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Intel (?) Gets Chat-Appy With Mood-Mimicking Avatars
June 20, 2014
Best known for its computer chips, Intel this week ventured into new territory with Pocket Avatars, a mobile messaging app that uses animated icons to mimic users' facial expressions. Now available for both Android and iOS, the free app can be used to create, send and receive personalized 3D video animated messages designed to convey emotions and mood.
SnappyTV Could Amp Up Twitter Amplify
June 19, 2014
Twitter just announced a new addition to its social-TV arsenal: SnappyTV, an online service that allows content owners to clip, edit and share video from live broadcasts in near-real time. "As we continue to invest in video, it's important for us to provide tools that make it easy for TV broadcasters, businesses, and event producers to share high-quality videos," said Twitter's Baljeet Singh.
Lego Fuses Physical and Virtual Gameplay
June 19, 2014
Lego fans are about to experience a new way to play with their favorite plastic bricks, both in the physical and virtual worlds. The company's line of Fusion playsets will become available in August. The sets combine traditional brick construction play with video games. The goal is to allow people -- especially children -- to engage with Legos both physically and virtually.
The Maker Faire Gets the Obama Bump
June 19, 2014
Hopeful tinkerers and entrepreneurs gathered Wednesday on the White House lawn to showcase their innovative ideas at the Maker Faire. The Maker Faire brings together students, educators, artists, engineers and innovators who have an invention or an idea about how to make something. Billed as "The Greatest Show (and Tell) On Earth," the Maker Faire got its start in the Bay Area.
Dems Push Net Neutrality Against the Odds
June 19, 2014
Congressional Democrats are taking another go at Net neutrality. Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Doris Matsui, a member of the House Energy Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, have introduced an act that would require the FCC to ban "paid prioritization" agreements between a broadband provider and a content provider.
How Will Regulators Chaperone the Big Merger Dance?
June 19, 2014
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son may have new hope for a Sprint, T-Mobile merger. After SoftBank merged with Sprint last summer, Son set his sights on T-Mobile. There was early resistance from regulators, but that may be softening, with Comcast-Time Warner Cable and AT&T-DirecTV having joined the merger dance. Trying to understand and predict what regulators will do is always a challenge.
Bright and Shiny Fire Phone: Amazon Delivers
June 18, 2014
Despite entering the smartphone world late, Amazon managed to double down with a user-focused infusion of technical innovation to deliver a compelling new device: the Amazon Fire Phone. The most head-turning feature is its ability to track your face and create a three-dimensional effect on the home screen and in apps, which makes it seem as if you're peering into a lavishly illustrated diorama.
Apple Gains an Inch in E-Book Price-Fixing Scrap
June 18, 2014
Apple has reached a settlement with plaintiffs in 33 states regarding allegations that it colluded with five major U.S. book publishers to fix the price of e-books. The class action maintained that Apple overcharged plaintiffs $280 million. News of the settlement came on Tuesday via a filing with U.S. District Judge Denise Cote by Steve Berman, an attorney representing some of the plaintiffs.
Spire Breath Tracker Helps Users Chillax
June 18, 2014
Spire on Tuesday kicked off preorders for its namesake new wearable device dedicated to promoting health by monitoring the wearer's breathing. Billed as "the first wearable that tracks both physical movement and state of mind," Spire is the first activity tracker to measure breathing patterns, the company said, thereby offering new insights into periods of tension, relaxation and focus.
If Amazon Builds It, Will They Come?
June 17, 2014
Amazon is poised to reveal its very first smartphone, and the rumor mill is in full swing. It's expected to include a 3D display, utilizing sensors or retina-tracking technology in four front-facing cameras to detect eye positioning and movement in order to project a 3D image without the need for 3D glasses. It reportedly will be available exclusively from AT&T.
Nest Offers Discounted, Wave-Less Smoke Alarm
June 17, 2014
Google's Nest subsidiary has returned its Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm to the market, less than one month after recalling 440,000 units because of a defect. The device has been discounted to $99 from $130. The Protect was recalled because of a software glitch that could prevent it from properly sounding an alert. Nest issued a temporary software update to disable its Wave feature.
Facebook Aims to Blaze New Gaming Trail on iPads
June 17, 2014
Facebook on Monday unveiled an iPad app update designed to make the site a hub for game, video and content discovery. A new panel appears on the right-hand side of the iPad providing news and entertainment. Games are heavily featured. More than 70 percent of Facebook for iPad users played a Facebook-connected game in the past 90 days, the company noted.
Tesla's Patent Giveaway Fuels Electric Car Enthusiasm
June 17, 2014
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk threw the automotive industry into a tizzy last week, when he announced that he was throwing open the company's patents. Some hailed the move as yet more proof of the abysmal state of the United States patent system; others opined that it would give the electric car industry a boost; others just penned paeans of praise to Musk. But there were cynical reactions as well.
IBM's Empowerment of SAP HANA
June 17, 2014
SAP's recent Sapphire NOW user and partner conference in Orlando was a love fest for the company's HANA in-memory database technology. SAP has made it quite clear that HANA is far more than an innovative solution for Big Data, analytics and business intelligence workloads. In fact, HANA and complementary SAP solutions represent the future for the company and its customers and partners.
Flying Drone Buddies Can Capture Your Amazing Exploits
June 17, 2014
There are two new crowdfunded projects that are building self-flying drones to follow you around and video your awesomeness. Geared for adventure sports like skiing, biking or motorcycle riding, these two drones will follow you at high-speed, capturing high-flying jumps and steep dives from angles previously available only to professional filmmakers with powerful cameras and helicopters.
Does Linux Lack a Killer App?
June 16, 2014
Well the days are heating up here in the Linux blogosphere, and FOSS fans are flocking to the Broken Windows Lounge as much for the frosty air-conditioning as for the conversation. Even Linux Girl, whose days generally involve far more pavement-pounding than she'd like, has found herself seeking solace in the blogobar's arctic climes far more often than she probably should.
SC to Mull Free Speech vs. 'True Threats' on Social Media
June 16, 2014
Are threats to people made on social media websites protected under the First Amendment? The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider that issue in the case of Anthony D. Elonis v. United States. Elonis already has served jail time for threats he made on his Facebook page to his wife, an FBI agent and former coworkers. It's jail time his lawyers say their client shouldn't have served.
Rumor: Amazon's About to Spring a 3D Smartphone
June 16, 2014
Amazon reportedly is adding an important new tributary to its river of products this week: a smartphone line. The company has a media event scheduled for Wednesday and expectations are high that it's about to reveal its first mobile device. "Amazon has already seen some success in the tablet space as well as the home entertainment space," said Frost & Sullivan analyst Todd Day.
How Can a 'Tech President' Be So Tech-Backward?
June 16, 2014
Like a lot of people in tech, I was really excited to see President Obama get elected. It seemed like he got technology, and he used it brilliantly in two campaigns. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to use it well in actually running the government. From the Affordable Health Care Act to the Veterans Administration, the Obama presidency has been a tale of dumb and dumber when it comes to tech.
Wearable Tech's Steep Learning Curve
June 13, 2014
Google may be feared and secretly envied throughout tech circles for its industry-disruption track record, but in at least one respect, companies are grateful for Google's propensity to plow the road. The Google Glass experiment has provided some very public lessons about what consumers are willing to accept in wearable tech and what they positively will not stand for -- at least at this point.

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