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Nvidia Updates Shield Tablet, Shaves $100 Off Price
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.
Huawei's Fast-Charging Batteries Could Solve Power Users' Problems
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.
Microsoft Retools Minecraft to Teach Kids to Code
November 18, 2015
Microsoft on Monday announced that its Mojang unit's Minecraft will star in Code.org'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.
Halo Makes Month for Xbox One
November 18, 2015
The NPD Group last week announced that Halo 5: Guardians set atop the gaming charts for October, despite its Xbox One exclusivity. The latest installment of the long-standing sci-fi shooter has given the Xbox One a much-needed boost, but Microsoft's latest console is still well behind rival Sony's PlayStation 4. Overall, the console market saw marginal gains in October.
Uber Launches 'Going My Way' Feature
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.
Drone, Ferris Wheel Altercation a Worrying Sign of the Times
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.
Ubuntu Studio Is a Treasure Trove for Creative Types
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.
Microsoft Gives Gamers a New Xbox One Experience
November 16, 2015
Microsoft on Thursday began rolling out the New Xbox One Experience, delivering backward compatibility for Xbox 360 games and updating the user interface to a Windows 10 foundation. Support for legacy Xbox games is the headliner, but the roughly 1.15-GB update includes new social elements baked into a reworked interface. The refreshed interface is faster and more social, the company said.
Gadget Ogling: Comfy Earbuds, Barking Bots, and USB Killers
November 14, 2015
If you're a human being who listens to music using earbuds, chances are you've run into some issues along the way in keeping the infernal things nestled into your ear canal. Manufacturers have tried to find solutions, such as offering different-sized rubber molds, but we're still hewing to a few-sizes-fit-all model. Enter Revols, a company that might have the answer.
Ford to Test Autonomous Vehicles at Mcity
November 14, 2015
Ford on Friday announced that it will be the first automaker to test its autonomous vehicles at Mcity, a full-scale simulated urban environment that was developed as part of the University of Michigan's Mobility Transformation Center. The site will allow Ford to test its autonomous vehicle fleet close to its headquarters, taking advantage of the diverse roads and neighborhoods Mcity offers.
Valve's Steam Gaming Hardware Hits Home
November 13, 2015
Valve this week rolled out the hardware phase of its road map from bedrooms and basements to living rooms and lounge areas with its long-awaited video game controller, PC link box and Steam boxes. Valve's road map to the living room began with Big Picture mode in 2011, continued with in-home streaming in 2014, and now includes the new Steam hardware.
Microsoft Hands Cloud Data Control to German Trustee
November 12, 2015
Microsoft announced it will offer its Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics CRM cloud services to business clients using two Germany-based data centers hosted by a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. The arrangement will protect the integrity and privacy of customer data, the company said. The data centers will be under the control of T-Systems, a unit of Deutsche Telekom, which will act as data trustee.
Google Makes Maps Useful in the Boonies
November 11, 2015
Google on Tuesday began rolling out an offline mode for Google Maps. Users can download a regional map -- say, a city, county or country -- either by tapping "download" on a search result or by going to "Offline Areas" in the Google Maps menu and tapping on the "+" button. The downloaded map will function in offline mode automatically when the user enters an area with poor or no connectivity.
Deep Learning App Targets Malware
November 10, 2015
Here's the problem with most programs aimed at killing malicious software: They need someone to tell them something's malicious. What if, however, the programs had the smarts to identify bad code on their own? That's what a company called Deep Instinct says its security solution, launched last week, can do. The offering works its magic with a technology called "deep learning."
Google Opens Floodgates for TensorFlow Development
November 10, 2015
Google released TensorFlow, its second-generation machine learning system, to the open source community. It's offering TensorFlow as a standalone library with associated tools, tutorials and examples under the Apache 2.0 license. Google uses TensorFlow in deep learning, Google Search and other applications. Apps built with TensorFlow can move seamlessly from desktops to mobile phones.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Ventures Into Machine Learning
November 10, 2015
Microsoft last week revealed some new details about Dynamics CRM 2016, emphasizing functionality designed to empower customer service agents. It will be released in both cloud and on-premises versions in Q4. It will be available as a standalone application or as an add-on to Office 365. "This is a big release for Microsoft," said Nucleus Research's Rebecca Wettemann.
NSA Keeps Some Security Bugs Under Its Hat
November 10, 2015
The U.S. National Security Agency is getting a collective side-eye after posting what it characterized as proactive information: the fact that it discloses 91 percent of security vulnerabilities that pass through its internal review process. While the agency appears pleased with its newfound transparency, it's being called out en masse for the things it's not reporting.
Xbox Gamers Get to Replay 104 Older Titles on Xbox One
November 9, 2015
Microsoft on Monday announced that 104 catalog titles for the Xbox 360 will be fully compatible and playable on its "new" Xbox One video game system, which hit store shelves two years ago. The list of Xbox One backward-compatible games includes notable hits such as the complete Gears of Wars catalog, Assassin's Creed II, Fallout 3 and Borderlands.
Lytro's VR Camera System Promises Unprecedented Immersion
November 9, 2015
Lytro last week announced its Immerge concept, a virtual reality camera system that promises to plop people right in the center of an experience the company calls "six degrees of freedom." Lytro's Immerge harnesses the potential of light field technology. Light field enables Immerge to capture data from all points, and viewpoints, inside any given volume of space.
Gadget Ogling: An Emotional Keyboard, a Puzzling Phone, and Exquisite Headphones
November 7, 2015
To communicate online in 2015 is to have at least a passing awareness of emoji -- the colorful symbols that are endemic in social media and text messages. Inputting emoji into a post or message from a computer is often awkward, though this item might help. EmojiWorks has a physical keyboard which, at the touch of a modifier -- think ctrl, alt or command -- you can use to type emoji.
Toyota's $1B AI, Robotics Play Jolts Driverless World
November 6, 2015
Toyota Motor on Friday announced plans to launch a new company, Toyota Research Institute, as part of a five-year $1 billion investment in artificial intelligence and robotics technology for automobiles. The new company will begin operations in January 2016 under the leadership of Toyota's executive technical advisor Gill Pratt. Its headquarters will be in Silicon Valley near Stanford University.
Lawsuit Threatens Amazon's Prime Now Delivery Model
November 6, 2015
Four former delivery drivers for Amazon Prime Now, or APN, last week filed a lawsuit against Amazon, arguing they should have been classified as employees rather than independent contractors. The suit also names Scoobeez, the courier service through which they worked for Amazon; ABT Holdings, Scoobeez's parent company; and 10 John Does as co-defendants.
Circle With Disney Lets Parents Unglue Kids From Media
November 5, 2015
Circle Media and Disney Interactive on Wednesday launched Circle With Disney, a device that gives parents greater control over the management of their children's online activities. Circle With Disney provides curated Disney content through a licensing agreement. Paired with a companion iOS app, it allows users to limit and filter content streaming to a variety of devices.
Live-Action Trailer Hypes Fallout 4 Release
November 5, 2015
Bethesda on Thursday released a preview trailer for its postapocalyptic video game Fallout 4. The game will be released worldwide next week for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One as well as the Sony PlayStation 4. Despite the title, it's actually the fifth major installment in the series. Bethesda has pulled out all the stops, including cross promotions, to build excitement for the release.
Activision Welcomes King Into Its Court
November 5, 2015
The deal isn't done, but Activision Blizzard already was calling itself a "crowned leader" earlier this week, as it anticipated acquiring Candy Crush publisher King Digital Interactive. Both companies' boards of directors are on board with the acquisition, and the two sides have signed a "definitive agreement" that entails Activision Blizzard picking up King's outstanding shares.
Film Industry Claims Victory in Shutdown of Major Piracy Sites
November 4, 2015
The Motion Picture Association of America ran a victory lap after announcing the shutdown of movie and television torrent sites Popcorn Time and YTS. The shutdowns resulted from major legal wins in Canada and New Zealand. The MPAA last month obtained injunctions against the sites in those countries, effectively blocking them from further operation.
Nokia Bets on Artemis' 4G LTE Booster
November 4, 2015
Nokia will test Artemis Networks' pCell technology, which promises speed boosts in bounds for wireless broadband without requiring new handsets, the companies announced Monday. Nokia plans to work with wireless carriers to test the technology in the U.S. and other countries starting in 2016. It has entered into a memorandum of understanding on pCell tech with Rearden, parent company of Artemis.
Is Apple TV a Worthy Upgrade? Sort Of
November 3, 2015
For Apple TV fans, the new Apple TV is the long-awaited upgrade we've been pining for, but I'm only half as impressed as I thought I would be. It comes down to this: The new Apple TV is an excellent set-top box, and it provides a foundation for the app-centric living room TV experience of the future... but damn, Apple, you spent how many years not getting this thing polished?
DJI Plants Ubuntu Brain on Drone
November 3, 2015
DJI on Monday unveiled a high-performance embedded computer running Ubuntu 14.04 for use in its Matrice 100 drone. The Manifold supports CUDA, OpenCV and ROS, and it is compatible with third-party sensors. It lets developers connect a variety of devices -- including infrared cameras, atmospheric research devices, and geographical surveying equipment -- to the Matrice 100.
Airbnb Holds its Breath as San Franciscans Vote on Prop F
November 3, 2015
San Franciscans will vote Tuesday on Proposition F, also known as the "Airbnb Initiative," which seeks to restrict short-term rentals. Polls will open at 7:00 a.m. At first glance, it appears that the fight is about short-term rental aggregators such as Airbnb. However, the battle lines are muddy. On one side, landlords support Prop F. However, many tenants also support it.
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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.