J.D. tells which companies are offering deals for your old gear and Pedro has an Old School Tech Term segment to share with the class. In the news, Verizon challenges the FCC’s Open Internet rule of 2010; Netflix keeps an eye on pirates to decide what to buy; Nokia prepares to roll out new product; Sandisk debuts a new 256GB memory card; Bing attempts to redefine search; Box takes on Google Docs; and Grand Theft Auto V appears to be on the road to billion dollar sales in less than one month.
Another week, another legal tussle. Verizon recently threw down a legal challenge to the FCC’s Open Internet rule of 2010, which bans big companies from discriminating against little companies in favor of their own competing services or business partners on their broadband networks. Verizon says this violates its First Amendment rights and some legal eagles worry that the net neutrality rules may not survive.
Let’s not worry about Netflix for the moment, as it seems to have found a cheap way to do customer research. A Netflix VP said the company looks around to see what’s hot on the piracy sites and uses that intel for decisions about what programs to buy for its streaming service. (Why yes, Netflix does offer old seasons of Game of Thrones in its DVD rental department, but no streaming.)
There’s a snap in the East Coast air and companies are rolling out new stuff. A quick post from Nokia’s Twitter account seems to confirm October 22 as the date for the company’s fall hardware event. SanDisk, maker of memory cards, has announced its SanDisk Extreme Pro Compactflash memory card with a 256GB capacity. Microsoft Bing has gotten both a visual overhaul and a new mission to change the definition of search. If you don’t have it already, Twitter is said to be preparing a redesign of its mobile app as well to coincide with the arrival of Apple’s iOS 7, which arrived this week. But even though iOS 7 is fresh out of the gate, the 9to5Mac site reports that it’s noticed last week in its Web analytics that some people are browsing around with devices running iOS 7.0.1, iOS 7.0.2 and iOS 7.1. So the bug hunt has already begun.
Amazon has some updates up its giant sleeves too. While images of new Kindle Fires have been leaking around the Web, the supermegaüberstore also updated its Amazon Instant Video app for iOS to support Apple’s AirPlay technology and add integration with the Internet Movie Database.
Box, one of the many online storage and sharing services up in the cloud, has a new application for creating and editing digital documents. It’s called Box Notes, and this next-generation text editor is taking on Google Docs, Microsoft’s online version of Word, Evernote and even the new startup, Quip. Box Notes is still in beta, but the new tool promises real-time concurrent editing, comments and inline annotations and hyperlinks.
Bump, the sassy little app that let users share photos and other files by plonking phones together long before the Samsung Galaxy got in on the act, is joining Google. The tech news sites are reporting that Google bought Bump for somewhere between $30 and $60 million dollars. Although the Bump app had versions for iPhone and Android and the two platforms could bump together, insiders are predicting that the iPhone version may be going away soon. For a different kind of bump, if the Google Street View photos of certain places around Indonesia look a little shaky, it might be because the Google Street View car taking the photos has been involved in three different traffic accidents outside Jakarta.
In gaming news, Grand Theft Auto V arrived this week and Amazon reportedly sold out of the game for certain consoles like the Xbox 360. The game is expected to grab 1 billion dollars in sales for its first month of release. (Anybody have this game yet? Can you drive a Google Street View car in-world?)
And finally, we here at Pop Tech Jam are pouring out a 40 and cranking the volume up to 11 in honor of Ray Dolby, the legendary sound pioneer who passed away last week at the age of 80. Thanks for all those multichannel memories, Mr. Dolby.
Forget the Avengers and the Justice League: this season’s rootin’-tootin’ action team-ups include several major companies — including AOL, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo — are banding together with a new plan to fight digital piracy, that ongoing problem for media-makers in this modern age. There is also a coalition of groups coming together to sue the National Security Agency for all that recently uncovered “unconstitutional dragnet electronic surveillance.” Meanwhile, staffers at Facebook and Buzzfeed are having a public squabble over a Buzzfeed story last week that was based on a Stanford University study and called “The Number Facebook Doesn’t Want You To See.” This prompted a Facebook engineer to fire back and say the story was “just plain wrong.” And so it goes.
Other academic studies are also popular this week. A recent one from researchers at Northwestern and MIT’s Sloan School of Management takes a look at just who writes negative product reviews online. The study, called Deceptive Reviews: The Influential Tail, presents evidence that many product reviews on a private-label retail site were written by people who did not actually purchase the product in question. As for croaking and squawking of another kind, researchers from the University of Puerto Rico are using iPods to automatically record endangered species. All this automated data acquisition is part of the ARBIMON system— which stands for automated remote biodiversity monitoring network and you can hear samples of some of the audio it’s analyzed here, including the musings of the cute little coquí frog.
The Verge site is reporting that Microsoft is still working on its prototype smartwatch and has moved the project over to the team behind its Surface touchscreen tablet computers. Speaking of small computers, there’s another tiny model that’s joining the ranks of the Raspberry Pi and other barebones PCs. CompuLab’s Utilite computer is about the size of a pack of index cards and starts at $100. Also getting smaller: the price tag on a BlackBerry Z10. BlackBerry CEO said it was the right time to adjust the price on the Z10, now that the newer Q10 model has arrived. Things are not so booming for Intel’s Thunderbolt technology either, as Acer is the latest laptop maker to ditch the high-speed communications port for the slower but less-expensive USB 3.0 jacks.
Need entertainment? If you find yourself looking up actors, movie trailers and other cinematic tidbits on the IMDb site, you can now follow through and buy tickets right in the mobile app for Android and iOS. Apple, perpetually rumored to be working on a TV-type product to enhance or build on its Apple TV box, may be working on a feature that lets viewers skip commercials for those who prefer to stay in front of their screens at home at chill without the shill. (Not to be outdone, Google is also said to be talking to media companies about getting content for its own online TV service.)
On the mobile front, two unfortunate smartphone incidents have recently occurred. Apple is investigating reports of an electrocution that happened when a woman in China answered a call on her iPhone 5 when it was plugged into the charger. This follows reports last week of a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone that spontaneously exploded in the pocket of a Swiss teenager and causing third-degree burns.
And finally, out in space, NASA’s Hubble telescope has discovered a new moon orbiting the planet Neptune, and a small moon at that. Goodnight, moon!
This week El Kaiser wrestles with an identity crisis and J.D. gives us the lowdown on how the micro-blogging service Twitter determines what is trending. In the news, taking down websites that offer access to pirated content by targeting their wallet; the NSA gets sued; Buzzfeed and Facebook have a slap fight; manufacturers ditch the Thunderbolt port; rumors heat up about a Microsoft smartwatch; Blackberry drastically drops the price on its flagship Z10 smartphone and Nasa discovers a new moon orbiting Neptune.