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Amazon Goes Into the Handyman Business
November 25, 2014
Amazon on Tuesday began rolling out Amazon Local Services, which lets customers purchase professional assistance for setup, installation and repair work. Service providers will be covered by Amazon's guarantee. They will be licensed and insured, and they will have to pass a background check. The idea initially is to tie Amazon purchases to recommended service providers.
Musk Hints at Tesla, BMW Tie-Up
November 24, 2014
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk reportedly has engaged in talks with BMW to partner on the production of electric batteries, as well as other technologies for electric vehicles. Musk reportedly said that the companies might collaborate to develop advanced batteries and lightweight components including carbon fiber body parts in an interview published Sunday.
Amazon Free Video Could Hook Non-Prime Audience
November 24, 2014
Amazon reportedly plans to introduce a new ad-supported streaming video service early next year. The new service will be separate from Amazon's Prime membership offering, which already includes a video-streaming component. That Amazon already has a presence in the streaming video market is almost beside the point. The growth projections for this type of service are very high.
A View of the Future: Demo 2014
November 24, 2014
I attended Demo in Silicon Valley last week and, as always, it showcased things likely to mature in the market 12 to 14 months into the future. The presenters are small companies, hand-selected because they offer something unique and forward-looking. This year there was a showcase of products that could redefine home automation, drones, emergency rooms, and even how you buy clothing.
Gadget Ogling: Dueling Tablets, a Smart Scale, and Slooow Games
November 22, 2014
Welcome to our weekly look at the latest, greatest, and poorest gadgets to be revealed to the world. Hark as yours truly extols the virtues and horrors of two wildly different tablets, a smart kitchen scale, and video games requiring patience, among other objects. It's not like the planet needs another well-known consumer gadget maker whipping up Android tablets, and yet here we are.
Nintendo Launches Super Smash Bros Charm Offensive
November 21, 2014
Nintendo on Friday released what is expected to be its biggest title for the upcoming holiday season, and it also made a play in the collectible toy market with a line of interactive figurines. Since the release of its Wii U console, the company has found itself in much the same position as its signature characters -- an underdog fighting for survival against much bigger rivals.
Russian Site Exposes Thousands of Private Videocam Streams
November 20, 2014
A Russian website has been posting live video streams from unprotected webcams in homes and businesses around the globe, Britain's Information Commissioner's Office warned on Thursday. The website has gained access to the webcams using the cameras' default login credentials, which are freely available online but often don't get changed by their owners during the set-up process.
Will Apple's Next iPhone Capture DSLR Quality With 2 Lenses?
November 20, 2014
The Apple rumor mill never stops spinning, and even though the iPhone 6 is barely here and the next version ages away, the most interesting rumor is the chance that the next iPhone will make a huge leap forward with its camera -- possibly using two lenses to produce DSLR-quality images. The rumor comes from John Gruber of Daring Fireball via an episode of The Talk Show podcast.
IBM Begins New Email Chapter With Intelligent Verse
November 19, 2014
IBM on Tuesday introduced Verse, its entry into the reinventing email derby. Verse, which will be available in both an enterprise and freemium edition, integrates the many ways people communicate with each other every day -- email, meetings, calendars, file sharing, instant messaging, social media, video chats and more -- into a single collaboration environment.
Google Glass May Be Saved by Obscurity
November 19, 2014
Whatever happened to Google Glass? In the early days, people got punched in bars, bounced from movie theaters, and pulled over in cars for wearing them, and some establishments outright banned "glassholes" from their premises. Google claimed the white "Cotton" beta model sold out when it held a one-day sale of Google Glass Explorer for United States residents at $1,500 a pop in April.
US Marshals Have Their Own Cellphone Data Slurpfest
November 18, 2014
The United States Marshals Service reportedly is grabbing data from thousands, if not millions, of Americans' cellphones using high-tech devices deployed on five Cessnas. The aircraft operate out of at least five metro-area airports and apparently can cover most of the U.S. population. They are equipped with DRT boxes, popularly known as "dirtboxes," made by a subsidiary of Boeing.
Toyota's Mirai Aims to Kick Fuel-Cell Tech Into High Gear
November 17, 2014
Toyota on Monday officially unveiled its fuel cell sedan in an Internet video, in advance of the Los Angeles Auto Show Nov. 21-30. The new sedan, dubbed "Mirai" -- which means "future" in Japanese -- can travel up to 300 miles on a single tank of hydrogen, refuel in less than five minutes, and emit only water vapor. Toyota also will help establish 12 new hydrogen fueling stations in five states.
LinkedIn Faces More Litigation for Doing What its Contracts Say It Will Do
November 17, 2014
LinkedIn has been a wildly successful social media business site for many years. It provides a free platform for millions of members to share professional experiences and for businesses to promote themselves. However, LinkedIn's financial success also makes it a target for lawsuits -- even suits that don't seem to make much sense. LinkedIn members voluntarily post their employment history.
Nvidia Launches a New Mobile Device Age
November 17, 2014
There was an announcement last week that I think is far bigger than folks realize: Nvidia announced a free Netflix-like streaming gaming service for its Shield products. I think this is a precursor to an event that is similar to what cable did to TVs years ago, and that it will change not only how we use these devices, but also what we use them for.
Gadget Ogling: A Creepy Echo, Clever Home Connections, Bizarre Smartphones and Flexible 3D Printing
November 15, 2014
Echo, Amazon's newest attempt at a smart personal assistant, is set to take pride of place in your home. The black tower is voice-activated and can play music, as well as provide information and news updates. It's from Amazon, so it also can update your shopping list. It's always on, so it's continually listening to you, wherever you are in a room. That's just more than a little unsettling.
Ubisoft Under Siege for Glitch-Filled Assassin's Creed
November 14, 2014
Ubisoft on Friday released a second patch for Assassin's Creed: Unity, in an effort to quell the uproar that has arisen over problems with the game. The first patch was released earlier this week. Ubisoft has been the target of harsh criticism from gamers and game reviewers alike for releasing Assassin's Creed: Unity with numerous bugs and glitches.
Nvidia Flips Grid's Game-Streaming Switch
November 13, 2014
Nvidia on Thursday officially launched its Grid on-demand game-streaming service. Due to become available on Nov. 18 in North America, Grid will be free through June 30, 2015, for users of Nvidia Shield tablets and portable devices. "We intend to build Grid into a premium cloud gaming service, and the best global service," said Nvidia spokesperson Brian Burke.
FCC Chair Asserts Independence in Net Neutrality Fracas
November 13, 2014
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has responded to the White House's proposal for Net neutrality rules by reasserting his agency's independence in a meeting with executives of Google, Yahoo and other Internet companies following President Obama's Monday call to action. The president urged the FCC to ensure Net neutrality by interpreting Title II of the Telecommunications Act to govern ISPs.
Rosetta Plants 1st Human Kiss on a Comet
November 12, 2014
The ESA's Rosetta mission on Wednesday achieved a first for humankind by successfully landing its Philae probe on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Now, the lander's fate hangs in the balance following a tense descent and the apparent failure of several key anchoring systems. "We are extremely relieved to be safely on the surface of the comet," said Stephan Ulamec, Philae Lander Manager.
Bankrupt Sapphire Supplier Blasts Apple in Court Document
November 12, 2014
GT Advanced Technologies, in a document made public last Friday, alleged that it "incurred losses ... due to Apple's inordinate control over GTAT's liquidity, operations ..., and decision making." The U.S. Bankruptcy Court of New Hampshire unsealed the document, in which GTAT CEO Daniel W. Squiller accuses Apple of using a "bait and switch" strategy in its dealings with the company.
Are Tiny Internet Satellites Twinkling in Musk's Eyes?
November 10, 2014
Elon Musk, CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla Motors, soon may be venturing into new territory: the Internet satellite sector. Musk reportedly is working with ex-Googler Greg Wyler, founder of WorldVu Satellites, on a $1 billion project to develop a fleet of 700 relatively small and inexpensive models that can be used to provide Internet access around the globe.
Obama Bangs Drum for Net Neutrality
November 10, 2014
President Obama on Monday leaped into the controversy surrounding Net neutrality, calling on the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to ensure and protect it. "I believe the FCC should create a new set of rules protecting Net neutrality and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online," he said.
Microsoft Spiffs Up Xbox One
November 10, 2014
Microsoft on Monday announced that it had begun rolling out its Xbox One November Systems Update, which will be its final major update for the console for 2014. The improvements will deliver new ways for owners to watch TV, personalize the game system, and interact with the Xbox Live gaming community, as well as provide new integration with Xbox One Store and Microsoft's SmartGlass platform.
Dell: Using Technology to Change the World
November 10, 2014
I was at Dell World last week, and it is kind of amazing how far the company has come since it went private. Interestingly, much of the big tent content was less about Dell's technology and more about how technology was being used to change the world. This was kind of a scary event in some cases, because we are far from ready for some of the changes.

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