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Will the Beats Go On?
September 23, 2014
Apple appears to be planning changes for the Beats Music streaming service, following its $3 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics in May. Information from sources supposedly in the know indicated the company was planning to discontinue the service, according to one report, but Apple indicated the rumor was "not true." It's possible that Apple is planning to rebrand the service, however.
Farewell, Bonny Bodhi?
September 22, 2014
Well autumn is nigh upon us here in the Northern reaches of the Linux blogosphere, and any day now the a/c will downshift to "medium" over at the Broken Windows Lounge. Oktoberfest ales are selling like hotcakes, and more than a few bloggers are rejoicing at the end of the Dog Days in fact -- but for the recent arrival of a sad bit of news: Developer Jeff Hoogland is leaving Bodhi Linux.
EMC Swings Its Partners in Rumored Deal Talks
September 22, 2014
Intrigue is thick surrounding EMC these days. The story line goes something like this: An activist shareholder is pressuring EMC to sell itself to companies that might be interested in acquiring the data storage giant. The list of possible suitors is short -- the two names that keep circulating are HP and Dell. EMC apparently has been discussing merger possibilities with HP for a year or more.
Sony's PlayStation TV Could Be a Busy Little Gadget
September 22, 2014
Sony Computer Entertainment on Monday confirmed that nearly 700 games will be available for its PlayStation TV system when it launches in North America on Oct. 14. They will include popular and classic franchises such as Killzone: Mercenary, Final Fantasy, Twisted Metal and Metal Gear Solid. The PS TV is a non-portable variant of the PlayStation Vita.
Marriott Plays With Sensory-Rich Virtual Reality Getaways
September 22, 2014
Marriott Hotels last week introduced a new vacation opportunity: instant teleportation from New York City to the beaches of Hawaii or downtown London -- no uncomfortable airplane trip required. The journeys are virtual, using 4D sensory technology based on Oculus Rift. Travel enthusiasts are able to see, hear and even feel what it's like to be present in locales halfway across the globe.
The Coming Virtual Lifestyle Revolution
September 22, 2014
Uplinq, Qualcomm's big -- and it was big -- developers' conference, took place last week. There were two parts that were particularly interesting. One was its new robotics effort, and the other was the announcement that it's pushing Vuforia, its augmented reality platform, into wearable head-mounted displays -- think Google Glass on steroids -- that we may end up wearing every waking moment.
DoD and Tech Firms Face Daunting Health-IT Challenge
September 22, 2014
The U.S. government is about to embark on a major IT program dealing with personal health records. The program is being launched by the U.S. Department of Defense, which issued a request for proposals to health IT providers late last month. The initiative is expected to support medical readiness for DoD's military personnel, as well as its beneficiaries and health system personnel.
Gadget Ogling: Amazon on Fire, Virtual Reality, True Nature and Energy Relief
September 20, 2014
Apple might be the flavor of the minute as new iPhones hit stores, but Amazon isn't ready to let its rival hog all the limelight. Without a flashy presentation, it unveiled a half-dozen new Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers. There's a 6-inch Fire HD tablet priced at $99 and a 7-inch version for $139. The Fire tablets are reliably solid machines, and those are fantastically enticing prices.
Google Brings Hamster-Eating Into Sticks-and-Stones Brawl With News Corp.
September 19, 2014
News Corp. and Google have lashed out at each other as the EU reconsiders the terms of its proposed antitrust settlement with the latter. News Corp. essentially accused Google of nefarious behavior in a letter to the European Competition Commissioner over the EU's proposed antitrust settlement with Google. Perhaps the irony of the situation hit Google hard.
Harmony Takes Control of Home Sweet Automated Home
September 18, 2014
Logitech has announced four new products for the smart home in its Harmony family that let users control TVs, set-top boxes, speakers, lighting, thermostats, door locks, window shades and more. Users can trigger activities such as dimming the house lights in several ways: by pressing a button on their remote; passing a sensor; using the Harmony mobile app; or by setting up an automatic schedule.
FTC Gives E-tailers Bad Shipping News
September 18, 2014
The Federal Trade Commission has updated a longstanding rule governing mail- and phone-based retailers to explicitly include e-commerce vendors as well, meaning that online retailers now must abide by a 30-day shipping requirement or refund customers' payments if they can't. Merchants in violation could be sued by the FTC for injunctive relief or monetary civil penalties.
Early iPhone 6 Reviewers Might as Well Be Rating Vacuum Cleaners
September 18, 2014
With every new iPhone release, Apple delivers a handful of new iPhones to a select few industry journalists to review. How are those journalists and publications selected? First, they are known to appreciate the Apple aesthetic -- they have written dozens of positive reviews. No Apple haters allowed, which makes sense. It's important to set the stage for positive vibes.
Nintendo Blows Some Minds With Hyrule Warriors
September 17, 2014
Nintendo's Hyrule Warriors, which was released in Japan last month and will arrive in North America on Sept. 26, is a very different kind of game. Nintendo called in help from two outside studios: Team Ninja; and Omega Force, the creators of Dynasty Warriors. The result is a game that looks a lot like The Legend of Zelda but doesn't play like it at all.
FCC Chews on the Mobile Net Neutrality Question
September 17, 2014
The FCC on Tuesday hosted a roundtable discussion on the possibility of Net neutrality rules being applied to mobile networks. Participants in the talk included representatives from The Center for Media Justice, Consumers Union and CTIA. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler earlier this year suggested that the 2010 rules, which exempted mobile services from Net neutrality provisions, should be reconsidered.
IBM's Watson May Change the Face of Business Analytics
September 17, 2014
IBM on Tuesday announced Watson Analytics, a natural language-based cognitive service designed to provide businesses with instant access to powerful predictive and visual analytics tools. It runs on desktop PCs and mobile devices. Watson Analytics automates data preparation, predictive analysis, and visual storytelling for business professionals in data-intensive areas such as marketing and sales.
Panasonic's New Point-and-Shoot Snapper Supports 4K Video
September 17, 2014
Panasonic on Monday introduced the Lumix DMC-LX100, a point-and-shoot camera that supports the latest in high-quality video -- 3840 x 2160 4K video at 30 frames per second -- as well as 1920 x 1080 HD video, which can be stored in AVCHD progressive or MP4 format. The LX100 takes advantage of its 4K support to create 8-megapixel photos from single frames in video.
PredictionIO's Simon Chan on Machine Learning by Devs for Devs
September 16, 2014
PredictionIO is building the MySQL of prediction. The young company recently released version 0.7.3 of its open source machine-learning server. Unlike typical prediction algorithms and open source libraries, PredictionIO is based on making machine learning more available. Cofounder Simon Chan sees a gaping hole in open source tools to connect database programmers and software developers.
Destiny Teams Race to Vault of Glass Finish Line
September 16, 2014
Bungie's second special Destiny event, dubbed "Vault of Glass," went live early Tuesday. Bungie calls it "the most elaborate mission" it has ever created. Only gamers who have reached Level 26 will qualify. Attempts to complete the Raid are being streamed live on Twitch. After months of hype and anticipation, Destiny, the latest video game from Bungie, finally arrived last week.
Soft Super-Suit Could Make Soldiers Stronger
September 16, 2014
A new, flexible robotic suit funded by the U.S. military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency could enable soldiers to walk longer distances with less fatigue and also improve mobility for disabled civilians. Called the "Soft Exosuit," the biologically inspired device is made of flexible textiles woven together into a piece of smart clothing that is worn under a soldier's regular gear.
Medical Trials to Test Usefulness of Apple's HealthKit
September 15, 2014
Stanford and Duke Universities reportedly will use Apple's HealthKit in medical trials. Doctors at Stanford are working with Apple to let physicians track blood sugar levels for children with diabetes, while Duke is developing a pilot program to track blood pressure, weight and other measurements for patients with cancer or heart disease. The programs will roll out in a few weeks.
Minecraft May Help Microsoft Build Its Mobile Strategy
September 15, 2014
Microsoft on Monday announced it has agreed to acquire Mojang, the software developer that created the popular Minecraft video game. Although it's subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory review, the deal is expected to be finalized by the end of this year. Microsoft will pay $2.5 billion for Mojang and gain full control of the iconic Minecraft franchise.
Rise of the Smartwatch
September 15, 2014
Taken separately, last week's announcements from Apple, Intel and T-Mobile were impressive. Intel and T-Mobile basically announced they were going to explode the existing mobile market, changing it dramatically. Apple embraced some slow-moving technologies, which should speed them up dramatically. I don't think what Apple announced is in the same league, but it also will drive change.
Apple Pay Rings Opening Bell in Banks vs. Retailers Match
September 15, 2014
Apple's unveiling last week of its Apple Pay NFC mobile payments system has triggered a clash between banks and the retail industry. Apple has lined up support from banks and credit card companies, but Best Buy and Walmart have said they will not support Apple Pay, according to reports. Instead, they will go with a competing mobile wallet application, CurrentC.
Feds Wielded Baseball Bat to Win Yahoo's NSA Cooperation
September 12, 2014
The Obama administration threatened Yahoo with fines of $250,000 daily if it wouldn't comply with demands to hand over user information to the NSA, Yahoo has disclosed. Yahoo had filed suit against the demands in 2007, citing the Fourth Amendment. "They basically said you must do this thing that you don't want to do or we'll put you out of business," said ITIF's Daniel Castro.

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