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Samsung Smart TV Owners Fume Over Sneaky Pop-Up Ads
February 11, 2015
Samsung Smart TV owners, already shaken by news earlier this week that their TVs can transmit voice commands and other private data to third parties, have been hit by another revelation -- that the devices sneak ads into movies they're watching, without the owner's knowledge or consent. A user on the Plex forum complained that a Pepsi ad popped up every 10 to 15 minutes while he was watching his Samsung TV.
Concerns Emerge About Samsung Smart TVs 'Bugging' Owners
February 09, 2015
The feature in question may transmit some voice commands, along with information about the device, to a third-party service that converts speech to text, Samsung's global privacy policy warns. If voice recognition is going to be on all the time, "that seems like really poor design, and certainly represents a privacy risk," said Justin Brookman, director of the consumer privacy project at the Center for Democracy & Technology.
Dish Network Slings New TV Service
February 09, 2015
Dish Network on Monday officially launched Sling TV, its widely anticipated US$20 per month streaming service, and further announced that customers could sign up for a "Sports Extra" add-on pack for $5 per month. The service, which is available now via a one-week free trial, can be accessed via Roku devices, and through Android, iOS, Mac and PC devices -- with support for Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick coming soon.
YouTube Halftime Show Sets Stage for Cross-Channel Ads
February 03, 2015
On Sunday evening, as a record 114.4 million people watched Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott rock out during the Super Bowl's halftime show, another show was under way, as well. For the first time, Google's YouTube hosted its own version of halftime on Super Bowl Sunday during roughly the same time slot.
Gamergate Bleeds Into Wikipedia
January 30, 2015
The Gamergate controversy, which centers on sexism and sexual violence in the video game industry, has made things hot for Wikipedia, whose arbitration committee has taken punitive action against some of the people involved in the debate. The committee decided to impose a complete site-wide ban on one male editor, with the handle "Ryulong," said Wikimedia Foundation spokesperson Juliet Barbara.
Dish Network Gives Super Bowl Commercials Their Due
January 29, 2015
Dish Network has announced that subscribers to its satellite TV service can enable Reverse AutoHop for this Sunday's Super Bowl. This feature will enable viewers with the Hopper Whole-Home HD DVR to watch the commercials alone without having to fast-forward through the game. To utilize Reverse AutoHop, customers need only have the PrimeTime Anytime feature enabled for NBC prior to kickoff.
Tech-Savvy Cubans Build Their Own Private Internet
January 28, 2015
Because Cuba's government makes it difficult for all but a handful of Cubans to access the Internet, people in Havana and other parts of the country reportedly have linked thousands of PCs to create an informal network known as "StreetNet," or "SNet" for short. The network was built with commercially available equipment. The PCs are connected by WiFi and Ethernet cables strung over rooftops.
Oculus VR's Story Studio to Create Cinematic Virtual Reality Experiences
January 27, 2015
Oculus VR on Monday unveiled a new project at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Oculus Story Studio will produce movies in virtual reality. It presented its first example of the genre on Monday evening -- a 4-minute experience called Lost. Oculus, which was founded in 2012, was acquired last year by Facebook for a reported $2.2 billion.
Amazon to Produce Original Movie House Fare
January 20, 2015
Amazon Studios on Monday announced it would begin to produce and acquire original movies for release in theaters. Amazon Prime customers will be on an early distribution list, with the movies becoming available to them four to eight weeks after their theatrical debuts. The goal is to create around 12 movies a year. Amazon will focus on up-and-coming filmmakers.
Sid Meier's Starships on the Horizon
January 20, 2015
2K Games and Firaxis have announced Sid Meier's Starships, an interstellar strategy game of exploration and conquest. It will arrive later this year for the PC, Mac and iPad. Assuming the role of a fleet commander, players will be tasked with leading their starships across the universe to save planets from eradication, build an empire, and bring peace and order to the galaxy.
The Convoluted Trail Linking North Korea to Sony
January 13, 2015
FBI Director James Comey has "very high confidence" that North Korea was behind last November's cyberattack on Sony, he said last week at Fordham University. New evidence of the link includes documentation of the hackers' failure to cover their tracks with proxy servers on several occasions, Comey said. Several times they got "sloppy" and exposed their home IP addresses.
Samsung Smart TVs Hint at Tizen-Run IoT
January 12, 2015
Samsung announced at last week's International CES a new line of smart TVs powered by the open source Tizen operating system. Beginning with this year's models, all of Samsung's smart TVs will run on Tizen. Samsung has taken the lead in developing Tizen, which is a derivative of Linux, and this is its first deployment as a smart TV platform. Tizen supports the Web standard for TV app development.
Gadget Ogling: A Swank Walkman, a Brainy Grill, and Oh, So Much More From CES
January 10, 2015
Welcome to the year's first edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that offers infallible opinions on the latest gadget announcements. The mammoth CES trade show took place this week, and though it offered far too many new items to conceivably cram into a single column, we'll look at some of the most notable and notorious, including Sony's latest Walkman, a smart grill and more.
Virtual Reality Makes Leaps and Bounds at CES 2015
January 07, 2015
Samsung this week unveiled its Milk VR platform for its Gear VR headset at the 2015 International CES in Las Vegas, but it was far from alone in ramping up the virtual reality action at the show. HP introduced the Zvr Virtual Reality Display, and Razer rolled out its Android-based OSVR. Not to be outdone by these upstart efforts, Oculus gave a peak at its Rift controller.
Sony's New Walkman Aims Sky High
January 06, 2015
Sony on Monday debuted a new Walkman at CES that's as notable for its hefty price as for its high-end features. Listed at $1,119.99, the new Walkman NW-ZX2 is several hundred dollars more than last year's Walkman NW-ZX1. In return, it promises "high-resolution audio like never before," thanks to Sony's new S-Master HX digital amplifier and DSEE HX technology.
Dish Slings Tastier TV to Millennials
January 06, 2015
Dish Network on Monday unveiled Sling TV, its live OTT television service, at the 2015 International CES in Las Vegas. Sling TV will be offered to consumers without a contract, starting at $20 per month. It will be available early this year through a variety of devices. This new service is not meant to complement Dish Network's existing satellite pay-TV service. Instead, it targets cord-cutters.
PlayStation Now Subscription Service to Offer Instant Gaming Gratification
January 05, 2015
Sony Computer Entertainment America on Monday announced that the PlayStation Now subscription service will become available in the U.S. and Canada on Jan. 13 for the PlayStation 4. It will become available for other PlayStation Now-enabled devices at a later date. The service will provide unlimited online access to more than 100 PlayStation 3 games.
The Strange Resurrection of Atari's Long-Buried E.T.
January 02, 2015
The National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian, has added a vintage copy of the Atari 2600 video game E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to its collection. This particular game is meant to fill a void in the museum's collection, namely the unrepresented dark days of the 1980s when the United State video game industry crashed. This Atari game didn't come from an old collection, though.
The Big Tech Stories of 2015
December 29, 2014
Last week, we looked back at the largely untold, or under told, stories of 2014. This week, let's look ahead to some of the stories that are coming in 2015. We'll have robots, self-driving cars, armed autonomous drones, the professional proliferation of head mounted cameras, some scandals, and some interesting political implications. I'll close with my product of the year, which even surprised me.
Netflix's Very Big Deal
December 22, 2014
Dish Network last week announced that it had integrated the Netflix app into its set-top box. The video streaming service is now available to Dish subscribers with a second-generation Hopper Whole-Home HD DVR. This integration of the services allows Dish customers the ability to stream Netflix movies and TV shows from the same platform that is used to access linear TV channels.
Google Calls In Legal Eagles in MPAA Piracy Skirmish
December 19, 2014
Google has filed a lawsuit against Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, the latest salvo in its piracy battle with the Motion Picture Association of America. Hood targeted Google with an "unreasonable, retaliatory and burdensome" subpoena, the complaint says. The referenced subpoena likely is part of a coordinated campaign against Google known as "Project Goliath."
Minecraft Players Will Get to Shape the Game's Story
December 18, 2014
Mojang has partnered with Telltale Games to create a brand new Minecraft game that will be narrative-driven. Dubbed "Minecraft: Story Mode," the series will be set in the world of Minecraft, but it will feature an original story that combines new characters with familiar themes and is driven by player choice. It will be a separate standalone product.
Terrorist Threats May Blow Up 'The Interview's' Box Office
December 17, 2014
The now-notoriously controversial action comedy The Interview, which was expected to deliver profits of $90-$95 million for Sony, may have become a financial black hole. The movie's Thursday premiere in New York has been cancelled, and several movie theater chains have scrapped plans to screen it, following a hacker message referencing 9/11 and threatening physical attacks on theaters.
Google's Cardboard VR Kit Is Really No Joke
December 17, 2014
Google last week announced an updated app for its minimalist Cardboard virtual-reality viewer, as well as software development kits for both Android and the Unity game engine. It also published new building specifications for those interested in making their own Cardboard viewers and announced that it's hiring more people to work on the project, with five new positions now open.

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Are you looking forward to self-driving cars?
You bet -- I'd love to have a built-in chauffeur.
Yes -- self-driving cars will save lives.
Kind of -- I'd like some self-driving features, like parking.
No -- self-driving cars are too dangerous.
No -- I don't want to give up another freedom.
Absolutely not -- I saw Terminator and I'm not letting some robot take me for a ride!