Tag Archives: Kindle

PTJ 196 News: Windows $10K

Microsoft’s Windows 10 upgrade has steadily grown more persistent since the software’s release last year, even to the point of practically hijacking a user’s computer to ram it on there. While the Windows forums have lit up with complaints, at least one dissatisfied customer has taken Microsoft to court over the unauthorized update. The plaintiff was awarded $10,000 to compensate for lost wages and the price of a new computer to replace the one banjaxed by an unwanted Windows 10 upgrade. Microsoft denied that it had done anything wrong and said it had dropped its appeal in the case to avoid additional legal expense. However, the company said it’s changing that sneaky dialogue box that starts the Windows 10 install when you click the “x” to close the box. (Also disappearing:  The Xbox Fitness service.)

Due to copyright issues, many song lyrics sites used to be hosted on offshore servers, but now Google has cut a deal with the Toronto-based firm LyricFind to legally display lyrics in search results. The move both funnels money to the publishers and songwriters of the licensed songs — and might send a few people to Google Play Music as well.


Google is also expanding the tools its offers to teachers by making its Expeditions virtual reality experience available to everyone with the Android app, a network connection and a VR viewer. Expeditions offers virtual reality tours to more than 200 locations and an iOS edition of the app is expected soon. The company also released its Google Cast for Education app for Chrome for wireless screen-sharing in the classroom.

Facebook has decided that it needs to rev up the Slideshow feature that was originally included it its Facebook Moments app last year. In a new update to the Facebook mobile app, if it senses you have taken more than five pictures or videos in the past 24 hours and you go to post a status update, Facebook suggests that you make a slideshow out of the material. (The TechCrunch site has a theory that Facebook is desperate to get people to post more original content on the site.)  Facebook is also adding location-based events to its main app to offer suggestions for things to do besides spend all night on Facebook, and actual humans will curate the events lists.

Twitter announced that its adding stickers to photo tweets, perhaps in an attempt to get more teenage girls to use the service.

Municipal lawmakers and the Airbnb site for easy short-term rentals have a contentious relationship in places like New York City and San Francisco because of local housing laws, and now the start-up is even suing San Francisco over a new law that says Airbnb hosts must register with the city first. The lawsuit contends that San Francisco is putting the burden on Airbnb to enforce the law by fining the site $1,000 for posting unverified-with-the-city listings on the site. As The New York Times points out, Airbnb originally helped write the law in the first place to quell protests from affordable hosing advocates. The New York Legislature also passed its own bill against Airbnb this month that would impose fines on apartments listed with the service that rent for less than 30 days if the leaseholder if not present. That bill awaits the governor’s signature.

Amazon has added a new feature to its Kindle apps and e-readers that’s designed to make it easier for you to wander around in an ebook without losing your place. The new tool is called, appropriately, Page Flip.

Medical offices have become a popular target for hackers thanks to the troves of personal patient data and now hackers have taken to selling thousands of records on the dark web after their demands for money were turned down.  Speaking of hackers, Apple’s forthcoming iOS 10 software has already been poked, prodded and had its flows exposed in public by an individual who has posted it all online on the iOS Hacker Wiki.

Pinterest, which added buy buttons to some items on its mobile app last year, has added those click-to-buy buttons on its web version now. A shopping bag is also available so you can click around on either mobile or desktop and then buy all your pinned purchases at once.

And finally, summer is here and if you need some projects to occupy the kids, Bose has a $150 BoseBuild Speaker Cube kit that shows kids how to make a Bluetooth speaker that works with an iOS device while also teaching them how the principles of sound and speakers work, along with magnets, electromagnets, frequency and waveforms.


Need another educational a summer project? Make has instructions on how to make a Wi-Fi Drone Disabler with a Raspberry Pi, some telnet scripts and a cantenna, but stresses this is an educational exercise to help you “understand the security risks of wireless communications.” Yes. Yes, it is.

PTJ 186 News: Twist of F8

Microsoft, now Facebook, then Google and Apple: The developer conference season is in full swing. Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference took place in San Francisco this week, complete with live streaming sessions and announcements about 360 degree video — as well as bots, news distribution and marketing tools for its Messenger app.

Lots of Facebook/Messenger-related news was announced as well:  The Dropbox blog said this week that you can share files stored on Dropbox directly through and without leaving the Facebook Messenger; Ticketmaster says it will soon start selling tickets to concerts and other events directly on Facebook; and Fandango sent out an email blast about a new ticketing and movie-discovery bot for Facebook Messenger.


Speaking of that popular movie site,  Fandango completes its acquisition of the Flixster site this month, alerting users that the deal was done with an update to the privacy policy. Fandango agreed to buy Flixster, which comes with the Rotten Tomatoes review aggregation site, last February from Warner Brothers.

Less than a week after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced it on Twitter, images purporting to be of the new Kindle Oasis e-reader popped up briefly on the Tmall.com website.

The Yik Yak social site, popular on college campuses for its easy anonymous posting ability, is said to be having some financial problems due to a slide in popularity, and this has generated an interesting post on the Medium site. It’s a good read  about what makes one app succeed and another app flop.

Microsoft seems to be makingWindows Blue Screen of Death errors easier to deal with, at least if a recent Windows Insider build of Windows 10 is any indication. Beta testers there have noticed the appearance of handy, scannable QR code on the Blue Screen of Death messages that when zapped by a smartphone QR app, takes you to a Microsoft help page to begin your troubleshooting journey.


The 9to5Mac site got a peek at a note from an investment firm that predicts Apple Watch shipments will drop by 25% in a year-on-year comparison with 2015. Time to developer that killer app now…

If you like making graffiti or ever had fantasies of being a football TV analyst where you get to draw on the video playback, Periscope has something for you. A new beta version of the live-streaming app owned by Twitter includes a tool that lets you draw on your video feeds.

After a series of unfortunate events including an exploding rocket on a resupply mission, SpaceX is back on track with both its cargo deliveries to the International Space Station — and its ability to reuse its rocket boosters. While the payload took off for the sky, the Falcon 9‘s rocket booster made a successful vertical landing on an ocean platform without falling over.

Its Dragon cargo capsule docked with the station on April 10th and brought with it 7.000 pounds of supplies for the astronauts stationed up there — including lettuce seeds, mice and an inflatable room called the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, for short.


Ransomware — malware that encrypts all the data on your computer until you pay up —has been making a comeback this year thanks to social engineering and the usual tricks, but the white hats are fighting back with a a decryption tool that can unlock files held hostage by the Petya ransomware. The decryption tool is a bit technical and probably not for the novice, but it’s a good punch in the fight against crime.

The State of New York is getting serious about distracted driving. A bill in the New York State Senate would require drivers involved in collisions to submit their phones at the crash site for analysis to see if they were texting while driving.

Also in New York, the U.S. Attorney’s office notified a federal judge in Brooklyn that the government plans to move forward with its request to make Apple help them unlock an iPhone related to a dealer in a local drug case. Encryption Wars, Round II.

Google is beta-testing its Voice Access accessibility feature that lets users open apps and navigate screens without using their hands. The beta test is full, but stay tuned.

And finally, while Google Glass may have bombed as a consumer product, the Internet-empowered eyeglasses have found fans with neuroatypical kids. Stanford University’s Autism Glass Project is using the Google specs as a learning aid for autistic teenagers trying to learn social interactions, emotions, recognize facial expressions or even make eye contact. Stanford researchers have created special software to use with the glasses and early results have shown improvement in social acuity for some participants. Perhaps Google Glass has found its mission at last.


PTJ 185 News: Punt, Pass and Kick

Ten years old and busting some moves on the field: Twitter caught a deal to stream 10 NFL games globally this coming season. The bird-themed microblogging service paid a reported 10 million dollars for the rights to stream these Thursday night gladiator matches for the cord-cutting population. Are you ready for some football — with lots of commentary and trolls?

Amazon has the 8th generation of the Kindle waiting in the wings, but the news didn’t come from the rumor blogs. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos teased the news himself over Twitter this week. Amazon also looks to be taking a piece out of PayPal by extending the reach of its Amazon Payments service. The company has announced its Amazon Payments Partner Program will be available to e-commerce platform providers in several countries..

The Federal Communications Commission is taking a cue from the Food and Drug Administration and has come up with information labels for broadband and mobile service that look just like those black-and-white nutrition labels you see on food.  Although the agency is not making these labels mandatory for service providers, the FCC’s current Net Neutrality rules do require the ISPs to be more transparent in their dealings with consumers.


WhatsApp announced this week that it’s turned on full end-to-end encryption. The move locks up communications between the service’s billion users tight enough so WhatsApp employees and government watchers can’t peek. Your move, guv’ment.

That expected Sony PlayStation 4 update arrived this week. That’s the update with the remote play function for Windows and Mac and other social features.

Microsoft’s annual Build conference for developers was out in San Francisco last week. The event seemed to please developers, as Microsoft announced programmers could use the Ubuntu Linux BASH shell on Windows and the Xamarin dev tools are now free. Presentations at the Build conference also highlighted intelligent AI apps, bots, digital ink and this year’s Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which features enhancements to Cortana and other elements of Windows 10. (Not reported at the conference, however, was the trial run of Outlook Premium service.)

NASA is getting in on Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality system. The agency announced a new exhibit called “Destination: Mars” scheduled to open this summer at the NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. Guests will get a holographic tour of Mars from retired astronaut Buzz Aldrin and explore several sites on the red planet that were reconstructed using real imagery from NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover.


Umbrella-shaped Google parent-company Alphabet is not endearing itself to some of its customers. Reports around the web say Nest, (the smart-home component of the Alphabet empire), is kicking and bricking a bunch of older devices deliberately. The smart-home devices in question were made by Revolv, That company recently announced in its site that it was shutting down as of May 15 and its app and smart-home hub will no longer work.

Google just pushed out a pretty chunky over-the-air patch for the Android system as part of its April Security Bulletin.  Apple has issued a patch for iOS 9.3 that was intended to correct that little crashing Safari links problem. However, an independent security researcher has posted a video and description of a bug he says the new 9.3.1 patch brings with it. As several sites have pointed out, until a proper patch arrives. the quick fix for now is to turn off Siri from using the phone’s Lock Screen. Cue iOS 9.3.2…

The Starz cable TV channel has joined the stream team. If you want to watch Outlander, Black Sails or any other Starz content on your Android or iOS device without having to get a cable subscription, you can get it for $9 a month a la carte.

ThinkGeek.com had its usual roster of stellar fake April Fools products last week,  including a Star Trek White Noise Machine. Quilted Northern went viral with a video about rustic-weave artisanal toiler paper. The Epic Fail award for 2016, however, goes to Google, for slipping in an animation featuring one of those yellow Minions characters dropping a microphone that unfortunately got into many serious and professional messages send by Gmail used. Google has apologized.


And finally, two items of note from Department of Making Things Easier to Understand. First up, the MIT Media Lab has created a new site called Data USA, which tries to make public government data on a variety of subject easier to view and mentally process. Second, Facebook announced this week it was using artificial intelligence software to create automatic alternative text that describes the contents of photos for blind and visually impaired users with screen reader software on their iOS devices. The auto alt text is rolling out in English for iOS users first, but more languages and platforms are expected soon. But how will Facebook’s picture describing software software be able to withstand the the “Chihuahua or Muffin” meme?

PTJ 174 News: Gloom and “DOOM”

No more tunneling to better streams? Netflix has announced it’s going to start blocking viewers using proxy servers and virtual private networks to get around regional restrictions on certain movies and TV shows.  Wired, however, has an article that casts a bit of doubt on Netflix actually being able to block out every type of VPN or proxy service out there. Ever feisty, Netflix also got into a little tussle with NBC over remarks made at a Television Critics Association press event this past weekend. A researcher at NBC Universal threw down the gauntlet by saying Netflix and its little herd of bingeable shows were not a threat to the traditional TV-viewership model and claimed to have ratings data on Netflix taken by a third-party company. Netflix execs, however, gave it right back to NBC, saying its survey was based on “really remarkably inaccurate data.

Also in the world of subscription services, the WhatsApp messenger service is dispensing with the 99-cent annual subscription fee and making itself available for free. And supposedly, without ads.

primeairAmazon has now enabled its voice-commanded Alexa assistant on its tubular Amazon Echo devices to read Kindle books out loud for free. The feature works with a number of Kindle titles, but don’t expect the melodious tones of a professional audiobook narrator here – it’s the Robot Lady Voice reading them to you. Also in Amazon Land: Amazon’s vice president for global public policy recently had a chat with Yahoo’s David Pogue about how Amazon Prime Air, the company’s infamous drone delivery program, is coming along; they at least have new press photos of the drones, as shown here. (Amazon, ever so busy, also announced this week that the first devices that use its Dash Replenishment service to automatically order new supplies for themselves are rolling out. Yo, better keep an eye on that printer so it doesn’t go buck wild with the toner orders.)

Apple bounced out the first beta of its upcoming iOS 9.3 software last week and the update has a lot of new features for something that doesn’t get its own big honkin’ Apple keynote event. Among others, the Macworld site wonders if Apple is perhaps changing its update strategy and just releasing a regular stream of substantial iOS improvements instead of saving them all up and making a big deal about everything at a press conference.

AOL may also be getting some changes — and perhaps even a new name. Verizon, which now owns the former America Online service, is said to be pondering an image makeover that could include a new name for the brand. Hopefully, a better logo will come along, too.

holoMicrosoft is slowly revealing more details about its coming Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality goggles. According to reports from a Microsoft event in Tel Aviv, the HoloLens will have a battery life of 2.5 to 5.5 hours, depending on the task at hand. The headset will also be able to run any universal Windows 10 app and hook up with just about any other gadget with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity.

Google is said to be testing the ability for Android users to install apps directly from the search screen in Google’s own eponymous — without having to go through the Google Play store. Because really, what could go wrong there?

The cable networks are readying their campaign teams for Election 2016, and Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio are banding together and combining their resources to bring their traditional no-nonsense approach to coverage. The PBS-NPR team-up, an early version of which was announced last year, will bring shared digital, video and audio content from the primary debates to election night to whatever happens after that.

In rocket news, SpaceX continues its testing with the Falcon 9 rocket — and getting it to land in one piece so it can be reused. After a successful Falcon 9 recovery from the ORB-COMM mission last month, a mission last week saw the returning rocket fall over and explode on the landing pad. Or, as SpaceX found Elon Musk tweeted, it had a “rapid unscheduled disassembly” event on the deck.

If you want a snapshot of how social media has evolved over the past decade or so, check out “The History of Twitter’s Rules” by Sarah Jeong on VICE’s Motherboard channel.  (Yes, trolls mucked a lot of things up.) Twitter, incidentally, had a service outage earlier this week.

And finally, old school gamers can go back to school now that one of DOOM’s creators, John Romero,  has created another level for the iconic first-person shooter after 21 years. Boom! DOOM!

P.S. Like tidy lists? Don’t miss the SplashData’s 25 Worst Passwords of 2015 and GeekWire’s Worst and Weirdest of CES 2016 observations. Both may boggle your mind, but for different reasons…


PTJ 112: Get Your Anti-Grav Boots On Cuz It’s SPACE WEEK

It’s our favorite time of year. No, not fall. It’s Space Week and J.D. introduces us to some apps that are perfect for getting into that festive…um…spacey mood.

Before the PTJ crew blast off into the Cosmos, El Kaiser breaks out the rant box. Apple’s iOS 8 has frosted his rage cake and he wants you all to know about it.

In the news, banking giant JPMorgan Chase gets hacked; AT&T confirmed information is compromised, but it’s an inside job; BBC World News premieres a six-part series focusing on cybercrime; Twitter sues U.S. government over surveillance laws; after getting complaints from customers and the FCC Verizon ditches its “network optimization” plan; a Netflix competitor throws in the towel; and a Kano unveils a new computer you build and code yourself.

World Spaaaace Week!

This week is World Space Week and Pop Tech Jam is partying like comic-book nerds on a Wednesday.

wswFor those of you who forgot or who were unaware of the event, World Space Week is the largest global festival for public celebration of space exploration and discovery. (Here’s the global event map for the week.) It all got started back in 1999, when the United Nations decreed October 4th to the 10th to be World Space Week. Those dates, by the way, are significant: The Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik I, the first human-made satellite, was on October 4th, 1957, and the Outer Space Treaty — which forms the basis of international space law — was signed on October 10, 1967.

The theme of this year’s World Space Week is “Space: Guiding Your Way” and acknowledges the role satellite navigation has played in daily life. Just think of all the benefits it has brought us, like being able to find your way around the old Dutch part of Manhattan without having to drag along a paper map (which is really embarrassing if you are a NYC resident). So here’s to GPS! And while’s you’re at it, listen to Steven Johnson’s excellent 2010 TED Talk that provides a little bit of amusing history on the topic.

When you get done thanking science for giving you zoomable maps-on-demand, turn-by-turn directions, Google Earth and remote recovery tools for your smartphone, here are a few other apps to help you celebrate the World Space Week if you can’t make it to one of the official events (or you’re going to New York Comic Con).

NASAappFirst up, check out the ever-growing page of apps over on the NASA site. The main NASA app shows off much of the agency’s news and multimedia content from around the galaxy, but there are also newer programs, like NASA Spinoff for iPad, which shows how technology developed for space missions has found a place in everyday life. Apps for individual NASA projects, like the Messenger Mission to Mercury for iOS, the Curiosity app for Windows Phone or the Sector 33 air-traffic control game for Android and iOS are among the many listed on the page.

spaceracersMany of the NASA apps are educational and geared for kids, and if you have children who like adventures, check out a brand new game: Space Racers. It’s the companion app for the public-television kids show designed to get younger children interested in STEM programs; NASA even served as a technical consultant for the series. When you first open up the Space Racers app, it looks a little bit like vintage Angry Birds, but there are no in-app purchases or advertising, and the software doesn’t collect the child’s personal information. The game teaches cause-and-effect as the preschool player pilots the Space Racer ships (which are cheerful, friendly birds with wheels) through an obstacle course. Young pilots must also factor in things like wind speed and magnetic fields to make it through 32 rounds of gameplay.  Space Racers is out for iOS this week and it’s free — and a free education. (If you want to find the TV show for the kids on your local station, have a look here.)

StarWalkStar-seekers of any age can ponder the universe on a mobile device with apps like the $3 SkySafari 4 for Android, iPhone and iPad. The Star Walk stargazing guide (shown here) is a nicely designed $3 app for touring the celestial skies and it’s now available for Android, iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone and the Kindle; the revamped 3D Star Walk 2 app for newer iPhones recently landed for iOS. The Distant Suns app, which bills itself as “your own personal guide to the cosmos” is a hand-held planetarium that works available for most mobile platforms — and costs less than $10. And Android users can get Google’s own Sky Map app for free.

Want to celebrate the satellites of World Space Week 2014 with an app? The $10 GoSatWatch is a satellite tracker for iOS and the ISS Detector Satellite Tracker (free, but you need in-app purchases for the good stuff) works on Android. So remember, even if World Space Week is over by the time you see this, you’ve still got an app or two that can bring you your own little corner of the sky.
Sic itur ad astra!

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.


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.


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?


BeepsWCIt’s a major event every four years, and it gets people around the world watching intensely. No, not the Olympics, not the ever-contentious US presidential elections, and not your favorite action-franchise sequel. It’s the World Cup, the preeminent men’s soccer tournament where 32 international teams battle it out over a month of matches for a big gold trophy and bragging rights as truly the world’s best team. This year, the tournament officially gets started June 12th with a match pitting host country Brazil against Croatia, and runs to the championship match on July 13th.


Serious fútbol fans have likely stocked up their mobile devices and browsers with everything they need to follow the trophy quest. If you’re new to the sport or just starting to follow it closely, you can find everything you need to know to keep up with the Cup on the Internet. Several third-party apps for following the sport are available in your local app store, but the people running the show (and the TV networks that will be broadcasting the event) have a bit of an edge when it comes to news, photos, and videos from the matches.

For example, FIFA, or Fédération Internationale de Football Association, is the sport’s governing body and offers its official mobile apps for Android and iOS on its site (shown below). The FIFA site also has a PDF of the match schedules you can download of you like hard copy.


For those watching the international news, it should be noted that FIFA is having its share of controversy these days with allegations of match-fixing in the 2010 World Cup played in South Africa, and bribes made to FIFA officials to vote for Qatar as the host of the 2022 tournament. Social unrest over the cost of hosting the tournament and treatment of indigenous people are making headlines in Brazil as well, but the country’s leaders say the games will go on safely.

Here in the States, ESPN and its assorted sibling networks will be carrying the tournament in full. According to Sports Illustrated, “All 64 matches of the World Cup will be broadcast live and in high definition on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 in English, and on Univision broadcast and cable networks in Spanish.”

If you aren’t home or near a sports bar to watch, all 64 matches on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ABC will also be available on computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and connected devices through WatchESPN. If you’re not familiar with it, the WatchESPN app (shown below) is a TV streamer and you can get it for Android and Kindle Fire devices, Roku set-top boxes, iOS gadgets and the Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV box and Windows 8. (You do need a cable subscription and login from your service provider to make full use of the app.)


ESPN has also spiffed up its website for the occasion, rolling out its ESPNFC.com to cover the 2014 World Cup and other international football matches. And where you’ve got desktop, you’ve got mobile apps, at least for the major platforms. You can get the ESPN FC app (shown below) for Android, iOS, Ovi, Windows 8 and Windows Phone.  The UK versions are here.


The Univision Deportes app for Android (shown below) and iOS promises live streaming and 24/7 World Cup coverage, as well as other international league play after the big event. You can use the app in either Spanish or English.


The World Cup tournament will be over all too soon for many fans, the beautiful game plays on. Thankfully, the Women’s World Cup is right around the corner in 2015.

PTJ 91: All is Right With the Galaxy

Before J.D. and El Kaiser head over to the Ziegfeld movie palace to queue up for tickets to Star Wars *SQUEE*, they test Domino’s updated iPad app and its 3D Pizza Builder feature. They virtually make it rain pizza toppings. *SQUEE*

In the news the Federal Communications Commission announces its latest stab at finding constitutional rules for governing the Internet; the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal continues to draw detractors; Netflix strikes a speed deal with Verizon Communications; Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s phone business is finally complete and the software behemoth confirms a rather gaping vulnerability in all versions of its Internet Explorer browser;  the Heartbleed bug may affect the Internet of Things; and the official cast has been announced for Star Wars: Episode VII confirming the return of original cast members. *SQUEE*