Tag Archives: BlackBerry

PTJ 197 News: Eyes on the Road Ahead

It was bound to happen sooner or later. There has now been a reported fatality with one of Tesla’s Model S sedans in self-driving mode. A man in Florida was killed last month using his car in the Autopilot setting while reportedly watching a Harry Potter movie when his Tesla vehicle slammed into a truck at high speed. In a post on the company blog, the Tesla team explained why the software failed, but the incident is also a good reminder to always pay attention to your surroundings, even when the car is driving itself.

As reported in Wired, Google has added settings for its search users that ask if they want to see tailored ads based on age, gender, and search history to show up now on third-party sites as the ads currently do on Google sites. By opting in, users can edit and block ads they don’t like across any device logged in with a Google account. This compares to other ad networks, which require users to opt out of such personalization. Google has also reworked the history page where it hoards all of the old searches and viewing history you’ve previously done on Google and Google-owned sites. The new data locker is called  My Activity and it allows you to log in and delete specific entries out of your search and viewing history. In case you need to.

Android N has a full name now: Android Nougat. (Hungry for a Snickers now?)


Rumor has it Apple is pondering the purchase of Jay-Z’s Tidal streaming music service. Apple also got into a punch-up with Spotify last week. It came down to Spotify saying Apple won’t approve the new Spotify app for its App Store because it wants to cut competition for the aforementioned Apple Music and Apple saying the app was rejected because Spotify disobeyed the App Store developer guidelines for in-app purchases.

bblinkIs Big Brother 2016 watching you? Those free Wi-Fi kiosks with the video ads and phone-charging ports that are popping up around New York City streets the past few months, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union and other privacy advocates who say the kiosks can be used to spy on and collect information from people passing by them. As reported by the ReCode site after obtaining documents through public-records laws, Alphabet, parent company of Google, “wants to monitor pedestrian, bike and car traffic, track passing wireless devices, listen to street noise and use the kiosks’ built-in video cameras to identify abandoned packages.” Sidewalk Labs, the company behind the kiosks, said all data is anonymized, not sold to third parties and the cameras haven’t even been turned on. Still, the kiosks have found dedicated fans on the city streets: The New York Post reported some of the city’s homeless population was using the stations to watch free porn until the city remembered it had to put in URL filters.

The hacking of social media accounts has been in the news since a Mr. Mark Zuckerberg got jacked recently, and if you’re worried about your own Twitter account, BuzzFeed has an article up with tips on how to see if your account is vulnerable from third-party applications.

The Chicago man who hacked several celebrity iCloud and Gmail accounts in 2014 (and made actress Jennifer Lawrence extremely angry) is going to plead guilty. Edward Majerczyk could get up to five years in prison, a felony violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act after stealing user names and password through phishing.


Facebook announced last week that it is adding a new multilingual composer for users to write one post, but have it appear in multiple languages. Sounds like there could be some good machine-translation memes coming soon.

Comcast and Netflix have made nice and come to an agreement that will allow Netflix’s streaming video service on to Comcast’s set-top boxes. Netflix’s long march to be on every type of screen available continues.

According to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Linkedin also was courting Google and Salesforce as potential suitors, but Microsoft’s all-cash deal won out. Let’s hope this one turns out better than the Nokia acquisition.

bbclassicedBlackBerry (remember them?) announced this week that it would no longer make the BlackBerry Classic smartphone and said earlier this year that it was ditching its own BlackBerry 10 operating system in favor of Android. Some member of the United States Congress will likely be very upset by this, as there are still some lawmakers holding on to the once-dominant platform, even though it got toasted by Android and iOS devices in the late 2000s. Without BlackBerry updates, the Senate’s IT department sent out a memo saying Senate staffers would no longer be issued official BlackBerry smartphones for office use. While the 600 BlackBerry models currently in circulation will still get tech support, for the time being. Guv’ment business and all.

And finally, NASA announced last week that nine missions by far-traveling spacecraft are getting extended because the hardware has lived beyond the original estimates. The New Horizons craft that already completed the Pluto flyby job got extended, as did the Dawn mission to Ceres. And NASA’s Juno probe, launched in 2011, has reached its destination after a five-year journey. After a 130,000-mile-an-hour trip through radiation belts and planetary clouds slowed by a 35-minute engine burn, Juno dropped into Jupiter’s orbit on July 4th to start observing the solar system’s largest planet while searching for its origins. As one of the principal members of the Juno team said, “This is the hardest thing NASA has ever done.” That’s really saying something, because when you look at the History of NASA, they’ve done some pretty darn hard and impressive things since the agency was created in 1958. You go, NASA!

PTJ 90: Court Cases and Fiber Races

El Kaiser has a new toy and he can’t wait to tell you all about it. This week he reviews the Mont Blanc E12 portable headphone amplifier from FiiO.  Let’s face it, ebooks are here to stay. J.D. fills us in on how to make margin notes and highlight our favorite passages on all the popular digital book readers.

In the news the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in  American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo; Lytro unveils a new camera; Rumors circulate that an Amazon smartphone will sport a radical new UI; Comcast reports its subscriber numbers are up; AT&T wants to beat Google in the Fiber Race; the AOL mail site is hacked; and Apple announces it plans to power all of its stores, data centers and offices with renewable energy sources.

Book Marks

Ebooks have grabbed quite a few eyeballs with their lower prices, wide selection and ability to  be read on a tablet, reader or computer with a minimum of fuss. While ebooks do have their conveniences, some people are still pondering how to make margin notes or underline their favorite passages in the text, which can come in handy for study or book club reference. But scribbling digitally in your ebooks is rather easy on most of the major platforms.

Take the Amazon Kindle, for example. Whether you’re using a Kindle e-ink or Fire tablet, (or even the apps Amazon makes available to read Kindle books on Windows, OS X, iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone), you can annotate your ebooks. You typically just need to press and hold the word or passage until it highlights or you get an option to make a note within the text.

The notes and highlights you make in your Kindle books are also stored in your account on Amazon’s website — just log in to see them. If you choose, you can make your notes public so other Kindle users can see them on Amazon’s site. Although it can do so anonymously, Amazon’s site also keeps a public list of the most popular highlights from books, if you want to see what other people found noteworthy.

Barnes & Noble’s NOOK e-readers and apps have a similar tap-to-highlight passages and make notes. (You can share your favorite passages on social media if you want to brag on your literary taste.) Kobo, which has a line of e-readers and jumped into welcome users of Sony’s now-defunct Reader hardware also lets you mark up your ebooks.


Got Google Play books, say, on your Android phone or tablet? You can take notes and highlight text there, too. Apple’s iBooks app for its iOS devices and OS X Mavericks Macs adds colorful highlight colors and notes with a tap or click. On the book’s Contents page, you can see all your musings throughout the text listed all in once place  for easy reference. Like the Kindle, your annotations sync up between all the iBooks devices you use.

While notes and highlighted passages in electronic books may lack the smudged immediacy or mental scorch-marks from the burst of late-night energy, they do have one major advantage — thanks to search and sync, they’re a lot easier to find within your books. And you also won’t wake up from a cram session with yellow Hi-Liter smeared all over your face.

PTJ 80: We Heart Latvia

If you’ve listened to the show for any length of time you’ll know that the software development company BROS is directly responsible for Pop Tech Jam making its way through the Intertubes and into our preferred listening devices.  Founder and lead bro Christian Serron joins Pedro to discuss the burgeoning tech sector in Uruguay and to finally reveal why he helped unleash J.D. and El Kaiser on the podcast world… again.  If the Polar Vortex is keeping you indoors (or if you just enjoy playing classic video games) J.D. tells us where we can find some venerable titles for our mobile devices. In the news South Korea still has the need for speed when it comes to connection speed; Android continues to dominate in Europe; Blackberry rolls out a new version of their Blackberry 10 OS; Google buys artificial intelligence research company Deep Mind; and Facebook turns 10.

PTJ 65 News: Lyin’, Cheatin’ and Stealin’

Don’t be makin’ stuff up— the state of New York is cracking down on fake Internet reviews on sites like Yelp, Yahoo and Citysearch and issued fines of about $350,000 to more than a dozen companies who got caught singing their own praises—or paying others to do it for them, including people in other countries who had never used the services in question. The State of New York has been busy the past week or so, and also introduced “text stops” along the highway for people who need to pull over and send a message.

In other legal news, LinkedIn is getting sued by several of its customers, who claim the professional networking site hacked into their personal external e-mail accounts and downloaded the address books for marketing purposes. A post on a company blog by LinkedIn’s senior director of litigation states that the accusations are false. Stay tuned.

On a happier note, Google is revamping the way YouTube uploaders manage the comments on their sites, which may help knock the trolls farther down and out of sight. (While we’re waiting for the new system to roll out, don’t forget the Pop Tech Jam guide to blocking online comments.)

As expected, Microsoft announced the next generation of its Surface tablets. The Surface Pro 2 runs on an Intel Core i5 Haswell processor. The less-powerful Surface 2 tablet was also announced this week. While Microsoft soldiers on trying to carve out more market share for its tablets and smartphones, BlackBerry reported major losses and layoffs, and also announced it was selling itself for $5 billion to Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, a Canadian finance firm.

Apple’s new iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s went on sale last Friday and sold more phones over the weekend than BlackBerry did for the entire last quarter. So while the battle of the fruit-themed smartphone companies has been decided, but Apple’s products are taking bites out of other firms as well. After the arrival of iTunes Radio last week, the Web radio service Pandora saw its stock from 10 percent. Apple also pushed out iOS 7 last week, and the bug hunters have been having a ball.

In other Apple news, the childhood home of the late company co-founder Steve Jobs could be made a protected site by the Los Altos Historical Commission in California.

If you thought your Gmail was slow earlier this week, that wasn’t your friends and colleagues ignoring you — that was Google having problems delivering messages and attachments to its 425 million users. The situation was resolved about 12 hours later, with a dual network failure taking the blame.

Worried about someone swiping your Android device and getting into your stuff? You can now lock a lost device remotely with the latest version of the Android Device Manager. To use it, just log into the Android Device Manager Web page with your Google or Gmail user name and password and follow along.

In gaming news, Valve is busting out its own Linux-based SteamOS designed for gaming on TV screens. The SteamOS home page has more information, and the company is also working on Steam Machines (not to be confused with those things you rent a couple times a year to get all the mashed Cheetos and Gatorade stains out of the carpet).

lasereyesDo you hate it when you take pictures of your cat and it has those weird glowing eyes? Adobe has  added a new feature to its brand new Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 software. Yes, now you can use the “Pet Eye” tool to correct those weird green and yellow distortions in the eyes of your cats and dogs, just like you can use the Red Eye tool to get the demon gaze out of human eyes.
Most of the time.

PTJ 65: iRadio Ga Ga

This week JD takes a listen to Apple’s new iTunes Radio service and breaks it down for us; Pedro wrestles with a rare tie-less day in the studio; and gives us his observations on everything from “Breaking Bad”, iOS 7 and the updated edition of JD’s book, “iPad: The Missing Manual”. In the news New York State goes after fake online reviews; LinkedIn gets sued for allegedly hacking user accounts; Microsoft debuts new Surface tablets; Blackberry throws in the towel; iPhone sets a sales record for their new smartphones; Google’s Gmail service slows to a crawl; Valve announces their own Linux based OS; and Adobe updates their consumer photo apps to eliminate the dreaded “Pet Eye”. (Stop frontin’, you know you wanted it…)

PTJ 63: Never Mind the Applesauce

Apple makes a product announcement and the response is a collective “d’uh, we already knew that.” Turns out the rumors were true. The fruit-themed phone makers roll out a plastic iPhone and a refresh of their flagship smartphone. In the news, Microsoft prepares to launch new Surface tablets; Sony announces an updated version of their PS Vita mobile gaming device; Samsung unveils their smartwatch; Facebook aims to be your source for news; The NSA can crack even the most advanced encryption methods; and a lone voice makes the case for saving AM radio.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Government Tools

Along with fashion, tech gear and exciting entertainment options popping back into the news after a relatively quiet summer, Congress is back in session. Love them or hate them, the legislative branch of the government make the laws around here, but the process can sometimes be a little confusing and unwieldy. If you want to know what’s going out there in Washington, here are a few resources that may help:

  • Congress for Android and iOS is a free app that lets you find your Congressional representative, checkout new and active legislation, see who’s sponsoring current bills, keep tabs on the social media coming out of his or her office and see how people voted on bills and laws.
  • cspanIf you’d rather listen than read about what’s going on. The free C-SPAN Radio app for Android, BlackBerry and iOS delivers audio streams of Congressional speeches and hearings, as well as public affairs programming. You can also hear author interviews from the Book TV folks over there on C-SPAN 2.
  • On the Web, you can look up past and present bills, resolutions and other legislative information in the Thomas database on the Web. Named after Thomas Jefferson, you can search the text of bills, download copies of said bills, check out roll call votes and contact members of Congress if you have something to say. The database has a number of other extras, including the original text of The Federalist Papers.

The inefficiency of Congress is nothing new, but at least with apps and other sources of information, it’s much easier to get information — and even participate in the democratic process itself. We the People, indeed.

Episode 56: Proudly Flying Our Geek Flag

This week El Kaiser wrestles with an identity crisis and J.D. gives us the lowdown on how the micro-blogging service Twitter determines what is trending. In the news, taking down websites that offer access to pirated content by targeting their wallet; the NSA gets sued; Buzzfeed and Facebook have a slap fight; manufacturers ditch the Thunderbolt port; rumors heat up about a Microsoft smartwatch; Blackberry drastically drops the price on its flagship Z10 smartphone and Nasa discovers a new moon orbiting Neptune.

Episode 47 News: SHIELDs Up!

It’s been a busy middle week of May on the pop culture front, with plenty of geeky TV news (Almost Human and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. coming to the broadcast airwaves this fall), our favorite Watson speaking out on racism in Hollywood, a new Dan Brown history cryptothriller and a big health announcement from geek-girl icon Angelina Jolie. Amid it all, there was even some tech news.

The next version of Windows is no longer Blue, but now Windows 8.1. This is an update to the current Windows 8 system that has had a few detractors since it’s release last fall. As reported by Engadget and other blogs around the Web, the upgrade will be free and available from the Windows 8 home screen when it’s done and ready for downloading. (Windows 8 itself has been dubbed Microsoft’s “New Coke” in some circles for its thudding reception, but hey, maybe it’s a marketing thing…)

BlackBerry is also updating a recent system. Version 10.1 of the new BlackBerry OS for Z10 users is rolling out. The folks at BBHQ also announced that its BBM — BlackBerry Messenger Service — was expanding to other smartphone platforms. Perhaps the expanded service will lure more users, as Gartner Research and their data reports that BlackBerry only snagged 3 percent of worldwide mobile phone sales in 1Q 2013; nearly 75% of phones sold were running Android, while Apple had around 18 percent.

Nokia unveiled the Lumia 925, a reduced-fat version of its Lumia 920 Windows Phone The Lumia 928 model, available here in the States on Verizon’s network, adds a Xenon flash to the hardware mix. (One handset that did not sell well last month: the HTC First, the original Facebook Home phone, which may be may be discontinued soon by AT&T.)

Apple could be changing up the way it deals with hardware repairs and its AppleCare extended warranty plans this fall. Of course, it’s all rumor until Apple announces something, but it sounds like the company will have quite a bit to announce around harvest time.

Google is holding its annual I/O conference this week and had many announcements. In addition to talking about its upcoming plans for Android, its new streaming music service and other products, Google-placed environmental sensors will be recording anonymous data from the attendees to analyze crowd flow and other conference happenings. (As for conference happenings, it’s unlikely the ill-fated Nexus Q will get a mention.)

Despite preparing for its big fancy conference, Google also found time to unify online storage options for its Google Drive, Gmail and Google+ photo services. The company also had a few moments to stick an Easter Egg into its Google Images service. And in a bit of corporate cooperation, Microsoft has made its Outlook.com Webmail service interoperable with the Gmail chat program and Google Chat.

Amazon has released a new version of its Cloud Player app for Windows users. Although PC users could already listen to their music stored in Amazon’s cloud through the Web browser, the new app can now store music offline. A Mac version is said to be in the works.

For those who like to cook and also love Android tablets, Archos has released the ChefPad, a 9.7-inch Jelly-Bean-based tablet. The $210 8GB tablet comes with a splash-resistant case and stand in case the home-made sauce really starts flying. Android fans who prefer gaming to cooking may want to check out the Nvidia SHIELD instead, a new $350 portable Android-based gaming system on the way next month.

And finally, three astronauts who’ve been up on the International Space Station for the past five months have returned to Earth in a Russian Soyuz capsule. Among the three was Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, known for his videos on life in space and his recent cover of David Bowie’s classic track, “Space Oddity.” Welcome home, gentlemen! Just in time to grab a showing of Star Trek Into Darkness on its opening weekend and stock up on some sartorial upgrades!