Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Digital Jedi is in the studio talking tech!

Yes it is 100% true, Andrew Thomas of Nexa is a digital jedi and he joins us almost weekly to talk about what is hot and what is not in the world of tech.







The show notes!

Headspace meditation app

  1. Facebook and advertising ok cool
On Thursday, Facebook announced the updated roster to Audience Network, which has become its main ad technology for serving ads outside its own properties. Wenner Media owns Rolling Stone, and Washington Post has become one of the top digital publishers, reaching about 100 million unique visitors in November.
Facebook built the ad network for publishers to get another source of ad demand. Meanwhile, advertisers get to extend their campaigns off Facebook and Instagram. It's a highly controlled programmatic advertising platform, and Facebook claims it can target the billion people with the same accuracy it does on its own site.

2. Cool device!

3. E-waste a biproduct of our tech world
If you thought our throwaway gadget culture was already having a nasty effect on the environment, watch out... it's getting considerably worse. A United Nations University study has revealed that the volume of e-waste in East and Southeast Asia surged 63 percent between 2010 and 2015, reaching 12.3 million tonnes. Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and mainland China were unsurprisingly the largest local generators. But why the rapid spike?
The report argues that social and technological progress are to blame. Some Asian countries (such as China) have rapidly burgeoning middle classes. That's great for quality of life, but it also leads to more people buying gadgets that wind up in landfills. The proliferation of new technologies like tablets and wearables doesn't help, either. And when it's both easier to import products yet harder to stick with them for long periods, it shouldn't be surprising that there's a lot more junk.

4.WhatsAPP not totally secure but it is ok

Last year, WhatsApp switched on end-to-end encryption for all of its users. Now a report suggests that the approach is flawed—but the company argues that the vulnerability is an unavoidable trade-off in making the service user-friendly.
According to a new report by the Guardian, WhatsApp has a flaw that could, in theory, allow the company to read messages that users assume are safe from prying eyes. Tobias Boelter, a security researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, tells the newspaper that WhatsApp can force a device to generate a new encryption key when a user is offline. Then, if someone is sending a message to that device while it’s offline, the sender will be made to re-encrypt the messages and resend them.
Those messages could, says Boelter, be read by WhatsApp. And, presumably, by anyone who demanded the company turn them over, too.
WhatsApp knows this is the case, and it is unapologetic about it. It has a compelling argument: convenience. Whenever you swap SIMs, use a new phone, or for any other reason end up using WhatsApp afresh, the system creates a new set of keys to ensure your conversations remain secure. Any messages sent to you in the meantime would be lined up on the sender’s phone waiting for your return to the service. So WhatsApp tells the sender’s device to re-encrypt them using a new key before sending them. The idea: nobody has to miss a message.
WhatsApp defended itself in a statement issued in response to the Guardian report:
As we introduce features like end-to-end encryption, we focus on keeping the product simple and take into consideration how it's used every day around the world … [In] many parts of the world, people frequently change devices and SIM cards. In these situations, we want to make sure people's messages are delivered, not lost in transit.
5. Twitter update! Engagement is all about pictures
Twitter is rolling out a new feature designed to increase the amount of visual content in users’ timelines and encourage more tweets and replies: it’s prompting users who have just updated their profile picture to post a hashtagged tweet about the change. The tweet will be appended with #NewProfilePic, which can then be seen by all the users’ Twitter followers.
TechCrunch noticed that tweets about #NewProfilePic first appeared back in December, with some referencing the fact that this appears to be a new Twitter feature.
A Twitter spokesperson has confirmed the rollout and timeframe, saying that users will be prompted to tweet with the autofilled hashtag, but the tweets are not sent out automatically. The tweet can also be edited to say whatever the user wants.
The addition first launched on Android, where it’s now available to all users. A small percentage of iOS users can also use the feature, but the full rollout on that platform is still weeks out, Twitter tells us.
Though a minor change to the Twitter experience, it’s one that can be used to increase user engagement.
6. Apple and original video is coming… slow but sure is the apple way
Earlier this month, The Wall St. Journal reported how Apple is working to bring in veteran producers to help create original content, including TV series and movies for an expanded Apple Music service. Now, Apple Music head Jimmy Iovine has offered additional insight about Apple’s plans in this space, as well as how it hopes to differentiate itself from existing streaming competitors, like Pandora and Spotify.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Iovine essentially confirmed reports of Apple Music’s further expansion to video, while speaking over the weekend at the Television Critics Association press tour.
“At Apple Music, what we’re trying to create is an entire cultural, pop cultural experience, and that happens to include audio and video,” he said.
And by “video,” he didn’t just mean music videos and those that fit within the broader musical genre, as with Apple’s earlier purchase of James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” or Dr. Dre’s “Vital Signs, ” a semi-autobiographical scripted TV series that will be also distributed by Apple.
Instead, Iovine hinted that Apple will consider other types of programming, as well.
“If South Park walks into my office, I am not going to say you’re not musicians, you know?” Iovine said, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s account. “We’re going to do whatever hits popular culture smack on the nose. We’re going to try,” he added.
The exec also commented on how Apple will make its service stand out, as compared with today’s streaming music rivals, like Spotify and Pandora, which focus on converting free users to paid subscribers.
“We’re fighting ‘free.’ So a simple utility where, ‘here’s all the songs, here’s all the music, give me $10 and we’re cool,’ is not going to scale,” Iovine said.
Apple Music has no free tier, beyond its free trial, which is a decidedly different strategy from its peers. Spotify, for example, has said that 80 percent of its paid subscribers began as free users, which is why it continues to offer the “freemium” tier as an entry point to its service.
7. Who is using the new airpods for apple devices and what do they think? Ads coming to tell us how great they are!
These adverts are not just about education, although they do help reinforce the wireless nature of the AirPods and the fact that the iPhone 7 is out there. The really goal is about positing the AirPods in the market. Although Apple has a number of small technical advantages in the AirPods (battery readouts on the paired device, integration with Siri, the code inside the W1 chip) the AirPods are simply another pair of wireless earbuds.
A quick search on Amazon shows just how much competition is out there. The competition in general sells for a lower price than the AirPods, create a better 'seal' in the ear to keep out extraneous noise out and in many cases appear better equipped to stay in situ.
These adverts help Apple overcome those marketing challenge and bring in consumers who are desperately happy to pay the $159 plus tax the AirPods cost, but are also happy to eulogize about the product and help sell Apple's latest accessory to their friends. Apple needs to create a sense of wonder, of lust, and of cool, around the AirPods.
8. FINGER printing! What? Another way to track us is killed by firefox! But browser guys must love this for analytics

There are all kinds of ways that advertisers try to track you online. You already know about cookies, but did you know you can be identified by the fonts that are on your computer?
It's a form of what's known as browser fingerprinting. By probing your browser for various bits of information -- like your screen resolution, time zone, interface language, what plug-ins you have installed -- you can actually be identified with a high level of precision.
Fingerprinting is harder to fend off than a run-of-the-mill cookie because all the data your browsing is handing over is stuff that any website might need in order to deliver you a page that's actually usable. It all looks harmless enough, but when you add it all up it's a real privacy concern.
How do you protect yourself from fingerprinting? By using a browser that offers protection from it. Firefox is a good choice, and when version 52 arrives later this year that protection will get even better.
Firefox 52 will help prevent sites from tracking you by checking the typefaces that you have installed on your computer. Yes, the same fonts you can scroll through to change the look of your Word documents.

Games like 1-2-Switch seem like a good starting point but it’s more games like Ultra Street Fighter II and Super Bomberman R that have the greater potential to get people involved. In short, the Switch needs a lot of local of multiplayer games if the potential of the Joy-Cons are to be fully realized.
In any case, I still remember when the Nintendo DS was written off and most people, myself included, overlooked the importance of what it offered in terms of gaming input.
The Nintendo Switch then is something that could succeed in a similar way and, again, it’s all down to what you can do with a game and the Joy-Cons are the crux of that. Not only do they have the potential to make the Switch a more social gaming hub, the Joy-Cons facilitate traditional console gaming input as well. In short, the Switch's killer feature isn't really its portability but its controllers.
10. BlackBerry and Nokia! What? Is it too late or???

Leaning on licensees

The funny thing is that neither Nokia nor BlackBerry will actually make the phones that bear their names. The Nokia brand is licensed by HMD (and manufactured by Foxconn FIH Mobile). BlackBerry still owns proprietary software like BlackBerry Hub, but a company called TCL has licensed the rights to make the phone. (TCL, a Chinese company that's had recent success with Roku TVs in the US, also makes devices like 2016's Alcatel Idol 4.)
It's up to these companies to help the Nokia and BlackBerry names sink or swim.

Betting big on Android

Before the iPhone changed everything, Nokia and BlackBerry were status symbols, but their third-party software fell behind. A struggling Nokia sided with Microsoft to create the doomed Lumia line (Microsoft bought a 10-year license to the Nokia name, which it abandoned after 5). Meanwhile, BlackBerry faltered with its own BlackBerry OS before turning to Android, which it padded with its own security software. The Mercury will keep this combo.
The Nokia 6 is the brand's first Android phone, but Google Play services are disabled in China, the 6's first market. Its MWC launch will be the first time we get to see the handset in full-on Googly action, and see how an Android Nokia phone really works.

You take the high road, I'll take the low road

Nokia and BlackBerry have similar ambitions, but different ways of getting there. BlackBerry's "Mercury" aims for the high end (we don't know how high, but they tell us "premium"), while Nokia's 6 is firmly in the midrange, with a sale price in China that converts to about $250, £200 and AU$330. Although we don't know much about HMD's plans for Nokia's roster of phones, we do know it plans to dole out $500 million over the next three years on global marketing.


Photo by HMD
BlackBerry-licenser TCL may shoot for the high end now, but it plans to build a complete portfolio of devices that span the cost spectrum, Alcatel's head of North America, Steve Cistulli, told CNET. Before 2017 ends, expect the Mercury to have a low-cost counterpart.
But will all the cash matter? Will the best-laid plans stall Nokia and BlackBerry's downward spirals long enough to see them gain new buyers?
It's hard to say.
During the dark Microsoft Lumia days, Nokia did best as a low-cost brand with solid hardware, especially in cost-conscious and emerging markets. The Nokia name became a value buy. With Android at its side, there's a chance Nokia could fight in the mid-tier. The brand has a history of built-in wireless charging and metal construction, but it's been so long since the its designers were allowed to really branch out from candy-colored plastic, it's hard to imagine a super premium Android Nokia phone.
BlackBerry, meanwhile, will continue to struggle with an identity crises so long as it holds on to the notion that its security software is the thing that sets it apart -- software that primes it as a business device rather than one that the everyday consumer would want. Still, its signature hard QWERTY keyboard does appeal to anyone who likes the thought of physical, rather than virtual, typing.
Once upon a time, you could expect stalwart fans to prop up sales of the latest Nokia and BlackBerry phones, at least initially. But with all but the die-hard fanboys having given up and moved on to Android or iPhone alternatives, it remains to be seen if these legacy brands can even carve out a niche in the middle or low end. Only time will tell.
11. Wearables and the NBA!

Reports out of the tentative negotiations for the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the NBA and players union indicate that a wearables committee is set to be formed. This committee made up of NBA officials and representatives of the players will determine how and where wearable technology will be used to track and record player biometric data.
This move is intended to reduce the number of injuries and overexertion issues that players experience throughout the season. Playing your best players throughout most of the game is a good idea on paper. After all, shouldn’t you put the players that score the most in the game?
In practice, this doesn’t work out very well at all. As the season goes on, prolonged exertion and intense workloads take a toll on the players. Top names like LeBron James and Kyrie Irving end up sitting out key games to rest. If there was a way to track these player’s exertion levels, the coaches would be able to better manage the team’s time in the game in order to improve player longevity.

12. Snapchat and more visible search! Hmmm

Snapchat has given brands and publishers new hope that they could get discovered.
On Thursday, the messaging and media app revamped the design of its search, opening the possibility that brands and publishers will get more exposure for their Snapchat videos.
The search changes are mostly cosmetic at this point, and they don't dramatically alter how people discover new accounts. However, it offers a more visual search design that appears readymade for brands and publishers to be able to promote themselves, perhaps eventually paying to find larger audiences.
Snapchat unveiled the search changes on select Google Android phones, but said it would soon roll out more broadly.
The new search page borrows from Asian messaging apps like WeChat out of China and Line from Japan, according to Jason Stein, CEO of social agency Laundry Service.


13 Kodak Camera

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