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Gadget Ogling: Garish Walkie-Talkies, Slick Cameras and Mini 3D Printing
November 08, 2014
Welcome to another installment of every tech-loving optimist's and misanthrope's favorite look at the week's most wondrous and pitiful new gadgets. Ahead, for your delight and dismay, are studies of a wearable walkie-talkie-type communication device, a 360-degree action camera, a tiny 3D printer, a smart camera attachment, and a clever mobile roaming solution.
Foodini: Presto Chango, Your Dinner Is Printed
November 07, 2014
Natural Machines this week took to the stage at the Web Summit in Dublin to demonstrate Foodini, a 3D printer that can be used to create pizza, pasta, burgers and a wide range of other savory and sweet foods. Users begin by choosing the recipe they want to print, either from the Internet-connected device's onboard touchscreen or from their own PC or mobile device.
Amazon's Echo Plays Hard to Get
November 07, 2014
Amazon on Thursday announced Echo, a speaker with a built-in voice-activated personal digital assistant. Think of a cylindrical Bose SoundLink Mini married to Siri, Cortana or Google Voice -- or heck, living in sin with all three. Echo can conduct Web searches, add items to your to-do list, let you play streaming music, and give you news and weather reports, among other things.
The Apple Effect: The Leaders Shall Become Followers
November 07, 2014
Google Wallet reportedly has experienced a sudden surge: Weekly transactions are up 50 percent, and the number of new users has nearly doubled in a month. Obviously, the primary explanation for this sudden leap is Apple's entry into the mobile payments world. It introduced Apple Pay in September and rolled it out officially October 20. Google Wallet has been available since 2011.
New Jawbone Fitness Trackers Stretch High and Low
November 06, 2014
Jawbone has announced two new fitness trackers: the high-end Up3 wristband and the entry-level Up Move clip device. Using a multisensor platform, the $179.99 Up3 captures detailed information about the wearer's heart rate, sleep stages and physical activity over the course of the day. It also connects with the Up App to deliver Smart Coach, an intelligent system that tracks the user's progress.
Kano: The Can-Do Coding Kit for Kids of All Ages
November 05, 2014
"So simple a child could do it" -- I have heard that expression abused often in advertising. Yet it aptly applies to the Kano computer kit. Kano is a computer and coding kit that is suitable for all ages. Well, to be truthful, Kano's step-by-step instructions in the included booklets and its simplified Linux-based operating system target kids aged 6 to 14.
HP's Omen Laptop - a Portent of Gaming's Future?
November 04, 2014
HP on Tuesday announced the HP Omen notebook PC, a laptop designed with hardcore gamers in mind. Available for order in the U.S. starting at $1,500, the Omen combines performance, portability and style, the company said. The Omen features an industrial design that was engineered to manage heat. It has dual fans that pull cool air through the bottom of the system.
NTSB Gives Last Press Briefing on SpaceShipTwo Crash Investigation
November 04, 2014
Christopher Hart, acting chairman of the United States National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the crash last week of Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, on Monday delivered his final press briefing on the initial stage of the investigation. Hart clarified on Monday that it was not known whether Alsbury or copilot Peter Siebold had moved the feathering lever.
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare - You Won't Need a Season Pass to Fight Zombies
November 03, 2014
Activision Blizzard has released a new entry in the popular Call of Duty series. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition, which was developed by Sledgehammer Games as part of a new three-year development cycle for the franchise, brings the action to the near future with emphasis on the multiplayer experience. However, its worldwide debut was not without controversy.
Take a Nano Pill and Call Google in the Morning?
November 03, 2014
Google is in the early stages of developing a nanoparticle-covered pill to detect cancer and other serious health problems such as heart disease, according to Andrew Conrad, head of the life sciences team at Google X, who revealed the project last week. The pill would work in tandem with a wearable magnetic device worn by the patient; the device would guide the pill to different parts of the body.
Ghost Hunters Kinect With Spirits
October 31, 2014
Microsoft's Kinect motion controller may have been intended to keep gamers moving while in the throes of play, but some intrepid explorers have been using it for a different purpose: hunting ghosts. Its skeletal-tracking and infrared-sensing capabilities let Kinect can "see" as many as six players in a room. What makes spines start to tingle, however, is when it sees some who aren't there.
Android Creator Andy Rubin Exits the Googleplex
October 31, 2014
Andy Rubin, the creator of Google's ubiquitous Android mobile platform, has left Google, the company confirmed on Friday. "I want to wish Andy all the best with what's next," said Google CEO Larry Page. "With Android he created something truly remarkable -- with a billion plus happy users. Thank you." Rubin reportedly is departing to start a tech incubator for hardware-focused startups.
Inspectors Find Big Gaps in Federal Cloud Contract Compliance
October 31, 2014
U.S. government agencies may be warming to the cloud, with ambitions to significantly boost investment in the technology. However, many millions of dollars in federal cloud projects could be at risk both currently and in the future, as a result of flawed contract procedures. Many agencies have had difficulty in meeting federal requirements and guidance covering cloud contracts with IT vendors.
Gadget Ogling: Logged Jogs, Manual Music, Smart Weapons and Skinny Phones
October 31, 2014
Welcome to another installment of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, a weekly look at the treats and horrors revealed as manufacturers pull back their curtains. Behind door number one is a selection of updated activity trackers from one of the oldest dogs in the yard, with the other shiny prizes including a music controller, a smart accessory for police firearms, and the planet's thinnest smartphone.
Snail Mail Surveillance: Rules Are Weak - and Routinely Broken
October 30, 2014
The U.S. Postal Service didn't adequately follow its own rules last year, when it secretly recorded and shared information about some 49,000 pieces of mail to further criminal and national security investigations, according to an audit report from the Office of Inspector General. Information recorded under the service's longstanding mail cover program is limited to what's written on the exterior.
Microsoft May Have Launched a Band of Gold
October 30, 2014
Microsoft has made another foray into the mobile health market with the introduction of the Microsoft Band, powered by its new Microsoft Health platform. The band, which is available at Microsoft Stores for $200 as of Thursday, is designed to be worn 24 hours a day. In addition to the usual monitoring capabilities, the band will notify wearers of incoming calls, emails, texts and social updates.
YouTube Warms to Subscription Model
October 30, 2014
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki this week said that her team was in the early stages of exploring a new subscription business model. Wojcicki didn't offer any specific details, but she did suggest that one option might include an ad-free service. That would be a big change from YouTube's current advertising-only approach. At some point, people won't want to see ads, Wojcicki said.
Apple Pay vs. CurrentC: Prelude to the Beacon Wars
October 30, 2014
The current dustup between Apple Pay and CurrentC is a stark, bleak mess. That's not because Apple promises an easier, more secure way of making a smartphone-based retail transaction. Nor is it because CurrentC wants to harvest data on you and provide behavior-bending coupons, incentives and special deals, while cutting out the middleman credit card processing industry. It gets worse.
AT&T: We Told Our Customers 'Unlimited' Doesn't Mean 'Unlimited'
October 29, 2014
The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday filed a complaint in a California federal court against AT&T, seeking compensation for customers who were told they had unlimited data plans but in reality did not. The legal action stemmed from a practice AT&T began in 2011 of throttling data delivery to customers with unlimited data plans when their data usage reached a specified amount during a billing period.
HP May Sprout New Manufacturing Techniques
October 29, 2014
HP has introduced its Blended Reality ecosystem: HP Multi Jet Fusion, an advanced 3D printer; and Sprout by HP -- a combination scanner, depth sensor, high-res camera and projector that provides 3D images of items and enables real-time remote collaboration. The ecosystem might revolutionize manufacturing, sharply reducing the design-to-prototype cycle and making it easy to customize products.
With Ampy, You'll Get a Charge Out of Exercising
October 29, 2014
While some people are vaguely aware that movement can be converted into electrical energy -- think wrist watches or emergency crank flashlights -- a new Kickstarter project has created Ampy, a small, wearable battery pack that can harness the kinetic motion of common humans and release it back into smartphones, smartwatches and other USB-powered electronic gadgets.
Lowe's Gives Robotic Customer Service a Good Name
October 28, 2014
Lowe's soon will add two robots to the customer-service staff at one of its San Jose, California, stores. Called "OSHbot," the robots will assist customers at the Lowe's-owned Orchard Supply Hardware store by directing them to specific products and providing real-time information about promotions and inventory. The OSHbot was developed through a partnership with Fellow Robots.
Elon Musk Calls for Preventive AI Demon Wrangling
October 28, 2014
Elon Musk, CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla Motors, among his many roles, this week warned about the threat humans face from artificial intelligence. AI is probably our biggest existential threat, he told students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon," Musk said, indicating that it might not be possible to control it.
Battered Aereo Takes a Couple More Blows
October 28, 2014
U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan last week granted broadcasters' request for a temporary restraining order against Aereo. This is the latest setback for the would-be cable-killer service, which was suspended following a Supreme Court ruling this summer. Aereo had utilized small dime-sized antennas to capture over-the-air TV signals and stream the content to subscribers over the Internet.

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