Tag Archives: Pebble

PTJ 233: Tweet TV

Twitter continues its experiments with live streaming video, Facebook is handing out coupons, there’s a new flavor of Windows 10 coming to town — and also maybe an Apple-branded talking Siri speaker on the way. El Kaiser and J.D. discuss it all on this week’s episode, while throwing a Tech Term and a (Hopefully) Helpful Hint into this week’s mix as well. Join us!

Links to Stories in This Week’s News Segment

PTJ 151 News: Hacks ‘n’ Snacks

Hear about that a big giant hack of the database belonging to the dating-for-married-people Ashley Madison website last? If you’ve never heard of the popular hookup site — run by the Avid Life Media, the same company that also makes Cougar Life and Established Men a reality — you probably have nothing to worry about. If you were a patron of the service, well, you may want to pay attention. An entity calling itself The Impact Team  made the heist and large chunks of stolen confidential information have already been posted online. Security blogger Brian Krebs has been following the story and reports that the hackers did the job because they claimed Avid Life Media’s $19 “full delete” service for wiping your presence from the company’s websites was a rip-off.

The excellent KrebsOnSecurity blog also has details on the big hack of the CVSPhoto.con website last week. If you’ve ever uploaded photos and had the processed at a CVS drugstore, check your credit-card statements.

CVSPhoto

Microsoft had a little freak-out of its own late last week on the exploit front. If you haven’t already, hit up Windows Update to get the security update for a flaw in the font driver software.

Sad news to report: Joshua Greenberg, the founder of the new-shuttered Grooveshark music streaming service was found dead in his home down in Gainesville, Florida. He was 28 years old. Condolences to his family.

Twitter has made some changes on its site in the past few weeks. For one, the company removed custom backgrounds for users of its web version, replacing personalized color choices with a bright white backdrop, perhaps better to display advertising upon. Twitter also introduced a new Safety Center area of its site which is supposed to school users on Twitter’s tools for privacy and battling harassment. It’s probably not the Troll Cannon we’d all like, but it’s a start.

pebbletimeThe Pebble smartwatch line, which got early financial traction as a Kickstarter project a few years ago, is hitting the big time and the big-box stores. The $200 Pebble Time smartwatch, which had originally been available on the Pebble website, are now for sale at Best Buy and will be showing up in Target stores next month. You roll, little Pebble!

Apple’s quarterly earnings report showed profit was up 38% (largely due to 47.5 million new iPhones getting homes), but the company did not break out sales numbers on the Apple Watch. Analysts have found that Apple Watch customer satisfaction with the device was at an overall 97% and higher than it was for the first generations of the iPhone and iPad. However, The New York Times had a story this week that looked at app developers and why some, like Facebook, weren’t rushing to create wrist-sized versions of their programs quite yet. Still waiting for time to tell on the Watch-success verdict there.

goldtouchApple also found the time to finally put out an update for the iPod Touch last week. While The Washington Post wondered if anyone cared about this at all, it does give Apple yet another platform to grab new Apple Music subscribers.

Meanwhile, Samsung, which didn’t have much luck with its Galaxy S6 line against the iPhone 6, looks like it’s going after the iPad now. The company just announced two new versions of the Galaxy Tab S2 tablet, now with an iPad-esque 4:3 aspect ratio for the screen and other similarities. The new Android-based tablets, due in August, come in screen sized of 9.7 inches and 8 inches.  Pricing has yet to be announced.

ch_logoAs we know from the sad tale of Google Reader, Google giveth and Google taketh away. In the giving side, the company announced that it was providing its high-speed Google Fiber service to low-income homes in all the broadband markets it is currently in. It’s all part of the ConnectHome initiative recently launched by the White House and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help more people get online. So that’s the giveth part, as for the taketh part, well . . . Google+ Photos is being discontinued on August 1st and replaced by the newer Google Photos service.  If you don’t want to use Google Photos, you can go to Google Takeout, download your stuff and go. Didn’t see that one coming, nosiree.

Windows 10 will be here next week and Microsoft is getting Cortana, the system’s virtual personal assistant software ready for her international desktop debut. Cortana’s developers say they have done research and taken the cultural sensitivities of each country where the software will launch; these include the United Kingdom, China, France, Italy, Germany and Spain, along with the United States. Thanks to this regional research, Cortana’s personality will be tailored to specific areas, as Microsoft explained in a blog post on its site.  But as the Kaiser asks, “When will the Bronx Cortana arrive?”

And finally, for those who like to cook, Ten Speed Press released an updated edition of The Twinkies Cookbook last week, featuring new recipes using the long-lasting sponge-cake snack. This new 85th Anniversary Edition of the cookbook features such treats as Twinkie Corndogs and Deep-Fried Bacon-Wrapped Chocolate-Covered Twinkies. Now that’s good eatin’  — but  don’t forget to pop your cholesterol meds.

baconwinks

Watching Apple

That noise you heard Monday was not an F5 tornado — it was just the sound of Apple inhaling all the press as it held a Major Media Event to officially announce the price and availability of the Apple Watch. If you’re interested in the Watch, check out the full specs but in a nutshell, the app-driven, sensor-laden wrist computer/fitness tracker will be available for preorders on April 10th and officially released April 24th. Prices start at $349 for the smallest of the sporty versions and go far north of $10,000 for the fancy digital luxury Rolex-wannabes with the shiny 18-karat gold bits and bobs.

watch

People who run and do a lot of fitness activities may be especially interested in the Apple Watch, as well as those with a huge pile of disposable income and a yen for fancy tech. But check out the tiny print on the Apple Watch splash page:

requires

Yes, to use the Watch, you also need an iPhone 5 or later. This requirement led The Verge site to note that the main function of the timepiece is to spare you from taking out your phone every few minutes to check on your world when you can just glance at your wrist more discreetly. Forbes also observed that the Apple Watch seems to be in the Nice to Have category instead of the Must Have so far. However, most industry watchers are keeping an eye on those sales figures next month.

gottvThe long-awaited high-tech wristwatch was not the only thing Apple brought forth. The company also announced an exclusive three-month deal for the new standalone cable-free HBO NOW service. Subscribers will be able to stream HBO content for $15 a month when the service launches next month in time for the premiere of Game of Thrones Season 5, and there’s a free 30-day trial period for new customers who sign up through Apple. To sweeten the deal even more, Apple also knocked $30 off the price of its Apple TV set-top box that brings high-def streams of HBO and other participating providers right to your TV screen.

Apple also took time during its event to highlight its work in medical research. Executives showed off ResearchKit, its new open-source software framework for creating medical research and data collection apps for use in iOS devices.

adapterThe MacBook also got a major refresh, as Apple unveiled its latest version of the popular notebook computer. The new models weigh just two pounds, come with a 12-inch screen, a full-size keyboard, revamped battery and a Force Touch trackpad. The new MacBook is barely 13 millimeters thick, a feat that was achieved in part by lack of external ports. The new MacBook has a headphone jack and just one other port – a new USB Type C jack that handles charging, data transfer, device connection and video-out all on its own. (Need to do more than one of these activities at once? There’s a $79 Apple adapter in your future purchase plans.) The new MacBook will be out later this spring. Apple also beefed up the processors and various other components in its other laptops as well.

Reactions to Apple’s announcements from other companies ranged from “meh” to cheeky. Executives at Pebble, which announced a new addition to its own smartwatch line late last month, took to Twitter during Apple’s grand event to provide a little commentary on the proceedings:

Employees also tweeted pictures of medical research apps for Pebble watches and even retweeted snarkier posts from others, especially about the price tags:

The official Pebble Twitter account did point out, however, that everyone loves Game of Thrones. Hey, the Apple Watch may be out of the price range for a lot of people, but at least HBO is now more affordable.

Episode 54: Presenting “The Pop Tech Jam Players”

A very special episode of PTJ as we present the debut of our very own repertory theater troupe “The Pop Tech Jam Players”. Actor and poet Francis Mateo joins us for a scene from William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope. In the news Google Reader goes offline; Yahoo cleans house; Sprint pulls the plug on the Nextel Network; and Windows 8 gains traction.

Episode 54 News: Hardware Watch

Cue the funeral march —as promised, Google Reader has been taken offline earlier this week. A note on Google’s site says that you now have until July 15th to download a copy of your feed file for use with another service and after that, it will be permanently deleted.

Google is not the only one dropping old services. Yahoo announced that it too, was cleaning house, and is ditching a dozen products and projects so it can focus its attention elsewhere. Say goodbye to Yahoo’s FoxyTunes browser extension for media playback, Yahoo RSS Alerts, the once-popular-in-the-90s AltaVista search engine and a bunch of services most people have never heard of. The Nextel Network was powered off this week as well.

While Google Reader and Nextel have gone down, Windows 8 has gone up — to slightly more than 5% of the worldwide desktop operating-system market as of June 2013, according to Net Applications. As Windows 8 gains more users — possibly excited by Windows 8.1 coming out as a free downloadable upgrade this fall — the system is getting more apps from developers and the Windows Store just passed the 100,000 apps mark this week. Oh, and Microsoft’s Zune replacement service, Xbox Music, now works in many desktop Web browsers.

Twitter is experimenting with a new feature that links standard tweets to Web stories where those tweets were mentioned or embedded. (When asked, Twitter did not comment on the feature at the time, leading many to believe they were, you know, field-testing and stuff.)

SolarFarmApple plans to power a new data center in Reno, Nevada, with a solar panel farm that can provide 18 to 20 megawatts of power. In other Apple news, people who notice trademark filings report that Apple has registered the name “iWatch” in a number of countries, including Japan, Russia, Mexico and Taiwan.

Smartwatches (or the idea thereof) are popping up everywhere and sources at Best Buy say the megaelectronics stores will start selling the Pebble smartwatch in stores this weekend. Google is said to be considering its own Android-powered watch, as well as a game console with Android under the hood and a revamped version of the failed Nexus Q media streamer. As for Google’s other major hardware project, the company informed the Texas Congressman Joe Barton in a letter last month that it was not making any changes to its privacy policy just for Google Glass. (On his site, Congressman Barton said he was disappointed by Google’s responses and felt his questions about privacy were not adequately answered.)

Also on the topic of privacy: the Federal Trade Commission’s revisions to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act went into effect this week. The new rules address modern matters and close a loophole allowing third-party plug-ins to collect children’s information without parental consent.

In hardware news that does not involve wrist-wear or fancy spectacles, Hewlett-Packard is reportedly working on its own smartphone — Android this time instead of the late Palm/web OS system. And the chief technology officer of Mozilla said the company plans to make a Firefox OS-powered tablet computer ASAP.

Finally, if you need a cheap computer, consider the JW-11, which costs less than $80 and runs on an ARM processor. The system officially supports Android, but it can run Linux, too. And you know, you can get Google Reader replacements on Linux. Just sayin’.