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En Garde, Apple! The Luxe Android Smartwatch Is Coming!
March 19, 2015
Apple fans won't be the only ones who can flash a smartwatch worth thousands of dollars on their wrist; Android aficionados will be able to do the same. Google, Intel and Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer on Thursday jointly announced plans to make a luxury Swiss smartwatch. They were skimpy on the details, but various leaks and media reports suggest that the device may look like the Tag Heuer Carrera.
SXSW Runs on Wireless Carriers' Well-Oiled Machines
March 19, 2015
At this year's South by Southwest Conferences and Festivals in Austin, Texas, more than 150,000 new people have entered the major wireless carriers' network space. Nearly every one of them has a phone for making voice calls or using the Web. How do wireless carriers handle such a demand surge? That's one of the big challenges facing AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile.
Musk: Technology May Revoke Your Driver's License
March 19, 2015
There will come a time, in a future not so far away, when it will be illegal for the average person to drive a car, predicted Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Autonomous vehicles will be exponentially safer, he said Tuesday at Nvidia's 2015 GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, California. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang took the stage with Musk for an unrehearsed conversation about the future of cars.
The Road Ahead for Self-Driving Cars
March 19, 2015
While several automakers are currently in the process of developing autonomous vehicles, the road ahead for self-driving cars could be long, with numerous obstacles to overcome. According to the recent Autonomous Vehicles 2015-2035 report, published by IDTechEx, the challenges and technology have much in common. So far, progress toward a completely driverless car is in the slow lane.
Apple's TV Plans Come Into Focus
March 18, 2015
Apple is expected to launch a Web-TV service this fall, offering 25 channels of content from various providers. Its pending move "is yet another sign that the traditional pay-TV provider lock on programming distribution continues to erode," said IDC analyst Greg Ireland. "The availability of more options ... will attract attention from cord-cutters and current pay-TV subscribers alike."
Talking Barbie Says Hello, Parents Say Goodbye
March 18, 2015
It's not so much Hello Barbie's talking -- it's her listening that has parents up in arms. Here's how Hello Barbie works: A kid presses on the doll's belt buckle and speaks into a microphone in the doll's necklace. An AI system processes and analyzes that speech in the cloud. Responses are then streamed back to the doll, who replies to the kid -- all over a secure WiFi connection to the Internet.
Facebook Talks Tough About Online Harassment
March 17, 2015
Facebook on Monday issued a new set of community standards, including provisions designed to clamp down on revenge porn, bullying, threats and other forms of online harassment. Facebook will remove content that appears to purposefully target private individuals with the intent of degrading or shaming them, or that threatens or promotes sexual violence or exploitation.
Survey: Surveillance Is Fine as Long as It's Not on Me
March 16, 2015
Growing concern over privacy in cyberspace has people changing their online behavior. Nearly 90 percent of 475 adults recently surveyed said they were aware of government surveillance programs targeting Internet users, the Pew Research Center found. Large numbers of adults supported monitoring programs aimed at others -- from terrorists to political leaders -- but opposed spying on U.S. citizens.
Apple Drifts Away From Jobs
March 16, 2015
Steve Jobs' Apple displayed a rather fascinating balance between design and utility. Granted, it often shifted more toward the design side, which resulted in problems like Antennagate, but that tended to happen when Jobs wasn't around. He made sure the products worked well and looked good -- he understood the need to do both. By any financial measure, Tim Cook has been doing a great job.
Gadget Ogling: Falling Apples and Magical Pancakes
March 14, 2015
Apple dropped a few new facts about its Watch at this week's presentation. The hardware is interesting in that Apple is limiting what people can do with their 8 GB of storage. No more than a quarter of that can be filed with music, and photos can take up just 75 MB, which seems somewhat rudimentary. I'm glad to see the battery apparently lasts enough to see out a full day.
Twitter Tries, Tries Again to Reduce Abuse
March 13, 2015
Twitter this week updated its rules to combat online abuse and revenge porn, in the wake of continuing outrage among netizens. The most significant change is a new statement that users may not post intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject's consent. Sounds good, but like last month's update, it's more bark than bite.
Lawsuit Challenges NSA Internet Dragnets
March 13, 2015
The ACLU earlier this week filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the NSA from indiscriminately snooping on U.S. Internet traffic. Using a technique called "upstream" surveillance, the NSA does a spinal tap of the Internet's U.S. backbone, which carries the communications of millions of Americans, the ACLU explained in its complaint filed with a federal district court in Maryland.
Apple Sinks to Selling a $10K 'Douchebag Detector'
March 13, 2015
Movie star Anna Kendrick managed to say something in a single tweet that instantly nails anyone who would buy a gold Apple Watch Edition: "We should be thanking Apple for launching the $10,000 'apple watch' as the new gold standard in douchebag detection." Right on. Still, people who believe that a gold Apple Watch is an important status symbol aren't the real problem here.
Astroturfing's Legality Is in the Weeds
March 13, 2015
We see it all the time: a glowing 5-star comment on Yelp about our favorite neighborhood restaurant. At first glance, it looks authentic. However, what if the review actually were purchased by the restaurant? Would that change your perspective on the review or the restaurant? Of course, paying for advertising is hardly new. Celebrities for years have endorsed products and restaurants.
FCC Drops Net Neutrality Rules on Dissection Table
March 12, 2015
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has released the final version of its controversial open Internet rules. In the introduction to the some 400 pages of new rules, which cover both wired and wireless broadband, the commission stated its "carefully tailored rules" would prevent specific practices that are harmful to Internet openness, such as blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.
The Linux Kernel's New 'Play Nice' Patch
March 12, 2015
Some 60 Linux kernel developers last week adopted a small "patch," called the "Code of Conflict," that attempts to set guidelines for discourse in the kernel community and outlines a path for mediation if someone feels abused or threatened. Linux creator Linus Torvalds' call for improved internal developer relations could be little more than wishful thinking, though.
The Apple Watch Will Take Its Own Sweet Time
March 12, 2015
The wearable technology marketplace is already in place and growing. Now, enter the Apple Watch. Although it will speed up growth, this new space will be very different from the iPhone and iPad markets. Large companies like Google, Samsung and Sony, and smaller companies like FitBit and others have already thrown their hats into the ring and seen limited success.
Proposed 2016 Federal Budget Plumps IT Spending by $2B
March 11, 2015
The U.S. government will increase IT spending for the third year in a row, if the Obama administration's proposed 2016 fiscal year budget passes. The 2016 budget request includes civilian agency IT spending at $49.1 billion and defense IT expenditures at $37.3 billion. The 2016 total of $86.4 billion is about $2 billion more than for 2015, and it is more than double the amount spent in 2001.
What Mobile World Congress Delivered Besides Same-Old Smartphones
March 10, 2015
The latest handsets and tablets received their share of headlines at this year's MWC, but their mindshare shrank considerably. Sony unveiled its Xperia Z4 tablet, possibly its last hurrah in the mobile space. Meanwhile, Samsung's Galaxy S6 smartphone stole the spotlight. However, with more than 2,000 tech organizations promoting their wares and services, MWC 2015 offered a fresh set of promises.
Ellen Pao Airs Kleiner Perkins' Dirty Laundry
March 10, 2015
Ellen Pao on Monday testified in a San Franciso courtroom that she was passed up for promotions and sexually harassed by a partner during her employment at prestigious venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers. Pao said that after she broke off a relationship with former Kleiner Perkins partner Ajit Nazre, he made it difficult for her to do her job.
Gadget Ogling: Slick, Dull and Outlandish Smartphones, a Powerful Shield and Invisibility Glasses
March 10, 2015
Samsung is trying something a little different while simultaneously positioning its S6 and S6 edge as the market's dominant Android smartphones. Sure, they're faster, smarter, brighter, stronger and more powerful than previous models -- as you might expect in a flagship refresh -- and that's all terribly pedestrian. Still, I love the edge concept. I'm glad to see Samsung continue and expand it.
How Deep Can Watson Drill?
March 10, 2015
IBM last week announced the acquisition of AlchemyAPI, which uses deep learning to perform natural language processing. NLP consists of semantic text analysis, including sentiment analysis. IBM "has some of these capabilities already, and we continue to explore ways to expand and amplify them through our growing developer community," said IBM Watson VP Steve Gold.
Get Ready for Self-Driving Autos to Wreak Disruption
March 09, 2015
Autonomous vehicles are on a roll, suggests a new report from McKinsey & Co. Acceptance will increase substantially by 2050, accounting for as much of 20 percent of new car sales. The shift to self-driving technologies could reduce auto accidents by as much as 90 percent, the report suggests. In addition, self-driving vehicles could free up commuters' time in the car.
Private, Public Teamwork Needed to Fight ISIS on Twitter: Report
March 09, 2015
Social media firms should team up with the U.S. government to work out appropriate responses to extremism on their sites, recommends a Brookings Institution report. J.M. Berger and Jonathon Morgan last year launched a study to define and describe the population of ISIS supporters on Twitter. They found that ISIS ramped up efforts on Twitter following the suspension of many supporters' accounts.

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Are you looking forward to self-driving cars?
You bet -- I'd love to have a built-in chauffeur.
Yes -- self-driving cars will save lives.
Kind of -- I'd like some self-driving features, like parking.
No -- self-driving cars are too dangerous.
No -- I don't want to give up another freedom.
Absolutely not -- I saw Terminator and I'm not letting some robot take me for a ride!
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