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    July 26, 2014
    Verizon To Slow Down Heavy Data Users

    Once upon a time, Verizon offered high-speed cellphone data service to everyone.  For a low monthly price,  you got all the bandwidth you could use.  That plan was discontinued in 2012, but some folks who subscribed to the service continue on as legacy users.  That plan is about to change once again.  Verizon will now have data caps on heavy unlimited users starting in October.  Their service won’t stop completely, but it will be throttled until the next billing cycle.

    The top five percent of users in data-heavy markets on 4G plans will be affected; once they top 4.7GB of data in a month, they’ll find their service slowed down until the next month, at which point it will presumably continue on as normal again.  It’s all part of Verizon’s plan to move everyone to tiered data plans; tiered data customers won’t be affected, as per usual.  Customers using 3G data plans are already under the terms of the throttling plan.

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    July 18, 2014
    Cat Feeder With Feline Facial Recognition

    My parents have four cats, and that means that feeding time for the kitties quickly becomes chaos.  The calico wants to eat everyone’s food.  The gray one needs special food because she’s diabetic.  The brown and white one is an adult cat who eats normal adult cat food.  The calico and the orange one are still kittens and need kitten food.  Everyone wants to eat everyone else’s food.  Believe me, it’s a mess, especially when I have to go over there and feed for them.  That’s what makes the idea of the Bistro smart cat feeder so genius.  Taiwan design team 42ARK have created the Bistro, which monitors cat eating habits and uses facial recognition to keep cats from misbehaving around the food bowl.

    Perhaps more interestingly, it can also be used to track the food intake of the cats to figure out who needs to go on a diet, who needs to eat a little more, and which cat is the one that eats everyone else’s food.  There are also weight sensors in the food bowl to make doubly sure that the right cat has the right food.

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    July 10, 2014
    LG’s Kid-Tracking Kizon Smart

    So you’re wondering just where your child is, and while you can probably just call them on their phone, that won’t tell you if your child is actually somewhere safe or if they were out somewhere doing something dangerous.  That’s where technology comes in.  There are probably some tracking apps out there, but good luck getting the kid to use said app, or not disable said app.  That’s where the Kizon comes in; it’s a cool-looking wearable device that keeps a parent app updated with location information.  LG has announced the Kizon, a child-tracking smartband that pairs allows parents to keep tabs on their child.

    It’s not just a band, though.  The Kizon is also a phone, and parents can control just who calls, who the child can talk to, and so on.  If the child doesn’t answer the phone, the Kizon automatically activates its microphone so you can hear what’s going on.  And if your child happens to need you, you can preprogram a phone number into the device that the child can call with the push of a button.  Privacy concerns aside, that’s a really cool way to keep tabs on your little ones, should they need that.

    If you’d like more information, check out LG’s Kizon website.

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    July 2, 2014
    Send A “Hodor” With The Hodor App

    Tyler Hedrick is a student at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University, so it’s safe to say that he’s pretty smart when it comes to, well, lots of things.  One of his many tricks has been his work as an app designer.  Inspired by the Yo App, which just texts the word yo to people, he’s come up with something even better.  Combining his app design skills, parodying the Yo App, and channeling the mighty power of HBO’s smash sensation Game of Thrones, Tyler Hendrick has created the Hodor App.  That’s right, now you can Hodor at your friends.

    The app is currently only for devices running Apple iOS 7 and greater, and there’s no designs on making an Android version of the app.  Plus, I imagine HBO could shut it down any time they want, but so far nobody’s done anything about the app quite yet.  If you’re looking into designing a Hodor app for Android, Hendrick says he would welcome that with open arms.  If that’s you, then I suggest you Hodor Hodor to Hodor Hodor’s Hodor.

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    June 26, 2014
    Apple’s Cheapest iPod Touch Yet

    These days, it seems like the idea of having a separate device to play music seems almost old-fashioned, like having a rotary dial telephone or an 8-track player in your car.  However, for some folks–people like me, for example–like having a device that only does one thing and does it well, rather than one device that does everything well kind of.  In that spirit, Apple has both upgraded and reduced the price on its line of iPod Touches.  The 16gb iPod Touch is Apple’s cheapest iPod yet at $199!

    Not only is the iPod Touch cheaper, it’s also got upgraded features.  The $199 iPod features a 4-inch 1136 x 640 Retina display, an Apple A5 processor, a 1.2-MP FaceTime front camera, and a rear-facing 5-MP camera.  It also comes with iOS 7, with the ability to upgrade to iOS8 when it comes out later in the year.  It also comes in a lot of new colors, just in case the standard silver wasn’t good enough.  It comes in pink, yellow, blue, space gray, silver, and red, which means you can now match it up with any outfit you want.

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    June 19, 2014
    Test-Drive A Personal Drone Detector For $500

    Are you worried about drones?  You know, those quiet, hovering, all-seeing eyes in the sky piloted by vague yet sinister government agencies?  I’m not, but it’s a pretty rational fear.  There’s a company out there who is working on a system you might be interested in, and for $500 you can take it for a test drive.  Domestic Drone Countermeasures (DDC) is the company behind the Personal Drone Detection System, a system that, well… does what it says on the tin.  DDC has created a system that detects drones and alerts you to their presence.

    The company, based in Portland, Oregon, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to support their product.  Basically, it triangulates moving transmitters using a mesh system, which is basically how it tracks drones.  If this seems like something that might interest you, for the low price of $500 you can be an alpha tester of the product and be a part of the testing pool.  Which, really, is a very cool reward indeed.

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    June 11, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Laptops Then And Now

    Via: SciencePorn on Twitter

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    June 10, 2014
    Google Glass Banned By Movie Theater Chain

    Google Glass, as controversial as it has been in bars and places like that, hasn’t been outright banned from most of the world at large.  Not yet, anyway.  Given that Glass is still a niche product that has yet to take over the world (and is still not available to the world at large), there’s not been a lot of problems yet, but two theater chains have decided to nip the problem in the bud by banning Glass all together.  AMC Theaters and Alamo Drafthouse Theaters have banned Google Glass in their movie houses.

    Of course, no one has yet used the Glass recording technology as a piracy method, but AMC banned them after a man wearing the Glass glassess was arrested over allegations of piracy.  As for the Draft House–one of the best movie experiences I’ve ever had–the chain goes out of its way to keep the attention on the movies, not on the audience.  Meaning no texting, no talking on the phone, and now no Glass to prevent any distractions during the film (as well as piracy concerns, according to Drafthouse CEO Tim League).  However, Drafthouse’s ban is a bit more flexible, with the Glass being banned on a case-by-case basis, rather than issuing a blanket ban like AMC.

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    May 28, 2014
    Google’s Driverless Car

    There’s a joke on Mike Judge’s outstanding HBO series Silicon Valley in which Jared (Zach Woods, AKA Gabe from The Office) gets into one of the driverless cars that pilots around the very odd Peter Gregory (the late Christopher Evan Welch) the city of San Francisco.  Anywhere Peter wants to go, all he has to do is tell his car, and the car will drive him with expert precision.  Except most GPS programs are pretty literal, and when the car is entirely propelled by the decisions of the computer, there’s no one there to stop Jared from ending up in a shipping crate on its way to Peter Gregory’s private island.

    The self-driving car is no longer a fiction.  Google has built a self-driving car with no wheel, no pedals, and no need for a human driver.  It can carry two people and has a top speed of 25 miles an hour.  There only way the car can be controlled is with a stop and go button.  Good thing it’s got all the latest in protective sensors to keep you safe.

    “They won’t have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal… because they don’t need them,” said a Google statement.  ”They have sensors that remove blind spots, and they can detect objects out to a distance of more than two football fields in all directions, which is especially helpful on busy streets with lots of intersections.”

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    May 9, 2014
    The Navy’s NeRDy New Library

    When it comes to the United States Navy, there’s not a lot of free room.  I’ve had friends who served in the Marine Corps, and when they were on board a cruiser headed across the world, they told me there was nothing to do but work out and nap, with Internet access, online time, and general entertainment pretty tightly controlled.  Good for the body, but poor for the mind.  With the Internet being a source of security concerns, the Navy has banned ereaders from its ships due to their WiFi connectibility, memory slots, and USB connectivity.  There’s also not a huge amount of room for reading material on board, from entertainment reads to technical training reads.  Hence, the Navy’s General Library Program teamed up with Findaway Worlds to create a nerdy e-reader called NeRD.

    “We knew we wanted to do something fun with name … and especially because the Navy came up with it, we were like that’s awesome.  We thought the NeRD would be viewed more as a playful play on words.  We did have this discussion a few months ago when we came up with that name together, does it send the wrong connotation?  But we felt like the word nerd has transcended and evolved … especially to be something that denotes enthusiasm,” said Findaway World vice president of digital products Ralph Lazaro.

    NeRD stands for Navy e-Reader Devices, and each NeRD unit comes prestocked with a selection of reading material, both nerdy and general interest.  Interestingly enough, the NeRD acronym comes from the Navy itself, and they handled most of the branding and design of the unit.

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