Tag Archives: Pizza

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.

boaty

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*

Pie In the Sky

Domino’s revealed its latest update for the iPad last week, and unlike most app updates, this one had a press release. The updated software now includes a realistic 3D Pizza Builder photo animation that lets you build your pie from the crust up. The app depicts your dinner as a work in progress as you tap through your order, from picking a crust style to the showers of toppings raining down as you crown your achievement with meatballs and banana peppers.

The high-rez food photography is brilliant and (at least for the waistline) evil. Those tasty-looking pizza pictures will probably inspire a few customers to tap the back button and increase the size of their pizza, add more toppings or experiment with various combinations they wouldn’t normally consider. As with previous versions of the Domino’s app for Android, iOS and Kindle, as well as its website, you can use the Domino’s Tracker progress bar to follow your order as it gets made, baked, boxed up and delivered.

Dominos

But Domino’s is not the only national pizza chain with its own app. Papa John’s has Android and iOS apps to complement its mobile website. With the apps, you can tap together your order (which has its own pizza pictures), set certain pizza combinations aside as repeatable favorites for even faster ordering — and pay by credit card through the phone.

PapaJohns

Don’t forget Pizza Hut, which made headlines a few months ago with its prototype pizza-ordering table. The Hut has its own mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone. You can also get an app for your Xbox 360, although TiVo beat the Xbox by about five or six years when it came to ordering pizza through the TV.

PizzaHut

The dedicated mobile apps usually offer more streamlined experiences than just using the mobile web on your phone, and can do other things like send push alerts for coupons and special offers. According to The Wall Street Journal, about 40 percent of Domino’s sales come from online ordering, so there is a significant user base driving the digital delivery.

But are you one of those pizza purists who dislikes the somewhat-predictable taste of national chain pizza? (Yes, New Yorkers, we are talking to you.) If your preferred local pizza joint does not have its own app or site where you can place your order, see if you can find them on Seamless or GrubHub, sites that provide online ordering from a huge directory of restaurants  in cities across the country. You may be able to get your favorite order sent right to your door — all without having to spell your name on the phone or actually talk to anybody but the delivery person.

PTJ 84: Facebook Drones And Bitcoin Heists

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.

PTJ 84 News: 11,000 Drones to Go, Hold the Anchovies

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.)

xppopSpeaking 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.

PTJ 69: Apple Brings the Free and the Breezy

Apple unleashes a second fall product announcement and while most of the updates were expected, they still managed to surprise. J.D. has a Hopefully Helpful Hint detailing how to configure Twitter and other services to deliver emergency alerts directly to your smartphone. In the news, Nokia holds what could be their last phone hardware event before the unit becomes part of Microsoft; Microsoft’s new Surface 2 tablets arrived in stores and Windows 8.1 was finally made available to the public — but not without problems; Lenovo launches a new Android-based convertible laptop/tablet; BlackBerry releases the long-awaited Android and iOS versions of its popular BlackBerry Messenger software; Google provides free voice calling; Netflix continues its surge; and a British mathematician develops a formula for the perfect pizza. The podcast revolution continues…

PTJ 69 News: Do the Math

Over yonder in Abu Dhabi, the Finnish firm Nokia held its presumed last phone hardware event before the phone unit melds into Microsoft. As for Microsoft, the company’s next generation of Surface 2 tablets arrived in stores earlier this week. Last week saw the arrival of Windows 8.1, which will hopefully bring some relief to people who were hating on 8. Download Day was not without its problems, however, including installation errors and the unceremonious yanking back of the Windows 8.1 RT update for what Microsoft termed “a situation” and several users called “the blue screen of death that won’t let my tablet boot.” Microsoft released a Surface RT recovery image two days later.

Code explorers poking around version 4.4 of Google Play think they’ve found signs that Google is planning its own Android-based Newsstand in the near future. And as we’ve seen with other products, Android’s not just for tablets anymore. Lenovo, maker of giant 29-inch desktop computers, also has a new Android-based convertible laptop/tablet. No word on if the Lenovo A10 will hit the US yet, but is available in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asian Pacific countries.

Facebook had a case of the Monday Morning Blahs this week — the site was acting erratic and refused to let its users post comments or photos, update their status lines, send messages or “like” posts. “Network maintenance” was eventually blamed for the issues.

The hardware may have tanked, but BlackBerry was able to put out Android and iOS versions of its popular BlackBerry Messenger software that was formerly constrained to BlackBerry devices. The company reported that six million people signed up for information about the app before it was released.

Also in app news, Google has added free voice calling to its Google Hangouts app for iOS. The updated version of the iOS app arrived last Friday and brought with it free in-app voice calling to numbers within the U.S. and Canada, plus incoming call support to a user’s Google Voice number.

On the entertainment front, Netflix announced that it now has 40 million subscribers worldwide and announced that its quarterly earnings had quadrupled. Orange Is the New Black, the women’s-prison drama that arrived in July, is the company’s most-watched original series ever. And the Hollywood Reporter and Variety are both reporting that Tim Burton and Michael Keaton are in talks for a sequel to 1988’s Beetlejuice.

pizzaFeeling hungry? A mathematician at the University of Sheffield in England has calculated a formula that is supposed to create the “perfectly proportioned margherita pizza.” Dr. Eugenia Cheng’s equation factors in the volume of dough, the constant volume of toppings, and the ratio between base to topping to find the “optimum mouthful.”  (Who cares about P versus NP when the optimum mouthful problem has been licked?)

Oh, yeah. Apple had an event on Tuesday. It announced some stuff, namely the release of OS X Mavericks, new MacBook Pro laptops, more information on the tubular Mac Pro, new free iLife and iWork software and, oh, new iPads. Time to start guessing when the iPhone 6 will arrive!