After a seven-month commute through space, NASA’s Perseverance rover is due to arrive on Mars next week! So, some science to go with our science-fiction television on this week’s episode, as El Kaiser shares his thoughts regarding later seasons of The Expanse on Amazon Prime and WandaVision on Disney+ . And J.D. has a smattering of tech news, including reports that Twitter is looking at subscription possibilities, along with resources on how to find out when you and your family can get the Covid-19 vaccine. It’s all here on PTJ 350!
As crisp autumn breezes swirl through New York City at last, El Kaiser and J.D. get back to business, pondering new studies on social media’s effect on news and mental health, Apple’s bugfest of an iOS 13 release and a recent addictive video game about a horrible little goose loose in a quiet English village. El Kaiser also shares his observations on some recently acquired gear. Pour yourself a cup of hot cider and settle in for PTJ 318!
It’s not just the leaves starting to waft through the air here in North America — plenty of lawsuits are swirling as well. El Kaiser and J.D. discuss some of the bigger ones, including legal action aimed at California’s new net neutrality rules and Facebook’s latest woes. And for those who aren’t fans of the new Gmail web design, J.D. has some tips for making the interface feel more familiar. Click on through to PTJ 288!
Pokémon, those whimsical little Japanese pocket monsters, are celebrating their 20th anniversary in style by taking over much of the mobile world this month with the release of the augmented reality smartphone game, Pokémon GO. But while millions of people downloaded the game to their Android handsets and iPhones in the first week of release, security experts and privacy advocates have voiced concerns. Journalist Laura M. Holson drops by Pop Tech Jam HQ to discuss how Pokémon GO works, what to worry about and why it became so popular so fast. El Kaiser and J.D. also discuss the non-Pokémon headlines of the week, including Twitter’s big plans for this month’s political conventions and some truly classic code.
Do you like reality TV? If you’re a general fan of long windy speeches, you can see the United states political machine grinding its gears later this month on Twitter. The bird-themed microblogging service announced this week that it has reached a deal with the CBS television network to livestream both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, much to the delight of trolls everywhere.
The ebook revolution seems to have hit a snag, at least with book from major publishers. The American Association of Publishers released its annual sales survey this week that showed ebook sales had declined about 11 percent in 2015. Overall, ebooks accounted for 17% of all book sales for the year and Fortune magazine thinks the drop may be in part to major publishers reining in e-sales with higher prices as a way to limit Amazon’s influence over the publishing industry. Digital formats are not all riding the down arrow though: The AAP survey also showed that revenue from audiobook sales has nearly doubled since the year 2012, from $299 million in sales up to $552 million last year.
As reported in Wired, Google has added settings for its search users that ask if they want to see tailored ads based on age, gender, and search history to show up now on third-party sites as the ads currently do on Google sites. By opting in, users can edit and block ads they don’t like across any device logged in with a Google account. This compares to other ad networks, which require users to opt out of such personalization. Google has also reworked the history page where it hoards all of the old searches and viewing history you’ve previously done on Google and Google-owned sites. The new data locker is called My Activity and it allows you to log in and delete specific entries out of your search and viewing history. In case you need to.
Android N has a full name now: Android Nougat. (Hungry for a Snickers now?)
Is Big Brother 2016 watching you? Those free Wi-Fi kiosks with the video ads and phone-charging ports that are popping up around New York City streets the past few months, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union and other privacy advocates who say the kiosks can be used to spy on and collect information from people passing by them. As reported by the ReCode site after obtaining documents through public-records laws, Alphabet, parent company of Google, “wants to monitor pedestrian, bike and car traffic, track passing wireless devices, listen to street noise and use the kiosks’ built-in video cameras to identify abandoned packages.” Sidewalk Labs, the company behind the kiosks, said all data is anonymized, not sold to third parties and the cameras haven’t even been turned on. Still, the kiosks have found dedicated fans on the city streets: The New York Post reported some of the city’s homeless population was using the stations to watch free porn until the city remembered it had to put in URL filters.
The hacking of social media accounts has been in the news since a Mr. Mark Zuckerberg got jacked recently, and if you’re worried about your own Twitter account, BuzzFeed has an article up with tips on how to see if your account is vulnerable from third-party applications.
The Chicago man who hacked several celebrity iCloud and Gmail accounts in 2014 (and made actress Jennifer Lawrence extremely angry) is going to plead guilty. Edward Majerczyk could get up to five years in prison, a felony violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act after stealing user names and password through phishing.
Facebook announced last week that it is adding a new multilingual composer for users to write one post, but have it appear in multiple languages. Sounds like there could be some good machine-translation memes coming soon.
Comcast and Netflix have made nice and come to an agreement that will allow Netflix’s streaming video service on to Comcast’s set-top boxes. Netflix’s long march to be on every type of screen available continues.
On this week’s episode, journalist Laura M. Holson previews her upcoming story about the life of Maye Musk, a registered dietitian-nutritionist and blogger who became a professional model in her late 60s. (Oh, and one of her kids runs SpaceX and Tesla.) El Kaiser and J.D. also trot through a week’s worth of tech news, including the government’s initial approval of the Charter Communications-Time Warner Cable merger, the data breach that’s making the Beautiful People sad and continuing squabbles over at the Unicode Consortium.
Facebook mess with the News Feed? Really!?! But seriously, according to Mashable and a few other sites, images of a new tabbed news feed screen for mobile devices have been spotted on Twitter. Facebook did confirm that it is indeed testing the new design, but did not say if or when it would actually launch.
Also in Google news, the company’s Android Security 2015 Annual Report was released this week. The company touts its monthly security updates, better screening for potentially harmful apps in the Google Play store and greater adoption of its app verification service as factors in making Android devices safer than before, but it notes that there are still a steady number of malware, ransomware and other nasty apps lurking out there.
Amazon is taking a shot at Netflix’s monthly streaming fees by making its own Amazon Prime service available as, you guessed it, a monthly subscription instead of an annual fee. And speaking of Netflix, that company is raising its monthly fees by 25 percent for longtime streaming customers next month.
And finally, if you love NASA and you live vintage graphic design and branding standards, you can now buy a copy of the space agency’s official graphics manual first published in 1976. The book is 220 pages with 129 image plates and comes individually packages in a static-shielding pouch. This is actually a reissue of the original book, of which only 40 copies were originally printed. The new version is a Kickstarter project that can now be ordered only for $79 a copy.