Tag Archives: Elon Musk

PTJ 228: A.I., Ay Yi Yi

It’s not been a great week for the algorithms:  Elon Musk downloaded a few concerned thoughts on the state of artificial intelligence to Vanity Fair, the F.B.I.’s facial recognition database has some glitches and Amazon’s shopper-tracking software gets confused when you put something back on the wrong shelf. But on the bright side, Hidden Figures,  story about real human intelligence, arrived as a digital home-video download, so the week wasn’t all bad. El Kaiser and J.D. discuss it all — and a bunch of other tech news in between — on this week’s handcrafted episode of Pop Tech Jam.

Links to Stories in This Week’s News Segment

PTJ 222: Noises Off

On this week’s episode,  Don Donofrio returns to discuss possible paths ahead for of Apple this year as the company comes off a record-breaking quarterly profit and a surging stock price.  El Kaiser and J.D. have some things to say about Facebook’s new autoplay audio on videos, the price war between Verizon Wireless and
T-Mobile for unlimited data plans, and new tools for Google Maps. Oh, and the Queen of England is doing her part in the global war on cybercrime. Tally-ho!

Links to Stories in This Week’s News Segment

PTJ 188: Scientific Model

On this week’s episode, journalist Laura M. Holson previews her upcoming story about the life of Maye Musk,  a registered dietitian-nutritionist and blogger who became a professional model in her late 60s. (Oh, and one of her kids runs SpaceX and Tesla.) El Kaiser and J.D. also trot through a week’s worth of tech news, including the government’s initial approval of the Charter Communications-Time Warner Cable merger, the data breach that’s making the Beautiful People sad and continuing squabbles over at the Unicode Consortium.

PTJ 174 News: Gloom and “DOOM”

No more tunneling to better streams? Netflix has announced it’s going to start blocking viewers using proxy servers and virtual private networks to get around regional restrictions on certain movies and TV shows.  Wired, however, has an article that casts a bit of doubt on Netflix actually being able to block out every type of VPN or proxy service out there. Ever feisty, Netflix also got into a little tussle with NBC over remarks made at a Television Critics Association press event this past weekend. A researcher at NBC Universal threw down the gauntlet by saying Netflix and its little herd of bingeable shows were not a threat to the traditional TV-viewership model and claimed to have ratings data on Netflix taken by a third-party company. Netflix execs, however, gave it right back to NBC, saying its survey was based on “really remarkably inaccurate data.

Also in the world of subscription services, the WhatsApp messenger service is dispensing with the 99-cent annual subscription fee and making itself available for free. And supposedly, without ads.

primeairAmazon has now enabled its voice-commanded Alexa assistant on its tubular Amazon Echo devices to read Kindle books out loud for free. The feature works with a number of Kindle titles, but don’t expect the melodious tones of a professional audiobook narrator here – it’s the Robot Lady Voice reading them to you. Also in Amazon Land: Amazon’s vice president for global public policy recently had a chat with Yahoo’s David Pogue about how Amazon Prime Air, the company’s infamous drone delivery program, is coming along; they at least have new press photos of the drones, as shown here. (Amazon, ever so busy, also announced this week that the first devices that use its Dash Replenishment service to automatically order new supplies for themselves are rolling out. Yo, better keep an eye on that printer so it doesn’t go buck wild with the toner orders.)

Apple bounced out the first beta of its upcoming iOS 9.3 software last week and the update has a lot of new features for something that doesn’t get its own big honkin’ Apple keynote event. Among others, the Macworld site wonders if Apple is perhaps changing its update strategy and just releasing a regular stream of substantial iOS improvements instead of saving them all up and making a big deal about everything at a press conference.

AOL may also be getting some changes — and perhaps even a new name. Verizon, which now owns the former America Online service, is said to be pondering an image makeover that could include a new name for the brand. Hopefully, a better logo will come along, too.

holoMicrosoft is slowly revealing more details about its coming Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality goggles. According to reports from a Microsoft event in Tel Aviv, the HoloLens will have a battery life of 2.5 to 5.5 hours, depending on the task at hand. The headset will also be able to run any universal Windows 10 app and hook up with just about any other gadget with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity.

Google is said to be testing the ability for Android users to install apps directly from the search screen in Google’s own eponymous — without having to go through the Google Play store. Because really, what could go wrong there?

The cable networks are readying their campaign teams for Election 2016, and Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio are banding together and combining their resources to bring their traditional no-nonsense approach to coverage. The PBS-NPR team-up, an early version of which was announced last year, will bring shared digital, video and audio content from the primary debates to election night to whatever happens after that.

In rocket news, SpaceX continues its testing with the Falcon 9 rocket — and getting it to land in one piece so it can be reused. After a successful Falcon 9 recovery from the ORB-COMM mission last month, a mission last week saw the returning rocket fall over and explode on the landing pad. Or, as SpaceX found Elon Musk tweeted, it had a “rapid unscheduled disassembly” event on the deck.

If you want a snapshot of how social media has evolved over the past decade or so, check out “The History of Twitter’s Rules” by Sarah Jeong on VICE’s Motherboard channel.  (Yes, trolls mucked a lot of things up.) Twitter, incidentally, had a service outage earlier this week.

And finally, old school gamers can go back to school now that one of DOOM’s creators, John Romero,  has created another level for the iconic first-person shooter after 21 years. Boom! DOOM!

P.S. Like tidy lists? Don’t miss the SplashData’s 25 Worst Passwords of 2015 and GeekWire’s Worst and Weirdest of CES 2016 observations. Both may boggle your mind, but for different reasons…

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PTJ 146 News: Yippie-Ki-Yay!

It liiiiiiiiives! After its batteries ran down last fall, many people forgot about the European Space Agency’s Philae lander and the whole Rosetta mission to explore a comet. But the little lander woke up over this past weekend, sending scientists scrambling to collect and analyze the data it’s resumed sending back to earth. The lander had been in hibernation after it ran out of power and shut down last November, but the comet’s travels have now brought it in better line with the sun so Philae can recharge its battery and get back to work.

How about a network of 4,000 inexpensive satellites to bring Internet access to the unwired parts of the world? That’s the plan, anyway, as SpaceX founder Elon Musk has filed the official paperwork with the government asking permission to proceed with the project. No word from the Federal Communications Commission yet on approval, but at least Mr. Musk has good timing, as Facebook recently shelved its own plans to for popping up an Internet-service satellite.

LastPass, the password-manager service, notified customers last week that it found suspicious activity on its network.  Not exactly what you want in a password-manager service.

Facebook has yet another app to help you share your personal data with the company, oh, and your friends. The Social Network announced its new Moments app this week that uses facial-recognition software to automatically recognize your Facebook friends in random snaps and then sync all the photos between you all. If this sort of thing interests you, the app is now available in the Google Play and iOS App Stores.

closedGoogle Maps wants to save you even more time and aggravation. When you punch in directions to a particular store or business, the app does its calculations and warns you if you will arrive too late because the place has already closed for the day. Creepy, helpful and handy!

Apple sleuths digging through the iOS 9 betaware say they’ve found references in the code to some sort of device with a much larger keyboard than the pixel dimensions of the current 9.7-inch iPads. Could the long-rumored large-screen iPad Pro be on the way this fall?

Amazon may be going all Uber with the package delivery and ditching official courier services like FedEx and UPS in favor or regular people with cars dropping off your orders. The company hasn’t announced anything yet, but The Wall Street Journal is talking to people in the know over there. Amazon also uses its Amazon Locker service to store deliveries for pickup in public places, and may expand those options as well.

And finally, an intrepid interactive programmer at The New York Times took a peek inside the hidden source code of Jeb Bush’s website and found quite a few paragraphs not about Republican policies, but a plot summary of the 1988 Bruce Willis movie, Die Hard. The text was not publically visible on the website and has since been removed after The Times discovered it, so here’s to you and your dreams, Die Hard-loving console cowboy.

Episode 60: Hyperloop Like Nobody’s Watching

On a double-stuffed episode J.D. takes a look at movie apps and Pedro reviews the 2013 version of the Google Nexus 7 Android tablet. In the news, Elon Musk unveils plans for futuristic transport system; Facebook adds restaurant reservations and listings for movies and TV; NBC News goes shopping for user-generated content; Windows 8.1 coming soon; an LG Electronics publicity goes all “WKRP In Cincinnati”; a Bitcoin security flaw threatens Android users; and Apple rumors heat up…yet again.

Episode 60 News: Boo-Dah-Ling!

California traffic can be a bear, and this week Elon Musk showed off the design for his “Hyperloop” transport system, a futuristic solar-powered network of crash-proof capsules that would zip people from San Francisco to Los Angeles in half an hour. Mr. Musk outlined the Hyperloop vision in a blog post and has described the system as a cross between the Concorde supersonic turbojet, rail gun and air-hockey table. Critics have said the price tag is underestimated, the Hyperloop would face serious regularity measures and also be vulnerable to accidents and terrorist attacks. Then again, it’s just an idea — but one that has a lot of people chittering about this new sort of tube travel.

Facebook, which upgraded its mobile app this week, has added restaurant reservations through Open Table and listings for movies and television show pages. The Social Network also just bought Mobile Technologies, a speech interpretation and translation company.

NBC News also went shopping this week and came home with Stringwire. Instead of buying new technology or acquiring another company, though, BlackBerry maker is looking to get bought, or perhaps find a business partner.

Dick Cheney did not want Google Maps to show satellite images of the vice presidential residence when he was living there and now the government of Norway is telling Apple to step off. The Norwegian government recently denied a request from Apple to do a 3D mapping of the capital city of Oslo.

Windows 8.1 is said to be arriving in just a few months. The almost-final beta version of 8.1 includes smaller Live Tiles, built-in tutorials to help confused users, and an integrated Bing-powered search engine. Could be a good time to upgrade — Microsoft will stop patching Windows XP then and security experts are saying it will be hacker heaven next April. (In other Microsoft news, the list of requirements for using the upcoming Xbox One console seems to be getting more reasonable. (If you want people to be watching you, though, Microsoft did release a new version of Skype for the latest iPhone and iPad models that now includes HD video.)

Well, a PR stunt in Seoul, Korea, didn’t turn out as planned for LG Electronics. What LG didn’t count on was hopeful contenders showing up with BB guns, knives and pointed sticks. (But really, who plans for pointed sticks except for Monty Python and Games of Thrones fans?) On a much calmer note, camera sites are leaking that Sony Electronics is working on a Lens Camera attachment for smartphones.

If you like smart tech podcasts, check out “The Digital Human,” a BBC Radio 4 series. The show is hosted by a Jammer friend and Guardian/BBC writer, Aleks Krotoski, and all 20 episodes are now available for your listening pleasure.

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Bitcoin developers are warning of an security flaw with the Android wallet feature that could lead to theft of your digital currency. An upgrade to patch the hole is on the way. And if you liked the idea of the Google Chromecast but can’t get one yet, consider the Cheapcast. Although it’s still in beta, the free Cheapcast app promises to turn your Android phone or tablet into a target screen for streaming.

It must be August because the Apple rumors have started to include mention of a date for the company’s big annual fall announcement. Just a few years ago, the fall date referred to iPods, but with media players pretty much taking a backseat to everything else in the company’s product line these days, it sounds like the iPhone will be the star of this year’s show, which is now rumored for September 10th. Other sources like Bloomberg News are reporting that the next iPad will sport a thinner design, the Mini will get that spiffy Retina display and none of them will be released until the final three months of the year.

And finally, if you’ve been listening to that little tri-tone sound that Apple devices make by default when you get a text message, check out the essay by the creator of that distinctive composition. Former Apple software engineer Kelly Jacklin tells the tale in his essay, “The History of the Boo-Dah-Ling Sound.”  If you drive in California and have an iPhone, you’ve probably heard enough of that Boo-Dah-Ling sound — but its story is quite fascinating.