El Kaiser has a very blue Tech Term and J.D. shows us how to make iOS 7 easier to read. In the news, some love for Google Glass early adopters; Amazon launches a new program allowing customers the option to buy Kindle versions of their previous book purchases; SoundCloud adds Instagram integration; Netflix ponders its next move; a new report confirms that U.S. citizens pay more for less when it comes to their Internet service; Apple plans to continue its OS X freebie; and “The Zuckerberg Files”.
Those eager early adopters who joined the first-look Google Glass Explorers program are getting a little love from the Big G for sharing their opinions on the product — free upgrades! For people who already wear prescription eyeglasses, this next version of Google Glass said to be compatible with “future lines of shades and prescription frames.”
Amazon officially launched its new Kindle MatchBook program this week, which allows customers the option to buy discounted Kindle versions of books they’d previously purchased in print. To use it, log into your account on Amazon’s site to see what books are eligible. If you decide to grab the e-edition, you’ll typically pay $3 or less and the Kindle versions work with the Kindle apps for tablets, phones and computers as well as on actual Kindles.
In multimedia news, SoundCloud, the audio-sharing site, has hit 250 million listeners and now includes Instagram integration for users who want to ad cover art for the playlists and audio files they upload. After some very good quarterly earnings, Netflix is pondering its next move. One option the company is said to be considering? Releasing a “big” feature film on the streaming service the same day the movie appears in theaters. And as previously discussed, the Nielsen ratings people are going to start counting people who watch television programs on mobile devices instead of just on traditional television sets. Mobile ratings won’t start getting included until the fall 2014 television season, but Nielsen will be sending out software kits to its participants.
Thinking about hacking major government sites? If you do, maybe you shouldn’t brag about it on Twitter.
According to a report called The Cost of Connectivity 2013 from the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation, broadband customers in the United States pay higher prices for slower Internet service than people living in Europe and Asia. But T-Mobile, which did do fairly well in the survey, has nice plans for people who buy iPads to work on the company’s network.
In an earnings call earlier this week, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said that future versions of OS X for the Mac will be free. CEO Tim Cook also announced that the company had its best quarter in the education market ever. The iPhone’s hold on the market continues to slip, though, as many more smartphone users opted for the Samsung Experience last quarter. Android 4.3 Jelly Bean is rolling out to owners of many Samsung devices and on the Smartwatch Watch, the Wall Street Journal reports that Google’s rumored Android-based wrist accessory is supposedly integrated with its Google Now service.
Scientists may predict how your romantic entanglements on Facebook will turn out. The paper, titled Romantic Partnerships and the Dispersion of Social Ties: A Network Analysis of Relationship Status on Facebook was written by Lars Blackstrom of Facebook and Jon Kleinberg of Cornell University and it looks at patterns of engagement and disengagement on with your social network activity.
And finally, the recent Facebook notice that the company was changing its “Who can look at your timeline by name” setting so anybody can find you with a search has some folks annoyed and ticked off and now Michael Zimmer, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is building a scholarly archive of every one-the-record statement about privacy uttered by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The motive behind the project is is to keep Zuckerberg honest when it comes to his stance and evolution on privacy issues. The archive, which can be viewed online, is called The Zuckerberg Files. (Curiously enough, Google+ has seen a hefty jump in users recently.) But anyway, time for that weekly check of the Facebook privacy settings!
And your Google+ settings!
This week we bring the jam! J.D. offers up alternatives to Photoshop as El Kaiser tries to find something decent to watch on Netflix and answers listener mail. In the news, the U.S. Emergency Alert System might be vulnerable to hackers; Google patches a 4 year old vulnerability in the Android mobile OS; bookseller Barnes & Noble get out of the tablet business; and the Mars rovers continue to do their thing on the Red Planet.
Another week, another collection of software vulnerabilities…For starters, the U.S. Emergency Alert System has a critical security flaw that could allow intruders to break into it and broadcast fake messages across the country. This is according to the security firm IOActive, which discovered the issue. The problem was due to a shared private SSH key for root privileges distributed in publicly available firmware images for the servers and computers that run the alert system. (Hackers are fond of creating messages about zombie attacks over public service signs and systems, so this could be tempting.)
Bluebox Security found a big ol’ hole in Android last week — something about any app potentially turning into a nasty Trojan horse to get all up in your business. Google quickly whipped up a patch and pushed it out to smartphone OEMs for distribution and spokesperson said even though there’s a flaw, most users don’t have to worry about it.
As for Android, new numbers from Google this week that show that the Jelly Bean flavor of the system, (versions 4.1 and 4.2), have now combined to beat out the older Gingerbread 2.3 on active devices, with Ice Cream Sammich (version 4.0) firmly in third place. Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and S4 phones are thought to be behind the surge in Jelly Bean use over the past year or so. So now we wait for a slice of Key Lime Pie.
The Boy Genius Report Web site claims to have news of Amazon’s plans for its next batch of Kindle Fire tablets. According to the BGR, Amazon has three new versions of the Kindle Fire in the works to debut this fall. While Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets are doing well, Barnes & Noble Way announced last week that it was getting out of the tablet business and leaving third-party hardware companies to build any future Nook tablets and the B&N CEO has now resigned. Not surprisingly, Microsoft has been mentioned as a potential buyer for the Nook business. Some are speculating that Barnes & Noble ditched the Nook in order to save its brick-and-mortar bookstores from extinction.
As promised earlier this year, Facebook is now rolling out its Graph Search feature across user accounts here in the US. (Graph Search is the new Facebook tool that lets users make very specific searches. If you’ve been on Facebook for a while, this might be a good time to review your privacy settings. In other social-networking news, Twitter updated its mobile apps this week with improvements to its own mobile search tool and direct message sync across all devices and platforms.
Apple TV, which added a few premium channel apps for cable subscribers last month, is reportedly in talks with Time Warner Cable to let subscribers watch their channels on the little black set-top box, according to Bloomberg News. And CNET reports that Beats Electronics is hoping to partner with AT&T for its new music subscription service.
Meanwhile, up on Mars, the Curiosity rover took a video of a Martian moonrise and its older sibling, the Opportunity rover just celebrated the 10th anniversary of its launch toward the Red Planet. While Martians used to be the stuff of fantasy, there’s a recent essay by Judith Shulevitz in the current New Republic magazine called “And the Martians Shall Save the University — Why Do We need the Liberal Arts? Because It Gave Us Sci-Fi.” If you like science, science fiction — or just find it really cool that a writer can dream up fantastic inventions to inspire engineers and researchers to build for real, give it a read. But first, go check your Facebook privacy settings.
The Web is a vast place, full of information, but sometimes it takes longer to dig up the answer you need than you’d like. You do have other things to do, after all.
Take, for example, canceling services and subscriptions. Who wants to wade around in the customer-service section of a company’s site or be stuck in a caller queue for half an hour? Instead, stroll over to the WikiCancel site, which claims to be “the most current subscription, contract, and account cancellation guide.” Here, you can find links and information about canceling all sorts of things in one convenient location — it’s like one-stop stopping. Not all services are covered – for example, the page for quitting your TiVo service still needs to be written – but the site invites volunteers to contribute and write up a few cancelation instructions themselves.
Privacy on social media Web sites is another multi-layered topic that can vary based on what social media sites you actually use and take time to suss out. If you want to quickly see your privacy settings for a bunch of common social-media sites, visit the MyPermissions page. This free service basically creates a giant visual bookmark right in your browser that lets click through to the privacy and permissions settings for sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Instagram, Flickr and more. Once you click into your privacy settings for each page, you can make sure they’re set to the level you want for your accounts. There’s also a mobile app version for the iPhone.
(On a side note, Lifehacker also has a page called The Always Up-to-Date Guide to Managing Your Facebook Privacy that’s worth a read just to keep up with the ever-changing world of how much of your information Facebook gets to share with advertisers. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has its own guide to protecting your privacy from Facebook’s new Graph Search feature as well.)
Having trouble getting Facebook — or any other online service — to load in your browser and wondering it it’s you or them? If that’s the case, visit the Is It Down Right Now? site, which keeps a running tab on the uptime of many popular Net sites and services. You can also check the status of other Websites by entering enter its URL into a box on the page and a fresh site-status test will be performed.
If all goes well, you save a few minutes here and there, get some quick answers and move on to more exciting ways to spend your time on the Web.