The Academy Awards ceremony is a few weeks away and if you haven’t watched all of the nominated films no need to fret because Pop Tech Jam has you covered! J.D. tells us where to catch the winners and losers…legally. In the news, this year’s Super Bowl is the most interactive in history; Twitter gets hacked; Facebook continues pushing the envelope; and Microsoft helps Dell go private.
J.D. shows us how to navigate the Notifications Center on Apple’s Mountain Lion OS and Pedro has some stuff he needs to get off his chest. Let the ranting begin! In the news, Research in Motion becomes BlackBerry; Apple releases an updated iPad and a new version of its iOS; plus Twitter and Google release new transparency reports.
Data Privacy Day is January 28th each year, so start planning your 2014 parties now! Twitter and Google celebrated the event this week by releasing stats for requests from government and rights holders concerning material on the sites. To check out the stats in detail, visit Twitter’s transparency page and Google’s Transparency Report.
While Google was talking about privacy this week, it also unveiled a more detailed map of North Korea, a country known for its intensely reclusive approach to privacy. The map, created by the help of citizen cartographers including some from South Korea, shows subway stops, schools and hospitals in the capital, Pyongyang.
A digital edition of Anne Frank’s diary is now available as an app for the iPad and the Barnes & Noble Nook in the United Kingdom, with a US release expected to follow. If you find your 64-gigabyte iPad is stuffed to the max, Apple just announced a bigger capacity version of its fourth-generation iPad and the company also released iOS 6.1 this week. The update contains the usual security and bug fixes as well as the ability to tell the Siri assistant to buy you movie tickets with Fandango. The little black Apple TV also got a software update, which now lets the set-top box work with Apple’s Bluetooth wireless keyboard (and other Bluetooth keyboards), and manage music better.
Facebook had an update for its iOS app as well, a week after it updated the Android version of its mobile software with voicemail, video recording and other perks. Twitter’s video-sharing service, Vine, arrived week the iPhone and iPod Touch and is already a favorite for people who like to share those really special pornographic moments.
Research in Motion held is BlackBerry OS 10 launch this week. In addition to announcing new phones and software and changing its corporate name to “BlackBerry,” the company confirmed that the BB10 OS is will eventually make its way to the BlackBerry Playbook tablet.
Yahoo is also trying to climb back from mediocrity and beat its fourth-quarter earnings estimates by 14 percent and YouTube is set to launch channels that require paid subscriptions. Microsoft has finally officially launched Office 2013 desktop productivity software and its Office 365 premium Web service this week.
Up on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover continues its testing in preparation for drilling into a rock to collect a sample. And while the rover going through drilling drills is exciting, it was the news about J.J. Abrams directing Star Wars VII that really sent a tremor through the Force. (The announcement even inspired an online musical number with a tap-dancing Darth Vader.) A new hope for the galaxy, indeed.
This week J.D. lists some useful apps that will get you through the Thanksgiving Holiday and Pedro laments the lack of decent gaming controllers for his tablets. In the news, a political scandal with a tech twist; high-level changes in the executive ranks at Apple and Google; RIM is finally ready to unveil the Blackberry 10 OS; and Youtube distributes cancellation slips.
Well, the first flurry of Apple fall product announcements finally hit this week with the revelation of the iPhone 5, a revamp of a few iPods and a sneak peak at the next version of iTunes. The iOS 6 software and the phones will be out next week, but everything else isn’t available until October. Google, wasting no time after Apple removed the built-in YouTube app from the iOS Home screen, released its own free standalone iPhone YouTube app.
Amazon certainly wasn’t waiting around for Apple to hog all the limelight either, announcing big updates to its Kindle line of tablets and e-readers last week. (While all the new Kindle Fire HD tablets were going to include spam — whoops — Special Offers on the Home screen, Amazon says users can now opt out of that for $15.) A slight upgrade to Amazon’s original Kindle Fire tablet is now selling for $160. This is just $10 more than the new tablet-for-kids announced by Toys R Us this week.
Also on the Apple front, as a follow up to last week’s story about 12 million Apple device ID numbers that were not hacked off an FBI computer — it turns out the compromised machine belonged to the Florida-based app developer BlueToad, which assured and apologized to its customers in a company blog post. (GoDaddy, the domain-name and site-hosting service was thought to have suffered a hack attack itself earlier this week that took many of its sites offline for hours, but the company said it was an internal glitch that keelhauled all those Web sites.) When it is not defending itself from false hacking claims, the FBI has found time for a billion dollar upgrade to its biometric identification technology systems, although some privacy advocates are feeling a whiff of the Orwell on this one. The FBI has some info about its Next Generation Identification technology here.
Now then, contrary to popular reports, other hardware besides smartphones and tablets is headed to stores this fall. Pentax announced new mirrorless and DSLR cameras. And thin is in at Western Digital — the company has just launched a super-skinny 5 millimeter thick hard drive for ultrabook laptops.
Housed in an 18-wheel tractor trailer, the Digital Bookmobile travels around the country and shows people how to use e-book lending services from their local libraries with instructional videos, interactive workstations and a gadget gallery with all the popular e-reader models. There’s also a section for audiobooks inside the truck. Remember kids, reading is fundamental, no matter how you do it.
As it announced in a recent blog post, Google is changing up its search algorithms in what some are calling an attempt to impose a “pirate penalty” on those who illegally post copyrighted content online. The new Google math is designed to push sites with valid copyright removal notices farther down in the results rankings so that legitimate content sources will rise to the top. Skeptics to the new policy are concerned that Google’s own YouTube and other popular sites like Facebook will likely escape the dragnet anyway. (And on the topic of original content, Google is buying some: the company just bought travel-guide publisher Frommer’s from John Wiley & Sons.)
Moving to Android news, HTC stated on its Facebook page that the update, also known as Android 4.0, will be rolled out by the end of August for several popular handset models including the Thunderbolt and the Desire S. Okay, who’s up for Jelly Bean?
You don’t need an invitation to join Pinterest anymore, but the FBI says you should decline the invitation to give ransomware hackers a bunch of money to unlock your virus-snarled computer. The agency has been receiving complaints about malware known as Reveton, and it and can be installed with just a drive-by click on a poisoned Web site. Check out the FBI’s Reveton warning page and tips for dealing with the scumware if it latches onto your machine. The Internet Crime Complaint Center lists other current scams as well.
Even serious stuff, let’s talk entertainment. For starters, if you want a color e-reader with a little mini-tablet mojo, Barnes & Noble just whacked the price tag on several of its Nook devices. If this weekend’s opening films on the Forever Geek movie calendar don’t pique your interest, there’s always the Saturday release of The Hunger Games on home video. Target is totally jumping in to the whole Merchandising Games, with all sorts of pricy collectibles including a $349 Katniss Everdeen replica leather jacket a solid 14-karat gold Mockingjay pin for $999. Well, at least the official District 12 socks are only $9…
Pedro on game console media streaming servers and J.D. highlights some gold medal apps just in time for the 2012 Olympic Games. In the news, Youtube ticks off Wesley Crusher…well they’ve cheesed off actor and producer Wil Wheaton who played Ensign Crusher on ST:TNG while Apple and Samsung continue their slapfight in various coutrooms around the world and Amazon might rolls out a whole slew of tablets.
Hardcore trolls will still hide behind their handles YouTube (owned by Google, you know) is encouraging members to link their user names on the video site to their real names on the Google+ service. The whole universal Google-wide identity thing is not going over well with everyone — most notably with the actor Wil Wheaton, who went on a rant last spring after being asked to sign up for Google+ in order to give the thumbs up to a video he liked on YouTube. (Quick tip: Got Firefox and want to filter out the more offensive spew in the comments area? Try the YouTube Comment Snob add-on for cleaner living.)
Need some beach reading? The Justice Department has released its lengthy response to public comments on the proposed final judgment on its e-book price-fixing lawsuit. Apple, which is heavily involved in the e-book case, is also battling Samsung Electronics over patent issues and would like $2.5 billion for its troubles. That rock’em, sock ‘em court battle is scheduled to begin next week. With all this litigious action, it’s a wonder Apple has time to make all the products people are whispering about online. (Yes, the amount of sheer speculation on Apple’s plans can cause problems, but even Apple CEO Tim Cook knows you can’t stop the chatter.)
Amazon is reportedly cranking out a fresh pile of tablet hardware as well (and so, for some reason, is RIM with a new BlackBerry Playbook). For the camera hardware fans, Canon finally hit that sweet spot between pocket point-and-shoot and bug burly digital SLR with its Canon EOS M mirrorless model. (Some folks have even tested it out already, even though it’s not due in stores until October.)
Hey, if you jumped in early with the Windows 8 Preview, the 7digital music service is right there with you and has a preview version of its Windows 8-ready app available to try out. The store has several AC/DC covers, so you can rock out just like the Iranian nuclear scientists, who have been supposedly hit by a new cyberattack that makes their computers blast “Thunderstuck” in the wee hours. (While accounts of this latest worm seem dubious and unverified, admit it: It does get you duck-walking, doesn’t it?)
And finally, we note the passing of Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. Thanks, Dr. Ride, for smashing through the glass ceiling and take the dreams of young geek girls right into orbit with you.