Tag Archives: Nest

PTJ 236: Corporate Spies

On this week’s show. El Kaiser and J.D. discuss Google and Twitter’s current wave of privacy-policy changes and data-sharing with advertisers (all taking place before Facebook’s latest flap). Also in the news this week: patent trolls, resolution motion-sensor camera, Russian hackers actually hacking Russians and Iris, the data-sniffing dog. Buffer up and have a listen to Episode 236 of Pop Tech Jam!

Links to Stories in This Week’s Episode

PTJ 154 News: Salad Days

Google isn’t taking much of a summer vacation and instead, set up a whole new corporate operating structure this week.  In a blog post on the company site, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin announced a new business entity called Alphabet that will now oversee  a collection of companies underneath it, including Google. Other members of Alphabet include Nest and Google Fiber. The new structure is said to give all the companies more room to grow and embody the Google Philosophy. However, there was one little glitch with setting up the new mega-company: German automaker BMW actually owns the trademark and domain of the now-overloaded alphabet.com.  Google has abc.xyz instead, and a cheeky little Silicon Valley joke in the mix, too.

Verizon Wireless is also changing things up. Following in the steps of T-Mobile, Verizon announced late last week that it was getting rid of that whole two-year contract commitment when you buy a new cellphone and has new service plans outlined in the Verizon press release “Simplified Data Choices Match Customer Lifestyles.”  If you blow past your monthly allowance, that’ll cost you $15 per gigabyte. (On that note, Snapchat has introduced a new Travel Mode in its Android and iOS apps that stops automatic Snaps, Stories and Discovery updates on cellular connections unless the user requests it to help save data-plan bytes.)

stopA new report by Adobe and PageFair estimates that ad-blocking software will cause a $22 billion dollar loss of revenue for advertisers this year, and that could affect jobs. Advertisers worry that ad-squashing software is even starting to stifle those expensive video ads everyone’s rolling out. Many users counter those arguments by pointing out that online ads can stalk and collect data on the user, hog bandwidth and are often infected with malware. So that’s why they use software like Adblock Plus — and will do so on mobile platforms as more blocker apps arrive.

Speaking of blocking, the Internet Watch Foundation is stepping up the fight against images of child pornography online. By using hashes, also known as digital fingerprints of specific images, and compiling these hashes into a lengthy list for sites and service providers, the group hopes to prevent uploading or speed up the takedown of the illegal content.

The Internet of Things is gaining ground and a world of automated appliances and household systems looms, but the Online Trust Alliance is trying to stop it all from turning into Skynet: The Home Edition. The OTA group has proposed a set of privacy and security standards for smart devices, and released a draft of its Internet of Things Trust Framework this week.  For those who like to participate, there’s a call for public comments on the document.

Meanwhile, up in space, the crew on the International Space Station got together, harvested and ate lettuce actually grown on the station. It’s all part of NASA’s research on fresh food grown in microgravity. If we’re sending humans to Mars, after all, we’re gonna need to pack some sustainable food resources.

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While most of the crew was enjoying delicious space salad, two cosmonauts from the Russian Federation Space Agency went on a five-hour spacewalk to install new equipment, clean the windows and inspect the exterior of the station.

Mozilla has released Firefox version 40 with a new look for Windows 10 and more built-on security to guard against rogue third-party browser add-ons. Mozilla also seemed to be settling a score with Microsoft for setting its own Edge browser as the default in the Windows 10 express setup. Cortana searches in the new version of Firefox don’t have to use Microsoft’s Bing browser.

Since it’s mid-August,  the Applesauce rumor mill is beginning to grind faster ahead of the traditional September Apple Product Announcement and Media Lovefest. The 9to5Mac is among those guessing that the event will be on Wednesday, September 9th. The blogs are expecting Apple to reveal this year’s iPhone model with Force Touch feedback, iOS 9 and a new iOS-based Apple TV. The mythical, larger 12.9-inch iPad has also been rumored for fall.

And finally, Facebook just published a study about how the world expresses laughter online and found that the once-dominant chatroom standard LOL has become passé, giving way to chortling emojis, hehe and  hahaNelson Muntz, your time is now.

PTJ 121 News: The Hit List

The continuing saga of the Massive Sony Hack keeps churning. Earlier this week, Sony’s lawyers were telling media organizations to quit reporting on the content of the leaked data, saying the material is confidential information. Meanwhile, the Guardians of Peace hacking group has threatened theaters that show the film, even going so far as to reference the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US. (The FBI is working on the case. ) As a result, Sony has now canceled the film’s December 25th theatrical release.

scalesIn other legal news, Sony is also getting sued by two former employees who claim the corporate IT department knew the company network was vulnerable and did nothing to shore it up, leading to the lost of personal data. And a jury in California found Apple not guilty in that antitrust lawsuit that claimed Apple was erasing music from competing online music stores from iPods that were sold between 2006 and 2009. Lack of  plaintiffs probably didn’t help the case.

While they may be foes in the marketplace, Apple, Verizon, Amazon, HP and other companies are rallying around Microsoft in a legal battle with the US government over data privacy. As reported on a Microsoft blog, ten “friend of the court” briefs were filed and signed by 28 leading technology and media companies, 35 leading computer scientists, and 23 trade associations and advocacy organizations. The briefs have been filed regarding the case about the government’s search warrant for customer data stored on servers in Ireland — and Microsoft not wanting to turn it over.

If you happen to be a T-Mobile user here in New York City, fasten your seatbelts. The company announced this week that it had flipped the switch on its new Wideband LTE service that gives a 50 percent boost in network speeds.  T-Mobile also announced it was going to allow its customers to rollover unused megabytes from their monthly service plans into a Data Stash for later use.

nesthermDispatches from Updateville: Foursquare has released a version of its mobile app just for the iPad. The new app will have an emphasis on vacation planning. The Wall Street Journal and others are reporting that Google is considering adding its own Buy Now button and a two-day shipping service so customers don’t have to go to a whole another page to complete the transaction. And if you have one of those Nest thermostats, you can now control it from your phone with the Google app for Android and iOS.

Just in case we didn’t have enough options, Bose Electronics might be getting into the streaming music business. According to the Hypebot blog, Bose currently has an ad seeking “a Senior User Experience Designer to work on prototyping Bose’s next generation streaming music platform and ecosystem of products.” Well, now.

skypetranslateFrom the translation circuit in the TARDIS to the Babel Fish of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy to the Universal Translator of the Star Trek universe, the ability to instantly understand people speaking in different languages has been a popular element of science fiction, but Microsoft is working to make it be more of a reality. The company showed off a preview of its new Skype Translator this week. Microsoft is signing up volunteers for the preview program on the Skype site.  (Microsoft has also expanded the preview program for its new mobile app called Sway. )

Those of you with the Amazon Fire TV, HBO GO is coming your way — unless you get cable service from Comcast or Charter, which do not appear to be participating in the deal, so no GO for you.

aolcdThe Washington Post has a story up this week about the most popular websites every year since 1996.  Remember online life in 1996? There were only about 100,000 websites out there and Google.com hadn’t even been invented yet. People were getting online with their 28.8K or 33.6K dial-up modems, which meant we never complained about not being able to get FiOS because it didn’t exist yet.

And finally, speaking of Google, the company has published its annual Year in Search list with the Global Top Trending Searches of 2014:

The Massive Sony Hack didn’t crack the top ten here. But hey, with the way things are going for the company, there’s always next year.

PTJ 101 News: Song of Dice and Ire

openThis past Tuesday was supposed to be the end of the first-round public comment period for the proposed Net Neutrality (or Open Internet) rules but forth by the Federal Communications Commission. Due to an overwhelming volume of people trying to deposit their $0.2, however, the FCC has now extended the initial round of comments until Friday, July 18th, at midnight. [Quick! To the Rantmobile!] The FCC’s website even has a chart showing the huge flurry of messages coming in through the site’s Electronic Comment Filing System on this particular topic. In addition to mere mortals, several large tech companies  have stated their support for an open internet and thirteen US senators also called on the FCC to support net neutrality. A decision could come in September, after the next round of comments.

The FCC is also hearing it from the DISH network, which has formally asked the agency to block the pending Comcast-Time Warner merger due to serious competitive concerns. (By the way, the FCC just picked its panel last week to review that looming deal.) DISH also doesn’t like the proposed AT&T and DirecTV merger, but the company should be celebrating the recent court ruling in favor of its Hopper DVRs.

Adding to the alphabet soup: the FAA and the FTC: A few weeks ago, the Federal Aviation Administration said it wasn’t authorizing drones for commercial use, but Amazon is persisting. Last week, the megamoo überstore filed an official request to the administrator of the FAA to ask for an official exemption from the No Commercial Drones rule.  In other Amazon news, the battle with publishers over ebook pricing drags on and oh, by the way, the Federal Trade Commission just sued the company for improperly billing parents for in-app purchases made by their children.

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If the rumors are to be believed, the iPhone 6 will come on two sizes, (a 4.7-inch and a 5.5-inch screen model) but are whispers from analysts that the 5.5-phablet-size version will be delayed due to complications with components and the manufacturing process.  So if you want to buy the thing that doesn’t offically exist yet, you may have to wait a little longer.

Microsoft, which is starting to but cloud and mobile moves of its own, has plans for a $199 Windows laptop from HP in time for the holiday season, as well as similar low-cost laptops from Acer and Toshiba for about $249. Take that, Google Chromebooks.

After a month of drama, diving and oh, fútbol, the 2014 World Cup wrapped up in Brazil this past weekend as Germany won the large gold trophy. Along with setting new records for global television viewership, the tournament was also the biggest streaming multimedia video event in history. The Spanish-language channel Univision Deportes got 81 million total viewers for the tournament and was up 34% in viewership from the 2010 World Cup.

Also up in recent numbers — album sales on vinyl. Nielsen Soundscan’s mid-year report shows the once-dominate format for audio recordings has clawed its way back to 4 million units from near-extinction at the hand of CDs and digital downloads .

In robot news, the folks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working on phase-changing material made from wax and foam that could allow robots to become “squishy” or shift between hard and soft states. These robots are intended for good works.

supermoonNow, if you missed the supermoon on July 12th, there’s another one on August 10th, and some are calling it the superdupermoon because it will be even brighter and larger than the previous mere supermoon. August 10th will see the moon’s perigree coincide with the hour that the moon itself is most full. There will also be a supermoon hat-trick this year, with another (but dimmer) one occurring on September 9th.
Mark your calendars.

The frostiness between Samsung and Google is probably going to get a little more polar vortex-y as Samsung has opened its own Android app store that its users can shop instead of Google Play. The new store is called Galaxy Apps and claims hundreds of exclusive programs just for Samsung shoppers.

Samsung is also working with Google’s Nest division on their own Internet of Things standards club called Thread Group.  They are not alone.

And finally, Dungeons & Dragons is not just a role-playing game, it’s a skill-builder for writers and programmers. As The New York Times reported earlier this week, several renowned authors like Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Junot Díaz, Sherman Alexie, Sharyn McCrumb and yes, George R.R. Martin were all influenced by the game and said it helped with their development as writers. D&D’s ability to teach players creativity, narrative and problem-solving skills is nothing new. In his 1998 Gen X memoir, Extra Life: Coming of Age in Cyberspace, author Davis S. Bennahum said the complexity of the game even got him into computer programming. Perhaps there’s hope for the younger generation today, who have grown bored with repetitive casual games. Wizards of the Coast just released a Dungeons & Dragons Starter Kit for $20 this week.  Get rolling!

PTJ 99: Bluetooth Audio, Flickr Tips, and Tons of Google News

El Kaiser reviews Logitech’s $40 Bluetooth Audio Adapter. The device allows you to play audio from smartphone or tablet through your home stereo or powered speakers.

Logitech_Bluetooth_Audio_Adapter

Of course he (not so) secretly pines for the $250 rBlink wireless DAC from Arcam which promises superior sound quality and rock solid Bluetooth pairing to mobile devices.

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If you use Flicker and are looking to reorder your snapshots J.D. shares a Hopefully Helpful Hint that will show you how.

Lots of Google news this week as the Big G kicked off its annual I/O developers conference in San Francisco by announcing a new version of Android. Google takes another swing at the living room with Android TV and releases a new software update to the Chromecast streaming dongle.  Their recent acquisition Nest, maker of Internet-connected smart-home thermostats and fire alarms, has opened its platform to outside developers and buys security firm Dropcam. The search and advertising behemoth experiments with its own domain registration service.

In other news, Yahoo releases a replacement app launcher for Android.  Dating sites get hit on hard by phishing scam; Cloud storage prices drop; both houses of Congress hold hearings about proposed merger between AT&T and DirecTV; the Supreme Court rules against Aereo, a service that allows subscribers to view live and time-shifted streams of over-the-air television on Internet-connected devices, in th the Internet company’s battle with broadcast networks; and finally Google, the Girl Scouts, the MIT Media Lab, TechCrunch, the National Center for Women & Technology and others launch the “Made with Code” website.

 

PTJ 99 News: Gonna Party Like It’s Episode 99

mdGoogle’s I/O Conference is happening at the Moscone Center out in beautiful downtown San Francisco this week. As happens at these Big Dev Lovefests, major announcements are made. Among other things, Google previewed its upcoming “Android L” release, which is said to be the biggest update to the mobile operating system yet. “Android L” features 5,000 new APIs for developers and plenty of interface changes for users with the “Material Design” approach that is supposed to add subtle depth and perspective to elements in screen. And after Google TV flopped, the company is taking another swing at the living room with Android TV — which like other streamers from companies with big content ecosystems, ties your phone and tablet to the television more tightly.

The Chromecast dongle, Google’s low-end entry into streaming, also got an update. Developers also got previews of Android Wear, the version of the system for wearables like watches and Android Auto, for the connected dashboard in your motor vehicle.

In other Google News, its newly acquired Nest company, maker of Internet-connected smart-home thermostats and fire alarms, has opened its platform to outside developers and also bought the security firm Dropcam for a reported $555 million dollars. Dropcam makes WiFi enabled video cameras with night vision, microphones and zoom capabilities. (This is not scary, right?) Google is also experimenting with its own domain registration service. It’s called Google Domains, but it’s still in the early-beta invite-only stage. And good news for the Google Play store — in the past year, quarterly revenue from its app sales has more than doubled, thanks to games and free apps that offer paid in-app upgrades.

aviateBut it’s not all Google this week. Yahoo, which has been trying to get attention for its editorial content lately, has a new software product out now in the Google Play store. The app is called Yahoo Aviate, and it’s a simplified replacement app launcher for Android. Aviate basically takes the concept of Google Now — useful little chunks of information displayed on your home screen — and displays them when it thinks you’ll need them, roughly linking your info to the time of day.

Over in Apple Land, a code explorer poking around the beta version of the iOS 8 software claims to found an unpublicized  “City Tours” feature buried in the Apple Maps app. Samples of the feature are on the 9to5Mac site.

Match.com, eHarmony, PlentyOfFish, Christian Mingle and other dating websites are getting hit on hard by phishing scams. Netcraft, an Internet monitoring company, has detailed the attacks, in which hundreds of fraudulent PHP scripts out there stealing user names and passwords to compromise paid accounts. What can you do with a stolen dating-site subscription? For one: dating fraud.

Cloud storage prices are coming down, with users getting more space for less money. Microsoft has added a bonus 8 gigabytes to the 7 gigs OneDrive customers already get for free, making it a total of 15 gigs of server space. Office 365 subscribers using the OneDrive for Business option will soon be going from 25 gigs to 1 terabyte of space. Microsoft, known for its Windows Phone line, just launched its first Android smartphone. It’s the Nokia X2 and it is running a modified version of Android that kind of makes it look like…Windows Phone.

Both houses of Congress held hearings about the proposed merger between AT&T and DirecTV this week as part of their anti-trust investigations.  C-SPAN streamed the hearings, for those who had an interest or insomnia.

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About that other major merger: the Comcast-Time Warner deal, the merger could also be affected by an FCC report on Internet broadband speeds. The report found that DSL was lagging behind fiber optic and cable, so how much choice do consumers actually have out there? This sort of puts a dent in one of Comcast and Time Warner’s big arguments for merging.

In related news, the Washington Post recently had an interesting piece about how the state of New York could but a big dent in that deal if it decides it’s not a good thing for the people of the Empire State. Because New York has its own cable franchise laws in place, it could block the merger from happening within state boundaries.  Governor Andrew Cuomo has his own investigation underway.

Governors aren’t the only ones weighing in on fairness, competition and Net Neutrality. The mayors of several major cities at the US Conference of Mayors have adopted a resolution, which calls on the FCC “to enshrine the values of what is commonly referred to as net neutrality.”

pigThe Supreme Court has handed down its ruling in that case of Every Major National TV Broadcaster v. Aereo, the feisty startup with the teeny-tiny antennas. Bad news for Aereo – the Supremes ruled 6 to 3 that the company’s retransmission of signals without paying a fee to the broadcasters does violate the Copyright Act. Aereo’s chief executive has said before that losing this case pretty much ends it for the company.

Also in regulatory news, The German Publishers and Booksellers Association has submitted a complaint against Amazon to the country’s anti-trust author. And one more bummer for Amazon — the Federal Aviation Administration has ruled that the company cannot use drones for package delivery, at least for the immediate future. Policies do change with the times, however.

And finally, one last word on Google — but it’s not about I/O, acquisitions or product news. Last week, the Big G teamed up with the Girl Scouts, the MIT Media Lab, TechCrunch, the National Center for Women & Technology and others to launch the “Made with Code” initiative. As one might guess from the name, “Made With Code” is designed to get girls interested in coding, or as it’s called these days, the new literacy.

You go, girls. Future coders can find plenty of free instruction on the web. In fact, we talked about this back on Episode 20 and here’s our own Pop Tech Jam roundup of free instructional sites. Summer’s here and it’s time to work on your monitor tan!

PTJ 79: Welcome to Kaiser Town

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these podcasters from sharing their hi-jinks and shenanigans! Well, actually gloom of night might give us pause… This week J.D. gives us some helpful hints on how to prevent our children from making unapproved in-app purchases and Pedro tells us what apps to use to navigate and experience NYC like a native. In the news, Verizon buys Intel Media’s OnCue Internet-based television service; the Internet of Things gets hacked; the video game console war rages on; Hewlett-Packard brings back Windows 7; Samsung Galaxy S5 rumor mill picks up the pace; a comet chasing spacecraft wakes from a long nap; and The New Yorker magazine reminds us that there is still nothing quite like the power and reach of live over-the-air radio.

PTJ 79 News: And Now an Update From the Hoth Bureau

A deep winter chill may have settled over a large part of the country this week, but things are heating up in the streaming-TV business. Still on a roll from last week, Verizon has now reached out and purchased Intel Media’s OnCue Internet-based television service for an undisclosed sum. OnCue, which is still under development, includes a traditional bundle of TV channels, but delivered over the Internet instead of by coaxial or fiber-optic cable. Especially since a recent survey from the research firm NPD Group found that US households that subscribe to premium cable channels dropped six percentage points from March 2012 to August 2013. In that same period, homes that signed up for Internet video-on-demand subscription services rose four percentage points. (The study can’t scientifically show cause-and-effect, but still, ya gotta wonder…)

According to the security firm Proofprint, the Internet of Things has been hacked. (Didn’t take long now, did it?) Researchers for Proofprint report that along with hacked laptops and tablets, more than 100,000 smart, Internet-connected appliances like multimedia set-top boxes, game consoles, routers, television sets and even a refrigerator were compromised by intruders, looped into a botnet and used to send out more than 750,000 malicious email messages. (Keep in mind, though, that the company making this discovery did have a dedicated interest in putting out a press release on the incident as quickly as possible.)

Google’s recent acquisition of Nest, the maker of Internet-connected thermostats and smoke alarms has some people worried about their personal information being passed around. However, in a Q&A on the Nest site, the company says it takes privacy very seriously and states, “Our privacy policy clearly limits the use of customer information to providing and improving Nest’s products and services.” Nest CEO Tony Fadell repeated the company’s vow at a conference in Germany last week, although when a CNNMoney correspondent asked him if she’d start seeing Google ads for sweaters if her Nest thermostat knew she was cold all the time, he said he’d let her know if the Nest policy would change.

The console wars, which escalated late last year with the arrival of both the Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, rages on, but Sony appears to have the upper hand. But while Sony and Microsoft slug it out, Nintendo is not doing so well in hardware sales. A reported profit loss and disappointing sales figures for its Wii U console have sent its stock price down and some analysts are saying the company should get out of hardware and stick to software and game development.

Google has booted two browser extensions out of its Chrome store for violating the company’s terms of service. The “Add to Feedly” and “Tweet This Page” extensions got kicked to the curb when it was discovered that code for serving up ads when browsing websites had been quietly added in an update. And Windows 8 continues to get dissed, now even by at least one major OEM. HP has been touting new machines running Windows 7 on its home page, as part of a “back by popular demand” sales campaign. The company has pushed several desktop and laptop models with Windows 7 preinstalled to the spotlight, while keeping Windows 8 in the background.

Microsoft, however, is still fighting for Windows 8 acceptance and has published a new, free how-to guide to the system called “The Windows 8.1 Power User Guide for Business”. Run, don’t walk to get your copy, folks.

Photos purporting to be the new Samsung Galaxy S5 are leaking out online, and those who have seen the new user interface describe it as “looking like an attractive Google Now.” While officially unconfirmed by Samsung at the moment, most expect the schmancy new phone and UI to make a splash at next month’s Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona.

Meanwhile, out in space, NASA reports that the Rosetta spacecraft woke up from a 957-day hibernation on January 20th and is getting back to work on its mission of chasing Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The Rosetta project, which began back in 1993, is actually a mission of the European Space Agency, but scientists from NASA contributed three of the 25 scientific instruments the spacecraft will use to monitor the roaming comet.

SonyRadioAnd finally, while the consumer world is all abuzz with streaming online radio stations, high-fidelity equipment, satellite receivers and other high-end gear, The New Yorker has an insightful article online right now about the humble analog pocket AM/FM radio, specifically the Sony SRF-39FP. While broadcast radio may seem like a quaint notion from yesteryear, the article is another reminder that there’s nothing quite like the power and reach of live over-the-air radio. And it’s still one of those few entertainment activities you can even do when your Internet connection is down. Imagine that.

PTJ 78: The Case of the Missing Kaisercoins

Series 3 of the BBC’s “Sherlock” finally makes its debut on PBS stations across the United States but if you can’t get enough of the deerstalker hat wearing detective, J.D. fills us in on other ways to get our Sherlock fix. Pedro deals with the disappointment of not having any cryptocurrency named in his honor by telling us what he knows about digital money.  In the news,  the U.S . Court of Appeals strikes down F.C.C. net neutrality rules; hackers mark the one-year anniversary of the death of programmer and digital-rights activist Aaron Swartz; Winamp will whip more llama ass; Google goes shopping; Snapchat continues to deal with its growing pains; and the bells begin to toll for Microsoft’s Windows 8.

PTJ 78 News: Whacks and Hacks

The year’s not even three weeks old and plenty of change is in the air. Earlier this week, the US Court of Appeals bounced the net neutrality’s rules put forth by the Federal Communications Commission. This gave Verizon Communications a legal victory over potential restrictions that would have made the company treat all traffic over its broadband lines equally. Continue reading PTJ 78 News: Whacks and Hacks