Facebook’s horrible, bad, no-good, you-brought-it-on-yourself-pal year continues with major revelations about how the company handles its problems and Apple’s iPhone orders have dipped, but at least we have a NASA event next week. El Kaiser and J.D. wade through the headlines of the week — including a long-awaited podcast-discovery announcement from Pandora. And El Kaiser takes a look at a sleek new pedestal to charge multiple devices. Once you put down the pie, spin up PTJ 293 — and everyone, have a happy Thanksgiving weekend!
On this week’s episode, El Kaiser and J.D. discuss the things that are making the tech world shake, rattle and roll — including Amazon’s facial recognition software not passing muster with the American Civil Liberties Union, Facebook’s stock price plummeting and the possibility of the Broadway musical Hamilton coming to Netflix. In the (Hopefully) Helpful Hint, J.D. also describes a new scam going around that shows off an old password you’ve actually used in the past. Ride along with Episode 282!
Google took its turn spewing out the fall product lineup this week, with the Pixel 2 phone, Pixelbook laptop, Pixel Pen Stylus — and a whole bunch of Google Home offerings — announced. Meanwhile, Yahoo’s big hack was worse then the company previously announced (why, yes, it is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month). The former Equifax CEO got trolled hard at his Senate hearing and NASA invites space fans to send their names to Mars. Upward!
Whether it be The Defenders kicking butt across the New York City zone of the Marvel Universe or NASA’s assorted spacecraft exploring the real universe, this week’s episode of Pop Tech Jam has you covered. El Kaiser and J.D. get their geek on with plenty of chatter about comics, consumer technology and spaaaaaace! Won’t you join us?
HTC has a new virtual reality headset called the HTC Vive that it created with Valve, the company behind the Steam gaming service — preorders start at the end of the month. The headset will be about $800, and arrive in April. Valve also released an online Steam VR Performance Test for gamers who want to make sure their systems can handle the demands of virtual-reality software.
Sony, perhaps taking a cue from Joaquin Phoenix and the 2013 movie Her, announced the Xperia Ear, a voice-controlled gadget for communicating with your smartphone that works like an audio-only smartwatch that sits in your auditory canal. As for the rest of the announcements, the Gizmodo blog has a good running tally of all the major things unveiled at Mobile World Congress.
Speaking of control issues, Twitter suspended the accounts for the sports blogs Deadspin and SB Nation over the weekend for posting copyrighted GIFs and video highlights. Deadspin at least had a little fun at the NFL commissioner’s expense when the account was reactivated.
Apple updated its iMac line of desktop computers, bringing faster processors and 4K or 5K displays to the hardware. New input accessories the Magic Keyboard 2, the Magic Mouse 2 and the Magic Trackpad 2 — now with Force Touch — were also announced.
Experian, one of the bureaus out their keeping tabs on people’s credit, got hacked last week. Brian Krebs, who runs the Krebs on Security blog, has a story about how the bureau’s security practices have lapsed over the past few years due to attrition, dissatisfaction and other factors.
Google Cardboard is expanding internationally. The little fold-together virtual reality viewer that works with your smartphone and a special app is now is available in 39 languages and over 100 countries on both Android and iOS devices.
But Apple was in the spotlight for other reasons as well this week. A story on the front page of The New York Times highlighted the company’s national security tussle with the United States government over encryption and data access with software like iMessage, a program Apple says it can’t decrypt itself.
Comcast is testing a new form of data plan in south Florida. While the company normally imposes a 300-gigabytes-a-month limit, customers can now pay an extra $30 for the Unlimited Data Option. It’s just like those old unlimited broadband plans of yore, except more expensive!
Verizon announced its new Go90 mobile streaming TV service this week. The service will be ad-supported and show programs young people want to watch.
NASA said late last week that it has begun its intensive data downlink phase to grab the massive amount of data the New Horizons spacecraft collected during its Pluto flyby in July. The agency also announced that engineers at a facility in New Orleans have welded together the first two segments of the Orion crew module that will be used in a test flight to the far side of the moon in preparation for an eventual manned journey to Mars.
This week’s Pluto Flyby had most people at NASA in a state of giddiness by Tuesday morning, If you happened to be watching, you could see the agency folks sharing their exuberance over NASA TV, its website and all its social media channels. Here at PTJ HQ, we’ve taken a look at NASA’s apps and online presence before, but the missions just keep on coming and the online offerings just keep expanding. So it’s time for an update.
For all your Pluto voyage news, visit the New Horizons mission page, where you’ve got photos, videos, animations, an illustrated diagram of the spacecraft’s instruments and even podcasts. You can also keep up with related tweets from NASA’s many Twitter accounts.
To see what else is going on out in space, visit the main Missions page to check out all the projects NASA has in the works. The Eyes on Pluto desktop app for your Mac or PC shows simulated mission data, and when you get done on Pluto, you can jump to another mission like Dawn or Juno. And it’s free.
And that’s just the main NASA site. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has its own chunk of the Web filled with all kinds of good science-y stuff.
Not sure where to even begin? Call up NASA’s launch schedule and plan accordingly.
As for the New Horizons team, they got even happier Tuesday night because like E.T., the spacecraft phoned home. Check it out at the end of this informative video detailing the mission and its history:
While Apple didn’t announce a new Apple TV model or fancy remote at WWDC, Google added a bunch of content to its Android TV pltform, namely an online store with 600 apps that can be arranged in a sort of program-guide like grid and intermingle with live broadcast channels. Cable TV is growing less and less mandatory…
If anyone out there is a fan if the scary longread, check out the New York Times Magazine’s recent story about the Russian Ministry of Trolls that spends its days spreading hoaxes, rumors and misinformation over social media to raise havoc. The story is called The Agency.
It’s been a rough few weeks for geek fandom and its iconic actors. Harrison Ford continues to recover from this private plane crash last Thursday, which came less than a week after the death of Leonard Nimoy on February 27th. We here at Pop Tech Jam wish Mr. Ford a hyperdrive-quick recovery and send our condolences to Mr. Nimoy’s family.
Now, in hardware news, Samsung’s newly announced Galaxy S6 family of phones has retailers excited. A report in The Korea Times notes that Samsung received 20 million pre-orders for the new phones from wireless carriers and retail stores around the world.
Hillary Clinton held a press conference this week to deal with the controversy surrounding the revelation last week that she was using a private email account to conduct government business during her tenure as Secretary of State. The reason? She said she just wanted to stick with one email account and one device. (Yeah, this flap isn’t closing any time soon.)
In NASA news, the Dawn spacecraft became the first piece of human-made hardware to achieve orbit around a dwarf planet last Friday when the sprightly little probe began to circle Ceres. Go, Dawn, go!
Meanwhile, over on Mars, scientists hope the arm on the Curiosity Rover can get back to work after its built-in drill began to suffer from an intermittent short-circuit problem a few weeks ago. Engineers have been running diagnostic tests while the rover has been parked. Even though Curiosity hasn’t been rolling around the red planet wince late February, it’s still been taking scientific observations from its position and monitoring the Martian weather.
NASA’s other active Mars rover, the 11-year-oldOpportunity, is working its mission to study the Martian terrain and has rolled more than 26 miles on its most recent quest to study unfamiliar rocks. Despite its advanced age, Opportunity is still knocking around and recently got a new version of its software installed remotely from the rover team back on Earth. It’s also scheduled for a little memory reformat in the near future as a maintenance procedure. May all our space explorers — factual and fictional — live on in our hearts and minds.
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