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Reading, Writing and Minecraft?
January 19, 2016
Microsoft on Tuesday announced its acquisition of MinecraftEDU, one of the building blocks for its upcoming Minecraft: Education Edition. MinecraftEDU, developed by Teacher Gaming, launched in 2011 as a version of Minecraft enhanced for the classroom. Microsoft has used the lessons learned from MinecraftEDU to expand Minecraft: Education Edition's feature set, the company said.
Cook Slams Door on Backdoor Discussions
January 19, 2016
Privacy advocates from around the globe have taken heart from reports that Apple CEO Tim Cook pushed hard against the Obama administration's efforts to reach a compromise on encryption during a recent Silicon Valley meeting. Cook reportedly lashed out at administration officials who were calling for a way to grant law enforcement officials limited, backdoor access to computer systems.
Gadget Ogling: Baring Souls, Soaking Up Sound, and Tracking Babes
January 19, 2016
As time advances, more responsibilities seep into our lives. We get wrapped up in our own worlds, and don't necessarily make enough time to spend with the friends and family members who've been important parts of our worlds for decades. Concepter's Soul time tracker seeks to make us more conscious of the time we spend with those who matter most to us.
Pokken Tournament to Kick Off in March
January 18, 2016
Nintendo last week announced that "Pokkén Tournament" will be available worldwide for Wii U on March 18. The Pokémon-themed fighting game, developed by Bandai Namco and published by Nintendo, will retail for $60. For the first production run, Nintendo is tossing in a Shadow Mewtwo amiibo card. When used with a Wii U gamepad, the amiibo card will unlock Shadow Mewtwo as a playable character.
What the PC Industry Could Learn From the NRA
January 18, 2016
One of the fascinating things about the NRA is that buyers of guns think the organization represents them, when in fact its mission is to represent gun sellers -- not gun buyers -- and certainly never gun buyers against gun sellers. Guns for consumers largely have been banned in most of the world, with the exception of the U.S., which uniquely has the NRA.
Sony Builds Smart Home Hub Into Ceiling Light
January 15, 2016
Sony this week announced its Multifunctional Light, a ceiling lamp that's kitted out with sensors to talk to smart things. It includes sensors for motion, illumination, temperature and humidity. There's also WiFi radio, a memory card slot, a condenser microphone, and an infrared controller for air conditioners. The lamp form factor offers convenient placement, said a Sony Electronics spokesperson.
NASA Advances Mission to Protect Earth From Asteroids
January 15, 2016
NASA last week announced that it has established the Planetary Defense Coordination Office to formalize its efforts to detect and track near-Earth objects. The PDCO will supervise all NASA-funded projects to find and characterize asteroids and comets that pass near Earth's orbit around the sun. It will issue notices of close passes and warnings of any detected potential impacts.
Dronecode Project Gets More Wind Beneath Its Wings
January 14, 2016
The Linux Foundation this week announced an expansion of the Dronecode project with investments from new members and the creation of three technical working groups. The foundation launched the open source project in 2014 in an effort to create a unified platform for commercial drone technology. Twenty-seven companies have joined Dronecode since, bringing membership to 51, officials said.
Google's Self-Driving Cars Still Need Human Touch
January 14, 2016
Google's self-driving cars showed major safety improvements over the past year -- but there were dozens of incidents when test drivers had to intervene, the company said in a report recently filed with California regulators. There were 272 so-called immediate manual control disengagements due to a failure of the autonomous car technology, between September 2014 and November 2015, Google reported.
Google Sharpens Its Virtual Reality Focus
January 14, 2016
Google has confirmed the appointment of Clay Bavor as vice president of virtual reality, one of several indications that the company intends to get serious about competing in the emerging field. Diane Greene will take over Bavor's former role as vice president of product management. The news comes as Facebook's $599 Oculus Rift and HTC's yet-to-be priced Vive are being prepped for shipment.
Researchers May Have Licked Flaming Lithium-Ion Battery Problem
January 14, 2016
Incorporating a polymer switching material into lithium-ion batteries could prevent their overheating due to a process known as "thermal runaway," according to Stanford researchers. Lithium-ion batteries consist of an anode, a cathode, a separator and a flammable electrolyte. The separator melts when a large amount of heat is generated by overcharging or shorting, ultimately resulting in a thermal runaway.
EFF Urges Revival of Human Rights Case Against Cisco
January 13, 2016
The Electronic Frontier Foundation on Monday pressed to revive a lawsuit against Cisco Systems for violating human rights in China, in a brief filed with a U.S. Court of Appeals. Members of Falun Gong, a religious group persecuted in China, originally filed the lawsuit in 2011, but a federal district court in California dismissed it in 2014. The federal appeals court now is considering a challenge to that dismissal.
FordPass Aims to Engage Customers on Their Terms
January 12, 2016
Ford on Monday announced FordPass, a platform focusing on enhancing the customer experience. FordPass includes a Marketplace offering mobility services; 24x7 access to FordGuides, which are personal assistants to help customers with mobility challenges; membership loyalty rewards; and FordHubs -- select stores that let customers experience Ford's latest innovations.
ESA Fails to Rouse Philae Lander
January 12, 2016
DLR, the German Aerospace Center, this week vainly tried to reawaken the dormant Philae robotic probe, which achieved the first-ever soft landing on a comet nucleus in 2014. The center, known as DLR, sent a command to Philae to spin up its flywheel, which had stabilized the lander during its descent onto the comet. DLR hoped that might give Philae some angular momentum to align itself with the sun.
Ford's Self-Driving Cars Brave Ice and Snow
January 11, 2016
Ford on Monday announced that it has begun conducting the automobile industry's first autonomous vehicle tests in snow and icy conditions at Mcity. The company is using Mcity -- a full-scale, 32-acre simulated real-world urban environment that was developed as part of the University of Michigan's Mobility Transformation Center -- to test vehicles in a variety of weather conditions.
Behind the Scenes at CES
January 11, 2016
CES surprised me again this year. For a show that comes too early in the year for most buyers and companies, it still stood out as having some truly amazing things. It will be remembered for showcasing the birth of personal flight vehicles, along with a Tesla-beating car, and Ford showing how it could do what Apple couldn't. I'll fill you in on some of the back stories at CES.
Gadget Ogling: Fitbit's Smartwatch, Super Home Movies, and Flying Machines
January 9, 2016
Fitbit found great success this past holiday season, and it's keeping up the momentum with its first smartwatch. The Fitbit Blaze includes a continuous heart-rate monitor, a connected GPS, and a multisport mode with a feature that recognizes the type of workout or sport and tracks it appropriately. Still, the Blaze stands out almost more for what it doesn't do.
YouTube Reveals 4K HDR and 360-Degree Video Support at CES
January 9, 2016
YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl on Thursday laid out the direction the service plans to take this year, including new partnerships with GoPro to support 360-degree video content and support for 4K HDR, or high dynamic range, video. So-called cord cutters are having an impact on streaming video services, including those of competitors such as Amazon and YouTube, he said at CES 2016.
The World According to Intel
January 8, 2016
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich earlier this week demonstrated a wide variety of new technologies and laid out the company's vision for where the industry is headed. There is a rapidly growing role for technology that is at once transformative, unprecedented and accessible," he told a CES audience. The 90-minute address offered a compelling look into Intel's view of the tech industry's future.
Oculus VR Founder Laments Failure to Communicate on Pricing
January 8, 2016
Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey on Wednesday said the company did a poor job of communicating the price of the consumer version of the Oculus Rift headset. However, similarly priced products, such as TVs and smartphones, cost less to manufacture than the Rift VR headset, he said. A bare-bones Oculus Rift kit wouldn't cost much less than the bundle's $599 price tag, Luckey noted.
Samsung Places Fridge at Center of Smart Home
January 8, 2016
Samsung on Wednesday unveiled the Family Hub Refrigerator at CES, ongoing in Las Vegas through Saturday. The new refrigerator sports a 21.5-inch full HD LCD screen on the upper right outside door, which doubles as a communications center. The screen lets users post, share and update calendars, as well as pin digital photos, share images and leave notes.
Uber Settles With New York AG After 'Playing God' With Data
January 8, 2016
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Thursday announced a deal that would require Uber to encrypt geolocation information about its riders, as well as enhance its data security practices. The AG opened an investigation into Uber in 2014, in response to allegations that the service had tracked riders and displayed their locations in an aerial format, known internally as the "God View."
Apple Rings In 2016 With Record App Sales
January 7, 2016
Apple on Wednesday announced that customers spent a record $1.1 billion on apps and in-app purchases the during the holidays. Jan. 1 was the App Store's best day ever, with consumers spending about $144 million, the company said. Since 2008, the store has generated close to $40 billion in revenue for developers. Consumers spent more than $20 billion in the store last year.
Hack Lets PS4 Run Linux
January 7, 2016
Hacking team fail0verflow last week demonstrated a hack of Sony's PlayStation 4 game console that allows anyone running the modification to run the Linux OS on the appliance. The demo was part of a lightning talk session at the 32nd Chaos Communication Congress. The hackers used exploits in FreeBSD, PS4's operating system and WebKit, which powers the game console's browser.
New Smart Cam Can Distinguish Between Cats, Cat Burglars and Cars
January 6, 2016
Netatmo on Monday announced a smart security camera and floodlight combo at CES 2016. The Presence camera is designed for outdoor use and can identify objects such as people, animals and vehicles. The camera, which connects to a rectangular floodlight, can be customized to send alerts to a smartphone app or desktop browser based on what it sees and where it sees it.
HTC Shows Off Vive Pre's Room-Sensing Camera
January 6, 2016
A room-sensing camera planted on the front of the Vive Pre was the reason the release of Valve and HTC's virtual reality headset was delayed, the companies revealed Tuesday at CES 2016. The Vive VR headset was supposed to beat Oculus VR and Sony to the punch, coming out in the last quarter of last year. A last-minute "breakthrough" required more work on the Vive headset, HTC CEO Cher Wang said last month.
China Levels Antitrust Allegations Against Microsoft
January 6, 2016
China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce on Tuesday launched the latest in a series of investigations against Microsoft for possible violations of the country's antimonopoly law. Back in July 2014, about 100 SAIC officials burst into four Microsoft offices in various parts of China and copied contracts and records, downloaded data from company servers, and questioned executives.
The EPA, Social Media and Politics
January 6, 2016
Before the Internet, messages were spread by television and newspaper ads and highway billboards. Today that is done through social media. Virtually everyone knows about it, and many people use it. Does it make any sense that a U.S. government agency could violate any laws for using social media to carry out its mission? That doesn't make sense to me.
Ford Wants Smart Cars and Homes to Talk to Each Other
January 6, 2016
One of the highlights of Ford's Tuesday CES event was its announcement of plans to connect its Sync smart car technology with smart home applications from Amazon and Wink. The integrations will give consumers remote control of things like home security and lights from their vehicles, along with the ability to unlock car doors and turn on the ignition from their living rooms.
PCs May Not Be Ready for VR's Breakout Year
January 5, 2016
Will 2016 be a breakaway year for virtual reality technology? Exhibitors at CES 2016 this week seem to think so. More than three dozen of them will be flogging their VR wares at the show, more than double the number from last year. "2016 will be the year of VR," said Brian Blau, a research director at Gartner. "That's pretty clear with all the hardware that's going to be coming on the market."
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What is your reaction to the rumored
4-inch iPhone?
I'm in -- I'd love to have a smaller iPhone.
I prefer a larger iPhone, but it's good to have more options.
I expect innovation from Apple -- seems it's running out of ideas.
I'm not interested in an iPhone of any size.