Tag Archives: Nokia

PTJ 224: Uncloudy Skies

Mobile World Congress brought in the new and the old this week, Twitter and Facebook are stepping it up to help users in need and Amazon Web Services had a sad day this week. El Kaiser and J.D. discuss it all — and YouTube’s big week of views and cord-cutting measures — on this week’s weatherproof episode of Pop Tech Jam.

Links to Stories in This Week’s News Segment

PTJ 188 News: Medieval Times

It’s felt like a blast from the past lately with all the big players in the airline industry, publishing business and now the telecommunications world merging themselves into near-monopolies. This week, the Department of Justice — with conditions — approved the marriage of Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications. The Consumerist blog took a look at what the merger means and came up with a few salient points to think about.

In less-worrisome TV and video news, the Turner company, the force behind the Turner Classic Movies cable channel, is teaming up with the Criterion Collection folks for a brand new streaming service called Filmstruck. With such a cinephile pedigree, however, it’s doubtful you’ll be able to find newer classics like Paul Blart, Mall Cop in the Filmstruck library.

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Spotify spokespeople have denied the site was hacked this week, but according to TechCrunch, some actual Spotify users have reported that their account emails had been changed or their list of saved songs had been altered. And Forbes is reporting that the personal information from 1.1 million members of the BeautifulPeople.com dating website is up for sale in the dark corners of the web.

Amazon is just not having any paid or fake reviews for products on its site. The übermegaeverything store filed a lawsuit last week against several sites that offered to write glowing reviews in exchange for a fee.

YouTube has overhauled its mobile apps for Android and iOS with a new focused design and improved recommendation engine to keep you watching more videos. The service also rolled out new six-second bumper ads to complement rather than replace the current formats it sells to advertisers and yes, you cannot skip the bumpers.

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Many members of the tech press recently observed the one-year anniversary of the Apple Watch . A few noted that sales for the Watch were actually better than the iPhone’s first year of sales back in the day, some 12 million watches compared to six million phones. While some lamented the fact they every ponied up the bucks for the expensive digital timepiece, others were hopeful that the next generation of the product — which may include its own cellular chip and more functions to separate it from the iPhone — may fare better. Perhaps we’ll see in September.

Apple, of course, refused to comment on any speculation about future products, but the company did have a media moment this week with its quarterly earnings report to investors. Although the company knew it was coming, it did have to report its first quarterly loss since 2003 thanks to shrinking iPhone sales. And in one more Apple note, the FBI says it actually knows so little about how that terrorist iPhone was cracked a few weeks ago that the agency says there shouldn’t be an internal review to decide if it should tell Apple how it was done.

Although Facebook tried a stand-alone camera app a few years ago only to kill it off due to lack of user interest, the company seems to be trying again. Reports describe a prototype for an app that would open to a camera and that users could record video and share live streams as well as snapping photos. The Wall Street Journal does say that its sources have not confirmed this latest go at a camera app is a done deal for Facebook.

photoNokia, which many people forgot still existed after Microsoft bought its phone handset business a few years ago, is still in business. And with that, Finland-based Nokia announced this week that it plans to acquire Withings SA, a company that makes digital health products like blood pressure monitors and wireless gadgets to monitor one’s body.

Speaking of Microsoft, that company pushed out a public preview of its new Skype for Business software for the Mac this week. If you are so inclined (or bored), you can request an invitation from Microsoft to participate in the preview program.

SpaceX, which had a successful landing of one of its reusable rocket boosters the other week, is lining up for another go. The company plans another launch and hopeful landing of a Falcon 9 booster rocket on May 3 to send up a Japanese communications satellite.

And finally, there’s a battle raging at the Unicode Consortium, the organization behind the standards for converting typed characters and pictographs into code that all computers can read. It seems battle lines have been drawn between academics and scholars who want official Unicode characters for things like medieval Cornish punctuation and those who want to create emoji for things like stuffed flatbread sandwiches.

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If you feel strongly about either side of the argument, you can weigh in financially with the Unicode Consortium’s Adopt a Character to sponsor your favorite Unicode character, which in turn helps the non-profit Unicode Consortium continue its work. And perhaps a compromise between the two warring tribes can be reached . . . a proper Cornish pasty emoji, anyone? Anyone?

PTJ 115: We Got Your Disruption Right Here

I’ve never been one to mince words so let me just drop a truth-bomb on all of you fine folk reading this. J.D. and El Kaiser are disruptors. Period. Full stop.  If there’s any doubt, quit dawdling and listen to this episode.

Pedro breaks down Disruptive Innovation in a Tech Term segment and J.D. explains how  you may already have a basic fitness tracker right on your phone.

In the news  Google has plans for a paid version of YouTube; Motorola unveils a new Droid; Verizon Wireless force feeds some users perma-cookies; The Federal Trade Commission has files a complaint against AT&T; Not all retailers are jumping on the Apple Pay bandwagon; HTML5 is finally official; Amazon takes on the Chromecast; And finally, Apple CEO Tim Cook explains why Apple killed off the iPod Classic.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Step by Step

They’re high-tech and very helpful, those wearable fitness trackers. You’ve probably seen them advertised, like those various models from Fitbit or the Nike Fuelband. The devices log your heart rate, steps taken, calories burned and other bio-data — and come in really handy if you’re trying to lose weight or just maintain a healthier lifestyle. (Fitbit even recently came out with a new smartwatch-style wristband, so take that, Apple Watch.)

But what if you like the idea of a dedicated fitness tracker, but you’re on the fence about buying one because but you don’t want to drop $60 or more for a doo-dad that might end up on the junk drawer after two months of increasingly guilt-inducing non-use?

It you have a fairly modern smartphone,  you may already have a basic fitness tracker right there, thanks to the motion chip and other sensors inside. These technobits let the phone double as a pedometer, and may even be able to show you other things like your walking routes on a map or the calories burned during your stroll.

The only thing you need to buy is (maybe) a special app for a couple bucks,  if that much. Granted, your phone may not be as rigidly precise as a dedicated pedometer or other fitness band, but for many people, it’s close enough and the price it right.

moves2So take, for example, Google’s Nexus 5 phone. It’s one of the many phones out there with pedometric capabilities. You just need one of the many fitness apps available in the Google Play store that lets you graphically display the data that your phone’s collecting. The Moves app (free, easy to use and shown here), and one helpfully called Pedometer, are two Android options. You have plenty of programs to choose from, both free and paid – with usually means more features and no ads. fit_prod_2Many other Android phones can also use these types of fitness apps, so do a search for “fitness trackers” and check the Play store description to see if it’s compatible with your device. Also Club Android: the Samsung’s Galaxy S5, (left), which has heart-rate sensor, a pedometer and S Health software for tracking your fitness routine; the Galaxy S4 is also privy to S Health.

msnMany handsets running the Windows Phone software can also measure your steps and record other bio-stats. The Nokia 630 and Nokia 635 models are among them, and you can download the free MSN Health & Fitness app or another program from the Windows Phone store to get tracking. (The app may actually be called “Bing Health & Fitness” these days, as Microsoft’s blog calls it one thing and the Windows Phone website still has it listed as “MSN Health & Fitness.”)

healthAnd then there’s Apple. The new Health software baked into iOS 8 tracks your steps automatically as you carry the phone around and can show you your step-count and stairs climbed on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis. The App Store has a dedicated section for programs that hook specifically into the iOS 8 Health software, as well as a large collection of health apps that work with earlier versions of iOS and older devices. And don’t forget, many later versions of the iPod Nano and iPod Touch work with the Nike + iPod shoe sensor and Nike+ fitness website, and the past several versions of the Nano even had a basic pedometer built right in that doesn’t need any additional gear. And who knows, once you get into the swing of logging your exercise, steps and other info, you may realize that you really want a dedicated fitness-tracking device — or that your phone works just fine for the data you want to collect.

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.

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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 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*

PTJ 91 News: Old Games

Here we go again: Last week, the Federal Communications Commission announced its latest stab at finding constitutional rules for governing the Internet. Critics called the new proposal a “two-tier” system with high-speed fast lanes for those who can pay and slower connections for those who can’t — all decidedly problematic for the concept of net neutrality. In a rebuttal to detractors, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler posted a defense on the FCC’s website. Mr. Wheeler is scheduled to testify in front of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications this month.

The proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal continues to draw its own detractors. Univision exec Randy Falco said the merger of the two cable companies could be “bad for Hispanic audiences” and was a “cause for concern.” Comcast owns NBC Universal, which owns Telemundo, the second-biggest Spanish-language TV network after Univision. Comcast quickly released a statement denying any bad things will happen. As part of its preparations for acquiring Time Warner Cable, Comcast announced a deal with Charter Communications this week too. (The Comcast corporate communications department must be awfully tired these days. )

Netflix announced that it has struck a speed deal with Verizon Communications, not unlike its agreement with You Know Who. By getting direct access to Verizon’s network for a fee, Netflix streams should improve for those customers.

Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s phone business is now complete. The new division is now called Microsoft Mobile, but future devices will likely get a new brand that is called neither Microsoft Mobile nor Nokia. In other Microsoft news, the company just upped its online storage allotment for its OneDrive for Business customers from 25 gigabytes to 1 terabyte. There is currently a standalone version of OneDrive for Business is available as a $5-per-month option with the Office Online Web-based productivity suite.

In hardware news, Apple has upgraded the processor in its lightweight-but-don’t-call-it-a-netbook laptops in the MacBook Air line and knocks $100 off the starting price tags.

Now for the Security portion of this blog post. Microsoft has confirmed a rather gaping vulnerability in all versions of its Internet Explorer browser. The security research firm FireEye found this latest zero-day exploit, which it said could be used with Adobe Flash files to execute remote code. As a result of all this, government computer security teams in the United States, United Kingdom and Sweden have advised users to stop using IE and switch to Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox until Microsoft addresses the issue.

The Apple Developer site recently had its own massive security issue that made the personal information of its members accessible. A white-hat found the issue and contacted the 9to5Mac.com site, which out up an in-depth post on the exploit after Apple filled in that security pothole. That is the correct sequence of events, folks.

One final note of security concern: Wired has a story about how the Heartbleed bug affects the Internet of Things and it’s worth a read if you’re into that Big Picture sort of view.

In an announcement to its investors this week, Yahoo announced its plans for a couple original long-form video programs, plus two new shows with Katie Couric and a new Live Nation channel for streaming concerts. As it did with the technology part of its site, Yahoo has also launched a digital magazine-style version of Yahoo Travel.

AT&T said it plans to launch a high-speed 4G LTE-based in-flight connectivity service for airline passengers for fast broadband in the air. AT&T said its new network could be available as soon as late next year. Hopefully, it will feel faster than dial-up on those long flights. The stock for Gogo, the current big player in inflight Internet, dropped 18 percent after AT&T made its announcement.

The executive behind Google+ is leaving the company, which has at least one tech blog setting the egg timer on Google’s often-forgotten social network. A representative for Google representative has denied the demise of Google+. In brighter news for the company, Google’s self-driving cars have now logged more that 700,00 miles on their own and according to a post on the official Google blog, the auto-autos are mastering the art of city driving, at least around Mountain View, California. A video on the blog shows a Google car navigating a variety of situations without mayhem.

flopsNews from the Land of Obsolete Technology:  60 Minutes found that that part of the computer system responsible for controlling the launch of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles depends on data loaded from 8-inch floppy disks, which most likely makes the storage media older than some of the Air Force personnel working down in the silos. Air Force officials said the system is extremely safe and secure but some upgrades and budget request are on the way.

The Legend of the Landfill turned out to be true. Video archeologists digging in the New Mexico desert found a large festering pile of Atari’s old E.T. cartridge game, just as it had been whispered about for more than 30 years. The dig was part of a documentary called Atari: Game Over, that will be released through the Microsoft’s Xbox console later this year.

And finally, the cast of “Star Wars, “Episode VII” was officially announced this week.  The movie opens galaxywide on December 18, 2015. Until then — and as always this time of year — May the Fourth be with you.

PTJ 74: Just Droning On and On and On

We’re baaaaack! In an effort to burn off some of the calories we packed on during our time off we’ve put together a super-sized show. J.D. pits voice enabled personal assistants from Google and Apple against each other in a Hunger Games-style battle to the death! Okay, that may be a little heavy on the hyperbole but she does see what each can do. Musician, recording engineer, record producer and vintage home audio enthusiast Michael Puretz visits with El Kaiser to discuss affordable high-end stereo equipment. In the news Amazon tests drone deliveries for their Prime subscribers; Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One battle each other for holiday sales supremacy; Motorola has a Cyber Monday Meltdown; Apple’s iPad grabs close 70 percent of holiday tablet sales so far; and NASA confirms that Comet ISON has largely disintegrated.

PTJ 74 News: Droning On

Yes, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his ideas about drone delivery that he shared during his appearance on the CBS news show 60 Minutes last weekend grabbed a lot of attention — but was it real or a PR stunt? Octocopter dreams aside, the company is having a good time poking fun at Apple’s grandiose iPad commercials with one of its own comparing the new iPad Air with its own Kindle Fire HDX. But it wasn’t a total Week of Win: the US Supreme Court has decided not to take on the Amazon’s appeal in the fight with New York State over collecting sales tax.

The Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One and have been battling each other for holiday sales as well. Microsoft said its Xbox One also sold 1 million units in its first 24 hours to match the PlayStation 4’s opening-day numbers, although analysts have pointed out that the Xbox One debuted in 13 markets its first day, while the PS4 only launched in two countries at first. Sony recently announced the PS 4 has now sold 2.1 million units worldwide across 32 countries since it first arrived on November 15th here in North America.

Motorola, which was hoping to lure holiday shoppers with a $349 off-contract Moto X phone deal, had a Cyber Monday Meltdown. The Motomaker.com Web site reportedly crashed and burned due to intense demand, forcing Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside to issue an apology on the company’s blog and announce that the $349 deal will now also be valid Monday, December 9th.

Some industry watchers are forecasting Apple’s iPad line to have grabbed about 70 percent of the holiday sales market so far, and the company also seems to be getting some hefty sales on its new iPhone models as well. The research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech said Apple got a significant sales bounce for the third quarter thanks to the release of the iPhone 5S and candy-colored iPhone 5C.

Apple, for its part, seems to be planning for the future with a couple of corporate acquisitions. The recent weeks, the company bought Topsy, a social-media analytics firm and PrimeSense, a company that makes motion-sensing technology. And Yahoo has whipped out the checkbox again as well, buying SkyPhrase for an undisclosed about of money. (SkyPhrase makes natural language processing technology and will be joining the Yahoo Labs team in New York.)

While this year is winding down in terms of new software updates and hardware releases, ZDNet reports that Microsoft is working on updates for its three major operating system platforms — Windows, Windows Phone and the Xbox One — for spring of 2015. Microsoft isn’t commenting, but there was one thing it did officially release this week: its long-promised cloud-based Student Advantage Office 365 Education offer for young academics is now live as of December 1st.  And the company’s deal to buy Nokia’s handset business has gotten regulatory approval from the United States.

Google, which has six snow-globe-shaped temporary stores to sell its Chrome and Nexus wares, may be looking for more year-round retail space. The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that the Google mystery barge that’s been under construction out in the San Francisco Bay is actually the first of three floating retail stores. Google says it plans to the use the structure as “an interactive space where people can learn about new technology.”

Facebook is tinkering with user News Feeds (again). Public outcry so far seems to be much less intense compared to Timeline redesigns and privacy policy updates. And while Facebook tends to have a wide range of users, an analyst at JPMorgan is finding that Twitter’s user base is now skewing younger as the kids have discovered they like to tweet. And to no one’s surprise, LinkedIn, which aims for networking professionals, attracts an older crowd.

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And finally, NASA has confirmed that Comet ISON, which astronomers first saw on September 21, 2012, largely disintegrated during its recent trip near the sun’s corona on November 28th. Check out the memorial post by astrophysicist Karl Battams and NASA’s explanatory page on ISON’s demiseRequiescat in pace, sweet Comet ISON, fragmented into history at the approximate age of 4.5 billion years.