Of course, your apps are tracking you! El Kaiser told you that years ago, but The New York Times now fills in the details. J.D. rounds up the headlines from the past two weeks for discussion and also offers a (Hopefully) helpful Hint about recording your family’s history in audio and video this holiday season. Pull up a chair and join us for PTJ 294!
Not everyone likes new stuff. Still, Microsoft took to one of its own blogs recently to make a push for its spiffy new Windows 10 browser Edge, trying to show that the software provided better battery life when surfing compared to those other companies’ browsers (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera). However, in the latest survey of desktop browser market share from Net Applications, Google Chrome version 50 was in first place with 22.65 percent of users, with two versions of IE and an older edition of Chrome right behind. Edge appears in fifth place with about 4.46 percent of users, so perhaps this battery tip hasn’t gotten around.
Also from the Department of Microsoft News, the company announced a new version of its signature game console called the Xbox One S that starts at $400 for the two-terabyte model. The S-model is smaller than the earlier Xbox One and supports 4K video; the older Xbox One now sells for $280, so up yours, Sony PlayStation.
Google has added a new feature of its own to its app: Symptom Search. Yes, now when you type in specific health woes you’re feeling like headache or foot pain, Google returns a list of medical conditions that may include your symptoms. Doctor Google advises you not to use use this in place of actual medical care.
China is still winning at supercomputers. The new top performer, the Sunway TaihuLight, is capable of performing some 93 quadrillion calculations per second (petaflops, dudes). The TaihuLight is roughly five times more powerful than the fastest supercomputer in the United States.
And finally, the summer box office is heating up and Pixar’s latest production, Finding Dory, just broke the box office record for the highest-grossing animated film debut. The sequel to 2003’s Finding Nemo — made with the voice of Ellen DeGeneres as Dory, melded to Pixar’s cutting-edge, state-of-the-art animation technology — made more than $136 million dollars at the box office. Finding Dory passed the DreamWorks film, Shrek the Third,as top-earner. Pixar’s former top debut Toy Story 3 debuted with about $110 million back in 2010, but it looks like Dory will give a lot of people the urge to go fishing in the next few weeks.
It’s been a week of hacking, cracking and more than a little tracking. For starters, Facebook, which is never shy about getting all up in the content you post on the site, is now testing its Photo Magic feature on its Australian users. So, what is Photo Magic? It’s a Facebook tool that jacks into your phone’s Camera Roll to look for pictures you haven’t yet posted — and then suggests that you send those images to the friends it recognizes through the Facebook Messenger app. Privacy advocates, start your engines.
And from tracking to hacking, the same group that claims to have broken into the personal email account of CIA director John Brennan an few weeks back says it recently got into a law-enforcement portal site for arrest records, agency collaboration tools and other sensitive crime-fighting information. The group, known as Crackas With Attitude, let the world know of the hack of the Joint Automated Booking System over Twitter:
Just to clear this up, CWA did, indeed, have access to everybody in USA’s private information, now imagine if we was Russia or China.. #CWA
Pinterest has added a new visual search tool — which it describes as “crazy fun” — to help you find the things you want on sight. To quote the Pinterest blog, “When you spot something in a Pin that you want to learn more about, tap the search tool in the corner. Then select the part of the Pin you’re interested in, and we’ll show you Pins just like it. You can even filter your visual search results by topic so you find exactly what you’re looking for.”
Like video? T-Mobile has also added a new plan called Binge On that lets its users stream content from popular video services like Netflix and HBO Now without denting their data plans. However, some critics note that because not all streaming services are included in the Binge On plan, T-Mobile may have some net neutrality issues to work out with the FCC. Apple’s iPad Pro went on sale this week, with online orders starting Wednesday and the big slab hitting shelves a few days later. The tablet with the 12.9 inch screen has a starter price of $800 for the 32-gig Wi-Fi only version and the tags go north from there. Optional accessories like the $100 Apple Pencil stylus and the $170 Smart Keyboard, which turns your iPad Pro into a Microsoft Surface, also went on sale this week. And more reasons for Apple to be happy – a federal district court judge threw out a class-action lawsuit brought by Apple Store employees who wanted to be reimbursed for the time spent in the office bag-search line to make sure they weren’t nicking the merch.
The proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable has been given a time out. The Federal Communications Commission paused its regulatory review of the $45 billion dollar deal this week when it discovered that thousands of requested documents from Time Warner were improperly withheld from the agency and another 31,000 did not get submitted properly due to “vendor error.” The FCC sent a letter to Time Warner, Comcast and Charter Communications saying it was going to “stop its informal 180-day transaction clock until January 12, 2015.”
Many of us have looked up song lyrics on the web for various reasons, but if you use Google for the search, you just may get those lyrics back at the top of your results page in that Knowledge Graph area. Not every song-lyrics search out there returns Google’s own results, but for those that do, you also get a link to the Google Play store for the full set and a link to buy the corresponding song. Google’s intentions may be a bit transparent there, but not as crystal-clear as the latest version of its own Transparency Report that tracks government requests for information. In a post on the Google Public Policy Blog, legal director Trevor Callaghan reports that from June to December 2013, Google received 3,105 government requests to remove 14,637 pieces of content.
The Hyperloop, the Elon Musk futuristic mass-transit project we talked about on the show last year could be moving farther from fantasy and closer to fact. JumpStartFund, the project’s developers have released a 76-page white paper detailing the current state of the system. The project’s managers are also thinking that the Hyperloop could be a reality within 10 years. Buckle up.
NASA’s Orion space capsule is home for the holidays. After its post-orbit splashdown in the Pacific on December 5th, the capsule took a week-long cross-country roadtrip back to Cape Canaveral, arriving on December 18th. Scientists are digging into the data collected during its trip around the Earth, and NASA has released images and video taken by the Orion capsule as it reentered the Earth’s atmosphere.
The VentureBeat site claims Amazon is working on an update for its epic fail of a smartphone. No comment from Amazon, but the Fire Phone 2 is rumored for 2016. The six people who bought the original Fire Phone will probably be due for an upgrade by then.
And finally, even though that hotly anticipated Fire Phone 2 may not be out next year, Mashable as a story on five smartphone innovations that are coming out in 2015. The predictions are based on the arrival of Qualcomm’s powerful new Snapdragon 810 processor and what it can do for the smartphone experience. If the predictions hold up, we’ll be using these powerful new phones as PCs and gaming consoles when we’re not enjoying their superior video and audio capabilities. It’s something to look forward to in the new year, along of course, with the return ofOrphan Blackon BBC America in April and Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December.
New to Doctor Who and don’t know what a K9 is? Feeling left out of the conversation when you and your Trekker friends get together? Well, don’t despair! J.D. will have you geeking out with the best of them. Also on the show, El Kaiser gives us his thoughts on Samsung’s newest flagship phone, the Galaxy S4 and digs into movie box office numbers. In the news Yahoo buys Tumblr and starts handing out storage by the terabyte over at Flicker; Microsoft unveils their new gaming console and hopes it will be The One that rules them all; and more proof that Science rocks and it rocks the hardest!
The annual World Science Festival is coming up soon in New York City The five-day fest starts May 29th and will have 50 events taking place across all 5 boroughs. Here’s the event list so you can start making plans.
J.D. shares tips on how to independently publish your own e-books and Pedro test drives some tablet and smartphone stylus pens. In the news the Associated Press has their Twitter account hacked; corporate espionage appears to be on the rise; Google Glass buzz heats up; and the Hubble Telescope celebrates its 23rd birthday.