Friday, June 29, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 06/29/2012

Google Products announced for iOS
On day 2 of Google IO, Google announced two product releases for the iPhone and iPad,  Chrome and Google Drive. Chrome is now the number #1 product in the Apple's App Store.

Google announces Google Compute Engine
As rumored before Google IO, Google announced the Google Compute Engine which enables you to run Linux VMs on the same infrastructure that powers Google. This creates a competitor for Amazon in the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) arena. 

RIM had a bad day
RIM, makers of Blackberry phones, released it's first quarter earnings report on Thursday. It was not good. They had the first net loss in company history, announced a delay for their next generation software, and 5000 layoffs.

Weather Alerts coming to your smartphone
The National Weather Service is going to start broadcasting emergency weather alerts to smartphones. Users will be alerted to weather events in their area. Your carrier will need to support this feature. So far, all carriers have agreed to support this, but only Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile support it nationwide. AT&T only offers it in New York City, Washington D.C. and Portland OR.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 06/28/2012

The Google IO Key Edition
As expected with the keynote for Google IO, several announcement came out of the GooglePlex. 

Nexus 7 Tablet
The Google Nexus 7 Tablet was announced, coming out with the specs most people expected. Built by Asus and running the new Android version 4.1 (Jelly Bean), the Nexus 7 features  a quad-core Tegra 3, 1.2-megapixel front camera, NFC and 1280 x 800, IPS-based LCD. It's priced at $199 for the 8GB model and $249 for the 16GB version. It's available for pre-order today, with delivery in July. 

Jelly Bean
The SDK for the next version of Android, code named Jelly Bean, was released, along with pre-release  versions for the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S, and Motorola Xoom. The big improvement is Project Butter which is an update to the UI to make it "buttery smooth". They have also added Google Now, a predictive search based on what's in your calendar, and other apps. It will help by automatically supplying you with driving directions to meetings and pointing out nearby restaurants at dinner. The one major improvement I like is that now voice to text doesn't require  going off to Google servers, so it always works regardless of coverage. 

Project Glass is coming
Google's Project Glass is releasing prototype hardware in 2013. Unfortunately, only Google IO attendees can order one for $1500. 

The Q? 
The most interesting/confusing announcement was the Nexus Q. It's a sphere shaped streaming music player that is controlled from your android phone. You can use Google Music to queue music to be played back on it. If you have multiple Q's, they can play the music in sync. It might be interesting, however the $299 price might kill it, when you compare it with the $99 AppleTV. 

The Swag
One thing Google IO is known for are the giveaways, which causes Google IO to sell out in minutes. This  year is no different. Attendees are coming home with a Nexus 7 tablet, a Nexus Q and a Galaxy Nexus phone with Jelly Bean installed. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 06/25/2012

Google IO excitement continues
With Google IO opening on wednesday, the rumor mill continues to churn. According to the rumors, GoogleTV will get a big update including an EPG that blends Live TV, Netflix, and your DVR content. Pinterest is releasing an Android app. The Nexus 7" tablet will be $199 for a the 8GB version and $249 for the 16GB. And finally Google is releasing an Android home entertainment device for streaming music in your house. Someone should start a scorecard for all the rumor mongers.

Box releases OneCloud for Android
In non-rumor related news, Box, a cloud storage provider, is releasing OneCloud for Android. OneCloud allows Android apps to open files directly from the Box cloud server. Over 50 apps are integrated.

DirecTV cuts back on 3D programming
DirectTV is cutting it's 3D Channel n3D from 24 hours a day to an evening programming block. DirecTV is blaming a lack of content. If DirecTV can't fill one channel, this can't bode well for 3D TV as a format.

Patents could hold back the next generation video format
H.265 is the follow on to H.264, the video compression format used in Blu-ray, iTunes, Satellite TV and almost anywhere else you like watching high definition video. H.265 gives better compression rates to enable higher resolution TV formats like 4K and 8K that are currently being worked on to supersede 1080P. Unfortunately, patent disputes may limit the adoption of H.265. Over five hundred companies have claimed patent rights to parts of H.265, and some will not join a patent pool. Patent pools simplify the collection of royalties by creating a one-stop place to pay royalties and creating a fixed price for the royalties. Until this is settled, people won't starting releasing products due to the unknown royalty costs.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 06/24/2012

Google IO is coming this week
Google's developer conference, Google IO, is happening this week. The rumors are they will announce a virtual server cloud service to compete with Amazon. As always remember to take the keynote announcements with a grain of salt. Where are you Android@Home and Tungsten?

The Tesla Model S rolls out of the Factory
The Silicon Valley based Tesla Motors rolled the first Model S off the factory floor. The all electric Model S gets 89 equivalent miles to the gallon, and a 265 mile range. The price is a bit salty at $105,400 for the first 1200, but eventually dropping to between $57,400 and $77,400. I'll hold on to my Dodge for a while.

Chip manufacturer MediaTek buys Mstar
While you might be more familiar with chip manufacturers Intel, Samsung, Broadcom or Qualcomm, Taiwanese manufactures MediaTek and Mstar are the number one supplier of processors for digital TVs, Blu-ray players and optical disk drives between the two of them. Now MediaTek is buying Mstar.

e-Books causing problems for libraries
While e-Books are doing well for publishers, they are starting to place a strain on libraries. The libraries are fighting with the increased need to supply technical support for patrons, the limitations of the standard OverDrive website for lending books, and publishers not making enough books available.

Review of the Nest thermostat
Nest, a "smart" thermostat for your home was reviewed by GigaOM. Nest learns how and when you adjust your temperature and makes it so you don't have to. The review makes me want to buy one.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 06/21/2012

LCD Sales drop for the first time ever
TV sales dropped 8% last quarter, with the first ever drop in LCD TV sales. The TVs being purchased are now averaging over 35" and Samsung remains the top selling TV manufacturer.

Looking for a Second Screen App? 
If you're looking for app to help ease your TV watching, this article from "Thoughts on the Digital Video Space" blog should help out. It calls out the 10 second screen apps to check out in 2012.

DIY Cellphone
Tired of trying to find the coolest cellphone? Can't decide between Apple and Android? Throw it all away and build your own. The MIT Media Lab has instructions for a DIY cellphone. Unfortunately, all it does now is make voice calls. Who needs text messaging, email, or web browsing?

The Technology of Minority Report
Engadget has a cool overview of the technology out of Minority Report. Everyone remembers the gesture based display Tom Cruise uses and the driverless cars, but what about the spider robots used to hunt down suspects?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 06/20/2012

Microsoft announces Windows Phone 8
Following on the heels of the Microsoft Surface announcement, Microsoft announced today Windows Phone 8. The big change for developers is that it's based on the Windows 8 desktop OS. This makes it easier for Windows programmers to develop for it, creating more apps. From a user stand point, it uses the Metro UI, supports new dual and quad core processors for faster performance, and has the buzzword list of features like NFC, Nokia Maps, and Skype Integration.

XBox 720 rumors
The next rumor mill has started with rumors flying on the next generation Xbox, the Xbox 720. It's rumored to have multiple CPUs, an improved Kinect and Kinect Glasses, Microsoft's version of Google's Project Glass. The starting price is $299.

TV Everywhere getting Live TV
TV Everywhere is getting Live TV on the iPad with apps from Cartoon Network, Disney and ESPN. Disney and ESPN are only available for Comcast subscribers, while Cartoon Network's app works with several cable and satellite providers. As opposed to the video on demand, these apps will stream the live tv channels on your iPad.

IFTTT integrates with Belkin home automation
IFTTT (or IF This Then That) is a website to setup simple actions based on web events. For example, if you are tagged in a facebook photo, you can get a text message. IFTTT has now added integration with Belkin's WeMo home automation devices. Now you can send a text message to turn on your lights. While that might not seem that cool, I'm sure you can figure out something cooler to do with this.

Educational Link of the Day: HDTV Terms
If you're shopping for a TV and confused by the terms, this article from the Tech Hive has a quick overview of terms and pointers to other helpful articles.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 06/19/2012

Google Nexus Tablet rumors run wild
With Google I/O coming up next week, the Google Nexus 7" Tablet rumors are running amok. The tablet is rumored to be given away at Google I/O and on sale in July for $199. It will run a 1.3Ghz quad-core processor and have 1GB of RAM. The OS will be a new version of Android, code name Jelly Bean. The only drawback so far is the removal of the back-facing camera, but it will have a forward-facing camera for video conferencing. 

FAA putting regulations to space flight
Now that commercial flight is a reality with the SpaceX launch last month, NASA and the FAA have agreed to  standardization of the procedure for future flights. I wonder if the astronauts will have to turn off their iPhones during launch. 

Does Smart TV need standardization? 
Portuguese cable operator ZON Multimedia is complaining about supporting the multitude of the Smart TV formats including multiple LG TVs and Samsung's SmartTV. Add in iOS and Android for companion devices, they say they have an unsupportable model. Add this to the reported low widget usage, something needs to change. 

LG moving away from tablets
On the heels of Microsoft's entry in the tablet market, LG is taking the opposite tact and moving away from tablets to focus on the smart phone market. Given the lack of success LG has had in tablets, this isn't really surprising. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 06/18/2012

Microsoft announces 10" tablet
Last week, Microsoft invited the press to an announcement without giving out what was being announced. Of course, this caused a flurry of rumors from a Nook tablet to an Xbox music service. Well now we know, Microsoft announced the Surface, their 10" tablet. It comes in two versions, the Surface and the Surface Pro. The Surface is ARM based running Windows RT, and the Pro has an Intel Ivy Bridge chip inside and running Windows 8 Pro. Both are 10" tablets, with the Pro being slightly larger. The one cool feature is the Touch Cover. The Touch Cover is similar to the iPad Smart Cover but with a build in touch keyboard that only adds 3mm to the thickness of the tablet. With the Touch Cover, the Surface Pro could also act as a laptop replacement. Release date and price were not announced.

eBooks revenues beat Hardcovers
As opposed to streaming video revenue which is dismal in comparison to disc sales, eBook are generating revenue to replace the loss in physical sales. Between eBooks and audio books, overall revenue from book sales are up 2%, which is impressive considering paperback sales are down 30%. eBook are now outselling hardcover books and only second to trade paperbacks in overall revenue.

Roku CEO predicts the end of Blu-ray in four years
Roku's CEO Anthony Wood predicts that people won't be using Blu-ray in four years, due to streaming services. He goes on to state that Blu-ray streaming performance can't compare with a dedicated set top box like the Roku box. I find this interesting since most Blu-ray players have better chipsets inside them than the Roku box, and nothing that limits the performance. He goes on to say that people don't stream video on gaming systems. Hmm, don't tell Microsoft that. Over all, let's just say I disagree with Mr. Wood. For Blu-ray and DVD sales to collapse in the next 4 years would be one of the most amazing collapses of a market in  the history of consumer electronics.

Sharp announces a 90" LED TV
For everyone waiting for a 4K television set, Sharp announced a TV that might tempt you in the meantime. It's a 90" 240Hz 1080P 3D LED TV. This makes it the largest LED TV on the market, and it can be yours for the paltry amount of $10,999.99.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 06/11/2012

WWDC Update
The biggest news of the day came out of Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference, where Apple traditionally makes it's big product announcements every year. This year was no different. What did we hear about: An updated faster Macbook Air with a 720P FaceTime camera, a super sleek and improved MacBook Pro with a Retina Display that's almost as thin as the MacBook Air, a new version of Mac OS X with better iCloud integration, iOS 6 with improved Siri support, Facebook and twitter integration and much more. To get all the highlights, check out the live blog at the Verge website. What we didn't get was the rumored Apple TV SDK. That makes me sad. :(

Sony's SmartWatch shows up at Verizon
Sony's Android based SmartWatch is at Verizon Wireless. While the UI has been reviewed as cumbersome, it is one of the first on the market. I've reported a couple of times on SmartWatches and have my own Wimm One and you may wonder why I care. I think the SmartWatch is the first economical step in producing a device similar to what you see in Project Glass. While unable to do some of the cool augmented reality like overlays, a simple display for notifications and input give us the first step in wearable computers.

Author Neal Stephenson starts a Kickstarter project
Neal Stephenson, author of Cryptonomicon, and many other science fiction books, has started a Kickstarter project to develop a PC based sword dueling game, like "Guitar Hero with Swords". While this sounds awesomely cool, I don't know how I like a person who most likely could fund the $500K (or easily find the funding) using Kickstarter. I see Kickstarter as the hope for the garage developer, not funding for the successful and wealthy. Will people like Mr. Stephenson create so much noise that projects like Sensordrone get lost?

Who is Devicescape?
In the last few weeks, both Intel and Bouygues Telecom from France have announced partnerships with Devicescape to provide free WiFi hotspot support. Devicescape is a crowdsourced free WiFi hotspot solution. This means it uses a database of open public WiFi hotspots to allow users to get on the internet, and some super secret algorithms to find the best one. It's a pretty cool idea.

Bonus Link of the Day: Pay TV Economics
Do you ever wonder why Pay TV costs so much and there isn't a cheap alternative? This interview with Craig Moffett, a cable and satellite TV analyst will educate you on the business of Pay TV and why Over-The-Top companies are going to have a rough time getting established. The short answer is that there is a lot of money in the Pay TV world and no one wants to rock the boat.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 06/10/2012

Dish Network says TV must change
Under lawsuits for their new Dish Hopper DVR that automatically skips commercials, Dish CEO Charlie Ergen says that TV must change to make ads more meaningful and that's why he released the technology, to force their hand. 

Plans for Intel's TV service leaked
It sounds like Intel was listening to Dish's CEO. Information on Intel's rumored TV service has leaked out. The rumors say that Intel is adding facial recognition to it's set top box for the service to allow targeted advertising to the demographics that's currently watching in the room. 

Apple rumored to announce a TV SDK at WWDC this week
With all the rumors flying around about Apple and it's supposed iTV product line, maybe somethings are going to become more solid this week with WWDC, Apple's Developer Conference, going on. The big rumor is that Apple will announce a TV SDK. Whether it's for a new iTV or the Apple TV isn't known but either way, it will be a game changer for TV developers, by adding another major platform to develop for.

ASUS shows an 18 inch computer/tablet
With all the noise of about phablets, ASUS has raised the bar with the "cablet". At Computex, Asus demonstrated the ASUS Transformer AiO. The AiO is an 18" tablet that transforms into a all-in-one PC with it's docking station. In addition, the AiO can switch between Android and Windows 8 at a push of a button. I don't want an 18" tablet, but this is pretty cool.

Educational Link of the Day: What's a System On a Chip?
If you follow technology news and keep hearing about the "System On a Chip"s that are being used in phones and set top boxes and curious about them, the Android Authority has a good overview of what they are and who makes them. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Four Tech Links of the Day for 06/07/2012

Facebook releases a new App Store
Now along with Apple's App Store, Google's Play Store, Amazon's App Store for Android and the other multitude of app stores, Facebook has released it's App Center to make another place for you to find apps. Let's hope this goes better than the IPO.

Fans say take our money! HBO says no. 
A fan site http://takemymoneyhbo.com/ has been put up to ask HBO to allow subscriptions to HBOGO with out subscribing to cable. Unfortunately HBO has said no. The co-marketing HBO gets from cable companies is more valuable than the small increase in subscribers that they would receive from  providing a streaming only solution.

Intel pushes Ultrabooks at Computex
One year after Intel announced the Ultrabook at Computex, it is showing 50 new Ultrabooks at this year's event. An Ultrabook, in simple terms, is a Windows based Intel notebook with a form factor like the MacBook Air and with a rapid boot time, some in less than 7 seconds. One of the cooler Ultrabooks is the Asus Taichi, which has two LCD screens, one on both sides of the cover. This allows it to act as a tablet when closed.

XBox Smartglass coming with Windows 8
Microsoft announced XBox Smartglass, an Apple Airplay-like method for interacting with the XBox from Windows 8 devices, Android and iOS also. While short on technical details, there are demos.

Nissan Leaf can charge your house
Say you have a power outage and need to cook dinner, what can you do? How about use some of that juice in your electric car. This is the concept behind Nissan's Leaf-to-Home system. Not only can it charge your car, your car can run your house. It's being driven from fears of blackouts in Japan due to the lack of nuclear power plants running. Previously, nuclear plants provided thirty percent of Japan's electricity.

Cool link of the day: Qualcomm melts butter slower than the rest
How do you show how cool your cell phone chip is compared to everyone else? Qualcomm decided to use melting butter. Watch the video in the article to see how thermal testing can be fun again.