Tag Archives: Time Warner

PTJ 239: Leak Week

June is Internet Safety Month, but it hasn’t been very safe for the personal information of 198 million people, which got exposed by sloppy data handling. The notoriously private Apple got trolled as well when a top-secret meeting about stopping data leaks got, er, leaked. After wading through the tech headlines of the week,  El Kaiser and J.D. discuss the merits of RAID, as well as how to turn your smartphone into a handy magnifier for those annoying moments when you actually have to read the fine print. Episode 239 of Pop Tech Jam awaits you.

Links to Stories in This Week’s News Segment

Tech Term

RAID levels explained (PCMag.com)
Digital storage basics, Part 2: External drive vs. NAS server (CNET)
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How to configure a cheap, secure RAID backup system (Macworld)

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint

PTJ 210: The Internet of Hijacked Things

Last week’s massive denial-of-service attack (and resulting Internet outage) was big news all on its own, but toss in AT&T’s latest digital land grab and you have a jam-packed few days of tech news. After the weekly discussion of the recent headlines,  J.D. explores free or cheap word processors that cut down on toolbar clutter for minimal distraction when you’re probably already procrastinating that big writing deadline anyway. Come on along for this week’s episode of Pop Tech Jam! (Also, El Kaiser gently suggests that you change all your default router and device passwords.)

Links to This Week’s News Stories

PTJ 62: The Swaggiest Swag In All The Land

Despite all the big tech news this week J.D. takes a few minutes to help El Kaiser work up the courage to cut the cable, um, cable. In the news Microsoft buys Nokia’s phone handset division; CBS and Time Warner finally make up; Big announcements at the IFA Berlin show;  Google acquires a smartwatch maker; U.S. retailer Target gets into the streaming video game; another government agency trips through U.S. phone records; and Skype celebrates its 10th birthday.

Ready Your Rabbit Ears

Even though the month-long hissyfit between CBS and Time Warner Cable finally ended this week, the notion that you can still watch your favorite shows without spending a huge chunk of money lives on. If you’re one of the viewers out there thinking of downsizing your monthly bills, here are a few options to consider for cheaper television:

  • Antennas. A good old-fashioned antenna won’t help for premium cable channels, but could yank down digital broadcast signal from the regular TV networks if you live within range and do not have any major obstructions. (Time Warner Cable was even offering a limited amount of free antennas at one point, with $20 coupons to pick up one at your local Best Buy instead; Radio Shack does some bang-up antenna business in some parts of the country too.) Next time you’re at the newsstand, check out the October issue of Consumer Reports magazine, which tests some digital antenna options priced between $10 and $80. Antennas in big cities can be hit or miss, but the magazine reported that testers got anywhere from no channels to more than 40 over the air. Consumer Reports also pointed out that even without a cable company-network dispute, an antenna could come in handy in other situations like ditching a set-top box for that bedroom TV you only use to watch network shows anyway, or as a backup if the cable service goes out. (Just remember that all TV signals are digital now after the switchover from analog a few years back, so your television set needs to either be digital or have a converter box attached to get the broadcasts with the antenna.)
  • Network Web sites and mobile apps. You may be able to watch some shows on the TV network’s own Web site or through its mobile apps. CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and PBS all have some shows available.
  • Third-party streaming TV services. Although mired in legal battles of their own and not available everywhere, services like the Aereo and FilmOn can bring local broadcast channels right to your computer, tablet, smartphone or other compatible device. Aereo, which is available in New York, Boston, Atlanta and Salt Lake City so far, starts at $8 a month and also includes 20 hours of online DVR recording so you don’t miss your stories; your first month is free. FilmOn has a variety of subscription plans with $20 a month for HD streams as a starter course and you can pick up online DVR recording as well. You can also watch local broadcast stations in standard definition for free, with ads. And don’t forget Hulu or if you’re catching up on older seasons of some shows, Netflix.

rabbitears

  • Legal downloads. Many shows are available the next day from services like Amazon Instant Video and the iTunes Store. Sure, you may be paying a la carte (unless you’re an Amazon Prime member) and the show you want is available, but hey, a season pass for a couple of shows is cheaper than taking the family out to the movies in New York City. Plus, you don’t have to sit through commercials and you get to keep the show for rewatching whenever you want.
  • Slingbox. The Slingbox connects to a regular TV and lets you watch live and recorded shows from that TV over the Internet on your laptop or mobile device. The Slingbox isn’t cheap — $180 or $300 —depending on the model, but even if you keep the cable around, you can watch your shows in more places than just on the TV linked to the cable company’s set-top box.

If you do decide to totally slice the coax and lose the cable bill, you can put those savings toward a really nice television set or tablet. And the next time the local cable carrier starts dropping or blocking channels due to a corporate smackdown, you won’t have to care.

Episode 59: Welcome to SNARK WEEK!

This week J.D. shares tips on how to use the web to get the perfect digital camera then she and Pedro discuss the recent announcement that veteran British actor Peter Capaldi will take a turn as the time travelling Time Lord, Doctor Who. In the news Comcast is working on a new system urging users to download copyrighted material legally; CBS and Time Warner Cable continue their Battle of the Gargantuans; Samsung maybe inching closer to unveiling a smartwatch; the FBI may be targeting Firefox users on the TOR network; and not even your toilet is immune from the hacking scourge.

Episode 59 News: Cable Vision

Would you like fries with that illegal download — or at least, a Buy button? According to a report in Variety, Comcast is said to be working on a new system where ISPs that sense users downloading copyrighted material from sharing sites and then sends out a pop-up message to the user with links to legally purchase the same content. Meanwhile, the squabble between Time Warner cable and CBS continues and viewers are not amused.

In the Department of New Stuff, the National Football League has released its new mobile app for Android, BlackBerry and iOS. LinkedIn has also updated its mobile app to allow job-hunters to apply for listed positions right within the app. The Smartwatch Watch continues. PC World and other sources have reported that Samsung has filed a US trademark on the name “Samsung Galaxy Gear.”

No one one’s surprise, Google announced the new Moto X smartphone last week. In a move that surprised pretty much everyone in media, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, bought the Washington Post newspaper this week for $250 million dollars, or the change in the cushions of his couch.

New malware found in sites hosted by Freedom Hosting is targeting Firefox users on the Tor network. Because the malware sends the user’s information to someplace in Reston, Virginia, some security researchers are thinking the FBI may be involved in the hack.

Last week, we worried about cars getting hacked. This week, high-tech toilets could fall victim to foul play. Trustwave, a security company, recently put out a warning about the Android app used with luxury Satis smart toilets made by Lixil. Because the Bluetooth PIN for the app is hardcoded to 0000, a hacker could grab a copy of the app, pair up a device with your toilet and then assume control of the bidet function or abuse the high-tech commode’s Direct Vortex Flush. (With ABC television executives talking to folks in Disney’s new Lucasfilm division about possibly producing a live-action Star Wars TV show, maybe they could use some new characters — like Direct Vortex Flush, Sith apprentice.)

Need a tablet computer? Microsoft has dropped the price on its pricier Surface Pro tablet computers. Apple’s iPad saw a sales decline of its own during this past quarter. According to IDC, the iPad went from having 60.3 percent of the tablet market last year at this time to 32.4 percent here in 2013. The new hardware rumors are starting to heat up for fall, though, with “a Retina display iPad Mini with different color options that arrives next month” as one of this week’s whispers.

In other quick Apple bites, the company is offering to replace third-party chargers. Apple is also set to restore the rest of the services on its developer site this week, as it finishes overhauling the system in wake of last month’s security issues (and just in time to push out a fifth beta for its iOS 7 software due out this fall). Oh, and Electronic Arts has announced that Mac gamers can play Sim City starting August 29th. Mark your calendars.

tapeAnd finally, we have two notable milestones to acknowledge this month. August 5th marked the the first anniversary of the Curiosity rover landing on Mars — NASA has a video. August also marks the 50th anniversary of the humble cassette, which made its official debut at a radio show in Berlin in 1963. Still have a recorder and a few old blank tapes out in the garage? Here are some song ideas for a Mars-worthy mix.

Episode 51: Mavericky Mavericks

The NSA is watching, Apple decides to go flat and Microsoft and Sony officially unveil their new gaming consoles at the E3 in Los Angeles. It has been a very busy news week in tech so J.D. and El Kaiser roll up their sleeves and tell you exactly when who did what to whom…. and where. Also, J.D. explains how you can save a little money by taking your own passport photos. 

Episode 43 News: Googley Eyes and Cable Ties

While the numerous interface changes in Windows 8 may have kept a few people from voluntarily upgrading to the new system, some sources have told The Verge site that Microsoft is currently testing versions of Windows Blue (also known as Windows 8.1) that gives users the option to boot the computer directly to the desktop environment. With that, and maybe those third-party tools that restore the Start menu, future versions of Windows could be much more comfortable for some people. Word has it that Microsoft is also preparing for another whack at a smart watch of its own, since Apple and Samsung seem to be tinkering around with the notion. Hopefully this decade’s attempt will fare better than the Microsoft Smart Personal Objects Technology of Yore.

Ever wonder why there’s no official mobile version of the Firefox browser available for iOS? According to Mozilla’s departing chief executive, it’s because his company wants to use a different Web engine than the one Apple uses to power iOS browsers. So there probably won’t be an iOS Firefox browser for the next version of the iPhone, which could be going into production soon. The Wall Street Journal reports that Foxconn, the company that actually manufactures many Apple hardware products in China, has been recruiting about 10,000 assembly-line workers there since the end of March. (On the topic of Apple hardware, if your third-generation Apple TV is having flakey Wi-Fi issues, here’s some info about the replacement program underway.)  And in mobile-security news, a new report from NQ Mobile says that mobile malware threats were up 163 percent in 2012 — with 95 percent of that aimed at Android devices. Buckle up, ‘droids!

Facebook is said to be talking to Apple and Microsoft about bring some version of the immersive Facebook quasi-OS to the iPhone and Windows Phone handsets. No word on how those talks are going, but Facebook released an update to its iOS app this week and it includes a variation of Facebook Home’s “Chat Heads” visual messaging app.

Kobo has just announced a limited-edition Aura HD e-ink reader, which claims to be the highest resolution e-ink display currently on the market. In other e-book related developments, publisher Simon & Schuster has announced a 1-year trial program with the New York Public Library that makes its titles available for electronic lending.

The first wave of Google Glass spectacles are done and heading to the shipping department for those who signed up early. For those with a bucket of cash to burn, the craving to adopt early and the desire to Wear a Thing on Your Head, the company has also released the spec sheet for Google Glass.

TWCTVIn video news, Netflix is dropping Microsoft’s Silverlight multimedia plug-in for video delivery and is reportedly moving its streams to HTML 5. Comcast has confirmed that it’s starting to scramble its basic cable channels, a power the FCC granted last year as long as they help their customers with the transition by providing free or cheap adapters. The move is not so good for those who pilfer cable or record programs on the computer with the coaxial cable plugged into a TV tuner card.

Time Warner likely has happier customers, though, as a new version of the TWC TV app for iOS devices released this week now lets registered Time Warner customers watch video on demand and live TV programming from certain channels wherever they are — including away from their home Wi-Fi networks, which had been a previous limitation. Alas, Android users must wait a bit longer for the updated version of the app to come their way.

And finally, a noble number cruncher out there has created an extensive turn-based role-playing game called Arena.XIism inside a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. True, the imagery may not quite be in the Battlefield 3 or BioShock Infinite league, but you probably won’t stress out your graphics card, either.

Hey, What’s on TV?

Now that we’ve got al the fall gadget announcements underway, it’s time to turn our attention to another season ritual: the new TV season. Granted, this is not as definitive as it used to be, thanks to the influx of cable and specialty channels on their own schedules, but the traditional broadcast networks still tend to launch the majority of their new shows and seasons in September and October.

And what better way to keep up with all the new eye candy than with your smartphone? There are a variety of TV-listings apps out there, including Zap2It and the TitanTV programming guide, but there’s one app that has a bit of brand-name recognition, especially if you grew up in the United States in the late 20th century.

Yes, we’re taking about TV Guide. That once overstuffed little digest full of weekly listings and program log lines, printed in black-and-white on pulpy paper, has gone digital. The app is free and when you sign in, you can use it to check much more than the program grid. You can set up a Watchlist for your favorite shows, filter your listings, share your viewing habits over Facebook and Twitter and keep up with news and videos. There are versions of TV Guide Mobile for both Android and iOS.

If you get your TV piped in from a cable company, check with your carrier for any custom tablet or smartphone apps they may offer. Some of these apps include special bonus features like the ability to watch live TV and set the DVR to record shows from your phone or tablet; TiVo has an app for this, too. The major carriers with some kind of app action include:

Hard to believe it wasn’t that long ago we’d be sitting in traffic somewhere having an internal fit because we knew, deep down, that we forgot to set the VCR to record Deep Space Nine. Yay, technology!