A look at online calendars and a heartfelt apology for a much-maligned tablet. In the news, the first round of the Apple-Samsung legal slapfight is over; Apple may have two major product announcements this fall; Dropbox adds two-step authentication; and will.i.am reaches for the stars. J.D. Biersdorfer and Pedro Rafael Rosado are your hosts
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.
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.
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.
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.
NBC and Twitter get taken to the woodshed, bots may be pumping up Facebook’s ad numbers, and rumors suggest Apple will launch iPhone 5 in a few weeks. Pedro on Apple’s 10.8 “Mountain Lion” version of their flagship OS and J.D. on changing the keyboard language of your mobile devices.
Hardcore trolls will still hide behind their handles YouTube (owned by Google, you know) is encouraging members to link their user names on the video site to their real names on the Google+ service. The whole universal Google-wide identity thing is not going over well with everyone — most notably with the actor Wil Wheaton, who went on a rant last spring after being asked to sign up for Google+ in order to give the thumbs up to a video he liked on YouTube. (Quick tip: Got Firefox and want to filter out the more offensive spew in the comments area? Try the YouTube Comment Snob add-on for cleaner living.)
Need some beach reading? The Justice Department has released its lengthy response to public comments on the proposed final judgment on its e-book price-fixing lawsuit. Apple, which is heavily involved in the e-book case, is also battling Samsung Electronics over patent issues and would like $2.5 billion for its troubles. That rock’em, sock ‘em court battle is scheduled to begin next week. With all this litigious action, it’s a wonder Apple has time to make all the products people are whispering about online. (Yes, the amount of sheer speculation on Apple’s plans can cause problems, but even Apple CEO Tim Cook knows you can’t stop the chatter.)
Amazon is reportedly cranking out a fresh pile of tablet hardware as well (and so, for some reason, is RIM with a new BlackBerry Playbook). For the camera hardware fans, Canon finally hit that sweet spot between pocket point-and-shoot and bug burly digital SLR with its Canon EOS M mirrorless model. (Some folks have even tested it out already, even though it’s not due in stores until October.)
Hey, if you jumped in early with the Windows 8 Preview, the 7digital music service is right there with you and has a preview version of its Windows 8-ready app available to try out. The store has several AC/DC covers, so you can rock out just like the Iranian nuclear scientists, who have been supposedly hit by a new cyberattack that makes their computers blast “Thunderstuck” in the wee hours. (While accounts of this latest worm seem dubious and unverified, admit it: It does get you duck-walking, doesn’t it?)
And finally, we note the passing of Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. Thanks, Dr. Ride, for smashing through the glass ceiling and take the dreams of young geek girls right into orbit with you.
Yahoo is busting a move and has nabbed Marissa Mayer, an engineer and one of the earliest employees at Google, to be the company’s new chief executive. Yahoo has had a rough time of it in the CEO department the past year, so here’s hoping Mayer gets the ship back on course. (Maybe give Flickr a tune-up? Pleeeease?)
A lot of people watch TiVo, but who knew TiVo was watching back? The digital recorder company said this week that it was buying the advertisement research company TRA Inc. for about $20 million. The TRA technology allows networks and advertisers to measure the effectiveness of advertisements on television and which networks sell stuff the best. (Hey, does the old TiVo 30-Second Skip trick still work?)
Microsoft continues to churn out announcements and updates this summer. This time, the news concerns the company’s flagship business software, Microsoft Office. A public beta preview version of the new software, Office 2013, is now available for the curious and the company is also revving up its cloud version, Office 365, to draw users away from the likes of Google Docs and Apple’s iWork/iCloud combo.
And now, a paragraph about robots — because the PTJ blog here has not had a paragraph about robots in awhile. Navy scientists are working with several research institutions with an ultimate goal of to creating mine-sweeping autonomous robots for dangerous missions under the sea. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is in on the project with some spiffy new algorithms and there’s more information and some cool video on the MIT site.
Valve Software is dedicating a team to bring the Steam gaming service to the Penguin Nation. A blog post on the Valve site states that the team’s current goal is to get the Steam service fully working on Ubuntu Linux 12.04, the system otherwise known as Precise Pangolin.
Samsung may be having trouble with Apple in the Federal courts, but the South Korea-based electronics company is winning in the people’s court of retail sales. According to a Reuters poll, from April 1 to June 30, analysts estimate that Samsung had sold over 50 million smartphones, overshadowing Apple’s projected sales of 30.5 million iPhones. Keep in mind that an iPhone 5 looms and people may be holding back on Apple purchases in anticipation.
Also, in anticipation by Batman fans everywhere: The Dark Knight Rises, and he rises this weekend in movie theaters. The Los Angeles Times is predicting big box office for the third film in the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale take on the Caped Crusader. Early reviews have been largely positive, but there was a bit of a dust-up for those expressing more negative views on the film. Please folks, leave the explosives to the mine-sweeping robots with their fancy MIT algorithms, okay?
This week futurist, polymath, technology expert, and author Phil Simon visits Pop Tech Jam. In the news segment J.D. and Pedro crank up the rumor mill, Microsoft gets into the touch screen business get set to release the latest version of their OS. Also in the news Google gets a smackdown from the U.S. government, the DNSChanger threat and a new Open Source game console gets ready to make a play for your living room.
I guess it was inevitable but it still came as a shock. Not long ago I realized that I spend significantly more time on my tablet devices than I do on laptops or PCs. In fact, there are some days I don’t use keyboard and mouse driven devices at all. My iPad has become my main content consumption device as well as a crucial part of my work arsenal. One problem though. Typing more than a sentence or two on a tablet becomes an exercise in frustration and don’t even get me started on taking quick notes on it. Not to sugarcoat it but the experience really and truly stinks.
I made it a point to find a decent iPad Bluetooth keyboard that was both portable and durable. The first keyboard and case I tried was the Koolertron Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard Case for Apple iPad 2 and iPad (don’t call it) 3. What at first appeared to be brushed aluminum turns out to be cheap plastic. The keyboard feels flimsy and when the iPad is in the case it becomes top heavy and leans too far back. I expect it to snap right off the base one day. The one redeeming feature of the keyboard case is the 4000mAh power lithium battery. It can charge the iPad while you use the keyboard and it’s rated to last 55 hours although your mileage will vary.
As the name implies, the Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is a Bluetooth keyboard that doubles as a case for the iPad 2 and the 3rd generation version of Apple’s tablet. A magnetic clip, similar to the one on Apple’s Smart Cover, keeps the aluminum-backed keyboard attached to the iPad. There are compromises with the keyboard, especially when it comes to the function keys, but overall Logitech’s unique cover delivers an excellent typing experience. Two deal-breaking issues (maybe two sides of the same issue) are that the Ultrathin Cover scratches very easily and it offers a total lack of compatibility with standard iPad covers that protect the back of the tablet from dents and scratches. To use the case you must leave your iPad naked as a jaybird.
Yup, the Apple wireless keyboard is my preferred iPad input device. It sports Bluetooth connectivity, is compact, rugged and looks good. If you can live without the iPad specific function keys available on the the Koolertron and the Logitech cases you’ll find the Apple keyboard is a real workhorse.