Tag Archives: WWDC

PTJ 145: Just Give Chris Pratt the Fedora and Whip Already

Apple and Google had big splashy product announcements while we were away but don’t despair, J.D. fills us in on what the two tech behemoths are foisting on us and what the technorati have to say about it.

Also on the show our good friend and frighteningly talented reporter Laura M. Holson joins us to discuss the recent TEDWomen conference and, more importantly, her initial reactions to the latest CGI filled dino-romp “Jurassic World” starring the always entertaining Chris Pratt.

And speaking of Mr. Pratt.

If the producers of the rumored Indiana Jones reboot would just size the man up for a fedora and a whip, that would be great.

PTJ 97: Descent Into Casual Gaming and Tips for Better Throwback Photos

El Kaiser makes a difficult confession: he’s traded in his first person shooters for crushing candy and fuming feathered friends.

Throwback Thursdays on Twitter and Facebook have people digging through their old photo albums but if your old snapshots haven’t held up too well over the years J.D. has tips for how to spruce them up.

In the news the onslaught of the Electronic Entertainment Expo gets underway in Los Angeles; Apple unveils a new headphone standard;  Sony debuts its new PlayStation TV; Amazon integrates Audible audiobook lineup into the Kindle ebook app; Google gets into the satellite game by acquiring of Skybox Imaging; Netflix and Verizon continue their corporate slapfight; and Wired magazine dredges up old Star Trek misfires.

PTJ 97 News: All Ears

If it’s June and the WWDC is over, it must be time for the Electronic Entertainment Expo! The show opened in Los Angeles earlier this week to show off this year’s offerings for the gaming crowd; sites like GameSpot and Kotaku have the latest news. Some early announcements included Sony’s new PlayStation TV, formerly the PlayStation Vita TV, a $99 set-top box for streaming PS4 games to other TV sets around the house.  Sony presented its new console game lineup for this year, as did Microsoft, which formerly put the new lower-priced Xbox One Without the Kinect Controller on sale for $399.

ligthingApple’s Worldwide Developers Conference wrapped up last week, but not before revealing a new standard that uses the company’s own Lighting connector (right) for headphones. The new Lightning module is supposed to provide more bandwidth and control for services like iTunes Radio. By drawing power from the iPhone through the Lightning port, for example, headphone accessory makers could do things like design noise-canceling headphones without the need for an external battery. No announcements have been made concerning the demise of the standard 3.5 mm headphone jack on iOS devices, but some people point out that Apple did just buy Beats Electronics, maker of headphones, so hello, new standards. Others, like the gang over at The Unofficial Apple Weblog argue strongly that Apple will keep the traditional headphone jack because of the massive mount of gear out there that uses the 3.5 mm plug.

The World Cup tournament kicks off this week, and Facebook and Twitter are jumping in with their own social-media fútbol features. Facebool will host a special Trending World Cup section on the Newsfeed page. Meanwhile, Twitter is promoting the official #WorldCup hashtag and encouraging fans to keep up with the news by following the official Twitter accounts like @FIFAWorld Cup and @ussoccer. (Perhaps in all the excitement of the looming soccerpalooza, Facebook accidentally released its new Slingshot messenger app to the public for a short time. Whoops!)

amazonAmazon announced the integration of its Audible audiobook lineup into the Kindle ebook app for Android and iOS. Book lovers can now listen to their audiobooks without having to use a separate app; that Kindle app upgrade is available now. Even if you don’t own the audio version of an ebook, Amazon is also offering “Whispersync for Voice,” for more than 45,000 of its Kindle titles so you can read and listen to a book at the same time. You can find out if one of your ebooks as a companion audio track with Amazon’s Matchmaker tool and then add in an audio-track upgrade for less than four bucks. (Amazon is also muscling in on Paypal’s territory with the launch of a new online payments system.)

Meanwhile, Google, which purchased a drone company in April, has confirmed its acquisition of Skybox Imaging for the low, low price of $500 million dollars in cash. Skybox is a company that makes small, high-resolution imaging satellites.

Netflix and Verizon have been having a corporate slapfight about poor-quality video streaming and who’s to blame for it. Each side has been bashing the other and Netflix went so far as to send messages to its subscribers sticking Verizon for the problems. Verizon fired back with a cease-and-desist letter telling Netflix to knock it off and accused the video company of pulling a PR stunt. On its monthly ISP Speed Index blog post, Netflix notes that Verizon FiOS and DSL service have actually gotten a bit slower in the first month of their very special friendship. Money can’t buy love, Netflix, but maybe you can get a better rental price.

amtComputer scientists have been arguing for the past few days whether a computer program has actually beaten the Turing Test. The Turing Test was introduced by computer pioneer and World War II codebreaker Alan Turing (left) in a 1950 academic paper called “Computing Machinery and Intelligence.” The test challenges a computer’s ability to show intelligent behavior equivalent or indistinguishable from that of a human being. In the recent Turing Test 2014 competition over at the Royal Society in London, a computer program named Eugene Goostman convinced 10 out of 30 judges that it was a real live person. To pass the test, the computer must fool human judges 30 percent of the time, which led some to say the program had passed. Other said the computer flunked the test by using advantageous factors like claiming to be a teenage non-native English speaker — which could account for some odd responses to questions.

stVAnd finally, Wired points out that this week marks the 25th anniversary of what’s arguably the worst film in the Star Trek franchise, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. For those who have blocked it out after years of therapy, the film was directed by Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. It featured a storyline in which Kirk and crew up against Spock’s half-brother Sybock, who jacks the Enterprise to go find God. The film currently averages a one-star rating on the Rotten Tomatoes site, but thankfully, the franchise’s shields were strong enough to deflect the damage and move on. To be fair, just about every long-term series has an enormous clunker or two back down the road, Case in point: A  certain galaxy far, far away suffered not only The Phantom Menace, but The Star Wars Holiday Special as well.

PTJ 96: FIFA and Apple Have The World In Motion

FIFA’s 2014 World Cup tournament is set to kickoff in Brazil  in just a few days and J.D. tracks down the apps you’ll need to stay connected to the action.

What’s that you say? You’re looking for tech news too?  And you want it chunky and packed with snark? Well look no more my friends, J.D. and El Kaiser have you covered.

Apple unveils new versions of (don’t call it Mac) OS X and iOS 8 at their annual developers convention; Samsung launches its first smartphone running the long awaited Tizen operating system; Instagram is out with a new version of its mobile app;  US authorities say they’ve caused a disruption in the GameOver Zeus botnet; Comedian John Oliver unleashes Internet trolls on the FCC; Researchers create bakable robots; and the cast of the new Star Wars sequel finally gets around to casting more women.

 

PTJ 96 News: The Old New and the New Old

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference stormed San Francisco this week and showed off the new software the company has been working on. The next version of the Mac operating system is called OS X Yosemite.  The new system is available for those in Apple’s developer program now, but has a public beta for those who just can’t wait and have n aversion to working with unfinished software. Macworld, Cult of Mac and Ars Technica were among the many Applewatchers doing OS X feature roundups for those who want to read up in detail.

yosemite

The forthcoming iOS 8 also made an appearance at WWDC, and Apple is calling it “the biggest release since the launch of the App Store.” The new system meshes with OS X and ties all your Apple hardware together just a little bit tighter with the Handoff continuity feature, where you can start a message on your iPhone and finish it on your Mac. As rumored, new apps for health monitoring and developer tools for adding smart-home control apps were in the mix, so the new features already felt kind of old.

Still, there was other stuff: iOS 8 includes a new keyboard with better predictive functions (to hopefully stiff Autocorrect) and ability for third-party keyboards to be added. The Messages app can send audio clips and handle group conversations better and the Photos and iCloud way of handling your digital pictures are getting improvements. Siri is also shacking up with Shazam for music recognition.

As this was the Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple also spent part of the presentation showing off new tools for programmers with the iOS 8 SDK with its 4,000 new APIs. A new graphics technology called Metal was demoed, as was a whole new programming language called Swift for iOS and OS X. If you’re a developer and intrigued by this new language, a free 500-page manual for coding in Swift is available in the iBooks Store.

swift

Try as it may, Apple could not hog all the headlines this week.  Samsung finally launched its first smartphone running the open-source Tizen operating system. The Samsung Z was revealed at a conference this week and is expected to be released first in Russia this fall. The black and gold phone will have a high-definition 4.9-inch screen, 2.3 gigahertz Snapdragon quad-core processor and a fingerprint sensor.

Instagram is out with a new version of its mobile app, dubbed Instagram 6.0, that adds new controls to its photo filters. And Intel announced a new line of Core M processors that promise more power for computing while consuming less power from the battery.

Hey, if you liked the “Kids React to Old Computers” video we talked about on last week’s show, check out The Fine Brothers new clip, “Teens React to the 90s Internet.” And while you’re absorbing that blast from the past, here’s another one. Myspace, the social network pretty much stomped into irrelevance by Facebook, has been sending out messages to former members to remind them that they still have old — and potentially embarrassing — photos on the site. A spokesperson at Myspace told the Mashable site that the company wasn’t trying to blackmail former users into returning, but you know, just engaging them.

us-cert-logoIn security news, US authorities say they’ve caused a disruption in the GameOver Zeus botnet and warn that victims (and potential victims) have about two weeks to shore up their systems before hackers can get the botnet back up and running. The peer-to-peer malware, which tries to steal a user’s online banking credentials, attacks Windows systems and is spread through spam and phishing messages. US-CERT has a warning out, along with links to virus scanners and steps to take for getting rid of the malware.

Self-updating systems that can automatically repair security holes would be a dream, and its one that’s being dared over at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The New York Times takes a look at the agency’s Cyber Grand Challenge, a two-year contest to develop an automated cybersecurity system. Thirty teams from academia and industry plan to participate, with the winner being announced at DEFCON 2016.

June is National Internet Safety Month, not to be confused with National Cyber Security Awareness Month, (which is in October) and Data Privacy Day, (which is every January 28th). National Internet Safety Month came out of a resolution passed by the US Senate in 2005 and is devoted to educating people on ways to stay safe online and a number of sites are offering advice on basic online behavior to keep you out of trouble. Visit StaySafeOnline.org for a guide on how to observe National Internet Safety Month. Antivirus vendor Intego has a list of tips as does Symantec over on the Norton site. (National Internet Safety Month also coincides with the National Safety Council’s own National Safety Month, in which citizens are advised to be careful in general. So let’s watch what we’re doing.)

oliverJohn Oliver, the British comedian and social commentator over on HBO, had a few things to say about the current Net Neutrality debate over Federal Communications Commission’s proposed new rules. Mr. Oliver had a 13-minute monologue on the topic last weekend and encouraged Internet comment trolls to use their powers for good, or as he put it “focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction,” and provide feedback on the FCC’s website. As of Tuesday, more than 47,000 comments had been posted with more on the way and temporarily crippled the site’s commenting system.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have announced their advances in the field of bakable robots, while those at Texas A&M there have published a paper explaining that many people have little or no fear of drones if the drones are small and or shaped like the fairies from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (Technology comfort levels continue to rise in other categories. The Washington Post reports that the US ambassador to Switzerland was sworn in on a Kindle reader this week. )

Analyst Mary Meeker released her annual Internet Trends report last week. Bloomberg Businessweek made note of the report while not thinking much of her visual aids with a story called “Redesigning Mary Meeker’s Ugly Internet Slideshow.”

Levar Burton’s Kickstarter campaign to bring his old Reading Rainbow TV show back as a streaming series on the web, mobile devices, game consoles and connected televisions got a lot of love, making its one million dollar goal in just 11 hours. The show, which lives on already as an iPad app, has now upped its goal to five million dollars. It’s at more than three million bucks at the moment and also plans to donate reading and educational materials to schools that can’t afford them.

And finally, the cast of the upcoming Star Wars VII just got a little bigger. Actresses Lupita Nyong’o, who won an Oscar for her work in 12 Years a Slave last year and Gwendoline Christie, currently playing Brienne of Tarth on HBO’s Game of Thrones have joined the production. The casting news, along with 45 photos posted on TMZ.com that were reportedly leaked from the film’s Tattooine set in Abu Dhabi, have many Star Wars fans hyperventilating and counting the days to December 18th, 2015. Director J.J. Abrams, however, would totally like people to quit leaking stuff from his movie, okay?

Announcement-palooza!

Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference collided squarely with the Electronic Entertainment Expo this week and as we found out, WWDC + E3 = one cubic buttload of competing product announcements.

At the WWDC keynote speech on Monday, Tim Cook and the Apple corps showed off all kinds of new and forthcoming Apple wares, including OS X Mavericks (10.9), new MacBook Airs, a creatively shaped Mac Pro, iWork in the Cloud, iTunes Radio and a revamped iOS 7. Except for the new MacBook Airs, most of this stuff will officially arrive this fall. Thorough conference-news roundups and beta peeks are here at Macworld, Ars Technica, and Cult of Mac, plus you can read Apple’s press releases on the new hardware and software and even watch a replay of the keynote speech here.

Meanwhile, down at E3Electronic ArtsUbisoft and other game companies also gave fans a sneak peek at upcoming titles. Sony showed off new games and made the faithful happy by revealing the new $399 PlayStation 4 — and announcing that it was not going to charge people to play used games on the console when it arrives this holiday season. (Online multiplayer gaming on the PS4, however, will cost you.)

Microsoft, while showing off its impressive $499 Xbox One hardware (due out in November) and games, had more of a PR problem thanks to new policies on used games and the need for frequent online check-ins to keep the console running. This sort of thing makes many gamers unhappy, perhaps even terribly vexed.

jarbox

Still on the fence between the PS4, Xbox One or even the Nintendo Wii U? Compare the hardware spex. And start saving your money for all the new stuff coming this fall.

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