Tag Archives: Apple

Episode 17: Faster Than Light, Baby!

The Fall TV season is here and J.D. helps us use our mobile devices to look for what to watch plus Pedro has a new Tech Term. In the news, a new security vulnerability affects almost all IE browsers; blinged out cameras; the world’s most powerful camera; and warp drives may make the leap from science-fiction to science-fact.

Episode 16 News: The World Is Flat

Well, the first flurry of Apple fall product announcements finally hit this week with the revelation of the iPhone 5, a revamp of a few iPods and a sneak peak at the next version of iTunes. The iOS 6 software and the phones will be out next week, but everything else isn’t available until October. Google, wasting no time after Apple removed the built-in YouTube app from the iOS Home screen, released its own free standalone iPhone YouTube app.

Amazon certainly wasn’t waiting around for Apple to hog all the limelight either, announcing big updates to its Kindle line of tablets and e-readers last week. (While all the new Kindle Fire HD tablets were going to include spam — whoops — Special Offers on the Home screen, Amazon says users can now opt out of that for $15.) A slight upgrade to Amazon’s original Kindle Fire tablet is now selling for $160. This is just $10 more than the new tablet-for-kids announced by Toys R Us this week.

Also on the Apple front, as a follow up to last week’s story about 12 million Apple device ID numbers that were not hacked off an FBI computer — it turns out the compromised machine belonged to the Florida-based app developer BlueToad, which assured and apologized to its customers in a company blog post. (GoDaddy, the domain-name and site-hosting service was thought to have suffered a hack attack itself earlier this week that took many of its sites offline for hours, but the company said it was an internal glitch that keelhauled all those Web sites.) When it is not defending itself from false hacking claims, the FBI has found time for a billion dollar upgrade to its biometric identification technology systems, although some privacy advocates are feeling a whiff of the Orwell on this one. The FBI has some info about its Next Generation Identification technology here.

Now then, contrary to popular reports, other hardware besides smartphones and tablets is headed to stores this fall. Pentax announced new mirrorless and DSLR cameras. And thin is in at Western Digital — the company has just launched a super-skinny 5 millimeter thick hard drive for ultrabook laptops.

Hey, remember the Bookmobile rolling library coming to your neighborhood? It’s the 21st century and now there’s a Digital Bookmobile sponsored by OverDrive making the rounds;  check the calendar here.

Housed in an 18-wheel tractor trailer, the Digital Bookmobile travels around the country and shows people how to use e-book lending services from their local libraries with instructional videos, interactive workstations and a gadget gallery with all the popular e-reader models. There’s also a section for audiobooks inside the truck. Remember kids, reading is fundamental, no matter how you do it.

 

Episode 15 News: Paging Dr. Gordon Freeman. Your New Phone is Here.

It’s the first week of September and everyone is getting back to business and getting their new gear ready for the holiday season. The annual IFA Berlin consumer electronics fair, also known as the Berlin Radio Show, had a whole bunch of new stuff to ogle, including the ultra high definition (and ultra high price) 4K television sets. Mmmm, pixels….

The Web is also filling up with announcements of new smartphones this month.

Nokia? Check.

Motorola Mobility? Check.

HTC? Check.

Apple? (Oh, you finally confirmed that September 12th event?) Let’s say: Check.

If the iPhone 5 does land this month, the reign of Samsung’s Galaxy S3 as the best-selling smartphone will probably come to an end. (Preparing for a big event doesn’t seem to have slowed down Apple from filing more patent infringement complaints against Samsung and trying to get even more of the Galaxy products banned from stores.) And Team Cupertino can bask in the glory of Mac OS X beating at least one version of Windows in market share, even if it is the much-maligned Windows Vista.

Meanwhile, hacking group AntiSec says it’s grabbed 12 million Apple unique device identifier numbers from an FBI computer. (The FBI doesn’t think so.) At any rate, the news that 12 million UDID numbers (and whatever personal information associated with them) have been grabbed up is a tad disturbing.

Looks like that story from the U.K. about actor Bruce Willis suing Apple over the bequeathal rights to his iTunes library was wrong, but as several media organizations pointed out, just who owns your digital media after you’re gone? (Speaking of gone, it sounds like Nicolas Cage is not — from the Kick-Ass movie franchise, anyway — and will be back with Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl and Jim Carrey as The Colonel in a sequel next year.)

Remember webOS? Anybody? (Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?) Even if it doesn’t ring a bell, HP announced it was releasing a beta version of webOS for both a desktop edition and one that runs on mobile devices.

Mobile devices in the Nordic lands will soon be getting something unique: a standalone streaming HBO service that doesn’t require you to have an existing cable subscription to use. Let’s hope Nordic HBO À la carte  is a raging success so maybe they’ll do it here in the U.S.

And finally, if Half-Life changed your life back in the late 1990s, set an alarm in your calendar program for September 14th. A new version, dubbed Black Mesa and crafted by fans of the original game for the PC, is due out next late week. Who knows, maybe in a few years, they’ll do a console version that looks killer on a 4K television set.

 

Episode 14 News: ’Cause the Man from Mars Won’t Eat Up Bars Where the TV’s On…

The first round of the Apple-Samsung legal slapfight over patents wrapped up last week, with Apple winning a large chunk of change in the decision and asking for an injunction against the sale of several Samsung Galaxy phones. While Samsung vows to fight on in this case, the company is going about its business elsewhere, including in Germany, where it introduced three new Windows 8 desktop computers due out later this fall.

Apple isn’t sitting around basking in its legal victory either. The latest grind of the rumor mill now suggests two major Apple product announcements this fall instead of just one mega event. Amazon, in the meantime, is getting out ahead of any of Apple’s rumored showcase dates with an event of its own in southern California next week. While the shadow of iPhone 5 may loom over much of this fall’s mobile news, LG Electronics is diving in with the Optimus G, a 4G LTE Android phone with a quad-core Snapdragon processor, Bluetooth 4.0 and a big honkin’ 13-megapixel rear camera.

Dropbox, the online storage and file-sharing site, has had its share of security issues the past year. The company is busting a move, though, and has announced it’s adding two-step authentication to help keep those cloud accounts safe and sound. The procedure is still being tested and sounds a bit buggy, but will hopefully get smoother and make things safer for Dropboxers everywhere.  While Dropbox’s new security system is working out the bugs, researchers from the computer science and biology departments at Stanford University are studying them. It turns out the behavior of harvester ants is quite similar to the algorithm used in the Internet’s Transmission Control Protocol. Yay, Anternet!

NASA’s mission for the Curiosity rover has gone beyond rolling around and taking pictures on the surface of Mars. The exploratory vehicle also belted out will.i.am’s “Reach for the Stars” this week — and it was the first time a song has been broadcast from another planet. Now, if only Curiosity can tap into The Walker Art Center’s star-studded Internet Cat Video Film Festival and share even more quality Earth culture with any galactic neighbors that might be around.

Episode 13: Who you callin’ Triskaidekaphobic?

The lowdown on Apple’s Podcasts and iTunes U apps and a 60 second review The Dark Knight Rises. In the news this week Microsoft’s Windows Upgrade Offer site is now taking registrations; the Windows Phone platform may slip past BlackBerry in U.S.; and prepare yourself for possible smishing attacks on your iPhone. Your hosts are J.D. Biersdorfer and Pedro Rafael Rosado.

Apple for the Teacher

Summer is winding down and a lot of students are headed back to school. Even if you’re not stuffing your life and laundry in the back of a Honda and rolling toward campus, you can keep learning on your own. Free classes from places like MIT OpenCourseWare and Coursera are among the options for higher learning online. If you have an iOS device, Apple’s Podcasts and iTunes U apps offer plenty of brain-burning educational material that make it easy to absorb it all at your own pace—even if that pace is a steady jog down a quiet road.

The standalone Podcasts app pulls all the episode management and playback controls out of the Music app on iOS devices and gives them their own place to play. The Podcasts app is not universally loved, but it does round up all your shows nicely. It could be the only place to get them if those rumors about Apple cutting the Podcasts section of the iTunes Store loose this fall are true. Recent user reviews of the app seemed to have improved with an update earlier this month, and Apple has a Podcasts support guide for those still wrestling with it.

Podcast content ranges all over the place, but if you’re looking for something specifically educational, the iTunes U app points you to what Apple calls “the world’s largest online catalog of free education content from leading institutions.” There are about 500,000 audio and video lectures in there, plus presentations, documents—and some classes even use interactive iBooks textbooks (which are a lot lighter than those heavy old tree-based tomes that pile up, hog shelf space and fall over all too easily).

The iTunes U course topics range all over the place from science and math to literature and cultural studies. Stanford’s got a 10-week course on iPad and iPhone App Development and Harvard has a 12-week Intro to Computer Science class. Oxford University has a series of short lectures on why great writers are inspirational. The University of Arkansas has 5-minute Spanish lessons. If you like a little sociology mixed in with your Hollywood blockbusters, check out the lecture series from Emory University for video lessons with titles like The Mathematics of Spider-Man and Planet of the Apes: Species Misunderstood.

Since it arrived last January, the iTunes U app itself has been downloaded 14 million times already. Yay, rah, Fightin’ Downloaders!

 

Episode 11: Space Apps and the 2012 Tablet Olympiad

Mars rover and Olympic fever hit J.D. and Pedro hard this week. J.D. highlights some essential smartphone and tablet apps for the mobile astronomer and The Kaiser officially opens the inaugural 7 inch Tablet Olympiad. In the news, Google’s Chrome browser continues to gain in popularity, Apple and Google’s divorce gets even more contentious, and Microsoft shows developers lots of love.