Tag Archives: Facebook Home

Episode 47 News: SHIELDs Up!

It’s been a busy middle week of May on the pop culture front, with plenty of geeky TV news (Almost Human and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. coming to the broadcast airwaves this fall), our favorite Watson speaking out on racism in Hollywood, a new Dan Brown history cryptothriller and a big health announcement from geek-girl icon Angelina Jolie. Amid it all, there was even some tech news.

The next version of Windows is no longer Blue, but now Windows 8.1. This is an update to the current Windows 8 system that has had a few detractors since it’s release last fall. As reported by Engadget and other blogs around the Web, the upgrade will be free and available from the Windows 8 home screen when it’s done and ready for downloading. (Windows 8 itself has been dubbed Microsoft’s “New Coke” in some circles for its thudding reception, but hey, maybe it’s a marketing thing…)

BlackBerry is also updating a recent system. Version 10.1 of the new BlackBerry OS for Z10 users is rolling out. The folks at BBHQ also announced that its BBM — BlackBerry Messenger Service — was expanding to other smartphone platforms. Perhaps the expanded service will lure more users, as Gartner Research and their data reports that BlackBerry only snagged 3 percent of worldwide mobile phone sales in 1Q 2013; nearly 75% of phones sold were running Android, while Apple had around 18 percent.

Nokia unveiled the Lumia 925, a reduced-fat version of its Lumia 920 Windows Phone The Lumia 928 model, available here in the States on Verizon’s network, adds a Xenon flash to the hardware mix. (One handset that did not sell well last month: the HTC First, the original Facebook Home phone, which may be may be discontinued soon by AT&T.)

Apple could be changing up the way it deals with hardware repairs and its AppleCare extended warranty plans this fall. Of course, it’s all rumor until Apple announces something, but it sounds like the company will have quite a bit to announce around harvest time.

Google is holding its annual I/O conference this week and had many announcements. In addition to talking about its upcoming plans for Android, its new streaming music service and other products, Google-placed environmental sensors will be recording anonymous data from the attendees to analyze crowd flow and other conference happenings. (As for conference happenings, it’s unlikely the ill-fated Nexus Q will get a mention.)

Despite preparing for its big fancy conference, Google also found time to unify online storage options for its Google Drive, Gmail and Google+ photo services. The company also had a few moments to stick an Easter Egg into its Google Images service. And in a bit of corporate cooperation, Microsoft has made its Outlook.com Webmail service interoperable with the Gmail chat program and Google Chat.

Amazon has released a new version of its Cloud Player app for Windows users. Although PC users could already listen to their music stored in Amazon’s cloud through the Web browser, the new app can now store music offline. A Mac version is said to be in the works.

For those who like to cook and also love Android tablets, Archos has released the ChefPad, a 9.7-inch Jelly-Bean-based tablet. The $210 8GB tablet comes with a splash-resistant case and stand in case the home-made sauce really starts flying. Android fans who prefer gaming to cooking may want to check out the Nvidia SHIELD instead, a new $350 portable Android-based gaming system on the way next month.

And finally, three astronauts who’ve been up on the International Space Station for the past five months have returned to Earth in a Russian Soyuz capsule. Among the three was Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, known for his videos on life in space and his recent cover of David Bowie’s classic track, “Space Oddity.” Welcome home, gentlemen! Just in time to grab a showing of Star Trek Into Darkness on its opening weekend and stock up on some sartorial upgrades!


Episode 42 News: Home Invasion

antennaphoneFox and some other networks are threatening to leave the broadcast airwaves for a more exclusive life as paid cable channels. This is all due to a court spat with Aereo, a startup live-broadcast-TV-over-the-Web service that uses tiny TV antennas to reel in over-the-air network TV shows that its subscribers can then watch on the Web through computers and mobile devices. The tiny antenna part seems to be what gets around legal issues since you’re basically getting your own little roof rack when you subscribe and that skirts the Copyright Act since hey, an antenna’s an antenna.) As you can imagine, broadcast TV stations are very, very, very angry, especially because they aren’t getting paid for their signals like other TV providers who want to show the programs on cable and satellite systems. Aereo has won multiple legal battles so far, but the war likely isn’t over. Stay tuned, as they say in the TV business.

Sony has announced 55- and 65-inch Ultra HD TVs, and those are respectively priced at $4,999 and $6,999. And because getting ultra high-def content may be hard to do for early adopters, Sony also announced a $700 FMP-X1 4K media player that comes pre-stocked with 10 movies in the big beefy 3840-by-2160 resolution. Blade Runner is not one of them, but you can see The Bridge on the River Kwai and last year’s webslinger reboot, The Amazing Spider-Manamong the offerings.

Spring is in the air and Google has freshened up its Google Play online store with a visual redesign and reorganization to help shoppers find content more easily. Google has also cleaned up from of the crappier apps lurking about the virtual shelves. According to a report on the TechCrunch blog, 60,000 apps were removed in February, as Google has begun to crack down on non-compliant apps and those whose main function seems to be spewing spam.

In the near future, the US Navy will be firing laser beams at unmanned drones that try to attack the Navy’s boats and the United States Air Force has designated six cybertools as designated weapons for budgetary and planning purposes. No details on these cybertools have been shared, and as far as futuristic weapons, go, the White House has already ruled out building a Death Star.

Microsoft may be announcing the new version of its Xbox game console on May 21, and some other rumors point to a lack of backward compatibility with Xbox 360 games if they switch processors to make cross-platform development with PC games easier. As many tech sites have pointed out, this week marks the beginning of the end of extended support for Windows XP, which ends on April 8, 2014.  In an attempt to sweeten the deal so holdout will pleasepleaseplease upgrade, Microsoft is currently offering a 15-percent discount for companies that upgrade their computers and licenses to Windows 8 and the standard edition of Office 2013. (Despite its busy schedule Microsoft also found the time recently to join Nokia in a complaint to the European Union over Google’s perceived monopoly on the mobile space.)

Facebook had a press conference to announce its new Facebook Home software that basically skins an Android handset and turns it into a total wormhole to The Social Network. As one might expect, those who worry about privacy issues are a little bothered by Facebook Home. If you fall into this camp, check out the post on GigaOm site that ponders the implications. For its part, Facebook addresses these concerns in a Q&A on its site. If it all makes you just want to chill out and take a break from it all, there are plenty of other sites on the Web — the total number of top-level domain names has now passed the 252 million mark. Grab another cool refreshing beverage and keep surfin’…