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.
Windows 8 and its new Surface tablets hit stores at the end of this week and they have at least one major fan – former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. In a busy week, Microsoft updated the Xbox 360 with new features, including Web browsing on the TV with Internet Explorer on the Xbox and voice search through the Kinect controller. The company also put its new Office Web apps on its SkyDrive cloud service and Outlook.com. The Office Web Apps allow users to share and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files in a Web browser.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note II big phone/little tablet arrived this week, as T-Mobile stores received their shipments and AT&T getting them on November 9th. Sprint, which has been added to the cellular carrier list for the iPad, continues to build up its 4G LTE network around the country.
After months of rampant speculation and rumors (garbled at times or otherwise), Apple announced a bunch of stuff this week, including a new Mac Mini, updated iMacs, a 13-inch Retina display MacBook Pro, and oh yeah, new iPads maxi and mini. (Should they just rebrand the iPod Touch the iPad Micro at this point?) Also, word has it that Apple is testing an update to iOS 6 that’s supposed to fix several issues with the software on the current crop of iOS hardware.
One of Amazon’s cloud computing data centers had a little power outage this past Monday, so if you were trying to use the Foursquare, Pinterest, Reddit or TMZ sites and couldn’t, that was probably why. Amazon Web Services was restored later, but not before several people complained on Twitter. And BlackBerry also had some woes, as a prominent Federal agency has decided to end its contract Research in Motion and issue Apple’s iPhones to its employees. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency liked the iPhone’s tighter controls over hardware and software compared to other mobile platforms out there.
Android had more security woes this week as researchers tested 13, 500 popular apps in Google’s Play store and found that 8% failed to protect bank account and social media logins. (Yes, data is worth money in many ways, and an executive at IBM has even called Big Data one of our most valuable emerging natural resources.) Another government agency had news this week as well — the Federal Trade Commission, released its official Best Practices document for companies using facial recognition technology.
And finally, PopCap Games, maker of the addictive Plants vs. Zombies videogame, is teaming up with the American Dental Association to promote good oral hygiene in this candy-laden time of the year. PopCap is making coupons for free downloads of Plants vs. Zombies available for parents to dispense to trick-or-treating children as a healthier alternative to candy. Check it out here, and be sure to brush after those Halloween treats you do score next week.
J.D. and Pedro parse out Apple’s iPad Mini announcement; non-partisan voter guide websites; a review of Apple’s new iPod Touch; Microsoft’s huge week; Samsung debuts a new “phablet”; Amazon Web Services go down again plus much, much more.
This week Pedro frets over his online privacy and J.D. fills us in on how to put old media players to good use. In the news the Tablet Wars of 2012 continue, European regulators take Google to the woodshed, and Facebook adds to their antivirus toolbox.
In a Hopefully Helpful Hint segment J.D. takes a look at some inexpensive websites that will show you how to become a programmer. In the news Google pushes for quality Android tablet apps; a new rumor making the rounds claims the aforementioned Google and Apple nemesis Samsung are teaming up to develop a Nexus branded 10″ tablet; and tech giants band together to create the Web Platform Docs project, a new community-driven site for web developer documentation.
J.D. channels her inner-superhero and gives us the lowdown on comic book tablet apps while Pedro gets into the groove with Android music players. In the news, Google passes Microsoft to become the second biggest technology company in the world; Facebook tries to calm privacy concerns; and the White House thwarts a cyber attack.
Google has passed Microsoft to become the world’s second-largest technology company, which was not the only bummer for the gang from Redmond this week. The analytics firm Net Applications put out some numbers this week that showed that with Windows 8 due at the end of the month, users are five times less likely to be running the brand new operating system than they were when everyone was counting down to the arrival of the Windows 7 system back in 2009.
Facebook is trying to head off another user meltdown over its privacy practices when it comes to advertisers. In a post on the company blog, Joey Tyson, Facebook’s privacy engineer, explained a bit more about its new efforts and deal with the Datalogix company for user data. At least the allegations of people’s private Facebook messages showing up in public Timelimes seem to be false.
Also false: the promise that Motorola Atrix 4G smartphone owners would get the Android 4.0 update. Sorry Atrix 4G owners, no Ice Cream Sammich update for you. But while Google plows ahead with Android development for newer phones, its Chrome desktop browser has not been able overtake Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox in worldwide browser share.
After all the hoo-hah of the iPhone 5 release, Apple ended September in a more subdued manner. Chief Exec Tim Cook issued a written apology last week for the sad state of the Apple Maps app in iOS 6 and Ping — its largely ignored social network for music lovers — closed its doors for good this week. Rumors of the rumored announcement for the rumored iPad Mini may lift the mood though, as some sites are whispering that Apple may be sending out invitations next week for the rumored event.
Still, Apple is probably not happy that a U.S. court lifted the ban on sales of Samsung’s Galaxy 10.1 tablet here in the States or that Samsung has now added the iPhone 5 to its own patent suit against Apple. All of these patent punch-outs are heating up as more people take the plunge and buy a tablet computer. Studies from the Pew Research Center report that 25% of all adults in the US have a tablet computer. (If you just got a tablet and your kid is all over it, you might want to know that Netflix has added a Just for Kids section to its streaming video app for the iPad.)
Meanwhile, scientists continue to study nature for better ways to construct artificial systems. While Stanford University is looking at ants for networking tips, researchers from the English Universities of Sheffield and Sussex are working on a project that studies bees. They plan to use collected information about bee brains and sensory systems to create neural models for a simulated bee brain in a flying robot. A flying robot with embedded bee wisdom can hopefully navigate better and make its own basic decisions up in the air on search-and-rescue missions and other peaceful activities.
And finally, this weekend marks the 60th Anniversary of the humble barcode. The invention made inventory tracking easier, sped up checkouts at the grocery store and led to more modern day versions like Mobi Tags and QR Codes. All together now, “Yes, we SCAN!”
Microsoft is having a busy fall with new Windows Phones, the Surface tablet, a colorful overhaul of the flagship operating system. But wait, there’s more: a new security hole in Internet Explorer, versions 6 through 9. If you don’t feel like trying the suggested workarounds, there’s another option a few people have pointed out: Ditch IE.
Meanwhile, over in Applestan, the iPhone 5 broke a pre-order sales record and Twitter redesigned its iPad app ahead of the iOS 6 release on Wednesday. Open Internet and public-interest groups are complaining to the FCC about AT&T’s plan to make users switch its mobile-sharing plan to use Apple’s FaceTime videochat service over a cellular connection. Also complaining: Samsung, which continues to keep up the defense in its legal war with Apple over patents, pointing out on its company blog that the iPhone 4 sure looks like some of their old MP3 players.
The iPhone 5 wasn’t the only geek goodie flush with preorders this week — the first batch of Nintendo Wii U consoles is reportedly sold out in many places long before the system’s November 18th release. (No word on when preorders might be available for the bling-laden Hasselblad Lunar camera announced this week, but since it’s not due out until February, frugal photographers pining for a 24-megapixel camera with a sculpted wood handgrip have a few months to pinch together 650,000 pennies for it.)
While the Lunar camera is quite a luxury, if you want to talk big pixels in space, the Dark Energy Camera wins — with 570 megapixels and a mission to photograph 8 billion-year-old rays of light finally reaching Earth from distant galaxies. (Hopefully, all this intergalactic travel will get a speed bump if the physicists can get warp drive figured out.)
So we’re waiting around for that, an Android version of the Snapseed photo-editing app now that Google has bought Nik Software, and a Firefly reunion (besides the panel at the Comic-Con panel last summer). While we’re cooling it, we can always kill some time poking around the Internet Archive, which just announced its new collection of 350,000 broadcast news programs that cover the past three years of events. If you like TV news, check it out. Even if a massive video record of world events since 2009 isn’t your cup of tea, the Archive holds millions of other bits of history and has been dubbed “Alexandria 2.0” by Wired magazine. And you don’t have to be quiet in this library.
The Fall TV season is here and J.D. helps us use our mobile devices to look for what to watch plus Pedro has a new Tech Term. In the news, a new security vulnerability affects almost all IE browsers; blinged out cameras; the world’s most powerful camera; and warp drives may make the leap from science-fiction to science-fact.
The lowdown on Apple’s Podcasts and iTunes U apps and a 60 second review The Dark Knight Rises. In the news this week Microsoft’s Windows Upgrade Offer site is now taking registrations; the Windows Phone platform may slip past BlackBerry in U.S.; and prepare yourself for possible smishing attacks on your iPhone. Your hosts are J.D. Biersdorfer and Pedro Rafael Rosado.