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Gadget Ogling: Eyes on Google
October 3, 2015
Chromecast helps people easily stream whatever they want through their TV via a simple dongle. Now Google's adding a splash of color to the device, along with a string of new features. Instead of resembling a USB stick, Chromecast 2 is more like a colorful button, and Google says it is easier to plug into an HDMI slot. Also, it apparently can stream videos faster and with less buffering.
Nest Labs Opens Door to 3rd-Party Devs
October 2, 2015
Nest Labs on Thursday said it would open its communications platform to third-party developers for the first time, which will allow outside home device makers to set up products that communicate directly with Nest products. Nest announced an update to its Nest Weave communications protocol that will allow outside developers to link other home devices to its own.
Samsung Gear VR to Test Virtual Reality's Mass Appeal
September 28, 2015
Samsung last week unveiled a consumer version of a virtual reality headset adapter that converts Samsung smartphones into head-mounted displays. The move represents a first strike -- ready or not -- as top tech industry players begin to push virtual reality hardware into consumer markets. Samsung and partner Oculus VR have imparted several improvements to the consumer version of Gear VR.
Gadget Ogling: Pebble Goes Round, VR Hits Movies, and Smart Locks Lose Keypads
September 26, 2015
The latest Pebble looks a touch different from previous models of the smartwatch. Instead of a square screen with rounded edges, it bears a circular watch face. The Pebble Time Round also is thinner and lighter than its siblings, but it's not as water-resistant. More importantly, the battery doesn't last as long -- a couple of days rather than a week. That earns it a black mark.
OPM's Latest Bad News: 5.6 Million Fingerprints Lifted
September 25, 2015
The Office of Personnel Management on Wednesday revealed that the hackers who penetrated its records system stole 5.6 million fingerprints of federal employees -- five times the 1.1 million originally reported. The cyberattack, which came to light this spring, compromised the Social Security numbers and other sensitive information of 21.5 million people.
Exploding Chip Could Thwart Cyberthieves
September 22, 2015
Researchers at Xerox PARC have developed a self-destructing mechanism for microchips embedded on a hardened glass surface. The glass can self-destruct upon command and could be used to secure personal data such as health and banking records. It also can be used to destroy encryption keys stored on memory chips in standard consumer, enterprise and government electronic devices.
Dreamforce and Then Some
September 21, 2015
What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago, the booths on the Dreamforce show floor were little more than outposts for widget-makers. Fast-forward to Dreamforce 2015, and one is struck by the number, variety, and size of the partner community. That's only part of the story, though. Often out of sight is the sizable display of talent that has consolidated around Salesforce.
DMV Meeting Revs Apple Car Rumors
September 21, 2015
Apple executives reportedly met with officials from California's Department of Motor Vehicles regarding the company's plans to test an autonomous vehicle. Mike Maletic, senior legal counsel for Apple, had an hour-long meeting in August with California's autonomous vehicle experts, including the cosponsors of the state's autonomous vehicle regulation project.
Gadget Ogling: Fresh Fires, Tablet Touches, and Underwater Drones
September 19, 2015
In case you didn't already know it, Amazon has designs on taking over your television, and Fire TV seems a strong competitor to the refreshed Apple TV. Fire TV's big advantage is that it can stream video in ultra high-def 4K, while Apple TV cannot. Nor can Roku or Chromecast. There already are some fine games available for Fire TV, and there's a gaming edition available with a controller.
Pokémon GO Steps on the Mobile AR Gas
September 17, 2015
Nintendo and The Pokémon Company teamed up with Niantic on an augmented reality project, complete with a wearable Poké Ball that just might be the next best thing to filling Pokédex with pocket monsters. Pokémon GO players will have the opportunity to catch, trade and battle Pokémon characters wandering the wilds of the real world when the game launches next year.
New Roomba Knows Its Way Around
September 17, 2015
iRobot has unveiled its latest robotic vacuum cleaning system, the Roomba 980. The device combines adaptive navigation with visual localization, cloud-connected app control and increased cleaning power. It is the most capable model to date, said the company, which has been a pioneer in robotic cleaning tools. The Roomba 980 includes new sensors that allow it to create a map of its environment.
WiFi, Move Over - Here Comes LiFi
September 16, 2015
Disney researchers last week demonstrated Linux Light Bulbs -- a protocol for a communications system that transmits data using visible light communication, or VLC, technology. Linux Light Bulbs can communicate with each other and with other VLC devices -- such as toys, wearables and clothing -- over the Internet Protocol, functioning as a LiFi network in much the same way that WiFi works.
Unassuming iPhone 6s Could Knock Some Socks Off
September 15, 2015
Muffled by the rumors Apple TV had gone Hollywood and the giggles the Apple Pencil provoked, the latest additions to Apple's core product line -- the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus -- had to settle for a smaller share of the headlines coming out of last week's Hey Siri event. Although the iPhones received less media attention this year, it was not due lack of forward-facing features.
Veteran Car Guy to Steer Google's Driverless Cars to Market
September 14, 2015
Google on Sunday named auto industry veteran John Krafcik to head up its autonomous vehicle division. Krafcik, former CEO of Hyundai's U.S. operations, will be the first CEO of Google's 6-year-old self-driving car project. "This is a great opportunity to help Google develop the enormous potential of self-driving cars," said Krafcik, who most recently ran the auto shopper site TrueCar.
NASA May Move Microsatellites Magnetically
September 14, 2015
NASA earlier this month entered an agreement with Arx Pax to use its Magnetic Field Architecture technology in hardware that will let astronauts move tiny satellites without touching them. Arx Pax CEO Greg Henderson and his wife, Jill Henderson, last year launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund development of a functional hoverboard based on the technology.
Gadget Ogling: All About Apple
September 12, 2015
Apple's latest iPhones -- the 6s and 6s Plus -- are faster, stronger and smarter than the previous models. A zippier processor and faster Touch ID, LTE, and WiFi feature among the incremental upgrades. There are a couple of interesting new features with this generation, primarily 3D Touch. This makes the screen receptive to pressure beyond lightly tapping or holding one's finger on an icon.
There's a New Google Wallet in Town
September 11, 2015
Google on Wednesday released a revamped version of Google Wallet to keep the app alive following its imminent transformation into Android Pay. Google Wallet (New) also has a few capabilities that aren't available in the about-to-be-promoted version. Google began rolling out Android Pay on Thursday. The original Google Wallet has been around since 2011.
Nissan's 2016 Leaf Goes the Distance
September 11, 2015
Nissan has introduced the 2016 Leaf with an available 30 kWh battery, which provides the all-electric car with an EPA-estimated "best-in-class" range of 107 miles -- a range increase of 27 percent over the previous model. The new battery is standard for Leaf SV and Leaf SL models. In addition to the improved battery, this year's Leaf blows in with an enhanced IT system that is more user-friendly.
Samsung Gear S2 Scores Points for Looking Like a Watch
September 10, 2015
Samsung last week announced the Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic smartwatches at the IFA trade show in Berlin. The product specs of the Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic are the same. The main difference between the two is in the design of their faces -- the Gear S2 Classic looks more like a regular watch, while it's obvious the Gear S2 is a smartwatch with apps.
Samsung's IoT Products Make Themselves at Home
September 9, 2015
Samsung last week plunged into the Internet of Things for the home market, unveiling a new hub to control connected gadgets, home and sleep monitors, and a smart washing machine. The company made the announcements at IFA 2015. The SmartThings Hub for home devices is built around a powerful processor that enables video monitoring, and it includes a battery backup that lasts up to 10 hours.
Apple TV Should Take a Hint From Nvidia's Shield
September 7, 2015
Apple will be launching some interesting products on Wednesday. The timing is nearly right for its Intel Skylake laptops and PCs. The iPhone 6S is also due, and typically the smart Apple customers wait for the S, because S models have fixes to the earlier model's problems that most annoyed users. At the very least, the iPhone 6S is expected to avoid its predecessors' bending issues.
Intel's Big, Bold Skylake Family Bows
September 3, 2015
Intel on Tuesday introduced its long-awaited 6th Generation Core family, which will include 48 processors. The launch coincides with the migration to Windows 10, which became generally available at the end of July. With Moore's Law in question, Intel finally made a breakthrough in transitioning from 22nm dies down to 14nm. It took the company about four years to do it.
Qualcomm Sics Fire-Breathing Snapdragon on Android Hackers
September 1, 2015
Qualcomm on Monday announced Snapdragon Smart Protect, a hardware-software product that could make the world a safer place for Android smartphone users. Snapdragon Smart Protect, which will become available with Qualcomm's upcoming Snapdragon 820 processor, will provide real-time, on-device machine learning designed to support accurate and effective detection of zero-day malware threats.
Gadget Ogling: Smart Bikes, Contactless Cards, and Roll-Up Keyboards
August 29, 2015
I never had much interest in riding a bicycle as a child, and although I now live in a tremendously bike-friendly city, I haven't found a way to learn without feeling like a total chump in public. Yet I am more interested than ever in leading a life on two wheels after discovering SmartHalo. This is a tool that attaches permanently to one's ride and turns it into a smart vehicle.

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Do you want to live in an Internet-connected home?
Yes -- I have some smart things, and I want more.
Yes -- I'm looking forward to all the conveniences.
Not sure -- I have security and privacy concerns.
No -- the technology isn't good enough yet.
No -- it's a ridiculous waste of money.