Tag Archives: diversity

PTJ 244: Across the Universe

Whether it be The Defenders kicking butt across the New York City zone of the Marvel Universe or NASA’s assorted spacecraft exploring the real universe, this week’s episode of Pop Tech Jam has you covered. El Kaiser and J.D. get their geek on with plenty of chatter about comics, consumer technology and spaaaaaace! Won’t you join us?

Links to Stories in This Week’s Episode

 

PTJ 218: Some Bot to Watch Over Me

The Consumer Electronics Show is over for another year, leaving a pile of press releases, product releases and demo videos in its wake. El Kaiser and J.D.  discuss the highlights of the 2017 mega-gadgetfest, and sample a few other stories in the tech headlines this week. Also on the show, J.D. points NASA fans in the direction of the new movie Hidden Figures — and the apps and sites celebrating these inspiring women. Through hardships to the stars, indeed.

Links to This Week’s News Stories

I have seen the future: Alexa controls everything (Ars Technica)

All the cool new gadgets at CES 2017 (CNET)

Battle of the CES 2017 coffee and tea robots (CNET)

Nokia 6, Asus ZenFone AR and Other CES 2017 Launches, Vodafone’s Rs. 499 Plan, More News This Week (Gadgets360)

Marissa Mayer is resigning from Yahoo’s board (Business Insider)

After Verizon deal, Yahoo to become ‘Altaba’ and Marissa Mayer to step down from board (The New York Times)

United State Securities and Exchange Commission Form 8-K

Facebook is going to start showing ads in the middle of its videos and sharing the money with publishers (Recode)

Cybersecurity vulnerabilities identified in St. Jude medical’s implantable cardiac devices and Merlin@home transmitter (FDA Safety Communication)

Commission proposes high level of privacy rules for all electronic communications and updates data protection rules for EU institutions (EU Commission press release)

Our continuing commitment to your privacy with Windows 10 (Windows blog)

One place to manage your privacy (Microsoft)

Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 15002 for PC (Windows blog)

Coming Soon to Windows 10 (Microsoft)

Facebook, Google face strict EU privacy rules that could hit ad revenues (Ars Technica)

KGI: 3 new iPads to debut next quarter will slow decline in sales, 10-10.5 inch model wildcard (9to5Mac)

Apple releases fix to MacBook Pros in response to Consumer Reports’ battery test results (Consumer Reports)

Subject: The iPhone turns 10: a visual history of Apple’s most important product (The Verge)

Phil Schiller on iPhone’s launch, how it changed Apple, and why it will keep going for 50 years (Backchannel)

Ad Astra Per Aspera

Nonfiction or fiction plot, space rules at the cinema this month. For those who may have missed it, the movie Hidden Figures dethroned Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as the Number One film at the box office this past weekend.

Hidden Figures tells the story of a group of African-American female mathematicians working at the NASA facility in Virginia in the mid-20th century, and how they used their skills as human computers to calculate trajectories for launches, landings and other things you need to do to get to and from space. It’s based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly. The film is set in the years right up to and including the early Project Mercury missions that put the first American astronauts into suborbital and orbital flight.

The film is set in the years right up to and including the early Project Mercury missions that put the first American astronauts into suborbital and orbital flight. The late John Glenn is portrayed in the movie, as are his fellow Mercury astronauts.

Hidden Figures focuses on three women who had to battle not only sexism — but racism as well — in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s. Mathematics wizard Katherine Johnson, engineer Mary Jackson and computing supervisor Dorothy Vaughn were all integral members of NASA back then, and their stories have been largely overlooked. For that reason, go see this movie. It’s an inspiring story brought to life by wonderful actresses that gives long overdue credit where credit is due. And if the film piques your interest about that era, there’s more to learn.

IBM, which has a bit pf product placement in the film, weighs in with an inventive augmented reality app called Outthink Hidden for Android and iOS. The app, developed with the T Brand Studio arm of The New York Times, lets users activate text, photos and video content about the women depicted in the movie. This is done by tracking down AR markers within ad units on nytimes.com, via ads in select print editions of The New York Times, and at 150 geofenced locations throughout the U.S. The app also celebrates diversity in STEM education.

If you want background reading on the black female computers of the NASA facility in Virginia, the Smithsonian, New York magazine and Popular Mechanics have all done stories in the past few months. For the story of women working for NASA out west at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California, check out The Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars, by Nathalia Holt. That book was also published last year.

As it did with Matt Damon’s The Martian movie in 2015, NASA fully supported Hidden Figures and has rolled out educational pages on its site for those who want to know more about this particular chapter of the agency’s history. Check out the Hidden Figures to Modern Figures section of the NASA site. You can also find the agency’s coverage when Katherine Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

And continuing its visible progress in diversity issues, NASA also announced new crew members for the International Space Station last week. In 2018, Dr. Jeanette Epps will become the first black American astronaut to serve a term aboard the station.
Congratulations, Dr. Epps!

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 131 News: Game of Thrones

The Federal Communications Commission voted this week to approve new Net Neutrality rules that reclassify broadband Internet service as  a public utility. As expected, Big Telco jumped aboard the Pantload Express and has vowed to fight the decision in court. The opposing political party is not too happy either, so expect this story to keep on giving throughout the year.

Twitter is another company coming out in favor of the FCC’s proposal to reclassify broadband service as a public utility. A blog post on the company’s site states, “Empowering ‘lesser’ or historically less powerful voices to express themselves and be heard globally is at the core of Twitter’s DNA.”

youtubekidsThere’s also news from YouTube’s official blog. The video-sharing supersite and colossal archive of pet videos has just released a YouTube Kids app for Android and iOS. The new kid-friendly app (video demo here) is supposed to “make it safer and easier for children to find videos on topics they want to explore” and includes a set of parental controls.

Yahoo’s chief information officer, Alex Stamos, had some very firm questions for the NSA at the “Cybersecurity for a New America” conference in Washington DC this week. Mr. Stamos is not in favor of giving encryption keys to governments.

In case you hadn’t noticed, Android and iOS still hog most of the mobile platform and new numbers from the International Data Corporation prove it. The latest report shows the two had 96.3 percent of all smartphone shipments worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Google announced this week that it was banning pornography on its Blogger site.  Anticipating an exodus, Google has also posted instructions for exporting your blog so you can take it elsewhere.

emojiApple is adding a little diversity to the world of emoji. New beta versions of OS X and iOS reveal emoji characters with varying skin tones. Users can press and hold down a character to see the variations and select one of six different shades. (There has been some backlash to the new character set, however.)  In other news from Cupertino, Apple is said to be overhauling its Genius Bar experience, starting next month.

The Apple Watch is looming on the horizon this spring, but it’s not scaring off every other smartwatch maker out there. Scrappy little Pebble, which got a big boost from its Kickstarter campaign in 2012, is back at the fundraising site to gin up cash and pre-orders for its new Time smartwatch. The Time model has a new operating system, color e-paper display, 7 days of battery life, a microphone for responding to notifications and a thinner case. It’ll be out in May with a price tag of $200.

The Apple Watch isn’t going to be hogging all the mobile payment action, either. Google just acquired Softcard, a mobile payments app backed by AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, and also got a distribution deal to pre-install the Google Wallet payments app on Android phones sold by those carriers.

voyagerIf you’re a fan of spacecraft and the history of human exploration in our galactic backyard, check out a new book by planetary scientist Jim Bell. It’s called The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission and details NASA’s missions with the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft launched back on the 1970s. NPR’s All Things Considered segment about the project is worth checking out, space fans.

The Mobile World Congress event kicks off next week in Barcelona, so odds are we’ll be hearing about a new Galaxy S6 phone from Samsung and a bunch of other mobile gear. And later in the month, the SXSW festival opens in Austin, Texas.

And finally, if March — and warmer weather — still feels so far away from where you live this winter, a spot of toilet humor may help with the winter fatigue. There’s video on the web featuring David Goldberg of Maryland, who attached a snowplow to a motorized commode and was see clearing off the sidewalks around his suburb of Washington DC. Because after this kind of winter for much of the country, a do-it-yourself dude shoving a pile of snow out of the way atop a souped-up ceramic throne just makes sense.