Tag Archives: Nintendo

PTJ 252: Naughty Bunnies

It’s nature gone wild: The Bad Rabbit ransomware is having a mad hop through corporate networks around the world and rubber fish are lip-syncing Amazon’s Alexa. Meanwhile, Google wants to secure your account with actual keys and Amazon wants to pop the lock on your front door for package delivery. Spin up Episode 252 to get the details from El Kaiser and J.D., plus some tips for jumping smartphone platforms if you’ve decided to leave Apple for Google — or vice versa.

And don’t forget: Stranger Things 2 is now streaming on Netflix!

Links to Stories Discussed on This Week’s Episode

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint

PTJ 235: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Journalist Laura M. Holson is back in the house this week with a discussion of how the cosmetics superstore Sephora is using technology and social interaction to sell beauty products. On the opposite side beauty, though, is the ugly — and last week’s massive global ransomware outbreak even got into fugly territory. El Kaiser and J.D. discuss the attack and the other notable news bits of recent days in this jam-packed episode of Pop Tech Jam.

Links to Stories Mentioned on This Week’s Show

PTJ 150 News: Sorting It Out

Apple released an update to iTunes this week that’s intended to correct the “scrambled library syndrome” that afflicted some users after updating to iTunes 12.2. As described by a writer over at Macworld, the iCloud Music Library feature was completely “screwed up.”  While the damage was contained mainly to iTunes, it’s yet another instance of Apple pushing out buggy, untested software updates on its users. The iTunes 12.2.1 update is intended to correct these issues, but as the 9to5Mac site points out, be very careful when you’re going through your music library removing tracks that got infused with the copy locks so you don’t delete the unrestricted versions. Apple has a support document that tries to help.

justicedApple accused Amazon of getting the Department of Justice to do its bidding on e-book price fixing a few years ago, a case that Apple recently lost on appeal to the tune of $450 million dollars. But what comes around, goes around. This week, several publishing groups, including The Authors Guild, the American Booksellers Association, the Association of Authors’ Representatives and Authors United, sent letters to the Department of Justice asking officials to investigate Amazon in antitrust violations.  Amazon’s lawyers should be warmed up, as antitrust regulators in the European Union are already investigating the company.

Turmoil at the Reddit site continues to grow, as the firing of popular employee Victoria Taylor earlier in the month led to a user uprising, lots of misogyny and then the resignation of chief executive Ellen Pao. If that wasn’t enough of the drama llama, Reddit’s former CEO Yishan Wong came out with a post this past weekend that pinned Taylor’s firing on the site’s co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who let Pao take the heat for it. Reddit’s chief engineer Bethanye Blout also quit her job this week, saying she’d lost confidence in the company’s direction. Ohanian’s fellow co-founder Steve Huffman is now in the CEO chair.

gigabitproComcast’s leapfrog over Google Fiber in the speed department is big — and comes with a big price tag. The company’s Gigabit Pro service, which promises 2- gigabits per second of blazing download speed compared to Google Fiber’s 1-gigabit per second, will cost $300 a month. (If you sign on for a two-year contract, though, you can get it for the promotional rate of $159 per month, however.) But that’s not all. Fine print on the Comcast site says installation may take up to 6 to 8 weeks, and then come the installation and activation fees, which could be up to $500 each. Speed also kills your wallet, too.

Even if you have regular Comcast Internet service, though, the company is thinking up ways for you to give it more of your money — like with its new Comcast Stream service, announced this week.  For $15 a month, Comcast is promising a bundle of broadcast TV channels plus HBO and some on-demand movies, along with a cloud-based DVR. This would all be viewable on your computer or mobile devices, but as Wired points out, there is a catch — you actually have to be home using your Comcast Internet service to use Stream and only two devices at a time can use it simultaneously.  You also need to live in a Comcast Internet service area. The service is due out later this year starting in Boston, Seattle and Chicago.

flashAlso in the hot seat this week: Adobe Flash. Facebook’s security chief Alex Stamos issued a tweet earlier this week saying that it was time for Adobe to announce the end-of-life date for the security-addled multimedia software. Mr. Stamos’s death wish for Flash came after yet another security patch and warnings about other vulnerabilities just in the past week or so. Citing security concerns, Mozilla is also now blocking the all versions of Flash plugin in the current version of Firefox.

The end of the month is drawing closer, which means Microsoft is getting ready to go all out for its Windows 10 launch on July 29. (Worried about your software still working if you dare to upgrade? See if your stuff at least works with the Windows 10 Technical Preview over at the Windows Compatibility Center.)

marioAnd finally, gamers around the world are mourning the death of Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. Under his leadership at the company, Nintendo released the DS handheld, the Wii console and interactive toys. Mr. Iwata passed away from a bile duct growth this past weekend at the age of 55 and Nintendo fans took to social media in tribute. We here at Pop Tech Jam send our condolences to his family.

PTJ 134 News: Clicks and Clacks

meerkatThere’s a ton of news coming out of the SXSW conference down in Austin, Texas, this week, including a new smartphone app called Meerkat that lets its users broadcast live video from their smartphones to their Twitter followers. Part of Meerket’s ease of use was that it can tap into a user’s Twitter contacts and get the party started fast. But last Friday, however, Twitter shut down access to its social graph, citing an internal policy. Twitter may have been treating Meerkat like a parasite app, and the fact that the bird-themed microblogging site quickly turned around and announced its January acquisition of Periscope seems a bit calculated. Some worry that Meerkat’s popularity and expansion will take a fatal hit unless it in turn gets bought by Facebook or Google, but the company’s founders vow to press on after all the PR at SXSW.

It’s March Madness again and we expect time-outs on the basketball court, but the Federal Communications Commission has called a time-out and stopped the clock (again) in the 180-day review periods for the pending Comcast/Time Warner Cable and AT&T/DirecTV mergers. This time, the stoppage is due to a pending court decision about the disclosure of video-programming contracts between the service providers and content companies.

HBO’s new standalone streaming service has picked up another distributor along with Apple TV. Cablevision has announced that it, too, will allow subscribers to its Optimum broadband service sign up and stream content from HBO NOW without having to already have an HBO tithe bundled in their TV packages.

NBCBut that’s not all in streaming TV news this week! The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple is talks to create a small, 25-channel bundle of TV networks that could be subscribed to and streamed across the screens of iOS gadgets and connected Apple TV boxes. Apple, of course, Is. Not. Commenting. As reported, the deal could include streams from ABC, CBS, ESPN and Fox. While NBC has been MIA on the ATV, there are reports that The Peacock Network is actually in negotiations with Apple,  too.

Apple is also said to be revamping its trade-in and recycling program for old gear to include smartphones made by other manufacturers. The current program offers Apple Store Gift Cardsfor the value of the Apple product you want to unload so you can upgrade. According to the blog 9to5Mac, Apple Store employees will determine the trade-in value for old Android, Blackberry, WinPhone and other competing handsets and even transfer address-book contacts for new iPhone owners.

Facebook has updated its Community Standards policy and is bringing down the ban-hammer on nudity, with the usual non-porn exceptions like “art.” On the other side of the coin, Google is reversing course on its recent decision on adult content. Instead of outright banning sexual images, Google’s updated policy now says you can post your non-commercial naughty bits as long as you turn on the adult content warning for your blog.

Two notes from YouTube this week: The massive video-sharing site now supports interactive 360 degree videos. YouTube also announced its new YouTube for Artists effort, a resource portal for musicians seeking to get more audience engagement, as well as making money on YouTube through merchandise sales and online fundraising.

googlenowGoogle Now, the helpful-yet-creepy tool that automatically reminds you of things like restaurant reservations and flight times by using information in your Gmail, Google Calendar and other services, could be expanding its powers soon. A Google product manager said this week that the company plans to offer an open API that other companies can build into their own apps. This would move Google Now’s reach from beyond the 40 third-party services it works with already and could, in theory, add Google Now cards for things like line-wait times at theme parks, all while making Cortana and Siri feel like they need to step it up.

Google is also said to be tightening up app submissions in the Google Play Store by having a team of reviewers analyze the programs for developer policy violations before the software gets turned loose in the store. Apps will also be labeled using an age-based ratings system.

Nintendo is trying to get back in the game of games. The company has formed a partnership with DeNA to develop games for mobile gadgets and smart devices.

Microsoft has updated its Malicious Software Removal Tool to zap the controversial and security-exploitable Superfish adware that had been preinstalled by Lenovo on many of its new laptops sold between September 2014 and February 2015. Lenovo has also released its own Superfish Removal Tool and probably feels pretty guilty about the whole thing now.

The Pew Research Center has a new report out that examines how Americans feel about their privacy (or lack thereof) after revelations and leaks from the Department of Edward Snowden. While a majority of the survey respondents are in favor of the US government monitoring communications of suspected terrorists, American leaders and foreign leaders and citizens, there was also a majority that said it was unacceptable for the US government to monitor the communications of its own citizens.

hellobarbieChild privacy advocates are forming petitions and making a ruckus over the new Hello Barbie doll, which is a Wi-Fi capable version of the iconic blonde toy lady. The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood is one of the groups leading the charge against the new doll because it says this $75 Internet-connected Barbie uses a microphone to record children’s voices and then uploads the audio data to servers in the sky. While Mattel says this voice-recognition process is needed to make the doll interactive and respond to the kid, some parents are concerned that the company will be storing and analyzing the child’s conversations with NSA Barbie — or possibly be eavesdropping on the whole family.

And finally, the geek world lost another cherished icon last week with the death of Sir Terry Pratchett, British author of the Discworld series of fantasy novels. In honor of Sir Terry, fans and programmers have come up with a way to keep his name alive on the Internet based on a bit from his 2004 novel Going Postal. In the book, the Clacks, a telegraph-style communications system, was used to keep alive the name of one of the novel’s deceased characters by passing the code GNU John Dearheart endlessly back and forth across the network. So the fanbase came up with GNU Terry Pratchett, a snippet of code that can be added harmlessly to website HTML, mail servers and even WordPress blogs. Because:

GNUTP

Put Your Hands in The Air and Wave Them Like You Just Want to Close an App

This is the scene that sparked my interest in gesture recognition technology. It’s a clip from the mostly forgettable mid-90’s Sci-Fi clunker Johnny Mnemonic adapted from a story by William Gibson. Keanu Reeves plays the title character, a man with a cybernetic brain implant designed to store data, allowing him to act as a courier of information deemed too sensitive to transfer across a souped-up virtual reality version of the Internet dubbed “The Net”.

Here’s a factoid for you: Dolph Lundgren played the villain and was stuck in Direct-to-video Purgatory, not acting in a film with a theatrical release until 2010’s The Expendables. That’s how good it was.

Nevertheless, watching Keanu hacking is way into a Yakuza account by flailing and flapping his hands and wearing totally funky fresh VR goggles absolutely blew me away. You have to understand, the Internet was a relatively new phenomenon back then—AOL ruled the landscape when this film premiered—and virtual reality was strictly a Star Trek: Next Generation plot device.

Over the next decade Hollywood blockbusters Minority Report and the Iron Man series pushed gesture technology even closer to reality by inspiring scientists and programmers who took on the challenge of creating the “spatial operating environments” and “holotables” depicted in the films.

gesture-UI

Gesture recognition is described as interacting with computers by using gestures of the human body, typically hand movements. In gesture technology, a camera reads the movements of the human body and communicates the data to a computer that uses the gestures as input to control devices or applications.

Even onscreen the tech evolved in the few short years between releases. Tony Stark ditched the gloves John Anderton was forced to wear and was able to build his armor with barehanded computing abandon. As fanciful and mind-blowing as the gesture tech appeared on the silver screen, the introduction of gesture recognition tech to those of us living in the real world was more modest.

Hello Nintendo Wii…

The Wii console controllers and Microsoft’s Kinect for the Xbox, introduced gesture tech directly into our living rooms. Now we can all gesticulate and prance about like the narcissistic billionaire arms dealer with a weak heart we were destined to be.

On a related note, Kaisernet Industries is developing its own gesture-based product. The working title is the Palm-Back V but we’re open to suggestions…

PTJ 83: Hard Knocks and Mystery Rocks

El Kaiser reviews a sexy set of headphones from Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer Onkyo and J.D. compares top three set-top streaming boxes from Roku, Apple, and Google. In the news, Comcast and Time-Warner Cable look to merge;  the U.S. look present a bill forcing smartphone carriers to include killswitch on hardware; Samsung Galaxy S5 rumors heat up; Kickstarter gets hacked; Facebook adds 40 more gender options; and NASA solves the mystery of the Martian doughnut rock.

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.

Announcement-palooza!

Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference collided squarely with the Electronic Entertainment Expo this week and as we found out, WWDC + E3 = one cubic buttload of competing product announcements.

At the WWDC keynote speech on Monday, Tim Cook and the Apple corps showed off all kinds of new and forthcoming Apple wares, including OS X Mavericks (10.9), new MacBook Airs, a creatively shaped Mac Pro, iWork in the Cloud, iTunes Radio and a revamped iOS 7. Except for the new MacBook Airs, most of this stuff will officially arrive this fall. Thorough conference-news roundups and beta peeks are here at Macworld, Ars Technica, and Cult of Mac, plus you can read Apple’s press releases on the new hardware and software and even watch a replay of the keynote speech here.

Meanwhile, down at E3Electronic ArtsUbisoft and other game companies also gave fans a sneak peek at upcoming titles. Sony showed off new games and made the faithful happy by revealing the new $399 PlayStation 4 — and announcing that it was not going to charge people to play used games on the console when it arrives this holiday season. (Online multiplayer gaming on the PS4, however, will cost you.)

Microsoft, while showing off its impressive $499 Xbox One hardware (due out in November) and games, had more of a PR problem thanks to new policies on used games and the need for frequent online check-ins to keep the console running. This sort of thing makes many gamers unhappy, perhaps even terribly vexed.

jarbox

Still on the fence between the PS4, Xbox One or even the Nintendo Wii U? Compare the hardware spex. And start saving your money for all the new stuff coming this fall.