Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these podcasters from sharing their hi-jinks and shenanigans! Well, actually gloom of night might give us pause… This week J.D. gives us some helpful hints on how to prevent our children from making unapproved in-app purchases and Pedro tells us what apps to use to navigate and experience NYC like a native. In the news, Verizon buys Intel Media’s OnCue Internet-based television service; the Internet of Things gets hacked; the video game console war rages on; Hewlett-Packard brings back Windows 7; Samsung Galaxy S5 rumor mill picks up the pace; a comet chasing spacecraft wakes from a long nap; and The New Yorker magazine reminds us that there is still nothing quite like the power and reach of live over-the-air radio.
A deep winter chill may have settled over a large part of the country this week, but things are heating up in the streaming-TV business. Still on a roll from last week, Verizon has now reached out and purchased Intel Media’s OnCue Internet-based television service for an undisclosed sum. OnCue, which is still under development, includes a traditional bundle of TV channels, but delivered over the Internet instead of by coaxial or fiber-optic cable. Especially since a recent survey from the research firm NPD Group found that US households that subscribe to premium cable channels dropped six percentage points from March 2012 to August 2013. In that same period, homes that signed up for Internet video-on-demand subscription services rose four percentage points. (The study can’t scientifically show cause-and-effect, but still, ya gotta wonder…)
According to the security firm Proofprint, the Internet of Things has been hacked. (Didn’t take long now, did it?) Researchers for Proofprint report that along with hacked laptops and tablets, more than 100,000 smart, Internet-connected appliances like multimedia set-top boxes, game consoles, routers, television sets and even a refrigerator were compromised by intruders, looped into a botnet and used to send out more than 750,000 malicious email messages. (Keep in mind, though, that the company making this discovery did have a dedicated interest in putting out a press release on the incident as quickly as possible.)
The console wars, which escalated late last year with the arrival of both the Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, rages on, but Sony appears to have the upper hand. But while Sony and Microsoft slug it out, Nintendo is not doing so well in hardware sales. A reported profit loss and disappointing sales figures for its Wii U console have sent its stock price down and some analysts are saying the company should get out of hardware and stick to software and game development.
Google has booted two browser extensions out of its Chrome store for violating the company’s terms of service. The “Add to Feedly” and “Tweet This Page” extensions got kicked to the curb when it was discovered that code for serving up ads when browsing websites had been quietly added in an update. And Windows 8 continues to get dissed, now even by at least one major OEM. HP has been touting new machines running Windows 7 on its home page, as part of a “back by popular demand” sales campaign. The company has pushed several desktop and laptop models with Windows 7 preinstalled to the spotlight, while keeping Windows 8 in the background.
Microsoft, however, is still fighting for Windows 8 acceptance and has published a new, free how-to guide to the system called “The Windows 8.1 Power User Guide for Business”. Run, don’t walk to get your copy, folks.
Photos purporting to be the new Samsung Galaxy S5 are leaking out online, and those who have seen the new user interface describe it as “looking like an attractive Google Now.” While officially unconfirmed by Samsung at the moment, most expect the schmancy new phone and UI to make a splash at next month’s Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona.
Meanwhile, out in space, NASA reports that the Rosetta spacecraft woke up from a 957-day hibernation on January 20th and is getting back to work on its mission of chasing Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The Rosetta project, which began back in 1993, is actually a mission of the European Space Agency, but scientists from NASA contributed three of the 25 scientific instruments the spacecraft will use to monitor the roaming comet.
And finally, while the consumer world is all abuzz with streaming online radio stations, high-fidelity equipment, satellite receivers and other high-end gear, The New Yorker has an insightful article online right now about the humble analog pocket AM/FM radio, specifically the Sony SRF-39FP. While broadcast radio may seem like a quaint notion from yesteryear, the article is another reminder that there’s nothing quite like the power and reach of live over-the-air radio. And it’s still one of those few entertainment activities you can even do when your Internet connection is down. Imagine that.
Series 3 of the BBC’s “Sherlock” finally makes its debut on PBS stations across the United States but if you can’t get enough of the deerstalker hat wearing detective, J.D. fills us in on other ways to get our Sherlock fix. Pedro deals with the disappointment of not having any cryptocurrency named in his honor by telling us what he knows about digital money. In the news, the U.S . Court of Appeals strikes down F.C.C. net neutrality rules; hackers mark the one-year anniversary of the death of programmer and digital-rights activist Aaron Swartz; Winamp will whip more llama ass; Google goes shopping; Snapchat continues to deal with its growing pains; and the bells begin to toll for Microsoft’s Windows 8.
The year’s not even three weeks old and plenty of change is in the air. Earlier this week, the US Court of Appeals bounced the net neutrality’s rules put forth by the Federal Communications Commission. This gave Verizon Communications a legal victory over potential restrictions that would have made the company treat all traffic over its broadband lines equally. Continue reading PTJ 78 News: Whacks and Hacks
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.
Another week, another legal tussle. Verizon recently threw down a legal challenge to the FCC’s Open Internet rule of 2010, which bans big companies from discriminating against little companies in favor of their own competing services or business partners on their broadband networks. Verizon says this violates its First Amendment rights and some legal eagles worry that the net neutrality rules may not survive.
Let’s not worry about Netflix for the moment, as it seems to have found a cheap way to do customer research. A Netflix VP said the company looks around to see what’s hot on the piracy sites and uses that intel for decisions about what programs to buy for its streaming service. (Why yes, Netflix does offer old seasons of Game of Thrones in its DVD rental department, but no streaming.)
There’s a snap in the East Coast air and companies are rolling out new stuff. A quick post from Nokia’s Twitter account seems to confirm October 22 as the date for the company’s fall hardware event. SanDisk, maker of memory cards, has announced its SanDisk Extreme Pro Compactflash memory card with a 256GB capacity. Microsoft Bing has gotten both a visual overhaul and a new mission to change the definition of search. If you don’t have it already, Twitter is said to be preparing a redesign of its mobile app as well to coincide with the arrival of Apple’s iOS 7, which arrived this week. But even though iOS 7 is fresh out of the gate, the 9to5Mac site reports that it’s noticed last week in its Web analytics that some people are browsing around with devices running iOS 7.0.1, iOS 7.0.2 and iOS 7.1. So the bug hunt has already begun.
Amazon has some updates up its giant sleeves too. While images of new Kindle Fires have been leaking around the Web, the supermegaüberstore also updated its Amazon Instant Video app for iOS to support Apple’s AirPlay technology and add integration with the Internet Movie Database.
Box, one of the many online storage and sharing services up in the cloud, has a new application for creating and editing digital documents. It’s called Box Notes, and this next-generation text editor is taking on Google Docs, Microsoft’s online version of Word, Evernote and even the new startup, Quip. Box Notes is still in beta, but the new tool promises real-time concurrent editing, comments and inline annotations and hyperlinks.
Bump, the sassy little app that let users share photos and other files by plonking phones together long before the Samsung Galaxy got in on the act, is joining Google. The tech news sites are reporting that Google bought Bump for somewhere between $30 and $60 million dollars. Although the Bump app had versions for iPhone and Android and the two platforms could bump together, insiders are predicting that the iPhone version may be going away soon. For a different kind of bump, if the Google Street View photos of certain places around Indonesia look a little shaky, it might be because the Google Street View car taking the photos has been involved in three different traffic accidents outside Jakarta.
In gaming news, Grand Theft Auto V arrived this week and Amazon reportedly sold out of the game for certain consoles like the Xbox 360. The game is expected to grab 1 billion dollars in sales for its first month of release. (Anybody have this game yet? Can you drive a Google Street View car in-world?)
And finally, we here at Pop Tech Jam are pouring out a 40 and cranking the volume up to 11 in honor of Ray Dolby, the legendary sound pioneer who passed away last week at the age of 80. Thanks for all those multichannel memories, Mr. Dolby.
It was a busy week for cyber-hijinks. Take, for example, the Associated Press’s official Twitter account getting hacked earlier this week with the message “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.” (Oh, for those simpler days when intruders would just post the word “Poopin’” on invaded Twitter accounts.) Verizon’s 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report found a lot of corporate espionage and that state-sponsored cyber attacks have become much more prevalent.
LG Electronics has an event planned for early May in New York City and where it’s expected to announce the US arrival of its Optimus G Pro smartphone with SmartVideo eye recognition technology. And a code-reader looking at the Android app that comes with the new Google Glass spectacles claims to have found a few lines referring to eye gestures as a way of controlling the glasses.
In mobile news, the popular visual blogging site, Tumblr, has rolled out advertisements for is Android and iOS mobile apps. iTunes users will also be happy to know Apple has added an option to download large purchases later if you buy new music or video over a flimsy data network connection, you now get the option to defer the actually download until you’re home on your zippy WiFi network. And Yahoo has released a new app for iOS devices that has already incorporated summaries from the Summly service it bought a month ago for $30 million dollars.
Meanwhile, out in space, the Hubble telescope has found a hidden globular cluster of stars and also celebrates its 23rd birthday this week. To celebrate, the Hubble observatory captured an image the Horsehead Nebula in infrared light. Happy birthday, Hubble! Back on (Google) Earth, the new 7.1 update to 3D globe-spinning software has added support for the Leap Motion gesture-based controller. (The $80 Leap Motion controller itself starts
shipping on May 13 rolling out later this year.)
Video fans have helped Netflix bounce back from kerfuffles over its pricing plans and other issues to beat HBO in terms of total number of subscribers in America. Netflix has also been crowned the biggest bandwidth hog, chewing up 33% of downstream Internet traffic. And those who occasionally switch over the AV input to play a little Xbox can now order a pizza through the game console, as Microsoft and Pizza Hut have teamed up on an Xbox Live dashboard app that lets you order a pie with your game controller or Kinect motion sensor. Wave your arms and a pizza eventually appears…yeah, life is good.
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.
Hate unauthorized robocalls on your cellphone that eat into your monthly minutes? The Federal Communications Commission has issued citations to two big political robocall companies accused of spewing audio spam to mobile numbers in 2011 and 2012. The firms could face up to $4.8 million in fines for this particular investigation. FCC rules and the Communications Act ban robocalls to mobile phones unless the recipient has given permission to be contacted by the company doing the calling or unless the call is part of an emergency information system. (Dirty tricks are an unfortunate part of politics and it appears there was even a cyberattack on the online election system last fall. )
Samsung finally whipped the veil off its Galaxy S4 smartphone last week and the fancy new model should be on sale by the end of April. The Android-based Galaxy S4 is bringing Samsung a lot of attention for its hardware design, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that some Google executives are getting worried about that because it may mean Samsung wants to horn in on mobile-search revenue. Samsung has been tinkering around with its own mobile operating system as well.
Google itself it keeping busy and is said to be working on a new note-taking app called Google Keep that works a bit like the popular Evernote service and uses its own Google Drive cloud storage system. Some sources are also saying the company will soon be unifying its multiple messaging services — which include Google Talk, Hangout, Voice, Messenger, Chat for Drive collaboration, and the Google Talk for G+ — into one fresh new service called Babble that can go up against Apple’s iMessage service and BlackBerry Messenger. Google’s recent decision to kill off Google Reader has proven to be good news for the Feedly RSS service. The Los Angeles Times and others have reported that Feedly gained half-a-million users after Google announced it was dumping Reader and robbing the faithful of their favorite RSS software.
Electronic Arts says that customers who buy and register SimCity 5 before March 26 can choose a free game from a selection of EA digital downloads including Mass Effect 3, Plants vs Zombies and Bejeweled 3. Since SimCity 5 arrived in early March, many players have blamed the “always online” requirement for causing bugs, in-game glitches, crashes and long waits to even get on to play the game. Electronic Arts is also investigating a security issue with Origin, its online distribution system. Security researchers have experimented with exploiting a loophole in the way Origin handles links to games users have downloaded and installed, and they’ve been able to make it run code that compromised a target machine. (On a happier note, visitors to New York’s Museum of Modern Art can now see SimCity 2000 on display, along with several other classic games in the Applied Design exhibit.)
Microsoft would like you to update your Windows 7 machine to Windows 7 Service Pack 1 if you haven’t already done so. If not, Microsoft will start doing it for you this week as part of Windows Update. Microsoft has also stamped an end of mainstream-support date of July 8th, 2014 for its Windows Phone 8 software, which has started speculation that Windows Phone 9 may be on the way soon. And over in Cupertino, Apple released iOS 6.1.3 this week to fix a pesky flaw that knowledgeable intruders can use to blow by the lock screen.
And finally, Verizon could be to changing up the way it charges its customers for channel subscriptions on its FiOS TV service. The company would like to charge subscribers just for the channels they actually watch. This move could potentially weed out little-watched channels from the lineup, change how Verizon pays networks for their shows and make for more stable pricing. It could also make room for newer, more interesting channels. (Yo, Disney, how about a 24-hour Star Wars channel?)