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Amazon Offers Binge-Friendly Monthly Prime Subscriptions
April 18, 2016
Amazon on Monday began offering Prime Video as a standalone service with a monthly subscription option. Prime Video previously was offered only as part of a bundle with Amazon Prime, which is available for $99 a year. Amazon also offers a monthly Prime membership plan for $10.99, which includes all the benefits that come with the yearly Prime plan, including two-day free shipping.
Google Calendar Offers Life-Coaching Goals Feature
April 18, 2016
Google last week rolled out Goals in Google Calendar, a feature designed to help users achieve their personal goals. Users set a goal, such as working out more often, and answer relevant questions, such as how often they want to work out and the best time for them to do so. Calendar then will sift through their schedules and select the best time to allocate for the task.
Facebook Envisions Virtual Social Future
April 15, 2016
Facebook on Wednesday demonstrated at its F8 developer conference how socializing could take place in a virtual world. Two employees some 30 miles apart showed how they could share the same virtual space. Through the use of 360-degree photos, they visited London, drew together with virtual pens, and took selfies and posted them to their Facebook news feeds.
ESPN Adds Drone Racing to Its Summer Schedule
April 14, 2016
The International Drone Racing Association and ESPN on Wednesday announced a multiyear international media distribution deal. Under the partnership, the network will showcase the 2016 U.S. National Drone Racing Championships, which will be held on Governors Island in New York City this summer. The national championships and the 2016 World Drone Racing Championships will be streamed live on ESPN3.
Gadget Ogling: Smarter Notes, Livelier Virtual Reality, and Bigger In-Flight Movies
April 14, 2016
We've for some time had Moleskine's Smart Notebooks, which allow you to jot down your thoughts and upload them to Evernote through an app. The new Smart Writing Set takes that idea and elevates it to a new plane, letting you quickly turn scrawled notes or doodles into digital files you can edit using a computer or any mobile app -- no smartphone camera required.
Facebook Entices VR Content Creators With Open Source Surround Cam
April 13, 2016
Facebook on Tuesday unveiled a high-quality 360-degree 3D camera suitable for creating virtual reality content. The Facebook Surround 360 system, which made its debut at the F8 developers conference, includes a production-ready camera -- which costs about $30,000 to build and looks like a flying saucer from a science fiction movie -- and software for controlling the camera and for stitching and rendering what the camera captures.
Officials Named in Panama Papers Cower Behind China's Great Firewall
April 13, 2016
Chinese authorities have issued censorship instructions to the media following the release of the Panama Papers, according to news reports published last week. The leaked documents reportedly listed several top Chinese officials who used Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to set up offshore companies. The names include President Xi Jinping's brother-in-law Deng Jiagui.
Zuckerberg Launches Remodeled Messenger
April 12, 2016
CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday launched the company's new Messenger platform beta at its annual F8 conference. The Messenger announcement was the first major initiative in the long-term vision he presented. Zuckerberg outlined a major push to incorporate AI and bots into the Messenger platform. "Messenger is going to be the next big platform for sharing privately," he said.
Marketers Poised to Run the Customer Experience Show, Survey Says
April 12, 2016
Marketing will shape the customer experience by 2020, based on a recent Marketo study of nearly 500 chief marketing officers and senior marketing executives worldwide. The Economist Intelligence Unit conducted the research on behalf of Marketo. Eighty-percent of the respondents believed their departments would exercise significant influence over business strategy by 2020.
Daily Mail Joins Yahoo Bidding Queue
April 11, 2016
The parent company of British tabloid the Daily Mail apparently has entered what's shaping up as frenzied round robin bidding war for Yahoo, a firm that long has worn the mantle of a technology relic incapable of exciting interest. The Daily Mail & General Trust on Monday confirmed a report that it has approached private equity companies on a possible joint bid for the firm.
Publishers Put Brave Ad-Blocking Browser on Notice
April 11, 2016
A group of newspaper publishers last week sent what amounted to a cease-and-desist letter to Brave Software, which offers the HTTPS Brave browser with built-in ad blocking and tracking protection. Brave has offered to let publishers make money off blocked ads by partnering with them "for a lower fee than they pay their third-party data-tracking partners," CEO Brendan Eich said.
Illicit Weapons Traders Flock to Facebook
April 8, 2016
Facebook has served as an online marketplace for armed militias in Libya and other war-torn countries, according to a news report published Wednesday. An array of light weapons bought and sold after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi unleashed a torrent of unregulated commerce in Libya, which previously had controlled online communications strictly, according to a study by Armament Research Services.
Reddit's Blocking Tool Balances Free Speech With Right to Ignore
April 8, 2016
Reddit this week announced that it has extended the reach of its blocking tool, which was introduced in 2011 to let users fight harassment. The tool previously focused on blocking private messages; now it can block comments to users' posts. Clicking the Block User button while viewing a reply will hide the blocked user's profile, comments, posts and messages without that user's knowledge.
Vivaldi Flaunts Its Plus-Size Browser Attributes
April 7, 2016
Vivaldi on Wednesday launched the first release of its eponymously named browser. Vivaldi is the brainchild of CEO Jon von Tetzchner, a cofounder of Opera Software. Aimed at the power user, Vivaldi 1.0 packs in features that were stripped out of Opera 12. However, "Vivaldi is not about a single feature," von Tetzchner said. "Vivaldi is more about a philosophy."
New Features Boost Sharing via Facebook Live
April 7, 2016
Facebook on Wednesday announced enhanced Facebook Live video capabilities with additional features to allow members to share live video with friends and family by broadcasting events or sharing video in groups. Users can go live in Facebook groups so that a group of users or friends or family members can be sent specific video feeds. The feature has an interactive quality.
Apple, FBI Tussle Puts Bull's-Eye on iPhone
April 7, 2016
The battle between the FBI and Apple over access to the iPhone of Syed Farook came to an abrupt end last week when the agency announced it no longer needed the company's assistance. Since the Department of Justice delayed a hearing on an order to force Apple to assist the FBI in brute-forcing the password, speculation has spread about how the agency planned to access the data.
Facebook AI Fills In the Photo Blanks for Blind Users
April 6, 2016
Facebook on Monday introduced automated alt text, a new tool that describes what's in an image to help visually impaired users engage more on the site. People using screen readers on iOS devices will hear a description of the items contained in a photo when they swipe past pictures on a Facebook page. The feature is available for iOS users in the U.S., the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Twitter Upsets Rivals to Win Thursday Night Football Streaming Rights
April 6, 2016
The National Football League on Monday named Twitter its exclusive global partner to live-stream 10 Thursday Night Football games during the 2016 season. Twitter reportedly beat out some of the top content and social media providers. It will live-stream the games for free to more than 800 million registered and unregistered users over mobile phones, tablets, connected TV sets and PCs.
Oculus' Controversial ToS a Stark Reminder of Its Facebook Parentage
April 4, 2016
Oculus last week updated its terms of service to accompany the release of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, raising privacy and content ownership concerns. Software will be installed to monitor how the device is used, and the usage data will be sent back to Oculus and its parent company, Facebook, according to the terms of service. Collected data could be shared with third parties.
Microsoft Guns for Cloud Devs at Build 2016
April 4, 2016
Microsoft last week at its Build 2016 conference announced innovations in mobile app development, the Internet of Things, microservices and intelligence designed to help developers create apps for the cloud. One is Azure App Service, which offers back-end capabilities for Web, native Windows, iOS and Android platforms. Microsoft also announced five Azure IoT starter kits, starting at $50.
Amazon Doubles Down on Dash
April 4, 2016
Amazon last week announced that it had increased to more than 100 the number of Dash buttons Prime users can install in their homes to replenish supplies of household goods. Dash buttons, which essentially are free for Amazon Prime members, are connected devices that link to a customer's account. With the press of a button, they can order shipments of the product associated with a Dash module.
The Hololens Academy: How I Became a Novice Wizard
April 4, 2016
At last week's Microsoft Build conference, I attended the Hololens Academy -- a whirlwind effort to turn me into a master programmer able to create things out of thin air. It failed. Apparently it takes longer than an hour to teach someone who hasn't coded in decades to be a master programmer -- go figure. However, by the end of the class I was gleefully throwing fireballs.
FCC Extends Broadband Lifeline to Low-Income Subcribers
April 2, 2016
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted 3-2 to approve a $2.25 billion program to subsidize broadband Internet service and bundled voice and data packages for low-income consumers. The new subsidy is part of a major overhaul of the agency's Lifeline program, which has provided affordable phone access for decades. The vote was a long-awaited reform for many low-income communities.
That Time When Instead of Saying 'April Fool!' Google Had to Say 'Sorry!'
April 1, 2016
Unintentional consequences led Google to pull its April Fools' prank, Gmail Mic Drop, a few hours after launching it on Friday. The joke let users claim the last word in an email thread by clicking on the "Send + Mic Drop" option. A GIF of a minion from the animated movie Despicable Me -- would accompany the reply, and the sender would not receive any further responses to the thread.
Facebook Plots Secret Chat for Messenger
April 1, 2016
Facebook has been working on mobile pay and secret chat features for its Messenger app, according to a report published this week, based on clues found in extracted software code on Messenger for iPhone. Commands embedded in the software hint at secret conversations, similar to what's found in WhatsApp, and commands to pay in person and pay in Messenger when picking up an item.
CPQ's Challenge
March 31, 2016
Virtually every CPQ -- configuration, price and quote -- software vendor on the planet has a credible solution for the processes from which the category gets its name. That's the good news. Unfortunately, the world has moved on. Most CPQ is effective for helping promote transactions, especially the sales transaction, in which a buyer or buying entity makes a one-time purchase of a bill of goods.
For Many Users, Instagram Algorithm Is Not a Pretty Picture
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.
FCC Commissioner Sounds Alarm Over Netflix Throttling
March 30, 2016
FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly on Tuesday suggested the government should investigate Netflix's practice of throttling video content delivery to customers using mobile devices. However, Netflix's video throttling was not a violation of the FCC's Net neutrality rules, O'Rielly also said. Netflix last week announced plans to offer a data saver feature for mobile apps beginning in May.
FCC Privacy Proposal Troubles Broadband Internet Providers
March 29, 2016
Broadband Internet service providers are wary of a government plan to impose consumer privacy protection regulations on the sector. The Federal Communications Commission likely will issue the proposed regulations by Friday. It will accept public comment on the proposal before taking final action. The program would require ISPs to meet privacy standards similar to those covering phone companies.
Google Gets Serious About Cloud Services
March 28, 2016
Google, which lags Amazon and Microsoft in cloud infrastructure services, last week released a slew of machine learning and analytics products and services. The Cloud Machine Learning platform provides access through REST APIs to the technologies powering Google Now, Google Photos and voice recognition in Google Search. The tools are designed to let users build predictive analytics models.
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What best reflects your opinion on online privacy?
We need new laws to curb government spying.
It's dead -- Google, Facebook and others killed it.
Personalized advertising is the worst -- it's creepy.
It's achievable through encryption and other tech.
It's an overblown issue -- I have nothing to hide.