The Space Race is back on — and Elon Musk’s own cherry-red Tesla Roadster is the pace car of the 21st century, having been shot into orbit around the sun by its owner. This week, El Kaiser and J.D. discuss the SpaceX test flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket on February 6th, 2018; check out the video below if you missed the Roadster-flinging launch. Elsewhere in the show, El Kaiser shares his opinion about the idea of R-rated a Star Wars movie and J.D. offers tips on how to find online streaming videos with overdubbed audio descriptions for the blind and those with limited vision. For all this — plus a roundup of the week’s tech news — just blast off Episode 262!
Ever wish you could celebrate and share your personal gaming triumphs with others who didn’t happen to be around for the moment of glory? If so, check out the new Plays.tv service that was publicly launched today by the gaming company Raptr.
The Plays.tv software (shown below) includes a video recorder that starts up when you begin playing so you can capture clips of your best moments — and show them off to the world on the Plays.tv site or your favorite social-media outlet. We get the details directly from the source on this week’s episode of Pop Tech Jam, when Raptr chief executive (and former professional gamer) Dennis Fong joins us. Grab the episode now and listen in to the conversation!
It’s clear El Kaiser is quietly amassing a collection of streaming set-top boxes that may one day rival his tablet collection. On this week’s episode he gives us his impressions of the Fire TV, Amazon’s flagship media consumption device and his latest gadget acquisition.
Also on this week’s show J.D. helps us keep an eye on our monthly mobile device’s data allowance .
In the news President Barack Obama urges the FCC to keep the Internet open; Alibaba rakes in billions on “Singles Day”; Facebook’s Messenger app is now being used by 500 million people; NASA rents out some space; high-level corporate executives get there computers hacked into over hotel WiFi; Microsoft Office is free tablets and phones; and DARPA works on computer code that writes itself.
With the pain of losing Google Reader still fresh and Feedly a disappointment after repeated missteps, El Kaiser looks at RSS feed aggregators. J.D. breaks down the differences between Ultrabooks and notebooks and helps us make the right choice between the two laptop flavors. In the news, a campaign encouraging kids to try computer coding; several technology companies issue a joint statement calling for restrictions on US government spying; Microsoft helps users know when and where their accounts have been used; Google continues to add apps to its Chromecast TV streamer; and predicting weather patterns for Middle Earth.
Tablets may have taken a huge bite out of the laptop market, but some people still need a good old-fashioned portable computer with a decent-sized screen, a full keyboard, the ability to run a standard operating system and plenty of storage room. Fortunately, you still have plenty of models to choose from.
Traditional laptops, once tipping the scales at seven or eight pounds of shoulder-separating weight, are now much sleeker than before. The tiny, cramped netbooks (circa 2009) have given way to bigger netbooks/ultrabooks, with screens and keyboards at a more usable size. Heavy has gotten lighter and smaller has gotten bigger. So what’s the difference now between an ultrabook and a regular laptop — and which one do you need?
A few bullet points:
These slimmed-down computers are usually lighter in weight than regular laptops.
They’re meant to be online with plenty of access to cloud storage, so ultrabooks often use solid-state hard drives. These are fast and sturdy — but have less capacity than a standard hard drive for the same price.
Ultrabooks typically have longer battery life between charges, thanks to fewer moving parts and energy-efficient mobile processors.
Depending on the model you get, ultrabooks can be somewhat cheaper than a full laptop.
A standard laptop typically offers more storage space than an ultrabook, thanks to a wider use of mechanical hard drives and more configuration options.
Many laptops still offer a built-in optical drive for CDs and DVDs.
Notebooks are usually more upgradeable for memory, replacement batteries, and so on.
As with any device purchase, if you’re shopping around, make a list of all the stuff you need to do, want to do and where you want to do it. Then compare the available models out there until you find a machine that meets your needs.
Some things to consider as you peruse product pages or wander the aisles at Best Buy:
If you want to do hardcore gaming or a lot of video editing, perhaps something more robust than an ultrabook is in order here.
Sure, solid-state hard drives start up super fast, pop open your applications in a flash and often survive drops better than mechanical hard drives, but they can be expensive and not exactly swimming in space.
If you travel a lot, need maximum battery life and already have a sturdy desktop or laptop at home, maybe the lightweight ultrabook is what you need.
Sometimes, you can compromise with add-ons. If you really want an ultrabook but still want to rip CDs for your music library, you can buy an external optical drive for less than $80. Got a small solid-state drive? An inexpensive USB external can add a few terabytes.
Batteries: Does the computer have a sealed battery or can you easily swap it out yourself with a replacement?
Does the computer only do WiFi, or do you have Ethernet, 3G or 4G connectivity options?
Now, all you need is a great pre- or post-holiday sale. A gift card would be totally great, too.
This week futurist, polymath, technology expert, and author Phil Simon visits Pop Tech Jam. In the news segment J.D. and Pedro crank up the rumor mill, Microsoft gets into the touch screen business get set to release the latest version of their OS. Also in the news Google gets a smackdown from the U.S. government, the DNSChanger threat and a new Open Source game console gets ready to make a play for your living room.