Ebola has created quite the stir in 2014, for both the right and wrong reasons. There's no doubting it's a serious disease that needs to be wiped out, but panic over catching it has greatly outpaced the actual spread, which is rather slow and involves the transmission of bodily fluids. The CDC outlines basic guidelines to keep you safe. Despite the worry of the public at large, you simply aren't likely to get infected.
However, that doesn't mean everything is coming up roses. As I said, it's something we need to eradicate like Polio and Smallpox. The US government has thrown financial support behind the initiative in an effort to both help, as well as allay fears and prevent widespread panic over this outbreak.
'Tis the season to go shopping, and the point where desperation begins to make its ugly presence felt. The holidays are just around the corner. One thing popular with folks this time of year is "window shopping", meaning walking along the streets and checking out the displays.
If you enjoy this activity then there are no better places to do it than New York City and London. Coincidentally, that's exactly where the Google Street View team recently trekked, taking in the sites and recording them for the rest of the world.
Pandora is one of the grandfathers of streaming music services, and remains among the most affordable and well known sources around. It's available on phones and even set-top boxes, not to mention, right on your computer. There are also apps for smart TVs and Blu-ray players. In other words, it is almost ubiquitous.
Now the music service is launching on your Xbox One. The new app was built specifically with the gaming console in mind, with an interface designed to look good on your TV. It will not only be pretty, but provide music while you play your game, and even adds a couple of new features.
If you subscribe to Hulu, and many cord-cutters, along with some who aren't, do, then you know that it has become a haven for content of all sorts. Care to watch last night's episode of The Blacklist? You can do that, along with countless other shows. The service has also been working on original content in an effort to rival the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Now the Twentieth Century Fox TV Distribution for FX network is signing what Hulu terms a "landmark deal" to bring more of its original content to the service.
Amazon has been toying with delivery ideas for sometime now. The company has talked of same day service, there were rumors of it creating its own FedEx-like fleet, then there was the Jeff Bezos appearance on 60 Minutes -- you know, where he showed off a video of drone delivery.
The online retailer is finally beginning to realize this dream and make it reality. Amazon today is announcing Prime Now. It’s a delivery service for "essential items" and it promises one hour service. Yes, you read that correctly.
Plex, who makes a popular media server and client software package, has never been shy about adapting any platform it can manage to get on. Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Roku, Xbox, even NAS devices. Now the organization reaches out to yet another community.
While jokingly saying at the beginning that it was arriving on Sega Genesis consoles, the real target this time is Sony. Plex is headed for both games consoles available from the currently troubled company -- the PS3 and PS4.
Not long ago I wrote asking if we still needed Windows. It's an interesting question without a real answer. On the one hand, many folks don't need it, as a Chromebook will suffice for what they do -- checking email and browsing websites. On the other hand, some people do need Windows for the apps that can't be had on Google's platform.
In other words, there is no easy answer to the question I posed. One thing became clear though. Windows won't be going anywhere soon. It may only be needed by a certain percentage of people, many of whom are in a business of some sort, either for themselves or in the enterprise community.
Like it or not, wearable technology seems to be here to stay. While, the likes of Google Glass remain aloof to most customers thanks to pricing, smartwatches have become fairly commonplace. Apple plans to enter the market, but Pebble and Google are already becoming established.
Now the two merge -- sort of. Pebble announces its latest update contains Android Wear notifications. This comes via version 2.3 of the app for your smartphone and it aims to add new functionality to your wrist.
HBO is one of the most popular premium networks on TV, with shows like Game of Thrones and others. The channel has also launched an online and mobile app called HBO GO. This brings the content to your computer, phone or tablet.
Now the network has arrived on Amazon Fire TV, the tiny set-top box that launched earlier this year. It's a strong competitor to Roku and Apple TV. While arguably less capable than the former, it is also stronger than the latter in its offerings.
Plex is perhaps the most well known media server among home theater and HTPC enthusiasts. Both a server and end-user app are provided, the former for free, while the latter will set you back a nominal fee. However, it's well worth the time to set up and few dollars out of your pocket.
Now the service is improving on it's offering to Google's mobile platform. Plex for Android has just gained Playlists, making things just a bit easier for its multitude of customers.
Perhaps the biggest news of the past week came out of Sweden, where police raided and shut down The Pirate Bay. The site was the most enduring symbol of BitTorrent, though not necessarily in the best of ways, given the technology can be used for many good things. Still, the site stood for much of what, to some, seems right about the internet -- the free and open access to what you want.
Since the raid, several mirrors have popped up, and yesterday a fake substitute had people talking, and some fooled. We'd advise you not to use that, though we also don't advocate piracy in general. It likely will not be the last such site to crop up, as there is really no end to either piracy or online crooks looking to get malware distributed to unsuspecting victims.
Music is important to many people, both current and the variety that brings back memories of youth or life events. While sometimes happy and occasionally tragic, it still raises emotions. Spotify has become one of the top destinations for this, and now it's getting ready for the holiday season.
If you wish to give the gift of music, then cards are available to you for purchase. The cards come in several increments, including $10, $30 and $60, netting the lucky recipient one, three or six months of streaming Spotify Premium music service.
If you've traveled to certain locations then you likely know that bargaining over a price is an acceptable practice. It is, however, something that went out of style long ago in the US, save for car dealers. Now Amazon aims to bring it back into fashion.
The new system is called, quite simply, 'Make an offer'. It enables customers to haggle a price with third party sellers who operate on the retailer's platform.
There is little doubt that Spain is a beautiful country, with cities like Madrid and Barcelona, along with many lesser known jewels. However getting there is not always allowed by your schedule, or perhaps even your budget. No need to fear.
Google has sent its intrepid team of explorers to the nation and they managed to snag images of 50 locations around the country. "The Iberian Peninsula has a rich and varied artistic, architectural and cultural legacy. Roman remains, Al-Andalus, Gothic splendor and 19th century Catalan modernism are just a few examples of what you might see travelling around Spain’s cities and countryside. And starting today, people all over the world will be able to explore 50 new iconic locations in Spain with Street View on Google Maps", says Amita Khattri, Street View Program Manager.
PayPal, currently owned by eBay, is one of the most popular methods for moving money online. Of course, as Microsoft knows from Windows, with popularity comes problems. People are going to poke and prod in an effort to find soft spots. Sometimes the intention is to help fix things, sometimes to exploit the problems.
Security researcher Yasser Ali is on the good side, but he still has released details of a vulnerability that shows how easy it can be to hack PayPal. However, before you get all worked up, the payment service fixed the problem before Ali announced it. It also paid him in gratitude for the information.