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GADGET DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES
Gadget Ogling: Honey, I Shrunk the iPhone
Thursday - March 31, 2016
iphone-se
The iPhone SE packs almost everything from the iPhone 6s into a handset that looks almost identical to the iPhone 5. The only thing that's really missing is Force Touch. It's a smart play, trying to convince iPhone 4 and 5 owners that they can still upgrade to -- almost -- the latest model without the need to take on a device with a larger screen. [More...]

Wednesday - March 30, 2016
Instagram on Monday moved to calm concerns among some users about a proposed change in the way content appears in their feeds. Celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and Cindy Crawford fueled the anxiety by urging their followers to enable a feature on their mobile devices that would notify them whenever those celebrities post to Instagram. The company assured users that their feed weren't changing yet. [More...]

Wednesday - March 30, 2016
ios-9-3-update-glitches-bugs
Apple has been deluged with complaints from users who say the latest version of its mobile operating system is breaking links and crashing apps. "Following iOS 9.3 on iPhone 6splus update links in safari no longer open, then safari crashes -- any ideas how to fix? Same problem in Chrome," user John MacDonald posted Monday on Apple's support page on Twitter. [More...]

Tuesday - March 29, 2016
microsoft-holoportation
Microsoft on Monday unveiled its version of a teleporter, called "holoportation," which was designed to transmit 3D models of people anywhere in the world. Holoportation compresses, transmits and reconstructs the 3D scans to Microsoft's HoloLens and other head-mounted displays. It lets headset wearers interact with remote users in 3D as if they were in the same space, according to Microsoft. [More...]

Tuesday - March 29, 2016
chinese-hacker
A Chinese aviation and aerospace businessman last week pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to steal sensitive military and export-controlled data from major U.S. defense contractors and send the information to China, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Su Bin, also known as Stephen Su and Stephen Subin, entered the plea before Judge Christina A. Snyder. [More...]

Monday - March 28, 2016
The first reviews of the Oculus Rift surfaced Monday, and reviewers praised the potential of the virtual reality system while pointing out some obvious concerns. The headset display is well-crafted, but drawbacks include the cost and the fact that it requires a powerful gaming system to run it, according to some reviews. "It has the potential to change the world," Devindra Hardawar wrote. [More...]

Monday - March 28, 2016
apple-dell-hp-lenovo-transformations
Following Apple's latest announcements, I noticed a number of reports on how disappointed customers were that there was nothing they wanted to wait in line for hours to buy. I personally thought they should have been excited about that, because I hate to stand in lines. I've never really figured out an Apple fanatic's penchant for pain. Still, it is very clear that today's Apple is very different. [More...]

Monday - March 28, 2016
microsoft-tay-chatbot-internet-trolls
Microsoft last week apologized for its Tay chatbot's bad behavior. It took the machine learning system offline, only 24 hours into its short life, after Twitter trolls got it to deny the Holocaust and elicit pro-Nazi and anti-feminist remarks. "We are deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and hurtful tweets from Tay, which do not represent who we are or what we stand for," said Peter Lee, corporate vice president at Microsoft Research. [More...]

Saturday - March 26, 2016
dish-hopper-3
Dish Network continues to up its game with its whole-home TV set-top box and accompanying devices. Since introducing its Sling-based TV-anywhere solution and whole-home DVR three years ago, Dish has remained one hop ahead of the competition. Since its launch, the Hopper has featured Sling technology that allowed for the streaming of content from the living room to almost anywhere. [More...]

Friday - March 25, 2016
3d-printing-space
What happens when you're 220 miles above Earth on the International Space Station and you need a tool you don't have? You can print one yourself. In 2014, American astronauts for the first time printed a tool -- a ratchet wrench -- using a design file sent from NASA on the ground to the 3D printer spinning about in space. The feat was only the first step to much larger miracles in space. [More...]

Thursday - March 24, 2016
google-ios-keyboard
Google has been developing a third-party keyboard for Apple devices in an effort to increase the number of Google searches on iOS, according to a news report published Tuesday. The keyboard, which is being tested internally, reportedly would incorporate a number of search options and a Swype-like feature to guess the intended word when a user slides a finger from one letter to another. [More...]

Thursday - March 24, 2016
ransomware
Downtime caused by a ransomware attack can cost a company more than paying a ransom to recover data encrypted by the malware, according to a report released last week by Intermedia. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of companies infected with ransomware could not access their data for at least two days because of the incident, and 32 percent couldn't access their data for five days or more. [More...]

Wednesday - March 23, 2016
fbi-methods-crack-terrorist-iphone
On the eve of a court showdown with Apple over unlocking the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, the FBI put its case on pause Monday to pursue an attack method that could allow it to crack the phone without Apple's assistance. After reviewing the FBI's request for postponement of oral arguments in the case, a U.S. District Court in California granted the delay. [More...]

Wednesday - March 23, 2016
apple-carekit
Perhaps worthy of more attention than it received at Apple's Loop You In event on Monday is CareKit. The open source platform will allow developers to create consumer-focused applications to help patients communicate with healthcare providers and closely monitor their own health conditions. Similar to ResearchKit, CareKit applies many of the same tools to patient care. [More...]

Tuesday - March 22, 2016
irobot-bravaa-jet-floor-cleaner
Can you imagine a time before robot vacuum cleaners? The world was a messier place, certainly in the homes of those with too little impetus to pick up a broom or vacuum cleaner once in a while. Thankfully, for those of us who don't mind sweeping but are less enthused about using the mop, robotic help is on its way in a more affordable model: the Braava Jet from iRobot. [More...]

Tuesday - March 22, 2016
johns-hopkins-researchers-crack-imessage-encryption
A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University has found a way to crack open files sent as encrypted instant messages in Apple's iMessage app, according to news reports published Monday. Although it took months to do, the researchers, led by Professor Matthew Green, were able to brute force a 64-bit encryption key, allowing them to unscramble an image file stored in Apple's iCloud. [More...]

Tuesday - March 22, 2016
alphabet-sidewalk-labs-department-transportation-smart-city-traffic-flow
The U.S. Department of Transportation last week announced a partnership with Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs to help cities ease gridlock using Google's vast array of technology and traffic data. Sidewalk Labs will work with the seven finalists in the DoT's Smart City Challenge on a plan to help ease congestion and improve mobility to disadvantaged communities under a program called "Flow." [More...]

Tuesday - March 22, 2016
fbi-warning-car-vehicle-hacking
The FBI, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last week issued a warning about the threat of automobile hacking. Computers that control steering, braking, acceleration and lights, as well as wireless technologies used in keyless entry, ignition control and navigation systems, provide portals for cyberattack, the agencies said. [More...]

Monday - March 21, 2016
iphone-se-apple-loop-you-in
Apple on Monday announced a pair of new products in old sizes -- the 4-inch iPhone SE and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro -- banking on user preferences for the familiar form factors to lessen their hesitancy to upgrade. Although Apple's hour-long "Loop You In" event was short on surprises, it was slimmer on filler as well. Among the notable extras, Apple announced a price cut bringing the Apple Watch to $300. [More...]

Monday - March 21, 2016
scientists-track-drunk-tweets
Applied machine learning techniques can identify tweeters' behaviors in real time and locate them to within 100 meters, according to a paper Rochester University computer scientists published earlier this month. The team focused on discovering patterns of alcohol use in urban and suburban settings to better understand where and how people drink. [More...]

Monday - March 21, 2016
Much of the analysis that I've seen regarding the U.S. presidential election season concludes that it is progressing like the Goldwater vs. Johnson election in the 1960s, when the Republican Party torpedoed its own candidate, ensuring a Democratic Party win. This is happening despite statistics that suggest Hillary Clinton is an extremely weak candidate. [More...]

Saturday - March 19, 2016
acedeceiver-iphone-malware-apple-drm
Security researchers at Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 on Wednesday announced they had discovered in the wild a method of infecting nonjailbroken iPhones with malware by exploiting design flaws in Apple's digital rights management technology. The flaw has been exploited since 2013 largely as a means to pirate iOS software, but this is the first time it's been used to infect iPhones with malware. [More...]

Friday - March 18, 2016
Google this week launched a section of its transparency report to track the progress of efforts to encrypt the Web, by both the company and third-party sites estimated to account for about 25 percent of Web traffic. The report will be updated weekly with information about progress the company has made toward implementing HTTPS by default across its services. [More...]

Friday - March 18, 2016
email-encryption
ProtonMail, which offers encrypted email, on Thursday launched free iOS and Android mobile apps worldwide, through the iTunes App Store and Google Play, respectively. They have been in beta since August, company CEO Andy Yen said. The email service features end-to-end encryption; emails stored on ProtonMail's servers also are encrypted and thus can't be accessed. [More...]

Thursday - March 17, 2016
hacker-ransomware-macs
Researchers last week discovered the first ransomware in the wild aimed at Apple's hardware platform. While the threat was subdued quickly, it exposed the weakness of digital certificates in authenticating software to devices. The ransomware appeared as a legitimate application because it contained a digital certificate stolen from a bona fide Mac developer in Turkey. [More...]

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On texting and driving:
It's dangerous and I never do it.
I know it's dangerous but I do it anyway.
I do it but I'm extra careful.
It's only dangerous if you're a bad driver.
It's less dangerous than many other driver distractions.