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Wednesday January 7, 2015 Tech News

Samsung goes the Apple way for its Smart-Home products; within 2 years, all will be internet-enabled, and the software platform powering them will be open to developers. Smartphone slowly replaced landlines / pay phones, camera, Walkman, dictaphone, netbook, portable TV, calculator, watch / alarm clock, sat nav, and some future ones... Fastest growing civilian drone maker is China's DJI Technology Co., founded in 2009, which since grew from 20 to 2,800 worldwide employees; ~5x cheaper. Vietnam internet problems from shark biting fiber-optic cables, possibly confusing electromagnetic waves for bioelectric fields normally associated with shoaling fish! Resurgence of macro malware, e.g., from MS Office documents attached to emails. With bigger iPhones, Apple gains shares at expense of Android-phones and Samsung. Devs+musicians scared by iTunes EU's new policy of 14-days, no-question-asked returns. AP: current drone market resembles the early days of Silicon Valley. Broadcom unveils new chip that will support speeds up to 1 gigabit/sec. for cable modems, thanks to new DOCSIS 3.1 standard. No more cold air out thanks to LG's new fridge that includes a door within a door; launches washing machine with 2 loaders. Apple rumored to release completely redesigned MacBook Air, replacing multiple ports with single, new USB C port. Intel's new Broadwell chip (ever more efficient) might let Apple support Retina on MacBook Airs w/o battery life penalty. Wireless charging closer to reality as multiple companies merge separate approaches into single, compatible effort. World's only person cured of HIV talks about his stem cell transplant (donor's cells are naturally immune to that infection). Following NY Met, Smithsonian releases collection of 40k digitized pieces of art. Unknown Chinese brand ("TLC") to use the Palm name to enter the US market. Recent studies suggest that tea and coffee might help keep your brain healthy. Apple patent describes flexible and "foldable" electronic devices! Google fails in the cloud space, losing market shares as this segment explodes worldwide. South African police impound 33 Uber vehicles for dispute over license needed.

Tuesday January 6, 2015 Tech News

CES: ChocoJet is a 3D-printer that allows you produce creations made of chocolate.New, low-cost waste treatment turns sewage into both drinking water and electricity.Amazon ships 5 billion items in 2014, 40% of which came from third-party sellers.Bitstamp, largest Bitcoin exchange, temporarily halts operations after hack.Online greeting-card company Moonpig ignores year-old vulnerability - 3.6 million customers' data exposed as a result.Infrared is out of range of human eye, but experiment reveals that we're sometimes able to catch glimpses of the invisible world.Study: exposure to heavy metals like cadmium accelerate cell aging process, possibly explaining chronic illnesses.Study of 55-79 year-old regular cyclists: no obvious signs of aging normally found in age group; same should apply to heavy exercise.Intermittent Twitter outage prevents seeing latest tweets, and shows wrong timestamps.Internet Archive uploads over 2,400 MS DOS games playable in a web browser.Top 2014 Kickstarter campaigns are all tech, from sleep tracker to electro music.Fexaramine as future diet pills: fools body into over-digesting food, thus burning fat.Facebook acquires (gives developers Siri-like language processing module).High-profile programmer ignites debate about Apple's lower quality software.Augmented reality finds its way into cars, through overlay windshield displays.Japan Meteorological Agency: 2014 was hottest year on record (since 1891); the top 10 hottest years all occurred since 1998.LG shows off second version of its curved smartphone at CES, less curved, and with self-healing coating on the phone's back.Toyota unveils hydrogen-fueled Mirai FCV (fuel cell vehicle) at CES 2015, with range of 300 miles, and recharged in under 5 minutes.WSJ recap of pre-opening day at CES 2015: Google Cast, Intel Core, LG G Flex2, Roku, Garmin, wireless thermometer, and more! CES 2015 - overview of the new terms in TV jargon: 8K, UHD / SUHD, Quantum dot technology, Curved TVs, and Tizen.

Monday January 5, 2015 Tech News

Irresponsibly, Google publicly releases Windows 8.1 vulnerability after giving Microsoft 90 days to fix it; still unpatched.Microsoft releases Nokia 215, cheapest smartphone in the world ($29), hoping to make inroads in Asian market.Despite (maybe because of) sharing of leaked celeb pictures, website Reddit sees 2014 as record year; 71.25 billion page views.Intel unveils 5th generation of Core processors for desktop / high-performance laptops, 5 months after mobile Core M line.Hedge fund robots destroy human traders in managed futures performance.Touch invisible objects thanks to ultrasound machine that maps 3D objects in space.Audi lets new A7 car drive itself to CES 2015 (Consumer Electronics Show).Following Amazon Echo, Google introduces home audio streaming, called Google Cast.British and Dutch researchers may have devised more accurate lie-detection technique than polygraph; measures full body motion.Stuff overview - what to expect from CES 2015 (the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas, Nevada).Global tech spending last year grew 1% - doesn't sound like much, but consider that global economy is ailing.Apple iCloud accounts at risk after hacker releases tool that allegedly can crack any of its logins - multiple sources backing claim.Chinese phone maker Xiaomi, a private company, claims doubling sales in 2014, thus overtaking South Korean rival Samsung.Based on US Labor dept., 65% of jobs in 10 years haven't yet been thought up: how to get marketable skills to compete with robots? Experts' insight: will online video trends towards YouTube or Facebook? (Note: YouTube, now owned by Google, has a near-10-year advantage over Facebook.)

Sunday December 4, 2015 Tech News

Netflix to roll out tool preventing "geo dodging" (circumventing country's restricted selection), following Hulu last April.Windows 10 upgrade will be seamless (no clean install needed) for Windows 7/8/8.1 users, and likely free for Windows 8/8.1.Sioux Falls, SD: privacy concerns aside (no personally identifiable info shared unless system hacked), cell phones pinging towers help city map traffic patterns, which can be used for road planning and maintenance.NASA developing inflatable heat shields to land astronauts on Mars: parachutes can't carry the size of spacecrafts needed for Mars missions, and rockets can't be used to land like they can on the atmosphereless moon.Scientists still puzzled by hundreds of birds' deaths (Cassin's auklets) along the Pacific coastline, from British Columbia to southern California; current climate, not cold enough, doesn't explain massive die-off; toxin ruled out, birds seem to have starved to death.Archaeologists discover 25th dynasty tomb complex (760-656) at Thebes' West Bank, including Osiris carving and wall paintings - a small version of Osireion tomb, built under pharaoh Seti I's reign in Abydos, Luxor.Actionable insight: in an experiment, people with stage fright told to get excited ended up performing better than participants told to calm down, or not given any instructions.Mapping the bowhead whale's genome could help increase humans' lifespan: it's the longest living mammal (200 years), which rarely gets cancer or heart disease.By digging through Belize's Great Blue Hole for rocks and sediments, archaeologists get possible clues about the Mayan civilization's decline; small quantity of titanium for the equivalent of 200 years indicates long droughts and few cyclones (corroborating 2012 findings from stalagmites). Dirty water, dried crops, fight for resources, and migrations to more clement pastures all fit that civilization's pattern of fracture into surviving rival groups.

Saturday January 3, 2015 Tech News

Several restaurants in China now use robots both as waiters and kitchen staff; the country has overtaken Japan as the world's largest robots consumer. The encroachment starts beyond basic work, too: in Norway, a robot was designed to remove breast fillets from chickens, skilled task normally requiring human intervention. And this is a worldwide trend: a Oxford University study suggests that by 2040, half of US workforce could be replaced by robots.Saudi Arabia government hires ethical hackers to fight online porn by disabling social media accounts distributing it.Sony offers 5 extra days membership to all PlayStation Plus subscribers unable to sign in during the holidays (network was hacked).Microsoft's Bing and Yahoo Search (powered by Bing) temporarily down on Friday after buggy code is pushed, then pulled back.NYC preschoolers required to get flu shot, hoping it will help curb epidemic; but the evolving new strands of flu are becoming increasingly immune to flu shots.Another pro-consumer site gets sued by big biz: the textbook industry's threat of lawsuit against textbook price-comp tool (Google Chrome addon) only made it go viral.Fighting back: Montblanc, watch and pen maker, is about to launch the e-Strap, making any luxury watch a smartwatch; the touch-enabled, OLED monochromatic display includes a pedometer and accelerometer.

Friday January 2, 2015 Tech News

Study shows that many cancers are caused by bad luck, not bad genes or lifestyle.New EU energy rules require that internet-connected devices turn themselves off when not in use (saving ~$50/household/year).Paris startup called Qwant offers new search engine experience, partly fueled by growing resentment against Google, particularly in Europe where privacy laws are stricter.Woman ordered to pay ~$10k in Facebook defamation case: suggested in post that estranged husband was abusive for years; overview of similar social media cases.Custom deer robot made to catch off-season poachers in Florida; convincing enough that it required repairs from bullet damage.Crowdfunding saves centuries-old north Malian manuscript (area now occupied by Islamists); next, other countries' artefacts.UK government trials driverless cars in 3 cities, in semi-autonomous conditions.A robot can now paint your nails; better still, it can be repurposed for cooking.Potrait of Mari Velonaki: male-dominated robotics welcomes female artist to help with "social robotics", the art and science of making machines interact with humans.Electronic chip as alternative to the pill: sub-dermally implanted, releases on-demand contraceptive hormones, can be turned off at will using remote control; TTM? 2018.Uber prices auto-adjusted based on demand, as Aussie gal discovers, being charged ~$174 for an 8.5 mile ride home on New Year's.Samsung: all its internet-connected TVs this year will use the company's own operating system, Linux-based "Tizen".

Thursday January 1, 2015 Tech News

Snapchat gets other funding round for just under half a billion dollars; company still working on its business model.Mt Gox, Japanese Bitcoin exchange went bankrupt in Feb. 2014; 1% stolen by hackers, remainder taken over by unknown party.Apple's iPod Classic, discontinued in October, fetches up to 4 times its retail price - twice storage capacity of current models.Twitter unveils "while you were away" feature, a recap by pinning best tweets you missed since your last login session.Demise of the bookstores; more bookshops closed doors in past 2 years as people switch to eBooks; library still seen as necessary.Prediction: fitness bands, one of the hottest accessories in 2014, may fade into obsolescence as smartwatches take over.Lawsuit against Apple and advertised storage capacity - as much as 23% of a device's flash drive can be used by the operating system (iOS), and the company profits by selling additional cloud (online) storage.Facebook takes down page of China dissident, living in Berlin, officially for nudity (picture of artist friend in nude protest), denies any ulterior motive.Idling your car over 30 seconds to warm it in cold weather does nothing but waste gas; how the myth started (with old cars).Emerging new techs to recharge devices, using body heat and movement; Apple got patent for similar system using magnets.Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos loses $7.4bn stock value in company's worst year since 2008.Closing 2014, the year of the #hashtag; worldwide recap by The Age.Popular Science's survey of the best / most challenging special effects of 2014 (each slideshow image links to an article).Glasgow (Scotland) to host world's first festival dedicated to cat videos.Rough start of 2015 for Uber, which temporarily halts its Spain operations; court order says drivers don't have official authorization, unfairly compete with compliant taxi drivers.Quick news briefs:
Possible data breach at Chick-fil-A restaurants, first suspected on December 19th (developing).
British police possibly arrested a Lizard Squad hacker (Xbox Live & PlayStation Network hack).
Sony's "The Interview" movie now coming to on-demand TV (Comcast, Time Warner Cable...)
Obamacare: startup BeneStream helps businesses figure out if employees are eligible for gov insurance.

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