Tag Archives: John Oliver

PTJ 234: Winging It

Facebook scrambles to blunt the effects of fake news on the United Kingdom’s upcoming election, John Oliver and his fans have suggestions for the Federal Communications Commission, Amazon’s been busy and could a fried-chicken sandwich be headed for space? El Kaiser and J.D. chew through this week’s headlines and Don Donofrio drops by with an Apple status update. All this and more on Episode 234 of Pop Tech Jam!

Links to Stories in This Week’s News Segment

PTJ 137 News: Sticks and Phones

roku3Spring is full of popular television shows returning with fresh new episodes, and streaming TV boxes are busting a move. Roku has upgraded its Roku 3 and Roku 2 set-top streaming boxes with improved features like alphabetical search and a movie watchlist. A software update for existing Roku boxes also adds these features. The $100 Roku 3 (shown here) now has voice search — and a headphone jack — in its remote control. The $70 Roku 2 is pretty much the same streaming box without the fancy remote. Oh, and Roku just updated its Android app and is putting the finishing touches on the iOS version this week.

BuzzFeed New, which was the first to publish reports on the new updated Apple TV box expected later this year, has new information on the forthcoming device, mainly that it will not initially support those big but glorious 4K video streams. Apple is not commenting.

With new phones, come new complaints from early adopters — and PR moves to quell the unrest.  Samsung responded to a video from mobile-warranties dealer SquareTrade that purported to show a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge being bent and then broken. While arguing about the test’s methodology, Samsung released its own “Three-Point Bend Test” video. (The company also says that contrary to reports from developer forums, pre-installed apps on its Galaxy S6 phones cannot be uninstalled, just hidden from view.)

Ever quoted a tweet but had no room for your own comment due to Twitter’s character limit?  Twitter said this week that it was tweaking the “quote tweet” feature, which should give the quoters another 116 characters for snark or bark on the original.

Researchers at Stanford University are testing a new aluminum-ion battery that could one day replace the current lithium-ion and alkaline power cells we use today. They charge faster and catch on fire less, which is an improvement over current batteries all around.

oliverTV comedian John Oliver of the HBO show “Last Week Tonight” interviewed NSA leaker Edward Snowden to discuss government surveillance reform. Oliver broke down the topic into parts the average user who does not care about the complexities of government surveillance can understand.  In other Snowden news, activists placed a large sculpture of Edward Snowden in the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn his week. City workers quickly removed it, but a second activist group then began to project a hologram in the same place dedicated to Snowden.

Facebook is apparently being used to officially serve divorce papers. Will Facebook weddings be legal soon, too?

Apple Maps has now added content from TripAdvisor and Booking.com on certain hotel reviews. Hopefully, the maps themselves have gotten better, too.

surface3Speaking of products that originally arrived with a deep thud, Microsoft just released a new version of its tablet computer. The Surface 3 is thinner and lighter than previous versions. Prices start at $499. The Surface 3 is the less-corporate version of the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft’s touted laptop-replacement tablet that starts at $799.

Microsoft is middle-aged now. The company, which was founded on April 5th, 1975, just celebrated the big 4-0 this past weekend and is shopping for future relevance along with a little red Corvette.

Microsoft may have gotten rich selling PC software, but the PC hardware itself has slimmed down quite a bit over the years. As shown at the top of this post, Intel’s Compute Stick, (which started pre-orders this week), is an extremely narrow portable PC that plugs into the HMDI port on a big monitor or TV. With a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, it turns it into a Windows 8.1 or Linux computer.  You can’t shake a Compute Stick at the competition, though, as Google’s Chromebit offers a colorful alternative to the system-on-a-stick approach.

A new Microsoft update for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 includes a little code for the future, reports the Myce.com site. There’s a Windows 10 downloader quietly nestled in the update code, just waiting for its cue to make Windows 8.1 users deliriously happy.

The new YouTube Kids mobile app is already coming under fire from parental groups. Some have asked the Federal Trade Commission to take a look at the program, which they says deceptively targets toddlers with advertising. Google denies the accusations, saying it worked with numerous child advocacy groups on the app.

It’s National Robotics Week! The annual event features more than 250 events around the country designed to get kids interested in the science of robotics. iRobot, the IEEE Spectrum and Georgia Tech’s Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines are pitching in for the event and have even released a set of all-star real robot trading cards that you can download in PDF form, and IEEE Spectrum also has a free Robots app for the iPad that lets kids see and interact with 158 robots from 19 different countries. Because real robots are even cooler than movie robots (most of the time).

robotcards

PTJ 96: FIFA and Apple Have The World In Motion

FIFA’s 2014 World Cup tournament is set to kickoff in Brazil  in just a few days and J.D. tracks down the apps you’ll need to stay connected to the action.

What’s that you say? You’re looking for tech news too?  And you want it chunky and packed with snark? Well look no more my friends, J.D. and El Kaiser have you covered.

Apple unveils new versions of (don’t call it Mac) OS X and iOS 8 at their annual developers convention; Samsung launches its first smartphone running the long awaited Tizen operating system; Instagram is out with a new version of its mobile app;  US authorities say they’ve caused a disruption in the GameOver Zeus botnet; Comedian John Oliver unleashes Internet trolls on the FCC; Researchers create bakable robots; and the cast of the new Star Wars sequel finally gets around to casting more women.

 

PTJ 96 News: The Old New and the New Old

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference stormed San Francisco this week and showed off the new software the company has been working on. The next version of the Mac operating system is called OS X Yosemite.  The new system is available for those in Apple’s developer program now, but has a public beta for those who just can’t wait and have n aversion to working with unfinished software. Macworld, Cult of Mac and Ars Technica were among the many Applewatchers doing OS X feature roundups for those who want to read up in detail.

yosemite

The forthcoming iOS 8 also made an appearance at WWDC, and Apple is calling it “the biggest release since the launch of the App Store.” The new system meshes with OS X and ties all your Apple hardware together just a little bit tighter with the Handoff continuity feature, where you can start a message on your iPhone and finish it on your Mac. As rumored, new apps for health monitoring and developer tools for adding smart-home control apps were in the mix, so the new features already felt kind of old.

Still, there was other stuff: iOS 8 includes a new keyboard with better predictive functions (to hopefully stiff Autocorrect) and ability for third-party keyboards to be added. The Messages app can send audio clips and handle group conversations better and the Photos and iCloud way of handling your digital pictures are getting improvements. Siri is also shacking up with Shazam for music recognition.

As this was the Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple also spent part of the presentation showing off new tools for programmers with the iOS 8 SDK with its 4,000 new APIs. A new graphics technology called Metal was demoed, as was a whole new programming language called Swift for iOS and OS X. If you’re a developer and intrigued by this new language, a free 500-page manual for coding in Swift is available in the iBooks Store.

swift

Try as it may, Apple could not hog all the headlines this week.  Samsung finally launched its first smartphone running the open-source Tizen operating system. The Samsung Z was revealed at a conference this week and is expected to be released first in Russia this fall. The black and gold phone will have a high-definition 4.9-inch screen, 2.3 gigahertz Snapdragon quad-core processor and a fingerprint sensor.

Instagram is out with a new version of its mobile app, dubbed Instagram 6.0, that adds new controls to its photo filters. And Intel announced a new line of Core M processors that promise more power for computing while consuming less power from the battery.

Hey, if you liked the “Kids React to Old Computers” video we talked about on last week’s show, check out The Fine Brothers new clip, “Teens React to the 90s Internet.” And while you’re absorbing that blast from the past, here’s another one. Myspace, the social network pretty much stomped into irrelevance by Facebook, has been sending out messages to former members to remind them that they still have old — and potentially embarrassing — photos on the site. A spokesperson at Myspace told the Mashable site that the company wasn’t trying to blackmail former users into returning, but you know, just engaging them.

us-cert-logoIn security news, US authorities say they’ve caused a disruption in the GameOver Zeus botnet and warn that victims (and potential victims) have about two weeks to shore up their systems before hackers can get the botnet back up and running. The peer-to-peer malware, which tries to steal a user’s online banking credentials, attacks Windows systems and is spread through spam and phishing messages. US-CERT has a warning out, along with links to virus scanners and steps to take for getting rid of the malware.

Self-updating systems that can automatically repair security holes would be a dream, and its one that’s being dared over at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The New York Times takes a look at the agency’s Cyber Grand Challenge, a two-year contest to develop an automated cybersecurity system. Thirty teams from academia and industry plan to participate, with the winner being announced at DEFCON 2016.

June is National Internet Safety Month, not to be confused with National Cyber Security Awareness Month, (which is in October) and Data Privacy Day, (which is every January 28th). National Internet Safety Month came out of a resolution passed by the US Senate in 2005 and is devoted to educating people on ways to stay safe online and a number of sites are offering advice on basic online behavior to keep you out of trouble. Visit StaySafeOnline.org for a guide on how to observe National Internet Safety Month. Antivirus vendor Intego has a list of tips as does Symantec over on the Norton site. (National Internet Safety Month also coincides with the National Safety Council’s own National Safety Month, in which citizens are advised to be careful in general. So let’s watch what we’re doing.)

oliverJohn Oliver, the British comedian and social commentator over on HBO, had a few things to say about the current Net Neutrality debate over Federal Communications Commission’s proposed new rules. Mr. Oliver had a 13-minute monologue on the topic last weekend and encouraged Internet comment trolls to use their powers for good, or as he put it “focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction,” and provide feedback on the FCC’s website. As of Tuesday, more than 47,000 comments had been posted with more on the way and temporarily crippled the site’s commenting system.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have announced their advances in the field of bakable robots, while those at Texas A&M there have published a paper explaining that many people have little or no fear of drones if the drones are small and or shaped like the fairies from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (Technology comfort levels continue to rise in other categories. The Washington Post reports that the US ambassador to Switzerland was sworn in on a Kindle reader this week. )

Analyst Mary Meeker released her annual Internet Trends report last week. Bloomberg Businessweek made note of the report while not thinking much of her visual aids with a story called “Redesigning Mary Meeker’s Ugly Internet Slideshow.”

Levar Burton’s Kickstarter campaign to bring his old Reading Rainbow TV show back as a streaming series on the web, mobile devices, game consoles and connected televisions got a lot of love, making its one million dollar goal in just 11 hours. The show, which lives on already as an iPad app, has now upped its goal to five million dollars. It’s at more than three million bucks at the moment and also plans to donate reading and educational materials to schools that can’t afford them.

And finally, the cast of the upcoming Star Wars VII just got a little bigger. Actresses Lupita Nyong’o, who won an Oscar for her work in 12 Years a Slave last year and Gwendoline Christie, currently playing Brienne of Tarth on HBO’s Game of Thrones have joined the production. The casting news, along with 45 photos posted on TMZ.com that were reportedly leaked from the film’s Tattooine set in Abu Dhabi, have many Star Wars fans hyperventilating and counting the days to December 18th, 2015. Director J.J. Abrams, however, would totally like people to quit leaking stuff from his movie, okay?