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Gadget Ogling: It's Raining Apples
September 12, 2014
It's usually around here that I introduce the column and tease the agenda, but since absolutely nothing happened in the gadget world this week, I'm going to take it easy. Oh, wait -- sorry. Apple happened. Welcome to a special edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, a weekly peek at just-announced gadgets. Of course, the big topic is Apple's iPhone 6 and its first wearable, the Apple Watch.
Verizon May Launch Have-It-Your-Way Internet TV
September 12, 2014
Verizon in the first half of next year will launch an Internet TV service that offers a selection of custom channels as well as a bundle of content from the Big Four networks, according to reports. Represented in the mobile-minded bundle will be not only content from ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, but also millennials-focused programming from DreamWorks Animation's Awesomeness TV.
If Google Were French
September 11, 2014
Europeans are relentlessly attacking Google: A German official called for its breakup, a French minister charged it was a threat to sovereignty, and a publisher compared it to a dragon, according to a report. Really? I would have thought the euro and the draconian austerity program needed to keep it functioning threatened sovereignty more than Google.
Will Ferrell Calls On Gamers to Launch Cancer Assault
September 10, 2014
Comedian Will Ferrell on Wednesday announced an effort to battle cancer by giving gamers a chance to participate in a two-hour gaming event with him. The Indiegogo initiative aims to raise $375,000 for nonprofit organizations Cancer for College and DonateGames, by asking gamers to contribute at least $10. One randomly selected giver will win the opportunity to play games with Ferrell on Oct. 26.
Pols Besieged by Fast, Furious Messages on Internet Slowdown Day
September 10, 2014
U.S. lawmakers were getting an estimated 1,000 calls a minute from constituents concerned about Net neutrality by noon Pacific Time on Internet Slowdown Day, an online demonstration held on Wed., Sept. 10. "We've set a new record for FCC comments and beat Janet Jackson's 'wardrobe malfunction,'" said David Moon of Demand Progress. Father of the Internet Tim Berners-Lee tweeted his support.
Intel Picks Up Its Mobile Pace
September 09, 2014
Intel on Tuesday made a mobile splash as it kicked off the Intel Developer Forum being held in San Francisco through Thursday. It announced the commercial availability of Intel Edison, its postage stamp-sized System on a Chip, and of its second-generation Intel XMM 7260 and 7262 LTE modem. It also unveiled the MICA bracelet -- available exclusively on AT&T's network.
Apple Brings It
September 09, 2014
Apple on Tuesday rebuilt its iPhone foundation by introducing two new models with Retina HD displays: the iPhone 6 at 4.5 inches, and the iPhone 6 Plus at 5.5 inches. It launched Apple Pay, which promises to become the catalyst NFC mobile payment technology needs to become mainstream. Plus, it introduced the drool-worthy Apple Watch in two sizes, three style collections, and six choices of straps.
Can Cook Stir Up That Old Black Magic?
September 08, 2014
Excitement is mounting as the countdown to Apple's mysterious Tuesday event ticks away. Apple is widely expected to unveil two new iPhones -- one in the usual smartphone form factor and the other a phablet. There's also a good deal of anticipation for an iWatch or other stylish wearable that will kick the sector into high gear. Some expect Apple to go full blast into the healthcare industry.
TiVo Mega Unabashedly Flaunts Its Enormity
September 08, 2014
TiVo pulled out all the stops at this year's CEDIA show, which typically features the biggest and flashiest new offerings in the world of home theater. Fifteen years after pioneering the DVR space, the company on Monday announced the TiVo Mega, which boasts 24 terabytes of recording space -- enough to store more than 26,000 hours of standard definition or 4,000 hours of high-definition video.
YouTube Does Social Media Marketing Best
September 08, 2014
It is a given that a marketing campaign must include a social media element -- especially when a brand is rolling out a new product. What is less certain is on which channel the brand should focus its time and resources. An answer was provided last week by Aol Platforms, which released the results of a study that tracked social purchase interactions through Convertro.
Celebrities Are Fools to Use Apple Products
September 08, 2014
"Celebrities are stupid" seems to be the message Apple delivered last week as it attempted to recover from the release of an impressive number of nude pictures of celebrities on the Web. Fans of BlackBerry, which used to be the preferred platform for celebrities, had a field day over this. Apple has the most loyal customer base, but without Jobs, it seems clear it has no clue how to protect it.
Gadget Ogling: Curves and Edges, Toasty Toes, Smart Charger and Dumb Wearables
September 05, 2014
Welcome to the latest installment of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, a weekly look at just-announced personal tech items. There's plenty on the menu this time around: Samsung's latest smartphone and tablet salvo; two pieces of smart, on-the-go tech; some curved home entertainment options; and wearable devices from an unlikely source. Tthese are not reviews -- my ratings reflect my interest.
Scientists Fire Up Brain-to-Brain Instant Messaging
September 05, 2014
It's a trivial matter to send a message to someone halfway around the world these days, but just imagine trying to do it without speaking or writing. That is just what a team of neuroscientists and robotics engineers recently achieved in an experiment that successfully transmitted a message directly -- and noninvasively -- from the brain of one person to that of another some 5,000 miles away.
Google Ratchets Up Quantum Computing Efforts
September 05, 2014
Google this week announced a hardware initiative to design and build new quantum information processors based on superconducting electronics. The effort is related to the launch last year of its Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab. Physicist John Martinis, winner of the 2014 Fritz London Memorial Prize, leads a group of UCSB scientists who will collaborate with the Google team.
Beginning of a Paradigm
September 04, 2014
I've been following the wearables space with great interest over the last year, from the first steps of products like Fitbit and Jawbone to the current wave of activity by a growing list of device makers and, importantly, app tool vendors. This has a great deal to do with CRM, both because of the customer-tracking angles and the fact that vendors like Salesforce.com are rushing in.
Big Pharma Joins Google's Quest for Aging Antidote
September 04, 2014
Pharmaceutical giant AbbVie on Wednesday announced it was teaming up with Google-funded Calico, the life sciences initiative aimed at helping patients deal with diseases and other negative effects associated with aging. Under the terms of the partnership, both AbbVie and Calico will invest up to $250 million in the project, with the possibility of another $500 million each.
Americans Mad as Hell Over Proposed Net Neutrality Rules
September 04, 2014
More than 99 percent of the 800,000 or so comments on Net neutrality the FCC released last month were in favor of an open Internet, according to the Sunlight Foundation's analysis of the comments. At least 60 percent of the comments, or more than 484,000, were form letters written by organized campaigns, although that is a lower percentage than is common for high-volume regulatory issues.
We Can Fly to the Moon, but We Can't Secure the Cloud?
September 04, 2014
The entire freaking tech industry is falling down on the job, and Apple, my favorite company in the world, is stumbling around too. What's worse is that it doesn't seem to care. Apple is the most profitable consumer tech company in the world, with billions of dollars in the bank. Yet the company can't seem to be bothered to imagine how easily iCloud user accounts could be compromised.
Home Depot All But Confirms Doozy of a Data Breach
September 03, 2014
Home Depot may have experienced a massive security breach -- possibly on a greater scale than last year's Target breach, which affected an estimated 110 million people. Home Depot said it was investigating the possibility, following security researcher Brian Krebs' Tuesday alert. It appears the perpetrators are the same hackers responsible for the data breaches at Target and elsewhere.
Samsung's Gear VR Hits New Note
September 03, 2014
Samsung and Oculus on Wednesday unveiled the Gear VR -- a virtual reality wireless headset optimized for Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 phablet, also announced Wednesday. The Gear VR -- or "Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition," as Oculus describes it -- will be compatible with a wide range of film, gaming, 360-degree video, and educational and experiential content.
NASA's Opportunity to Lose Total Recall, Gain Spotless Mind
September 03, 2014
The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration next month will reformat the flash memory of the Mars exploration rover Opportunity. Opportunity's been undergoing computer resets with increasing frequency -- it had 12 in August alone. Recovery from each of the resets takes one to two days, which means the rover was out of action for most of the month.
Leap Motion Gets Your Hands in the Game
September 02, 2014
Leap Motion last week announced a virtual reality headset developer mount for Oculus Rift and a new API that together will take the VR game to new heights. The API feeds raw infrared imagery straight from Leap's sensors to the controller on the headset, giving users a real time view of the environment. The API expands the tracking space to any direction the user is facing.
Digital Clone: You Won't Be Able to Live Without One
September 01, 2014
A very interesting book just hit the market. Written by Martine Rothblatt -- apparently she is America's top paid female CEO -- its title is Virtually Human: The Promise -- and the Peril -- of Digital Immortality. The subject is digital clones, and Rothblatt goes into depth about what they are, when they are coming, and the likelihood they eventually will have equal human rights.
How to Make a Drone Delivery: Google's Winging It
August 29, 2014
Google on Thursday introduced Project Wing, a drone-based delivery project it has been working on quietly for the past two years. Members of the Google[x] team - aka "Moonshots" -- recently held field tests of the technology in Australia. They were able use drones to deliver a first aid kit, candy bars, dog treats and water to a couple of Australian farmers.

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