Tag Archives: Visa

PTJ 116: No Need to Put a Quarter Up

It’s that time of year when the weather gets chillier but the Oscar race heats up in Hollywood. The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch is an early award season favorite but if you just can’t wait for the biopic of cryptanalyst,  computer pioneer, and super-boffin Alan Turing, J.D. tells us where we can get a biographical fix of the WWII hero.

In the news,  Google’s Nexus 9 tablet is now available, as is the latest iteration of their mobile OS; the Apple Pay roll-out gathers momentum;  researchers identify a costly glitch in Visa’s contactless credit cards; Microsoft joins the wearable fitness tracker game; Amazon unveils their Prime Photos cloud service; lots and lots of corporate hookups; and The Internet Archive debuts their Internet Arcade with 900 classic games.

PTJ 116 News: Zen Arcade

Apple may have hogged all the headlines in September, but so far, Google is owning November. The  Google Nexus 9 tablet is now available and Android 5.0, also known as Lollipop, is beginning to roll out to those using older Nexus devices. The system update, among other things, includes the new Material Design look. If you’re rocking a phone from another manufacturer or wireless carrier, check with those folks to see when you might get Lollipopped.

gmailGoogle also officially released that new Gmail app for Android, which works on all devices running at least Android 4.0. You can find it in the Google Play store. The Google Calendar app for Android is also getting an update; it’s available already on Lollipop devices and will be arriving in the Google Play store soon for older hardware running at least Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. (The designers at Google must have had a hellaciously busy fall, as the Google Maps mobile app has also gotten a refresh.)

So, about Apple… although CVS and Rite Aid are spurning the new Apple Pay mobile payment system, Chase, Citi and Bank of America were all on board at launch and now another wave of banks is signing on to be part of Apple’s e-wallet. Navy Federal Credit Union, US Bank, USAA and PNC are all live now — or will be very soon.

Mobile payments, along with chip ‘n’ PIN cards like the ones used in Europe, are destined to replace the antique magnetic-stripe credit cards still in use here in the United States. But chip ‘n’ PIN may have some problems of its own. Researchers at Newscastle University in the United Kingdom have published a report that says a glitch in Visa’s contactless credit cards lets them bypass the standard £20 limit and approve unlimited cash transactions up to one million dollars without requiring a PIN – as long as the amount is requested in a foreign currency. Okay, guys, fix that now, please.

One somber note to the news this week: We would like to extend our condolences for all involved in the two horrible accidents last week involving spacecraft made by commercial companies. We speak, of course, of the unmanned Antares rocket that exploded in Virginia during the launch of a resupply mission to the International Space Station and also the deadly crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip Two in the Mojave Desert that killed a crew member.

mbandLast week, Microsoft announced its new wearable fitness tracker — a $200 black tech bracelet with the catchy name of Microsoft Band. It works not just with Windows Phones, but Android models and iPhones as well; if you do happen to use Windows Phone 8.1 with it, you also a few other perks like vice commands to the Cortana assistant and text notifications. Now, if only the Microsoft Band did not look like a court-ordered monitor for those under house arrest…

Microsoft will be getting a new neighbor soon. The Seattle Times has confirmed that Apple is opening an engineering office up there in the Emerald City. The tech-scene corporate mixers are probably going to get a lot more interesting once Apple moves into town.

baleAccording to The Hollywood Reporter, Christian Bale (left) has decided he was not right for the part of Steve Jobs in the Aaron Sorkin-penned biopic. Deadline is reporting that Michael Fassbender is up for the part now, though, and that could be interesting. Fassbender has already shown off his brooding intensity as the young Magneto in the two most recent X-Men films, so the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field should be a snap.

Amazon Prime members continue to collect perks. Amazon has released a new service for them called Prime Photos, which brings unlimited digital-picture storage to Amazon Cloud Drive.  Amazon also announced that its Prime members can take advantage of partnerships the company has set up with other retailers. For example, Prime members can now get free, next-day shipping on items purchased from the British fashion company AllSaints.com.

Looks like a few major corporations are hooking up on some deals:

cheekyAnd finally, if you loved the collection of console and PC games preserved and made available online at The Internet Archive, you’re probably going to love the site’s new Internet Arcade. Yes, now 900 classic arcade games like Defender, Millipede, Major Havoc, Stargate, Quasar and Cheeky Mouse and all those others mall-arcade faves can be relived in emulation right in your web browser.  ‘Nuff said.

PTJ 107: Naked Celebs and TV Streaming

El Kaiser has The Great Set Top Box Stream-Off of 2014 and J.D. takes a look at the geek-friendly shows the fall TV season has lined up for us.

In the news, a huge hacking scandal involving Apple’s iCloud and stolen intimate photos of various female celebrities; Apple includes restrictions in developer’s agreement for new iOS 8 HealthKit tool; Windows 8 and 8.1 slowly finds its way onto more computers; Google announces in-house drone program; the potential for drone traffic problems up in the sky; NASA gets ready to to perform some maintenance on its Mars rover; and the Internet Archive scans millions of book pages.

PTJ 107 News: I’ve Looked at Clouds From Both Sides Now

The Summer of 2014 unofficially ended in a state of panic and outrage over cloud security with this past weekend’s iCloud Stolen Naked Celebrity Photos scandal.  Apple has now released a statement saying its iCloud security was not cracked and that the targeted accounts were compromised due to weak user passwords and easy-to-guess security questions. Apple did release a patch for its Find My iPhone tracking app Monday, as The Next Web and others had speculated about a lack of a password-lockout feature.

ios8

With personal security on its mind anyway, Apple is said to be including restrictions in the developer’s agreement for the HealthKit tools in the new iOS 8. According to The Register, the terms of the agreement ban developers from selling any user health data collected by their apps to third parties who might want to buy it. (Apple does review the apps it sells, and posted a document on its site this week that explains why it rejects certain apps.)

The HealthKit software, baked into iOS 8, is also expected to be a part of any iWatch or other wearable device Apple announces, and although such a device hasn’t even been confirmed, the Re/Code site is already reporting that Apple executives have already been talking about how much to charge for a wearable. Around $400 has been mentioned as a possible price point. And one last bite:  the whole phone-as-eWallet thing may be getting a boost from the iPhone, as Bloomberg reports that Apple is hooking up with the major payment companies like Visa, Mastercard and American Express to let people buy things using their phones instead of plastic.

Net Applications, the analytics that keeps track of what people use to get to the Web, has released its report for August and found that Windows 8 and 8.1 have now managed to get to 13.4% of laptop and desktop systems out there. More than 20-percent of users, however, are still clinging to Walking Dead Windows XP.  As for other systems, Mac OS X 10.9 claimed 4.29% of the market share, while Linux had 1.67%. Go alternate operating systems!

wingThe air up there could be getting crowded soon. The Atlantic has a big story out now about Google’s newly announced in-house drone program called Project Wing. It’s been in operation for two years at Google X, the company’s top-secret research lab for big-think, long-range projects. There’s also video that shows a Google drone test flight performing – you guessed it — package delivery. Out the way, Amazon Prime Air!

While the Federal Aviation Administration has not agreed to let commercial drones fly at will, The New York Times also had a story last week looking at the future problems of drone traffic up in the sky and how all these low-flying unmanned aircraft will navigate obstacles and each other. (Domino’s Pizza went on the record and said that despite a pizza-delivery drone PR stunt last year, it was not seriously considering drones in its workforce. So no flying pepperoni for you.)

But on the topic of remote-controlled gadgets, the Opportunity rover up on Mars has been behaving a bit erratically and now NASA’s rover team has plans to reformat the Opportunity’s flash memory. This is Opportunity’s first reformat in the 10 years it’s been on Mars.

archiveAnd finally, the Internet Archive has uploaded more than 2.4 million images scanned from old books to its bulging Flickr account. The new material is called The Commons, and features old engravings, technical drawings, illustrations, sheet music and other material. The images in the collection largely predate the copyright era and range in original  publication date from about 1500 to 1922.  They can be downloaded right from Flickr, so Meme Hunters and Clip Art Collectors, you may now go to town.