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Today’s guest: Allison Sheridan, host of the Nosillacast
Samsung announced new products including a virtual headset at IFA in Berlin. The Gear VR is a joint creation with Oculus VR that can track your head movements with a gyroscope and accelerometer and give you a 96-degree field of view. The Gear VR only comes with sensors and a focal adjustment lens. The screen and processing is provided by the new Note 4 which was also announced. Note 4 is a 5.7-inch phone with a 1440p SuperAMOLED display coming in October. A variant of the Note 4 called the Note Edge was also announced. It has a screen that bends and wraps around the right side, giving you notifications or a taskbar depending on the application.
Sony announced some new phones as well. The Xperia Z3 has a 5.2-inch 1080p display, a 2.5 GHz snapdragon processor and a 3100 mAh battery that Sony says will last two days. It’s also water resistant. The very similar Xperia Z3 compact is a little smaller at 4.6-inches and only has a 720p display. The snappily named Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is an 8-inch 1920 x 1200 device with a 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801, 3GB of RAM, 4500mAh battery and LTE. Sony also announced a fitness tracker with an e-ink screen called “SmartBand Talk” and a fitness watch with built-in Blueooth, GPS and 4 GB of storage called the SmartWatch 3. The watch comes this autumn for €229.
The Unofficial Apple Weblog points out that despite Apple recommending all users enable two-factor authentication, it doesn’t protect all Apple services. It seems designed to protect credit card information. It’s used on Apple ID support, the My Apple ID management console; or making an iTunes, App Store or iBooks purchase from a new device. That means photos are not one of the things you get extra protection on from 2FA. Furthermore if an attacker has the username and password for an iCloud account, software from Elcomsoft could be used to extract files from an online backup, even an old one.
TechCrunch reports on Asus announcing its first Android Wear device called the Asus ZenWatch. It has a a sandwich-like design with a rose gold-colored middle layer and stainless steel top and bottom, with a brushed surface around the face.It features a heart rate sensor on the underside and a number of gesture controls and preloaded features like unlocking your phone by tapping the watch and covering the face to mute. It’s expected to sell for €199 later this year.
ReCode reports Box announced it plans to offer a lot more businessy things so they can sell a cloud platform to companies in the insurance, finance, health care, pharmaceuticals and media industries. If buzzwords like industry-specific services and workflow get your blood boiling— and admit it, we know it does for some of you— it’s worth looking into. Box Workflow tool will try to streamline collaboration starting in 2015. Box for Industries will be a customized Box platform designed for a specific business type such as retail, healthcare and media and entertainment.
Ars Technica reports on Toshiba’s Chromebook 2 which has a 13.3-inch 1366 x 768 display and 2 GB of ram for $250. However if you shell out for the $330 model you get 4 GB of RAM and a 1080p IPS display. Both models use the dual-core Bay Trail-based Atom chip, the Celeron N2840. It comes in three colors (“Charcoal, Aqua, and Rose”), and goes on sale October 5.
Reuters reports that Verizon will pay 7.4 million dollars to settle a US FCC investigation into improper privacy notifications. The investigation, which began in 2006, found that the wireless company failed to properly notify two million new customers of their privacy rights in their first bill before using their information for marketing purposes. In addition to the settlement, Verizon also agreed to send opt-out notices on every bill.
CNET passes along an IDC report that shipments of phone-tablet hybrids are expected to surpass laptop shipments this year, and sales of traditional tablets next year. IDC expect electronics companies to ship 175 million phablets this year, compared to 170 million laptops. And next year, they project shipments of 318 million phablets, compared to 233 million tablets. IDC defines a phablet as a smartphone with a screen size of 5.5 to 6.99 inches.
News From You
silentworld07 pointed out the KrebsOn Security report about a possible credit card breach at Home Depot. Credit card breaches are unfortunately not very uncommon these days. Home Depot operates 2200 stores in the US and 287 elsewhere, though the extent of the breach is not yet known. Still most people don’t keep their nude photos at Home Depot since its a hardware store, so it isn’t getting the kind of attention other breaches get. Home Depot says that it is working with banks and law enforcement agencies to investigate reports of suspicious activity.
spsheridan passes along The Verge report about the nice mobile wallet app whose developers picked out a nice name, only to find that another organization was already using that name. The developers of the ISIS mobile wallet announced in June they would change the name of the app to avoid being confused with the violent Islamic terrorist group. Today they announced the app will now be called Softcard. Uh, excuse me, Softcard? Softbank is on the line, and they are NOT happy.
Discussion Links: Samsung & Sony
Plug of the Day: Like tech history? I’ve teamed up with Scott Johnson to put out monthly looks at what happened in history this month. For 99 cents you get what happened on each day of the month that helped make the tech we sue today, plus illustrations from Scott Johnson. Check them out for 99 cents each at tommerrittbooks.com or just search Amazon.
Pick of the Day: Questionable Content via Tom Betz
Listening to your DragonCon discussion of the potential risks of AI brought to mind a daily comic strip I follow, Questionable Content.
A slice-of-life comic set in an alternate-universe present-day Northampton, Massachussetts where self-aware Artificial Intelligence has existed for decades and AIs live among humans as voluntary cooperative or paid partners and companions, Jeph Jacques’ QC follows the lives of slacker twenty-something Marten Reed and his friends, family and acquaintances.
I really love the way the strip treats the many variants of AI as commonplace, integrating them into a world that is very like the one we already live in.
If you start from the beginning of the archive, you can see the development of Jacques’ drawing style; but it’s clear that his world was pretty fully formed as a concept from the beginning. Jacques has also re-drawn the whole story in his fully-developed art style, and collected it into a book. Either way you get to it, well worth your time.
Tomorrow’s guest: 11:30am Pacific show (aka Jennie’s tech rehearsal) with Justin Robert Young!