Politics body-slammed the tech world this week, cyber-criminals have figured out yet another way to rip off unsuspecting victims and an enterprising young archaeologist has come up with a way to let volunteers help look for lost ruins from the comfort of their own homes. And when El Kaiser and J.D. finish the news, it’s time to pour one out for the Father of Pac-Man. Welcome to Episode 220!
President Obama sent his last budget to Congress this week, and out of the $4 trillion dollars total, the budget requested $19 billion dollars for national cybersecurity. The new plan calls for a chunk of change to finally upgrade federal workers off their ancient totally hackable computer systems. Case in point, according to VICE’s Motherboard site, an anonymous hacker has threatened to dump gigabytes of employee information grabbed off a Justice Department computer. Homeland security, indeed.
Speaking of Wired, the site is cracking down on ad-blocking and soon plans to start restricting access to the site for readers cruising by in a browser with an ad-blocker. You can also give them money to get rid of the ads.
But be very careful when shopping for USB-C cables. The Verge site reports that the faulty or improper wiring on cheap uncertified USB-C cables has actually shorted out laptops due to incorrect power usage. The article points to lists of cables that have been tested to work correctly, but also calls USB industry groups to come up with reliable certification procedures because nobody wants fried laptop for dinner.
And finally, if you long for a more simpler time when computer viruses were not just out to steal your money and identity, visit the Malware Museum online at the Internet Archive. Curated by security expert Mikko Hypponen of F-Secure, the emulated selections in the museum have been cleansed of their destructive power but show you the sometimes-whimsical messages left by hackers in a gentler, DOS-based era.
Speaking of control issues, Twitter suspended the accounts for the sports blogs Deadspin and SB Nation over the weekend for posting copyrighted GIFs and video highlights. Deadspin at least had a little fun at the NFL commissioner’s expense when the account was reactivated.
Apple updated its iMac line of desktop computers, bringing faster processors and 4K or 5K displays to the hardware. New input accessories the Magic Keyboard 2, the Magic Mouse 2 and the Magic Trackpad 2 — now with Force Touch — were also announced.
Experian, one of the bureaus out their keeping tabs on people’s credit, got hacked last week. Brian Krebs, who runs the Krebs on Security blog, has a story about how the bureau’s security practices have lapsed over the past few years due to attrition, dissatisfaction and other factors.
Google Cardboard is expanding internationally. The little fold-together virtual reality viewer that works with your smartphone and a special app is now is available in 39 languages and over 100 countries on both Android and iOS devices.
The participants in this contest represent the top three contenders for Internet streaming dominance. The test was simple; how fast could each device load up Netflix for two kids impatiently waiting for their weekly fix of “Wild Kratts” and “My Little Pony”.
This is my old warhorse. While the user interface won’t blow your socks off it did deliver where it counted. Netflix loaded up in about 30 seconds. Roku offers up a ton of channel selections, many of which I would never watch but if you want variety, it’s the only option. All the big channels you’d expect, including Amazon Prime.
The UI is classic Apple, easy to navigate and intuitive. Channel selection isn’t very good but if you download your content from iTunes exclusively this is the set top box for you. No Amazon Prime but I can stream my iTunes library through it, which makes me a happy Kaiser. Netflix loaded up quicker and looks better than the Roku.
The setup was clunky and is not a true set top box in the traditional sense. You essentially stream apps from your mobile device to the Chromecast which I had directly connected to an open HDMI port on my television. Netflix took forever to load up but looked great through the 2.4 Ghz WiFi connection once it got going (no 5 Ghz option). Limited channel selections but Google has been updating the device regularly since its debut.
As many of you with kids have already figured out this was pretty much my Kobayashi Maru. There is no device on earth that can load up Netflix fast enough for two restive young’uns.
I put my Roku 2 XS out to pasture and the Google Chromecast will become a permanent part of my travel arsenal. The Apple TV is my current go to set top box.
It is the current (and probably only) winner of the Pop Tech Jam Annual TV Streaming Smackdown.
On a supersized episode of everybody’s favorite geek-culture podcast El Kaiser takes a turn at hopefully being helpful by detailing the steps to avoid a malware infection. With social networks making spoilers a legitimate concern for all TV watchers, J.D. introduces us to some apps that can help keep second screens from spoiling what’s on the first. In the news, more of the world gets online access and some companies help bring less expensive Internet access to developing countries; the Gold Master of OS X Mavericks is made available to developers; rumors point to Amazon releasing a set top box to compete with the Apple TV and Roku devices; Google and Hewlett Packard announce the HP Chromebook 11; and Yahoo gets to blow out 16 candles.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear is now out and receiving fair to middling reviews, and the rollout of smartwatches from other companies continues. The Filip smartwatch for kids — which also serves as a simple mobile phone between parent and child — is headed for AT&T.
And finally, we here at Pop Tech Jam would like to congratulate Peter Higgs and François Englert on winning the Nobel prize in physics for their work on the theory of the Higgs boson. Awesome boson, dudes!
The independent audio magazine devoted to mashing up pop culture, technology and more. J.D. Biersdorfer and Pedro Rafael Rosado are your hosts. It's an Internet Radio revolution!