Tag Archives: Consumer Electronics Show

PTJ 217: She’ll Always Be Royalty to Us

After a tumultuous year that saw the sad passing of actress and author Carrie Fisher (as well as Kenny Baker) the year 2017 has arrived. And so, coincidentally,  is Episode 217 of Pop Tech Jam.

On this week’s show, El Kaiser and J.D. discuss some early announcements out of the Consumer Electronics Show, what Facebook’s been up to lately and explore suggestions to the Twitter’s CEO about improving the bird-themed microblogging service.

J.D. also has a (Hopefully) Helpful Hint about watching the skies. While you’re looking up, raise a glass to the memories of the actors that brought Princess Leia and R2-D2 to life all those years ago. They will be with us, always.

Links to Stories in This Week’s Episode

PTJ 216: So Long, 2016!

After a tumultuous 12 months in tech, culture and politics, this annus horribilis (as many found it) is finally on the way out the door. On this last episode of the year, El Kaiser and J.D. discuss the week’s tech news before exploring the highlights, lowlights and other notable events of 2016. Thanks for listening this year, Jammers, and we’ll be back in 2017!

Links to This Week’s Stories

PTJ 172 News: Wake-Up Call

Talk about your Rey of light! The seventh installment of the Star Wars franchise opened last Thursday night and went on to make $247.9 million dollars in its first weekend and broke several other records along the way, Many people stayed off the Internet and social media to avoid spoilers until they saw the film, and Google Trends set up a whole page of Star Wars: The Force Awakens-related lists based on the terms people were using in Google Search. The countdown for Rogue One (December 16th, 2016) and Episode VIII (May 26th, 2017) has begun!

Meanwhile, in a galaxy much closer to home, the folks at SpaceX must be breathing a sign of relief after the company was able to launch — and land — a Falcon 9 rocket in Florida this week. The rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, delivered 11 low-earth satellites into orbit for the ORBCOMM company and then returned safely and in one piece about 10 minutes later. After previous mishaps and an explosion earlier this year, SpaceX redesigned the Falcon 9 rocket and the company plans to reuse the booster for another mission. (Let’s hope they clean the crew cabin between flights, unlike some domestic airlines around here.)

spacex

Like tarting up images and then sharing them online? Adobe, maker of Photoshop, has a new free iOS app called Adobe Post. It’s described in detail on an Adobe blog, and yes, the company says an Android version is in the works. As Macworld points out, though, you have to share the app with a friend to get rid of an watermark Post puts on your pictures. Also in picture news, Facebook is adding support for the Live Photos created by Apple’s iPhone 6s and 6s Plus models. While the new feature is slowly rolling out, only users with the iOS version of Facebook’s app will be able to see the mini moving pictures. Oh, well.

It sounds like Microsoft and Google are talking over each other, at least when it comes to the Cortana assistant app on Android devices. In a recent update to the app for the American version, Microsoft has disabled the voice-activated “Hey Cortana” feature apparently due to microphone conflicts with the “OK, Google” voice command. Microsoft also announced this week it was going to crack down on aggressive adware that makes PC users vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks. As of March 31st next year, Microsoft plans to yank or block adware that defies its policies.

The Nielsen folks have released their list of the top apps of 2015 as measured by the number of users.  Odds are, you’re probably using one or two of the winning apps.

visitorJuniper Networks, which makes firewall for business enterprise customers, had to issue the advisory last week that so company remotely related to online protection wants to release: the Security Bulletin outlining multiple issues with one of its products.  A short FAQ on the incident. patches and workarounds were also posted. Wired reports that researchers now think the National Security Agency was at least partially responsible, and cryptography expert Matthew Green even has a blog post describing how hackers used an existing back door to make one of their own. Also in government snooping news, Apple is pushing back at a bill in the United Kingdom that seeks to expand Parliament’s investigatory powers and could give the government the power to make Apple decrypt its iMessage service.

The Federal Trade Commission has chased down the Oracle Corporation and charged that the company bamboozled customers about the safety of security updates to its Java software.  Thanks to a legal order, Oracle must provide an uninstall tool so users can pry the old Java crapware off their systems and make sure future updates actually provide the promised security.

hellkittyAnother week, another database leak. And another one that involves information about kids — Hello Kitty, of all things. Several sites have reported on the incident, but the one called The Office of Inadequate Security over at www.databreaches.net and the Salted Hash site lay it down: “Database Leak Exposes the 3.3 Million Hello Kitty Fans.”  The issue was discovered by security researcher Chris Vickery, who has been having a banner year of fail-hunting, and appears to be more of a server misconfiguration thing rather than hacker tracks. Sanrio, the company behind Hello Kitty, posted a statement on its site saying credit-card info was not at risk and yes, they fixed the problem.

While passwords can be a pain, especially when they’re hacked, Google is experimenting with a new way of logging in via smartphone notification. Yahoo, which has had its own security problems, updated its Yahoo Mail mobile app last fall that also did away with passwords in favor of a push notification to a mobile device. Just don’t lose your phone.

Layoffs are a fact of life in the tech industry and Toshiba is taking a hit now. The company, which claims to have released the world’s first mass-market laptop back in 1985 and affordable models in the 1990s, has been steadily losing ground to rival companies in Asia. The company, which also had a major accounting scandal this summer, said Monday it plans to cut about five percent of its workforce .

rosieThe Consumer Electronics Show is still about three weeks away, but the advance press releases are already starting to trickle out. Cleaning fans take note, LG plans to reveal what it calls “the world’s first augmented reality vacuum cleaner” at CES next month. The company’s HOM-BOT Turbo+ uses three camera sensors to record its surroundings to keep track of where it has already cleaned — and  to transmit a real-time feed to its owner’s smartphone. The human just needs to tap an area of the room displayed on the screen to have the HOM-BOT go over there and clean it. Because the vacuum has motion sensors along with its cameras, it can also be used to keep an eye on the place, but the HOM-BOT doesn’t quite sound like its up to a Terminator level of protection . . . yet.

bot

“Star Trek”-worthy Products from CES 2015

Those 170,000 captives and 3,600 exhibitors have finally escaped the 2.2 million square feet and unrelenting hype of the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show. Thousands of new products were introduced, demoed and otherwise bandied about. However, to prevent a mental core meltdown, here are just a few items from this year’s popular categories that can really make a Trekker stop and fantasize.

Virtual Reality

holodeckWe’re not in Holodeck territory yet, but Virtual Reality technology impressed some people at CES this year, while others griped that the offerings are still too passive. Oculus, now owned by Facebook, wowed attendees with a preview of the Crescent Bay prototype and its $200 Samsung Gear VR for the Galaxy Note 4. Another company, Razer, part of the Open-Source Virtual Reality ecosystem, has a $200 OSVR Hacker Dev Kit coming out this June for developers who want to dive into VR gaming. While it’s not quite a VR experience, Samsung also showed off the prototype of an 8K TV with a 110-inch screen and a 3D feature that didn’t require you to wear dorky glasses.

Big TVs

screenAs expected, CES 2015 had a ton of 4K Ultra High Definition TVs that would look right at home on the bridge of a starship so you could yell at pesky Romulans from the comfort of your captain’s chair. Samsung, for example, has blown by mere UHD and was showing off its fancy new SUHD TV sets, which offer more color, better contrast, curved panels and brighter displays than regular UHD TVs, all thanks to quantum dots, (or nanocrystals) that boost the image quality. But Samsung is not Boss of the Q-Dots, by any means — LG Electronics has its own quantum dot TVs and Sony brags of its Triluminos technology which is basically the same thing. High Dynamic Range video — which goes beyond what we all know from our smartphone camera apps — is coming to TVs full-force as well. Warner Brothers has a few movies coming out in Dolby Vision HDR and companies like Panasonic, Philips, Samsung and Sony are have compatible hardware hardware.

Wearables

badgeNo universal translator or combadge yet, but everybody and their grandmother’s startup seemed to have a wearable fitness tracker or smartwatch on the CES show floor. And to go with the smart shirts we saw last tear, Sensoria also introduced sensor-filled Smart Socks for runners that monitor things like foot-landing and cadence. The initial bundle of socks, charger, mobile app and other gear is listed at $200.

3D Printers

replicattorIt’s not a full replicator and you can’t get a steaming cup when you bark “Tea! Earl Grey. Hot” into it, but the 3D Food Printer from XYZprinting or the Foodini from Natural Machines let you make three-dimensional shapes for things like cookies, pizza, pasta and other baked goods. Once you put in the ingredients and punch in the design of your food — which you can also load from a USB drive or the Web — the machine forms your edible item according to plan and outputs it. The next step is usually baking. The 3D Food Printer is expected later this year and will likely cost around $2000.  The Foodini, based in Europe, is expected to go into production this year and cost around $1,300. Just try not playing with your food.

Connected Devices

If you want that Picard-worthy hot Earl Grey tea, however, there’s always the  WiFi-enabled kettle from Smarter. It comes with a mobile app so you can start the kettle boiling remotely. And yes, you can yell “Make it so!” as you put the kettle on from afar.

earl

PTJ 124 News: The Long View

The Consumer Electronics Show has lumbered into Las Vegas for its annual Unveiling O’ the Gadgets. As suspected, lots of smarthome systems, fancy TVs and wearables are in the spotlight. We’ll have a full rundown of the show next week, but some bullet points include:

Netflix has long had its suggested videos area to help you find things to watch based on your viewing preferences, and now the streaming service is going to start anointing new television sets as worthy. (It was just four years ago at CES 2011 when Netflix announced some manufacturers were adding a Netflix button to their remote controls.) Roku is also one of the companies that will offer Netflix recommended models in its Roku TV line of sets, the latest of which will also support 4K Ultra HD streaming content.

roku

ESPN is following HBO out into the world of untethered-to-a-cable subscription apps. The sports network will be among the channels available on the new Sling TV service from the DISH network.

Facebook has just acquired Wit.AI, a company that turns spoken words into instructions that robots can understand. Perhaps in the near future,  the Roomba will be able to handle your status updates as well…

Gogo, which provides inflight Internet services to many airlines, does not want its users to stream video and hog bandwidth enroute and has gone so far as to issue a fraudulent HTTPS certificate to anyone onboard who dares to visit YouTube during their flight. The company was busted by Adrienne Porter Felt, an engineer on the security squad for Google’s Chrome browser, and she even posted a screenshot to her Twitter feed of the fake certificate. Gogo’s chief technology officer Anand Chari then posted a statement on his company’s blog explaining Gogo’s actions. And so it goes.

Another week, another lawsuit against Apple. This time, two plaintiffs are suing the company because they say their 16-gigabyte iOS devices do not really come with 16 gigabytes of storage, and that the iOS 8 system takes up even more precious space. Apple had no comment.

For those who like to complain, the Federal Communications Commission has launched a new site called the Consumer Help Center. You can use it to file complaints about various FCC-regulated industries.

FCC

Yahoo Mail has updated its app for iOS and now it can track your packages for you. Here’s hoping the hackers don’t get ahold of this.

Behind every flop, there’ a story, and Fast Company has a very detailed long read about the development and fallout of Amazon’s failed Fire Phone. The site has an additional post about post-Fire Phone changes at Lab126, the quasi-secret R&D arm of Amazon that develops the company’s hardware.

The Internet Archive has now added more than 2,300 old MS-DOS games to its Software section. Duke Nukem 3D, Cannon Fodder 2 and Prince of Persia are among the early 1990s titles you can play with emulation software right in your browser.

DOS

And finally, 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope. To celebrate, NASA has released a new high-def version of the classic “Pillars of Creation” image from the Eagle Nebula that was originally photographed in 1995. Although the Hubble won’t last forever and eventually degrade, NASA has its successor: the James Webb Space Telescope is in the works and the agency hopes to launch it this decade — and there’s an eye in the sky that we don’t actually mind one bit.

PTJ 77: Desert Daze and the Cold Life

We’re refreshed, rested and ready for more shenanigans in 2014!  J.D. gives us some helpful hints for what to do with all those holiday snapshots cluttering up your smartphone. We may be a week into the new year but that doesn’t stop El Kaiser from  revealing what he considers the top Tech Term of 2013.  Lots of news from Las Vegas as the annual international Consumer Electronics Show opened this week. Samsung announces a new line of PRO models of its popular Galaxy Tab tablets; Panasonic announces a 7-inch addition to its Toughpad family of ruggedized tablets; Google partners with several automobile manufacturers to provide infotainment systems for their new car models;  Intel has a new mini-computer called Edison; plus Bluetooth toothbrushes smart TVs and appliances and some fun wearable tech from ThinkGeek.com.

PTJ 77 News: The Internet of Endless CES Announcements

The annual international Consumer Electronics Show opened in Las Vegas this week — at least for those who could get to it without weather freeze-outs or flight delays. Every company at the show seemed to have a press release about their upcoming gear the year; check out the in-depth coverage at CNet, the BBC, the Verge and The New York Times for roundups. Noticeable trends for 2014 include curved screens on phones and large television sets, more wearable computing ventures, an expansion of the Internet of Things and more big TVs with nice screens and helpful software.

Along with these general trends, there was plenty of specific product news, like Samsung’s new PRO models of its Galaxy Tab tablets. The new line runs Android 4.4 but with a revamped skin that NBC News has described as “like Android’s widgets crossed with Windows Phone’s gridlike layout.” No word on prices yet, but Samsung says the new models will be available in the first quarter of this year.

Panasonic announced a 7-inch addition to its Toughpad family of ruggedized tablets that can withstand more incidental physical abuse than more delicate hardware. The new FZ-M1 runs Windows 8.1 Pro on an Intel Core i5 vPro processor and will be available this spring for a list price of about $2100.

Google announced a partnership with several automakers to run the infotainment system in some new models on Android, possibly even later this year. General Motors, Audi, Honda and Hyundai are in the mix and all this is part of the new Open Automotive Alliance for accelerating innovation. Android appeared last spring in at least one Kia car model and joins Apple’s previously announced-but-not-yet-out iOS in the Car system and earlier ventures like Ford Sync for integrating personal technology into the dashboard.

Intel, always a presence at computer trade shows, has a new mini-computer called Edison that it hopes will give the wearable-computing market a boost. Edison, which is the size of a Secure Digital card uses a low-power Quark processor, has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, and can run Linux and probably other operating systems as well as apps written in the Wolfram Language.

LG Electronics and the messaging service LINE have a new virtual venture that lets users send text messages to their wireless home appliances. (As Wired pointed out earlier this week, The Internet of Things isn’t really all that secure, so could the Rise of the Machines really mean the oven and refrigerator will soon be coming for you?)

toothOther machines rising this year with their own CES announcements: Kolibree previewed  a Bluetooth-enabled toothbrush that beams your brushing techniques and frequencies to your smartphone, and the French sporting-goods company Babolat has a $400 Bluetooth-connected tennis racket that records your swing and transmits the data to a mobile app for further analysis.

The LG G Flex, that Android smartphone with a curved screen, will be available from AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint in the first quarter of 2014. (In addition to all its other CES announcements, LG Electronics also showed off its new line of smart TVs using the not- gone-but-almost-forgotten webOS operating system.

Small things got some press, too. Netgear announced its NeoMediacast HDMI dongle, which is basically a TV set-top box on an Android-powered stick. The MakerBot Replicator Mini 3-D printer will be available for about $1400 later this year and can create objects up to 5 inches high.

Sharp Electronics is trying to hit the price-point sweet spot between HDTV and 4K TV with its new line of AQUOS sets that use its Quattron+ subpixel technology to make screens noticeably more detailed than the standard 1080p. Prices for a 60-inch model are expected to start at $2300.

Panasonic brought forth its new line of “beyond smart” 1080p and 4K televisions using its “Life + Screen” platform. But if you have one of Samsung’s new Smart TVs coming out in the next few months, you can not only watch the movie’s trailer with the integrated Fandango app, you can buy tickets right on the TV. In case, you know, you want to leave the house for a bit.

And finally, here’s some wearable technology that’s a lot more fun than an overpriced exercise monitor. ThinkGeek now has an Electronic FPS Laser Battle Jacket. It may not be all the rage on the Paris runways this season, but who wants to play a ripping game of Frag Tag in all that fussy couture?

King of All Gadget Gatherings

The Consumer Electronics Show, also known as CES, has been around since June 1967, when it was first held in New York City. It’s packed up and headed west for Las Vegas since then, but over the years, plenty of products first introduced at the show have come and gone (the VCR, the CD, HDTV, Microsoft Bob…)

BunVegas

So what about this year?

Try Ultra High Definition TV. Big pixels here – 3840 x 2160 — on big screens with prices that start around $12,000 and shoot way up north from there. Samsung showed off its 85-inch UN89S9 ultra high-def set that floats on its own massive easel. No price announced yet. Want something bigger? There’s The Westinghouse UltraHD 4K TV with 110-inch screen. After the massive price tags that will certainly get cheaper, getting content in native 4K resolutions is going to be the tough part – and storing it, as some experts are calculating that a movie in the full 4K resolution will need just under 10 terabytes of space to store. So we’ll see if UHD gets any more traction than 3D HDTV.

As for smartphones, Sony announced its upcoming Xperia Z LTE phone, due out in the first quarter of this year. It runs Android Jelly Bean, has a 5-inch 1080p screen, sports a 13-megapixel camera with HDR video and runs on a 1.5 gigahertz Qualcomm qua-core processor. It also comes with built-in protection of you get a case of the dropsies. The Xperia Z has anti-shatter glass on the front and back AND it’s water-resistant; Sony claims the phone can stay submerged for up to 30 minutes and still function. As the BBC calls it, it’s a bath-friendly phone.

But aside from big TVs, phones, tablets and the usual stuff we see at CES every year, there’s always the more offbeat gadgets at every show. The memorable oddities for 2013 include:

  • The Fitbit Flex band, a wearable wristband that monitors its wearer’s movement, sleep, and calories burned all day, every day.
  • The Hapilabs smart fork, also known as the Hapifork, is a Bluetooth-enabled eating utensil that that monitors the speed of your eating so you don’t gobble too fast and make yourself sick.
  • The Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses, a tiny screen that hangs out in front of your eye to provides visual access to your smartphone display, basic Web content and other info from your smartphone and applications.

Can’t get enough of CES news? Checkout the exhaustive coverage from CNET, The New York Times and Engadget for starters. And when you’ve had enough, kick back with a nice Elvis movie. It is, after all, the King’s birthday week.