Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for March 1st, 2012

In his first extensive interview since leaving a New Zealand prison on bail , Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (read our in-depth profile ) describes himself as a family man with a “big kid inside me” who is looking for “happiness and nature and peace” for his family. Sure, he used to drive in crazy road races and style himself “Dr. Evil” and hire lavish yachts, but those days are a decade behind him now. It’s a far cry from the way he has been depicted by US law enforcement . They charged the “Mega conspiracy” in January with some of the most heinous criminal copyright violations on the planet. The sit-down interview with New Zealand journalist John Campbell gave Dotcom a chance to dispel this image and make the case his company really is just like YouTube. It’s not a hard-hitting interview—featuring questions like “Are you as bad as possible, Kim? Are you a very naughty man…?”—but hearing directly from Dotcom at last is fascinating. Read the comments on this post

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There has been talk of the years of haptics technologies which would allow us to move our hand over a glass touchscreen and be tricked into thinking we were touching a fuzzy material, or some rough surface. But that was all R&D talk. At Mobile World Congress this year, however, AllThingsD found a pair of companies who have put that haptic feedback tech into functioning prototype devices. More »

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Full disclosure: I fell asleep about a half hour into my first attempt to play Journey , the latest experience from Flower creators thatgamecompany. I’m not entirely sure this wasn’t the intended effect of the endless stretches of lonely desert sands and dirge-like music that characterize the beginning of the game. Whatever the intention, there was something about the main character’s relentless plodding towards far off ruins that relaxed me to the point of unconsciousness. Read the comments on this post

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Zynga today reveals its very own social game platform, Zynga.com, which was previously called Z-Live and Zynga Direct. The service launches today with five of Zynga’s best-performing games: CastleVille, CityVille, Words with Friends, Hidden Chronicles and Zynga Poker. Here’s what Zynga.com is: a platform on which social games can run synchronously and relatively seamlessly between it and Facebook. A CityVille player logging into Zynga.com today will find their city exactly as it appears on the Facebook canvas, with the same amount of virtual goods in their inventory and same amount of virtual currency in their e-wallet. Thanks to a deeper-than-anything-we’ve-seen integration with Facebook Connect, all in-game activity that takes place on one platform happens on the other. That CityVille player can buy a new park decoration on Zynga.com and it will appear in Facebook if they player were to jump back to the social network and play CityVille there. A Facebook player can used Credits to buy 20 Crowns in CastleVille and those 20 Crowns will be in the virtual bank if the player jumps to Zynga.com. Here’s what Zynga.com is not: an alternative to Facebook. The service is focused on the games experience to the exclusion of almost all other social networking tools. Players can’t post pictures, can’t create events and can only group themselves by Facebook friends and players that play the same games. The only social network features Zynga.com cribbed from Facebook are the chat function, social discovery of new friend connections and a live app ticker for games activity (which is something Facebook recently disabled on canvas apps). Read the rest on our sister site, Inside Social Games .

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Anyone hoping for a truly unlimited “unlimited” data plan is still out of luck, but AT&T has announced some changes (or a clarification, as it puts it) to its throttling procedures today that will at least give you a bit more room to work with. For customers on an unlimited plan with a 3G or “4G” phone (i.e. HSPA+), you’ll now be able to enjoy full data speeds up to 3GB, after which you’ll then see your speeds decrease until the start of the next billing cycle. If you have a 4G LTE phone, however, you’ll have a full 5GB to play with before the throttling kicks in. That’s as opposed to the roughly 2GB of full data speeds that was available in both cases before — and, as with the throttling that was imposed originally, these changes only apply to those still on an unlimited data plan, not those on AT&T’s tiered data plans. AT&T announces throttling changes, now kicks in at 3GB or 5GB for LTE originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 01 Mar 2012 12:45:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink | AT&T | Email this | Comments

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Netflix Gets Serious About Closed Captioning

Posted by kenmay on March - 1 - 2012

Netflix now provides content with captions or subtitles for more than 80 percent of the hours streamed in the U.S. To be clear, this doesn’t mean that 80+ percent of Netflix’s streaming content has captions, but that of all the hours of streaming content watched in the U.S., over 80 percent of it was captioned in some way. This is a significant improvement, considering that captions were only present on 40 percent of hours streamed in June, and 60 percent in November. Netflix is also pushing content providers to offer up already-captioned content, while authoring subtitles for content that doesn’t already have them, according to this blog post . But the company warns, that final 20 percent won’t be completed as quickly as the rest. This is because it’s mostly content that is rarely watched, so even if Netflix adds captions at a crazy rate, the metric itself will take some time to catch up. Back in June, Netflix was sued by the National Association of the Deaf for not providing captions for most of its streaming content. If you’ll notice, that’s around the same time that Netflix picked up the pace to now double the number of hours streamed with captions. If you’re like me and watch almost all of your Netflix streaming TV/movies on a laptop, captioning isn’t just helpful, it’s necessary. Those little speakers don’t help much at all when I need to pick up every little detail in Battlestar Galactica and Lost , so we’re glad to see Netflix keep up the pace.

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Learn The New Windows 8 Shortcut Keys [Windows 8]

Posted by kenmay on March - 1 - 2012

Although Windows 8 has a radical new interface for touch, it still supports the mouse and keyboard and in fact comes with a few new keyboard shortcuts that can make working on Windows 8 more productive and navigating easier. More »

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HOWTO request your FBI file

Posted by kenmay on March - 1 - 2012

xyzzy123 sez, “Want to make a freedom-of-information request to the FBI or other three-letter agencies for any information they might have about you? This post links to a website that lets you enter personal information (or not, if you prefer), and then automatically print form letters to the correct government offices.” The incident that precipitated the article is pretty bizarre: a woman with a history of protest asked the FBI for her file and discovered that she’d been closely followed. What’s more, she learned that despite all that close surveillance, the FBI got her political allegiances completely wrong, describing bitter rivals as fellow travelers and generally getting it all messed up. Life Get Your FBI File! ( Thanks, xyzzy123! )

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Speech-Jamming Gun Silences From 30 Meters

Posted by kenmay on March - 1 - 2012

MrSeb writes “Japanese researchers have created a hand-held gun that can jam the words of speakers who are more than 30 meters (100ft) away. The gun has two purposes, according to the researchers: At its most basic, this gun could be used in libraries and other quiet spaces to stop people from speaking — but its second application is a lot more chilling. The researchers were looking for a way to stop ‘louder, stronger’ voices from saying more than their fair share in conversation. The paper reads: ‘We have to establish and obey rules for proper turn-taking when speaking. However, some people tend to lengthen their turns or deliberately interrupt other people when it is their turn in order to establish their presence rather than achieve more fruitful discussions. Furthermore, some people tend to jeer at speakers to invalidate their speech.’ In other words, this speech-jamming gun was built to enforce ‘proper’ conversations.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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US Shuts Down Canadian Gambling Site With Verisign's Help

Posted by kenmay on March - 1 - 2012

First time accepted submitter ausrob writes “Domain seizures are nothing new, but this particular case is interesting. The Department of Homeland Security has seized a domain name registered outside of the U.S., by individuals who are not American citizens, and who registered with a Canadian registrar. From the article: ‘The ramifications of this are no less than chilling and every single organization branded or operating under .com, .net, .org, .biz etc needs to ask themselves about their vulnerability to the whims of US federal and state lawmakers (not exactly known their cluefulness nor even-handedness, especially with regard to matters of the internet).’” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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