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    October 14, 2014
    Netflix Offering 4K TV For A Price

    If high definition just isn’t good enough for you, then there’s a solution.  That solution, of course, is 4K television.  If you have one, I’m sure it’s great.  If you don’t have one, then you’ll be on the non-cutting edge of the wave.  If you do have one and you need a new way to show it off, then perhaps consider turning to streaming video.  Just be prepared to pay a little more.

     

    Netflix is adding a surcharge for 4K content.  Instead of getting 4K streaming for your standard $8.99 package, it will now run you $11.99.  Still, if you have a 4K TV, you may as well pay extra to get the most out of your 4K experience, and another $3 a month isn’t that big of a deal.  Granted, most of what’s on there now is documentaries and Netflix’s own series House Of Cards, but maybe you want that extra definition as you watch Kevin Spacey do nefarious things in Washington, D.C.

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    October 14, 2014
    The Windows Tablet That Costs Less Than Windows

    If you haven’t heard of the companies Emdoor or Ployer, don’t be alarmed.  They’re not well-known companies here in the United States, and they’re probably not all that well-known in their native China, but they did make waves at a recent technology show in Hong Kong where both companies announced that they’re going to put two Windows tablets on the market with one noteworthy bonus:  both laptops cost less than the price of buying Windows.  Not one, but two $65 tablets.

    The Emdoor I8170 is a 7-inch tablet, while the Ployer MOMO8 is an 8-inch tablet.  Of course, they’re $65 so they’re probably very, very far from the top of the line, but if you’re going to choose between a $65 Windows tablet and no tablet at all, well… that’s not much of a choice.  They’re powered by Intel Atom processors, though not the top of the line ones, and feature an impressive 16GB of onboard storage.  Of course, they only have 1 GB of RAM to speak of, so they’re not going to win any sprints or be able to do a whole lot at one time, but when you’re buying a tablet for less than the cost of a new video game, well… you take what you get.

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    October 10, 2014
    Tracking Trends: Words With Friends

    It’s been five amazing years for Words With Friends, Zynga’s flagship word game and one of the best approximations of Scrabble you can get your hands on these days.  I’m a big fan of the game (and feel free to start a game with me) and while I’m not the best WWF player, I’m very enthusiastic and have anywhere from 5 to 10 games going at any one time.  I must not be alone, because Zynga has released a lot of fun facts about just how much people love their word game.

    There have been 58 billion words played in the game, with players running up 1.2 trillion points.  In the 7.7 million games played, 217 billion letters have been used.  Amazingly, there are 5,478 words that have only been used once (though I’m sure that’s going to chance now that people know the words are out there).  The most popular words are qi, it, he, re, and jo.

    Now, if  you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go.  I’ve got several games waiting on me, and I’m itching to try out my new letters.

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    October 10, 2014
    Teens Fleeing Facebook

    The Facebook boom is busting.  Once upon a time, Facebook was driven by teenagers and 20-somethings, but now it appears that the bloom is off the rose and the teens are leaving Facebook.  Between spring 2014 and fall 2014, Facebook use among teens dropped from 79 percent to 45 percent, which is a staggering collapse for the world’s only real social networking platform of note.  Increasingly, teens are finding their way to Twitter, Instagram, and other social networking services, or none at all from the looks of the survey conducted by Piper Jaffray.

    Even accounting for gender and household income, the 7200 students surveyed seem to have decided to take a break from Facebook.  Of course, these kinds of dips and dives are common among teens, particularly given their responsiveness to trends and their ability to move back and forth between social networks as they feel like.  I think that Twitter and Instagram are the more… cool social services, but Facebook is just too omnipresent–for the moments–for teens to give up on completely.

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    October 3, 2014
    Fun Friday Videos: The Butt Test

    The Samsung Galaxy Note 4, like the iPhone 6 Plus, is a huge phone.  Well, by phone standards anyway.  It’s light and thin and looks pretty breakable, but as it turns out, where the iPhone bends and breaks, the Note 4 bends and retakes its shape.  Samsung put out a pretty impressive commercial detailing the Galaxy Note 4′s flexibility and strength, and it’s worth watching if only to see the giant rubber butt they use to bend-test the phone.

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    If you own a Samsung phablet, this is a reassuring video, definitely.  It’s amazing to think of how much weight something that small can withstand, and how much bend force it would take to bend the case.  If you’re an iPhone 6 Plus owner, well… I suggest you buy a really good phone case and avoid sitting with your new iDevice in your pocket, if at all possible.  Maybe keep it in a purse or briefcase, or at least a chest pocket.

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    October 3, 2014
    Turning British Pay Phones Into Solar Chargers

    Once upon a time, Britain was known for its bright red telephone boxes, the UK equivalent of the pay phones we know and love here in the United States.  However, these days, the pay phone on both sides of the Atlantic is a reminder of a time before constant communication, and increasingly phone booths are being removed, abandoned, or destroyed.  However, one company has a good idea of what to do with all those telephone booths and call boxes:  turn them into cellphone chargers.  Solarbox equips a phone booth with solar power, batteries, and four chargers, then opens it up to the public as a free charge point for travelers on the go.

    “The energy is stored in a battery, so you can even charge your mobile phone during the night or when there is no sun,” said Harold Craston, the co-founder of solarbox.  ”We wanted to show that we could use public spaces in a positive way, and that London should try to become more green.”

    The first Solarbox is already up outside the entrance of the Tottenham Court Road tube station in London.  Located near London’s shopping district, it’s one of the busiest places I’ve ever been in the world, so that’s going to be a great test of Solarbox’s ability to handle a high amount of traffic.  Fingers crossed it works, because there’s nothing worse than having to look for an outlet when your phone is dying.

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    October 1, 2014
    The iPad Gold

    One of the more successful ideas Apple had was to expand the range of color options for the iPhone.  After all, gray and white get old pretty quickly, especially when it’s all the color choices you have.  So when Apple rolled out gold as a color option, no doubt it helped the bottom line.  Now Apple is strongly considering a change of color for the venerable iPad, too.  That’s right, the next generation of iPad may come in gold.

    The next iPad, specifically the 9.7 inch model, isn’t officially announced yet, but most of these rumors end up being true once they make it out into the big wide world.  I don’t see why adding some color to the plastic molding process (or however Apple carves its iPad shells) won’t be a reasonable choice to make, given the success colors have.  Plus, people like choice.  The Henry Ford color choice conundrum–any color you want, so long as it’s black–won’t work for gray or silver, and it seems like a natural choice to expand the options.

    Of course, if you have enough plastic paint, you can make your iPad any color you want without damaging its usefulness.

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    October 1, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Finger-Licking Phone

    Via HuffPo and KFC Japan.

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    September 30, 2014
    Microsoft 10: 12 Things To Know

    Microsoft is skipping a generation.  The company that jumped from Windows 98 to Windows XP is adding another confusing layer to its operating system naming system (kind of like how Apple names all its OSX updates after cats).  Microsoft 8 wasn’t a big success, so the company has decided to jump right past 9 and go straight to 10.  Microsoft has announced Microsoft 10, and here are 12 things you’ll need to know about it before it arrives.

    Interestingly, this announcement seemed aimed most at business customers, and focused on the productivity of Windows 10 and the way it would integrate touchscreen features with traditional computer interfaces in a more seamless way than Windows 8 did.  They also promise it will stretch across all form factors, from phones to desktops and everywhere in between, echoing Windows 8 promises but showing more of an awareness of just where they went wrong with the previous release, and what they would need to do to correct that.

    If they can actually make all this work in one OS (I remain skeptical) then they’ll really have something with Windows 10.  Then again, if it sounds too good to be true, I’ll just stick with Windows 7.

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    September 25, 2014
    Drones Make It To Hollywood

    One of the coolest shots in any movie is a helicopter shot.  You put a camera on a helicopter, and you go flying around, or you chase down a fleeing car, or you just… well, do anything, really, provided it’s from the air.  However, every time you have to go up in a helicopter, there’s an element of danger.  Lots of things can go wrong, and people have died in helicopter crashes in making movies since helicopters became a part of the film language.  But there’s a better solution, and it’s unmanned.  Hollywood aerial photography companies will now be allowed to use drones to capture all those cool visuals movies depend on.

    “Today’s announcement is a significant milestone in broadening commercial UAS use while ensuring we maintain our world-class safety record in all forms of flight.  These companies are blazing a trail that others are already following, offering the promise of new advances in agriculture and utility safety and maintenance,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

    Really, it’s probably the safest of all options, both for the FAA and for the people making films.  Nobody has to get up and fly around in a helicopter, dodging and weaving through power lines, when a comparatively tiny drone lugging a camera around can do the same job much safer.  I doubt any drones will be going high enough to cause problems with existing flight plans (also unlike a helicopter), so this seems like a win all the way around.

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