J.D. goes all Winslow Homer on us this week and introduces us to apps she uses to convert photos into digital works of art on her smartphone. In the news, Samsung reportedly spends $20 million on Oscars product placement; Facebook looks to fill the sky with drones; Radio Shack closes 1100 of its retail stores; the US Department of Justice sides with broadcasters in fight with Aereo; Google barge ordered to pull up anchor and scram; Sony’s PS4 arrives in Japan; and Pizza Hut developing an interactive touchscreen pizza-ordering table.
Everyone wants to be near those little gold men out in Hollywood. Samsung reportedly spent $20 million on advertising for this year’s Academy Awards show and also got huge product placement with the Selfie Seen Round the World when Bradley Cooper used a Galaxy Note 3 to snap a group shot with Ellen DeGeneres, Brad Pitt and several other celebrities during the show. According to The Wall Street Journal, Samsung and its media-buying firm negotiated to have the phone integrated into the broadcast at various points (although there didn’t seem to be any Samsung ads on those pizza boxes that arrived midway through the show). TheOscar selfie and its retweet (times two million) is said to have crashed Twitter Sunday night. All in all, it was a busy few days for Twitter, which also apologized to a small number of its users on Monday after unintentionally sent them unnecessary password reset notices.
Facebook is reportedly in talks to by Titan Aerospace, a company that makes near-orbital, solar-powered drones that can fly for five years without having to land. As one of the major backers for the Internet.org initiative, the company seems to be doing its part to bring affordable Internet access to some of the five billion people around the world who have no online resources. TechCrunch says it hears Africa may be one of the first areas to see Facebook’s NetDrone Squadron if this all works out.
RadioShack announced earlier this week that it will be closing up to 1,100 of its retail stores this year as it tries to find its place in the 21st century. As Business Insider pointed out, a RadioShack ad from 1991 shows products that have all been replaced by the smartphone, so the chain could definitley do with some reinvention.
Aereo, the tiny-antenna company known for its service that provides streams of broadcast television channels over the Internet, may also be in for a future bummer. In papers filed recently, the US Department of Justice has sided with the television broadcasters who are currently suing Aereo for harvesting their over-the-air signals without paying the standard retransmission fees. The major broadcast television networks said last week that a Supreme Court decision in favor of Aereo would destroy the broadcast TV model. The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case on April 22th.
Officials in San Francisco have ordered Google to stop work on its mystery barge out in the Bay and tow the structure 80 miles to the Port of Stockton. (No permit? No mystery barge, Google.)
Verizon Wireless has rebooted its prepaid wireless service with its new AllSet plans. The new no-contract plans now let customers carry over unused data allowances from one month into the next. Plans start at $35 a month for regular phones and 500 voice minutes and $45 a month for smartphones with unlimited messages and 500 megabytes of data.
The annual Mobile World Congress event took place in Barcelona last week when we were on vacation, but just to recap the big announcement: the Samsung Galaxy S5 will have a 16-megapixel camera, fingerprint scanner, heart-rate monitor, 5.1-inch screen and Android KitKat, as well as $500 worth of gifted news, productivity and fitness apps when it arrives next month. Other stuff got announced, too.
Cortana, Microsoft’s own personal virtual assistant software is expected in the next update to the Windows Phone software. More details should arrive early next month at Microsoft’s Build conference.
Apple’s “iOS in the Car” project has formally emerged as CarPlay, and is the company’s system for linking the iPhone with the dashboard infotainment system built into certain automobile models. CarPlay is expected to show up later this year on models from Ferrari, Volvo and Mercedes.
Coming sooner: Apple’s iOS 7.1. a major update to last fall’s love-it-or-hate-it iOS 7, should be out any day now. (Also in Apple news, Microsoft may be looking to bring its Xbox Live gaming network to Android and iOS devices.)
Sony’s PlayStation 4 launched in Japan late last month and sold 370,000 units in its opening weekend. The company says it’s now sold 6 million PS4 consoles worldwide.
Georgetown U is headed to the annual SxSW conference down in Texas. The university will be hosting a panel called “Designing the Future University From the Inside,” which will look at the school’s own experiments in finding alternative ways to deliver a quality education and how universities can be proactive in their evolution in today’s world of technology and globalization.
While we were on vacation last week, the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange collapsed in a $460 million pile of FAIL. Hackers were said to have made off with the big bucks; the company also has another $27 million missing from its bank accounts. Wired has an excellent rundown of The Great Bitcoin Banjax.
A new survey reported in the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere finds that 1 in 10 Americans think HTML is a sexually transmitted disease. It was perhaps not the most scientific survey with the most rigorous methodology, but remember, not everyone out there is a geek. (If you know some non-geeks, though, warn them of the fake Netflix phishing scam going around.)
Speaking of warnings, Microsoft is starting to sent out pop-up alerts to Windows XP users telling them that April 8th is the last day of support and to please, please, please upgrade. The company is trying to lighten the upgrade load by providing free copies of Laplink’s PCmover Express migration software that copies the files and settings on an XP machine to a Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 machine. If you’re interested in upgrading, click here. (If XP users need to migrate programs as well, Laplink is offering its PCmover Professional program for $24, which is 60 percent off the regular price.)
And finally: Chaotic Moons Studio, which has been helping Pizza Hut develop mobile apps for online ordering, has a new concept project. It’s the interactive touchscreen pizza-ordering table. It’s still a concept, but you can bet if it ever goes mainstream, you’ll be able to play Angry Birds on it while you wait for your pie.
The plan was to take a week off so El Kaiser could launch two new shows and J.D. could work on beating back the Polar Vortex—not gonna happen! The Dynamic Podcasting Duo present a bonus episode of Pop Tech Jam to all the faithful Jammers out there in which they share their picks for who will take home Oscar® statuettes in a few of their favorite categories at the 86th Annual Academy Awards® Ceremony.
The Super Bowl is over and according to the Marketing Land site, Twitter was the winner of the Social Media Bowl, getting mentioned in 50% of the commercials shown during the game. #HashtagsRule! But about 250,000 Twitter accounts were hacked last week, perhaps prompting Twitter to step up its security measures, as someone at the Guardian noticed a Twitter job posting for a security gig.
Facebook, which turned nine this week, will soon be letting its users know when ads from its FBX ad exchange are targeting them. In addition to serving up ads that track you, Facebook is also said to be working on mobile software that tracks the location of its users, even if they don’t have the Facebook app open at the time. As Bloomberg News points out, such a tracking app “could help Facebook sell ads based on users’ whereabouts and daily habits. It may also raise the hackles of consumers and privacy advocates concerned about the company’s handling of personal information.”
In a perhaps related development, a new Pew Research Internet study out this week found some people are suffering from Facebook Fatigue. The Pew study found that one in four people surveyed plan to cut back on their Facebook usage in 2013.
On the hardware scene, Dell Computer is going from a public to a private company and transitioning from maker of inexpensive PCs to an enterprise-solutions company. Cheap computers are one thing, but it may be hard to beat the Raspberry Pi, which just released its $25 model; the Pi was also recently featured in The New York Times. And IBM plans to bring some of the same technology used by Watson, the super-smart Jeopardy-playing supercomputer, to its new Power Express servers for the small business market.
Researchers at the University of Leicester revealed that the remains of the English king Richard III have been buried under a parking lot for the past 500-odd years. DNA testing and other scientific tools helped confirm the identity of the skeleton, which did have a spinal deformity as historians and even Shakespeare have noted. No contemporary paintings of the not-very-popular-at-the-time king when he was alive have ever been found, but scientists used computer simulations to reconstruct a life-like model of what Richard actually looked like. (Those members of the British monarchy sure get around, don’t they?)
Meanwhile, up on Mars, the Curiosity rover is still running tests in preparation for the big drilling adventure.
And finally, we’re headed into awards season good and proper now. The Grammys are this weekend, the Oscars are at the end of the month and the National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers has announced its nominations for its 12th Annual Awards. Let’s see what fancy commercials all these awards can attract.
The Academy Awards ceremony is a few weeks away and if you haven’t watched all of the nominated films no need to fret because Pop Tech Jam has you covered! J.D. tells us where to catch the winners and losers…legally. In the news, this year’s Super Bowl is the most interactive in history; Twitter gets hacked; Facebook continues pushing the envelope; and Microsoft helps Dell go private.
The Golden Globes and the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards are history, so for people who like awards shows and/or movies, the Academy Awards loom. The ceremony is still a few weeks away and will be televised on February 24th, but many film fans are still catching up on the nominated pictures. Even if you’re not a cinephile, you can still make a run at the office pool or Oscar party where everyone fills out ballots with their choice of nominees in all the categories. If you really want to talk a good game, though, it might help to see the films. But where?
As the big Oscar-bait movies tend to get released on or around Christmas, you can still catch many of them in theaters — so fire up Yahbingle and search your local listings. Sticking the formula [Name of film] + [your ZIP code] + movie into the search box and hitting the Enter key should bring you quick results in Yahoo, Bing and Google; it works best in Google. But there are a few Best Picture nominees that have made the leap to home video already (or will be there by Oscar night). Flight and The Sessions have nominations for acting, while Skyfall and Ted both have Best Original Song nods:
- Beasts of the Southern Wild (out on home video)
- Argo (Amazon Instant Video and iTunes purchase; DVD/Blu-Ray on February 19th)
- Flight (out on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download)
- The Sessions (out on Blu-ray, DVD and streaming video on February 12)
- Skyfall (Amazon Instant Video, and iTunes purchase; DVD/Blu-Ray on February 12th)
- Ted (out on several forms of home video)
If you’re a fan of the Best Animated Film category, you have better luck for home viewing. Pixar’s Brave is on Blu-ray/DVD, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and iTunes. Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie awaits you on Blu-ray/DVD, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and iTunes. ParaNorman is out on Blu-ray/DVD, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and iTunes. The Pirates! Band of Misfits is also available on Blu-ray/DVD, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and iTunes. Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph” is not out on disc until March 5th, but you can snag a digital download from Amazon Instant Video or iTunes now.
As for the rest of the categories, if the film came out before early November, it’s probably on home video in some form, so fire up your favorite search engine and have at it. The Big Hollywood releases are one thing, however, but just finding some of the smaller films can be a challenge. If you live in a city with a good movie-house scene, check it out to see if they’re having any showings. You can also find links to find screens for the Best Short Films site.
For the truly obsessed, there’s also an official Academy Awards app where you can create your own interactive Oscar ballot and hook into Facebook and Twitter during the show. The app is available to download for iOS and Android, including the version that runs on Amazon’s Kindle Fire. The Oscars app can add a whole new element to the party if everyone is packing a portable touchscreen. But unlike the paper ballots of yore, you may want to be a little more careful where you fling the artichoke party dip this year.