On this week’s show, El Kaiser holds forth on the current state of three of his favorite things: DC Comics, Doctor Who and Star Wars. J.D. has a quick roundup of recent tech news, including the return both of a beloved flip phone and a popular short-form video platform. All this and more on Pop Tech Jam 325!
El Kaiser and J.D. wade through the highlights of Apple’s big March 25 event, which brought three new subscription services, a revamped TV app and…a new Apple credit card. And for those who don’t care about Apple’s swerve into paid services, there’s always data privacy and drones to talk about! Spin up PTJ 305, where you can also get tips on finding music-theory and instrument instruction.
Early January is here at last and El Kaiser and J.D. are ready to explore all the unique creations launched on the floor of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. And as with last year’s round-up, the specifications and features on the Kohler Intelligent Toilet amaze. This week’s episode also features a look at recent technology news and a rave review for the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse film. Jump into 2019 with Episode 297!
It’s almost like we needed the Justice League to come sort things out with all the disruptions erupting all over the technology scene this week. So, you ask, what happened? Yet another ransomware attack spread rapidly worldwide, the European Commission got all up in Google’s business on an antitrust charge, and Walmart had a slapfight with Amazon over the cloud. Meanwhile, Twitter and some of its pals are teaming up to fight the spread of violent extremism, Facebook wants to do TV and Apple’s getting ready to chuck a bunch of old apps off the iOS 11 wagon. But on the bright side, we’ve now had J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series with us for 20 years now. Come hang with El Kaiser and J.D. as they try to make sense of the week here on Episode 240 of Pop Tech Jam!
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!
This summer marks the 100th anniversary of America’s National Park Service, which was founded back on August 25, 1916. Perhaps you saw the Ken Burns series, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea last spring or maybe you’re itching for a summer road trip with a side order of history, but if you’re interested in finding out more, there are plenty of sites and apps available to assist you on your journey into the park system.
If you don’t know what national parks are in your area, you can look them up on the NPS site or on Find Your Park. If you think national parks are just big expanses of preserved land, like Joshua Tree in California or the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee, hit up the site to see all the outdoor spaces and the more urban man-made monuments supervised by the National Park Service. If a major piece of American history happened there, odds are there’s a monument or museum waiting to tell the story.
In terms of apps and social media to help you plan a visit, the National Park Service is all over it. The NPS has its own Instagram and Twitter feeds, Facebook page and Flicker gallery. Many parks and national monuments have their own microsites, like the handsome Flickr pages for Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.
We’ve all gotten used to using filters and camera apps on our smartphones to produce interesting photography for our social-media lives. But if you’ve still got a separate stand-alone camera and are only using it in its Automatic setting (where you just snap the photo and go with minimal fuss), you may be missing out on some handy built-in shooting and exposure modes that can give your photos more zing when you actually take them.
Take Portrait mode, the one you would use when you’re trying to capture an image of someone in the middle of the frame. In most cases, switching to Portrait mode will have the camera switch to a large aperture to narrow the depth of field — which means your subject is nicely in focus and commanding attention, but the background and any distracting elements are blurred.
Other modes adjust the flash, shutter speed, exposure settings and more to capture the gist of the situation. Sports mode, for example, kicks up the shutter speed to capture more of the action in focus.
Your camera’s instruction manual should have a full explanation of the settings and shooting modes your model offers. (Some of the better cameras even have an automatic setting that picks the scene mode for you based on the shooting conditions it senses.) If you’ve chucked or lost your manual, worry not.
You can usually find copies:
• On the manufacturer’s website. Look for a PDF download — Canon, Nikon, Sony and others usually have them posted.
The ThingMaker printer wasn’t the only geekworthy news Mattel made at the Toy Fair. The company also announced an update to its View-Master Virtual Reality Viewer. The 2.0 model has been reworked to handle varying sizes of smartphones without the need for an adapter, and it also has improved access to the phone’s headphone jack.
Speaking of virtual reality, the technology is also starting to turn up as a tool for real-estate brokers to sell you an apartment. As a recent story in The New York Times explains, companies like Halstead are using virtual reality headsets to let prospective buyers look around apartments for sale or rent. Thanks to contractors like Virtual Xperience and ArX Solutions who create a VR rendering of the future space based on architectural plans, prospective tenants can get a feel for the place — even if it hasn’t been built yet.
The notion of turning smartphones and their sensitive motion detector chips into earthquake sensors isn’t original, but there’s a new Android app called MyShake out from UC Berkeley Seismologicial Laboratory that has some research cred. The app sits quietly in the background until it senses the earth rumbling, and then it uploads a small amount of data to the centralized database created by the seismologists as an earthquake early-warning system. According to the companion paper its creators published on the Science Advances site, the app analyzes motion to see if the “newly incoming data are similar to previously defined human activities.” If it’s not a toddler birthday party or loud music, the data is sent along for further possible-earthquake analysis.
While still wrapping our brains around the fact that X-Files is back on TV, we found time to pack this episode with snark and shenanigans that will (hopefully) keep you informed and entertained during your commute, at the gym, at home or anywhere you listen to the best darned tech-themed around. This week, J.D. highlights some apps that mix in a dose of fun with the weather details and in the news, Twitter shakes up its executive ranks; Sony does some corporate housekeeping; Amazon gets duped by hackers; and those sites tracking Abe Vigoda’s status make one final update.
Of course there’s more. Just take a listen!
The independent audio magazine devoted to mashing up pop culture, technology and more. J.D. Biersdorfer and Pedro Rafael Rosado are your hosts. It's an Internet Radio revolution!