Communication is huge money. We take it for granted, as there is quite the glut of available chat solutions online. By controlling communication, you can track and control a user's behavior. A good example is Hangouts. Google makes an app that can run on Windows, but it requires the Chrome browser. As a result, Hangouts users may choose Chrome over other browsers. A consumer in the market for a smartphone may skip Windows Phone, as Google doesn't support the platform. Don't get me started on Apple; Facetime keeps users locked into Mac and iOS too.
Today, Microsoft announces in an email to users that both Google and Facebook Chat support are being removed from Outlook.com. Google Chat is not a surprise, as the search-giant is sun-setting that service in favor of the more restrictive Hangouts; Microsoft does not have a choice. Facebook Chat, however, is a shock.
Vulnerabilities in software are a fact of life; only a fool would say any code or method is perfect. The moment you fall into that trap of dangerous thinking, you have let your guard down.
So while vulnerabilities will happen, and must be accepted, how the developer responds to the flaw is the true test and measure of its security. In other words, if a vulnerability should always be expected, so too should a prompt patch to fix it. Sadly, McAfee Labs finds in a new study that this is not the case. Many insecure and vulnerable apps are found to not be patched, months after the flaw-discovery. Yes, months.
Google Wallet far predates Apple Pay, but even with the head start, the Android-owner has failed to impact the mobile-payment market. Meanwhile, the fruit-logo company has made a serious dent, gaining the support of many partners. Even in popular culture, Apple Pay is featured in many TV commercials, while the average consumer probably has no idea what Google Wallet even is.
Today this changes, as Google announces a strategic agreement with AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile to pre-load Wallet on all Android handsets. Clearly, this is a declaration of war against Apple Pay, but can Google realistically win?
As an American, I am really only exposed to two languages -- English and Spanish. While I speak the former fluently (it is my native language), my comprehension of the latter is extremely limited. For the most part, I am satisfied in my English-only world, but I do regret not learning other languages as a child.
While I am now too old and set in my ways to learn a new language, technology makes the need to do so less important nowadays. Translation software helps communication barriers melt away. Now, Microsoft Translator is expanding beyond common languages, to the more rare. The company announces that Yucatec Maya and Querétaro Otomi are supported.
Martin Scorsese is a damn good director. He is behind such classic films as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Casino, and Goodfellas. As a New Yorker of Italian heritage, I pretty much have to like the guy. Not all of his work is gold though. Bringing Out the Dead is a personal favorite, though not a classic. I downright hated Gangs of New York and The Departed, but people seemed to enjoy those, so what do I know?
What I do know is that Apple has tapped the man for its latest iPad advertisement. Titled "Make a film with iPad". The one minute video is narrated by Scorsese, although he is never seen. This is probably for the best, as his signature unwieldy eyebrows might scare Apple's hip demographic.
Wearables are awesome, the next big thing. Smartwatches in particular are very functional extensions of the smartphones, which have become ubiquitous nowadays. True, many tech pundits were dubious of the smartwatch's utility; including myself. I came around after actually using a smartwatch -- the Android Wear-based Samsung Gear Live -- for an extended period and loving it. My colleague Joe Wilcox is a recently converted proponent.
As great as Android Wear is, there are problems. While the most glaring is the fairly short battery life of devices, its lack of cross-platform support is a bigger issue. In other words, it can be harmful to consumers to have a product that only works with a certain platform, as it limits their freedom. An Android user with Android Wear that wants to move to an iPhone for instance, will be left with a useless smartwatch. Thanks to a developer named Mohammad Abu-Garbeyyeh, this may no longer be an issue. This impressive dev has gotten Android Wear to work with iOS. The best part? No jailbreak needed!
When I was a young man, around the age of 8 or 9, a friend of mine got a NES and Super Mario Brothers. I went to his house almost every day to watch him play. Yes, he would give me turns, but you know how that goes -- you play for maybe 5 minutes while your friend plays for 3 hours. After a while, this became unbearable -- watching someone else play was torturous. I begged my dad for my own, so I could play as much as I wanted. My pops came through for me after a while, coming home with a NES, Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda. I had to play it on a black and white TV, but I didn't care; no more watching people play.
Fast forward to 2015 and I don't have the time to play video games; it is tragic. With that said, I do find time to watch others play. I know this sounds crazy, as I used to hate never getting a turn to play, and having to watch watch my friend, but now I watch Pewdiepie on YouTube, and many others on Twitch, playing video games. Why is this enjoyable? I have no idea. I'm not alone, however, as Twitch is massively popular. In fact, it is so popular that the first-ever TwitchCon has been announced. Will you be going?
What do you do when you are facing scrutiny in the media? Damage control. You see it all the time with celebrities. A famous actor or musician does something wacky or stupid and ends up crying to Oprah, or going to rehab.
If you are a respected computer manufacturer, what do you do to fix a tarnished image? Open source. Nothing makes computer nerds more giddy than hearing that software is open source and the source code is available to investigate. Today, Lenovo releases an official open source Superfish removal tool under the Mozilla Public License.
Lenovo is not having a good time right now, and rightfully so. Its inclusion of the Superfish adware on some of its consumer products has caused outrage and shock in the tech community. It is important to remember that Lenovo is not the super-villain in this story, Superfish is. In other words, the manufacturer was not intentionally malicious, but most likely misguided.
Today, Microsoft is a super hero -- Aquaman if you will -- and its super power is Windows Defender. Yes, Aquaman is destroying the Superfish villain, leaving Lenovo as the now-saved damsel in distress.
Every summer, I board a charter boat out of Captree State Park in New York to go fishing. Why do I do this? I love to fish and I cannot afford my own boat, so it is a great way to experience the Long Island nautical life for the afternoon (not to mention catch a tasty dinner). It is also a great way to have a technology-free day, leaving the smartphone at home and replacing it with a rod in my hand.
Almost always, however, there is some idiot who does not appreciate nature, that throws his garbage overboard into the waters below. It is depressing to see people not care about the environment. Not to mention, seeing Bud Light cans and food wrappers floating by ruins the picturesque scenery. Today, Docker announces a new 'Open-source-a-thon' where people can learn about both open source and marine life conservation. The best part? Docker will use the proceeds to adopt a blue whale! Any excess proceeds will be given to Oceanic Society to help study and protect our oceans.
Buying a new Windows computer can be a really fun moment. When you say goodbye to your aging and slow machine, and start fresh with a new model, everything seems faster and peppier. Unfortunately, many manufacturers pre-load unwanted software on these computers, causing headaches and wasted time for the consumer. It can take hours to uninstall all of the stuff you do not want.
Sadly, Lenovo has crossed a line when it comes to this practice. Along with all the the usual added software (bloatware), was a piece of adware called Superfish. From a security standpoint, it could potentially put customer data at risk with man in the middle attacks, which in turn threatens the manufacturer's reputation.
Believe it or not, even as a big tech and gadget nerd, I have never owned an iPhone. My smartphone life went from Palm, to BlackBerry and ultimately Android. I didn't purposely boycott the iPhone or anything, it just never happened.
As an iPad owner, however, I have come to love iOS for its ease of use and collection of amazing apps. For whatever reason, I usually prefer the iOS version of apps over the Android equivalent; they seem more snappy and fluid. So, why haven't I switched to the iPhone? There are still some major issues with Apple's phone and mobile operating system that prevent the jump. The ball is in Apple's court, however, and if the company meets my demands, I will switch.
Music is my favorite hobby, and I am certainly not alone. Technology has enhanced my listening in ways that I never dreamed. As a child of the 80's, I started with cassettes and later upgraded to CD. Collecting CDs and vinyl consumed my life; I even embraced MiniDisc to create my own digital mixes from my newest records.
Nowadays, I have continued my evolution to mp3 and ultimately, streaming. Long gone are the days of collecting and storing; Spotify is the sole source of all my tunes. Whether listening on my PC, tablet or smartphone, I demand a quality speaker -- preferably Bluetooth and portable. My current favorite portable is the UE BOOM. Today, I am looking at the next-generation, called the MEGABOOM. Is it mega awesome?
The world of computing is getting very scary. I tend to be a bit of a conspiracy-theorist, mostly due to my inquisitive nature. While being concerned about hacked hardware and government surveillance would be viewed as paranoia years ago, it now becomes a sad reality.
In light of Kaspersky Labs' bombshell and brilliant research (deserving of an award, in my opinion), we now know that nothing can be trusted -- your hard drive may be an undetected spy. Today, Imation announces the IronKey S1000, a hardware-encrypted USB 3.0 flash drive, which the company calls the "world's fastest hardware-encrypted USB flash drive". Can it thwart the now-infamous Equation Group?
It's Oscar time, baby -- woo! It's time to start planning your parties and get-togethers. Hopefully you've seen all of the nominated films. Sadly, I have not seen any, which is tragic, as I love the cinema. Unfortunately, I can no longer afford to regularly go to the movie theater (who can, nowadays?), and I am opposed to pirating films. I've heard wonderful things about American Sniper, Whiplash and The Theory of Everything -- maybe I will try to see one of them on Saturday (Whiplash looks like the best of the bunch).
Microsoft announces that its search engine is predicting the Academy Awards. Believe it or not, Bing has a pretty good overall track record -- it predicted the Patriots to win the Superbowl long before New England was guaranteed a spot in the game. With that said, it predicted Beyoncé to win best-album Grammy, but the more talented Beck won instead. Will Bing see success at the 87th Academy Awards?