As the tired old year of 2017 limps toward the exit, it seems fitting that age discrimination is in the news this week — both for smartphones and human job-seekers. El Kaiser and J.D. sort through two weeks’ worth of headlines, share their musings on Star Wars: The Last Jedi and offer up a warning about using browser extensions.
It’s been a crazy year in many ways, but Pop Tech Jam returns in early 2018, just in time to make fun of the weirdest products at the Consumer Electronics Show. Spin up Episode 256 here and look for us in a few weeks. Happy Holidaze, Jammers!
But Apple was in the spotlight for other reasons as well this week. A story on the front page of The New York Times highlighted the company’s national security tussle with the United States government over encryption and data access with software like iMessage, a program Apple says it can’t decrypt itself.
Comcast is testing a new form of data plan in south Florida. While the company normally imposes a 300-gigabytes-a-month limit, customers can now pay an extra $30 for the Unlimited Data Option. It’s just like those old unlimited broadband plans of yore, except more expensive!
Verizon announced its new Go90 mobile streaming TV service this week. The service will be ad-supported and show programs young people want to watch.
NASA said late last week that it has begun its intensive data downlink phase to grab the massive amount of data the New Horizons spacecraft collected during its Pluto flyby in July. The agency also announced that engineers at a facility in New Orleans have welded together the first two segments of the Orion crew module that will be used in a test flight to the far side of the moon in preparation for an eventual manned journey to Mars.
A new report by Adobe and PageFair estimates that ad-blocking software will cause a $22 billion dollar loss of revenue for advertisers this year, and that could affect jobs. Advertisers worry that ad-squashing software is even starting to stifle those expensive video ads everyone’s rolling out. Many users counter those arguments by pointing out that online ads can stalk and collect data on the user, hog bandwidth and are often infected with malware. So that’s why they use software like Adblock Plus — and will do so on mobile platforms as more blocker apps arrive.
Since it’s mid-August, the Applesauce rumor mill is beginning to grind faster ahead of the traditional September Apple Product Announcement and Media Lovefest. The 9to5Mac is among those guessing that the event will be on Wednesday, September 9th. The blogs are expecting Apple to reveal this year’s iPhone model with Force Touch feedback, iOS 9 and a new iOS-based Apple TV. The mythical, larger 12.9-inch iPad has also been rumored for fall.
And finally, Facebook just published a study about how the world expresses laughter online and found that the once-dominant chatroom standard LOL has become passé, giving way to chortling emojis, hehe and haha. Nelson Muntz, your time is now.
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?
J.D. tells us where we can find the trendiest trends and a tanned, rested and ready Kaiser has confession to make. In the news, tech sites get foolish on the first day of April; Facebook buys Oculus Rift and breaks the heart of millions of gamers; Apple appears to be almost ready to crank out the iPhone 6; the FCC frees up even more radio frequencies; Stephen Colbert catches all kinds of heat; and settlement checks and credits from the e-book pricing case have begun making their way to customers.
While we’re touring downtown Rumorville: Reuters and other news organizations are reporting that Apple is gearing up to make parts for the iPhone 6. It’ll be fall before you know it. (And finally in the Not a Rumor column: The Amazon Fire TV box, to be discussed on next week’s show.)
As mentioned back in January, the Rosetta spacecraft woke up from hibernation and was preparing to trail Comet 67P/Churyumov- Gerasimenko as part of its mission from the European Space Agency. Rosetta has now begun to beam back its first photos of the comet taken from a distance of about three million miles. The pictures should be a little closer to the actual comet by this summer.
And finally, watch your mailboxes. Settlement checks and credits from the e-book pricing case have been rolling out over the past few weeks. Some online retailers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble, are issuing customer credits and have guides on their sites. It may just be a few dollars, but with those low, low ebook prices, surely you can find something good to read.
News and gossip have been binding people together for centuries and the rise of the Internet has only made it more convenient to keep up with what everybody else is talking about. From social media to search engines, it’s easy to see what’s setting the world abuzz on any given day.
Geeks all know we can go to Techmeme.com to see the technology news neatly aggregating all in one place, but what about the work beyond tech? Microsoft’s Bing search engine has also gotten into the act, nicking a Trends list from Twitter and Facebook and Yahoo News has a Trending Now blog. It makes sense for search engines to know what’s trending, since people are using them to look up and follow the news.
But if there’s any company that’s devoted server space to trending topics, it’s Google. The Big G has a dedicated Trends page and its Zeitgeist list of what people searched for each year. The company also offers in-depth looks at topics like March Madness or global interest in Game of Thrones or the Harry Potter series, and even a downloadable screensaver showing real-time searches in the United States. Suffice it to say, Google knows how to keep an eye on these things and is probably already working on an algorithm to detect trends within trends.
J.D. tells which companies are offering deals for your old gear and Pedro has an Old School Tech Term segment to share with the class. In the news, Verizon challenges the FCC’s Open Internet rule of 2010; Netflix keeps an eye on pirates to decide what to buy; Nokia prepares to roll out new product; Sandisk debuts a new 256GB memory card; Bing attempts to redefine search; Box takes on Google Docs; and Grand Theft Auto V appears to be on the road to billion dollar sales in less than one month.