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    July 23, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Angry Bird

    Image via pasqualinoh.tumblr.com

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    July 9, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Stickers

    Via:  Cory Doctorow

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    July 2, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Keyboard Paws

    Via: Cutest Animals Twitter

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    June 20, 2014
    The iPhone’s Crime-Stopping Kill Switch

    Recently, both Apple and Microsoft have announced that they were going to install so-called kill switches in their smartphone operating systems.  Basically, what that means is if someone steals your phone, you can remotely send a signal to the phone that renders it useless, locked down and able to protect all your data.  Good deterrent to thieves, right?  As it turns out, Apple’s kill switch has reduced smartphone thefts in New York City.

    And not just in New York.  From London to San Francisco, Apple device thefts are down.  San Francisco is down 38 percent; London is down 14 percent.  New York’s thefts, from grand larceny to simple robbery, are both down as well.  Unsurprisingly, thieves are turning to easier targets:  Samsung phones are getting stolen more and more often, picking up the slack from the stolen iDevice market, I supposed.  Maybe it’s time for all smartphones to have kill switches built into them, and maybe then we’d see device thefts completely eliminated (or perhaps a chop shop-type device theft ring increase).

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    June 18, 2014
    Amazon Unveils Fire Phone

    It takes a brave company with some real confidence to look at a crowded market and shout, “Me too!”  Amazon is one of the bravest companies running today, given their history of jumping into industries.  They launched the Kindle e-book reader into a crowded market and came out on top.  They launched the Kindle Fire and immediately became a force in the tablet marketplace, especially among other Android-powered devices.  They have a streaming music service and streaming video service (and two-day shipping) connected with Amazon Prime.  And now, they’re taking aim at the mobile phone market.  Amazon has announced the Kindle Fire Phone.

    The Fire Phone comes with one really cool feature.  Dubbed Firefly, it’s a service that allows you to point your Amazon smartphone at any television show or product and be taken to a page on Amazon’s store to buy it.  If you’re listening to a song, you have your phone listen to it and you can buy that, too.  It’s a spectacular feature, especially when paired with Amazon’s database of 100 million items.  There’s also a 3D-type display, for those interested in that.  Plus, presumably, it’ll make phone calls.

    The phone, sold without a contract, is $649, but a $199 AT&T version will be coming soon.  The phone comes with 12 free months of Amazon Prime, which is one of the best services imaginable for the money.

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    June 7, 2014
    Apple To Add Custom Headphone Connectors

    Apple has purchased Beats headphones, which means that it’s time for Apple to start tinkering with the headphone game.  For example, connectors.  Every headphone is basically connected to a 3.5mm connection, which means that every pair of headphones you have probably works with your iPhone and iPad.  Apple, of course, doesn’t like giving that much power to third parties, so that’s going to change.  Apple is going to remove the 3.5mm connector jack in favor of a proprietary Lightning headphone connector.

    “If your headphones support, for example, noise cancellation, you can offer an app on your device that communicates with your headphones that controls how it operates,” said Apple manager of platform accessories Robert Walsh at the Worldwide Developer’s Conference.

    Of course, rather than just putting third-party headphone makers on notice, Apple’s move to the Lightning standard offers some other benefits.  For one, it allows your iPhone or iPad (or iWatch) to power your headphones directly, reducing the need for headphone battery packs and allowing for more advanced control features on headphones.  It also allegedly improves sound quality from analog to digital.

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    June 4, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: The Hitman

    Image via r/squaredcircle.

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    June 2, 2014
    Ambassador Sworn In On Kindle

    If you can’t get sworn in to take the oath of office, you can’t assume the office you’ve otherwise been selected for.  Take, for example, an ambassadorship.  Depending on the country, this is either a very important position or an afterthought, but when it’s time to assume the office, you have to be sworn in.  Good luck finding a paper copy of the Constitution these days, especially in a foreign country.  US Ambassador Suzi LeVine was sworn in via Kindle Touch after a paper copy of the United States Constitution couldn’t be found in the embassy building.  LeVine will be the ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

    Fittingly, the event was commemorated on Twitter by the US Embassy in London, England.  LeVine put her hand on a digital copy of the Constitution, making her the first Ambassador sworn in via electronic means rather than using the traditional paper version of the Constitution.  Perhaps the next presidential inauguration can be performed using an iPad in place of a Bible, perhaps in front of a digital display of a United States flag rather than a flapping fabric version.

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    May 30, 2014
    Fun Friday Videos: Kids React To Old Computers

    I just love the videos from the Fine Brothers.  From kids to teens to elders to YouTube stars, they have a great series of videos in which people react to other videos shown via YouTube.  There are a lot of fun varieties, but the ones I think I like the most are the ones in which kids react to antique pieces of technology.  I’ve posted the rotary phone video before, but this one just might be even better, if only because it’s a computer that predates my knowledge of computers, and even predates the computers I used in elementary school.  “Kids React To Old Computers” is great stuff.

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    I have to admit that if you plopped down a computer with a command line in front of me, I’d be about as helpless as these kids.  I could probably remember where the power button is on the back, but other than that I don’t think I could run anything.  Even having to use the run command from time to time on my Windows computer is asking a bit too much for me, and I’ve been using computers for almost 20 years at this point.  Spoiled by the GUI, I guess.

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    May 8, 2014
    Apple To Spend $3.2 Billion On Headphones

    Beats President Luke Wood, Dr. Dre, and Jimmy Iovine

    When you’re a company like Apple and your main business has slowly transferred from making computers to making music players and selling music online through your ecosystem, it’s better to spend your money on something that will directly help your core business.  Google spends its money on patents, Facebook spends its money on other social apps, and Apple… well, they’ve decided to go big on music and are spending their money on headphones.  Apple is going to buy Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion dollars.

    Beats Electronics is the company behind the Beats by Dre headphones.  Founded by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine of Interscope/Geffen/A&M Records fame, Beats provided higher-end headphones for the discerning consumer, and it includes a host of celebrity endorsers from Lady Gaga to Justin Bieber.  Beats has gone from producing headphones to speakers, and from speakers to audio processing technology for cars, computers, and smartphones.  That makes Beats a natural fit for the things Apple is doing in the music industry, particularly the iPhone.

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