Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 02/29/2012

  • Microsoft released the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Note it's not a "Beta" but a preview. I guess that's better? Here's an overview of what you get and here's the quick summary. You lose the start button, but you gain the new Metro user interface, gestures, an app store and integration to Microsoft's iCloud competitor, SkyDrive. The Metro UI is one place Windows 8 really starts to differentiate itself from the pack. With Metro, you have one user interface that spans from PCs to Tablets and even to the Xbox. If you're brave enough to want to try it, here's a how-to for installing Windows 8 on your own machine. 
  • It turns out if you're a special Windows developer, you might be getting an ARM based Windows 8 PC to play around with. I wish I knew what special was, so I could fake being it to get one. 
  • Competing with the Windows 8 hype is the on-going iPad 3 hype. Aatma Studio did a great concept video for what a state of the art iPad could be. I hope to see some of these features in the iPad 5 or 6. If the iPad 3 did half of what this video does, I'd wait in line with the dorky hipsters in the Samsung commercials for one. For a more humorous look at iPad rumors, here's a great comic. My favorite: iPad 3's battery life is so good, it has to wait for you to recharge!
  • Now that everyone is moving to 802.11n, here comes 802.11ac. 802.11ac is the next wireless networking standard promising improved speed, distance and reliability over 802.11n. It also enables gigabit speeds wirelessly, allowing for streaming of multiple high definition video streams in your house without buffering or jerkiness. Look for products to be coming out this summer. 
  • And since we have a bonus day today, here's your bonus link: A real slingshot you can build to control Angry Birds. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 02/28/2012

  • Remember when the CEO of Comcast called Netflix "Rerun TV"? Well, it's now true with over fifty percent of all viewing being TV shows. The departure of Starz will only make this worse. 
  • Ultraviolet, the cloud locker for your videos supported by most major studios (except Disney) seems to be gaining some traction. It's up to 800,000 registered users and now Fox and Warner have announced support for downloading content along with supporting streaming. I have some concerns on the ease of use of Ultraviolet, for example you need to create a user account at the Ultraviolet website and then sign up with a different site to use the streaming. However it feels like the studios will keep pushing it until it succeeds. 
  • In the rumor of the day category, here's a list of all the iPad 3 rumors. It's some light reading to keep you entertained until the iPad 3 announcement coming from Apple on March 7th
  • In following the announcements from MWC, I came across phones supporting GLONASS. What's GLONASS, you ask? That was my question. It turns out GLONASS is the Russian GPS system. It becomes important since Russia is going to require cell phones being sold in Russia to support GLONASS. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 02/27/2012

  • Intel announced more phone partnerships (Lava, and ZTE), and a roadmap for low cost smart phones at MWC. They are claiming to be targeting an unsubsidized $150 smart phone. They also announced a partnership with VISA for mobile payments. A busy MWC for Intel. 
  • On the tablet side of announcements at MWC, Tosiha announced the nVidia Tegra 3 based AT270. Asus announced two more tablets, the higher end TF Pad Infinity and lower end TF Pad 300. Sadly both seem improvements over the Transformer Prime that started shipping just a few months ago. Early adopters lose again. 
  • My final MWC announcement is the Nokia 808 PureView. Why does anyone care about a Symbian based cell phone anymore? Because it has a 41 Megapixel camera and Carl Zeiss optics. Is 41 Megapixels over kill? Not according to Nokia, 41MP allow you to do image processing to give you the ability to edit your photos and still come up with a great lower megapixel image that's better than a standard phone camera. It looks great, but why they thought it was a good idea to tie it to a dead smart phone OS I'll never get. Maybe they'll bring a Windows Phone offering with the same camera hardware. It's that kind of differentiation that could separate Nokia from the pack. 
  • Finally, if you want to watch Tangled on Netflix, do it soon. It and all the other Starz movies will be going away March 1st. Here's the list of what you'll be missing. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 02/26/2012 (Weekend Edition)

  • With the Mobile World Congress going on in Barcelona, the announcements are flying. HTC announced the HTC One X with a quadcore processor, and an agreement with Dropbox for a free 25 Gigabytes for HTC One X owners. Samsung looks like it's going to announce a 10.1" Galaxy Note. Sony announced a phone with WhiteMagic display. The WhiteMagic display adds a white pixel to the standard red, blue and green for, as Sony says, "dramatically better displays". And finally (for now), Huawei announced the world's fastest smartphone. But the show goes until March 1st, so let's see if that sticks. 
  • Intel has a win in the smart phone market with Orange in France. With set top box wins at Freebox, and Bouygues, and now this phone win at Orange, Intel should really love the French, or it's French sales team. 
  • Kickstarter might fund more arts this year than NEA. While some might complain that this proves the NEA is underfunded, I think it's an affirmation of the open market. Let people fund and vote with their dollars, not let some nameless bureaucrat in Washington decide what their dollars should go to.
  • Geo-location has been a big buzz word for a time. Now people are working on improving the tools to create the apps. I look forward to the day my phone tells me to stop as I go past Boxer's because Hopdevil is on tap.  
  • The New York Times has a great article on Bell Labs. This was truly a great place we lost when AT&T was broken apart. Thanks Bell Labs for the transistor, fax, the solar cell, the laser, Unix and the "C" programming language. We miss you. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 02/23/2012

  • Streaming video standards are critical to the future of over the top video. Without interoperability, fragmentation will kill innovation. The good news is that several standards are coming about. MPEG-DASH is a standard for adaptive streaming, cleaning up the number of competing standards, like Apple HLS, Adobe Flash Streaming, and Microsoft IIS Smooth Streaming. The Common File Format (CFF) or ISO/IEC 14496-12 is being adopted by MPEG-DASH and Ultraviolet. The last element is DRM, which Google, Microsoft, and Netflix are joining together to promote. Unfortunately, some in the W3C don't like DRM as a concept. Like it or not, for paid content to flourish, we need to have DRM. 
  • Google, Facebook and other web companies are going to support a No Track button. Sounds good, but the problem is the agreement has more loopholes than Corporate tax law. 
  • Mark Zuckerberg wrote a letter to the investors on the Hacker Way and how it drives Facebook. As much as I make fun of Facebook, after reading this if he runs Facebook this way, I hope it works.
  • Box.net is giving 50GB to all users of the Android application. Enjoy your space! 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 02/22/2012

  • The rumor is that Google is going to target the notebook market with Android, based on patents coming out of Mountain View. Canonical may one up them by embedding Ubuntu in your Android phone. It runs Android when you use it as a phone, but when you plug your phone into a monitor, it runs a full linux distribution. 
  • It appears less people are installing home theater rooms in their houses. It's being attributed to the fact that big flat screen TVs and tablets are more cost effective and flexible, undermining the need for the home theater room. 
  • Mozilla is trying to drive HTML5 to the mobile market. They've announced Boot to Gecko, a Mobile OS based on HTML5. Now, they are releasing a store for mobile apps based on HTML5. The question is who needs another Mobile OS? Aren't Android, iOS and Windows 8 enough? Well carriers seem to want another OS that they can control. 
  • If you weren't worried about data caps on your cell phone, here's an article that shows how one person's Netflix usage would have cost him up to $1200 for one month. That's some awfully expensive re-runs. 
  • Finally as a bonus link, I found A Google A Day. It's a Google site that gives a you a trivia question that you use Google to find the answer. I find it amazingly addictive. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 02/21/2012

  • If you live in Kansas City, you could be the first to get Google Cable TV.
  • In more Google news, as I posted before, Google is looking at coming out with real Google Goggles. They're rumored to be priced between $250 and $600. If  you can't wait, Vuzix is selling augmented reality glasses for only $5K today. They are even talking about a cloud based service to analyze the images, demoing facebook and twitter feeds from people who's faces are recognized by the cameras. 
  • Speaking of cloud services, everyone and their brother seem to be coming out with cloud based services. Microsoft is going to try to jump start their Skydrive service with an app built into Windows 8. Samsung seems to be having problem just launching their cloud service. With Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dropbox, and several others out there, Samsung needs to release this or be left in the dust. 
  • MHL is the technology used by the Roku Streaming Stick. It's a combination of the HDMI port on your TV and power. It was originally designed to allow you to plug in your phone to your TV. Since it supplies power, your phone would be charging while you would play video back. This way you don't have to worry about plugging in your phone in to the wall. Roku showed you can create a set top box that can be powered off MHL removing the need for a wall wart power supply.  Well it looks like MHL is gaining acceptance with 50 million MHL devices being shipped

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 02/20/2012

  • GoogleTV is back in the news. The first generation Sony GoogleTV boxes have been rooted.  Rooting enables users to put new versions of Android onto a device other than the OEM (like Logitech) provides.  The great thing about this is that it comes with a version of Android that allows you to use Hulu. Yeah!  
  • In other news, Google also put in for a patent on a Siri-like voice control. Voice and motion control are coming to your TV, with Google, Apple, Samsung, and LG all talking about it. 
  • New Statistics of the Day: Young people are watching more TV on things other than TV. Also, 16% of people are looking at cord-shaving. Cord shaving is when users reduce pay-tv features to replace it with a free or less expensive over the top video solution like Netflix.
  • After yesterday's statement about disliking infographics, here's an infographic comparing different streaming music services. 
  • TV Everywhere comes to March Madness. To watch games televised on TNT, TBS, or TruTV, you'll need to verify you have a cable subscription. CBS televised games are going to be streamed without requiring verification. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 02/19/2012 (Weekend Edition)

  • More and more things are happening with TV shows on YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, etc. They are starting to attract talent like Tom Hanks, Kevin Spacey and Keifer Sutherland. In fact, Internet TV maybe changing what we think about TV. Three years ago, we would have never imagined our remotes supplying video to our TVs like iPads can do to AppleTVs using AirPlay now. It's to the point where I may have to re-think whether or not to keep Pay TV. Oh yeah, football still holds me hostage. 
  • Android is coming to the car. Ford announced OpenXC, an android based framework for in-car connectivity and apps. Innotrends is a company bringing android based devices to your car. How does Google make money on this? Who knows, but thank goodness for our rich uncle giving us these toys. 
  • Who'd thought that the US Army would be come a leader in social networking, and with only a five person team running it?  
  • I've been fascinated with augmented reality for awhile. Augmented reality is taking the image from your smart phone camera and overlay text and graphics to add information (like the directions to a store) or to entertain you (by creating games with real world backgrounds). It's starting to become more common place, I really like the app that helps you install your new TV.  I think this should come with every product you buy. Can you imagine if you have the app tell you which screw you needed by aiming the camera at the bag of parts? Want a quick cool demo of augmented reality? Download and try Google Goggles.  
  • While we all may be getting tired of Infographics, I find interactive statistic pages fascinating. I previously pointed out the LA Times page that gives daily feedback of tweets about the Oscar hopefuls, now there's a page showing what artist was being tweeted about most during the Grammys. Of course, part of me thinks it's just infographics on steroids. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 02/15/2012

  • A couple new and interesting apps have been announced. Pinwheel allows you to to leave notes on a map for others. Glassmap lets your find where your friends are through Facebook. It's apps like these that show how the blending of mobile, GPS, and web based technologies can be used to create things that could never have been done before. 
  • Clik is an app that sends you-tube videos from your smartphone to any web-enabled screen. Could this be a licensing of Vscreen from Sony Ericsson, it seems very similar. 
  • Ford launches an open source in-Car connectivity project, OpenXC. OpenXC is based on Android. What does this mean to Ford's Sync that is powered by Microsoft? 
  • Free Mobile is an incredibly inexpensive mobile phone provider for France, 19.99 euros or  26 dollars per month, for unlimited phone, text and 3GB of data. This is great unless the network can't handle the new traffic. Oops, that's happening
  • Bleacher Report is creating four sports-talk YouTube Channels. Can they become YouTube's ESPN? 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 02/14/2012

  • You use a browser everyday, be it Chrome, Firefox or, heaven forbid, Internet Explorer. Well, here's more information than you probably care about on how it works
  • With the number of apps in the app stores, it becomes very hard to get an app noticed. Here's two ways to do it. One, cheat and use bots to inflate your download numbers. The other way is to write an awesome app that's well designed and unique. That's what Clear did with a simple to-do list app. 
  • Are you curious about web apps? Here's a really cool web app that explains what they are and how to design a good one. 
  • Ten to twenty percent of people in the United States are dyslexic. Here's a font designed to help them read easier. A great use of technology to help people with real problems. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 02/13/2012

  • Both the United States and the European Union have approved the Google purchase of Motorola Mobility. Several other countries need to approve this, including China and Taiwan, but the US and the EU were the two major hurdles.
  • As films and home video go to digital, you would think this would make for better preservation of films for the future. It appears not. As multiple different digital formats become popular with different DRMs, keeping the tools to play them becomes more and more complex. 35mm may become the de facto archive format for movies. 
  • VLC 2.0 is coming out. If you're not familar with VLC, it's the swiss army knife of media players for Windows, MacOS or Linux. It will play almost any file you throw at it. Version 2.0 is rumored to add Blu-ray support. 
  • This weekend two Kickstarter projects raised $1M in funding in one day. Kickstarter is quickly becoming the new funding model for startups. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 02/12/2012 (Weekend Edition)

Sorry about this, but I'm going to rant for a minute before the four tech links today.
When Oauth started to take off, I thought it was a great idea. For you that don't know what Oauth is, it's the technology behind using Facebook Connect or Google+ to login into to other websites. For example, if you use Facebook to login to Spotify, you are using Oauth. This means I only need a Facebook or Google+ account, rather than creating a new account for each new site that comes along. But last week, I found this site: mypermissions.org. It shows you all the sites or apps that you've authorized for all of your social networks. My Google+ accounts were pretty clean, but Facebook was a different story. I found several apps which in addition to siging in, asked for permission to see all of my friends contact information. If you've ever talked to me about Facebook and privacy, I firmly believe if you're on Facebook, you've given up your privacy. Accept it. 
However, giving up my friends names to a miscellaneous web site that I use Facebook to login on bothers even me. This is similar to what Path did by uploading user's contact lists. If I expose my information, that's my choice or my fault, exposing my friend's information is not acceptable. Please note that this isn't an issue with Oauth specifically but if you're not careful, Oauth, and Facebook Connect built on top of it, makes it really easy to do this. So this is a call to be careful when logging in with Facebook, or Google or Twitter to another site. Please check your app settings and verify you aren't exposing any friend's contact information. Also use mypermissions.org to see if you may have already done this. 
Now on to your regularly scheduled 4 tech links of the day:

  • Google rumors are starting to out pace AppleTV rumors. Two interesting ones came out at the end of last week. First Google is finally going to release a cloud based storage called Drive. The other one is that Google is moving in to the hardware business with a streaming music box for your home. Is this, along with the purchase of Motorola Mobility and rumored Google Tablet, the start of a direct competition with Apple in the living room? 
  • What's the next disc format after Blu-ray? Well, MPEG has announced a draft of H.265, the next great video compression algorithm. Combine it the push for 4K TVs and ta-da, next gen Blu-ray. 
  • More and more scripted shows are being produced outside of the studio TV/Cable environment. Hulu announced Battleground, an original series they are producing. Netflix is streaming Lilyhammer, an original series starring Steven Van Zandt. Now it looks like Amazon is getting in the game, hiring creative executives to create new comedies and kids shows. My question is when will the first real breakout hit come? 
  • While several chip companies have come out with record breaking sales, Japanese chip manufacturers haven't been so lucky. It's to the point where Renesas, Fujitsu, and Panasonic are talking about merging their chip businesses.
  • Corning put out a look at the future video. While it's pretty cool, it is very glass centric (surprise), and seems to involve invisible electronics in tablets and high power consumption with every window and blackboard being a powered display. 


Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 02/08/2012

  • The LA Times is using Twitter to track popular opinion on the Oscar nominees. Maybe we can use tools like this to get rid of boring award shows with long winded acceptance speeches or just to determine why reviewers and movie goers can't agree.
  • Even DARPA is getting into crowd sourcing. They set up a website/competition for the design of unmanned aerial vehicles. Are tanks next? 
  • Cable companies are trying to get rid of un-encrypted basic cable and forcing you to rent more converter boxes. Boxee is fighting for your rights and their business model. This will affect you if you use a TV or a Boxee box for watching cable without a converter box. If this is you, voice your opinion to the FCC
  • Paul McCartney is pulling his albums from all streaming services. No reason was given. I don't know if this is a trend or a singular event. If it's a trend, what does it mean for streaming services if artists can pull content randomly?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 02/07/2012

  • It seems the mobile patent wars are coming to a head. Motorola is asking for royalties from Microsoft on Xbox and Windows 7. Google is starting to discuss how it will license Motorola's patents. Now Apple is asking for patent reform in Europe, after it used this to stop shipment of the Samsung Tab. 
  • Chrome comes to Android! Unfortunately, it's only for Ice Cream Sandwich, and no Flash.
  • While Apple is creating a closed textbook ecosystem, Rice University and OpenStax are creating an open source textbook ecosystem
  • Free Music Streaming site iLike shuts it's door. Fortunately, Pandora, Last.FM, and Spotify are still around and Pandora actually pulled a profit in the 3rd quarter of last year. The only one of the three to pull this off. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 02/06/2012

  • Augmented Reality is in the news today. Obvious Reality is demoing a solution that doesn't need markers. Google is rumored to be developing real Google Goggles
  • What's the next big thing in apps? How about Geo-Fences? Software that recognizes where you're at and modifies it's behavior.
  • You may be familiar with TedTalks, talks from the Ted Conferences on "Ideas worth spreading". Google has started Solve for X, talks on amplifying moonshots technologies. Moonshots Technologies are efforts that take on global-scale problems, define radical solutions to those problems, and involve some form of breakthrough technology that could actually make them happen. It would be great if just one leads to a solution. 
  • Sure, we used to patent wars in the smart phone market. Now it's the smart thermostat market, Honeywell sues Nest. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 02/05/2012 (Weekend Edition)

  • First and foremost, cordcutters rejoice. This is the first year the super bowl will be streamed live
  • If sports aren't your thing, here's an overview of smart tv and OTT providers and here's a spreadsheet showing what other legal streaming sites are out there. 
  • ConnectTV has released a second screen app for Windows, Macs and iPads using automatic content recognition. Welcome to the next phase of second screen apps. 
  • Wearable computing and sensors are driving changes to exercise from Nike+ to Apple's patent on real-time exercise data sharing. When does remote exercise competition become the next sports explosion? 
  • With Facebook's IPO coming out, here's a breakdown of it's income. Twelve percent comes from Zynga, everything else is advertising. Here's a breakdown of Microsoft, Apple and Google. Google racks up 96% of it's income from advertising. 
  • Looking for a cheap media center? Try the Raspberry Pi for $35 and a custom linux installation running XBMC. The Raspberry Pi uses the  Broadcom BCM2835, the same chip in the Roku 2 box and most likely in the upcoming Roku Streaming MHL stick. Full 1080P decode for $35? Not bad. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 02/02/2012

  • With all the press pro and con on the Apple digital text book push, education is becoming a hot topic. Here's an article on educational channels being funded by Google. And let's not forget there's Apple iTunesU and several university programs for a free education out there. 
  • This is one of those "Is it good news or bad news?" articles. Tablets are increasing TV watching by giving people more screens to watch on. 
  • Ever wonder on how business models affect pricing. Here's an overview of Apple vs. Amazon
  • With Facebook's IPO coming, the company is releasing financial information. Interestingly, twelve percent comes from Zynga. 
  • And a bonus fifth article today: Great overview of Automatic Content Recognition. ACR is the technology behind how your tablet or phone knows watch you're watching on TV. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 02/01/2012

  • As Kindle Fire sales projections for last quarter are being raised to 6 million units, Amazon opens up a Lending Library for Kindle users who have Amazon Prime. Nice feature if you fall into that group. 
  • Will supporting the Barnes and Noble Nook over the Amazon Fire help save brick and mortar bookstores? B&N used to be the evil empire to mom and pop bookstores, now they may be the last stand of bookstores.
  • Will your next car have a better network than your house? Two Ethernet standards, EthernetAVB, (for synchronized audio video distribution) and OPEN (one pair Ethernet for cost reduction) are being adopted by car manufacturers.
  • As more and more ISPs put caps on the internet to your house and over the top video continues to explode, video compression becomes more and more important. Netflix realizes this and has licensed compression technology from Silicon Valley stealth company EyeIO.