Protections for consumer privacy and data collection took a hit this past week, as regulations were rolled back into nonexistence — sending some concerned Netizens to software they hope will help shield their online activity. The big question: Does it work?
Meanwhile, Yahoo and AOL take an Oath, Samsung’s Galaxy S8 reveals some enviable features, Amazon finds yet another way to get your cash and Google tries to make sure perfectly nice advertisements don’t end up on hateful YouTube videos. Join El Kaiser and J.D. as they discuss it all in Episode 229!
Forget those grainy old newsreels of Republicans and Democrats putting on large hats and gathering every four years to nominate a candidate for president. Thanks to YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and various other social platforms, wonks and watchers alike have instant access to high-definition video right from the arena floor, plus ongoing commentary from viewers around the world. Will this massive wall of easily accessible data make for a more informed body politic — or just lead to more online body slams? And what about those the hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee that some say were courtesy of Russian operatives trying to influence the results of November? Journalist Laura M. Holson drops by PTJ HQ with her observations on it all.
And, after a week off so J.D. could work on her monitor tan, she and El Kaiser are back behind the mic with a summary of the week’s tech news, including Verizon’s purchase of Yahoo and summer projects from Microsoft and Google. Pour yourself a cool, refreshing beverage and settle on in for a listen!
On the topic of Twitter, the bird-themed is launching a new marketing campaign where it will attempt to explain why it’s a unique delivery mechanism for breaking news and gossip. However, do not expect any mention of the colossal amount of troll poop that clogs the best of timelines.
Microsoft’s free Windows 10 upgrade offer for Windows 7 and 8.1 users ends this month, so if you didn’t get it before July 29th, you probably didn’t want Windows 10 in the first place and fought hard to avoid it. If you did install Windows 10 (or bought a new computer that already had it), look out on August 2nd for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the biggest upgrade heave since last November.
Microsoft also announced updates to its Office 365 suite, including a new Researcher service for Microsoft Word that helps you find, fit in and format reliable and legitimate resources to cite in your academic papers. Word has also been updated with a virtual cloud-based writing assistant called Editor that provides better document proofreading and analysis of your writing, which might make it less painful for you to compose and others to read.
Microsoft has added a new feature called Zoom to PowerPoint as well. Zoom can easily create interactive non-linear presentations for those who really don’t care about slide order and want to go freestyle.
The Outlook mail app also got a Gmail-like “Priority Inbox” update that helps weed out distracting fluff in your mailbox. Microsoft calls its version “Focused Inbox” instead.
Google has done some updating of its own this week and has released updates to Google Maps for desktop, Android and iOS. The company tweaked the color scheme and design of the maps to make them cleaner, sharper and easier to read. Google Maps also has new orange-shaded “areas of interest” that show algorithmically selected pods of restaurants, bars and other attractions nearby. According to the Android Police blog, Google Maps is rolling out notifications for mass-transit delays and a Wi-Fi only mode to help you keep your data allowance under control, too.
Nexus and Android Phone users are getting a nice gift from the Google phone app – a warning that an incoming call may be spam. If you do get a spam call, the app makes it easy to block and report the offender.
And finally, Pokémon Go dating was only a matter of time and yes, now it’s a thing. A company name RazorGo will be coming out with a site and app for Pokémon Go players to chat with their teams or privately. And you know that tune…
Love soft as an easy chair Love fresh as the morning air One love that is shared by two I’ve found thanks to Pikachu
This week J.D. and Pedro get some skin in the game!
El Kaiser explains what software skins are in his latest Tech Term segment and J.D. runs down how to modify the look of your email client and web browser. And of course, we snark things up over a huge pile of tech news.
The air up there isn’t completely full of drones yet, but the skies have gotten way more crowded in the past few years. This week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced that a task force had been created to develop ideas and recommendations on a registration process for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Recommendations are due November 20th — will drone license plates be coming soon?
Speaking of government agencies, John Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency reportedly had his email hacked by a high school student. The young hacker in question told Wired.com how he did it. The account is question has been disabled and it was an . . . AOL account.
Facebook is here for you. In a blog post on the company site, Alex Stamos of The Social Network said: “Starting today, we will notify you if we believe your account has been targeted or compromised by an attacker suspected of working on behalf of a nation-state.”
If you need a daily reminder of what planet you live on, check out NASA’s new website devoted to photography from the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera aboard its Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite. While the Deep Space Climate Observatory’s main mission is to track solar wind and storms that could disrupt the world’s electrical grid, air travel and communications systems, it’s handy Earth-facing camera promises a picture every day.
The free trial period of Apple Music has run out for the first wave of people who signed up and Tim Cook, the company CEO said at a technology conference this week that the service retained 6.5 million subscribers who switched over to paying monthly. Cook also reported another 8.5 million people are currently participating in the 90-day free trial, and that orders for the fourth-generation Apple TV will start on October 26th.
Table-top PC’s make a run for glory every few years and now it’s Lenovo’s turn with its 27-inch Lenovo Yoga Home tablet with its own tabletop operation system overlay called Aura that runs atop Windows 10. The current price is about $1500 and you can apparently play air hockey on it.
This week marks the 30th anniversary of the Nintendo Entertainment System’s released here in the United States. All those who played a few rounds of Super Mario Brothers, raise a glass Nintendo’s way.
And finally, many nerds sat through the first half of Monday Night Football game to see the brand new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Early tickets for the film’s December shows also went on sale last Monday night and the anxiety was made worse when the websites for Fandango, AMC Theaters and other ticket outlets went grinding and crashing down.
As expected, the trailer did produce a lot of reaction, including the hashtag #BoycottStarWarsVII for a social-media campaign purporting to complain that the new film wasn’t dominated by white people and all good racists should avoid the film. Trolls are now claiming the whole thing was a joke designed to stir up controversy. Remember people, never feed the trolls. Now, let’s watch the trailer again. And again.
Also launching this past week — but failing horribly — was an unmanned SpaceX cargo flight meant to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. Instead, it blew up about two minutes after liftoff from Cape Canaveral. The loss of four tons of supplies for the space station is a bit worrisome, but astronauts have enough reserve supplies to last until the end of September with rationing. New cargo missions are planned.
AOL just got bought by Verizon, but the online company is stepping up to handle the majority of display, mobile and video advertising across Microsoft’s empire of properties. Microsoft also cut a deal with Uber this week. The personal taxi service is picking up a chunk of Microsoft’s mapping technology and possibly about 100 engineers on its mapping team, who all might be mapping their way to the new office soon.
Dom Hofmann, who was one of the creators of the looping six-second Vine video service has a new mobile app aimed at the creative types. It’s called Byte, and it’s a combination collage-creator and social network that lets you mash up photos, animations drawing tools and soundtracks together to make your own art. Then you share your creations with other people on the Byte network. The app is in private beta for iPhone users now, but expected to roll out more widely to the public and then on to Android.
And finally, song-recognition service Shazam is also not afraid of Apple and its fancy new Music service and is adding a new feature aimed at the already-derided Connect social network component of Apple Music. Shazam has partnered up with more than 30 music artists who have agreed to publicly share the music they discover with the service. Once users update to the lastest version of the Shazam app, they can follow their favorite artists to see what those people (or more likely, their favorite artist’s personal assistant) are “shazaming” — perhaps the new Taylor Swift single?
In Windows 10 news, Microsoft has tried to clarify just who gets the new system for free. Recently, there was some confusion as to whether people in the Windows Insider preview program who didn’t have legitimate copies of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 would get the free finished copy of Windows 10. (They get to stay as previewers.)
As a wrap-up of last week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, The Mary Sue blog notes there are 23 games announced at the show that feature “badass playable female characters.” Lady justice, indeed.
If fancy Apple computers aren’t in your budget, keep your eyes peeled for the CHIP (shown below), the new $9 computer envisioned by a startup called Next Thing Co. A funding drive to build CHIP went up on Kickstarter this week with a pledged goal of $50,000 needed to buy components in bulk. As of this week, the project was closing in on $1.1 million.
The Warner Music Group released is second-quarter earnings report this week and had one bit of surprising news: music-streaming revenue surpassed music-download revenue, as the press released stated it “for the first time in the history of our recorded music business.” Fluke or paradigm shift? Time will tell.
Microsoft is making it easier for more people to try the preview of the new Skype Translator for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. While the original version required interested users to sign up for the software, Microsoft had removed that bit of electronic paperwork and now you can just go to the site and download it to get yapping with someone in another language.
Google’s director for law enforcement and information security, along with one of the company’s lawyers, did a Reddit Ask Me Anything last week and during the course of the question and answer session, it was revealed that Google does not use end-to-end encryption for its Google Hangout chats. So yeah, those Hangouts could, in theory, be wiretapped by government request.
In other legal news, Sony is alsogetting 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.
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.
The 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.
El Kaiser has a new toy and he can’t wait to tell you all about it. This week he reviews the Mont Blanc E12 portable headphone amplifier from FiiO. Let’s face it, ebooks are here to stay. J.D. fills us in on how to make margin notes and highlight our favorite passages on all the popular digital book readers.
In the news the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo; Lytro unveils a new camera; Rumors circulate that an Amazon smartphone will sport a radical new UI; Comcast reports its subscriber numbers are up; AT&T wants to beat Google in the Fiber Race; the AOL mail site is hacked; and Apple announces it plans to power all of its stores, data centers and offices with renewable energy sources.