Tag Archives: Disney

PTJ 256: Age/Old Problems

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!

Links to Stories Discussed on This Week’s Episode

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint

Star Wars: The Choice Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens landed in movie houses last December and like clockwork four months later, the film is just about to roll out on home video. For fans of the franchise, the digital ‘n’ disc release to the masses means we can see The Force wake up all over again — but now with the power to fast-forward/rewind/obsess over all those little tidbits that whizzed by on the original big-screen viewing(s).

And of course, home video traditionally means: BONUS FEATURES.

Disney is not holding back with this one. Not only do most versions of The Force Awakens have extra video treats, you can also choose between delivery formats — and even the packaging for your copy.

And you don’t have long to wait. Digital high-def downloads from various legitimate sources will be available this Friday, April 1st, while physical discs — Blu-ray and DVD — hit stores Tuesday, April 5th.

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So, what do you get if you buy the film? Deleted scenes, of course! These snippets from the editing-room bin have already been officially teased by Disney, spoiled here and there and leaked in various places online. There are said to be six official deleted scenes for disc buyers, and a seventh clip for the digital-only releases.

And what would a home-video release be without a few behind-the-scenes minidocs? Sure, the offerings may vary by retailer, but here are the ones most retailers are advertising (complete with original breathless blurbs from Disney):

• Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic JourneyFor the first time, discover the complete story behind the making of The Force Awakens, revealed through in-depth footage and exclusive interviews with the actors and filmmakers in this feature documentary.

• The Story Awakens: The Table ReadCast members familiar and new reflect on the memorable day they all first came together to read the movie’s script.

• Building BB-8See how the filmmakers brought the newest droid to the screen, creating an instant fan favorite in the Star Wars universe.

• Crafting CreaturesWatch movie magic as the filmmakers bring a cast of new creatures to life.

• Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow FightGo deeper into the epic, climactic lightsaber battle between Rey and Kylo Ren.

• John Williams: The Seventh SymphonyThe legendary composer shares personal insights of his work on Star Wars and The Force Awakens.

• ILM: The Visual Magic of The ForceAn insider’s look into the remarkable digital artistry of the movie’s visual effects.

• Force For ChangeHeroes come in all shapes and sizes. See how the Star Wars: Force for Change initiative has united Star Wars fans all over the globe to help others.

Can’t wait four days for a disc and going for the digital downloads? You can get it from all the usual suspects on Friday.

You can find the film on the Google Play store, Apple’s iTunes Store, the Microsoft Store and Walmart’s Vudu service. Most are charging $19.99 for an HD download of the film with bonus content included, and $14.99 for a standard-definition widescreen edition with no extra features. Amazon of course, likes to undercut everyone in price, and is charging $17.99 for the HD download with bonus material and $14.99 for the standard. (You be you, Amazon.)

Want a hard copy of the film on a good ol’ shiny disc? You can get one of those next Tuesday — and you have some options there as well. Film buffs will probably go for the Blu-ray/DVD combo back that also gives you a digital copy for your devices. The combo pack has a list price of $29.99 but you can find it cheaper if you look around. The straight-up DVD will cost around $18.99.

Four big retailers are doing their own packaging as well. These include:

• BEST BUY. The Best Buy Blu-ray Combo pack features sturdy SteelBook packaging for $29.99.

 DISNEY STORE. The Disney Store Blu-ray Combo comes with an exclusive lithograph set. That’s all while supplies last, and the package rings in at $24.99.

• TARGET. The $24.99 Target Blu-ray Combo pack comes with its own special packaging and an added 20 minutes of bonus content. Target claims to have never-before-seen interviews with new stars Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, plus a deep dive into at the movie’s costumes and weaponry.

• WALMART. Wallyworld’s own Blu-ray Combo pack comes with spunky BB-8 packaging and a Star Wars Galactic Connexions trading disc. List price is $39.99, but it’s on sale for $19.98.

And all these are just for the 2D editions — a 3D version of Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be available later this year. Finally! Something to keep us busy until Rogue One arrives on December 16th.

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PTJ 163: Oh, Oh, Oh, It’s Magic!

El Kaiser is back from the House of Mouse with a Tech Term focusing on the magic of technology at Disney parks and J.D. fills us in on the many commands available to use with Siri, Cortana, and Google Now. Don’t fret, we have the week’s tech news sprinkled with our usual generous helping of snark.

PTJ 141: Let’s All Go To The Movies

This summer is shaping up to be a Geek movie lover’s dream with Disney’s Marvel and Disney studios dominating multiplexes but do not despair! Their are many other geektastic offerings unspooling over the next few hot and sticky months and we’ll list a few of them for you.

Go ahead and grab a bucket of popcorn and a barrel of your favorite soft drink and join J.D. and El Kaiser at the picture show!

PTJ 116: No Need to Put a Quarter Up

It’s that time of year when the weather gets chillier but the Oscar race heats up in Hollywood. The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch is an early award season favorite but if you just can’t wait for the biopic of cryptanalyst,  computer pioneer, and super-boffin Alan Turing, J.D. tells us where we can get a biographical fix of the WWII hero.

In the news,  Google’s Nexus 9 tablet is now available, as is the latest iteration of their mobile OS; the Apple Pay roll-out gathers momentum;  researchers identify a costly glitch in Visa’s contactless credit cards; Microsoft joins the wearable fitness tracker game; Amazon unveils their Prime Photos cloud service; lots and lots of corporate hookups; and The Internet Archive debuts their Internet Arcade with 900 classic games.

PTJ 116 News: Zen Arcade

Apple may have hogged all the headlines in September, but so far, Google is owning November. The  Google Nexus 9 tablet is now available and Android 5.0, also known as Lollipop, is beginning to roll out to those using older Nexus devices. The system update, among other things, includes the new Material Design look. If you’re rocking a phone from another manufacturer or wireless carrier, check with those folks to see when you might get Lollipopped.

gmailGoogle also officially released that new Gmail app for Android, which works on all devices running at least Android 4.0. You can find it in the Google Play store. The Google Calendar app for Android is also getting an update; it’s available already on Lollipop devices and will be arriving in the Google Play store soon for older hardware running at least Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. (The designers at Google must have had a hellaciously busy fall, as the Google Maps mobile app has also gotten a refresh.)

So, about Apple… although CVS and Rite Aid are spurning the new Apple Pay mobile payment system, Chase, Citi and Bank of America were all on board at launch and now another wave of banks is signing on to be part of Apple’s e-wallet. Navy Federal Credit Union, US Bank, USAA and PNC are all live now — or will be very soon.

Mobile payments, along with chip ‘n’ PIN cards like the ones used in Europe, are destined to replace the antique magnetic-stripe credit cards still in use here in the United States. But chip ‘n’ PIN may have some problems of its own. Researchers at Newscastle University in the United Kingdom have published a report that says a glitch in Visa’s contactless credit cards lets them bypass the standard £20 limit and approve unlimited cash transactions up to one million dollars without requiring a PIN – as long as the amount is requested in a foreign currency. Okay, guys, fix that now, please.

One somber note to the news this week: We would like to extend our condolences for all involved in the two horrible accidents last week involving spacecraft made by commercial companies. We speak, of course, of the unmanned Antares rocket that exploded in Virginia during the launch of a resupply mission to the International Space Station and also the deadly crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip Two in the Mojave Desert that killed a crew member.

mbandLast week, Microsoft announced its new wearable fitness tracker — a $200 black tech bracelet with the catchy name of Microsoft Band. It works not just with Windows Phones, but Android models and iPhones as well; if you do happen to use Windows Phone 8.1 with it, you also a few other perks like vice commands to the Cortana assistant and text notifications. Now, if only the Microsoft Band did not look like a court-ordered monitor for those under house arrest…

Microsoft will be getting a new neighbor soon. The Seattle Times has confirmed that Apple is opening an engineering office up there in the Emerald City. The tech-scene corporate mixers are probably going to get a lot more interesting once Apple moves into town.

baleAccording to The Hollywood Reporter, Christian Bale (left) has decided he was not right for the part of Steve Jobs in the Aaron Sorkin-penned biopic. Deadline is reporting that Michael Fassbender is up for the part now, though, and that could be interesting. Fassbender has already shown off his brooding intensity as the young Magneto in the two most recent X-Men films, so the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field should be a snap.

Amazon Prime members continue to collect perks. Amazon has released a new service for them called Prime Photos, which brings unlimited digital-picture storage to Amazon Cloud Drive.  Amazon also announced that its Prime members can take advantage of partnerships the company has set up with other retailers. For example, Prime members can now get free, next-day shipping on items purchased from the British fashion company AllSaints.com.

Looks like a few major corporations are hooking up on some deals:

cheekyAnd finally, if you loved the collection of console and PC games preserved and made available online at The Internet Archive, you’re probably going to love the site’s new Internet Arcade. Yes, now 900 classic arcade games like Defender, Millipede, Major Havoc, Stargate, Quasar and Cheeky Mouse and all those others mall-arcade faves can be relived in emulation right in your web browser.  ‘Nuff said.

PTJ 105: A Cat, a Dog, And a Groot

El Kaiser takes a listen to the INEARPEACE earbuds from Om Audio and likes what he hears while J.D. tells us where and how to find quality documentaries online.

In the news, Amazon continues its war with book publisher Hachette and now finds itself battling Disney; Microsoft has Xbox announcements; Apple appears to have ramped up production of the new iPad; the U.S. government creates new agencies to handle its tech woes; Akamai releases its latest State of the Internet report; we have robot news and yes, it does rattle the Kaiser; and a security researcher weaponizes his pets.

PTJ 105 News: Amazon’s Great Muppet Caper and Other Tales

Amazon, who seems to be having a year of contract battles with its merchandise providers, is dragging the Muppets and Captain America into the fray. Variety and Home Media Magazine are among those reporting that Amazon’s U.S. site is currently not offering pre-orders for many Disney movies scheduled for release on DVD and Blu-ray, including last spring’s Muppets Most Wanted, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Maleficent. This is not likely to go over well with geeks, parents and, well,  geek parents.

The übermegastore is still slugging it out on another front with Hachette over e-book pricing and the some of the people who actually write the books are piping up. More than 900 authors signed a public letter last week that demanded that the Amazon stop messing around with writer’s book distribution and sales as a negotiating tactic. The company also got some flack earlier this week for misusing — of all things — a George Orwell quote in a letter from its Amazon Books Team.

At the Gamescom tradeshow on Germany this week, Microsoft made several announcements. One big one:  the upcoming Rise of the Tomb Raider will launch as an exclusive to the Xbox when the game arrives next year. Other data points from Microsoft’s games division include the betas for the multiplayer Fable Legends starting on October 16 and the one for Halo 5: Guardians starting on December 29th and new Xbox One bundles including a shiny white version of the console this fall. The Xbox One hardware itself will be getting some additional features as well.

ipad2In Apple News, supply-chain watchers note that production of the next generation of iPads seems to be underway, probably headed to stores by mid-fall. The new models are expected to sport an anti-glare coating to make the screens easier to read and will come with the new iOS system. One of the features previewed in iOS 8 last June at the Worldwide Developer’s Conference — Healthkit — could be getting some traction. The Reuters News Agency reports that Apple has been talking about possible integration with folks at the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins and Mount Sinai, as well as with at least one electronic health record provider. One last Apple bite: The New York Times had a big story this week about Apple University, the company’s secret training program for employees that educates them in Apple philosophy. As the article noted, at least one Apple U. alum found the quality of the campus bathroom tissue to be superb.

The United States government seems to have realized that good, functional websites make life easier for its citizens and announced this week that it’s dedicating the new U.S. Digital Service department to the cause. The group will live in the Office of Budget and Management and there’s now a U.S. Digital Services Playbook online that outlines best practices and another online document called the TechFAR Handbook that explains Federal Acquisition Regulation to help government agencies implement their digital services. The USDS is intended to serve mostly as consultants, but there’s another department of government geeks over in the General Services Administration. The other group, called 18F, is designed to be more of a hands-on-get-in-there-and-fix-that-mess team.

Akamai has released its latest State of the Internet report and among other things, rates average Internet speed on a state-by-state basis. While data speeds may be slow in certain parts of the United States, six companies are forming a consortium to create a new $300 million dollar Trans-Pacific cable system between Japan and the US West Coast.

It’s Google Science Fair time again and one of the more notable projects from this year’s crop is called “Rethink” and it’s by Trisha Prabhu, a 14-year-old girl from Naperville, Illinois. As she outlines on the Google Science Fair site, Ms. Prabhu wanted to create a system to help cut down on cyberbullying between adolescents on social media sites and her experiment seems to have worked.

botlrIn robot news, our still-benevolent mechanical helpers are finding work this summer as bellhops and museum guides. Starwood’s Aloft hotel in Cupertino, California, is experimenting with a rolling butler called Botlr that delivers items like toothpaste and razors from the front desk up to guest rooms. The Tate Britain Museum in London is unleashing four robots into its galleries after hours to live-stream footage from the museum’s collection. The After Dark project runs five nights through August 17th and curious art lovers can log in through the museum’s online portal to follow along.

kittehAs detailed in Wired, security researcher Gene Bransfield successfully used a cat with a custom WarKitteh collar to map Wi-Fi security in his neighborhood. He explained it all in a DEF CON presentation called “Weaponizing Your Pets: The War Kitteh and the Denial of Service Dog.” As for the Denial of Service Dog project, Mr. Bransfield showed how a canine equipped with a saddlebag full of hacker gear was able to troll bars and turn off TV sets during the World Cup. (Brazil fans may have actually been grateful for the act of mercy during that notorious semi-final match with Germany.)

And finally, if you found yourself charmed by Vin Diesel’s Groot character and his limited dialogue in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, check out the 15-button Groot soundboard over on Vulture.com. And you can bring the magic along during your Web travels, grab the Grootify script button from the Us vs. Them site. It makes a number of websites so much better, as shown below.

grootweb

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.

PTJ 78 News: Whacks and Hacks

The year’s not even three weeks old and plenty of change is in the air. Earlier this week, the US Court of Appeals bounced the net neutrality’s rules put forth by the Federal Communications Commission. This gave Verizon Communications a legal victory over potential restrictions that would have made the company treat all traffic over its broadband lines equally. Continue reading PTJ 78 News: Whacks and Hacks