile, the Guardians of Peace hacking group has threatened theaters that show the film, even going so far as to reference the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US. (The FBI is working on the case. ) As a result, Sony has now canceled the film’s December 25th theatrical release.

scalesIn other legal news, Sony is also getting sued by two former employees who claim the corporate IT department knew the company network was vulnerable and did nothing to shore it up, leading to the lost of personal data. And a jury in California found Apple not guilty in that antitrust lawsuit that claimed Apple was erasing music from competing online music stores from iPods that were sold between 2006 and 2009. Lack of  plaintiffs probably didn’t help the case.

While they may be foes in the marketplace, Apple, Verizon, Amazon, HP and other companies are rallying around Microsoft in a legal battle with the US government over data privacy. As reported on a Microsoft blog, ten “friend of the court” briefs were filed and signed by 28 leading technology and media companies, 35 leading computer scientists, and 23 trade associations and advocacy organizations. The briefs have been filed regarding the case about the government’s search warrant for customer data stored on servers in Ireland — and Microsoft not wanting to turn it over.

If you happen to be a T-Mobile user here in New York City, fasten your seatbelts. The company announced this week that it had flipped the switch on its new Wideband LTE service that gives a 50 percent boost in network speeds.  T-Mobile also announced it was going to allow its customers to rollover unused megabytes from their monthly service plans into a Data Stash for later use.

nesthermDispatches from Updateville: Foursquare has released a version of its mobile app just for the iPad. The new app will have an emphasis on vacation planning. The Wall Street Journal and others are reporting that Google is considering adding its own Buy Now button and a two-day shipping service so customers don’t have to go to a whole another page to complete the transaction. And if you have one of those Nest thermostats, you can now control it from your phone with the Google app for Android and iOS.

Just in case we didn’t have enough options, Bose Electronics might be getting into the streaming music business. According to the Hypebot blog, Bose currently has an ad seeking “a Senior User Experience Designer to work on prototyping Bose’s next generation streaming music platform and ecosystem of products.” Well, now.

skypetranslateFrom the translation circuit in the TARDIS to the Babel Fish of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy to the Universal Translator of the Star Trek universe, the ability to instantly understand people speaking in different languages has been a popular element of science fiction, but Microsoft is working to make it be more of a reality. The company showed off a preview of its new Skype Translator this week. Microsoft is signing up volunteers for the preview program on the Skype site.  (Microsoft has also expanded the preview program for its new mobile app called Sway. )

Those of you with the Amazon Fire TV, HBO GO is coming your way — unless you get cable service from Comcast or Charter, which do not appear to be participating in the deal, so no GO for you.

aolcdThe Washington Post has a story up this week about the most popular websites every year since 1996.  Remember online life in 1996? There were only about 100,000 websites out there and Google.com hadn’t even been invented yet. People were getting online with their 28.8K or 33.6K dial-up modems, which meant we never complained about not being able to get FiOS because it didn’t exist yet.

And finally, speaking of Google, the company has published its annual Year in Search list with the Global Top Trending Searches of 2014:

The Massive Sony Hack didn’t crack the top ten here. But hey, with the way things are going for the company, there’s always next year.

PTJ 117: Amazon Fires Up El Kaiser’s TV

It’s clear El Kaiser is quietly amassing a collection of streaming set-top boxes that may one day rival his tablet collection. On this week’s episode he gives us his impressions of the Fire TV, Amazon’s flagship media consumption device and his latest gadget acquisition.

Also on this week’s show J.D. helps us keep an eye on our monthly mobile device’s data allowance .

In the news President Barack Obama urges the FCC to keep the Internet open; Alibaba rakes in billions on “Singles Day”; Facebook’s Messenger app is now being used by 500 million people; NASA rents out some space; high-level corporate executives get there computers hacked into over hotel WiFi; Microsoft Office is free tablets and phones; and DARPA works on computer code that writes itself.

PTJ 88: Laser Beams and TV Streams

Admit it, you aren’t prepared for the onslaught of “must see” television shows airing on Sunday nights this spring on U.S. networks. That under-powered cable company issued PVR just ain’t gonna cut it. Lucky for you J.D. has some strategies for dealing with your TV watching blues. In the news, the United States Navy announces its engineers are putting the finishing touches on a laser weapon prototype; the Supreme Court decides to skip a case against the National Security Agency over bulk phone metadata surveillance;  up to two-thirds of websites relying on OpenSSL might be susceptible to a critical security flaw; Google’s Play store deals with another embarrassing mishap; Windows XP officially bites the dust; and Battlestar Galactica may get “reimagined” again, but this time on the big screen.

 

PTJ 88 News: Frick and Frak

Just about a year ago here on Pop Tech Jam, we were chattering about the tests the United States Navy was doing with laser weapons and this week, the Navy has announced its engineers are putting the finishing touches on a laser weapon prototype that will be the first to be deployed to a ship. The device is said to be accurate and affordable. However you feel about modern combat, this seems to be a significant step into the future. Frickin’ lasers. On a warboat.

Back in the present, the United States Supreme Court has decided to skip a case against the National Security Agency over all that bulk phone metadata surveillance. The Court denied a petition by activist Larry Klayman. Ars Technica and other sites have noted that the court giving this one a miss means that Congress will attempt to tackle the future of the phone surveillance program. However, given the past few years of Congressional productivity (or lack thereof), one is not filled with a sense of great hope on this matter.

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Over in the Department of More Things To Be Paranoid About, The New York Times has a story this week about how hackers can break into computers on corporate networks in ways most people have never imagined — including online menus from Chinese food restaurants. And if you think that’s gonna gives you heartburn, check out Heartbleed, a dangerous security flaw. GigaOM has an info-roundup on the topic here.

The Google Play app store has another embarrassing security incident to add to its list. An app called Virus Shield, which cost $4 and had a huge number of downloads, was discovered last week to be a complete scam. Seriously. It did absolutely nothing. The Android Police site even posted samples of the app’s code to show the thing was bogus. Google has since yanked the app from the store.

Microsoft’s official End of Support for Windows XP deadline was this past Tuesday. Obituaries for the 12-and-a-half year-old operating system could be found around the Web along with stories about the massive security sinkhole the outdated system poses as it continues to run unsupported on millions of machines around the world. If you (or someone you know) is still on XP for whatever reason, at least make sure the poor computer has an up-to-date antivirus and security program installed and do not use Internet Explorer on it.

Microsoft fancies itself a TV studio now, too, after seeing Netflix and Amazon jump in.  Bloomberg News reports that the company’s new Xbox television studio is producing at least six new shows that are expected to arrive this summer.

Amazon went and released its Amazon Fire TV set-top box last week. The small $99 device connects to your HDTV and pretty much serves as a rabbit hole right to Amazon’s warren of wares. Digital music and Amazon Instant Video streams, are available, of course, as is content from Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Pandora and a few other services. (It has been noted that the Amazon Fire TV box has about 180 apps and channels so far, while Roku’s set-top streamer currently brings about 1,200 to your TV screen.)

Games could also be on the menu for the next version of Apple TV. Adding more weight to the rumors: a public filing to the FCC from Comcast and Time Warner Cable mentions that Apple is developing a new type of set-top box.

Speaking of set-top boxes and services, remember Google TV? Yeah, not exactly a barnburner there, with the whole Web-on-your-TV thing, but The Verge site is reporting that Google is having another go soon with Android TV. Google isn’t talking, but remember, the annual I/O conference is and the end of June in San Francisco.

Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference is set for early June, also in San Francisco, but Microsoft already had its programmer’s pow-wow last week. The annual Build Conference wrapped up last Friday after a series of announcements from the company on Windows-related matters.

Meanwhile, in anticipation of Apple’s aforementioned WWDC event, the 9to5Mac site has put together a roundup of all the rumors and leaks it’s heard on OS X 10.10 and iOS 8. (Also down Apple Way, Adobe has released a mobile version of its Lightroom program for photographers on the go with their iPads.)

Perhaps taking a page from the Facebook, Twitter is overhauling the design of user profile pages in its Web site. A post on the Twitter company blog describes its sassy new look for spring.

And finally, the Hollywood trade publication Variety is reporting that Universal is gearing up for a movie version of Battlestar Galactica. No word on casting or timing, but the site hears that the film will be developed as “a complete reimagining of the story.”
“WHYYYYYY?” so say we all.

Now let us think of happier times:

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