Tag Archives: Office for iPad

PTJ 117: Amazon Fires Up El Kaiser’s TV

It’s clear El Kaiser is quietly amassing a collection of streaming set-top boxes that may one day rival his tablet collection. On this week’s episode he gives us his impressions of the Fire TV, Amazon’s flagship media consumption device and his latest gadget acquisition.

Also on this week’s show J.D. helps us keep an eye on our monthly mobile device’s data allowance .

In the news President Barack Obama urges the FCC to keep the Internet open; Alibaba rakes in billions on “Singles Day”; Facebook’s Messenger app is now being used by 500 million people; NASA rents out some space; high-level corporate executives get there computers hacked into over hotel WiFi; Microsoft Office is free tablets and phones; and DARPA works on computer code that writes itself.

PTJ News 117: Pay As You Go

Congratulations, Philae, for sticking the landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as part of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission! Good job! (Now, if only you’d landed before we recorded this week’s episode, but we’ll congratulate you in person next week.)

Back on Earth, more people continue to weigh in on the Federal Communication Commission’s pending decision on net neutrality. President Barack Obama issued a statement and a video this week urging the FCC to keep the Internet open. As reported by The New York Times and others, Mr. Obama has proposed reclassifying both wired and wireless Internet service as a Title II telecommunications service under the Communications Act of 1934. Some Republican leaders have already objected to the President’s proposal, including Speaker of the House John Boenher and South Dakota Senator John Thune of South Dakota.

cartIf you think the power-shopping  stretch from Black Friday to Cyber Monday makes money (more than $3.5 billion in the past), look east. This week, the Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba hosted “Singles Day,” named for its date of  11.11 and it took less than 18 minutes from the sale’s start  for Alibaba’s gross merchandise volume to hit $1 billion. The entire shopping event went on to make 8.5 billion dollars in one day, which is a heck of a lot of e-commerce.

FBMFacebook, which said it killed the messaging feature within its main app and forced users to download a whole separate Messenger because Mark Zuckerberg thought it would be a better experience, announced this week that said Messenger app is now being used by 500 million people. The other 500 million people on Facebook are probably still complaining about the company killing the integrated messaging function.

NASA has confirmed that it’ll be leasing out its historic Hangar One to Google’s subsidiary Planetary Adventures for $1.16 billion dollars over the next 60 years. The lease at Moffett Field also includes 1,000 acres of federal land, and Google has pledged $200 million dollars to restore the old naval-airship hangar and two others like it.

hotelAs reported in Wired, Kaspersky Lab has been researching what it calls the Darkhotel espionage campaign, in which high-level corporate executives staying in luxury hotels are tricked into installing malware over a compromised hotel Wi-Fi network. So it’s not just those prices at the mini-bar that are criminal. (And speaking of hacking, the computer networks of United States Postal Service were invaded this fall, with the personal data of 800,000 employees compromised.)

Microsoft Office for phones and tablets is now free. Well, a basic version of Office for iPad and soon-to-be-Android edition is free. If you want to do more than basic editing and viewing, you’ll need to sign up for Office 365. (The company also introduced its $200 subscription-based Work & Play Bundle this week. )

Meanwhile, Apple is close to opening a new office in Cambridge, England. The company recently hired five people from a defunct mapping company called Pin Drop based in London, so perhaps those international Apple maps will get better soon. And as TechCrunch and other blogs have noted,  Google announced a partnership with Oxford University on some artificial intelligence projects last month, so the Cambridge-Oxford rivalry could take on a new tech dimension real soon. (Apple also has a bit going on stateside with a new lawsuit over The Case of the Disappearing iMessages and a miraculous new tool that helps those still afflicted.)

Pliny_the_ElderAnd finally, DARPA, (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and Rice University, (in Houston, Texas), are teaming up on an $11 million dollar project that could make writing computer programs much easier. A new software tool called PLINY — named for the Roman author and encyclopedist Pliny the Elder — is designed to serve as an autocorrect and autocomplete function for programmers, much like similar programs today that suggest and fill in search queries for the web. Let’s just hope it works better than the autocorrect feature in those early versions of iOS.

PTJ 93 News: Bending the Rules

The new rules on Net Neutrality put forth last month by the Federal Communications Commission have generated quite a bit of a backlash from people who think the agency’s fast lane/slow lane approach was misguided. More than 100 tech companies signed a letter expressing their dismay with the proposed rules.

Other opponents to the rules include Minnesota senator Al Franken, who called the proposal “the opposite of Net Neutrality.” The digital-rights advocacy group Free Press was also planning a public protest outside the FCC’s headquarters in Washington, DC, and is encouraging opponents to contact their Congresspeople. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has also put up a post on its site explaining how the FCC makes its rules and explaining how members of the public can comment on policy-works-in-progress.

As first reported by The Wall Street Journal a few days ago, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is said to be working on some revisions to the rules and is scheduled to appear before the House of Representatives’ subcommittee on communications and technology next Tuesday, May 20. CEOs of broadband companies, however, have also warned the FCC not to go too far in the other direction with regulating the industry because it would do things like scare away business investors.

And in more exciting policy news, the European Union Court of Justice has ruled that people have a right to be forgotten when it comes to showing up in Google search results. Google is also hearing in from a court in Germany. A data protection office there in Hamburg says Google is violating German law by quietly compiling users’ data from its different services without their consent. At least the new Moto E Android phone is getting good reviews.

Microsoft is taking another swing at Sony and has released a cheaper version of its Xbox One. This new $399 version of the console does not include the Kinect motion controller and saves the gamer $100. Microsoft may also be gearing up to launch a music locker service for the Xbox One. Although the company hasn’t made any announcements, a Chinese website claims to have found references to a OneDrive Music folder that can stream music from the cloud to the Xbox.

And speaking of streaming music, word of Apple’s $3.2 billion deal to buy Beats Electronics has the tech world thumping. The agreement, which was widely reported late last week and has yet to close, but it’s said to be the biggest acquisition in Apple’s company history. Beats Electronics, founded by musician Dr. Dre and music producer Jimmy Iovine, makes headphones and has its own subscription music-streaming service. Billboard is among the sites speculating that the Beats founders could be making an appearance at Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference next month.

Apple isn’t the only company in acquisition mode. Many sites are reporting that AT&T is quite close to a takeover of the DirecTV satellite service.

Netflix, which officially raised its subscription prices for new customers by a buck to $8.99 a month last week, sent out email messages to existing customers saying it would not hike prices on them for at least two years. But at least that side deal with Comcast seems to be paying off: The monthly ISP speed index on the company’s blog shows that Comcast has moved up another few notches to third place behind CableVision and Cox.

It seems the Office for iPad fans really were suffering until Microsoft released its official iOS tablet version of the suite in March. The suite have now rung up more than 27 million downloads in 46 days after its release.

muteAnd finally, Twitter has announced a new “Mute” feature that lets you temporarily turn off the tweets of somone you’re following.  With the U.S. midterm elections coming up later this year (and with them, the inevitable flowing poltical tweet-spew), this could prove to be a sharply timed and very popular feature. Well played, Twitter. Well played.