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Sid Meier's Starships on the Horizon
January 20, 2015
2K Games and Firaxis have announced Sid Meier's Starships, an interstellar strategy game of exploration and conquest. It will arrive later this year for the PC, Mac and iPad. Assuming the role of a fleet commander, players will be tasked with leading their starships across the universe to save planets from eradication, build an empire, and bring peace and order to the galaxy.
Adobe Opens Lightroom's Door to Android
January 19, 2015
Adobe last week released an Android mobile app as a companion to its Lightroom desktop application and cloud service. Adobe released a mobile app for iOS last year. The new app will include all of the functionality of the iOS mobile app -- but refined to take advantage of the Android platform, according to Shared Mangalick, senior product manager for photography at Adobe.
Fuel Cells, EVs, Autonomous Driving Shape Auto Industry's Future
January 19, 2015
The North American International Auto Show last week held a preview for industry insiders and the media before opening its doors to the public on the weekend. Automakers from around the world showcased more than 500 cars, ranging from futuristic concepts to vehicles that soon will be hitting the roads. The show allowed automakers to tout the latest technological advances under the hood.
Hacking as a Service Hits the Mainstream
January 19, 2015
A fledgling website created last fall connects hackers with clients willing to pay for their services. Nearly 50 hackers have listed their services on Hacker's List so far, for tasks including data recovery, penetration testing and computer forensics. More than 500 hacking jobs reportedly had been out to bid as of last week, with prices ranging from $100 to $5,000.
Gadget Ogling: A New Galaxy, Awesome Audio, and One Ring That Doesn't Rule
January 17, 2015
Welcome to Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that takes freshly announced gadgets out for a hypothetical test run, rendering judgement long before they hit the shelves. In the offing this week: Samsung's latest mid-range smartphone, a gesture-based ring, shiny headphones and much more. Samsung has another mid-range smartphone in the Galaxy A7.
Texas May Be Ground Zero for Musk's Hyperloop Dreams
January 16, 2015
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has announced plans to build a test track, most likely in Texas, for his envisioned Hyperloop high-speed transportation system. The goal is to allow experimentation with Hyperloop pods, the equivalent of train carriages. The project will be "entirely funded by Musk's companies and other interested private companies," said Frost & Sullivan's said Vishwas Shankar.
3 Reasons Apple Won't Pull the Rug Out From Under GoPro
January 16, 2015
Despite having the most popular camera on the planet in the form of the iPhone, the odds of Apple pulling the rug out from under GoPro by building its own action sports camera system -- even with using its forthcoming Apple Watch as a controller -- are so low they stand in stark contrast to the hysterical selloff of GoPro stock this week. What happened?
Google Pulls Down Shades on Glass' Future
January 16, 2015
Google on Thursday announced that it will shut down its Glass Explorer Program in order to refocus -- but that new versions of Glass will be forthcoming at some unspecified time. The Google Glass team will be moving out of Google X to become an independent entity reporting to Tony Fadell, cofounder and CEO of smart thermometer maker Nest, which Google acquired a year ago.
Virtual Traffic Lights Could Revolutionize City Driving
January 15, 2015
The average American worker spends almost half an hour commuting each day, but virtual traffic lights could cut that almost in half. If traditional traffic lights were replaced with virtual ones, the results could include not only a reduction of up to 40 percent in urban workers' commute times, but also lower carbon emissions, less congestion and fewer accidents.
Google Translate App Gets Silver Tongue
January 14, 2015
Google has released a new version of its Translate app for Android and iOS. It now lets users instantly translate text in foreign languages using their smartphone cameras. The translation will appear overlaid on the smartphone screen. Translate app features available on iOS for the first time are camera mode, including Word Lens; and conversational mode, said Google spokesperson Roya Soleimani.
Google's Project Ara Smartphone Puzzle Is Coming Together
January 14, 2015
Google on Wednesday shed fresh light on Project Ara, its modular Android smartphone initiative, including plans to pilot the project in Puerto Rico through food truck-style stores. Project Ara will offer a smartphone endoskeleton; users will be able to add the functionality they want piece by piece, rather than being confined by the hardware configurations determined by operators and providers.
LG's WebOS: 3rd Time's the Charm?
January 13, 2015
LG Electronics turned up at last week's CES with a smartwatch that apparently runs webOS. LG used the watch to unlock an Audi at the show. "LG has never officially confirmed that we were planning a webOS smartwatch," said company spokesperson Ken Hong. "I think that is speculation based on the watch that Audi announced here at CES, which we developed but have not finalized the OS for."
SCOTUS Seeks DoJ Input on Google-Oracle Java Dispute
January 13, 2015
The Supreme Court of the United States on Monday invited the Obama administration to weigh in on whether it should hear arguments in the ongoing dispute between Google and Oracle over Java copyrights. U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr. "is invited to file a brief in this case expressing the views of the United States," reads the SCOTUS memo.
Data Breach Law Tops Obama Privacy Initiatives
January 12, 2015
A proposed national data breach reporting law, aimed primarily at protecting consumer privacy, headlined several initiatives the Obama administration announced Monday. The Personal Data Notification & Protection Act clarifies the obligations of companies when there's been a data breach. It includes a requirement to notify customers within 30 days of the discovery of a breach.
Volkswagen, Ford Win Vehicle of the Year Laurels
January 12, 2015
Volkswagen's Golf has been declared the 2015 North American Car of the Year, and Ford Motor's F-150 is the 2015 North American Truck/Utility of the Year. For the 22nd year running, a panel of jurors from newspapers, television and radio stations, magazines and websites voted to determine which vehicles were truly best of the year, and the honors were bestowed Monday at the auto show in Detroit.
Samsung Smart TVs Hint at Tizen-Run IoT
January 12, 2015
Samsung announced at last week's International CES a new line of smart TVs powered by the open source Tizen operating system. Beginning with this year's models, all of Samsung's smart TVs will run on Tizen. Samsung has taken the lead in developing Tizen, which is a derivative of Linux, and this is its first deployment as a smart TV platform. Tizen supports the Web standard for TV app development.
Auto Insurance? Just Google It
January 12, 2015
Google reportedly is gearing up to launch a shopping and comparison site for auto insurance in the United States. The company has been operating such a site in the UK, dubbed "Google Compare," for the past two years. Although it apparently has been beset by delays, an entity called "Google Compare Auto Insurance Services Inc." now is licensed to do business in 26 states.
The Secret Stories of CES
January 12, 2015
By this time, you likely are getting a bit sick out of folks talking about wild new products that won't be on the market for weeks or months while you are paying your Christmas bills. So rather than tell you about a slew of new products, I'll focus on the back stories that didn't seem to get much coverage at CES -- what now is the largest technology show in the U.S.
Gadget Ogling: A Swank Walkman, a Brainy Grill, and Oh, So Much More From CES
January 10, 2015
Welcome to the year's first edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that offers infallible opinions on the latest gadget announcements. The mammoth CES trade show took place this week, and though it offered far too many new items to conceivably cram into a single column, we'll look at some of the most notable and notorious, including Sony's latest Walkman, a smart grill and more.
Researchers Turn Computer Into Poker Shark
January 09, 2015
A computer program dubbed "Cepheus" has solved the game of poker, researchers at the University of Alberta announced. The Computer Poker Research Group, which created Cepheus, claims it not only can play heads-up limit Texas hold'em poker, but also beat human opponents. Games such as poker and chess have been used as test beds by researchers developing new concepts in artificial intelligence.
Google Joins Charlie Hebdo Solidarity Movement
January 09, 2015
Google has donated nearly $300,000 to help French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo make its largest print run ever, following Wednesday's massacre at the magazine's Paris office. Its normal production run numbers about 60,000 copies, but the surviving staff plan to print a million issues next week. A number of media outlets also have pledged to help keep the publication alive.
Self-Driving Concept Cars Impress at CES
January 08, 2015
CEO Mark Fields on Wednesday took the stage at the International CES 2015 in Las Vegas and said that Ford Motor is focusing on bringing autonomous automobiles to the masses. Although Ford may not be the first company to produce a self-driving car, it could be the first to deliver one outside of the luxury category, Fields said in his keynote address.
Net Neutrality Hostilities Resume
January 08, 2015
The battle over Net neutrality has been reignited, dashing the hopes of those who thought it might be settled in February, at least in part, when the United States Federal Communication Commission is expected to make its ruling on the issue. Democratic members of congress led by Sen. Patrick Leahy on Wednesday introduced the Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act of 2015.
Kepler-438b and 442b: Are These the Planets We're Looking For?
January 08, 2015
Astronomers have discovered eight new potentially habitable planets beyond our solar system, including two that are the most similar to Earth of any discovered so far. First identified by NASA's Kepler mission, all eight of the planets are located in their distant suns' "habitable zone," or the region where liquid water might exist on the surface of an orbiting planet.

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