In a Hopefully Helpful Hint segment J.D. takes a look at some inexpensive websites that will show you how to become a programmer. In the news Google pushes for quality Android tablet apps; a new rumor making the rounds claims the aforementioned Google and Apple nemesis Samsung are teaming up to develop a Nexus branded 10″ tablet; and tech giants band together to create the Web Platform Docs project, a new community-driven site for web developer documentation.
Google has passed Microsoft to become the world’s second-largest technology company, which was not the only bummer for the gang from Redmond this week. The analytics firm Net Applications put out some numbers this week that showed that with Windows 8 due at the end of the month, users are five times less likely to be running the brand new operating system than they were when everyone was counting down to the arrival of the Windows 7 system back in 2009.
Facebook is trying to head off another user meltdown over its privacy practices when it comes to advertisers. In a post on the company blog, Joey Tyson, Facebook’s privacy engineer, explained a bit more about its new efforts and deal with the Datalogix company for user data. At least the allegations of people’s private Facebook messages showing up in public Timelimes seem to be false.
Also false: the promise that Motorola Atrix 4G smartphone owners would get the Android 4.0 update. Sorry Atrix 4G owners, no Ice Cream Sammich update for you. But while Google plows ahead with Android development for newer phones, its Chrome desktop browser has not been able overtake Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox in worldwide browser share.
After all the hoo-hah of the iPhone 5 release, Apple ended September in a more subdued manner. Chief Exec Tim Cook issued a written apology last week for the sad state of the Apple Maps app in iOS 6 and Ping — its largely ignored social network for music lovers — closed its doors for good this week. Rumors of the rumored announcement for the rumored iPad Mini may lift the mood though, as some sites are whispering that Apple may be sending out invitations next week for the rumored event.
Still, Apple is probably not happy that a U.S. court lifted the ban on sales of Samsung’s Galaxy 10.1 tablet here in the States or that Samsung has now added the iPhone 5 to its own patent suit against Apple. All of these patent punch-outs are heating up as more people take the plunge and buy a tablet computer. Studies from the Pew Research Center report that 25% of all adults in the US have a tablet computer. (If you just got a tablet and your kid is all over it, you might want to know that Netflix has added a Just for Kids section to its streaming video app for the iPad.)
Meanwhile, scientists continue to study nature for better ways to construct artificial systems. While Stanford University is looking at ants for networking tips, researchers from the English Universities of Sheffield and Sussex are working on a project that studies bees. They plan to use collected information about bee brains and sensory systems to create neural models for a simulated bee brain in a flying robot. A flying robot with embedded bee wisdom can hopefully navigate better and make its own basic decisions up in the air on search-and-rescue missions and other peaceful activities.
And finally, this weekend marks the 60th Anniversary of the humble barcode. The invention made inventory tracking easier, sped up checkouts at the grocery store and led to more modern day versions like Mobi Tags and QR Codes. All together now, “Yes, we SCAN!”
It’s okay to have a deep attachment to your computers, tablets, and smartphones just make sure to back them up! J.D. tells us what to do in the event of a hard drive failure, Pedro ponders the mysteries of “iPhone Love” and we have a biggie-sized helping of news…but since we’re in New York City the soda pop is tiny.
Another iPhone hitting stores isn’t big news, but an Apple FAIL does tend to generate some buzz. As many users complained, the new iOS 6 Maps app still seems to be a work in progress with entire towns and cities missing, duplicate islands, misplaced location pins, incorrect names and stores that have long been out of business.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak even commented on the situation at an Apple event in Australia. If you’re an Apple Maps user and find a mistake, you can report the problem to Apple in hopes of getting it corrected. And/Or you can post a funny picture to the Amazing iOS6 Maps Tumblr. While Google CEO Eric Schmidt said Apple would have to approve a new standalone Google Maps app in the App Store, the company is said to be working on it. While the iOS Maps app may take a few months to arrive, Google did find some time in its schedule to update its own Google Play Books app for Android this week.
Samsung continues to pester Apple with TV and print ads touting its Galaxy S3 smartphone over the iPhone 5, but according the The Next Web, a security researcher has found a bug in certain Android smartphones. If exploited, the flaw may allow an attacker to perform a factory reset on vulnerable devices, just by embedding a link on a website or sending a text message. A video shows a phone running the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android displaying the flaw. (Malware has also popped up in Twitter direct messages, so be on guard from friends who send a link about you being in a Facebook video.)
And speaking of The Social Network, Facebook is working with the data-mining firm Datalogix in the hopes of showing to marketers that consumers who see ads on the social network actually buy the products advertised. Facebook users are automatically included in these Datalogix advertising studies, and cannot directly opt out through their Facebook settings. Instead, they must go to the Datalogix privacy page and opt out there. And in other Facebook Paranoia news, reports from France earlier this week claim the site is posting private messages from 2009 and earlier on users’ public timelines; Facebook denies these claims. (Still if Facebook annoys you and Google+ doesn’t thrill you, hey, there’s always Myspace —which is getting ready to bust out a redesign.)
Also hoping for a comeback: Research in Motion. The BlackBerry 10 system is going into another beta. BB10’s new features include the ability to have separate personal and work profiles—with the ability to run apps from both simultaneously while keeping the data from each profile separate.
Barnes & Noble isn’t letting Amazon and Apple have all the Big Tablet Fun, and introduced its own new Nook HD tablets this week, along with a streaming video service. Like video, videogames may be bypassing the console streaming directly to your television sometime in the near future, too.
And finally, the Orlando Sentinel is reporting that NASA officials would like to construct a “gateway spacecraft” that would hover in orbit on the far side of the moon. The project is still a long way off from becoming a reality, but when it does, Google will probably map it first — and more accurately.
Microsoft is having a busy fall with new Windows Phones, the Surface tablet, a colorful overhaul of the flagship operating system. But wait, there’s more: a new security hole in Internet Explorer, versions 6 through 9. If you don’t feel like trying the suggested workarounds, there’s another option a few people have pointed out: Ditch IE.
Meanwhile, over in Applestan, the iPhone 5 broke a pre-order sales record and Twitter redesigned its iPad app ahead of the iOS 6 release on Wednesday. Open Internet and public-interest groups are complaining to the FCC about AT&T’s plan to make users switch its mobile-sharing plan to use Apple’s FaceTime videochat service over a cellular connection. Also complaining: Samsung, which continues to keep up the defense in its legal war with Apple over patents, pointing out on its company blog that the iPhone 4 sure looks like some of their old MP3 players.
The iPhone 5 wasn’t the only geek goodie flush with preorders this week — the first batch of Nintendo Wii U consoles is reportedly sold out in many places long before the system’s November 18th release. (No word on when preorders might be available for the bling-laden Hasselblad Lunar camera announced this week, but since it’s not due out until February, frugal photographers pining for a 24-megapixel camera with a sculpted wood handgrip have a few months to pinch together 650,000 pennies for it.)
While the Lunar camera is quite a luxury, if you want to talk big pixels in space, the Dark Energy Camera wins — with 570 megapixels and a mission to photograph 8 billion-year-old rays of light finally reaching Earth from distant galaxies. (Hopefully, all this intergalactic travel will get a speed bump if the physicists can get warp drive figured out.)
So we’re waiting around for that, an Android version of the Snapseed photo-editing app now that Google has bought Nik Software, and a Firefly reunion (besides the panel at the Comic-Con panel last summer). While we’re cooling it, we can always kill some time poking around the Internet Archive, which just announced its new collection of 350,000 broadcast news programs that cover the past three years of events. If you like TV news, check it out. Even if a massive video record of world events since 2009 isn’t your cup of tea, the Archive holds millions of other bits of history and has been dubbed “Alexandria 2.0” by Wired magazine. And you don’t have to be quiet in this library.
The Fall TV season is here and J.D. helps us use our mobile devices to look for what to watch plus Pedro has a new Tech Term. In the news, a new security vulnerability affects almost all IE browsers; blinged out cameras; the world’s most powerful camera; and warp drives may make the leap from science-fiction to science-fact.
It’s the first week of September and everyone is getting back to business and getting their new gear ready for the holiday season. The annual IFA Berlin consumer electronics fair, also known as the Berlin Radio Show, had a whole bunch of new stuff to ogle, including the ultra high definition (and ultra high price) 4K television sets. Mmmm, pixels….
Motorola Mobility? Check.
If the iPhone 5 does land this month, the reign of Samsung’s Galaxy S3 as the best-selling smartphone will probably come to an end. (Preparing for a big event doesn’t seem to have slowed down Apple from filing more patent infringement complaints against Samsung and trying to get even more of the Galaxy products banned from stores.) And Team Cupertino can bask in the glory of Mac OS X beating at least one version of Windows in market share, even if it is the much-maligned Windows Vista.
Meanwhile, hacking group AntiSec says it’s grabbed 12 million Apple unique device identifier numbers from an FBI computer. (The FBI doesn’t think so.) At any rate, the news that 12 million UDID numbers (and whatever personal information associated with them) have been grabbed up is a tad disturbing.
Looks like that story from the U.K. about actor Bruce Willis suing Apple over the bequeathal rights to his iTunes library was wrong, but as several media organizations pointed out, just who owns your digital media after you’re gone? (Speaking of gone, it sounds like Nicolas Cage is not — from the Kick-Ass movie franchise, anyway — and will be back with Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl and Jim Carrey as The Colonel in a sequel next year.)
Remember webOS? Anybody? (Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?) Even if it doesn’t ring a bell, HP announced it was releasing a beta version of webOS for both a desktop edition and one that runs on mobile devices.
Mobile devices in the Nordic lands will soon be getting something unique: a standalone streaming HBO service that doesn’t require you to have an existing cable subscription to use. Let’s hope Nordic HBO À la carte is a raging success so maybe they’ll do it here in the U.S.
And finally, if Half-Life changed your life back in the late 1990s, set an alarm in your calendar program for September 14th. A new version, dubbed Black Mesa and crafted by fans of the original game for the PC, is due out next late week. Who knows, maybe in a few years, they’ll do a console version that looks killer on a 4K television set.
The first round of the Apple-Samsung legal slapfight over patents wrapped up last week, with Apple winning a large chunk of change in the decision and asking for an injunction against the sale of several Samsung Galaxy phones. While Samsung vows to fight on in this case, the company is going about its business elsewhere, including in Germany, where it introduced three new Windows 8 desktop computers due out later this fall.
Apple isn’t sitting around basking in its legal victory either. The latest grind of the rumor mill now suggests two major Apple product announcements this fall instead of just one mega event. Amazon, in the meantime, is getting out ahead of any of Apple’s rumored showcase dates with an event of its own in southern California next week. While the shadow of iPhone 5 may loom over much of this fall’s mobile news, LG Electronics is diving in with the Optimus G, a 4G LTE Android phone with a quad-core Snapdragon processor, Bluetooth 4.0 and a big honkin’ 13-megapixel rear camera.
Dropbox, the online storage and file-sharing site, has had its share of security issues the past year. The company is busting a move, though, and has announced it’s adding two-step authentication to help keep those cloud accounts safe and sound. The procedure is still being tested and sounds a bit buggy, but will hopefully get smoother and make things safer for Dropboxers everywhere. While Dropbox’s new security system is working out the bugs, researchers from the computer science and biology departments at Stanford University are studying them. It turns out the behavior of harvester ants is quite similar to the algorithm used in the Internet’s Transmission Control Protocol. Yay, Anternet!
NASA’s mission for the Curiosity rover has gone beyond rolling around and taking pictures on the surface of Mars. The exploratory vehicle also belted out will.i.am’s “Reach for the Stars” this week — and it was the first time a song has been broadcast from another planet. Now, if only Curiosity can tap into The Walker Art Center’s star-studded Internet Cat Video Film Festival and share even more quality Earth culture with any galactic neighbors that might be around.
Hardcore trolls will still hide behind their handles YouTube (owned by Google, you know) is encouraging members to link their user names on the video site to their real names on the Google+ service. The whole universal Google-wide identity thing is not going over well with everyone — most notably with the actor Wil Wheaton, who went on a rant last spring after being asked to sign up for Google+ in order to give the thumbs up to a video he liked on YouTube. (Quick tip: Got Firefox and want to filter out the more offensive spew in the comments area? Try the YouTube Comment Snob add-on for cleaner living.)
Need some beach reading? The Justice Department has released its lengthy response to public comments on the proposed final judgment on its e-book price-fixing lawsuit. Apple, which is heavily involved in the e-book case, is also battling Samsung Electronics over patent issues and would like $2.5 billion for its troubles. That rock’em, sock ‘em court battle is scheduled to begin next week. With all this litigious action, it’s a wonder Apple has time to make all the products people are whispering about online. (Yes, the amount of sheer speculation on Apple’s plans can cause problems, but even Apple CEO Tim Cook knows you can’t stop the chatter.)
Amazon is reportedly cranking out a fresh pile of tablet hardware as well (and so, for some reason, is RIM with a new BlackBerry Playbook). For the camera hardware fans, Canon finally hit that sweet spot between pocket point-and-shoot and bug burly digital SLR with its Canon EOS M mirrorless model. (Some folks have even tested it out already, even though it’s not due in stores until October.)
Hey, if you jumped in early with the Windows 8 Preview, the 7digital music service is right there with you and has a preview version of its Windows 8-ready app available to try out. The store has several AC/DC covers, so you can rock out just like the Iranian nuclear scientists, who have been supposedly hit by a new cyberattack that makes their computers blast “Thunderstuck” in the wee hours. (While accounts of this latest worm seem dubious and unverified, admit it: It does get you duck-walking, doesn’t it?)
And finally, we note the passing of Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. Thanks, Dr. Ride, for smashing through the glass ceiling and take the dreams of young geek girls right into orbit with you.
Yahoo is busting a move and has nabbed Marissa Mayer, an engineer and one of the earliest employees at Google, to be the company’s new chief executive. Yahoo has had a rough time of it in the CEO department the past year, so here’s hoping Mayer gets the ship back on course. (Maybe give Flickr a tune-up? Pleeeease?)
A lot of people watch TiVo, but who knew TiVo was watching back? The digital recorder company said this week that it was buying the advertisement research company TRA Inc. for about $20 million. The TRA technology allows networks and advertisers to measure the effectiveness of advertisements on television and which networks sell stuff the best. (Hey, does the old TiVo 30-Second Skip trick still work?)
Microsoft continues to churn out announcements and updates this summer. This time, the news concerns the company’s flagship business software, Microsoft Office. A public beta preview version of the new software, Office 2013, is now available for the curious and the company is also revving up its cloud version, Office 365, to draw users away from the likes of Google Docs and Apple’s iWork/iCloud combo.
And now, a paragraph about robots — because the PTJ blog here has not had a paragraph about robots in awhile. Navy scientists are working with several research institutions with an ultimate goal of to creating mine-sweeping autonomous robots for dangerous missions under the sea. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is in on the project with some spiffy new algorithms and there’s more information and some cool video on the MIT site.
Valve Software is dedicating a team to bring the Steam gaming service to the Penguin Nation. A blog post on the Valve site states that the team’s current goal is to get the Steam service fully working on Ubuntu Linux 12.04, the system otherwise known as Precise Pangolin.
Samsung may be having trouble with Apple in the Federal courts, but the South Korea-based electronics company is winning in the people’s court of retail sales. According to a Reuters poll, from April 1 to June 30, analysts estimate that Samsung had sold over 50 million smartphones, overshadowing Apple’s projected sales of 30.5 million iPhones. Keep in mind that an iPhone 5 looms and people may be holding back on Apple purchases in anticipation.
Also, in anticipation by Batman fans everywhere: The Dark Knight Rises, and he rises this weekend in movie theaters. The Los Angeles Times is predicting big box office for the third film in the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale take on the Caped Crusader. Early reviews have been largely positive, but there was a bit of a dust-up for those expressing more negative views on the film. Please folks, leave the explosives to the mine-sweeping robots with their fancy MIT algorithms, okay?