Tag Archives: Google Glass

PTJ 241: Glass Houses

After a two-week hiatus, El Kaiser and J.D. are back with the tech news of the week — including Amazon’s latest experiments for making money and Google Glass finally finding a home of sorts. And how about that Doctor Who announcement last weekend, eh? Oh, and if you have to ride the New York City subway system, do we have a tip for you!

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint


PTJ 186 News: Twist of F8

Microsoft, now Facebook, then Google and Apple: The developer conference season is in full swing. Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference took place in San Francisco this week, complete with live streaming sessions and announcements about 360 degree video — as well as bots, news distribution and marketing tools for its Messenger app.

Lots of Facebook/Messenger-related news was announced as well:  The Dropbox blog said this week that you can share files stored on Dropbox directly through and without leaving the Facebook Messenger; Ticketmaster says it will soon start selling tickets to concerts and other events directly on Facebook; and Fandango sent out an email blast about a new ticketing and movie-discovery bot for Facebook Messenger.


Speaking of that popular movie site,  Fandango completes its acquisition of the Flixster site this month, alerting users that the deal was done with an update to the privacy policy. Fandango agreed to buy Flixster, which comes with the Rotten Tomatoes review aggregation site, last February from Warner Brothers.

Less than a week after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced it on Twitter, images purporting to be of the new Kindle Oasis e-reader popped up briefly on the Tmall.com website.

The Yik Yak social site, popular on college campuses for its easy anonymous posting ability, is said to be having some financial problems due to a slide in popularity, and this has generated an interesting post on the Medium site. It’s a good read  about what makes one app succeed and another app flop.

Microsoft seems to be makingWindows Blue Screen of Death errors easier to deal with, at least if a recent Windows Insider build of Windows 10 is any indication. Beta testers there have noticed the appearance of handy, scannable QR code on the Blue Screen of Death messages that when zapped by a smartphone QR app, takes you to a Microsoft help page to begin your troubleshooting journey.


The 9to5Mac site got a peek at a note from an investment firm that predicts Apple Watch shipments will drop by 25% in a year-on-year comparison with 2015. Time to developer that killer app now…

If you like making graffiti or ever had fantasies of being a football TV analyst where you get to draw on the video playback, Periscope has something for you. A new beta version of the live-streaming app owned by Twitter includes a tool that lets you draw on your video feeds.

After a series of unfortunate events including an exploding rocket on a resupply mission, SpaceX is back on track with both its cargo deliveries to the International Space Station — and its ability to reuse its rocket boosters. While the payload took off for the sky, the Falcon 9‘s rocket booster made a successful vertical landing on an ocean platform without falling over.

Its Dragon cargo capsule docked with the station on April 10th and brought with it 7.000 pounds of supplies for the astronauts stationed up there — including lettuce seeds, mice and an inflatable room called the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, for short.


Ransomware — malware that encrypts all the data on your computer until you pay up —has been making a comeback this year thanks to social engineering and the usual tricks, but the white hats are fighting back with a a decryption tool that can unlock files held hostage by the Petya ransomware. The decryption tool is a bit technical and probably not for the novice, but it’s a good punch in the fight against crime.

The State of New York is getting serious about distracted driving. A bill in the New York State Senate would require drivers involved in collisions to submit their phones at the crash site for analysis to see if they were texting while driving.

Also in New York, the U.S. Attorney’s office notified a federal judge in Brooklyn that the government plans to move forward with its request to make Apple help them unlock an iPhone related to a dealer in a local drug case. Encryption Wars, Round II.

Google is beta-testing its Voice Access accessibility feature that lets users open apps and navigate screens without using their hands. The beta test is full, but stay tuned.

And finally, while Google Glass may have bombed as a consumer product, the Internet-empowered eyeglasses have found fans with neuroatypical kids. Stanford University’s Autism Glass Project is using the Google specs as a learning aid for autistic teenagers trying to learn social interactions, emotions, recognize facial expressions or even make eye contact. Stanford researchers have created special software to use with the glasses and early results have shown improvement in social acuity for some participants. Perhaps Google Glass has found its mission at last.


PTJ 126 News: Dawn of a New Day

draftbillThe Federal Communications Commission’s new rules for Net Neutrality are scheduled for a vote on February 26th, but that has not stopped Congress from doing something in the meantime. Republican leaders put out draft legislation this week that prohibits the FCC from reclassifying broadband service as regulated public utility like radio, television and telephone, as President Obama proposed last year. The proposed bill does ban throttling or blocking, but has a “network management” loophole for the telecom companies. Several Internet activists like Free Press have already taken up the call to protest, so this issue certainly isn’t going to fade into the background anytime soon.

Remember when the United States government blamed North Korea for the massive hack on Sony Pictures last year and some security experts questioned how officials could be so sure North Korea did the deed? As reported in The New York Times, it turns out that the National Security Agency itself had totally pwned, er, infiltrated North Korea’s networks back in 2010 so they were familiar with some of that territory.

zombiesCloser to home, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a list of apps and services that do and do not protect you from Verizon Wireless’s user-tracking perma-cookie that was discovered by researchers last fall. The ProPublica site published a story last week about how the online ad company Turn was using Verizon’s tracking numbers to regenerate deleted cookies and keep tabs on the users who thought they deleted them. Once busted by ProPublica, Turn said it would suspend its use of these back-from-the-dead Zombie Cookie IDs — pending further evaluation.

Bloomberg News reports that like everybody else, Taiwanese electronics maker HTC is working on its own smartwatch, as well as a new flagship smartphone with a 20-megapixel rear camera and Dolby 5.1 audio. Both products are expected to be announced at the Mobile World Congress expo in Barcelona the first week of March.

Google Glass, which made a couple year-end lists of Biggest Flops of 2014, is getting discontinued (the original version, anyway). Microsoft, however, has Project HoloLens in the works, so people who want to compute while wearing strips of see-through plastic on their faces have a fresh new option. The company’s holographic goggles will arrive around the same time as its new Windows 10 system; both got some event love this week.


One little wearables flop isn’t slowing down Google, though. The company, which took out a lease from NASA last year for the historic Hangar One in California, is doing business with other space firms as well. The Big G (and Fidelity) are making a billion-dollar investment in SpaceX for a project that would use about 700 small satellites to provide Internet access to parts of the world that don’t have it.

We have yet another NASA mission to follow this year. This March, the space agency’s Dawn spacecraft will arrive for its assignment at Ceres, a 600-mile wide asteroid in the belt of flying space rocks between between Mars and Jupiter. Dawn, which launched in 2007, has previously orbited Vesta. The Dawn spacecraft combines state-of-the-art technologies tested by other recent space experiments with off-the-shelf components and spare parts and instrumentation left over from previous missions. The spacecraft will make a study of Ceres, which NASA considers to be a dwarf planet, and has already beamed back some images from about 238,000 miles away.

And one more NASA item of note: the agency says the Earth is due to get buzzed by an asteroid later this month.  The big rock should be visible to those in the Americas, Africa and Europe the night of January 26th  and the Virtual Telescope site also plans to track the asteroid starting at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time that day for those who pref to stargaze from inside the house.

Facebook wants to help you further cut down on the amount of floating garbage on your News Feed. In a company blog post this week, two Facebook staffers described an update to the News Feed mix that reduces the distribution of posted stories that have been reported as hoaxes or deleted by other users. (While this could help declutter News Feeds around Facebook, the tool does have the potential for abuse from organized campaigns to discredit, say, an environmental issue. Let’s hope Facebook has thought of this, too.)

Amazon announced this week that it has plans to develop its own original theatrical films that will also be available quite early on its Amazon Prime Instant Video service. This move comes a few months after Netflix announced it was producing a sequel to the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for both IMAX theaters and its own streaming customers that will premiere this August 28th.

The new movie Blackhat opened in theaters this past weekend, and although the hacking action thrilled starring Chris Hemsworth got blown away at the box office by American Sniper, it did get a little cred from the Ars Technica site for not having completely illogical, implausible and just plain stupid technology scenes. The film’s creators hired not one, but two hacking consultants. Judging by the movie’s poor reception from critics, perhaps the producers should have sprung for a script consultant or two as well.

mariogoombaAnd finally,  over at the University of Tübingen in Germany, a group of researchers in the area of cognitive modeling have developed an artificial intelligence system that allows the videogame character Mario the plumber to  experience emotions and respond to voice commands. Mario AI is also aware of his environment, makes decisions in the game on gathered data or “learning.” Yes, there’s a video demonstrating the experiment. Maybe for the next experiment, the researchers can get the Angry Birds to talk through their feelings so they’re not quite so outraged all the time.

PTJ 80 News: Time Flies

As the week winds down, the State of the Union address is history and cloud service provider Akamai has popped out its latest quarterly  State of the Internet report. Once again, South Korea leads the world in average global connection speed; the United States ranks 8th. As if to rub it in, the South Korean government is dropping $1.5 billion into upgrading its mobile communications network by 2020, and says this will make it a thousand times faster than it is now. In theory, you could download an entire movie in one second on this mythical 5G network. Think of it, the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy in less time than it takes to sneeze and find a tissue.

But wait, this week had more reports to report. The Android operating system was tops in Europe in 2013, according to new numbers from research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. The little green robot snagged a 68.6 percent share of the European smartphone market, compared to Apple’s 18.5 percent. Windows Phone, showing some moxie, was able to claim 10.3 percent of the market. All three operating systems placed in the same order Stateside, but don’t even ask about BlackBerry (although BlackBerry OS 10 did get another update recently to make loading Android apps even easier).

Now, while Apple did set a record in the last quarter with 51 million iPhones sold, investors were hoping for 55 million iPhones out the door, so the company’s stock fell 8 percent. The tech press will now be filled with stories about how Apple needs to innovate again, although the company recently filed a patent for a solar-powered MacBook and seems to have new plans in the works for its Apple TV set-top streamer. Just last week, the tech press was filled with stories about the 30th anniversary of the Macintosh computer, which made its debut on January 24th, 1984, and had a very memorable Super Bowl commercial that can still be found online.

Google is still on its January shopping spree, buying up DeepMind, a privately held artificial intelligence company based in the United Kingdom. While replicants don’t seem to be in the near future, a DeepMind investor told the Re/Code website, “If anyone builds something remotely resembling artificial general intelligence, this will be the team. Think Manhattan Project for AI.”

Google Glass may be getting a little more affordable for some, particularly those with optical health insurance. The provider VSP has made a deal with Google to subsidize prescription lenses and frames for the Internet-connected spendy spectacles. However, Google Glass may not be the only wearable face computers strutting around town. The Korea Times is reporting that Samsung and Sony may be getting into the game. Samsung is rumored to be showing off its version this September at the annual IFA trade show in Berlin.

Shifting gears to Gears of War, Microsoft has purchased the shoot ‘em up franchise from Epic Games, which means future installments will likely be Xbox-only. And in other Microsoft news, the company announced that it was renaming its cloud storage service. The formerly known Hawaii Five-0 Approved Microsoft SkyDrive will now be known as OneDrive. Microsoft was forced into the name change after losing a trademark tussle to British Sky Broadcasting.

Government security groups have allegedly been harvesting player info from mobile games. Do people at the top of the leaderboards have anything to worry about? Angry Hackers, by the way, have already smacked up the Angry Birds website.


The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be on the lookout for mysterious charges $9.84 on their credit-card bills. Those charges, often from unfamiliar sounding websites, are part of a scam. Call your bank and request a new debit or credit card, as this one’s been compromised.

The Chrome browser for iOS just got an update from Google that brings more speed and security to the app. And speaking of apps, a couple hotels in the Starwood chain are trying out new room door locks that can be opened by a smartphone with a Bluetooth connection and an Android or iOS app. (Here’s an idea: put this system in a few Vegas hotels during the annual DEF CON gathering and see how it holds up.)

And finally, Facebook marks its 10th birthday next week. The site was founded as TheFaceBook.com back on February 4th, 2004, and was intended as a resource for Harvard students. Flash forward a decade past a big-budget origin movie, a wobbly IPO and about 1.2 billion users around the world and you have the current social network. Now, if you’ve been wondering how much of your life in the past 10 years you’ve spent on the site, the folks at Time magazine’s website have created a handy tool called “How Much Time Have You Wasted on Facebook?” If the thought of letting an app trip merrily through your Facebook history disturbs you (it’ll probably meet up for drinks with the NSA bots in there), you can probably ballpark it yourself, especially if you’re a daily user. Just calculate the average amount of time you spend per day on the site, look up the date on your Timeline when you joined Facebook to see how many days it’s been, and factor those numbers together. Remember, there are 1440 minutes in a day

PTJ 80: We Heart Latvia

If you’ve listened to the show for any length of time you’ll know that the software development company BROS is directly responsible for Pop Tech Jam making its way through the Intertubes and into our preferred listening devices.  Founder and lead bro Christian Serron joins Pedro to discuss the burgeoning tech sector in Uruguay and to finally reveal why he helped unleash J.D. and El Kaiser on the podcast world… again.  If the Polar Vortex is keeping you indoors (or if you just enjoy playing classic video games) J.D. tells us where we can find some venerable titles for our mobile devices. In the news South Korea still has the need for speed when it comes to connection speed; Android continues to dominate in Europe; Blackberry rolls out a new version of their Blackberry 10 OS; Google buys artificial intelligence research company Deep Mind; and Facebook turns 10.

PTJ 72 News: Space Invaders

Go, gamers, go! The Sony PlayStation 4 is out this Friday, November 15, and the Microsoft Xbox One arrives on November 22. Plenty of gaming sites will help you analyze the two and decide which one is best for you. And that Web ripple about the PS4 TOS prohibiting used games after all? A Sony exec took to Twitter to assure the faithful that they can resell and play previously owned games on the PS4.

In product news, Motorola will soon let customers with Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile create their own personalized versions of the Android smartphone and Apple quietly released the iPad Mini with Retina Display this week.

spreadsheetThe AppleInsider site noted that not long after a Microsoft PR executive poo-poohed Apple’s iWork suite as “watered-down” imitation apps compared to Microsoft Office, the company put up giant billboards for its Surface tablet that showed the Excel software on the screen failing to correctly add up seven numbers on a spreadsheet. This led to much mocking online, but the TechCrunch blog says Microsoft did not get its math wrong, haters.

Google Glass wearers will soon have the option for stereo earbuds that let them listen to their Google Play music by commanding the Spendy Spectacles™. According to a report this month, the Motorola Mobility division of the company has filed a patent for an electronic, removable neck tattoo with an embedded microphone that can link up with a mobile phone. In addition to serving as a secret-agent way to make a mobile phone call without having the handset in site, the neck tattoo might have use as a lie detector. (Google’s also been busy with the Gmail this week, announcing several new enhancements to its Webmail service on its company blog; these new features add on to Gmail’s existing Inbox shortcuts.)

Want that sleek OS X/iOS look on PC hardware?  Check out the Pear OS 8, a Linux variation for desktops and laptops — and soon, tablet hardware is everything goes according to plan. Will this mean a Thin-Skinned Fruit War if Apple takes offense?

As some of you may have suspected, Netflix and YouTube are responsible for more than half of peak fixed network data in North America as confirmed by Sandvine’s Global Internet Phenomena report. Speaking of audio, a new beta build of Google’s Chrome browser lets you know which one of your many open tabs is the one streaming the loud audio file that you need to close right away.

On the security front, Trend Micro just put out its Q3 2013 Security Roundup Report, which shows an increase in online banking malware infections, particularly in the US, Brazil and Japan. The 22-page report, available online, also described a noticeable uptick in phishing sites aimed at Mac OS X and iOS users.

And you’re not even safe in space from malware. According to Russian security expert Eugene Kaspersky, the International Space Station was infected with malware that rode along on a USB stick used by a Russian cosmonaut. The malicious program was not Stuxnet, as originally reported by some organizations, but Kaspersky said the Stuxnet virus had also infected a Russian nuclear power plant. (At least the laptops used aboard the space station were converted from Windows XP to Linux last spring, but if the aliens attack, we may need to dig up those old Macintosh PowerBooks running System 7 to defeat them.)

And finally, the Roomba — the popular roving robot vacuum cleaner — has gotten a redesign. The iRobot Roomba 880 has ditched the brush cylinders and moved to a new AeroForce system of spinning thermoplastic polyurethane tubes. In addition to being a more efficient method of dirt removal, no brushes means: no hairballs. Now, if we can just get cats to switch to spinning thermoplastic polyurethane tubes…

PTJ 72: Apples, Pears, and Penguins

As relief groups and charities collect donations for much needed supplies to help the typhoon ravaged Philippines, how do you know which organization is best for your contribution? J.D. gives us the rundown on how to avoid the dirtbags and fly-by-night outfits when lending a hand. The snow has El Kaiser in a foul mood but he lightens up a bit to share more smartphone battery tips, this time for Android devices. In the news Sony assures gamers that they can indeed play used games on the PS4 despite what the terms and conditions read; Motorola drops the price of their Moto X and makes it easier to get; they also file a patent for a neck patch that can let you make phone call or act as a lie-detector; Apple vs. Microsoft sniping heats up over a Surface 2 billboard; Google Glass gets stereophonic sound; and dig out that Pentium desktop from the garage! A new Linux distro offers the look and feel of Apple’s newer operating systems on old gear.

PTJ 70: When Smurfs Attack

El Kaiser has a very blue Tech Term and J.D. shows us how to make iOS 7 easier to read. In the news, some love for Google Glass early adopters; Amazon launches a new program allowing customers the option to buy Kindle versions of their previous book purchases; SoundCloud adds Instagram integration;  Netflix ponders its next move; a new report confirms that U.S. citizens pay more for less when it comes to their Internet service; Apple plans to continue its OS X freebie; and “The Zuckerberg Files”.

PTJ 70 News: Through the Looking-Glass

Those eager early adopters who joined the first-look Google Glass Explorers program are getting a little love from the Big G for sharing their opinions on the product — free upgrades! For people who already wear prescription eyeglasses, this next version of Google Glass said to be compatible with “future lines of shades and prescription frames.”

Amazon officially launched its new Kindle MatchBook program this week, which allows customers the option to buy discounted Kindle versions of books they’d previously purchased in print. To use it, log into your account on Amazon’s site to see what books are eligible. If you decide to grab the e-edition, you’ll typically pay $3 or less and the Kindle versions work with the Kindle apps for tablets, phones and computers as well as on actual Kindles.

In multimedia news, SoundCloud, the audio-sharing site, has hit 250 million listeners and now includes Instagram integration for users who want to ad cover art for the playlists and audio files they upload. After some very good quarterly earnings, Netflix is pondering its next move. One option the company is said to be considering? Releasing a “big” feature film on the streaming service the same day the movie appears in theaters. And as previously discussed, the Nielsen ratings people are going to start counting people who watch television programs on mobile devices instead of just on traditional television sets. Mobile ratings won’t start getting included until the fall 2014 television season, but Nielsen will be sending out software kits to its participants.

Thinking about hacking major government sites? If you do, maybe you shouldn’t brag about it on Twitter.

broadbandAccording to a report called The Cost of Connectivity 2013 from the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation, broadband customers in the United States pay higher prices for slower Internet service than people living in Europe and Asia.  But T-Mobile, which did do fairly well in the survey, has nice plans for people who buy iPads to work on the company’s network.

In an earnings call earlier this week, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said that future versions of OS X for the Mac will be free.  CEO Tim Cook also announced that the company had its best quarter in the education market ever. The iPhone’s hold on the market continues to slip, though, as many more smartphone users opted for the Samsung Experience last quarter. Android 4.3 Jelly Bean is rolling out to owners of many Samsung devices and on the Smartwatch Watch, the Wall Street Journal reports that Google’s rumored Android-based wrist accessory is supposedly integrated with its Google Now service.

Scientists may predict how your romantic entanglements on Facebook will turn out. The paper, titled Romantic Partnerships and the Dispersion of Social Ties: A Network Analysis of Relationship Status on Facebook was written by Lars Blackstrom of Facebook and Jon Kleinberg of Cornell University and it looks at patterns of engagement and disengagement on with your social network activity.

And finally, the recent Facebook notice that the company was changing its “Who can look at your timeline by name” setting so anybody can find you with a search has some folks annoyed and ticked off and now Michael Zimmer, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is building a scholarly archive of every one-the-record statement about privacy uttered by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The motive behind the project is is to keep Zuckerberg honest when it comes to his stance and evolution on privacy issues. The archive, which can be viewed online, is called The Zuckerberg Files. (Curiously enough, Google+ has seen a hefty jump in users recently.) But anyway, time for that weekly check of the Facebook privacy settings!

And your Google+ settings!


PTJ 67: Spoiler-Free, Sweetie

On a supersized episode of everybody’s favorite geek-culture podcast El Kaiser takes a turn at hopefully being helpful by detailing the steps to avoid a malware infection. With social networks making spoilers a legitimate concern for all TV watchers, J.D. introduces us to some apps that can help keep second screens from spoiling what’s on the first. In the news, more of the world gets online access and some companies help bring less expensive Internet access to developing countries; the Gold Master of OS X Mavericks is made available to developers; rumors point to Amazon releasing a set top box to compete with the Apple TV and Roku devices; Google and Hewlett Packard announce the HP Chromebook 11; and Yahoo gets to blow out 16 candles.