Today in Tech History – July 25, 2014

20140404-073853.jpgIn 1959 – Christopher Cockerell’s Hovercraft crossed the English Channel for the first time, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Frenchman Louis Bleriot’s historic first cross-Channel heavier-than-air flight.

In 1990 – Microsoft became the first software company to exceed $1 billion in sales in a single year, reporting revenues of $1.18 billion for fiscal year 1990.

In 2010 – Wikileaks published classified documents about the War in Afghanistan, one of the largest leaks in U.S. military history.


Subscribe to the podcast. Like Tech History? Get Tom Merritt’s Chronology of Tech History at Merritt’s Books site.

DTNS 2285 – Oculus Riffed

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comTim Stevens is on the show. We’ll reminisce about the great PlayStation Network outage of 2011 and posit just what the heck Oculus is up to.


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A special thanks to all our Patreon supporters–without you, none of this would be possible.

If you enjoy the show, please consider supporting the show here at the low, low cost of a nickel a day on Patreon. Thank you!

Big thanks to Dan Lueders for the music and Martin Bell for the opening theme!

Big thanks to Mustafa A. from for the logo!

Thanks to our mods, Kylde, TomGehrke and scottierowland on the subreddit

Show Notes

Today’s Guest: Tim Stevens, editor-at-large at

IDC released its estimate for the worldwide tablet market for the second quarter of 2014. 49.3 million tablets were shipped, an 11% rise over last year although a decline of 1.5% from Q1. While Apples shipment and market share declined they still lead with 26.9% followed by Samsung, whose tablet market is also declining to 17.2%.. The rise in the market is powered by the smaller tablet makers Lenovo, Asus and Acer in that order, although a whopping 44.4% of the market comes from tablets made by even smaller producers.

Remember the great Sony PlayStation Network outage of April 2011? Well Ars Technica reports Sony has agreed to a court settlement in the southern district of California, that could hold it liable for up to $15 million in damages, plus nearly $2.75 million in attorney fees. What does it mean for you? a free downloadable PS3 or PSP game (from a selection of 14 titles), three PS3 themes (from a selection of six), or a three-month subscription to PlayStation Plus. You have to pick one if you already took part in the Welcome Back” promotion back in 2011, otherwise youc an choose two. If you’re identity was compromised as a result of the breach Sony will pay up to $2500. 

ReCode reports HP will invest $50 million in Hortonworks, the Hadoop startup spun out of Yahoo. Big Data is a big problem for big companies. Hadoop is open source technology designed to make it easier to work with large collections of data in a distributed computing environment.

One year ago today Google unleashed the ChromeCast dongle on the world out of nowhere. Users have pressed the cast button on an app 400 million times since that day. Chromecast is now available in more than 30,000 stores worldwide, and repeated that more than 6,000 developers have signed up.

Oculus has begun shipping its DK2 virtual reality headset for developers. The DK2 costs $350 and is not a consumer version of the hardware but is a refined version of the Crystal Cove headset that won a Best of CES award. It features lower latency, a low persistence OLED screen and positional tracking as well as simplified cords. Oculus plans to ship 10,000 DK2 units in July, though as of April it had sold 25,000 headsets.

The Next Web reports Razer’s Nabu smartband will integrate WeChat alongside the usual fitness tracking applications. Messages could show up on the band’s screen but apparently things like ‘high five to exchange contact info’ might also be in the works. Nabu will debut in international markets over the next few months and make it to China before the end of the year. It’s meant to retail for less than $100. 

The Telegraph has a look at Twitter’s new diversity report which reports 30% of the company’s workforce is female. That’s the same as Google, 1 percent worse than Facebook and 7% behind Yahoo. The drag on balance comes from Twitter’s tech division which is 90% male and leadership which is 79% male. Twitter’s also revealed that 59 per cent of its global workforce was white, 29 per cent Asian. Less than 7% are Black, Hispanic, Latino or other.

Microsoft has released the first trailer for its upcoming Halo: Nightfall live-action TV series, which Ridley Scott is working on as an executive producer. The trailer reveals a new element that can selectively wipe out humans, which protagonist Jameson Locke, a an agent for the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) and his squad must seek out and destroy. takes place between Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians.

Amazon reported Q2 earnings including a 27 cents per share loss on revenue of $19.34 billion. Amazon was expected to only lose 15 cents on revenue of 19.34 billion. Still, Amazon’s revenue grew 23% year over year. 

Also Pandora announced Q2 earnings Topping Expectations Slightly With $218.9M In Revenue, also announcing it Has 76.4M Active Listeners

News From You: 

jeff_rose submitted the Engadget report that you can now place phone calls directly from the Google Voice website using hangout. You don’t need to have enabled hangouts in Gmail or even have a G+ account. 

Inge_Aning pointed us to the MIT Technology Review article on Resistive Random Access Memory that could let you score ten to a hundred times as much data on a smartphone. RRAM already is being developed by several companies, but researchers at Rice University have shown how to make it easier and cheaper at room temperature and with lower voltage. RRAM stores bits using resistance and retains data without power just like Flash memory. It can operate a hundred times faster though, and can concentrate a terrabyte into the space of a postage stamp. The new method uses a layer of silicon dioxide poked full of holes, sandwiched between thin layers of metal. 

Discussion Section Links: Oculus What? Where?

Pick of the Day: Autohotkey via Conrad Lawrence

Autohotkey for PC. On the surface it is a hotkey generator, capable of reading abbreviations or key combinations and outputting long strings of text or data. For example type in “dtns” and get “Daily Tech News Show”.

Beneath the surface though, it is an easy to learn scripting language capable performing long, complex operations using data from a variety of sources, including user input. To easily enter this data and view the results Autohotkey also allows the creation of GUI windows.

I work in the Test Department of a hardware/software tech company, and in the year or so since discovering Autohotkey, I have created dozens of custom GUIs designed to facilitate testing and increase productivity. A signature check of almost 60 modules would once take hours. I can now perform the same task in just a few minutes.

Autohotkey is fully documented and supported at and it can be downloaded for free for both personal and commercial use. It does not require a compiler but includes one so that applications can be shared with PCs where Autohotkey is not installed.


Today in Tech History – July 24, 2014

20140404-073853.jpgIn 1874 – Woodward and Evans Light filed a patent for “Artificial light by means of electricity” with the Canadian Department of Agriculture. Woodward later sold the patent to Thomas Edison, who patented a different and more successful version of the incandescent lamp in the US.

In 1950 – The Bumper 8, made of a German V-2 missile lower stage and WAC-Corporal upper stage launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It was the first launch from what would become the Kennedy Space Center.

In 1969 – Apollo 11 arrived safely in the Pacific Ocean, ending the first manned mission to land on the Moon.

In 2013 – Google announced the Chromecast, a $35 HDMI stick, powered by USB, that streamed video from the Internet and other devices to a TV.


Subscribe to the podcast. Like Tech History? Get Tom Merritt’s Chronology of Tech History at Merritt’s Books site.

DTNS 2284 – Is that a store in your pocket…

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comThe Amazon Fire Phone is out tomorrow and Anthony Carboni is on the show to help us ask the question on everyone’s mind: why? Also a workers paradise is coming to Helsinki and robots may take over the Olympics.


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A special thanks to all our Patreon supporters–without you, none of this would be possible.

If you enjoy the show, please consider supporting the show here at the low, low cost of a nickel a day on Patreon. Thank you!

Big thanks to Dan Lueders for the music and Martin Bell for the opening theme!

Big thanks to Mustafa A. from for the logo!

Thanks to our mods, Kylde, TomGehrke and scottierowland on the subreddit

Show Notes

Today’s guest:  Anthony Carboni, of


PC Mag among the folks reminding us that Apple’s public beta of OS X Yosemite begins tomorrow. The first 1 million people who signed up at will get a link to download the beta and be asked to submit feedback if/when they run into problems. Yosemite has been available to developers and will be finished and available to all later this autumn.

ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley points out a passing comment Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made in the company’s earnings call yesterday regarding the mythical ‘One Windows’ strategy. Nadella said MS will, “streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating system for screens of all sizes.” Later int he call he clarified this meant one team developing all variants built off the NT core with a unified store and developer platform. It does not mean you can install the same copy of Windows on your phone as on your dekstop.

Anthony! Anthony! Anthony! Did you hear! Foursquare has a new logo that looks kind of like a superhereo and is a rosy shade of pinky russet. And the typeface! Its a darker blue! And there’s a new navigation bar at the bottom! And there’s mor ephotos. and recommendations. And it’s really confusing if you still want to check in because that button is hidden and only shows up if you have Swarm installed. And it’s coming in a couple weeks to android and iOS! Are you excited?

The Next Web reports Microsoft announced the Lumia 530 arriving at the beginning of August in Europe for €85 BEFORE tax and subsidies. The low-end Lumia has a 4-inch 854×480 screen and runs Windows Phone 8.1 on a 1.2GHz Snapdragon. You can also select from one of many brightly colored interchangeable shells! Well three of the colors are bright if you conisder white to be bright. They’re bright orange, bright green, grey or white. The 530 wil also be available in single and dual SIM versions. 

VentureBeat reports Google has purchased Helsinki’s own 3D graphics startup DrawElements for an unofficial $10 million according to Arcticstartup. DRawElements tech lets developers test various GPUs across mobile devices. That should be handy for Android devs at Google one might think. Also it will be party time in Finland as the management team will move to Mountain View while the rest of the team will be left to create a worker’s paradise in Helsinki.

Messaging app LINE announced a new ‘Hidden Chats’ feature for Android and iOS users that lets users send messages with a time limit attached for more ephemeral private conversations. Time limits can be set from 2 seconds up to 1 week. Bloggers are now working furiously to post how-tos describing ways to subvert the feature and keep the ephemeral messages anyway.

TechCrunch reports Facebook beat earnings projections with 2.91 Billion in revenue and earnings per share of 42 cents. Analysts expected revenue of 2.81 billion and earnings per share of .32 cents. Facebook reported 1.07 billion monthly MOBILE users and 654 million DAILY mobile users. 62% of its ad revenue came from mobile. Facebook now has 1.32 billion monthly users and 829 million daily users. Facebook’s total user count is up 3.125% from Q1. 

Reuters reports that AT&T announced that its quarterly revenue rose, but slightly less than Wall Street forecasts. AT&T earned $3.6 billion, or 68 cents per share, in the second quarter, compared with $3.8 billion, or 71 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose to $32.6 billion from $32.1 billion in the year-ago quarter.

News From You

metalfreak posted the Wired article calling attention to the fact that Marvel is selling one month of access to its online comics archive for 99 cents. That gives you access to more than 15,000 digital comics from the golden age to the halcyon days of 6 months ago. The service is usually $10 a month or $69 for a year. The 99 cent offer ends in one week. 

eean submitted the Ars Technica story that Verizon has been opposing net neutrality rules partly under the argument that so-called fast lanes could be used to make more accessible services fro blind, deaf and disabled users. Several groups who lobby for accessibility filed comments asking the FCC not to let Verizon speak for them, writing “In no case should accessibility considerations form a basis for permitting paid prioritization more broadly, and the Commission should reject any overture to the contrary,” wrote the Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc.; the National Association of the Deaf; the Hearing Loss Association of America; Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network; and Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Telecommunications Access. The American Association of People with Disabilities also wrote to oppose allowing paid prioritization.

exfig pointed out the Verge posting that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said “In 2020 I would like to gather all of the world’s robots and aim to hold an Olympics where they compete in technical skill.” Tokyo will be hosting the allegedly unenhanced human Olympics that same year. Switzerland plans to host games for athletes with robotic prosthetics in 2016. 

spsheridan posted the Scientific American article on China’s planned supercollider. Scientists at the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) in Beijing, working with international collaborators, want to build a 52-kilometer electron-positron collider by 2028. It would be used as a ‘Higgs factory’ allowing the Higgs boson to be studied with greater precision than can be achieved at the smaller Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Discussion Section:  Amazon Fire

Picks of the Day: Scottevest via Russell Manthy

 A couple of weeks ago Scottevest was mentioned in passing on DTNS and thought it might be a good pick of the day. Scottevest was founded by Scott Jordan in 2000. He had noticed a problem early on that people were carrying more and more gear, gadgets, chargers, etc. and that the only vests on the market with pockets enough were designed for fishing or photography. Scottevest sells ‘technology enabled clothing’ which has pockets which are tailored especially for your gear. Some pockets have translucent touch sensitive lining so that you can operate your smart phone while not taking it out, others are RFID shielded. In addition to smaller pockets there are also bigger pouches for tablets and cameras. Wire ways are also provided for lacing wires for headphones from a device in a pocket to the collar. The vests and jackets are engineered to balance the load so that the clothes do not hang on you oddly. From the outside you would think they were normal vests or jackets but on the inside they are really great for keeping all your gear organized and concealed. I have been using one through fall and winter for the last few years and it is great; I actually miss it in the summer!

Tomorrow’s guest: Tim Stevens of

Today in Tech History – July 23, 2014

20140404-073853.jpgIn 1903 – Ford sold its first car to Dr. Ernst Pfenning of Chicago. The two-cylinder Model A was assembled at Mack Avenue Plant in Detroit.

In 1985 – Commodore introduced the Amiga personal computer at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York’s Lincoln Center. Amiga cost $1,295 and shipped with a base configuration of 256K of RAM.

In 1996 – The first commercial HDTV signal was broadcast in North Carolina by WRAL channel 32 operating at 100 kilowatts with an antenna 1,750 feet above the ground. 200 members of the press watched the broadcast at WRAL.


Subscribe to the podcast. Like Tech History? Get Tom Merritt’s Chronology of Tech History at Merritt’s Books site.

S&L Podcast – #184 – Threeways to Save Humanity

There’s so much you can do with us this week, including bringing Neil Gaiman to the stage, discovering 20th century high fantasy, and saving humanity. And how we can save humanity makes Tom blush. Plus, we wrap up this month’s pick, Dawn by Octavia Butler!

Download direct link here!


Tom: Original Sorghum Malt Beer – Bard’s Tale Beer Company, LLC    
Veronica: Racer5    

“After extensive research, the Jane Austen Centre in Bath has determined what Jane really looked like and it’s Mary Robinette Kowal – successful Rothuss impersonator, puppeteer, and regency author”    

A TV series based on The Elfstones Of Shannara has been greenlit.
Daniel Abraham has an update on The Expanse TV show, including first casting news and the creative team behind the television adaptation.
There is currently a kickstarter campaign for a theatrical adaptation of 5 of Neil Gaiman’s short stories, a bunch of the backer rewards are various books and things signed by Neil Gaiman and he’s in the video so check it out if you’re a fan.
World Fantasy Award nominees were announced, as were two Lifetime Achievement Award winners.     


Killian: Finished The City and the City by China Miéville earlier today and was absolutely blown away by it. Here’s my review: I think I’ll read a Feist book next for some light, mindless fun.   
Rabindranauth – Finished Royal Assassin earlier, dived headlong into Assassin’s Quest immediately. I will forever kick myself for not reading these incredibly brutal books before now.
Here’s my review.    

July 29
Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch is out in paperback

July 31
Equoid: A laundry Novella by Charles Stross

August 6
The Widow’s House (The Dagger and the Coin) by Daniel Abraham
Rise of the King: Companion Codex, II (Companions Codex) by R. A. Salvatore
The Magician’s Land: A Novel by Lev Grossman”    
Find more upcoming releases at    
A Suggestion for New Topics on Club Picks    
Are there any “high fantasy” books that take place in the 20th century?   
Local Group Meetups     
Amazon Unlimited    
Wrap-up Dawn by Octavia Butler    
What did you think? (full spoilers)    
What Makes Us Human?    
Ending issues (here be spoilers)    

Next Month’s Book: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is our August book    

DTNS 2283 – Amazon Wallet is a POS

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comMolly Wood is on to talk about Amazon’s new wallet app, the future of payments, and possibly a tiny little patent rant.


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A special thanks to all our Patreon supporters–without you, none of this would be possible.

If you enjoy the show, please consider supporting the show here at the low, low cost of a nickel a day on Patreon. Thank you!

Big thanks to Dan Lueders for the music and Martin Bell for the opening theme!

Big thanks to Mustafa A. from for the logo!

Thanks to our mods, Kylde, TomGehrke and scottierowland on the subreddit

Show Notes

Today’s guest:  Molly Wood, of the paper of record! 


Techcrunch reports Xiaomi announced a new phone called the Mi4 and a wearable called the Mi Band. The wristband device is a fitness tracker and can unlock your mi phone, coming in 5 colors and will sell for 79 renminbi or about US$13. The Mi4 has a metal band reminiscent of the iPhone with a 5-inch 1080p display 2.5GHz processor snapdragon 801, 3GB of RAM, 16GB internal storage and a 3,080 mAh battery. It’s also the first model with LTE. TNW reports the Mi 4 will be available for CNY 1,999 (approximately $322) for the 16GB and CNY 2,499 (around $403) for the 64 GB. 3G versions come July 29 (China Unicom) and August (China Telecom), while the 4G version will land some time in September. 

Apple Insider posted that the USPTO granted Apple a patent for a “ “Wrist-worn electronic device and methods therefore” The device can connect with portable devices and the strap carries sensors. It also supports wrist gestures and proximity-sensing circuitry. Prior art? Never heard of it. Apple Insider points out the patent seems to be as much about putting an iPod Nano in an enhanced wristband as anything. 

TechCrunch started the wave of tech news sites noticing that Amazon had quietly launched a wallet app on July 17th for Kindles and Android. The app lets you store gift cards and loyalty cards and in some cases check balances. You can manage the app at which also will list your Amazon-linked credit cards, implying that someday those too may become available in the wallet app. Amazon says the current app is in beta and will ship pre-installed on the Amazon Fire Phone. 

Ars Technica passes along the Nvidia announcement of a new version of the Shield Android gaming tablet. The previous all-in-one unit becomes the Shield Portable while the new unit is an 8-inch 1920 x 1200 tablet that can be controlled with a WiFi connected controller sold separately. The tablet includes 2GB of RAM, 300Mbps 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and 5MP front and rear cameras. It also supports 4K video through its micro-HDMI port. The tablet will sell for $299 at 16GB and $399 at 32GB with LTE. Controllers will cost an extra $59 and a cover-case is $39. All of that arrives on July 29 in the US and Canada.

Ars Technica reports researchers from Carnegie Mellon University Alexander Volynkin and Michael McCord had to cancel a talk at Black Hat that would have shown how to discover the identity of Tor users for less than $3,000. Attorneys from Carnegie Mellon and the Software Engineering Institute requested the cancelation. Tor project leader Roger Dingledine wrote in an e-mail to Tor users that a fix is coming that should close the particular bug in question. 

CNET reports Verizon posted Q2 profits of $4.32 billion, down from last year’s $5.2 billion. But Verizon’s share of the profit, after excluding the cut that Vodafone used to get as part owner, was actually $4.2 billion, or $1.01 a share, up significantly from a year-ago gain of $2.2 billion, or 78 cents a share. Revenue rose 5.7 percent. Verizon’s customer growth was attributed to tablet demand as well as net addition of 304,000 phone subscribers.

The Wall Street Journal reports sources say Apple is asking suppliers to manufacture between 70 million and 80 million units two iPhone models with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays by December 30. Either phone could go on sale well before that date. Foxconn and Pegatron plan to start mass producing the 4.7-inch iPhone model next month and Hon Hai will reportedly begin making the 5.5-inch version exclusively in September.

Microsoft reported Q4 revenue of $23.38 billion with earnings per share of 55 cents. TechCrunch reports analysts expected the company to earn $0.60 on revenue of $23.00 billion. It sold 5.8 million Windows Phone-based Lumia handsets in the period. Phones cost the company $0.08 in earnings per share and lost it $692 million in the quarter. Devices and Consumer segment revenue were up 42% and Commercial revenue up 11%. So in the end, more revenue, less profit.

Apple reported revenues of $37.4 billion for its third fiscal quarter and profits of $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per share. Wall Street was expecting the company to announce earnings of $1.23 a share, on $37.99 billion in revenue. The results are right in the middle of Apple’s own revenue forecast, which was between $36 and $38 billion. 35.2 million iPhones shipped, versus 31.2 million a year ago 13.2 million iPads shipped, versus 14.6 million last year and 17 million the year before that 4.4 million Macs shipped, compared to 3.8 million last year

News From You

Kylde, the self-described janitor of the subreddit, whose tireless efforts keep it spam free pointed out the daily dot post about a decision U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to allow law enforcement officials access to a suspect’s entire email account without limit. The judge placed no limits on the time frame or manner of search, which is unusual when approving a search warrant. The decision contrasts with one made by Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola, in March, blocking an attempt by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) to obtain what he saw as an overly broad search warrant for an email account. 

melchizedek74 submitted the Verge report that FXX cable channel will marathoin the entire run of the Simpson’s, all 25 seasons, from August 21st to September 1st. After THAT, Variety reports that FXX will launch “Simpsons World” in October, which will let cable subscribers watch every episode on demand at, or on the FXNow app.

Discussion Section:  Amazon Mobile Wallet


 Picks of the Day: iSmoothRun & Smashrun via Neil

Mr. Merritt, Here are two picks in the category of fitness (primarily running, but iSmoothRun does work well with bicycling too).

iSmoothRun — how I collect my GPX run data and view on my phone
The best running application for iOS devices, in my opinion, is iSmoothRun.It doesn’t hold your GPX data hostage like some competitor applications, and makes it easy for you to share your data (I can export all, not just one at a time). I can also link it to many sites (including those that would be considered competitors). It has feature that no other running application has (or at least I have found) … It is only $5.99 and is the best money I have spent on my staying fit and healthy. – how I analyze my GPX run data on my computer

I use multiple sites to track and share my runs. This site has become my favorite. It has a good social aspect as well as provided a lot of details into your various runs. It is actually the first running or application with badges that are actually encouraging and worthwhile (IMHO). The ability to summarize my running data is great. The pro features allow me to do a deep dive into a run and see my pace, heart rate, and elevation along the entire course. Considering how new of offering this is, it is very impressive. Also, the blog posts show the upcoming feature set based on votes from those that are using smashrun.

Tomorrow’s guest: 

Today in Tech History – July 22, 2014

20140404-073853.jpgIn 1933 – Wiley Post returned to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York, 7 days, 18 hours, 49 minutes after leaving, becoming the fastest person to circumnavigate the Earth by air and the first to do it solo.

In 1962 – The first Mariner space probe to Venus had to be destroyed shortly after lift-off because of “improper operation of the Atlas airborne beacon equipment.” The error was caused by a missing overbar in the program that must have disappeared during hand transcription.

In 1997 – Apple announced OS 8 for Macintosh computers. It added easier Internet integration and a 3D look to the OS.


Subscribe to the podcast. Like Tech History? Get Tom Merritt’s Chronology of Tech History at Merritt’s Books site.