Tag Archives: China

PTJ 243: Sound and Fury

After a discussion about the stirring audio mix used to back the film Dunkirk,  El Kaiser and J.D. make a lot of noise about this week’s technology news — including new government regulation around the world. However, if it all gets to be too much, perhaps a nice friendly drone will deliver a tureen of soup right to your door. Settle in and listen away to Episode 243!

Links to Stories Mentioned on This Week’s Show

Film Audio Discussion

PTJ 132 News: Raise Your Glasses

Amid all the noise from both sides of the issue, the Federal Communications Commission voted last week to adopt the new rules that reclassify broadband Internet service as a public utility. The lawsuits are looming, but for now, the rules have passed. But something new to consider from it all: Mobile broadband service also falls under the new rules. As The Verge site points out, this is a total game-changer in the mobile space.

samsungs6Mobile is everywhere, and especially out at the Mobile World Congress expo in Barcelona this week. Among the announcements: the fancy new Samsung Galaxy S6 and its sibling the Galaxy S6 Edge (shown here). Microsoft and HTC were among the many companies announcing new smartphone models with Lumia 640 line and the One M9 respectively; BlackBerry is fighting to get back in the game with its security-enhanced BlackBerry Leap smartphone, Intel has announced the next generation of Atom processors, and LG showed off four new phones and the fancy LG Watch Urbane Smartwatch that runs on Android.

Also in Android news, Google mentioned a new forthcoming Android Pay mobile payments service to compete with Apple Pay and the newly announced Samsung Pay. The Big G also said its Project Loon adventure is floating closer to becoming reality and the company may also be considering its own wireless service. Microsoft also introduced a new Universal Folding Keyboard for people who hate to type on glass screens.

The social network formerly known as Google+ is being split up into two parts, at least internally within the halls of Google. These parts shall be known as Photos and Streams. Google Hangouts will continue as a standalone communications tool for video.

Apple has announced a Spring Forward event for March 9th, presumably to discuss the final specs and ship date for the Apple Watch. Apple CEO Tim Cook has been dropping hints about apps for the watch. And, as part of its OS X Beta program, Apple also released the first public Yosemite 10.10.3 beta for Mac participants.

hrcOh, when governments and technology collide. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is getting heat and may have broken some rules by using a personal email account to conduct government business during her tenure with the State Department. The Federal Records Act does not like it when official government business is conducted on personal email accounts with questionable security. Mrs. Clinton has since asked for the messages to be released.

President Obama has come out against new policies the Chinese government has placed on US technology companies who want to do business over there. The Chinese government’s pending new rules require tech firms to provide copies of encryption keys to Chinese authorities and to build security backdoors into systems, all in the name of counter-terrorism. The US does not like this. (To quote the comedienne Brett Butler, “Oh, Arturo, Prince of Irony.”)

AVGAnd finally, if all these government eyeballs looking at you are making you nervous, you may want to keep your own eye on the development of AVG’s “invisibility glasses.” Although still proof-of-concept and dorkier for even some of the biggest dorks around to actually wear, the idea shows a nice little spark of resistance in an over-photographed world. In the meantime, sports fans of lousy teams (New York Jets, Mets, Knicks — take your pick) have an alternative solution for avoiding recognition on camera.

PTJ 103 News: Shoot the Messenger

Facebook’s move to shove users onto its separate Messenger app is reportedly coming soon — if it’s not here already by the time you read this. Millions of people are already using it, and Facebook says the Messenger app is a faster and more efficient for sharing text and multimedia messages. The company has plans to monetize Messenger with a payment system as well. The Messenger app’s Terms of Service is causing some concern with the privacy-minded, though, and some users are complaining about the forced march.

Splitting up app services seems to be a popular move. Foursquare recently divided its eponymous mobile software for checking into places and reviewing them into two apps They are Foursquare and the new Swarm app, available for Android and iOS. Swarm is now the app required for all the check-in-with-your-pals activity, while Foursquare has been transformed into a user-reviews database. The split has gotten media criticism and a fair amount of backlash from users who are checking out of Swarm, but the company did just release another update earlier this week. (Yelp, the service Foursquare seems to competing with most, updated its own mobile app this week and now allows users to add short video clips to their reviews.)

fakefoxAnd about apps… there are new reports of a security problem with the way apps are identified by Google’s Android operating system. The research team at Bluebox Security says the new “Fake ID” vulnerability that it has just discovered allows malicious applications to essentially copy the identity certificates and credentials of trusted apps and get into places where malware is normally not allowed. The research team said this security hole has been around since Android version 2.1 in January 2010 and devices that haven’t been updated with last April’s patch for Google bug 13678484 are vulnerable.  Bluebox waited 90 days to publicize its findings so Google had time to get out the April patch.

Apple has just purchased BookLamp, a book-recommendation service in what’s said to be a shot across Amazon’s e-book bow. Also in Apple’s shopping cart: Swell, the podcasting app described by some as “Pandora for talk radio.” The Re/code site reports that Apple is scooping up Swell for about $30 million and could put Apple’s own poorly reviewed Podcasts app out of its misery or boost iTunes Radio. (Apple has now  quietly confirmed the dealthe Swell website has been shut down now and the app has been removed from the App Store.)

This summer marks 15 years since the Napster peer-to-peer file-sharing service stormed onto the scene and made MP3-swapping all the rage. At its peak, Napster claimed 80 million users before its original incarnation was shut down by court order for copyright violations in 2001. After several years of being bought and sold, the remains of the company eventually merged with the Rhapsody streaming service and this week announced it had just hit the two-million subscriber mark. On the way back up at last!

Beats Electronics, another of Apple’s more recent acquisitions,  is getting sued by Bose Electronics. Bose, which makes a line of high-end and very popular noise-cancelling headphones says Beats infringed on five of its patents. Sounds like QuietComfort is getting ready to rumble…

Microsoft is also finding itself in a spot of legal bother this week, as the Chinese government is investigating the company for violations of its antitrust laws. Chinese officials have also investigated Qualcomm for alleged anti-trust violations in recent times.

Legal troubles overseas haven’t dampened Microsoft’s sense of fun when it comes to giving Apple a virtual wedgie on TV. The mighty Redmond giant is running a new television commercial for Windows Phone that shows off its Cortana virtual assistant being much more talented and helpful than Apple’s Siri software. The general theme of the ad is similar to last year’s Microsoft spots that touted its Surface tablets over Apple’s iPad.

raspberryMicrosoft is also cooking up its own recipe for Raspberry Pi. But while the bare-bones Pi computer (shown here) costs a mere $40, Microsoft’s own version of the naked circuit board computer is called Sharknado 3, er,  The Shark’s Cove and runs about $300. The Shark’s Cove is intended to be a serious dev board for programmers and less of a hobbyist gadget like the Pi. The Microsoft Shark board does come with a copy of Windows 8.1 and the oomph to actually run it.

A lower-cost cable plan that brings broadband, basic channels and HBO for about $49-a-month is said to be in the works. The budget package had a trial run with Comcast last year. Game of Thrones for fewer bones, perhaps?

marscakeAnd finally, up on Mars. We’d like to congratulate NASA’s Opportunity Rover for setting an off-world driving record. The rolling robot has been cruising around the Red Planet since 2004 and in that decade, racked up just over 25 miles on its little odometer.  And a big “Happy Birthday” this week to NASA itself. The agency came into existence on July 29, 1958, after Congress and President Eisenhower made it so with the creatively named National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958. The mission? “To provide for research into problems of flight within and outside the earth’s atmosphere, and for other purposes.”  It’s not quite as poetic as, To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before,” but hey, you have to start somewhere.

PTJ 103: Company’s Shopping and Records Dropping

This week we channel our inner AV club as El Kaiser reviews a USB headphone amp and digital to analog converter called the Dragonfly from Audioquest and J.D. takes a look at how to deal with DVD region codes. Yes, DVDs. You remember? Shiny disk that looked like CDs and every PC and laptop used to have a drive that could read them…

In the news Facebook officially splits off their popular Messenger feature; Foursquare looks to improve it’s new Swarm app; Yelp allows users to post videos along with their reviews; Google addresses another major Android security vulnerability; Apple goes shopping; Napster announces it has passed the 2 million user mark, Bose and Beats Electronics go toe to toe over noise cancellation; the Chinese government investigates Microsoft over anti-trust concerns; and the Mars Opportunity Rover breaks a record.

Episode 36: Talking Apps and Malware Traps

If you’re too busy to get news headlines, weather updates or the latest social media posts from your friends, not to worry! J.D. introduces to some apps that will read them all for you. Sony announced its long awaited PS4 gaming-console this week and one feature captures El Kaisers attention: Ultra HD support. Pedro fills us in on the new video format in his Tech Term of the Week. In the news, Nasa’s Mars Rover drills into Martian soil for the first time; meteors rain down on Russia; Ubuntu gets into the tablet and smartphone business; Facebook contemplates autoplay video ads; and Apple gets hit by a virus attack.