Tag Archives: Google Photos

PTJ 206 News: Robot, You Can Drive My Car

Forget about the distant promise of Hyperloop for a minute, because the United States Department of Transportation is looking toward the near future. The agency has released its first set of government guidelines for self-driving automobiles. The document is wittily titled Federal Automated Vehicles Policy: Accelerating the Next Revolution in Roadway Safety and is available as 116-page PDF from the DOT’s website. Don’t read it while you’re driving.

Speaking of the road ahead, the first US Presidential debate is Monday night, September 26th, so be sure to warm up your fingers properly if you plan to dive into the rolling slapfight on Twitter — and remember, you get the full 140 characters now.

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Twitter also got a workout last weekend during the annual Emmy Awards. and one of its own blogs posted the top five most-discussed moments of the event.  (All the feels for the amazing Tatiana Maslany, y’all.) And the service seems to have had a good turnout online for its first live-streamed NFL game last week. According to Adweek, Twitter adding two million viewers on the livestream to the 48 million eating chips and watching the game on TV. The day before its first football adventure, Twitter released set-top apps for the Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Microsoft Xbox. Fly, little bird, fly!

Microsoft says its researchers are working to “solve” cancer by using computer science. Go on, give it a read.

Samsung’s voluntary recall of its potentially dangerous Galaxy Note 7 phones became an official government recall from the Consumer Product Safety Commission late last week. But here come the lawsuits:  A Florida man is suing Samsung because he claims he suffered severe burns on his leg and thumb when his Galaxy Note 7 exploded in his pocket.

hissWhile Samsung tries to reel in the million or so defective Galaxy Note 7 devices, Apple’s iPhone 7 rolled out last Friday and had some of the usual quirks people seem to find with new iHardware. The company is dealing with a bug in the remote control for the new Lightning-tipped earbuds that come with the iPhone 7 line. Some new owners are also claiming that the iPhone 7 makes a hissing sound. (Yes, Parseltongue jokes commenced as soon as the news broke.)

The news may not be all bad for Samsung, however. The Tom’s Guide site did a head-to-head comparison with the 12-megapixel cameras in both the iPhone 7 models and the camera in Samsung’s non-exploding Galaxy S7Edge phone — and found that the S7 Edge edged out the new iPhones.

Apple users can distract themselves by banging around on the new macOS Sienna operating system, which arrived for download this week. (If you haven’t done it yet, backup before you update. ) Productivity Software Fans: The iWork suite of Pages, Numbers and Keynote was also updated.

Google is just all kinds of busy these days. The company has scheduled an event for October 4th in San Francisco, where insiders assume new phones and maybe that rumored 7-inch Google-pure Android tablet may be unveiled. The company has also goosed the algorithm for its Google Books suggestion engine to make better recommendations on what you should read after you get done with your current Google book. Oh, and they added voice search to Google Drive to help you find your stuff by asking and updated the Google Photos software for Android, iOS and the web.

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For travelers, the Big G announced its new Google Trips mobile app for Android and iOS. The new program wants to be your portable personalized tour guide, but parts of it sound an awful lot like the Trip Bundles feature in the Inbox by Google app.

Like Apple, though, Google may be facing a rather large bill from a foreign government or back taxes. As Reuters reports, Indonesia plans to tap Google’s parent company Alphabet for more than $400 million in what it says is unpaid tax in 2015. Google says it’s paid its tax and that most of its revenue for the region is booked through Singapore.

And finally, two notes on relationships. For one, Tinder and Spotify are hooking up to let users of both services see potential matches based on musical tastes (or lack thereof). Secondly, NASA has weighed in on the recirculating rumor that it has messed with the zodiac and everyone’s astrological signs are now different so maybe Scorpios aren’t your type after all. The five-year-old story, apparently hauled out of mothballs by Glamour.com who linked to NASA’s page for kids, describes how the space agency decided to compensate for the fact that the Earth’s axis has shifted over 3,000 years and added a thirteenth sign called Ophiuchus. Someone at NASA with a with a sense of humor rose to the challenge early this week and put up a post on the agency’s Tumblr account to clarify things. Because, you know, NASA ain’t got much to do these days.

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PTJ 193 News: You Say You Want a Revolution

telegramSpyware isn’t just for hackers and sleazy software makers these days. Oppressive governments are also using it to crack down on dissidents, according to a recent story in The New York Times. In other ominous privacy news, a report from Reuters and other sources report that Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace has decreed that “Foreign messaging companies active in the country are required to transfer all data and activity linked to Iranian citizens into the country in order to ensure their continued activity.” The council has given companies one year to make the move. The Telegram messenger app, which was created by the Durov brothers, has a huge user base in Iran and could be a target here.

Facebook could also be stepping up its secure-texting game. The Guardian reports that The Social Network is working on an optional encryption setting for its Messenger app.

ecThe Internet and politics can be a volatile mix, but the European Commission announced this week that it had worked with Microsoft, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to come up with a code of conduct and policies designed to stop the spread of illegal hate speech online in Europe. Meanwhile, over here in the States, enthusiasm seems to have fizzled out for new legislation that would require technology companies like Apple to provide handy back doors into their products for law-enforcement officials.

Not long after it snapped up AOL, Verizon is still shopping and in contention to buy up the crumbling Yahoo empire. If you’re wondering whythe Fast Company site has a big story out about how it all adds up to Verizon’s quest to complete with Amazon, Facebook, Google and Netflix with content and services.

Despite dips in PC sales, people are still making laptops and ASUS is going after Apple’s MacBook Air for the thinnest ‘n’ lightest ultrabook prize. The ASUS ZenBook 3, which has a body made of aerospace-grade aluminum alloy, was announced this week at the Computex show in Taipei. Like the newer MacBooks, the ZenBook 3 only has a USB-C port for peripheral connectivity, but the Windows-based device sports a 12.5-inch screen and weighs in around two pounds — just a few ounces lighter than the 12-inch MacBook Air.

ASUS announced new smartphones and a few other products, but the one that most people were talking about was its Zenbo Robot. The Zenbo is billed as “your smart little companion” can roll around the house at will doing all kinds of things. The Zenbo has a list price of $599 and will be available this year. Here’s a video of it:

One firm that seems to be getting out of the moving household robot business, however, is Google. The company bought Boston Dynamics in 2013, but now Google has put it up for sale. Some relationships just don’t work out.

A team of German researchers is trying to design a system that teaches robots how to feel pain. The paper describing the system is called “An Artificial Robot Nervous System To Teach Robots How To Feel Pain And Reflexively React To Potentially Damaging Contacts.”

Also from the world of academic journals — Jack Ma, an engineering professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and his team published a paper in the publication Advanced Functional Materials that describes tiny integrated circuits that adhere to a person’s skin like a temporary tattoo. The technology could have future use in biomedical devices or a really personalized integration with the Internet of Things.

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And about that Internet of Things,  the consulting firm Chetan Sharma reports that a third of new cellular service customers for  Q1 2016 were cars.

Some people poking around  an upcoming update to the Google Photos Android app say there are hints in there that certain users will get free unlimited online storage for photos and videos in their original resolutions. And who are those lucky users? People using Google’s own Nexus hardware, of course!

Scientists studying samples from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft have detected the amino acid glycine and other organic molecules in the cloud surrounding  Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Researchers say this helps prove the theory that comets may have brought water and organic molecules from space to a very young, newly formed baby planet Earth.

Also showing signs of life — or at least the potential for it — is a little planet about 1,200 light years away called Kepler-62f. NASA announced the discovery of Kepler-62f back in 2013 and said the planet was in the habitable zone. Last month, researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles and the University of Washington released a study called “The Effect of Orbital Configuration on the Possible Climates and Habitability of Kepler-62f” that detailed the results of computer simulation models that tried to determine of the planet could sustain life.

After an unsuccessful first try, the team on the International Space Station were able to fully inflate the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module last week, giving astronauts a little more room to move up there. As you may recall, the BEAM bouncy space castle was delivered in April by one of SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsules this past April.

SpaceX itself is having a pretty good couple of months. The company just made its third successful rocket booster landing at sea this year after launching the Thaicomm 8 communications satellite into orbit.

And finally, still in space, Pluto may have gotten busted down in status, but the United State Post Office is celebrating the dwarf planet and last year’s NASA New Horizons mission with a set of commemorative stamps. And not just any stamps — Forever Stamps. As in, “Pluto, you’ll forever be a full-size planet to us!”

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PTJ 145 News: Developing Situations

Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference opened this week, and the very long Keynote on Monday morning brought a whole bunch of announcements with it. For starters , the next version of OS X will be called El Capitan, and over on the iOS 9 Preview side of the fence, a new proactive Siri is just one of the many new features that await. Apple Pay has added more card support, branched out to the UK and  the Passbook app has now been renamed with the more obvious moniker, “Wallet.” There’s a new News app that looks like it’s gunning for Flipboard. The new iOS 9 will have specific treats for the iPad , like a QuickType keyboard for easier input and split-screen views for multitasking — including a picture-in-picture view. The Swift programming language will be open-source in its next version. The Apple Watch got native apps and a bunch of tweaks to makes it less dependent on a nearby iPhone, and Apple announced its long-rumored Apple Music service.   So now we wait, at least until the public betas start trickling out.

cardboardBut 12 days before Apple’s big programmer’s party, Google held its developer’s conference and made quite a few of its own announcements at Google I/O 2015. As expected, the company provided new information and a developer’s preview for Android M, the next generation of its operating system. The new Google Photos app with its free online storage was formally unveiled. The company proclaimed support for USB Type C, (the one connector to rule them all) and announced a bunch of other stuff. While Siri is getting more proactive little Google Now, Google Now is getting a little more interactive like Siri, thanks to a new feature called Google Now on Tap.  Among other things, Google also provided details on Android Pay and an updated version of Google cardboard — a virtual-reality platform for Android and iOS users.

While Apple didn’t announce a new Apple TV model or fancy remote at WWDC, Google added a bunch of content to its Android TV pltform, namely an online store with 600 apps that can be arranged in a sort of program-guide like grid and intermingle with live broadcast channels.  Cable TV is growing less and less mandatory…

win10Trying not to get lost on all the kerfuffle: Microsoft. The company announced last week that July 29th is its release date for Windows 10. Just follow the steps to reserve your copy of the new operatiing system. Once you make your reservation, Microsoft will let you know later when your update is ready to download. Microsoft has a set of Frequently Asked Questions on its site for those of you who want more information. The company also upgraded its Xbox One game console to a version with a 1-terabyte drive and has revamped its wireless controller. The terabyte model is $400, the 500-gigabyte version of the Xbox One is now $350 and the wireless controller will be $60 when it’s released in July.

marsNASA is keeping up its busy schedule and tested an experimental vehicle shaped like a flaying saucer this week as part of the research for its manned mission to Mars one day. The test seems to have failed after a 100-foot-wide parachute ripped during the craft’s test flight.  Meanwhile, the European Space Agency must have really liked the old Space 1999 show, as its announced plans to start building an inflatable town on the moon. The ESA plans to send up a lunar lander in 2018 to get things rolling and start construction on the habitat in 2024 using 3D printers to create the necessary parts right them and there. The structure would not be called Moonbase Alpha, but rather, Lunarville. You know, like the band.

If anyone out there is a fan if the scary longread, check out the New York Times Magazine’s recent story about the Russian Ministry of Trolls that spends its days spreading hoaxes, rumors and misinformation over social media to raise havoc. The story is called The Agency.

The DARPA Robotics Challenge is over and the team from South Korea has won the $2 million prize. A highlight reel is on YouTube.

pacmanAnd finally, the first six members of the World Video Game Hall of Fame have been announced. The classics DOOM, Pac-Man, Pong, Super Mario Bros., Tetris and World of Warcraft made the inaugural cut. The World Video Hall of Fame is part of the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY, and yes, you can visit. Bring a bag of quarters in case you have to exit through the gift shop.