Tag Archives: OS X

PTJ 191 News: Advancing Torpor

Even more characters on Twitter — and we’re not even talking about the trolls!  Bloomberg is reporting that the bird-themed microblogging service will soon stop counting the characters used by web links and photos in that 140-character limit.

Microsoft has big plans this summer for its Windows 10 Anniversary Upgrade, like more ads for promoted apps on your Start Menu.  And as CNet and others have reported, Microsoft has gotten aggressive with the pop-up notifications now. Windows 7 and 8.1 users who have no plans to upgrade should pay careful attention to what those little nag-ass boxes are saying.

WhatsApp is moving into video-calling, according to those who have seen a recent beta version of the app for Android. At last,  another video calling option to compete with FaceTime, Skype, Google Chat and the other apps out there.

Amazon, the über-mega-everything store already sells thousands of name-brand items, but The Wall Street Journal is talking to sources within the company who claim that Amazon plans to introduce its own house-label products like diapers and beverages.


AT&T, on the heels of its corporate hookup last year with DirecTV, announced this week that it had acquired Quickplay Media. Not to be confused with Apple’s QuickTime multimedia software or Quick Draw McGraw, the equine sheriff of the animated Old West, QuickPlay Media is a video-streaming platform for the “TV Everywhere” initiative and other over-the-top applications.

Adobe churned out yet more patches for its Flash Player multimedia software last week, but it seems Google has had about enough of the security-addled software. Developers for the company recently laid out plans to disable Flash by default and move to HTML 5 for multimedia playback. When the move happens by the end of the year, embedded Flash files in websites viewed in the Chrome browser won’t run or acknowledge the plug-in; Flash will hang around on some sites like YouTube until the end of 2017.

The Google I/O developer conference kicks off this week in Mountain View, California. Here’s the keynote speech. Google also put out a new app called Spaces this week for “small-scale” sharing.

Have you checked out the YouTube app’s Google Cardboard modeAs of this week, it’s now available on the iOS app as it catches up to  the Android version. The mode converts any YouTube video into a Cardboard-worthy VR experience. (Disney is also after virtual reality fans with its new Disney Movies VR app out on Steam.)


Apple has finally updated its iTunes program for the desktop with an attempt to make navigation for the cluttered app more streamlined and sensible. Apple also pushed out other updates this week, including those for OS X, iOS, watch OS and tvOS for the fourth-generation Apple TV. (Speaking of the Apple TV, BitTorrent has just launched its own Live app there.) Be careful, though: According to screams from around the Twitterverse, however, the iOS update, version 9.3.2, has bricked more than one iPad Pro tablet. The OS X update 10.11.5 for El Capitan is seen primarily as a security fix.

Doom 2016 has come blasting out into stores. One reviewer over at PC World said the new modernized version of the classic first-person shooter succeeds because it knows it’s a big dumb bang-bang game.


Current C, a mobile-payments competitor to Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay and similar services, has, shall we say, “suspended its campaign” and laid off about 30 staff members. Current C, which was hacked before it ever got out of the gate, is largely considered to be stranded on the Island of Abandoned Software Projects.

The SoundHound mobile app just got an update that adds a virtual assistant. To use it, just start out saying OK, Hound, and then you can ask it to do things like play music from certain streaming services, add songs to playlists, play YouTube music videos.

For consumers of more genteel entertainment, The Daily Telegraph over in London reports that the BBC and ITV television networks plan to launch a British competitor to Netflix. The working title, of course, is Britflix. Perhaps it will show Downton Abbey.


And finally, NASA has provided funding eight projects that are based on advanced technology, but could help kick the agency’s space exploration efforts into high gear. The development grants were part of Phase II NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program, also known as NIAC. Among this year’s projects: “Advancing Torpor Inducing Transfer Habitats for Human Stasis to Mars,” which would put human passengers in a hibernation-like state for long trips to other planets and “Further Development of Aperture: A Precise Extremely Large Reflective Telescope Using Re-configurable Elements,” for a new type of space telescope that would use a membrane-like primary mirror that could be corrected after deployment. Congratulations to all the grant winners! Thanks for making the future!

PTJ 187 News: Standards & Practices

Facebook mess with the News Feed? Really!?!  But seriously, according to Mashable and a few other sites, images of a new tabbed news feed screen for mobile devices have been spotted on Twitter. Facebook did confirm that it is indeed testing the new design, but did not say if or when it would actually launch.

YouTube is stepping up its virtual-reality game with a couple of new features. As announced on the company blog, YouTube is introducing 360-degree live streaming on the site, which adds on to last year’s support for uploaded 360-videos. YouTube also launched spatial audio for on-demand videos. If you want to hear what all that means, check out the company’s special spatial audio playlist for Android devices.

siriWe’re just about a month away from Google’s annual I/O developer’s conference, and now Apple has finally gotten around to announcing when its own World Wide Developer’s Conference. The first word on the dates for some people, however, did not come from an email announcement, but from the Apple’s Siri virtual assistant, as the 9to5Mac site reported. A press release on Apple’s website confirms it all Apple fans are already murmuring about the show, wondering if OS X will be renamed macOS to fall better in line with iOS, tvOS and watchOS.

Apple didn’t wait for its next big media event to make new hardware announcements, though. This Tuesday, it quietly updated its 12-inch Macbook laptop model with better hardware on the inside.  The laptop is available in a few different processor and storage configurations and comes in four colors now: Gold, Silver, Space Gray and Rose Gold. And in other news, Apple has hired a former vice president of vehicle engineering from Tesla. The company also killed off QuickTime for Windows and the Department of Homeland Security has advised PC users to uninstall it RIGHT AWAY.

In legal news, it appears that Google’s massive book-scanning project that triggered a copyright lawsuit buy an author’s group is in the clear. The Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge from the Authors Guild over the legality of the Google Books project, so last year’s lower court ruling from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York stands.

Also in Google news, the company’s Android Security 2015 Annual Report was released this week.  The company touts its monthly security updates, better screening for potentially harmful apps in the Google Play store and greater adoption of its app verification service as factors in making Android devices safer than before, but it notes that there are still a steady number of malware, ransomware and other nasty apps lurking out there.

Speaking of software and malicious intentions, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the machine-learning startup company PatternEx have come up with a new system predicts 85 percent of cyber attacks.

Amazon is taking a shot at Netflix’s monthly streaming fees by making its own Amazon Prime service available as, you guessed it, a monthly subscription instead of an annual fee. And speaking of Netflix, that company is raising its monthly fees by 25 percent for longtime streaming customers next month.

Yahoo’s deadline for financial suitors to present themselves has come and gone and Verizon has emerged as the only major player to maintain interest in the sagging company.

murphyMicrosoft introduced Skype video bots a few weeks ago for developers and consumers to interact with and announced this week that the bots are now available for Mac and web users. Some of the stock bots available include Murphy, a bot to find and create images for when questions can’t be answered by words alone and Summarize, a bot designed to give an overview of a web page if you don’t have time to read the whole thing.

As expected, the  Name That Research Ship contest over in the United Kingdom has ended and Boaty McBoatface won in a tidal wave. However, UK Science Minister and total buzzkill Jo Johnson told BBC Radio 5 Live this week that “there is a process now for us to review all of the public’s choices. Many of them were imaginative; some were more suitable than others.” Even if the RSS Boaty McBoatface never sails the seas as a government science ship, the contest did inspire an Australian racehorse owner in Sydney to name one of his geldings Horsey McHorseface and an English rail worker temporarily named the Portsmouth to Waterloo line Trainy McTrainface.

And finally, if you love NASA and you live vintage graphic design and branding standards, you can now buy a copy of the space agency’s official graphics manual first published in 1976. The book is 220 pages with 129 image plates and comes individually packages in a static-shielding pouch. This is actually a reissue of the original book, of which only 40 copies were originally printed. The new version is a Kickstarter project that can now be ordered only for $79 a copy.

If you’re on a bit of a tight budget, however, you can download a free PDF copy of the original manual from NASA’s website and print it yourself because hey, it’s a taxpayer-funded government agency. And after just staggering through another tax season, we’ll take all the perks we can get.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Patched In

Ah, the first half of the month, when rents are traditionally due and software is often patched. But while these program fixes and security updates are meant to fix problems in software, they can sometimes create even more problems.

Take for example, the recent iOS 9.3.1 patch that was intended to fix the crashing-links problem — but inadvertently created a security exploit on some iPhones. Or Google’s patch last year that was supposed to repair the Stagefright-sized hole in Android but didn’t cover everything the first time around. You win some, you lose some.

Now, many people just get an update notice and install whatever software arrives with the notifications. Or they have automatic updates turned on — and pay even less attention. Patches are generally a good thing and designed to keep your computer and data safe. But if you’re the type that wants to know what’s going on your hardware (or what scary thing you’re being protected from now), hit up the support area of the manufacturer’s website for detailed notes.

Here are a few of the major players:

  • Adobe Security Bulletins and Advisories. Adobe Flash Player and Adobe Reader are two of the most hacker-targeted pieces of software out there, and so security updates to sew up those holes are issued regularly. Find your Adobe product on the list and click through for the details on each update.
  • Apple Security Updates. Apple makes a lot of system software, including OS X, iOS, tvOS, watchOS and all its in-house applications, and you can find information about everything security-related here. Links on the site also take you to the downloads and supporting documentation, in case you didn’t let your Mac update the software automatically (or your iOS device, for that matter).
  • Microsoft Security Tech Center. Thanks to decades of Windows, the Redmond giant is an old pro at the security-update game. The company celebrates with new bugfix releases on Patch Tuesday, the second Tuesday of every month. All the latest security bulletins are posted there so you can read up and see what’s getting fixed this time. (The site is a little techie, but Microsoft has a Safety & Security Center site written for less-technical home users as well.)

Additionally, Amazon’s site has a Device Support page for its various Kindle, Echo and Fire hardware, along with information about software updates.

All updated with nothing to read now? Microsoft’s next Patch Tuesday is next week, so you don’t have long to wait.


PTJ 183 News: Screen Lock and Key

So maybe the Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn’t need Apple so much after all. The Justice Department postponed this week’s hot court date over that whole “you must unlock this terrorist iPhone” fight they were having with Cook & Co. It seems the DOJ has found someone else it thinks can hack and crack into the iPhone in question. The court date has been rescheduled for April 5th. (And who knows what’s behind that door, as a new report analyzing the November attacks in Paris indicated that the terrorists there were using disposable cellphones and not encryption to communicate.)

imessageApple may be fighting to keep the passcode locked, but researchers at Johns Hopkins University say they’ve found a way to decrypt encrypted iMessages. While this bug in iMessage wouldn’t have helped the FBI with the San Bernardino phone (and Apple released software updates for iOS and OS X this week anyway), the Johns Hopkins researchers have shown that some Apple encryption can be broken.

Despite the postponement of the FBI hearing, Apple’s court calendar is still filling up, though. On Monday this week, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear Samsung’s appeal of that patent infringement case a few years back that it lost to Apple over copying the iPhone’s design. Samsung would like to talk more and pay less in this case.

But lest we forget, there was one more bit of Apple News this week: The company held a small-scale event at its headquarters this week to unveil the [no surprise] 4-inch iPhone SE, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, an iOS software update, new Apple Watch bands — and a cheaper price on the Apple Watch itself. Updates on the company’s recycling efforts were also revealed:

Amazon has added a new product to its inventory: package deals for Comcast’s Xfinity television and Internet service. The goods can be found in the new Amazon Cable Store, where special offers for Amazon customers are also touted. On the down side, you have to use Comcast is you sign up.

Amazon Kindle owners also probably saw a lot of panicky stories online this week warning that if they did not update the system software on older Kindle models, those Kindles would not be able to access the Kindle bookstore to buy new books. If you missed the March 22 deadline, you’ll have to plug the Kindle into your computer, download the updates from Amazon’s site and apply those patches manually.

amazonechoOne of Amazon’s other products popped up — and piped up — earlier this month during the broadcast of a National Public Radio story about the Amazon Echo speaker and its Alexa virtual assistant. As the story unfolded on the radio, with typical NPR sound clips of people on the radio taking to Alexa on their Amazon Echos, one NPR listener said his Alexa reset the home thermostat based on a command it heard on the radio. Another Alexa in the wild began playing an NPR Hourly Summary.  (Just so you know, this was just a test. Once they get the signal from headquarters, all the Alexas will rise up together to overthrow their human oppressors.) Incidentally, Amazon Tap, which looks like it’s basically an Echo you have to touch first, will be available next week.

It’s no secret that Facebook hoovers up gobs of data from its users to help it target advertising, and recent stories show how its ad platform guesses what race a person is based on his or her online behavior. Although Facebook has been offering its its racial profiling, er,  “ethnic affinity” targeting to advertisers since 2014, the Business Insider site illustrated this practice with a story showing how different trailers for the film Straight Outta Compton were pushed out to white viewers, black viewers and Hispanic viewers. Facebook: Never missing a chance to use any of your data to sell you things.

Twitter celebrated its 10th birthday this week. The service stuck up a blog post thanking its users for the first decade and saying “Throughout the years, you’ve made Twitter what it is today and you’re shaping what it will be in the future.” (Let us please not speak of trolls and politicians.)

Hungry? Venerable pizza chain Dominos is testing an automated pizza delivery robot down in New Zealand. It’s called the Domino’s Robotic Unit, or DRU, and it has a 12-mile range, runs on battery power and has compartments for hot and cold food — including storage for up to 10 pizzas.

While America seems to be lurching toward delivery drones, ground-based delivery bots seem to be catching on in other parts of the world, including small six-wheeled vehicles dispensing packages in London this spring.

And finally, also over in England, let us turn to a jolly seafaring tale. If you are unaware of this unfolding story, here it is: The British Natural Environment Research Council thought it would be a good idea to ask the public for help in naming a brand new £200 million ocean-research ship, so it invited the public to participate and began to take online suggestions. While some well-meaning participants put forth the names of scientists or explorers, one gentleman suggested the moniker RSS Boaty McBoatface. Needless to say, that name quickly shot to the top of the polls and the NERC site even crashed from excitement at one point. A spokeswoman for the council said, “We are very much enjoying hearing everyone’s ideas,” but the agency ultimately has the final say in christening the vessel. The contest ends April 16th, so in the meantime, raise a glass of rum and let’s all sing a good shanty for the RSS Boaty McBoatface while it lasts.


PTJ 181 News: Full Court Press

fccCould the digital divide in America be closing just a bit? The Federal Communications Commission has tweaked its plan for low-cost broadband Internet access and presented a proposal to its members this week that brings broadband service for $9.25 a month. The new broadband plan is an update to its 1985 Lifeline program to subsidize landline service for qualifying low-income consumers and the 2008 enhancement to the plan to include mobile-phone help. Lifeline has gotten the usual government-program charges of fraud, waste and abuse (and other gripes) from its detractors, like what counts as average broadband speed. The FCC countered by saying it does have some fraud-prevention measures. Some providers like Sprint don’t care for the proposed reforms to the Lifeline program, but a vote on the new system by FCC members is expected on March 31st.

Facebook is making its Instant Articles feature easier to use for people who aren’t even major media organizations. The company said a few weeks ago that it was opening up the Instant Articles feature to all publishers and this week, Facebook announced a new open-source plug-in for WordPress.  The opening of Instant Articles For All is expected to happen in time for the company’s annual F8 Conference in San Francisco next month. In an even more reassuring development, Facebook also awarded $15,000 to a hacker who demonstrated how he could use basic software to crack open the account of any user on the service. Yes, Facebook has since fixed the flaw in its system.

Mozilla, which recently bailed out, er, pivoted, on its Firefox OS for smartphones, is moving into the Internet of Things, where appliances rule the 802.11 airwaves. In a post on the Mozilla blog, the company outlined four new projects designed to integrate Firefox technologies into connected devices and asked for volunteers to help test out the new stuff. If you are a developer and are interested in working on any of it, check out Project Link, Project Sensor Web, Project Smart Home or Project Vaani.

In gaming news, Capcom is spanking players who rage-quit its Street Fighter V game by docking their League Points for bad behavior.  So there! And Microsoft it just announced it was canceling development of its Fable Legends game for Xbox and closing Lionhead Studios in the United Kingdom and Press Play Studios in Denmark.


Also over in the House of Microsoft, the company has now enabled Skype chat right from OneDrive when you are collaborating on an Office Online document and just have to talk it out with your co-authors. And whispers around Redmond say Microsoft has pushed back the next big upfate to Windows 10, codenamed Redstone 2 from later this year to until spring of 2017 to better align with new device hardware on the way. No comment from Microsoft so far.

There’s a reportedly nasty piece of OS X ransomware out there, looking to lock up your Mac until you pay up. The malware, called KeRanger, only affects the Transmission BitTorrent client installer. If you use the program, here’s a link to more information. If you don’t use the program, you can skip the freak-out.

craigIn other Apple-related news, the Department of Justice is appealing last week’s federal court ruling in Brooklyn that said the government could not use the centuries-old All Writs Act force Apple to unlock a user’s iPhone. And Craig Federighi (shown here), Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering and fabulous hair, recently wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post explaining Apple’s stance in its ongoing fight with the FBI. Security experts have also weighed in on the matter in a recent Bloomberg News article that says the FBI should just hack the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone themselves since it would be faster.  There’s also some worry that if the US government forces Apple to start unlocking iPhones left and right for security reasons, the European Union privacy regulators will delay their verdict on the EU-US privacy shield agreement. (In other not-so-good legal news for Apple, the Supreme Court has declined to listen to the company’s appeal for the e-book price fixing case. Cue the sound of a very large check being written.)

Also in Europe, Google, Indexer of the Past, is expanding the European court-ordered Right to Be Forgotten.  However,  Americans mortified by their pasts lurking online still have nowhere to complain, even though a consumer advocacy group petitioned the Federal Trade Commission last year to make Google allow us Yanks to forget our documented-and- digitized discretions as well.

Verizon Wireless is having its own issues with the concept of privacy. The Federal Communications Commission (clearly having a busy year so far) has slapped the telecom giant with a $1.35 million dollar fine and a a three-year consent decree to settle the case of the privacy-chomping supercookies that first surfaced in 2014.

fiWhen it comes to Internet service providing, Google is mainly known for its Google Fiber broadband, but the company also has a lesser-known cellphone service that piggybacks on Sprint and T-Mobile networks. It’s called Project Fi and the reason you may have not heard of it before is that it was invitation-only since it launched last year. But as of this week, anybody with a Nexus 6, 6P or 5X can  get Project Fi service. You just need to go to (where else?) the Sign Up page to get started.

Amazon, keeping an eye on Apple’s legal punch-up with the DOJ, has now weighed in and said it was going to restore the device encryption capabilities it just yanked out of its Fire OS 5 software. Amazon said it originally took out the feature because no one was using it, but has now decided to re-enable the feature in an update to the system this spring.

rayAnd finally, we here at Pop Tech Jam offer out condolences to the family of Ray Tomlinson, the programmer credited with the modern invention of electronic mail with the groovy little @ sign back in 1971. Mr. Tomlinson passed away last week at the age of 74. He was a member of the Internet Hall of Fame and said he picked the @ sign because it just “made sense.”  Thank you, Ray Tomlinson, for setting the standard.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Mighty Savin’ Power Rangers

Don’t you hate it when you’re frantically working away on battery power, watching that little icon drain with no electrical outlet in sight? It can be a nerd nightmare but thankfully, most major operating systems have a battery-saver utility — or at least some settings tweaks — to help you squeeze out a few precious minutes of juice until you can recharge. Here’s how.

Mobile devices
The Battery Saver mode in Android 5.0 (Lollipop) is supposed to add an additional 90 minutes of device life by temporarily putting a stop to mail and message syncing, vibrating alerts and other power-draining activities. To turn it on, open the Settings icon from the apps screen, select Battery and then tap the three-dot icon in the upper-right corner to get to Battery Saver in the menu. (You can also swipe down on the home screen to get the Quick Settings box and then jump to Battery preferences from there.) Once in the Settings, you can turn Battery Saver on or off manually, or have it automatically kick in when the battery is down to 5 or 15 percent of its power. You can find third-party apps that claim to boost your battery, but some Android phone-makers have their own tools — Samsung, LG and HTC are among them. Tech sites like AndroidPit usually offer advice for saving energy, too — like using dark wallpaper on your gadget.

Got a Lumia? Microsoft has its own Battery Saver mode for its Windows Phones you can use to achieve similar savings.

As announced a few weeks ago, Apple is adding a new Low Power Mode feature in iOS 9. Until then, the company has a page of tips for prolonging your battery’s charge, and a bunch of apps in the App Store to help you monitor and manage your power consumption.

Like other versions before it, Windows 8.1 lets you set up an alternate power plan that automatically dims the screen and tweaks other settings to save battery life when you’re not plugged into power.

Likewise, Apple has a page of tips for OS X Yosemite and its own power plans for laptops. Apple’s site suggests several ways to adjust your Mac’s Energy Saver preferences (shown here) to get a dimmer display, automatic graphics switching and other tweaks that take less of a hit on your MacBook battery.


If you’re a Linux user, you probably have similar settings in whatever distribution you use. Ubuntu’s community documentation has suggestions and the third-party TLP power management tool works with Ubuntu and Linux Mint.

When used in time, some of these little tricks can save you a few minutes of juice here and there. If you find your battery is always edging into the red, consider a replacement or even an external power source to keep you going until that next electrical outlet appears like an oasis in the desert.

Requirements Reading

San Francisco’s Moscone Center is still standing after a busy spring of developer conferences, where this year’s major new operating systems have now all been previewed on the way to release. If Windows 10, Android M, El Capitan or iOS 9  has caught your eye — but you’re not quite sure if your hardware can handle it — here’s a quick refresher on the system requirements you’ll need to update. Keep in mind, though, that some of these specs are based on pre-release software and could change by the time the final edition hits the download queue. And remember,  if you have older hardware, you may have limited functionality and not get all the features in that new release, so don’t expect to suddenly get things like Siri or Apply Pay with iOS 9 on an iPad 2.

Windows 10

Windows 10 is arriving at the end of next month, so it’ll likely be the first new system here. The official specifications are still being tweaked, but the system as been in preview for months, so expect to meet these requirements from Microsoft:

Latest OS: Make sure you are running the latest version either Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update.
Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS
Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
Display: 800×600

These are minimum requirements and more power, memory and space are always better for happy computing.


The Windows 10 Preview had a few other bullet points that will likely still hold true for the final release:

  • Windows 10 will scan your system for a current subscription to an AV product and sideline incompatible versions.
  • If you have Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8 Pro with Media Center, or Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center and you install Windows 10, Windows Media Center will be removed.
  • Watching DVDs requires separate playback software.
  • Windows 7 desktop gadgets will be removed as part of installing Windows 10.
  • Windows 10 Home users will have updates from Windows Update automatically available.
  • Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Hearts Games that come pre-installed on Windows 7 will be removed as part of installing the Windows 10 upgrade. Microsoft has released our version of Solitaire and Minesweeper called the “Microsoft Solitaire Collection” and “Microsoft Minesweeper.”
  • If you have a USB floppy drive, you will need to download the latest driver from Windows Update or from the manufacturer’s website.
  • If you have Windows Live Essentials installed on your system, the OneDrive application is removed and replaced with the inbox version of OneDrive.
  • Cortana is only currently available on Windows 10 for the United States, United Kingdom, China, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain.

Android M

The next version of Google’s mobile operating system is expected in the third quarter of this year, or as normal people call it, autumn.  Nexus devices will get the good first and an official preview of Android M is already available for the Nexus 5,6, 9 and Nexus player devices. Android fan sites are busy compiling projected release schedules for non-Nexus devices.

MThe Android Police blog is reporting that Google plans to guarantee major system updates for Nexus devices for two years, and security patches for three years from an Android version’s release date. But on that timetable, several existing Nexus devices would not get the Android M update, including the Nexus 4, Nexus 10 and Nexus 7 (2012). But the older tablets will still receive security patches and the Nexus 7 of 2013 should still be eligible if this is Google’s plan. (Then again, many owners of older Nexus devices complained that Lollipop sandbagged their gadgets and they wanted to downgrade, so maybe missing the M train here is not a bad thing.)

OS X 10.11 El Capitan

elcapNewer systems are always going to run better on newer hardware, but basically, if your Mac can run OS X Yosemite or OS X Mavericks, it can probably to run OS X El Capitan. All Macs released over the past five years are supported. Specifically, the supported minimum Mac model list includes the following hardware:

iMac (Mid-2007 or newer)
MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or newer)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or newer), (15-inch, Mid / Late 2007 or newer), (17-inch, Late 2007 or newer)
MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
Mac Mini (Early 2009 or newer)
Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)

The Mac must have a 64-bit CPU, so that pretty much means an Intel Core 2 Duo or later under the hood. You’ll also need a few gigabytes of available disk space to install the final version on your Mac, which is typical for updating any system software.


Can’t remember when you got your Mac or the chip it’s got beathing under its aluminum or plastic skin? From your desktop, go to the Apple menu ( ) to About this Mac. For Macs running older versions of OS X, click More Info, otherwise select Overview to see your machine’s details (as shown here) and plan accordingly.


ios9logoExpect the next version of Apple’s mobile operating system to land during the annual breathless media event that’s traditionally held in September to unveil new iPhones. Making the move to iOS 9 may be much easier than that heavy lift to iOS 8 that some people experienced. Remember when you needed a massive 4.6 GB of free storage space to download and wedge the update on your device last year? Apple says iOS 9 will only require 1.3 GB by comparison, so even 16GB iPhone and iPad users will have an easier time upgrading.

Space issues aside, as a general rule of thumb, if your iDevice is currently chugging along on either iOS 8 and iOS 7, it can run iOS 9. Apple says supported hardware includes:

iPad Air
iPad Air 2
iPad Mini
iPad Mini 2
iPad Mini 3
iPad 4th generation
iPad 3rd generation
iPad 2
iPhone 6 Plus
iPhone 6
iPhone 5S
iPhone 5C
iPhone 5
iPhone 4S
iPod Touch 5th generation

Oh, and before all these upgrades start flying? Back up your current computer and/or device regularly, especially right before you download a new operating system. Those tears you shed should be from joy at your groovy new software — and not frustration because something went horribly wrong and you have no backup.

PTJ 142 News: You’ve Got Sale!

This has been quite a year for mergers and acquisitions — or at least attempts thereof. This week, Verizon Communications announced it was buying AOL. Inc. for $4.4 billion dollars. AOL Inc. produces digital content and advertising and claims to be the 4th largest online property in the United States with 200 million customers.  The Huffington Post is expected to be spun off, but Verizon should keep some spare cash handy — the company also needs to pay $90 million to settle a US government probe into unauthorized charges on customer bills.

No more grand Windows OS launches? Microsoft is changing the way it does these things and says  Windows 10 is going to be its last major revision of the system. At the Microsoft Ignite conference in Chicago this week, Microsoft development executive Jerry Nixon said that going forward, Windows will stop being a standalone system with and become a service, with updates and improvements rolling out regularly.

androidMIt’s developer conference season at last! The Google I/O 2015 Conference is later this month, May 28th and 29th at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. (There may also be a celebration of Google’s self-driving car program, which has now covered 1.7 million miles and only been involved in 11 minor accidents — and none of them was the Google car’s fault.) Attendees are expected to get  the inside scoop on things like on Android M, the next version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android Auto for car infotainment, the Chrome operating system for netbooks, Google TV, wearables and other projects. Then Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference rolls into town 12 days later, starting June 8th and running through the 12th.

If fancy Apple computers aren’t in your budget, keep your eyes peeled for the CHIP (shown below), the new $9 computer envisioned by a startup called Next Thing Co.  A funding drive to build CHIP went up on Kickstarter this week with a pledged goal of $50,000 needed to buy components in bulk. As of this week, the project was closing in on $1.1 million.


If you hate those unintentional selfies from taking pictures through windows, you’ll be glad to know that the smart folks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology now have an algorithm for that. The algorithm can sense discreet dual reflections from double-paned windows and remove them from the image. The MIT team will be presenting their findings next month at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference in Boston.

The Warner Music Group released is second-quarter earnings report this week and had one bit of surprising news: music-streaming revenue surpassed music-download revenue, as the press released stated it “for the first time in the history of our recorded music business.” Fluke or paradigm shift? Time will tell.

There’s a new social network in town (and in beta) and it’s designed for members of the build-it yourself maker community to show off projects and share knowledge. The new site is called MakerSpace and it’s the official community for Maker Faire.

firefox-logoMozilla released Version 38 of the Firefox browser this week. In addition to the usual bug fixes and speed bumps, Firefox 38 now includes integration with the Adobe Content Decryption Module to play back copy-restricted content within the HTML 5 video tag. This could let users watch DRM-enabled content in Firefox — although only on the Windows version of the browser at the moment.

Microsoft is making it easier for more people to try the preview of the new Skype Translator for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.  While the original version required interested users to sign up for the software, Microsoft had removed that bit of electronic paperwork and now you can just go to the site and download it to get yapping with someone in another language.

Google’s director for law enforcement and information security, along with one of the company’s lawyers, did a Reddit Ask Me Anything last week and during the course of the question and answer session, it was revealed that Google does not use end-to-end encryption for its Google Hangout chats. So yeah, those Hangouts could, in theory, be wiretapped by government request.

And finally, from the Department of This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, Google announced this week that it had to temporarily shut down the online Map Maker component that lets users add their own content to Google Maps due to vandalism. The service has been plagued with pranks and obscenities in recent months, including an image of the green Android taking a leak in the Apple logo and an area of the White House called Edward’s Snow Den. Google said earlier this year that it planned to build a spam protection system into Map Maker, but perhaps it’s time step up those efforts. If they can make a self-driving car, how about a self-driving map bot that cruises the site looking for the naughty edits?


PTJ 72 News: Space Invaders

Go, gamers, go! The Sony PlayStation 4 is out this Friday, November 15, and the Microsoft Xbox One arrives on November 22. Plenty of gaming sites will help you analyze the two and decide which one is best for you. And that Web ripple about the PS4 TOS prohibiting used games after all? A Sony exec took to Twitter to assure the faithful that they can resell and play previously owned games on the PS4.

In product news, Motorola will soon let customers with Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile create their own personalized versions of the Android smartphone and Apple quietly released the iPad Mini with Retina Display this week.

spreadsheetThe AppleInsider site noted that not long after a Microsoft PR executive poo-poohed Apple’s iWork suite as “watered-down” imitation apps compared to Microsoft Office, the company put up giant billboards for its Surface tablet that showed the Excel software on the screen failing to correctly add up seven numbers on a spreadsheet. This led to much mocking online, but the TechCrunch blog says Microsoft did not get its math wrong, haters.

Google Glass wearers will soon have the option for stereo earbuds that let them listen to their Google Play music by commanding the Spendy Spectacles™. According to a report this month, the Motorola Mobility division of the company has filed a patent for an electronic, removable neck tattoo with an embedded microphone that can link up with a mobile phone. In addition to serving as a secret-agent way to make a mobile phone call without having the handset in site, the neck tattoo might have use as a lie detector. (Google’s also been busy with the Gmail this week, announcing several new enhancements to its Webmail service on its company blog; these new features add on to Gmail’s existing Inbox shortcuts.)

Want that sleek OS X/iOS look on PC hardware?  Check out the Pear OS 8, a Linux variation for desktops and laptops — and soon, tablet hardware is everything goes according to plan. Will this mean a Thin-Skinned Fruit War if Apple takes offense?

As some of you may have suspected, Netflix and YouTube are responsible for more than half of peak fixed network data in North America as confirmed by Sandvine’s Global Internet Phenomena report. Speaking of audio, a new beta build of Google’s Chrome browser lets you know which one of your many open tabs is the one streaming the loud audio file that you need to close right away.

On the security front, Trend Micro just put out its Q3 2013 Security Roundup Report, which shows an increase in online banking malware infections, particularly in the US, Brazil and Japan. The 22-page report, available online, also described a noticeable uptick in phishing sites aimed at Mac OS X and iOS users.

And you’re not even safe in space from malware. According to Russian security expert Eugene Kaspersky, the International Space Station was infected with malware that rode along on a USB stick used by a Russian cosmonaut. The malicious program was not Stuxnet, as originally reported by some organizations, but Kaspersky said the Stuxnet virus had also infected a Russian nuclear power plant. (At least the laptops used aboard the space station were converted from Windows XP to Linux last spring, but if the aliens attack, we may need to dig up those old Macintosh PowerBooks running System 7 to defeat them.)

And finally, the Roomba — the popular roving robot vacuum cleaner — has gotten a redesign. The iRobot Roomba 880 has ditched the brush cylinders and moved to a new AeroForce system of spinning thermoplastic polyurethane tubes. In addition to being a more efficient method of dirt removal, no brushes means: no hairballs. Now, if we can just get cats to switch to spinning thermoplastic polyurethane tubes…