Tag Archives: Bitcoin

PTJ 255: Boom or Bust?

The cryptocurrency Bitcoin is all over the news this month, and El Kaiser and J.D. discuss some of the more recent developments, along with the Consumer Reports verdict on the iPhone X and the legal tussle between oracle and Google. El Kaiser shares his thoughts on Crisis on Earth X and J.D. offers a (Hopefully) Helpful Hint on converting those meeting notes scrawled on the office whiteboard into text you can edit on your phone. Oh, and there’s a little movie called Star Wars: The Last Jedi headed to theaters this month, so if you need something to listen to while you’re waiting around in line for it, push Play on Episode 255 here!

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint

PTJ 189 News: Eyes on the Prize

The race is on between Sony and Samsung to patent smart contact lenses that function as cameras floating atop your eyeballs. Yes, eyeball cameras.  Sony’s design even makes it hard to tell someone is even wearing an eyeball camera. But let’s not forget Google, which received a patent for a solar-powered contact lens last year and recently just got a patent for what’s described as an intra-ocular device; it sounds sort of like a bionic eye that could perhaps be used to help with degenerative vision diseases.

riftSpeaking of eyeballs, the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is headed to 48 Best Buy stores on May 7th, and will be included as part of a special in-store promotional kiosk called The Intel Experience. A small number of units available for sale at those particular Best Buy outlets, too. You can look up the stores involved on Best Buy’s site. Amazon and Microsoft plan to start taking Oculus Rift orders at 9 a.m. Pacific time on May 6th.

Microsoft has decided that its Cortana virtual assistant for Windows 10 is not going to be allowed to play with other company’s web browsers and search engines. No Cortana for you, Google Chrome.

Yahoo hasn’t found anybody to pick up its pieces yet, but it has cut its list of potential dance partners down to 10 companies. Whatever happens, though, Yahoo CEO (and micromanager of bad logos) Marissa Mayer will make out all right. A  Securities and Exchange Commission filing revealed she’ll get a severance package worth about 55 million bucks if she’s booted within a year of any sale. No ramen noodles and Tang dinners for you, Marissa Mayer. (Unless you want them, that is.)

bitcoinArguments about the true identity of Bitcoin’s anonymous founder have bubbled up this week. Australian businessman Craig Wright has claimed he is the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, elusive founder of Bitcoin, but the Motherboard blog over at Vice isn’t buying it.

From the ever-expanding Department of Mergers & Acquisitions News, Comcast/NBC Universal made a deal to buy the DreamWorks animation studio for $3.8 billion. Also, the online video-sharing site Vimeo has acquired VHX. And there are even more video-streaming services than ever now, as Hulu is said to be preparing its own service to bundle streams of broadcast and cable channels to paid subscribers. This would move Hulu away from being primarily a streaming TV rerun site with a few original shows to an enticing option for cord-cutters.

robotsecurityGoogle has changed the name of its own monthly Nexus Security Bulletins patch collection to the more inclusive Android Security Bulletin, and this week’s May is intended to fix about 40 vulnerabilities in the mobile operating system. Many of the holes in the Mediaserver software for Android are on the fix list here. And make sure when you do update apps on your Android device, get them from the Google Play store itself and not from a website disguising itself as an Android update site. This is because there’s a new little piece of malware on the loose that claims to be an update for Android’s Chrome browser, but it’s really an infostealer app.

Google may have found a hardware partner for its self-driving cars. Bloomberg News is reporting Fiat Chrysler plans to team up with the Big G on prototypes based on the Chrysler Pacifica minivan.

Some exciting typing news: The popular Google Keyboard app just got a big update this week.  Also in keyboard developments, the Giphy Keys app for iOS arrived this week, making it easier than ever to add just the right animated loop to your messages. No boring messages for you, Giphy Keys user.

gkeys

Consumer Encryption and Government Security concerns continue to clash. This week, it’s Brazil throwing a 72-hour block on the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messenger service after Facebook refused to hand over information requested for a criminal investigation. Another judge in Brazil soon overturned the order.

includeSeveral women working in the tech industry have come together to form a new nonprofit venture called Project Include that hopes to help the aforementioned tech industry work on its diversity issues. Let’s check back this time next year to see if anything has changed.

And finally,  Ad-Block Plus, the popular ad-blocking extension, and Flattr, a micropayment service that lets its users donate money have teamed up a new service called Flattr Plus that lets you set a content budget and then send money to the sites you actually spent time reading. No money for you, clickbait sites.

PTJ 86: The Big Bang And That XP Thang

Newsweek magazine makes a splashy return on paper with a cover story claiming to have found the father of Bitcoin. In his Tech Term of the Week, El Kaiser explains doxxing and why Internet denizens are so ticked off at the weekly news magazine. The computer mouse has been with us for half a century and J.D.  explains why it may stick around for awhile longer.  In the news Google dives into wearable computing; Apple releases an 8-gigabyte version of the iPhone 5C — but not in the United States;  the Windows XP Death Watch continues; The Big Bang Theory may have been proven; and say hello to robot fish.

PTJ 84: Facebook Drones And Bitcoin Heists

J.D. goes all Winslow Homer on us this week and introduces us to apps she uses to convert photos into digital works of art on her smartphone.  In the news, Samsung reportedly spends $20 million on Oscars product placement; Facebook looks to fill the sky with drones; Radio Shack closes 1100 of its retail stores; the US Department of Justice sides with broadcasters in fight with Aereo; Google barge ordered to pull up anchor and scram; Sony’s PS4 arrives in Japan; and Pizza Hut developing an interactive touchscreen pizza-ordering table.

PTJ 84 News: 11,000 Drones to Go, Hold the Anchovies

Everyone wants to be near those little gold men out in Hollywood. Samsung reportedly spent $20 million on advertising for this year’s Academy Awards show and also got huge product placement with the Selfie Seen Round the World when Bradley Cooper used a Galaxy Note 3 to snap a group shot with Ellen DeGeneres, Brad Pitt and several other celebrities during the show. According to The Wall Street Journal, Samsung and its media-buying firm negotiated to have the phone integrated into the broadcast at various points (although there didn’t seem to be any Samsung ads on those pizza boxes that arrived midway through the show). TheOscar selfie and its retweet (times two million) is said to have crashed Twitter Sunday night. All in all, it was a busy few days for Twitter, which also apologized to a small number of its users on Monday after unintentionally sent them unnecessary password reset notices.

Facebook is reportedly in talks to by Titan Aerospace, a company that makes near-orbital, solar-powered drones that can fly for five years without having to land. As one of the major backers for the Internet.org initiative, the company seems to be doing its part to bring affordable Internet access to some of the five billion people around the world who have no online resources. TechCrunch says it hears Africa may be one of the first areas to see Facebook’s NetDrone Squadron if this all works out.

RadioShack announced earlier this week that it will be closing up to 1,100 of its retail stores this year as it tries to find its place in the 21st century. As Business Insider pointed out,  a RadioShack ad from 1991 shows products that have all been replaced by the smartphone, so the chain could definitley do with some reinvention.

Aereo, the tiny-antenna company known for its service that provides streams of broadcast television channels over the Internet, may also be in for a future bummer. In papers filed recently, the US Department of Justice has sided with the television broadcasters who are currently suing Aereo for harvesting their over-the-air signals without paying the standard retransmission fees. The major broadcast television networks said last week that a Supreme Court decision in favor of Aereo would destroy the broadcast TV model. The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case on April 22th.

Officials in San Francisco have ordered Google to stop work on its mystery barge out in the Bay and tow the structure 80 miles to the Port of Stockton. (No permit? No mystery barge, Google.)

Verizon Wireless has rebooted its prepaid wireless service with its new AllSet plans. The new no-contract plans now let customers carry over unused data allowances from one month into the next. Plans start at $35 a month for regular phones and 500 voice minutes and $45 a month for smartphones with unlimited messages and 500 megabytes of data.

The annual Mobile World Congress event took place in Barcelona last week when we were on vacation, but just to recap the big announcement: the Samsung Galaxy S5 will have a 16-megapixel camera, fingerprint scanner, heart-rate monitor, 5.1-inch screen and Android KitKat, as well as $500 worth of gifted news, productivity and fitness apps when it arrives next month. Other stuff got announced, too.

Cortana, Microsoft’s own personal virtual assistant software is expected in the next update to the Windows Phone software. More details should arrive early next month at Microsoft’s Build conference.

Apple’s “iOS in the Car” project has formally emerged as CarPlay, and is the company’s system for linking the iPhone with the dashboard infotainment system built into certain automobile models. CarPlay is expected to show up later this year on models from Ferrari, Volvo and Mercedes.

Coming sooner: Apple’s iOS 7.1. a major update to last fall’s love-it-or-hate-it iOS 7, should be out any day now. (Also in Apple news, Microsoft may be looking to bring its Xbox Live gaming network to Android and iOS devices.)

Sony’s PlayStation 4 launched in Japan late last month and sold 370,000 units in its opening weekend. The company says it’s now sold 6 million PS4 consoles worldwide.

Georgetown U is headed to the annual SxSW conference down in Texas. The university will be hosting a panel called “Designing the Future University From the Inside,” which will look at the school’s own experiments in finding alternative ways to deliver a quality education and how universities can be proactive in their evolution in today’s world of technology and globalization.

While we were on vacation last week, the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange collapsed in a $460 million pile of FAIL. Hackers were said to have made off with the big bucks; the company also has another $27 million missing from its bank accounts. Wired has an excellent rundown of The Great Bitcoin Banjax.

A new survey reported in the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere finds that 1 in 10 Americans think HTML is a sexually transmitted disease. It was perhaps not the most scientific survey with the most rigorous methodology, but remember, not everyone out there is a geek. (If you know some non-geeks, though, warn them of the fake Netflix phishing scam going around.)

xppopSpeaking of warnings, Microsoft is starting to sent out pop-up alerts to Windows XP users telling them that April 8th is the last day of support and to please, please, please upgrade. The company is trying to lighten the upgrade load by providing free copies of Laplink’s PCmover Express migration software that copies the files and settings on an XP machine to a Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 machine. If you’re interested in upgrading, click here. (If XP users need to migrate programs as well, Laplink is offering its PCmover Professional program for $24, which is 60 percent off the regular price.)

And finally:  Chaotic Moons Studio, which has been helping Pizza Hut develop mobile apps for online ordering, has a new concept project. It’s the interactive touchscreen pizza-ordering table. It’s still a concept, but you can bet if it ever goes mainstream, you’ll be able to play Angry Birds on it while you wait for your pie.

PTJ 82: Food, Cheer, and Song

Sincerest apologies to the great Federico Fellini but we here at Pop Tech Jam believe life is a combination of magic … and a White Castle Crave Case®. If you have a hankering for some regional food classics that you just can’t find in your town, J.D. harnesses the power of the Internet and shows you how to get those comfort food favorites delivered right to your door.  All the talk of food has Pedro’s stomach grumbling but he was able to fight off the hunger pangs long enough to explain what Social Engineering is and how we can all be affected by it.  In the news the F.C.C. plans on introducing a new net neutrality policy; Apple loses their appeal in an attempt to ditch a  government appointed e-book monitor; Anti-malware company Kaspersky Labs claims to have discovered a global cyber-espionage  organization; Google leases more space from NASA; and Lego considers  a new building set based the BBC’s Sherlock TV show.

PTJ 82 News: Free Speech *and* Free Beer

It was just about a month ago that the government’s Net Neutrality rules were kicked to the curb in court, but Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said this week the agency will have retooled rules very soon. Some opponents to government regulation fear that the FCC may use this second chance to overstep its bounds and try to start controlling everything on the Internet. However, the agency’s site states, “no one — not the government and not the companies that provide broadband service — can restrict innovation on the Internet.”  (For those who are fans of oratory, Mr. Wheeler’s lively speech included references to Abraham Lincoln’s second address to Congress from December 1862, Moore’s Law, the metaphysics of pizza delivery and Return of the Jedi — without the Ewoks).

In Apple-related news, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected Apple’s request to ditch the court-appointed monitor in its ebook price-fixing case. Meanwhile, the SecureMac site says its found a new Trojan horse called OSX/CoinThief.A; it’s aimed at OS X and designed to steal login credentials for Bitcoin wallets. But on happier note, Apple’s iTunes Radio service has now gone international, with a launch in Australia this week.

Talk about your uptime: Researchers at Kaspersky Labs say they’ve discovered a sophisticated global cyber-espionage operation called The Mask. It’s been running since 2007.

Silicon Valley residents are probably familiar with Hangar One, a massive eight-acre hangar designed in 1933 as a parking garage for blimps. NASA’s in charge of Hangar One but if things work out, the space agency would be leasing the structure to Google for things like housing private jets and whatnot. Google has already leased more than 40 acres of the nearby NASA Ames Research Center to build a large Research & Development facility, and the two are working together to test the world’s first quantum computer there as well. Google is also teaming up with long-time Apple component supplier Foxconn on robotics development, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Google itself declined to comment on the matter. No word from the robots, either.

Need some do-it-yourself inspiration for your own engineering projects? Spanish hacker Jose Julio used his skills to build an air-hockey playing robot for his daughter.

Microsoft is looking for a software design engineer to create “a groundbreaking interactive reading app on Windows, which incorporates books, magazines, and comics.” While Windows 8 already has a basic reader app, some are speculating that this new app with be an Xbox-branded bit of software that would work across all the company’s platforms, including Windows 8, Windows Phone and the Xbox game consoles.

XPbye

With about two months to go before the End of Support for Windows XP, Microsoft is starting to approach small and medium-size businesses about the need to get off the ancient operating system. As part of the End of Support campaign, a post on one of Microsoft’s blogs titled “Help your friends and family get off Windows XP” also went up last week, While some comments were positive or indifferent, there was a noticeable amount of backlash from readers who have no intention of doing any such thing.

The eWeek site has just compiled a list of the most popular apps on Android, the world’s most popular mobile operating system. Flappy Bird, made the list, even though the developer, pulled the game from app stores this week. He said Flappy Bird had “ruined his simple life” by attracting too much attention and that it was an addictive product. The game, which was making $50,000 a week in advertising (and still is) involves trying to steer a poor little bird through a series of vertical green pipes. There has been speculation the game was yanked due to possible copyright violations with Nintendo’s Mario games, but a Nintendo spokesperson denied the company had taken any legal action.

Lego is considering ideas for new building sets and one of the candidates this year is a set based the BBC’s Sherlock TV show. The proposed Sherlock set is just a finalist among six possible projects that also include the DeLorean from Back to the Future and a Legend of Zelda kit. The Sherlock proposal details two different sets: a 370-piece recreation of the consultation area at 221B Baker Street and a 630-piece kit that makes up the apartment’s living room. Here’s hoping!

And finally, one bit of Winter Olympic 2014 news. The Canadian athletes have extra treats in their Olympic House: a refrigerator that dispenses free beer. You have to be Canadian to use the beer fridge, however, and need to present your passport for scanning by the vending machine. Canada, it should be noted, has been having a very good Games so far and has been in the top three on the medal board all week in Sochi.

TECH TERM OF THE WEEK: CRYPTOCURRENCY

Our very first tech term for 2014 is a very hot topic these days. You can’t turn on a cable news channel or read the business section of a newspaper…. HA!… I said newspaper. I’m so silly. Of course I mean you can’t scroll through the tech or currency verticals of a news platform’s online product without reading a story…I did it again…without reading a post giving us the latest, and occasionally sordid, details of the antics of this geek word.

This week’s tech term is cryptocurrency. Never heard of it you say? oh yeah, you have. Does bitcoin sound familiar? Well, that my droogs, is a cryptocurrency.

You know what before we get into that, I mentioned it earlier in the show and I just wanna know why? That’s all. Have I not been the most benevolent and kind Internet Kaiser in all of Internet kaiserdom? Have I not gone out of my way to produce the greatest geek-cuture and tech themed podcast in this and all known universes? (Trademark Pending) with the one and only J.D. Biersdorfer (The latest edition of iPad: The Missing Manual available in bookstores now) Haven’t I?

So why does Kanye West and a frickin’ dog meme have a Cryptocurrency before I do?!?!?!  You know what, forget it. Obviously I haven’t worn nearly enough leather kilts or have shiny enough fur for so… don’t even bother. Despite the hurt, I’m a professional so I’ll through this.

Before we can fully appreciate the technology behind Dogecoins and Coinyes, we must first understand what puts the crypt in cryptocurrency. Cryptography, that’s what.

Cryptography is the practice of the enciphering and deciphering of messages in secret code in order to render them unintelligible to all but the intended receiver. Cryptocurrency uses cryptography for security, making it difficult to counterfeit. The digital currency uses public and private keys  for transfers from one person to another. Now keys are pieces of information that determine the functional output of a cryptographic algorithm. Without the appropriate key it would be impossible to decrypt the virtual currency.

Okay, I can’t blame you if you’re all a bit skeptical and dismiss cryptocurrencies as just some silly internet fad but the reality is there are currently over 70 of them in play with bitcoin leading the market capitalization race with over 9 billion dollars.  Oh yeah, that’s billion…with a B.

If you’re thinking cryptocurrencies might be a prime target for some hacker baddies out there you’d be right on the money. If you also think Cryptocurrency has the potential for being the preferred currency of the dark web, rest your head. It has fulfilled it’s potential.

I’m not a luddite and I’m not as paranoid as many of you seem to think (Hey, I happen to look good in tinfoil hats, thank you very much) but let’s just say you can keep your bitcoins, litecoins and peercoins. In my world cash is still king…well until some enterprising type starts mining some of that digital moolah in honor of yours truly. When that happens you can bet I’ll be making it rain cryptocheddar…

PTJ 78: The Case of the Missing Kaisercoins

Series 3 of the BBC’s “Sherlock” finally makes its debut on PBS stations across the United States but if you can’t get enough of the deerstalker hat wearing detective, J.D. fills us in on other ways to get our Sherlock fix. Pedro deals with the disappointment of not having any cryptocurrency named in his honor by telling us what he knows about digital money.  In the news,  the U.S . Court of Appeals strikes down F.C.C. net neutrality rules; hackers mark the one-year anniversary of the death of programmer and digital-rights activist Aaron Swartz; Winamp will whip more llama ass; Google goes shopping; Snapchat continues to deal with its growing pains; and the bells begin to toll for Microsoft’s Windows 8.

Episode 60: Hyperloop Like Nobody’s Watching

On a double-stuffed episode J.D. takes a look at movie apps and Pedro reviews the 2013 version of the Google Nexus 7 Android tablet. In the news, Elon Musk unveils plans for futuristic transport system; Facebook adds restaurant reservations and listings for movies and TV; NBC News goes shopping for user-generated content; Windows 8.1 coming soon; an LG Electronics publicity goes all “WKRP In Cincinnati”; a Bitcoin security flaw threatens Android users; and Apple rumors heat up…yet again.