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November 27, 2015
Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket this week made history when it landed intact in Texas. The unmanned crew capsule returned safely from a test flight that took it 330,000 feet into the air. The New Shepard could become the first reusable booster -- it's scheduled to return to space in a few months. It's now tucked into a storage facility at a launch site in West Texas. [More...]

November 25, 2015
TV manufacturers could have a very good holiday season. Sales of Ultra High Definition TV sets will exceed 330 million units by the end of 2019, according to Parks Associates. However, while the price of those sets has fallen sharply, a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council contended that UHD models use 30 percent more energy than their HD predecessors. [More...]

November 24, 2015
Facebook last week announced it was testing tools that will let people manage their post-breakup life on its pages. "Today social media means that you are guaranteed to run into your ex, and he or she might very well be wrapped around a new partner," relationship expert Wendy Walsh said. "Research has shown that those who don't disconnect electronically have a harder time getting over a breakup." [More...]

November 24, 2015
Samsung last week began fulfilling orders for its Oculus-power Gear VR headset, giving U.S. consumers their first taste of Oculus VR's brand of virtual reality. International preorders have opened as well. It won't be until early next year that Oculus VR begins shipping its full-featured Oculus Rift headset, but as a Gear VR collaborator, it has been touting Samsung's mobile-driven headset. [More...]

November 23, 2015
Fitbit on Monday announced the addition of PurePulse heart rate tracking and SmartTrack automatic exercise recognition to its Charge HR and Surge devices. The PurePulse monitoring will be activated whenever the devices are used in Exercise Mode, providing users with continuous, automatic tracking of heart rate trends over time without the need for a chest strap. [More...]

November 23, 2015
Vinux 5.0 is a striking example of the flexibility and usability of the Linux OS. Vinux is a fully functional Linux distro that caters to blind and partially sighted users. It's based on Ubuntu Trusty Tahr 14.04.3 LTS and gives users support through 2019. The latest version was released earlier this month. It greatly improves on the usability features of other Linux distributions. [More...]

November 23, 2015
SentinelOne last week introduced an addition to its behavioral solution designed to address the problem of ransomware scrambling files on a computer. Ransomware has been a scourge not only for consumers, but for the enterprise, too. The malicious software can be particularly nettlesome for enterprises because they have to protect many endpoints -- phones, tablets, laptops, desktops and servers. [More...]

November 23, 2015
I started planning to escape the Valley a long time ago, due to very high taxes, a crumbling infrastructure, worsening crime, a massive increase in traffic, and a rather nasty water shortage problem. My wife and I originally planned to escape to Belize but found the unreliable infrastructure, lack of good medical care, and massive crime problem there were not conducive to our continued survival. [More...]

November 21, 2015
No longer leaving it up to third-party companies to create charging docks for its Apple Watch, Apple has released its own official dock. It allows Watch owners to rest the smartwatch in nightstand mode -- a feature introduced in the latest version of the operating system that essentially turns the Watch into a bedside clock -- without tangling it up with the standard magnetic charger. [More...]

November 20, 2015
Microsoft HoloLens on Thursday announced a partnership with Volvo Cars to develop a new holographic technology that could change the way consumers experience auto showrooms. The tech would let potential buyers stay put in the physical world while experiencing an automobile in an entirely new way, suggested Scott Erickson, senior director of Microsoft HoloLens. [More...]

November 20, 2015
Dojo-Labs on Thursday introduced Dojo, a device that plugs into the router of a home network and acts as a watchdog to ensure that everything connected to the network is operating on its best behavior. The device brings some of the advanced technologies used to protect corporate networks to the home. It can prevent attacks and detect intrusions by observing how a device behaves on the network. [More...]

November 20, 2015
NASA on Tuesday announced it has awarded one R5 humanoid robot each to MIT and Northeastern University to conduct research on adapting them for use in space. The universities were selected from U.S. entries in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Robotics Challenge held in June. Each team will receive up to $250,000 a year for two years. They also will get technical support from NASA. [More...]

November 20, 2015
Nvidia this week revealed a refreshed Shield Tablet K1 and indicated that it isn't done updating the gaming slate. One of the biggest parts of the refresh is a cut of $100 off the price of the 16-GB tablet. The original Shield Tablet was available in a $299 16-GB version and a $399 32-GB variant. A new battery replaces the fire-prone cells that caused a recall of the original Shield Tablets. [More...]

November 19, 2015
The FBI has denied allegations that it paid Carnegie Mellon University security researchers $1 million to crack a network designed to protect the anonymity of its users. The Tor Project, which operates the network, last week accused the FBI of cutting the CMU deal. The attack on Tor occurred from January to July 2014. The attackers discovered a way to strip the anonymity of Tor users. [More...]

November 19, 2015
Huawei Technologies last week unveiled lithium-ion batteries that recharge in minutes rather than hours. The batteries, developed by Huawei's Watt Lab, recharge 10 times faster than their competitors and can reach 50 percent capacity in two to five minutes, the company said. Huawei demonstrated two models at the 56th Battery Symposium in Japan last week. [More...]

November 19, 2015
Docker this week announced new security enhancements at DockerCon EU in Barcelona, Spain, including hardware signing of container images -- an industry first -- through a partnership with Yubico. Docker Content Trust offers hardware signing through support for Yubico's YubiKey. The YubiKey 4 lets Docker users digitally sign code during initial development and through subsequent updates. [More...]

November 19, 2015
Google has reintroduced its Google+ social network with major revisions to its look and feel, as part of a last ditch effort to make the struggling site a player in a much deeper and more crowded landscape. The site has undergone a major redesign that takes away some of the bloat that slowed down the navigation process, the company said. Its new focus is to serve as a virtual gathering place. [More...]

November 18, 2015
Microsoft on Monday announced that its Mojang unit's Minecraft will star in's third annual Hour of Code event in December. A 2-D tutorial version of Minecraft will introduce players ages 6 and older to simple coding, encouraging them to mine and craft by using visual programming, Microsoft said. Players then can engage in a bundle of 14 challenges to reinforce what they've learned. [More...]

November 18, 2015
ISIS has rebuffed the declaration of cyberwar Anonymous issued. "The #Anonymous hackers threatened in new video release that they will carry out a major hack operation on the Islamic state (idiots)," reads a message posted in a Telegram channel believed to be affiliated with ISIS hackers. "What they gonna hack," it continues. "All what they can do is hacking Alansar twitter accounts, emails etc." [More...]

November 18, 2015
Uber this week announced a feature that lets drivers set their destinations twice a day for when they only want to pick up riders traveling their way. The feature is rolling out this week in the Bay Area, reportedly in the company's hometown of San Francisco first. "We are focused on rolling [this feature] out to additional markets," said Uber spokesperson Molly Spaeth. [More...]

November 18, 2015
Encryption once again has come under fire in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks in Paris. Western intelligence agencies reportedly blamed the technology for enabling communications among the attackers, and some officials renewed their calls for technology companies to give them decryption keys. However, the terrorists may have communicated through private messages on the PlayStation 4. [More...]

November 17, 2015
The Tor Project last week claimed the FBI paid Carnegie Mellon University $1 million to crack the anonymity of Tor users. The claim appears to have been triggered by a report that said the FBI's arrest of an alleged member of Silk Road 2.0 was based on "information obtained by a 'university-based research institute' that operated its own computers on the anonymous network used by Silk Road 2.0." [More...]

November 17, 2015
A drone crashed into the 175-foot-tall Seattle Great Wheel last week, triggering a police investigation. The Great Wheel is a ferris wheel near the downtown Seattle waterfront. No damage or injuries were reported in the crash. "I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often," commented Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. [More...]

November 17, 2015
Ubuntu Studio 15.10 is a one-stop Linux OS shop for most creative people. It bundles a nearly full range of multimedia content-creation applications for workflows involving audio, graphics, video, photography and publishing. The developers describe this distro as a multimedia content-creation hub for all five creative workflows. The last element -- publishing -- is the weakest link. [More...]

November 16, 2015
Facebook faced a social media firestorm this weekend for deploying its safety check tool during Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris. Large numbers of people used social media to let loved ones and officials know they were hiding, injured, or safe and out of harm's way. The decision provoked questions over why the technology was not deployed during similar incidents in other regions. [More...]

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I plan to do my holiday shopping…
Online only -- I like the convenience and comfort.
Online only -- I'd shop in stores if their stock weren't so limited.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I like to see what I'm getting.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I enjoy the holiday shopping atmosphere.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I want to support local merchants.
Online and in stores -- I want the best of both worlds.
I'm not planning on doing any holiday shopping.