J.D. helps us with Windows 8 this week by digging up some keyboard tricks that makes using Microsoft’s newest OS a little easier. Pedro goes to the movies and doesn’t like what he sees. Oh yeah, he also debuts his first new Tech Term of 2013. In the news, Google turns its attention to online security; Amazon aims to produce video content; and RIM gears up for Blackberry 10.
Diplomacy (or lack thereof) has been getting a real workout this month. After recent negotiations in Dubai, the US refused to sign the International Telecommunication Union global treaty over Internet-freedom issues. Apple, quickly releasing an update to November 29th’s iTunes 11 software, fixed a bunch of bugs and also restored the much beloved Display Duplicates menu item to iTunes 11.0.1.
Google continues to offer its own alternatives to built-in iOS apps, including the new YouTube Capture app for video recording and sharing. It also set forth the triumphant return of the Google Maps app for iOS — which was downloaded 10 million times in the first 48 hours as users fled the native Apple Maps app for more familiar territory.
Hulu Plus is up to three million subscribers, but Instagram may be down a few after a Terms of Service kerfuffle that stated the service could basically do what it wanted with its members’ photos, including shilling them out for use in ads. After the Internet became very angry about this and the How to Leave Instagram and Instagram Alternatives blog posts began popping up in droves, Instagram piped up again and said it had been misinterpreted.
Facebook, which owns Instagram now and was already having a banner week in annoying its user base, was also rumored to be readying 15-second autoplay video advertisements on its members’ news feeds next year. Perhaps the other whispers about Facebook doing a new “self-destructing” message app for people who are sending text and photos that maybe they don’t want hanging around after the initial thrill will be better received.
Celebrities sending naughty photos of themselves to their romantic partners may want to consider a self-destructing message app themselves, although the Florida man accused of hacking Scarlett Johansson’s phone to get her naked pictures just got sentenced to 10 years in Federal prison.
DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, wants to create an ultra-fast wireless network that can support speeds of 100 gigabits per second, just like fiber-optic networks can do on land. The agency is also taking submissions from folks who have their own ideas how to make such a boss network, so sign up now.
And finally, IBM is out with its annual list of The 5 in 5 — five technology predictions for the next five years. This time around, the company concentrates on cognitive computing and the five senses of touch, sight, hearing, taste and smell. Hopefully, the same machines won’t get all five senses at once and begin to learn the way humans do, because the next thing you know, they have a plan and they may not be so diplomatic about it.
As the storms of the past few weeks — Hurricane Sandy, the US elections, a snow-spewing Nor’easter on the East Coast, it’s time to take a minute and regroup before hurling into the holiday season. Geeks everywhere were goggling over the news that Disney bought Lucasfilm and Star Wars 7 is headed for theaters in 2015; the screenwriter for the project has already been hired.
Princess Leia didn’t need no “Floral Kiss” pink blaster to pop those stormtroopers. She got the job done just fine with standard-color armaments, so sorry, product designers of little pink computers and little pink cars, you’re going to have to try harder with some of us out here. (At least a certain Hoosier songwriter already called dibs on little pink houses.)
Meanwhile, out in Redmond, Microsoft giveth and taketh away: A new Xbox Surface gaming tablet us said to be underway, but those who love Microsoft Messenger will be booted off the system next year when Microsoft retires Messenger to focus on Skype.
Amazon is said to be testing out a $7.99-a-month version of its Amazon Prime service for those who’d rather pay more in installments that cough up the $79 annual fee all at once. The Massive Superstore of Everything also signed up Staples to host its Amazon Lockers that hold your Amazon packages when you’re not home to get ‘em.
Instagram is getting some Facebook-like enhancements like profile pages and desktop access, which also seems to have generated some Facebook-like privacy concerns among advocates. Still, the mobile space is still where Instagram rules. Oh, and Mary Meeker popped up before her next annual report with some thoughts on the current state of Android, iOS, Windows and other systems people use to get in the Internet.
Mobile devices were often the only way some people on the East Coast had to communicate in the wake of Hurricane Sandy two weeks ago when the power went out in many towns and cities. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a guide for what to do before, during and after a major storm and the folks at NBC’s Rock Center news show have compiled a list of Hurricane Sandy relief organizations and efforts for those wanting to help.
Hurricane season traditionally runs from June 1 to November 30 each year, so it’s not over yet, and then we move into winter storm season in the northern and western parts of the country. Having a cellphone car charger or hand-cranked turbine/solar unit (USB charger, flashlight, radio) on hand in times of emergency can really help, so if you’re compiling a holiday shopping list, perhaps one of those might make a more useful gift than another necktie or pair of fancy slippers. (Or those freaky singing robot fish that were way too popular a few years back…)
And if you see a storm headed your way on the TV, the Web, your weather app or your other source of weather news, be prepared. Stock up on emergency supplies of food, water, battery, candles, flashlights and all that. Fill up the car’s gas tank, batten down the hatches and bunker in until the storm passes. And if you’re going to be stuck inside while the weather rages outside, red-velvet cupcakes and a nice bourbon make excellent comfort food.
J.D. gives us her thoughts on the new iPad Mini and Pedro mourns the loss of his beloved Star Wars now that is a Disney product. In the news, new tech products designed specifically for women; Microsoft set to debut a gaming tablet, Amazon Lockers to be available at an office supply giant; and Instagram heads to the web.