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Amazon Pulls a Twitch on Google
August 25, 2014
Amazon has inked a deal to acquire Twitch Interactive, a real-time video platform for gamers. Prior to the disclosure, rumors had been building that it was on track to snatch Twitch from Google, which reportedly had been very close to buying it. The pending acquisition was rumored to be for upwards of $1 billion. However, Amazon said it was buying the company for $970 million cash.
Google Autocomplete's Brushes With Libel
August 25, 2014
Can an automated Google feature that ostensibly helps users with a search be a basis for libel? Courts in Germany, Italy and Hong Kong have had to field that question. Google's position is that there is no human intervention, and that its algorithm is based merely on what others have searched for, or strings of words in indexed pages. Autocomplete predictions are just possible search terms.
Comcast Really Does Hate Its Customers
August 25, 2014
We were treated to the customer support call from hell earlier this month when a couple of well-connected bloggers taped their call to Comcast attempting to disconnect from the service and posted it online. Apparently there has been a sequel. The clear lesson -- particularly from the second call -- is that if you talk to Comcast support you need to record the call if you don't want to get screwed.
'iWatch' Could Be Late for a Very Important Date
August 22, 2014
Apple may be forced to postpone the launch of the hotly anticipated "iWatch" or health band, perhaps pushing it back to 2015. It apparently is facing wide-ranging production issues involving components, system design, manufacturing, and integration between hardware and software. Holy macaroni. Of course, it should be noted that Apple has never said that it would deliver anything of the sort.
Hack Day Produces Oculix, a Mind-Blowing Trip Through the Netflix Catalog
August 21, 2014
A team of Netflix programmers merged the company's videos with the virtual reality capability offered by the Oculus Rift headset as a fun project on Netflix Hack Day. The Oculix media app lets users browse a floating 3D Netflix video catalog using head turning movements and hand gestures. Once a selection is made, the user can watch the video in a VR theater setting.
Close Your Eyes and Rest Easy - Blink Is Watching the House
August 21, 2014
One of the most troubling issues with home security and remote-monitoring products is the complexity and cost to set them up. Blink, a new Kickstarter project, is different. It promises to be astoundingly easy, and it's inexpensive, too. Backers can get a simple remote motion detection and video camera unit for just $69 -- or two for $119. Better yet, no subscription service is required.
SparkyLinux GameOver Is a Winning Work-Play Combo
August 20, 2014
The SparkyLinux GameOver 3.4 Edition may be one of the best Linux distros catering to game players you will find. It is a full-service specialty Linux OS with a focus on gaming. Linux distro developers usually do one of two things about games. One, they provide none or only a few low-impact card and puzzle titles. Two, they build in links to the PlayOnLinux and Steam websites.
Leaked Moto 360 Specs Impress, Price Point Iffy
August 20, 2014
Specs of the forthcoming Moto 360 smartwatch from Motorola appeared briefly on a Best Buy Web page, sparking increased chatter about the device. Concerns about price -- the watch was listed at $250 -- tempered the usual gasps of delight from geeks. Amazon lists a Samsung Galaxy Gear for $150, a Gear Live for $180, a Gear 2 Neo for $200, a Pebble Steel for $230, and an LG G Black Titan for $233.
Google May Start Grooming Little Googlers
August 19, 2014
Google may soon allow kids under 13 to have their own personal accounts on services such as YouTube and Gmail. Under the new system, parents would be able to set up accounts for their children, control their use of those accounts, and regulate the information collected about them. "You could say that Google is just recognizing reality," said the Local Search Association's Greg Sterling.
Hotel's Robotic Butler Is Not Quite 'Rosie'
August 18, 2014
Aloft Hotels this week announced the launch of a new, robotic "butler" at the company's Cupertino, Calif., location. Dubbed "A.L.O.," the new botlr, or robotic butler, is designed to help the hotel's human staff by delivering amenities to guest rooms. A.L.O. comes professionally "dressed" in a custom shrink-wrapped, vinyl-collared uniform, complete with name tag.
Why Tesla Is the Best Car Company in the World
August 18, 2014
As an analyst in a market of experts, I'm known as a generalist, but if I have an area of particular focus, it is how to make customers love you. In the car space, there are two emerging vendors on the world stage: India's Tata, which now owns brands like Jaguar and Land Rover; and Tesla, the dominant provider of electric cars. Both companies are trying to make a dent in the world.
To Your Health: Intel Inside Your Headphones
August 16, 2014
Intel on Friday announced it is working with rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson's SMS Audio to develop earbuds that will monitor users' heart rates. The SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear Headphones will have an earhook and will be powered by the user's smartphone. They will be sweat- and water-resistant. The earbuds will be available from SMS Audio in Q4; pricing has not yet been announced.
The New Golden Age of TV
August 15, 2014
Over the top, or OTT, video-streaming service Netflix has been doing something right. Netflix snagged 15 prime-time Emmy nominations for its original series, including best drama for House of Cards and best comedy for Orange Is the New Black. The company launched in 1997 as a DVD-by-mail service and successfully transitioned into becoming the leading online video service.
Apple Flexes Muscles in Health Field
August 15, 2014
Apple has begun ramping up for an incursion into the healthcare market, two months after announcing its HealthKit app at WWDC. The app will collate all a user's fitness and health data. Apple reportedly has discussed HealthKit with healthcare providers Mount Sinai, the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins, along with electronic health records provider Allscripts.
Apple Lays Down Law on Toxic Chemical Use
August 14, 2014
Apple on Thursday reiterated its commitment to safe working conditions in its supply chain, and announced stricter rules for the use of benzene and n-hexane, two toxic chemicals. It also published its Regulated Substances Specification, pointing out that it sets occupational exposure limits for the two toxic chemicals that follow standards bodies' recommendations.
Freedom Act Leaves IT Sector at Risk for Spy Program Costs
August 14, 2014
A recent U.S. Senate proposal to curb the impact of electronic surveillance conducted by the NSA could enhance privacy for citizens and benefit businesses as well. However, major information technology companies that help the government collect telecom and Internet data still will be vulnerable to the substantial costs of working with the NSA, even if the proposed bill becomes law.
The Pain of an Apple Enthusiast: When Will I Be Wowed?
August 14, 2014
Apple is firing on all cylinders. The company is excelling in so many ways, it's hard to keep track of it all. It's building an amazing new "spaceship" headquarters. It's building solar farms to power its data centers. It's cleaning up its supply chain, both environmentally and through better labor practices. Apple produces the best-selling MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with Retina display.
Microsoft Gets the Jitters Out of Time-Lapse Video
August 13, 2014
Microsoft has some good news for action-cam fans who like to capture their outdoor adventures in video. It's found a way to bring time-lapse photography to first-person video footage. Hyperlapse can shrink hours of video into minutes without the jitter, shake and artifacts previously associated with the time-lapse process. That can be very useful to first-person camcorder enthusiasts.
Siri Creators Have a Much Smarter Bun in the Oven
August 13, 2014
The inventors of Apple's Siri personal assistant have launched an independent effort that could make their first offspring look kind of dumb. Billed as "the global brain," Viv aims to provide an intelligent interface to everything. "They are trying to abstract Siri's [natural-language processing] interface so you could apply it into other applications and domains," said Tempo AI CEO Raj Singh.
The Connected Car, Part 2: Wired For Wireless - It's All Business
August 12, 2014
The connected car is a battlefield among technology purveyors fighting to get their hardware plugged into the vehicle's network bus. Open source technology is becoming a key contender. OEMs are sorting through a garage full of options from versions of embedded Linux to the Automotive Grade Linux distro and the Android car platform. The connected car concept is picking up speed.
Smartphone Kill Switch Law Reaches California Governor's Desk
August 12, 2014
California is poised to enact a consumer-friendly law requiring smartphone manufacturers to install "kill switches" -- that is, antitheft technology that would be activated by the carrier when a consumer alerts it that a device has been stolen or lost. The technology not only wipes the device of personal data but also renders it inoperable. The state legislature passed the bill on Monday.
The Cavalry Rides Into Auto Industry With Security Proposal
August 12, 2014
A grassroots group calling itself "I Am The Cavalry" has published an open letter to the automotive industry offering its services in ensuring security and safety. "Modern vehicles are computers on wheels and are increasingly connected and controlled by software and embedded devices," the letter reads. New technology "introduces new classes of accidents and adversaries," the group pointed out.

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