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    January 20, 2016
    Google Perks Up Chrome Speeds

    I love Google Chrome.  It’s the browser of choice for people who want to get things done, safely and quickly.  There’s no memory leak, and it’s more secure when it comes to viruses compared to the competition, and Google is only going to make it better.  Google is planning on making Chrome even faster with some tweaks to the software powering it.  By compressing the data before it reaches your web browser, it makes things move even faster, no matter your connection speed.

    Brotli promises to boost speeds by 26 percent over Chrome’s current processing system, which is good news because the fastest web browser on the market is about to get even faster.  Who complains about getting things faster?  Well, no one, that I know of, but if you need more evidence that it’s good, it also promises to lower battery drain and data usage.  Brotli is coming in the next update for Chrome, and Firefox is also on board, adopting Brotli as their algorithm of choice.

    I can only hope that the next edition of Chrome comes out pretty quickly, so I can experience the speed boost for myself.

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    January 2, 2015
    Apple Japan’s “Lucky Bags”

    There are a lot of interesting New Year’s Day traditions.  My mother, for example, swears on corned beef and cabbage as a way to bring good luck in the New Year.  Other people and other cultures have different things.  In Japan, it’s not the New Year that brings luck, but merchants brings the luck.  Japan has a custom called fukubukuro, in which merchants put together grab bags and sell them to customers, with the bags running for 50% or less of the value of the goods inside.  If you’re very lucky, you’ll do great and get some great deals.  If you’re not, you’ll still get some great deals.  Even Apple has jumped onto the trend.  Here’s a discussion of Apple’s Lucky Bags in Japan, which can include everything from Macbook Airs to wireless headphones.

    So what does that mean?  Well, for $300 or so, you can get somewhere in the neighborhood of $750 in prizes.  The more you spend on your bag, the more goodies you get.  Now the bags themselves are randomly filled, and even Apple employees don’t know what’s inside, they’re just priced by tiers and it’s the luck of the draw as to who gets what.  Even if you don’t get the laptop, you still get a cool prize.  It’s the Japanese equivalent of Woot’s mystery box, and I for one hope it spreads.

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    October 1, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Finger-Licking Phone

    Via HuffPo and KFC Japan.

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    August 26, 2014
    Smartphone “Kill Switch” Coming To California

    Every year, 1.6 million phones are stolen, and most of those phones are smartphones.  In a smartphone is a lot of personal information.  Everything from banking apps to emails to home security systems to car starting apps, the smartphone is the hub of the average user’s universe and to lose that hub is bad enough.  To lose that hub to someone with no scruples is borderline unthinkable.  That’s why customers, and governments, are looking for a way to kill that information theft before it can happen.  California has passed a law saying all smartphones sold in the state must have a “kill switch” that bricks the phone in the event of theft or loss.

    California governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 962 into law on Monday, which mandates a “kill switch” but gives companies the freedom to decide how best to lock down phones based on their software and hardware options.  Minnesota was the first state to pass the “kill switch” law, and companies are totally on board with the concept.  Google, Microsoft, and Apple all have or will be adding “kill switch” options on their phones, though customers typically have to set up that themselves.  Under California’s new law, the “kill switch” will be set up upon activation of the phone, forcing customers to opt in or out.

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    August 15, 2014
    Britain’s Tate Museum Adds Creepy Robots

    If you ever get the chance to go to London, expect to spend a lot of time in museums.  After all, the city is home to some of the world’s most famous museums, and each museum is loaded down with hundreds of priceless pictures, artifacts, sculptures, paintings, and all that sort of artsy stuff that are worth taking the time to visit.  However, between Buckingham Palace and St. James Park and the British Museum and all the other stuff that you have to do, it’s easy to miss some things.  In my case, I missed the Tate Museum, which is a shame in and of itself.  However, not to worry.  The Tate Museum will be open for late-night online visitors courtesy of an army of creepy robots.

    The Robots will have LED lights and cameras, and lucky visitors to the Tate website could be the lucky folks who get to actually control and pilot the robots.  Tour guides will provide commentary as the robots roll silently around the darkened Tate Museum, like creepy mechanical guards standing sentinel over 500 years of artwork.  It’s a cool thing, but it’s also for a limited amount of time, so be mindful and cross your fingers that you’ll get lucky.

    “We want it to feel a bit spooky, a bit mysterious,” says Jane Burton, Creative Director of Tate Media at the museum. “[Online users] will probably see different things in the artwork than [visitors] would see in them if they came during the day.  “From your couch, anywhere in the world, if you’ve got the right Internet connection and browser, you can come and see what we have in our galleries, at night.”

    If this sounds like something you’re interested in, and why wouldn’t it be, you can check it out at the Tate Museum’s After Dark website.

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    January 9, 2014
    T-Mobile Will Pay Your Termination Fees If You Switch

    If you’re in the market for a new cell phone and you’re getting tired of  your current status, you’re pretty stuck until your contract runs out.  At least, that’s how it has traditionally worked for smartphone users.  Two years with Verizon or AT&T in exchange for a lower-cost iPhone and a decent data plan price seems like an okay deal, but when you’re trapped with a phone you don’t like and you’ve got another 16 months until you can get something different, there’s where problems arise.  T-Mobile is giving interested parties an escape by offering to pay their cancellation fees and buy their locked phones.

    So how much will T-Mobile offer those that want to jump ship?  A total of $650; up to $300 for the cost of the phone you’re giving up and $350 in early termination fees (that T-Mobile will refund you after you send them a copy of your final bill from AT&T or Verizon.  Of course, there’s a problem with that offer.  If you pick up a new iPhone 5S, the cost of your phone ($25 spread out over 24 months) will be $600!  Sure you won’t have a contract, and you’ll get to own the phone, but it will be locked to T-Mobile and you’ll still have to pay for your minutes, text, and data ($50 for unlimited minutes, texts, and 250mb of high-speed data and unlimited throttled bandwidth).  You might be better off just paying for the phone you want with your current provider at that price, then leaving whenever your contract is up to take advantage of whatever offers the competitors have at that point.

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    August 23, 2013
    Amazon Testing Out Broadband Service?

    The trend these days seems to be for companies to expand out from their original mission into the lucrative world of internet connectivity?  Weirdly, it seems so!  Once upon a time, AOL spent millions to buy Time Warner and escape the perception that it was just an ISP, and now companies who aren’t ISPs are reaching into the broadband Internet game.  From Google and Google Fiber and beyond, everyone wants to be something else.  For example, Amazon started making its own tablets, and now they’re going to be making the jump to having an ISP?

    Amazon is rumored to be testing out a broadband service with the help of Globalstar, who provide the bandwidth.  Of course, Amazon has been rumored to be working on a smartphone, and the Kindle line of devices uses broadband access, too.  Kindle also has its Whispernet of 3g to send purchased Kindle books and whatnot to tablets no matter their location.  The source of the wireless network, Amazon’s Lab126, is its Kindle skunkworks in Cupertino, California.

    Currently, AT&T is the provider of 4G wireless for the Kindle Fire, but I imagine if Amazon really does roll out a wireless broadband provider, that will be changing.  I, for one, would love to see that kind of cheap connectivity continue in the future, and if I can stop giving money to AT&T and give it directly to Amazon, I’m on board.

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    March 30, 2012
    Codename Orbis: The Hottest Video Game System Of 2013

    It’s called the Orbis, and if everything goes according to plan, you or your children will want one come the holidays 2013.  So, here’s the question:  what’s the Orbis?  That’s simple, it’s the next generation of Sony’s venerable PlayStation line of video games.  That’s right, Sony’s future-proofed system with a 10 year development lifespan is already about to be replaced.  So why is it going to be replaced?

    Well, for one thing, the rumor is that the new PS4 will be capable of running a 3D game at 1080p, rather than the 730p it can currently manage.  It will offer support for a 4096×2160 display, which is significantly more than current HD televisions, and it will feature the latest in AMD processors, both CPU and GPU.

    There are a couple of reasons, but it comes down to this:  Sony wants to control the used game market, and apparently Orbis is going to have some sort of online verification system that locks your game in with your PSN account (if you buy the disc version) or adds it to your PSN as a download (as they’re going to provide downloads of full titles, apparently… not sure how that’s going to work considering a Blu-ray disc is 10 gigabytes or more of data).

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    March 23, 2012
    Facebook Says No To Employer Password Requests

    Facebook, the largest and most ubiquitous social network in the nascent history of social networks, has had a lot of privacy concerns.  While there are data leaks, apps stealing information, and that sort of thing, the latest in Facebook’s concerns with privacy isn’t nefarious hackers, but supposedly-responsible organizations, businesses, and the like.  Increasingly, businesses are asking for the Facebook passwords of potential employees, but Facebook is having none of that, telling employers that they’re willing and able to take legal action to protect user privacy.

    “Facebook takes your privacy seriously,” wrote Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan in a post on Facebook.  “We’ll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action, including by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges.”

    You have to give credit to Facebook for being ahead of the curve on this one.  More importantly, you have to appreciate that Facebook is actively protecting users from the very people who can scare them into voluntarily giving up their privacy:  potential bosses.  In this economy, people will do a lot of things to keep their job, even things that are violations of their right to privacy.

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    March 23, 2012
    Angry Birds Coming To A Theme Park Near You

    Would you go visit an Angry Birds theme park?  Rovio certainly hopes so, as they’ve got plans to take their video game and plush toy phenomenon Angry Birds and turn it into the sort of thing you wait hours in line for.  The first Angry Birds theme park will be opening at Särkänniemi Adventure Park in Tampere, Finland.  And that won’t be the last, if Rovio CEO Peter Vesterbacka has his way.

    “Zynga is a game company.  We stopped looking at ourselves as a game company.  We sold 25 million plush toys last year. For us, it’s about making Angry Birds available everywhere,” said Vesterbacka.

    Angry Birds Lands won’t be a stand-alone thing, but a featured attraction inside a preexisting theme park.  In that way, Angry Birds attractions could be coming to any theme park in your area… or possibly EVERY theme park EVER!  The Angry Birds zone at Särkänniemi will contain slides, sand pits, and video games, all of which will center around Angry Birds.  There is also an Angry Birds movie AND an Angry Birds television show in the works for the Bird-based empire.

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