Are typed passwords passé? Google has some thoughts, and in a paper to be published later this month, suggests a number of ideas to bolster password security with hardware like a USB token that can be plugged into the computer, a ring that can authenticate the user’s identity or two-step verification with a smartphone linked to the account. Now, if only the biometric retina scanners and voiceprint identification software were ready for the home market. (Fingerprint readers for smartphones seem to be in the works, though.)
In the world of mobile devices, Research in Motion has changed the name of its online store from BlackBerry App World to BlackBerry World. The Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet will go on sale February 9th in the US and Canada. Instagram recently piped up to says it still has 90 million active users, even after the fallout from its PR blunder late last year about how maybe it just might share its users’ photos with advertisers for money (a TOS item that has since been revised).
File-sharing, especially sharing of copyrighted content, is the bane of the entertainment industry, but Columbia University’s American Assembly research center has just done a public option poll that suggests that people using peer-to-peer sharing services buy 30 percent more music than those who do not use P2P sharing. Kim Dotcom, founder of the late Megaupload site that was a favorite of those sharing copyrighted content, is back with a new file-storing and sharing site. (Some have raised security concerns, however.)
Do you prefer to do your video-sharing by watching TV with the family? The research firm Frank N. Magid Associates thinks many people may be buying a new TV soon; bells and whistles like big flat screens and built-in Internet connectivity are seen as upgrade lures. And there will soon be more to watch on the stream aside. Fans of the Arrested Development TV show celebrated when Netflix decided to pick up the long-canceled show and produce new episodes that are due this May, and now Amazon may be getting into the content-production game as well. The online ultra-mega-uberstore is said to have snagged the Zombieland TV show that was under development for one of the major broadcast networks.
At least these services pretty much have the whole streaming thing down, compared to the National Hockey League, which had some trouble with its own live video app this past weekend and plenty of griping fans; the NHL did acknowledge there were issues that they were “working hard to fix.”
Meanwhile, out in space… NASA’s older Mars rover, Opportunity, is still hard at work after 10 years of leaving Earth for its own mission on the Red Planet. And Curiosity, the bigger, newer rover is expected to start drilling on that rock within the next couple of weeks in search of evidence that Mars once had flowing water.
And finally, it’s time for Rumor Roundup:
- Specifications expectations (spexpectations?) are high for the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Samsung is said to be holding a press event on March 22.
- The iPhone, which the analyst firm Kantar WorldPanel ComTech says grabbed 51 percent of US smartphone sales last quarter, is always the subject of rumors and one of the latest murmurs says Apple has a model with a 4.8-inch display in the works with the curious name of the “iPhone Math.” The name, the hardware, the phone itself are all unconfirmed, but the iPhone Math comes alongside whispers of a cheaper model and an iPhone 5S possibly this summer. Or maybe next year. (And maybe it’ll have something to make the stockholders happy again.)
- Sony’s PlayStation 4 could be getting a touchscreen controller instead of or in addition to the traditional dual-stick model. And it may have biometric feedback built in.
- Microsoft’s next Xbox looks to be a powerful presence in the living room, if the leaked specifications are anywhere in the ballpark. According to the site VG Leaks, the next Xbox may have 8 gigabytes of RAM, a Blu-ray player, USB 3.0, a hard drive and HDMI port and a built in Kinect motion controller.
One hopes the real new Xbox lives up to the rumored Xbox here. And hey, that kind of multipurpose entertainment console just might call for…a new TV!
A few episodes ago, we talked about iTunes U as a free source of educational courses, content and lectures from major universities. Along those lines, you can also take free computer science and programming classes from sites like Coursera and MIT’s Open Courseware. Practical Programming in C is one such course offered on the MIT site.
If Ruby piques your interest, there’s also the TryRuby interactive site. It’s linked to the Code School site, where you can sign up for and try classes for free — and then pay $25 a month if you want to keep learning.
Want to learn Ruby on Rails, which is an open-source full-stack web application framework that works with the Ruby language? Try the Rails for Zombies site, also from Code School. (Zombies, we just can’t get enough of zombies — especially with The Walking Dead returning with new episodes this weekend.)
Another site for young programmers is <Code/Racer>, which is a multiplayer live game that teaches how to write the code for a basic Web site in HTML and CSS. If you already know how to do that, the site tests how quickly you can code.
These sites are just a few of the many options out there, but a good place to start your search for a programming language to learn. And once you get the skills down, you can flaunt the wardrobe.