Friday, March 30, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 03/29/2012

AppleTV not out until 2013
The long rumored AppleTV TV  is now reported not coming out until 2013.  Fortunately the rumored features of voice control, and ala carte over the top channels are here today with the Xbox 360.

Android Apps come to Windows
BlueStacks has released the beta version of their Android Player for Windows. It installs easily and is integrated to the Google Play Store and the Amazon App Store. If you want to run android apps on windows, or just play with Android, BlueStacks is a good solution. If you want to play with Videon's aVia media player, you'll be glad to know it works under BlueStacks.

Samsung's Galaxy Note ships five million units
When it first came out, many people questioned Samsung's Galaxy Note. It's called a Phablet or Phone/Tablet. Was it a big phone at 5.3 inches or a small tablet? Well people seem to like it since it's shipped 5 million units since being released in mid February.

Google to release GDrive
Dropbox and Box.net need to watch out. Google is rumored to be releasing GDrive in April. GDrive will give cloud based storage to Google users. It's rumored to be giving out 1GB per user for free.

Google to sell Tablets
Google is looking to sell tablets from ASUS and Samsung online. I hope this goes better than the Nexus One. The projections are that Android tablets will out sell iPads by 2016, but will be targeted at the lower priced 7" tablets in the range of $150 to $200 dollars.

Do Streaming Services need Offline Caching?
GdGt has a good editorial on the need for streaming services like YouTube and Netflix to be able to store videos offline. This could be used to watch movies on a plane or somewhere with bad cell or internet connection. In addition you could download content using WiFi to save your cell bandwidth. I agree this is a great feature that people would pay for.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 03/26/2012

Who wins TV 2.0? 
This article won't tell you but gives the pro's of Google (Channels of YouTube), Facebook (Recommendations), Apple (iTunes), Amazon (capability of creating a YouTube competitor target at the Kindle Fire), and Comcast (the pipe and NBCUniversal). Comcast has another advantage. Since it controls the pipe, it's Xfinity TV app for the Xbox360 is rumored to not count against your bandwidth cap. Now that's an advantage. Imagine if they give a low cost low bandwidth service, but your Xfinity video is free? That blocks out all the other competitors.

Next Generation Assistants
While Siri will answer your questions, the next generation of virtual assistants will be able to hold conversations with you to better determine what you want. This pushes the importance of your assistant needing to know more and more about you. With Google's Assistant coming, and being able to combine all of it's information about you, they could have a winner if it's done right.

Steve Jobs originally killed the New AppleTV User Interface
An original engineer for AppleTV tweeted last week that Steve Jobs personally killed the grid based UI that Apple TV recently released. He followed with the comment "Now there is nobody to say “no” to bad design". Apple quickly responded that Steve killed the UI before the iPhone and iPad became popular and migrating the AppleTV UI to the more popular iPhone look made sense now.

Google I/O Registration Opens Tomorrow
I don't know why I'm advertising this since last year it sold out in 59 minutes, but Google I/O registration opens at 7 AM PDT tomorrow. Even if you don't get in, you can create a Rube Goldberg device with the Google Input/Output app that Google provided to entertain you until registration opened.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 03/25/2012 - Weekend Edition

Streaming to pass DVD sales this year
This year, online movie viewing will surpass DVD and Blu-ray viewing, with online viewing going to 3.4 billion and DVD/Blu-ray sales dropping to 2.6 billion. Unfortunately for the studios, the online viewing dollars will be much lower than the DVD/Blu-ray sales. Online viewing will generate $1.72 billion, while DVD/Blu-ray sales will generate $11.1 billion in sales with studios also getting a larger piece of the pie for disc sales. How will studios handle the online streaming success's cannibalization of their profitable disc sales?

Apple ready to pass Intel as Top Mobile Chipmaker
How impressive are the Apple's iPhone and iPad sales? In 2012, Apple will pass Intel as the top mobile chipmaker, which includes Intel's laptop chip sales. While Intel is pushing into the mobile space with it's Medfield processor, ARM's dominance is currently over 70% of the market. You can see why Intel will keep pushing in the phone and tablet market.

XBMC 11.0 is released
XBMC is widely regarded as the best open source media center software; it just got better with the release 11.0 or Eden. It adds support for Slingbox, Airplay, and un-encrypted blu-rays. In addition, there are many improvements to the user interface and improved playback performance.

Chrome OS coming to ARM
Not only are ARM processors getting Windows 8, now Google is porting Chrome OS to the ARM processor. I guess we should have seen this coming when Google released the Chrome browser for ARM based android tablets.

Bonus Link of the Day: Tacocopter.com
Are you in the San Francisco area and have a hankering for tacos? Go to TacoCopter.com and have your tacos delivered by flying robots. Awesome! Unfortunately, it's in private beta, and I can't really tell if it's real or not. Here's to hoping.
UPDATE: It's fake. Pout.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 03/22/2012

What's wrong with Google TV and Apple TV? 
FixYa put out a summary of the questions its users have for various Smart TV products. It's interesting that GoogleTV's number one issue was blocked content while AppleTV's biggest issue was connecting to iTunes. You would think that the closed Apple system wouldn't have major interoperability issues.

How much is your privacy worth? 
A German institute did a study on how much people would pay to protect their privacy. Students were offered to buy tickets from two different sites. In the first test, both sites charged the same, but one asked for your phone number. In this case, 83% of the students purchased from the site not requiring a phone number. But when this site raised its price by 50 euro cents or 66 US cents, the number of students purchasing from this site dropped to 31%. This means at least 50% of the students valued their phone number at less than 66 cents. The results were similar for when asking for the student's email address. The part I don't understand is that the authors state that this shows that you can charge more if you support privacy. I read the exact opposite, the vast majority (69%) choose the less privacy safe site for saving 66 cents. That's not even a cup of coffee.

Apple patents an Advanced TV Remote
How cool does this sound? Take a picture of your remote. Your iPhone sends the picture to the iCloud for analysis and then downloads a virtual copy of your remote to your iPhone. Now your iPhone can replace your remote. Apple just applied for a patent for this. I've seen some lame Apple patents lately but this one is awesome.

Google's Research Blog
Would you like to learn about how Google quantifies comedy, measures ad effectiveness, or creates instant mixes for Google Music? Well go visit Google's Research Blog. There are hours and hours of topics worth reading here.



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 03/21/2012

Happy Birthday, Twitter
Twitter turns six. On the twitter blog, you can see the sketch  that started it all. Infographics Labs has an infographic on the history of Twitter. Surprise, Surprise. The busiest moment in twitter history was the TV screening of "Castle in the Sky". Sadly I must ask, what is "Castle in the Sky"?

Will YouTube become the next TV network?
While YouTube has hosted several live events, it is now is hosting a live daily TV show. Is this the first step in creating a scheduled broadcasting network? In addition to this, YouTube has also announced it added 19,000 Indian broadcast TV shows. YouTube seems to be doing a good job at positioning itself as an over the top network based on original and different content, versus Netflix and Hulu paying to supply cable and broadcast content.

Excuse me, Your Tattoo is Ringing
Nokia has patented a tattoo that will sense when your phone rings and will vibrate. The tattoo has a specific magnetic impedance, which also could act as an identity check. This is nerd-erific enough that it might get me under the needle.

Broadcast Acronym Overview
If you follow TV broadcasting or video news, you've probably heard the term MPEG. If you are curious on what MPEG is, here's a good overview of the acronyms used in audio, video, and broadcasting, including MPEG. If you want a major deep dive, here's an technical overview of MPEG-4 AVC, the video codec used by Blu-ray, iTunes, and most digital cameras today. If you don't know what a video codec is, you probably don't want to read it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 03/20/2012

Apple pays Dividends
Apple announced that they are going to pay dividends for the first time ever at $2.65 per share. At the announcement, Tim Cook also announced that the new iPad had record breaking sales last weekend and the pipeline is full of stuff, although he wouldn't elaborate on what they are. With the record breaking sales, the new iPad is really hot, and unfortunately that's also true literally with Consumer Reports recording temperatures of 116 degrees off the new iPad while playing games. They say it becomes very warm but not especially uncomfortable.

Suggestions for a Better TV
The LA Times has a list for improving TV with anything from a better universal remote to ala carte programming. While I think the wireless headphones don't work for a TV that is a social screen with multiple viewers, I would like a universal content interface; just tie it into a tablet app that lets me find all my content in a clean, easy to use interface and play it back on the TV similar to the aVia media player for Android.

Android merged back into Linux
What most Android users might not be aware of is that underneath Android lies a modified version of Linux. With the 3.3 release of Linux, all of the Android modifications have been merged into the baseline Linux release. Hopefully this will help improve the support for Android going forward.

Comedians going straight to the users
Louis C.K. started a trend by selling his comedy special directly to his fans on the internet from his website. He made it DRM free and $5. He earned $1 million dollars in 12 days. Now Jim Gaffigan and Aziz Ansari are following in his footsteps. This supports what many people believe that if content is low cost and easy to obtain, piracy will not be an issue.

NYTimes.com signs up nearly half million subscribers
The NY Times website has signed up 454,000 subscribers since going to a pay service. This compares impressively with the estimated 790,000 print subscribers they have. They also decreased the number of articles non-subscribers can read for free from 20 to 10 a month, most likely to push more people to subscribe.

Bonus Link of the Day: Betty White inducted to the NAB Hall of Fame
One of my personal favorites is being inducted to the NAB Hall of Fame, Betty White. In honor of this, here's her hosting Saturday Night Live.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 03/18/2012 - Weekend Edition

Has Google fallen to just chasing others?
Writing up the links today, I selected two articles on Google. The first is on Google's Assistant, an open competitor to Apple's Siri. Opposed to Siri, Google Assistant will expose their assistant service to developers to create apps on top of it. The other article was on the rumor of $149 7" tablet coming from Google and Asus. While both are interesting, it had me thinking, has Google fallen into the Microsoft trap of chasing others? What's the last original thing from Google? Chrome was a faster browser. Gmail was Hotmail with more storage. Android was an open source iPhone. Google+ is Facebook for geeky white males. Wave was new but it didn't pan out. You could say GoogleTV was original, but the smart TV market was already there. Google Maps is the last thing I can remember that was innovative and successful from Google.

The Internet of Bad Things
ZDNet is reporting 51 percent of web traffic is non-human. Unfortunately this is not a report on how "The Internet of Things" is taking off. Much of the non-human traffic that ZDNet is reporting on is malicious bots, automated programs spreading spam and looking for vulnerabilities in web sites. Search engines looking for content makes up a large percentage of the rest. If you are interested in "The Internet of Things", which is how automated devices can use the Internet to communicate, there are automated sensors coming out that can add connectivity to previously unconnected devices. For example, you can add a sensor to your door to email you when it opens.

Is Web TV following the path of Cable TV? 
When cable TV arrived in the 1980's, there was more bandwidth than content, so cable TV created content. Now we have HBO, USA Networks, Food Network, The History Channel and the 500 other channels we don't watch. Now we see web TV providers doing the same, with Netflix, YouTube and Hulu all creating content. It will be interesting to see if, rather than pulling broadcast and cable shows to the Web, web TV can create a large and successful set of new programming. My favorite web TV content are the Ted Talks, which now can be seen on Netflix. What are the Ted Talks? The best description I have is the Ted Talks are smart people talking about interesting things.

Will Batteries and Coverage Undermine Smart Phone Apps? 
During SXSW, location apps were the buzz of the show, but by the end of show, people were talking about the Mophie battery pack for the iPhone. This was needed to help with location apps draining batteries. Another problem was how bad the cell service was. Cell service is also a traditional problem at CES every year. As we become more and more reliant on cloud services and our smart phones, these will continue to be larger and larger problems. While we can't do much about service, there is help coming for batteries; the Mophie for the iPhone and as well as improved batteries for others. I'm looking at the Razr Maxx for my next phone, with 21 hours of talk time. I hope it comes to ATT by the time I renew.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 03/15/2012

SXSWi announces 15th Annual Interactive Awards
While Highlight was the app generating the buzz before the show, it didn't take home any of the Interactive Awards. Big names like Pinterest and Storify pulled in awards, but the best of show went to the spooky facebook app "Take This Lollipop". It's a freaky mini-horror movie personalized to you. If you don't want to run it due to the facebook permissions, here's a run through of it. If you would like something more kid friendly, The Life of George app from Lego won the Amusement category.

Cordcutting Mini News Block
There was a wave of recent cord cutting news. If you're not a cable subscriber, the NCAA is streaming March Madness in it's entirety for $4. That is a compelling price. CWTV has released an android app for streaming it's shows, and reduced the delay from broadcast to online streaming from 75 hours to eight hours. Finally reviews of the Aereo service in NYC, which streams local channels over the internet for $12/month, are starting to roll in. They range from flaky to okay if you don't care about video quality. Sounds like it's not ready for prime time to me.

Google to update search
Google is changing it's search engine to better respond to your queries, switching from keyword searches to semantic searches. For example, instead of returning a list of links if you type "What are the 10 largest lakes in California", it will return the answer. I may never have to think again.

People visit Google+ 3 minutes a month
When Google+ kicked off, it seemed to be doing well quickly racking up 90 million users. Recent news doesn't seem to be as promising. The last comScore numbers show that the average Google+ user visited Google+ for 3 minutes a month, placing it below mySpace's 8 minutes a month, and far behind Facebook's 405 minutes a month.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 03/14/2012

Interview with Sir Jonathan Ive of Apple
Sir Jonathan Ive from Apple gave an in depth interview with the London Evening Standard.  He is the man behind many of Apple's iconic designs. It's a great read and if he is driving the design, Steve let Apple in good hands. My favorite quote is "Our goals are very simple - to design and make better products. If we can’t make something that is better, we won’t do it." An awesome view.

Billboard to include streaming music in Hot 100 formula
Billboard is using data from online services to calculate the Hot 100. The Hot 100 now uses data from Spotify, Rdio, Slacker, MOG and Rhapsody It's great to see Billboard keeping up with new services for ratings. Billboard says the new data only minimally affects the ranking but seems to help electronic artists like Skrillex. Now who is Skrillex?

Google to sell Motorola Mobility Set Top Box Group
When Google purchased Motorola Mobility, one of the main rumors was that the set top box group was going to be the key to pushing GoogleTV into cable companies. It doesn't look like that is working, Google is rumored to be selling off the group. It turns out the Google name made Motorola a frenemy of the cable companies it was selling into and it's felt it could hurts it's profitability.

AppleTV 1080P versus Blu-ray 1080P
Ars Technica did a quick review of AppleTV's new 1080P video quality in comparison to Blu-ray. Executive Summary: Blu-ray still wins but it's getting close.

Bonus Obligatory PI Day Link
3/14 is Pi Day so here's a link of ten Pi based items for your local math geek. In case anyone is curious, I'd go for the Pi Flask.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 03/13/2012

Apple resells Netflix
One of the parts of the Apple TV announcement I missed was that Netflix on AppleTV is now billed through iTunes. While it may not be earth shattering, it opens the possibility that AppleTV can leverage itself into a cable company ala-carte competitor by adding more and more channels and networks beyond Netflix and MLB.TV. If it was possible to subscribe to Hulu+ and the NFL Sunday Ticket, I might think about it.

Microsoft Techfest kicks off
The one part of Microsoft I like is Microsoft Research. It doesn't seem to get much press and I don't know  if anything from it ever makes it into products, but once a year Microsoft Techfest demos some of the cool stuff that they are working on. Videos of all the demos are here. My favorites are the wearable multitouch projector and the voice translator demo'ed in the keynote.

Turntable.fm goes legit
At SXSW, Turntable.fm announced it has now has licenses from all four major music labels. Turntable.fm allows you to be a DJ; creating playlists from the Turntable music library and sharing them with your friends. In addition, it lets you listen to the playlists at the same time with your friends no matter where they are. Amazingly, Turntable launched and raised 7.5 million dollars without these licenses in-place. Co-Founder Seth Goldstein is quoted saying “We didn’t know about the restrictions, the per-play rates, international [licensing differences], and the publishers, and the PROs [Performing Rights Organizations] — it was all gobbledegook …” I hope he didn't say that during the funding pitches to venture capitalists.

Twitter TV ratings
As I've pointed out before, people are really starting to mine Twitter data. Trendrr is using it to generate social TV ratings. You can check out today's ratings here. It's interesting that for cable TV shows, according to Trendrr, Pretty Little Liars and Bad Girls Club both beat WWE, while on traditional ratings, WWE is the clear winner. Network TV ratings were very similar with The Bachelor and The Voice taking the top two spots. Could this be the influence of the critical 12-18 female demographic on social sites?

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 03/12/2012

Intel rumored to launch internet TV service by 2012
The hottest rumor of the day is that Intel is talking to media companies about launching a web-based pay TV service. The Wall Street Journal is reporting this service will compete with cable and satellite TV providers, with bundled services and an Intel branded set top box. This seems a logical outcome from the newly formed Intel Media lead by Erik Huggers. He was the key man behind Britain's BBC Online, iPlayer, and Project Canvas, a web based VOD system.

SXSW kicks off
SXSW, which started off as a music festival in Austin, Texas, has migrated into a major conference for social media and apps. SXSW 2012 kicked off last Friday with news of a tacky advertising ploy of giving homeless people MiFi hotspots to carry around. The big buzz was the flurry of apps to track your friends. Highlight is an app which allows you not only to find out when your friends are nearby but even friends of your friends. Maybe this is how online social apps can help real life introductions and interactions. Chevy has even shown off a 4G equipped Chevy Volt. Who needs a backseat DVD player when you can bring your tablet and surf the web?

iPhone apps coming to Android
This has been a good week for Android with announcements of 3 major apps being ported from the iPhone to Android: Instagram, Readability, and Jelli. Instagram is the photo sharing app for iPhone. Readability is a great app for saving articles for reading later. In comparison to Instapaper and ReadItLater, it also formats the article for easier reading. Finally Jelli is a crowd sourced streaming music service. Users determine what is played by voting, and can use rockets and bombs to push up or down songs they like. Now if we can only get Flipboard, Alien Blue and TweetBot.

Walmart jumps on the Ultraviolet Bandwagon.
Walmart is reportedly looking at offering a service to allow users to upgrade their DVDs to Ultraviolet versions of the movie. Ultraviolet is the studio led standard for storing your movies in the cloud. I like to think of it as Netflix for movies you buy. The cost is rumored to be between two and four dollars. Between the Walmart announcement and the rumored Amazon support for Ultraviolet, this may be what this fledgling standard needs to take off.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 03/11/2012 (Weekend Edition)

Apple announces new iPad and AppleTV
Last week, Apple announced the new iPad and AppleTV. The iPad (not iPad 3, just iPad) adds a retina display and upgraded processor, including a dual core processor and quad core graphics unit that reportedly out-performs the nVidia Tegra3 in the top end android tablet. The iPad2 is still going to be available at a lower price, starting at $399.  The AppleTV also received a processor update and can playback 1080P video. Integration to iCloud was also added to the AppleTV.

The iPad announcement, while not stunning, does put a downward price pressure on Android tablets. The iPad will be the king of tablets, the iPad2 is still a good solution, and both have the best selection of apps and integration of any tablet. So unless Google can pull out some Google Magic, it's looking like Android tablets will have to stake out the 7" $199 territory to be successful. 

Apple Awarded Patents
In more Apple news, Apple was awarded twenty five new patents, including ones on multi-touch, NFC wallet techology, and most baffling, one on changing your user interface based on the orientation of the device. I'm sorry, if changing your user interface based on a different screen rotation and size isn't the obvious solution, what is? Having the user tilt their head? 

Video Pirates Standardize
In a more amusing note, several pirate groups are trying to standardized the format that they will release movies in, switching from xvid/avi files to mp4/x264 files. The funny part is the people who copy these stolen files are protesting because the switch makes their lives harder since they may not play on old devices, like DVD players. Wow, making things hard for thieves, that's terrible. 

Intel Capital Announces a $100M fund for the Connected Car
The connected car is quickly becoming the next big hotbed for internet connected apps. Coming on the tail of Ford announcing an open source development platform for the connected car, Intel Capital is creating $100M fund for investing in connected car technologies. While entertainment is a big push for this, Bill Ford, CEO of Ford Motors more importantly believes without connected car technology, roads in congested cities will turn into gridlock. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 03/01/2012

  • The eagerly awaited Raspberry Pi started taking pre-orders this week and is already sold out. It is a small $25 computer based on the Broadcom BCM2835, a 700Mhz ARM processor. If you're interested in small form factor PCs with USB and HMDI, like the Raspberry Pi, you may want to look into the Cotton Candy stick available for pre-order at $199. The Cotton Candy will have a 1.2Ghz ARM processor and WiFi. For those willing to go outside of food named devices, you can wait for the boringly named Always Innovating HDMI dongle to be licensed and manufactured by someone. It also has a 1Ghz ARM processor and WiFi. I can't wait until these start coming out with support for MHL, the HDMI+Power standard. This will give us a cheap DIY Roku Streaming Stick clone. 
  • Vendors are slowly trickling Ice Sandwich out to devices, with the Xoom and Asus transformer already getting updates. If you're curious about your phone, here's a fairly comprehensive list of what devices are getting Ice Cream Sandwich. I'm hoping my Atrix gets it before the rumored Jelly Bean is released this summer.  
  • It looks like we have a new trend to replace cord cutters and cord shavers ... cord adders. Pay TV gained 240,000 subscribers last quarter. 
  • Here's some incredible numbers on Amazon Prime. Amazon loses $11 dollars on shipping and streaming video per customer but gains $500 in sales. Wow. Amazon Prime people, remember you also have a Kindle lending library with over 100,000 titles now.