Tag Archives: Surface

PTJ 127 News: Waze and Means

Microsoft reported its quarterly earnings this week and things were better than expected, thanks to big sales in cloud computing software, Nokia Lumia phones and Surface tablets — all that primetime product placement on network television finally paid off! While this was all good news, the company’s stock did drop 4 percent in after-hours trading that day, due to that big multicolored elephant in the room — Windows for the PC, which continues to lose ground in a mobile world. (Meanwhile, Apple’s earnings call revealed that the company sold a ton of new iPhone 6 models and that the Apple Watch is supposed to ship in April.)

fbfailFacebook and its sister site Instagram had a major outage this week, going offline Tuesday morning for about an hour. Facebook said the faceplant was due to an internal glitch and not the Lizard Squad hacking group, which posted vague claims of responsibility on Twitter. The sites for Tinder and Hipchat were also down around the same time, but came back without incident.

The Facebook mobile app can be a bit of a space and resource hog, but the company is slimming things down for that new crop of inexpensive Android smartphones aimed at emerging markets overseas. Facebook Lite, as it’s known, is less than one megabyte in size and designed to work even on slow 2G cellular connections.

The merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable still looms. While many advocates on either side of the deal have shared their views with the Federal Communications Commission, some of those views seem a little…familiar. As The Verge blog revealed after examining public records, several politicians who have sent in personally supportive letters praising Comcast’s business practices were actually sending in letters ghostwritten by Comcast communications specialists. Comcast said it was just helping to provide information on the pending deal.

Google’s  new wireless service in partnership with Sprint and T-Mobile may let your connection bounce around between WiFi or whichever wireless carrier has the strongest signal at the time. It won’t be ready for several months, though, but is said to be similar to a WiFi-heavy phone service called Freewheel from Cablevision,

googfiberGoogle also continues its push into high-speed fiber optic networks for residential use. In a post on the Google Fiber blog, the company announced that Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville and Raleigh-Durham would be joining Kansas City, Austin and Provo in the Gigabit Internet Club, which as we know, as speeds about 100 times faster than most normal broadband.

Snapchat and Twitter are trying to swim deeper in the revenue stream. Snapchat has begun to integrate content (with advertisements) from media companies like CNN, the Food Network and People magazine as part of the app’s Discover section. And Twitter’s blog announced this week that group Direct Messages and mobile video were rolling out. The new video feature — which is available in the Android and iOS apps — can record, edit and post short clips to your Twitter feed so all your followers can share the experience when 140 characters just aren’t enough.

If you’ve ever used the Waze traffic app to note the location of police cars on the highway, note that officials in the Los Angeles Police Department would like to shut down that part of the program. The LAPD fear the feature could be “misused by those with criminal intent to endanger police officers and the community.” No response from Waze-owner Google yet on the fate of the po-po button.

IoTsecurityAnd finally, the Federal Trade Commission just released a 71-page report that says companies making smart appliances and gadgets should monitor connected devices throughout the product’s entire life cycle, patch security holes, and grab the reins on how much personal data a device collects from the user. The FTC, which has filed complaints against companies before for things like lax security, also calls on Congress to pass new legislation like broader privacy protections for consumers and a National Data Breach Notification Law. Some industry think-tanks and at least two Republican lawmakers have raised issues with the report, saying basically that overregulation smothers innovation and jobs. Still, with reports of hacked baby monitors and other connencted devices becoming more frequent, forcing companies to secure their hardware and software doesn’t sound like too much to ask, y’know?

PTJ 72: Apples, Pears, and Penguins

As relief groups and charities collect donations for much needed supplies to help the typhoon ravaged Philippines, how do you know which organization is best for your contribution? J.D. gives us the rundown on how to avoid the dirtbags and fly-by-night outfits when lending a hand. The snow has El Kaiser in a foul mood but he lightens up a bit to share more smartphone battery tips, this time for Android devices. In the news Sony assures gamers that they can indeed play used games on the PS4 despite what the terms and conditions read; Motorola drops the price of their Moto X and makes it easier to get; they also file a patent for a neck patch that can let you make phone call or act as a lie-detector; Apple vs. Microsoft sniping heats up over a Surface 2 billboard; Google Glass gets stereophonic sound; and dig out that Pentium desktop from the garage! A new Linux distro offers the look and feel of Apple’s newer operating systems on old gear.

PTJ 65: iRadio Ga Ga

This week JD takes a listen to Apple’s new iTunes Radio service and breaks it down for us; Pedro wrestles with a rare tie-less day in the studio; and gives us his observations on everything from “Breaking Bad”, iOS 7 and the updated edition of JD’s book, “iPad: The Missing Manual”. In the news New York State goes after fake online reviews; LinkedIn gets sued for allegedly hacking user accounts; Microsoft debuts new Surface tablets; Blackberry throws in the towel; iPhone sets a sales record for their new smartphones; Google’s Gmail service slows to a crawl; Valve announces their own Linux based OS; and Adobe updates their consumer photo apps to eliminate the dreaded “Pet Eye”. (Stop frontin’, you know you wanted it…)

PTJ 64: Bing, Bump and Box

J.D. tells which companies are offering deals for your old gear and Pedro has an Old  School Tech Term segment to share with the class. In the news, Verizon challenges the FCC’s Open Internet rule of 2010; Netflix keeps an eye on pirates to decide what to buy; Nokia prepares to roll out new product; Sandisk debuts a new 256GB memory card; Bing attempts to redefine search; Box takes on Google Docs; and Grand Theft Auto V appears to be on the road to billion dollar sales in less than one month.

Trading Places

The Hot Fall Gadgets of 2013 are rolling out now and several companies are trying to make it easier for you to upgrade by offering deals for your old gear. Apple and Walmart have jumped into the trade-in game and Microsoft is even trying to get in on action.

So, you want to trade – where do you go? Here are some options:

  • tradeApple. The company has had a reuse and recycling program for a few years that offers Apple Store gift cards based on the value of your old device, or at least, responsible recycling to keep the stuff out of landfills. Last month, Apple started an iPhone Reuse and Recycling program and you can even do it on a walk-in basis if you live hear one of those fancy Apple Stores. As Wired explains it, you go to the Store, snag an employee who can tell you if your particular iPhone is worthy. If it passes muster, the Apple Store person will give you a price quote on the value of your model. If you agree and take the deal, your old phone goes to Anchorhead to get its memory erased right there and you go home with a new iPhone that cost you less than what it normally would. Don’t like what’s offered? You can walk and go try someplace else.
  • Gazelle. Long a player in the recycle-for-cash game, Gazelle’s site can quickly tell you how much your old phone, tablet or computer is worth to them in cash. They also buy broken stuff.
  • Amazon. The site tries to sell you everything, so it’s only fair that it buys some of it back when you’re ready for new things. Smartphones, tablets, Blu-ray players, games, speakers and more can be traded back for Amazon gift cards.
  • Microsoft. Still looking to get rid of all that Surface tablet overstock from last year’s flopped launch, Microsoft promises a $200 gift card to the Microsoft Store if you trade in your gently used iPad for oh, maybe a Surface tablet or other Windows gear.

If it’s mostly Apple stuff you’re looking to offload for cash, check out AppleInsider’s price guides page for trading your iGear. And remember, you can always donate your old phones, computers and music players to a worthy cause, and get karma points instead of a gift card.

Episode 32 News: Great Spexpectations

bunscannerAre typed passwords passé? Google has some thoughts, and in a paper to be published later this month, suggests a number of ideas to bolster password security with hardware like a USB token that can be plugged into the computer, a ring that can authenticate the user’s identity or two-step verification with a smartphone linked to the account. Now, if only the biometric retina scanners and voiceprint identification software were ready for the home market. (Fingerprint readers for smartphones seem to be in the works, though.)

In the world of mobile devices, Research in Motion has changed the name of its online store from BlackBerry App World to BlackBerry World. The Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet will go on sale February 9th in the US and Canada. Instagram recently piped up to says it still has 90 million active users, even after the fallout from its PR blunder late last year about how maybe it just might share its users’ photos with advertisers for money (a TOS item that has since been revised).

File-sharing, especially sharing of copyrighted content, is the bane of the entertainment industry, but Columbia University’s American Assembly research center has just done a public option poll that suggests that people using peer-to-peer sharing services buy 30 percent more music than those who do not use P2P sharing. Kim Dotcom, founder of the late Megaupload site that was a favorite of those sharing copyrighted content, is back with a new file-storing and sharing site. (Some have raised security concerns, however.)

Do you prefer to do your video-sharing by watching TV with the family? The research firm Frank N. Magid Associates thinks many people may be buying a new TV soon; bells and whistles like big flat screens and built-in Internet connectivity are seen as upgrade lures. And there will soon be more to watch on the stream aside. Fans of the Arrested Development TV show celebrated when Netflix decided to pick up the long-canceled show and produce new episodes that are due this May, and now Amazon may be getting into the content-production game as well. The online ultra-mega-uberstore is said to have snagged the Zombieland TV show that was under development for one of the major broadcast networks.

At least these services pretty much have the whole streaming thing down, compared to the National Hockey League, which had some trouble with its own live video app this past weekend and plenty of griping fans; the NHL did acknowledge there were issues that they were “working hard to fix.”

Meanwhile, out in space… NASA’s older Mars rover, Opportunity, is still hard at work after 10 years of leaving Earth for its own mission on the Red Planet. And Curiosity, the bigger, newer rover is expected to start drilling on that rock within the next couple of weeks in search of evidence that Mars once had flowing water.

And finally, it’s time for Rumor Roundup:

One hopes the real new Xbox lives up to the rumored Xbox here. And hey, that kind of multipurpose entertainment console just might call for…a new TV!

Episode 23 News: The Hurricane Ate My Homework

As the storms of the past few weeks — Hurricane Sandy, the US elections, a snow-spewing Nor’easter on the East Coast, it’s time to take a minute and regroup before hurling into the holiday season. Geeks everywhere were goggling over the news that Disney bought Lucasfilm and Star Wars 7 is headed for theaters in 2015; the screenwriter for the project has already been hired.

Princess Leia didn’t need no “Floral Kiss” pink blaster to pop those stormtroopers. She got the job done just fine with standard-color armaments, so sorry, product designers of little pink computers and little pink cars, you’re going to have to try harder with some of us out here. (At least a certain Hoosier songwriter already called dibs on little pink houses.)

Meanwhile, out in Redmond, Microsoft giveth and taketh away: A new Xbox Surface gaming tablet us said to be underway, but those who love Microsoft Messenger will be booted off the system next year when Microsoft retires Messenger to focus on Skype.

Amazon is said to be testing out a $7.99-a-month version of its Amazon Prime service for those who’d rather pay more in installments that cough up the $79 annual fee all at once. The Massive Superstore of Everything also signed up Staples to host its Amazon Lockers that hold your Amazon packages when you’re not home to get ‘em.

Instagram is getting some Facebook-like enhancements like profile pages and desktop access, which also seems to have generated some Facebook-like privacy concerns among advocates. Still, the mobile space is still where Instagram rules. Oh, and Mary Meeker popped up before her next annual report with some thoughts on the current state of Android, iOS, Windows and other systems people use to get in the Internet.

Mobile devices were often the only way some people on the East Coast had to communicate in the wake of Hurricane Sandy two weeks ago when the power went out in many towns and cities. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a guide for what to do before, during and after a major storm and the folks at NBC’s Rock Center news show have compiled a list of Hurricane Sandy relief organizations and efforts for those wanting to help.

Hurricane season traditionally runs from June 1 to November 30 each year, so it’s not over yet, and then we move into winter storm season in the northern and western parts of the country. Having a cellphone car charger or hand-cranked turbine/solar unit (USB charger, flashlight, radio) on hand in times of emergency can really help, so if you’re compiling a holiday shopping list, perhaps one of those might make a more useful gift than another necktie or pair of fancy slippers. (Or those freaky singing robot fish that were way too popular a few years back…)

And if you see a storm headed your way on the TV, the Web, your weather app or your other source of weather news, be prepared. Stock up on emergency supplies of food, water, battery, candles, flashlights and all that. Fill up the car’s gas tank, batten down the hatches and bunker in until the storm passes. And if you’re going to be stuck inside while the weather rages outside, red-velvet cupcakes and a nice bourbon make excellent comfort food.

Episode 22 News: Zombie Jamboree

Windows 8 and its new Surface tablets hit stores at the end of this week and they have at least one major fan – former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. In a busy week, Microsoft updated the Xbox 360 with new features, including Web browsing on the TV with Internet Explorer on the Xbox and voice search through the Kinect controller. The company also put its new Office Web apps on its SkyDrive cloud service and Outlook.com. The Office Web Apps allow users to share and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files in a Web browser.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note II big phone/little tablet arrived this week, as T-Mobile stores received their shipments and AT&T getting them on November 9th. Sprint, which has been added to the cellular carrier list for the iPad, continues to build up its 4G LTE network around the country.

After months of rampant speculation and rumors (garbled at times or otherwise), Apple announced a bunch of stuff this week, including a new Mac Mini, updated iMacs, a 13-inch Retina display MacBook Pro, and oh yeah, new iPads maxi and mini. (Should they just rebrand the iPod Touch the iPad Micro at this point?) Also, word has it that Apple is testing an update to iOS 6 that’s supposed to fix several issues with the software on the current crop of iOS hardware.

One of Amazon’s cloud computing data centers had a little power outage this past Monday, so if you were trying to use the Foursquare, Pinterest, Reddit or TMZ sites and couldn’t, that was probably why. Amazon Web Services was restored later, but not before several people complained on Twitter. And BlackBerry also had some woes, as a prominent Federal agency has decided to end its contract Research in Motion and issue Apple’s iPhones to its employees. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency liked the iPhone’s tighter controls over hardware and software compared to other mobile platforms out there.

Android had more security woes this week as researchers tested 13, 500 popular apps in Google’s Play store and found that 8% failed to protect bank account and social media logins. (Yes, data is worth money in many ways, and an executive at IBM has even called Big Data one of our most valuable emerging natural resources.) Another government agency had news this week as well — the Federal Trade Commission, released its official Best Practices document for companies using facial recognition technology.

Meanwhile, up on Mars this week, the Curiosity rover took its fourth scoop or Martian dirt to analyze in its onboard lab!

And finally, PopCap Games, maker of the addictive Plants vs. Zombies videogame, is teaming up with the American Dental Association to promote good oral hygiene in this candy-laden time of the year. PopCap is making coupons for free downloads of Plants vs. Zombies available for parents to dispense to trick-or-treating children as a healthier alternative to candy. Check it out here, and be sure to brush after those Halloween treats you do score next week.