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.
About 40 percent of the world will be online by the end of this year, says the annual report from the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union. Less-developed countries are often the ones at the bottom of list that track a population’s online access, but Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Intel are among 30 companies that are teaming up to bring a less expensive Internet to those parts of the world that still lack connectivity. The initiative is called the Alliance for Affordable Internet and it was officially launched this week in Nigeria.
On the Apple front, the Gold Master of OS X Mavericks 10.9 was posted for developers late last week. And although some people stopped caring about Office for the iPad after Microsoft released the poorly reviewed and oddly named Office Mobile for Office 365 Subscribers earlier this year for iOS and Android, outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said this week that the company did have a touchscreen Office in the works, but that the iPad would get it after the Windows mobile devices got theirs.
Amazon to the top of the TV? If you believe the Wall Street Journal, the super-uber-online megastore will have its own video-streaming box for sale before the holidays. The unconfirmed streamer doesn’t have a price or a name yet, but the 9to5Google site has noted that Amazon recently trademarked the name “Firetube.”
Yahoo celebrates its Sweet 16th birthday! Yahoo Mail has gotten an overhaul for desktop and mobile and now comes with some features previously seen in Gmail. Intsagram is also getting older and will soon be getting ads of its own soon, as a company blog post titled “Instagram Is a Growing Business,” explains.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear is now out and receiving fair to middling reviews, and the rollout of smartwatches from other companies continues. The Filip smartwatch for kids — which also serves as a simple mobile phone between parent and child — is headed for AT&T.
LG Electronics has gone into mass production of what it claims is the “world’s first flexible OLED panel for smartphones.” Using the curved panels — made from plastic substrates instead of glass — is supposed to make the screens bendable and unbreakable and handsets featuring the new panels are expected next year.
The New York SciFi & Fantasy organization is trying to turn the Empire State Building a lovely shade of TARDIS blue for the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who next month. The group has filed an application to the Empire State Building’s management team in hopes of creating a giant blue police box on the Manhattan skyline on November 23rd and an online petition has been started. Also in entertainment news: Gravity may have won the weekend box office, but the movie got nicked with some fact-checking criticisms over Twitter from astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
And finally, we here at Pop Tech Jam would like to congratulate Peter Higgs and François Englert on winning the Nobel prize in physics for their work on the theory of the Higgs boson. Awesome boson, dudes!
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.
El Kaiser unboxes a new addition to his tablet arsenal, Google (and Samsung’s) Nexus 10, and J.D. gives us her first impressions of Apple’s redesign of their iTunes media player and media library application. In the news, tech companies concerned over International Telecommunications Union’s reworking of a telecom treaty that may negatively impact Internet freedom, thousands of Tumblr accounts are hacked, and the text message is finally out of its awkward teen years.
As the International Telecommunications Union works to update to update a telecom treaty, representatives from companies like Google and Mozilla are among those voicing objections to the closed-door treaty process—and what more government control might do to Internet freedom around the world. The ITU, however, says it affirms the right to freedom of information online.
Google also found time to launch a new version of its Maps API and update the Gmail app for Android to version 4.2.1. The standalone Gmaill app for iPhone and iPad also got a redesign. Meanwhile, Apple finally delivered iTunes 11.
If you like gaming on the big screen, Valve’s Big Picture mode is out of beta. If you like video on the small screen and used Verizon’s V Cast service…be prepared to say goodbye, as Verizon plans to shut it down. V Cast joins The Daily, News Corp’s designed-for-the-iPad electronic newspaper, in the digital dustbin on December 15th.
Happy 20th birthday to text messages! The handy short communication form hit the big 2-0 on Monday and will be old enough to buy its own beer next year. And who knew the popular SMS shorthand “OMG” was at least 95 years old and once showed up in an epistolary exchange with Sir Winston Churchill?