This week J.D. helps us deal with holiday travel by sharing tips on making the experience a little easier and Pedro helps us stuff our stockings — and our ears — with a review of two new earphones from RBH Sound and Bowers & Wilkins. In the news Twitter changes its blocking policy but has an immediate change of heart; Facebook rolls out auto-play video ads; Samsung gets set to release its own Android gamepad; Apple announces its iTunes year-end Top Ten; The Museum of Science Fiction is set to open in 2017; and Flash Gordon could be headed for a serious big-screen remake.
Twitter briefly changed its blocking policy last week but reversed the decision after a whopping backlash. The change — which critics say allowed stalkers and abusers access to the posts of people who had blocked them instead of making those posts invisible — led to a huge public outcry from people who favored the old blocking function. Twitter reversed course and announced the move in a blog post titled “Reverting the changes to block functionality.”
Meanwhile, Facebook is starting to roll out auto-play video ads into user news feeds as it describes in its own blog post titled, “Testing a New Way for Marketers to Tell Stories in News Feed.” Also looking for the story: Researchers at Facebook and Carnegie-Mellon University who released a study this week looking at self-censorship on the Social Network. (While a story that appeared about the study on Slate.com implied Facebook reportedly tracking what you type on the site even if you don’t post it, other more technically oriented sites have read more closely and debunked some of the points.) Speaking of Facebook, the Wall Street Journal has an article this week about how the company and other technology Bigfoots like Google and Amazon are trying to take control over more Internet backbone and infrastructure.
Moving on to lighter fare, Samsung is releasing its own Android gamepad controller for its Galaxy line of phones and Apple announced its 2013 year-end Top Ten charts from the iTunes and App Stores. (For those looking for a new browser for the iPad, Opera has just released an update for its Coast browser.)
If you have an HP Chromebook 11, be aware that Google and HP are recalling the power adapter for the laptop due to safety issues; contact Google for a replacement. Over Microsoft way, the Verge site reports that the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 software will include a Siri/Google Now-like personal assistant and an Android/iOS-like Notifications center for alerts and messages.
The Museum of Science Fiction is expected to open in our nation’s capital in 2017 and a promo video for the project promises robots, aliens and full-size space vehicles — and the latest technology to explore the offerings. In the Department of Future Stuff, Flash Gordon (that the 1930s space adventurer who got that Queen-fueled big-screen remake in 1980), could be headed for a serious remake as 20th Century Fox plans to adapt the Mark Millar Starlight graphic novel for film. Also, the Las Vegas Guardian Express newspaper reports that Disney CFO Jay Rasulo told an investor’s conference that a Han Solo origin film is in the works for 2016, with similar films exploring the backgrounds of Yoda and Boba Fett in 2018 and 2020.
And finally, as this is our last Pop Tech Jam news summary of 2013, it’s time to take a look back at the year through Google Search, as the Big G has just released its list of top 10 global trending searches of 2013. The Harlem Shake — it seems so long ago now, doesn’t it?