Tag Archives: Waze

PTJ 226: The Sound of Hacking

The Pi Day Northeast Blizzard of 2017 may have blown through, but El Kaiser is still powering through a nasty winter cold to get to this week’s tech and science news with J.D. — which features quite a bit of hacker activity, as well as an update on our old friend Boaty McBoatface. Episode 226 here also takes a look at public beta programs you can join to see the latest software first. Interested? Just push play to find out more!

Links to Stories in This Week’s News Segment

Hurry Up and Wait

Flight tracker apps are great for checking the status of your flight, but what about the sheer stress you encounter before you actually get on the plane? Yes, we’re talking about the summer travel season and all the recent news stories about horrific waits in security lines. Things seem to have gotten slightly better with the lines, but still. You may not be able to avoid that annoyance, but you can at least plan for it. If you’re getting ready to take to the skies for your summer vacation, we here at Pop Tech Jam HQ have a few app suggestions.

For starters, you have to get to the airport first.

Salk International’s $5 Airport Transit Guide for Android and iOS offers insider travel information for 460 airports around the world for helping you get to the airport on time.

inrixIf you’re traveling domestically, traffic apps like Inrix Traffic (left) and Waze, both for Android and iOS, are among the dedicated road travel apps that tell you how long it will take to get to your destination — if you don’t want to use the services offered by Google Maps or Apple Maps. The WhatsBusy site, which is devoted to when there are lines in public places, has a section devoted to airports.

Then there’s the part of the journey that happens once you get inside the airport: Security lines. (Whee.)

You can help speed some of the process by checking in early for your flight online through your carrier’s own app or website. If you do, you can leave pre-checked luggage at the Bag Drop station and move on to the joy of the security line.

myTSAAlthough the Transportation Security Administration has been pummeled in the press for being a large part of the recent problem, its digital offerings may help travelers prepare themselves for the screening experience in a few of ways. The My TSA mobile website provides answers about what you can bring through airport security checkpoints so you’re not the cause of a snarled and snarly line; an Android app version of My TSA is available, as well as a version for iOS.

The TSA site/app also has a list of current security line wait-times, and an indicator if the airport has a TSA Pre-✓ expedited line. (Pre-✓ = Pre-Check. Get it?) You can sign up for TSA Pre-✓ or one of the government’s other Trusted Traveler programs over at the Department of Homeland Security’s site, although registration includes you providing an $85 and your fingerprints.

If you like guv’ment apps, the Federal Aviation Administration has its own mobile website with airport status and delays related to conditions outside the terminal.

miflightNewer apps like MiFlight for iOS are also designed to give you an idea of the wait times you’re in for once you hit the security line. MiFlight has nifty graphics and makes use of crowd-sourced data, but owners of some iPhone models have posted one-star reviews complaining of app crashes. Several developers make TSA and airport-related programs, so check the app store dedicated to your mobile platform to see the selection.

Once you make it through the security gauntlet, you might have some time to kill thanks to your careful planning. The GateGuru app for Android, iOS and Windows Phone might help here. Although GateGuru can function as an itinerary-tracking app while you travel, its Airport Card screens provide detailed information, maps and tips for the airports you’re in.

iFly Airport Guide for Android and iOS is another airport terminal guide with status updates. There’s a free and a pro version, depending on your whims and needs. The company also makes a TSA Wait Times by iFly app, which is $4 for  iOS.

Certain airports may have their own  terminal guides as well, so check your app store before you go. Once you get checked in, arrive at the airport and get through the security line,  you can fire up your flight tracker app and check your plane’s status.

ragerAnd remember, if you’re dissatisfied with your recent travel experience, the US Department of Transportation has a webform where you can file complaints against the airlines for safety and security reasons, along with customer service issues. It may not do any good, but you can also inform your airline’s customer-service department of your displeasure. You can find the Consumer Complaint Letter Wizard and a sample complaint letter to use as a template over at USA.gov, because if you’re going to gripe, you may as well do it officially.

PTJ 164 News: Eyes in the Sky

The air up there isn’t completely full of drones yet, but the skies have gotten way more crowded in the past few years. This week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced that a task force had been created to develop ideas and recommendations on a registration process for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Recommendations are due November 20th — will drone license plates be coming soon?

Speaking of government agencies, John Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency reportedly had his email hacked by a high school student. The young hacker in question told Wired.com how he did it. The account is question has been disabled and it was an . . . AOL account.

Facebook is here for you. In a blog post on the company site, Alex Stamos of The Social Network said: “Starting today, we will notify you if we believe your account has been targeted or compromised by an attacker suspected of working on behalf of a nation-state.”

If you need a daily reminder of what planet you live on, check out NASA’s new website devoted to photography from the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera aboard its Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite. While the Deep Space Climate Observatory’s main mission is to track solar wind and storms that could disrupt the world’s electrical grid, air travel and communications systems, it’s handy Earth-facing camera promises a picture every day.

The free trial period of Apple Music has run out for the first wave of people who signed up and Tim Cook, the company CEO said at a technology conference this week that the service retained 6.5 million subscribers who switched over to paying monthly. Cook also reported another 8.5 million people are currently participating in the 90-day free trial, and that orders for the fourth-generation Apple TV will start on October 26th.

Apple will be kicking a few apps out of its App Store for violating the company’s privacy policy. Researchers at SourceDNA found about 256 apps that were secretly gathering user information like email addresses, serial numbers and other bits of data that could be used to identify and track users. To the curb, appholes.

Google is very proud of its Google Docs productivity suite, (with its recent additions of Voice Typing and other useful features) and is telling enterprise customers who have contracts with other software vendors that it will cover their Google Apps fees until their commitments with those other places run out. In other Google news, the  Waze navigation app  has gotten a redesign.

Table-top PC’s make a run for glory every few years and now it’s Lenovo’s turn with its 27-inch Lenovo Yoga Home tablet with its own tabletop operation system overlay called Aura that runs atop Windows 10. The current price is about $1500 and you can apparently play air hockey on it.

yoga

This week marks the 30th anniversary of the Nintendo Entertainment System’s released here in the United States. All those who played a few rounds of Super Mario Brothers, raise a glass Nintendo’s way.

And finally, many nerds sat through the first half of Monday Night Football game to see the brand new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Early tickets for the film’s December shows also went on sale last Monday night and the anxiety was made worse when the websites for Fandango, AMC Theaters and other ticket outlets went grinding and crashing down.

As expected, the trailer did produce a lot of reaction, including the hashtag #BoycottStarWarsVII for a social-media campaign purporting to complain that the new film wasn’t dominated by white people and all good racists should avoid the film. Trolls are now claiming the whole thing was a joke designed to stir up controversy. Remember people, never feed the trolls. Now, let’s watch the trailer again. And again.

PTJ 127 News: Waze and Means

Microsoft reported its quarterly earnings this week and things were better than expected, thanks to big sales in cloud computing software, Nokia Lumia phones and Surface tablets — all that primetime product placement on network television finally paid off! While this was all good news, the company’s stock did drop 4 percent in after-hours trading that day, due to that big multicolored elephant in the room — Windows for the PC, which continues to lose ground in a mobile world. (Meanwhile, Apple’s earnings call revealed that the company sold a ton of new iPhone 6 models and that the Apple Watch is supposed to ship in April.)

fbfailFacebook and its sister site Instagram had a major outage this week, going offline Tuesday morning for about an hour. Facebook said the faceplant was due to an internal glitch and not the Lizard Squad hacking group, which posted vague claims of responsibility on Twitter. The sites for Tinder and Hipchat were also down around the same time, but came back without incident.

The Facebook mobile app can be a bit of a space and resource hog, but the company is slimming things down for that new crop of inexpensive Android smartphones aimed at emerging markets overseas. Facebook Lite, as it’s known, is less than one megabyte in size and designed to work even on slow 2G cellular connections.

The merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable still looms. While many advocates on either side of the deal have shared their views with the Federal Communications Commission, some of those views seem a little…familiar. As The Verge blog revealed after examining public records, several politicians who have sent in personally supportive letters praising Comcast’s business practices were actually sending in letters ghostwritten by Comcast communications specialists. Comcast said it was just helping to provide information on the pending deal.

Google’s  new wireless service in partnership with Sprint and T-Mobile may let your connection bounce around between WiFi or whichever wireless carrier has the strongest signal at the time. It won’t be ready for several months, though, but is said to be similar to a WiFi-heavy phone service called Freewheel from Cablevision,

googfiberGoogle also continues its push into high-speed fiber optic networks for residential use. In a post on the Google Fiber blog, the company announced that Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville and Raleigh-Durham would be joining Kansas City, Austin and Provo in the Gigabit Internet Club, which as we know, as speeds about 100 times faster than most normal broadband.

Snapchat and Twitter are trying to swim deeper in the revenue stream. Snapchat has begun to integrate content (with advertisements) from media companies like CNN, the Food Network and People magazine as part of the app’s Discover section. And Twitter’s blog announced this week that group Direct Messages and mobile video were rolling out. The new video feature — which is available in the Android and iOS apps — can record, edit and post short clips to your Twitter feed so all your followers can share the experience when 140 characters just aren’t enough.

If you’ve ever used the Waze traffic app to note the location of police cars on the highway, note that officials in the Los Angeles Police Department would like to shut down that part of the program. The LAPD fear the feature could be “misused by those with criminal intent to endanger police officers and the community.” No response from Waze-owner Google yet on the fate of the po-po button.

IoTsecurityAnd finally, the Federal Trade Commission just released a 71-page report that says companies making smart appliances and gadgets should monitor connected devices throughout the product’s entire life cycle, patch security holes, and grab the reins on how much personal data a device collects from the user. The FTC, which has filed complaints against companies before for things like lax security, also calls on Congress to pass new legislation like broader privacy protections for consumers and a National Data Breach Notification Law. Some industry think-tanks and at least two Republican lawmakers have raised issues with the report, saying basically that overregulation smothers innovation and jobs. Still, with reports of hacked baby monitors and other connencted devices becoming more frequent, forcing companies to secure their hardware and software doesn’t sound like too much to ask, y’know?

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Anti-Freeze

Winter has slammed into most of the United States, bringing with it the inevitable bouts of bad weather and hazardous travel. Just look at the massive ice-related highway pile-ups we’ve seen already this season in New York state, Michigan, Oregon — and even closer to home just this past weekend in the Philadelphia area due to a flash-freeze on the roads.

If you have a preferred weather or traffic app on your phone, this is the season to fire up those notifications because Mother Nature has a way of throwing a hissy fit and disrupting your plans. If there’s a storm on the way, a highway closed or a train line suspended, odds are you’d like to know about it ahead of time, right? Most specialized apps can be configured to push out alerts to warn you of impending events, so have them ping you when something’s up. Most major mobile platforms — Android, iOS and Windows Phone — let you configure notifications so you can turn them on and when you want.

IMG_3768On the weather side, apps include AccuWeather and Weather Undeground for most platforms, DarkSky or NOAA Weather Radar for iOS and dozens of others. Seriously, there are a ton of weather apps for every kind of phone out there and your mobile platform of choice may have even included one. Don’t have a smartphone? The National Weather Service’s mobile site and sign-up page for third-party email and SMS text alert services can keep you in the loop.

As for traffic and transit, popular cross-platform apps like Inrix and Waze are good sources of highway and road information. If you do have to be out driving in bad weather, make sure you have an emergency kit in the trunk. The professional winter states of Wisconsin and Minnesota have especially good advice on this topic, and you can buy pre-made collections, like the AAA’s own Severe Weather Travel Kit. If you don’t have one already, it’s a good idea to get a car charger for your phone  — just in case.

aaa

Weather emergencies can seriously affect mass-transit systems as well, and some more than others. (Seriously, have you ever tried to get around the DC Metro during a snow storm?) If you’re riding the rails, the iTrans app for iOS is available for several cities and offers service alerts. There’s also the Transit app for Android and iOS. If you’re a New Yorker, the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority has a whole page of mobile apps for various phone platforms to check out.

Other information sources, like Google Now (if it has your commute in its list of info cards) and Twitter’s emergency alerts can also be useful. And don’t forget, if you’re trying to fly out for a nice vacation in a warm place, get your airline’s app and sign up for alerts that may affect your flight.

It’s winter and in much of the country, that means the roads are a giant asphalt Slushee out there, so let’s be careful. In fact, let’s just stay home and watch some more Agent Carter.

PTJ 118: Get Off Our Lawn, Google

J.D. will help you get to your destination by plane, train or automobile as she runs down some useful travel apps just in time for the power eating U.S. holiday known as Thanksgiving.

El Kaiser finally gets an invitation to Google Inbox and…let’s just say things don’t go smoothly.

In the news the European Space Agency is still on comet duty;  AT&T gets called out by the FCC; the Federal Trade Commission has settles a score with TRUSTe; the US State Department gets hacked;  New York City plans to convert payphones into spiffy hotspots; Facebook continues spinning off features of its service; Disney partners with Walmart’s Vudu streaming service; and Google and Stanford University work on software that uses artificial intelligence to create descriptive photo captions.

Oh, and KaiserNet is finally active… MUAH HA HA HA!

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

If Thanksgiving is next week, you can bet your sweet bippy it’s time for the Pop Tech Jam roundup of sites and services to make your journey home for the holidays slightly less tense. Whether you’re going air, rail or highway, here are some apps to consider ahead of Big Food Thursday.

Planes
Navigating flight schedules, airport delays and other joys of modern domestic air travel this season? You can get mobile boarding passes and other tools from your airline’s app (and text alerts  if anything affects your flight), but a good all-around air-travel app can help you track other flights besides your own. There are plenty to choose from — including Flight Aware, FlightTrack or FlightStats — for Android and iOS, and FlightAware also works on Windows Phone and Windows 8. The Flight Update line of travelware works for iOS devices. The Kayak mobile app, which can book flights, as well as track them, is also available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone and the Amazon Kindle Fire.

Trains
If your journey home involves a locomotive of some kind, you have plenty of programs to handle schedules, travel alerts and often, tickets. The national rail company, Amtrak, has its own app, as do the major rail lines for the New York City area — including the Metropolitan Transit Authority (for the NYC subway and bus system), Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road.

If you’re sticking along the Northeast corridor, New Jersey Transit has an app for mobile tickets and information. If you’re in the Philly area, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has apps for Android and iOS. Farther north, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has apps and an online trip planner for those in the Boston area; Washington’s Metro has a similar site. The transit systems for Chicago and San Francisco have mobile options listed on their respective sites. Want an app or mobile site that can handle different mass-transit systems? Try and the Embark or HopStop.

Automobiles
There’s nothing like the hell of holiday traffic, but with the right app, you may be able to get a heads-up before you get stuck in a maddening mass of highway congestion (or as many call it, I-95). Several popular apps use real-time crowd-sourcing along with other data to map out the road ahead, so check out Inrix, Waze or Beat the Traffic if you want to see what’s between you and your destination. For another angle, there’s Traffic Cam Viewer for Android or iOS, which taps into Internet-connected highway cameras for a bird’s-eye view of the road. And if you’ve got a long trip with a few stops along the way for bio-breaks and leg-stretching, apps like Road Ninja and iExit tell you want to expect at the end of each interstate off-ramp you pass.

On the road — but not doing the driving yourself? Check your local bus line for mobile offerings. Nationally, Greyhound, Trailways, the Bolt Bus and MegaBus have schedules, service advisories and other info online.

These are just a few of the hundreds of travel-related apps out there. Odds are, you may already have one or more if them loaded up on your device to help ease some of the uncertainly of travel. You don’t need that extra stress — after all, you’ll probably get enough of that from the family once you get there.

Safe travels.

Episode 53: All The Way Live!

This week J.D. and El Kaiser entertain pastry-slinging guests in the studio and in between bites of cannoli, Pedro explains the tech term “Internet of Things” while J.D. provides details on alternatives for Google Reader which is set to shut down July 1st. In the news, Sony debuts a new smartwatch; the Ouya open-source Android-based game console makes the scene; Microsoft reverses course on its Xbox One policies; and Apple looks into Wi-Fi issues with its new MacBook Air laptops.

Episode 53 News: Bugs and Hugs

It’s the week before the U.S. Independence Day holiday and companies are popping out all kinds of news as the general public will likely be distracted by fireworks and grilled meat for part of next week. For example, Sony had a slew of announcements this week, including its SmartWatch 2 and the Xperia Z Ultra Android-based phablet with a 6.4-inch 1080 HD-screen. The company also put out a software update for the iOS Music Unlimited app.

The Ouya open-source Android-based game console has finally landed, although early reviews have not been kind. (Speaking of game consoles, we all saw that news last week that Microsoft reversed course on its Xbox One policies and used games and offline player mode are now accepted, right?)

Also in Microsoft gaming news, the company is developing its Age of Empires game for iOS and Android. Need an Android device to play it on? Pre-orders started this week and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 3 tablets in the 10.1, 8.0 and 7.0 models will arrive here in the States on July 7.

Microsoft showed off its upcoming Windows 8.1 system this week at its annual Build Conference, this year in San Francisco. This free update to Windows 8 is due out this fall and includes several new features.

The Leap Motion controller folks have a released a limited beta version of the Leap Airspace app for Mac and PC users so they can control their computers with gestures. The controller is getting some good early reviews and has its own app store revving up as well ahead of its July 22 launch.

Meanwhile, Real Cameras continue to fight back against the Smartphone Invasion as best they can. Fujifilm’s new X-M1 camera has built-in Wi-Fi, although you have to bounce your photos through your Android smartphone or iPhone before you can post them online.

bugIn the Department of Oh, What Else Is New?, the social network recently had a security issue. A white-hat programmer found a bug in Facebook’s data archive that inadvertently revealed the phone numbers and email address of about six million users. Facebook posted its explanation of the situation on its blog and company claims that the issue has been fixed. Concerned Facebook users have issued demands for an apology (which, with a buck plus tax, would get you a cup of coffee at the McDonald’s in Times Square — but probably won’t prevent further Epic Facebook Security Fails).

In non-Supreme Court legal news, the Federal Trade Commission is looking into the Google acquisition of Waze. You know, just to check it out and make sure it’s all good.

And finally, Apple is also said to be investigating Wi-Fi issues with its newly released MacBook Air laptops and has also rolled out a second version of its iOS 7 beta so that iPod Touch and iPad users in Apple’s dev program can see the flat world for themselves. And for those not in the Apple Developer program, well, there are always the video demos on the Applefan sites to keep you in the infinite loop of upgrade-watching.

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.