Tag Archives: earthquakes

PTJ 248: Knock, Knock

Who’s there? It’s this week’s episode of Pop Tech Jam, with ideas for coping with the current state of the world. From SEC hackers to Nest’s new indoor/outdoor security system to Equifax still doing harm to its customers, it’s been a busy seven days. But hey, NASA has a free illustrated ebook on the recent Cassini mission you can download, so the week wasn’t all bad and El Kaiser offers up a review of two audio amplifiers to make your tunes sound better through your headphones when you’re on the go.  In light of Mother Nature’s recent activities, J.D. shares a few lists of places you can send money to help earthquake and hurricane disaster recovery efforts in Mexico, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the other Caribbean islands.
PTJ 248 is here to help!

Links to Stories on This Week’s Episode

iPhone Audio Amps

(Hopefully) Helpfully Hint: How to Effectively Donate to Disaster Relief Funds

PTJ 178 News: Toy Story

The New York Toy Fair was in town and now we have new Star Wars action figures from Hasbro — including Rey and other female characters from the movie’s universe! At last, we know the answer to the #WheresRey question: She came to New York to make it big.

tmMattel used the Toy Fair to unveil the ThingMaker 3D printing system . The new system is an update to the old Thingmaker kit from the 1960s, and the 21st-century edition uses software co-created by Autodesk that wirelessly beams the designs from the mobile device to the child-safe 3D printer. The $300 ThingMaker 3D printer won’t be available until mid-October, but you can pre-order it on Amazon. The free ThingMaker app for Android and iOS is out already if you want to get a feel for it and work out your designs in advance.

vmThe ThingMaker printer wasn’t the only geekworthy news Mattel made at the Toy Fair. The company also announced an update to its View-Master Virtual Reality Viewer. The 2.0 model has been reworked to handle varying sizes of smartphones without the need for an adapter, and it also has improved access to the phone’s headphone jack.

Speaking of virtual reality, the technology is also starting to turn up as a tool for real-estate brokers to sell you an apartment. As a recent story in The New York Times explains, companies like Halstead are using virtual reality headsets to let prospective buyers look around apartments for sale or rent. Thanks to contractors like Virtual Xperience and ArX Solutions who create a VR rendering of the future space based on architectural plans, prospective tenants can get a feel for the place — even if it hasn’t been built yet.

AT&T, which used to be known as the American Telephone & Telegraph Corporation has been around in some form since 1875, is urging its massive workforce to keep up with the ever-changing world of technology. The company started a corporate education program about two years ago that offers to help pay for its workers to take classes on their own time to update their skill-sets. One of the new technologies AT&T is working on is the next generation of mobile data networks, the so-called 5G networks. As you can imagine, AT&T is not alone in the speed race, and Verizon said it plans to start field-testing its own 5G airwaves next year. Remember when 3G was all the rage?

Google released its Android 6.0 Marshmallow system last fall, and Samsung announced this week that it was finally pushing out the software to owners of its Galaxy S6 andS6 Edge phones. Part of the multi-month Marshmallow delay was likely due to Samsung tweaking Google’s software to add new features like the new Quick Tools panel to the S6 Edge model.

galaxySamsung is also said to be gearing up to announce its Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge phones next week and at least one blog thinks there’s going to be a Batman vs. Superman version out there for fanboys of both Android and DC Comics. The S7 is also said to be water-resistant.

Other in blog rumors about new phones: 9to5Mac claims Apple will put the new smaller 4-inch iPhone 5se and iPad Air 3 on sale March 18th after a possible March 15th unveiling. Apple is not commenting on that, but did announce its Apple Music service is now up to 11 million subscribers and online service iCloud has 782 million users. But in not so happy news for the Apple, Immersion, a company specializing in haptic feedback technology, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against the fruit-themed toymaker for incorporating elements of its technology. (We haven’t even mentioned Apple’s standoff with the Department of Justice the other day…)

The notion of turning smartphones and their sensitive motion detector chips into earthquake sensors isn’t original, but there’s a new Android app called MyShake out from UC Berkeley Seismologicial Laboratory that has some research cred. The app sits quietly in the background until it senses the earth rumbling, and then it uploads a small amount of data to the centralized database created by the seismologists as an earthquake early-warning system. According to the companion paper its creators published on the Science Advances site, the app analyzes motion to see if the “newly incoming data are similar to previously defined human activities.” If it’s not a toddler birthday party or loud music, the data is sent along for further possible-earthquake analysis.

The Tidal music service got a big boost in the App Store because it had exclusive rights to distribute Kanye West’s new album, “The Life of Pablo,” but a glitch in the system left a reported 4,000 fans with credit-card charges and no new album. And then there are the pirates splashing the Tidal wave.

Tax scams are in the air, because people are filing and hackers are hacking. The Internal Revenue Service says it’s stopped an automated attack from identity thieves on its Electronic Filing PIN application on the IRS.gov site.

NASAAnd finally, if you’ve got the qualifications to be an astronaut, well, NASA is hiring this month. It’s the first time in four years the agency put out the word for new talent, and the folks they’re looking for might just end up on a mission to Mars. Other open positions in the NASA job board include IT specialist at the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama and Research Geophysicist at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. And the agency offers benefits, and hopefully an employee discount on the cool stuff.

PTJ 66: Bigger, Stronger, Faster

“Breaking Bad” rides off into the desert sun leaving El Kaiser wondering how it fared against other famous TV series swan songs and J.D. fills us in on the quickest ways to digitize business cards. In the news Amazon quietly releases two new Kindle models; Lenovo debuts an all-in-one desktop computer with a 29-inch display; Microsoft has a good week;  Facebook expands its Graph Search results; Apple deals with more security issues; researchers develop a  robotic prosthetic leg that is controlled by brain function; and Intelligent Glasses that can translate languages on the fly.

PTJ 66 News: We Have the Technology

The march of New Fall Products continues. Amazon quietly released two new Kindle models last week and Lenovo’s going widescreen with what it claims is an all-in-one desktop computer with the world’s first 29-inch display with a 21:9 aspect ratio.

It’s been a good week for Microsoft. Windows Phone is also clawing its way to the 10-percent mark in smartphone share, and according to analytics firm Net Applications, Windows 8 was running on almost 10 percent of devices using a Microsoft operating system last month. Windows 8 will soon give way to Windows 8.1 later this month, and Microsoft announced it’s rolling out its new optical character recognition feature for the SkyDrive online service that makes photos and PDF documents searchable in the cloud. The OCR feature will also be available through the Windows 8.1 Smart Search tool.

On the topic of search, Facebook is opening up Graph Search results to include user status updates and posts. So now publicly shared status updates, comments on anything, photo captions, Notes, and check-ins are all searchable. (Here’s a Graph Search settings checklist and some more information about adjusting your privacy settings if this sort of thing makes you at all nervous.)  In other Facebook news this week, the Social Network and its bird buddy Twitter, will start sending reports of your Likes and tweets about television shows to the major networks.

According the Engadget blog, Google has announced three dedicated Google Play vending machines in Japan that can dispense 18 different games. (As far as vending machines go, apps are not the most unusual things being dispensed.)

Apple is dealing with more security issues in iOS 7. The company just out its iOS 7.0.2 update to fix some reported lock screen holes and now another researcher has demonstrated how the Siri personal assistant technology can be used to start up a FaceTime call, which could allow hackers to invoke another security glitch in the iOS 7 software to access the phone app.

Speaking of holes, the US government shut down this week after weeks of squabbling among the houses of Congress and the executive branch. Here are some links to information about what’s still functioning in Washington. (Alas, the PandaCam has gone dark for the duration of the standoff, but some folks are trying to fill the PandaCam void.) Other parts of the Web were creaky and crashing as well, namely Affordable Healthcare Act servers for new customers trying to sign up. For those still trying to parse the new plans, the Health Law Helper site from Consumer Reports may be useful.

In other research:


And finally, mobile giant NTT DoCoMo showed off the prototype of its so-called Intelligent Glasses that can translate text in an unfamiliar language into something the wearer of the glasses can read. The future’s so bright, you gotta wear shades — and who knows, those shades just might be able to direct you to a restroom in Rio or decipher a menu in Milan. Someday.