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Agency: 'Cuban Twitter' Meant to Help, Not Incite
April 09, 2014
Rajiv Shah, the administrator of AID, defended a Twitter-esque social media site created by the agency, saying it was an attempt to nurture communication on the island -- not, as has been claimed, a way to collect data and incite a revolt. Appearing before the Senate and House appropriations subcommittees, Shah said the "programs are part of our mission to promote open communications."
Stanford Controller Could Get Video Gamers' Blood Racing
April 09, 2014
Stanford researchers have created a new game controller that can measure a player's emotions. Eventually, developers may be able to use this information to adjust video gameplay, depending on a player's level of engagement. The prototype consists of an Xbox 360 controller with the back panel removed. Researchers replaced it with a 3-D printed plastic module that is packed with sensors.
Microsoft's Nokia Deal Clears China Hurdle
April 09, 2014
Microsoft's proposed $7.4 billion acquisition of Nokia's mobile phone business is moving closer to the finish line, having just won approval from China's Ministry of Commerce. It is a key milestone for the transaction, which sailed through the U.S. and European approval processes with little difficulty or delay. The deal is expected to close this month.
Microsoft Adds Sci-Fi Series to Xbox Originals
April 08, 2014
Microsoft added to its list of original programming for its Xbox gaming system Monday with the announcement of a new science fiction series called Humans. Based on a hit TV series in Sweden, Humans is a cooperative effort of Xbox Entertainment Studios and UK broadcaster Channel 4. It is scheduled to air next year exclusively on the Xbox platform and Channel 4.
Courtroom Drama: Hollywood Sues Megaupload
April 08, 2014
Six Hollywood studios have banded together in a copyright infringement lawsuit against Megaupload, the wildly popular though now shuttered site that, in its heyday, was ground zero for file-sharing. The suit doesn't specify an amount of damages, but does say that the studios should be entitled to $150,000 per copyright infringement, as well as profits earned by Megaupload.
Speed of Technology Confounds Wall St. Regulators
April 08, 2014
Michael Lewis did not do the securities industry any favors with the publication of his new book, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt. His portrayal of how investment banks use high-frequency trading to leverage the few additional milliseconds this technology provides to grab stocks at optimal prices appears to have been a factor behind federal agency decisions to investigate this activity.
The Earth Is Moving Under the Smartphone Market
April 07, 2014
One thing that Apple made clear when it took the smartphone market away from then-dominant players Palm, BlackBerry and Microsoft is that to win you need to make big bets and change the battle. The market is now dominated by Apple and Google technology -- much of which Google doesn't control -- and Microsoft just swapped CEOs because the old CEO couldn't pull the needed rabbit out of his hat.
Smartphone Tracking: How Close Is Too Close?
April 04, 2014
There you are, strolling down the coffee and tea aisle at the supermarket when you get an alert on your smartphone that you can get extra points in the store's reward program if you purchase a certain brand of coffee. Are you annoyed that you have been tracked with such precision that the merchant knows not only that you are in the store -- but also which food aisle you are in?
Jaunt Wants to Put You in the Movies
April 04, 2014
Though the current incarnation of virtual reality entertainment has its roots in gaming, potential applications for the Oculus Rift and Sony's Project Morpheus extend far beyond video games. Jaunt is one company hoping to expand the possibilities of virtual reality through development of an end-to-end solution for creating cinema-quality VR experiences.
Record Labels Slam Russian Social Net With Piracy Suit
April 04, 2014
Sony Music, Universal Music and Warner Music on Thursday filed legal proceedings against vKontakte, or VK, charging that the Russian social network operates a music service that deliberately facilitates widespread copyright infringement. VK operates an unlicensed music service involving a large collection of copyright-infringing tracks, the companies charge.
How to Watch TV on Your Laptop
April 03, 2014
The big TV news this week is about hardware, with Amazon launching its Fire TV to rival Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast. Speculation had been hot and heavy that Amazon would launch its own pay-TV service, but that hasn't happened... yet. That's what the real TV wars likely will be fought over, though -- how content reaches consumers. A major battle will kick off this month in the Supreme Court.
Amazon Sets TV on Fire
April 02, 2014
Amazon on Wednesday put paid to the buzz circulating around its plans for a set-top box, announcing Amazon Fire TV at a New York event. The size of a CD box and just over half an inch thick, Fire TV takes on set-top boxes, the iPod, Apple TV and game consoles. It plugs into users' HDTVs to provide instant access to Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, Showtime and Amazon videos.
Amazon: And Now for Something Completely Different
April 02, 2014
Amazon is widely expected to reveal a new set-top video streaming device on Wednesday. It likely will introduce either a streaming stick like the HDMI Google Chromecast or a set-top box like the Apple Apple TV. Or, the company might produce both options -- like Roku's new Streaming Stick or more traditional Roku box. Like the Kindle Fire, Amazon's operating system will be Android-based.
Money Talks in Smartphone Kill Switch Debate
April 02, 2014
The notion of a smartphone kill switch has received considerable attention in recent months, but new research spells out in plain financial terms some fresh arguments in favor of the idea. A kill switch essentially is technology built into a smartphone that would allow it to be deactivated if it were lost or stolen, thereby safeguarding the legitimate owner's data.
Apple, Samsung Start New Round in Koh's Courtroom
April 01, 2014
Jury selection began Monday in the latest lawsuit between Apple and Samsung, being heard before Judge Lucy Koh in a United States District Court in San Jose, Calif. Apple is seeking about $2 billion in damages from Samsung for infringing its patents on smartphone and tablet technology, while Samsung is countersuing for about $7 million for two patents it claims Apple has infringed.
Japan to Fire Off Emails in Event of Incoming Missile
March 31, 2014
Starting April 1, Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency will send email alerts to residents' phones should North Korea start lobbing missiles. The messages would be sent using the nation's already-functional J-Alert, a free system designed to notify people about earthquakes and tsunamis. The missile-warning service is aimed specifically at those who use NTT Docomo, KDDI au and Softbank Mobile devices.
Facebook Internet Project: The Skies Have It
March 31, 2014
Facebook last week announced more detailed plans to bring affordable Internet access to every person on the planet. Mark Zuckerberg, the company's chief executive, revealed some fresh details about the work Facebook's Connectivity Lab is carrying out to build drones, satellites and lasers geared to providing connectivity for everyone as part of the Internet.org initiative.
Nvidia's ECS: Some Amazing Little Companies to Watch
March 31, 2014
Nvidia's Emerging Companies Summit, a place to check out some of the firms that could become the next breakout company, didn't disappoint this year. Among the highlights: A firm that could redefine advertising connected to Web pictures and videos; a company that could put your entire desktop and gaming experience in the cloud; and one that could help you actually hear that TV you see at a bar.
Apple Patent Addresses Texting-Walking Risk
March 28, 2014
Texting and walking can be dangerous, but Apple could be aiming to make it less so, judging from a patent awarded Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Apple has found an innovative way to use an electronic communication device's camera to continuously capture and present video images as background within a text-messaging session, suggests its Transparent Texting patent application.
There's a New Kid on the Solar System Block
March 28, 2014
Astronomers this week reported what they believe to be the most-distant member of our solar system discovered so far. 2012 VP113, a probable dwarf planet that was found to lie beyond the known edge of the solar system, was discovered by Chadwick Trujillo, an astronomer at the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii, and Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science.

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