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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.
Intel Takes Up Diversity Challenge to the Tune of $300M
January 07, 2015
Intel will invest $300 million over the next five years to promote gender and racial diversity, CEO Brian Krzanich announced Tuesday at CES 2015. The company plans to have full representation at all levels in its workforce by 2020. That's close to 100,000 people. "This is a highly relevant issue, and one that we all need to address," Krzanich said.
Virtual Reality Makes Leaps and Bounds at CES 2015
January 07, 2015
Samsung this week unveiled its Milk VR platform for its Gear VR headset at the 2015 International CES in Las Vegas, but it was far from alone in ramping up the virtual reality action at the show. HP introduced the Zvr Virtual Reality Display, and Razer rolled out its Android-based OSVR. Not to be outdone by these upstart efforts, Oculus gave a peak at its Rift controller.
Federal IT Reform: Just Getting Started
January 07, 2015
IT providers who market to the federal government got some holiday cheer as the U.S. Congress and the White House approved legislation to improve the way the government acquires IT equipment and services. The reforms are significant, and no doubt will facilitate the marketing of IT to federal agencies. President Obama signed the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act on Dec. 16.
Sony's New Walkman Aims Sky High
January 06, 2015
Sony on Monday debuted a new Walkman at CES that's as notable for its hefty price as for its high-end features. Listed at $1,119.99, the new Walkman NW-ZX2 is several hundred dollars more than last year's Walkman NW-ZX1. In return, it promises "high-resolution audio like never before," thanks to Sony's new S-Master HX digital amplifier and DSEE HX technology.
We Are the World: Samsung's Vision for IoT
January 06, 2015
The world needs one open ecosystem to enable the Internet of Things, and Samsung is prepared to lead the way, said CEO BK Yoon at the 2015 International CES. Serving up the classic depiction of IoT -- always-on, always-connected devices working together -- Yoon said the technology for linking smart radios, smart TVs, smartphones and smart homes will be available later this year.
Gogoro: The Little Electric Scooter That Could?
January 06, 2015
Gogoro on Monday took to the stage at CES to unveil a zero-emissions electric scooter. The Smartscooter is designed to be powered by batteries available via subscription from a network of vending machines in urban areas around the world. The Gogoro Smartscooter is quipped with 30 onboard sensors, cloud connectivity and an integrated mobile app to aid performance and find battery vending machines.
Writers Worldwide Chilled by Government Surveillance
January 06, 2015
Concern over government surveillance has been so heightened by confidential information leaked by former intelligence hand Edward Snowden that writers in free countries are as worried as those in autocratic nations, according to a new report. Three-quarters of writers in countries classified as "free" told researchers they were "worried" or "somewhat worried" about surveillance.
PlayStation Now Subscription Service to Offer Instant Gaming Gratification
January 05, 2015
Sony Computer Entertainment America on Monday announced that the PlayStation Now subscription service will become available in the U.S. and Canada on Jan. 13 for the PlayStation 4. It will become available for other PlayStation Now-enabled devices at a later date. The service will provide unlimited online access to more than 100 PlayStation 3 games.
Yikes! Ransomware Could Take Over Your Hard Drive
January 05, 2015
Malware is running rampant on the Internet, affecting smartphones, tablets and PCs. Relatively new malware allows bad guys to encrypt devices until a ransom is paid. Usually the ransom is required in bitcoin, rather than U.S. currency, as it cannot be traced. What are the legal and other risks associated with ransomware? Ransomware is largely directed at personal devices and small businesses.
CES: Oh, the Amazing Things You Will See
January 05, 2015
Writing a CES teaser is a bit difficult because I actually know a great deal about what will be announced, but I can't share the details because I'm bound by a variety of ironclad NDAs. However, I can comment in general about the product categories you are going to see opened up at the show, and I have to say you'd better lock up your wallet because much of this is cool and you'll likely want it.
The Strange Resurrection of Atari's Long-Buried E.T.
January 02, 2015
The National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian, has added a vintage copy of the Atari 2600 video game E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to its collection. This particular game is meant to fill a void in the museum's collection, namely the unrepresented dark days of the 1980s when the United State video game industry crashed. This Atari game didn't come from an old collection, though.
SpaceX Seeks to Defy Odds With Ocean-Platform Rocket Landing
January 02, 2015
SpaceX next week will try for the first time to land the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket on a custom-built ocean platform in the Atlantic Ocean. The experiment originally was scheduled to take place in mid-December but was postponed to Jan. 6.The Falcon 9 first stage is some 14 stories tall and will be traveling at a speed of nearly a mile per second.
New Filter Family Adds Diversity to Instagram Toolset
January 02, 2015
Instagram recently added some new filters -- the first time it has done so in two years. Each of the filters included in the latest version allow users to make subtle mood changes to a photo. "Filters are becoming a competitive advantage for Instagram so I suspect you'll see it develop more filters as time goes on because that's the real value of their service," noted IDC Research Director Chris Chute.

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