Tag Archives: World Wide Web

PTJ 200 News: The Jet Set

Walmart, the original übermegaeverything store before Amazon.com waltzed into town, announced this week that it was going to buy Amazon competitor Jet.com for $3 billion in cash and about $300 million in stock. As both Walmart and analysts have stated, the acquisition of the e-commerce start-up will give Walmart a big boost in its online sales presence and help it keep up with Amazon. Or try to, anyway.

As for Amazon, the company seems to be going ahead with authorized major delivery drone tests in the United Kingdom, even though it’s not officially saying so. Local residents near the college town of Cambridge say they’ve seen unmanned aircraft buzzing around above a 2,000-year-old Roman road in the area, which has distressed historical preservationists and those who like quiet walks in the English countryside. But while Amazon is neither confirming nor denying it’s joyriding drones around Cambridge, the company’s job board says otherwise: A position for Community Affairs, Prime Air, based in Cambridge has been posted. Apply now!

drone

Facebook makes a lot of its money in serving up ads to its users and the company announced this week that it was going to block ad blockers on the desktop version of its site. While some question the ethics of using ad-blocking software — because after all, that site you’re using for free needs to make money some way — Facebook’s blog post announcing the move acknowledged that “Bad ads are disruptive and a waste of our time.” The post also touted new controls users have to control the type of ads they see on The Social Network.

Speaking of banning things, Iran has outlawed the Pokémon Go game, claiming “security concerns” for children. The ruling comes from Iran’s High Council of Virtual Spaces, not to be confused with the country’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace. Iran is not the first country to take action against the high popular mobile game. A cleric in Saudi Arabia has issued a religious edict against Pokémon Go (that’s actually an update of the country’s original 15-year-old ban on the Pokémon card game), on the grounds that the franchise violates Islamic prohibitions on gambling and also displays forbidden images.

Security researchers from Kaspersky Lab and Symantec say they’ve found malware that’s been hiding for five years on computers and quietly spying on its host. The malware is called Project Sauron and researchers say they’ve found it burrowed into government, military and other high-level computers in Iran, Russia and Rwanda. The malware, which researchers think is sophisticated enough to be a professional state-sponsored job, can log all keystrokes, steal files and create backdoors into the computers it’s infested.

eye

Delta Airlines got itself into a major mess this week when a power outage in its Atlanta offices knocked its worldwide computer system offline for six hours and disrupted service around the world. Passengers complained Delta was initially slow to inform them that they weren’t going anywhere The president of the company later released a video apology to customers and affected travelers were given fee waivers and $200 vouchers. While hacking came to the mind of many as the possible cause, Delta spokespeople said there was no indication of foul play and that they had a backup system in place, but key network computers did not fail over to the backup. They just failed.

Twitter says it eventually plans to open up its Moments features to all users on the service, even though was originally only available to few select publishing partners. So now everyone can have their Moments. (Admit it, you saw that one coming.)

NBC Universal is getting all hep with the Snapchat and plans to start producing original shows for the service. The Wall Street Journal reported NBCU’s E’! entertainment network is gearing up to debut an exclusive show only on Snapchat called The Rundown and existing NBC stalwarts The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live will create original content for the service as well. And yes, there will be advertising, but maybe some bonus Kate McKinnon.

kate

Hulu is ditching the free ad-supported variation of its streaming video service in favor of al all-subscription menu. Curiously enough, the demise of the free version of Hulu comes a week after Time Warner announced it’d bought a 10% stake in the company. Hmm.

The Roland music equipment company is acquiring V-Moda, a manufacturer of headphones. A Bluetooth speaker is said to be the first product to come out of the union. Headphones with a built-in drum machine next?

Apple is said to be gearing up for its annual fall Media Hogging event next month, which means the rumor mill has been spinning at Warp 2 all week. Among the whispers, an Apple Watch 2 with better water resistance, new GPS functions and improved performance. And Bloomberg is murmuring about the iPhone 7, saying the next model will have a dual camera system for sharper photos, a Home button with haptic feedback and yes, the dreaded NO traditional 3.5mm headphone jack.

And finally, 25 years ago this month, the world’s first website went online to the public. The site, created by World Wide Web pioneer Time Berners-Lee, arrived on August 6, 1991. It was a short summary of the World Wide Web project with hypertext words that linked to other pages, and it invited other interested parties to collaborate with him. Guess it worked out.

www

PTJ 200: Excelsior!

Four years after it rose from the ashes of that other podcast, Pop Tech Jam has reached its 200th episode and we’re ready to party with our friends! Journalist Laura M. Holson and actor/poet/writer Francis Mateo join El Kaiser and J.D. after the news segment this week to discuss the ever-churning evolution of popular culture and consumer technology in the four years since Episode 1 hit the Interwebs. And yes, there might even be a mention of Star Wars

And, as always, a big thanks to the BROS for hosting the party since 2012!

PTJ 195 News: Living On the Edge

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.

Microsoft also bought the LinkedIn social professional network last week for $26 billion dollars, which took many people by surprise, especially because LinkedIn was not profitable and was losing a reported $150 million dollars a year. The Guardian’s opinion section didn’t think the purchase was a great idea, but others ran with it.

Facebook has had suicide-prevention resources available to users for years. This month, the site is adding even more time-saving tools designed to help friends help their friends and also offers tips from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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.

Twitter just bought itself a $150 million dollar pony — or, more precisely, the Magic Pony Technology company, a London-based firm uses neural networks and machine learning to understand images and enhance them for a variety of uses.

pony

Video is also on Twitter’s mind this week, as the company announced that clips posted on the site can now be 140 seconds long instead of just 30 seconds. (Everybody’s got to have live-streaming service and now Yahoo’s Tumblr site is jumping into the mix with its own version of the feature.)

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.

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos backs a little rocket company called Blue Origin, which had a successful test flight of a rocket and capsule landing out in Texas last weekend. Blue Origin is developing flights for space tourism that could begin blasting off in 2018.

The Federal Aviation Administration has finalized its rules for commercial drone operators. In other government news, Reuters and other organizations are reporting that Republicans in the United States Senate have set up a vote this week to expand the surveillance powers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Instagram announced it hit the 500-million-user mark this week. And remember, you don’t have to use only square photos anymore.

Those who do not know Internet history are doomed to…try and read it on outdated formats and dead links. It may seem like it’s been around forever, but the concept for what was then called the Intergalactic Network came into focus in the early 1960s and picked up steam in the early 1970s when Vint Cerf of Stanford co-created the TCP/IP protocol that let different computer networks talk to each other. These days, Mr. Cerf (shown here), now working for Google as Chief Internet Evangelist, is working to create a decentralized backup of the Web so that the Wayback Machine over at the Internet Archive is not the only repository for our accumulating collective digital history.

VCerf

Cerf, who has previously warned of an Internet Dark Age where data is lost because systems become obsolete, was part of the Decentralized Web Summit conference earlier this month in San Francisco. Wired has the story on the backup and preservation efforts.

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.

Episode 45 News: “Now” and Then

We’ve moved into the month of May, so fans of summer movies and Macs are buzzing. Six weeks ahead of Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference, the 9to5Mac site claims it has exclusive information about the next release of OS X. The upcoming iOS 7 software is said to be sporting a new look as well — possibly moving to the “flat” design currently favored by Google and Microsoft, where plain backgrounds are accented with bold color buttons devoid of 3D effects like rendered shadows and gradations.

While LG Electronics is moving from flat to curvy with what it calls the world’s first curved OLED screen, the whole “flat” seems to be working for Microsoft, on the mobile front, anyway. According to the firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, the Windows Phone OS grew from 3.7 percent of the US market share at the end of March 2012 up to 5.6 percent the first quarter of 2013. (Maybe those sassy TV ads for Windows Phone are also helping.) But Microsoft is doing more with voice-work than just pumping out handsets — the company now has the make-Skype-calls-directly-from-your-Outlook.com-inbox feature up and running, in the United Kingdom anyway, with more countries on the way.

Google Now, the Big G’s voice-assisted life helper program for mobile devices, arrived this week for iOS as part of an update to the Google Search app. Battery-burn accusations aside, Business Insider and other sites report that Google Now actually seems to be more useful than Apple’s own Siri assistant, while also noting the irony that Google Now doesn’t actually work on a lot of phones running older versions of Google’s own Android system.

graceA new study from North Carolina State University has found that older programmers know more than their younger counterparts about recent software platforms and that the skills and knowledge of the veteran coders improves over time. The full paper is titled “Is Programming Knowledge Related to Age?” (Code wranglers and others who work odd hours might want to know that McDonald’s may be expanding availability of its delicious breakfast meals.)

In security news, the Syrian Electronic Army, which claimed it was behind last week’s hack attack on the Twitter feed of the Associated Press, is also targeting other organizations like the Guardian, National Public Radio and Al Jazeera. The Twitter account of Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA and notable controversial newsmaker himself, was also compromised.

Like the airline industry, the travel search-and-bookings business is getting a little smaller thanks to mergers and acquisitions. As announced last fall, Priceline.com bought the sprightly little Kayak service and last month, Expedia.com bought Trivago, a German hotel search site. As detailed in a story in the New York Times this week, some travel industry analysts don’t think the companies will tamper with the search-engine formula, but the British Office of Fair Trading is taking a closer look.

The Internet — and the Web in particular — have made travel, shopping, cat videos and plenty of other things in life much easier, and it’s time to wish it a happy birthday this week. On April 30, 1993, CERN made the announcement that the World Wide Web would be expanding from its scientific and research origins and become free to anyone out there in the public domain. The CERN site has a short history of the Web, along with a link to a 1993 copy of the first Web site.

And finally, while some people may not have predicted just how popular the World Wide Web would be 20 years later, others are actively campaigning for a pre-emptive international ban on…killer robots. Yes, there is  an official movement known as the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and the group seeks to halt the production of weapons that can attack targets without human intervention. For those who want to know more, a 50-page report released last fall from Human Rights Watch outlines many of the ethical concerns over fully autonomous weapons and the danger to civilians. Here’s hoping the future turns out to be more like The Jetsons and less like The Terminator