Tag Archives: American Airlines

PTJ 171 News: Don’t Forget to File Your Paperwork

Attention octocopter pilots! The Federal Aviation Administration has taken the suggestions of its task force to heart and has now set up a database for drone owners to register their unmanned aircraft with the government. The new rule goes into effect December 21st and those who skip out could be subject to chunky fines. And in other government news, The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Department of Homeland Security is trying to come up with a plan to examine social media posts made by individuals applying for visas to the United States. Watch out for those Facebook hoaxes, agents.

Across the pond, the European Union is getting serious about user privacy and is putting a new directive in place that imposes fines on companies that do not clearly explain to users what personal information about them is being collected — and how that information will be used. Hit ’em up, Europe!

Facebook is taking yet another bit of functionality out of its main mobile app. As the TechCrunch blog reports, The Social Network is turning off the photo sync feature for its mobile app next month and will nag its members to download its Moments app instead.

hotwheelsHoverboards are hot items — for reals. Numerous reports of fires from the devices’ lithium-ion batteries have prompted safety concerns for some time, with the Federal Aviation Administration even encouraging airline passengers earlier this year to leave spare batteries at home. Several recently reported hoverboard fires now have the industry on even higher alert. Most major airlines — including American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta, Jet Blue, Alaska Airlines and others — now ban the boards in checked and carry-on luggage. Amazon began to yank certain models from its online store last week as well.

Google is trying to help you keep your plans organized with its Inbox by Gmail app. Last summer, Inbox added an algorithm that sniffs out and collects all the airline, hotel, rental car and other confirmation messages associated with travel and groups them together in a collection called a Trip Bundle. This week, Google announced one-tap sharing for all the Trip Bundle data so friends and family can get all your coordinates at once.

Google is also showing some love to those who buy a new Chromecast streaming dongle. If you pony up $35 for a Chromecast, Google kicks back $20 to go shopping for content in its Google Play store. The offer can be redeemed through the Chromecast app until January 2nd, 2016.

Careful web watchers noticed a recent post on a Microsoft blog that seems to be walking back the company’s decision to take away promised gobs of OneDrive storage because some people were abusing the privilege.  A Microsoft manager posted that while the company was not changing its overall plans, it would make some concessions to loyal customers, as long as they sign up on the OneDrive site to keep it by the end of January.

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In hacking news, Kromtech, the makers of the software utility MacKeeper, has acknowledged what it calls “a potential vulnerability in its data storage system” that was found by a security researcher.  Security blogger Brian Krebs said the incident revealed the personal information of 13 million customers was exposed. (And yes, MacKeeper is that pesky scareware program that uses pop-under ads to get people to buy it and some sites recommend against using it anyway.)

And in a follow-up to the big VTech hack last month, a 21-year-old man has been arrested in England on suspicion of “unauthorized access” to a computer. UK officials say they are still in the early stages of the investigation.

The New York State Attorney General continues the probe into advertised vs. actual broadband speeds, and is now asking the public to check their own connections at the Internet Health Test site and report the findings. AG Eric Schneiderman, who is investigating speed claims made by Verizon Communications Inc, Cablevision Systems Corp and Time Warner Cable Inc., said customers wanting to help should perform the test, take a screenshot of the results and fill in an online form on the state’s website.

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Speaking of Verizon, the company has just updated it FiOS mobile app so customers can steam and watch shows they have recorded back home on their DVRs when they are out and about with their mobile devices.

Also streaming, Netflix but up a blog post this week describing its efforts to increase the quality of the video flowing over broadband connections while reducing data use by 20 percent. A story on the Variety site explains the project in detail, which basically amounts to different encoding rules for different types of video content, because after all, as a Netflix manager says, “You shouldn’t allocate the same amount of bits for ‘My Little Pony’ as for ‘The Avengers.’”

Rumors about next spring’s expected Samsung Galaxy S7 phone are beginning to emerge, and the whispers make the new model sound not unlike the iPhone 6s. According to The Wall Street Journal, Samsung is adding a pressure-sensitive screen, ala 3D Touch, and a high-speed charging port. A retina scanner for biometric security may also be in the works. Samsung is also appealing its recent patent-case loss to Apple, and is going all the way to the Supreme Court. No word yet if the Supremes will take the case.

And finally…what’s everybody doing this weekend?

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PTJ 106: Guardians of the Geekery

Summer fun is over and El Kaiser has something to get off his chest in his Tech Term this week and JD has tips on how to stream local newscasts from most of the U.S. directly to your television.

In the news, Facebook tinkers with user newsfeeds once again; Instagram releases a new app for creating time-lapse videos;  Fashion designer Ralph Lauren tests out iOS-connected nylon shirts that track the wearer’s fitness stats at the U.S. Tennis Open Championships; Hackers take down the Sony PlayStation Network; Amazon buys the game-video streaming company Twitch; the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) sounds a warning about a new Backoff malware version; Apple begins a huge push for its Beats Music app; and Hewlett-Packardrecalls its LS-15 model AC power cords due to fire and burn hazards.

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.

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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!