Just under a year from when Google and Logitech first unveiled the first Google TV, otherwise known as the Logitech Revue, Google I/O 2011 is this week in San Francisco with some real hope for the platform. Google just signed a deal that brings thousands of videos YouTube.
Content, content, content. Without it, you're as dead in the water as the some extended cable channel at 3 a.m. The only reason that fools like me own one is the vague hope that Google might see the light, open its pocketbook, and perhaps give us some real content to watch.
It's odd, in a way, that consumers could even gripe about such a thing. A few bucks to Netflix or to Hulu opens up a wealth of fresh and archived content that should keep the most devoted couch potato rooted for weeks. But there's something inutterably frustrating about visiting a website and seeing content blocked—blocked!—just because you own a particular piece of hardware.
It seems likely that Samsung will announce its Google TV devices this week, in addition to a Chrome OS netbook. With Logitech reporting just $5 million in sales for the Revue, it would seem that the supply will outstrip the demand.
But with Google's deal that brings rentals to YouTube, there's hope for the platform yet. While Google TV doesn't look likely to dominate the media streamer market, let's look at what Google could do to make the next generation of Google TV succeed.
At this week's BlackBerry World trade show, everyone expected the top headliner to be the company's just-released PlayBook tablet and its new software offerings. As it turned out, the gadget ended up taking second spot to a surprise guest: Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer.
Ballmer came out during RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis' keynote yesterday morning to announce a partnership that would bring Microsoft's Bing search engine to BlackBerries. Search is a big deal in mobile devices, so it's fitting that a heavy hitter from Microsoft came to give its blessing, but many took the appearance of the CEO as a clear sign of bigger things to come.
Does RIM know what it's in for, though? There's considerable doubt over whether the company's strategy and platforms can be successful over the next couple of years. If they're not, Microsoft could end up owning RIM.
"Will Microsoft buy RIM? That is a possibility and a fast track for Microsoft to gain a foothold in the mobile hardware business," says Harry Wang, director of mobile research at Parks Associates. "RIM's market capitalization is only $25 billion and Microsoft has $48 billion in cash. If RIM's value drops to $15 billion, it will become an attractive target for Microsoft. Maybe Steve Ballmer was planting that seed during his keynote appearance at Blackberry World."
The FCC has opened public comment on the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, and now is the time to make your views known.
I have no idea whether any amount of public outrage will stop this merger, but we might as well try. Checking this morning, I saw that there are already almost 3,000 comments submitted, overwhelmingly opposing the merger.
AT&T set out its justifications for the merger in a 388-page filing with the FCC.
I'm sure that AT&T will soon rally some sort of Astroturf organization to write comments in support of the deal. It's interesting, really: the comments I could find in support of the merger come from groups and trade associations, while the comments against the merger generally come from individual Americans. It's clearly easier to get a lobbying organization in AT&T's corner than it is to get real people in support of this deal.
Osama bin Laden has likely stayed off the grid for the past decade in order to evade capture, but was it his aversion to tech that actually did him in?
During a late-night press briefing on bin Laden's death, the White House said that the Abbottabad, Pakistan's compound's lack of an Internet connection was one of the things that tipped off investigators.
"It's also noteworthy that the property is valued at approximately $1 million but has no telephone or Internet service connected to it. The brothers had no explainable source of wealth," a senior administration offical told reporters.
The brothers in question are a trusted bin Laden courier and his sibling. The White House said intelligence officials became aware of this courier four years ago thanks to information provided by detainees, but only uncovered his location in August 2010.
White House officials said they were "shocked" by the compound.
Osama Bin Laden's death is a clear victory in the war on terror for the U.S., but as someone who was working in New York City on September 11, 2001, this event also highlights just how much has changed in the world of technology, communication and news dissemination in the last 10 years.
Nearly a decade ago, I marveled at how technology allowed us to not only learn about the attack on the World Trade Center, but experience it as it unfolded. Back then, I relied heavily on AOL's Instant Messenger to communicate with my team in the office and those scattered around the country. As a result, AIM was a constant presence on my desktop and it's through that platform that I learned of the first jet hitting one of the towers. With that distressing information in hand, our staff gathered in a conference room to watch TV news on a larger projection TV. As a result, we all witnessed the second plane hit the other tower and knew we were under attack.
I used AIM throughout the day to stay in touch with family, friends, and co-workers. Most of my news updates, however, were delivered via TV and radio. There was no Google News, no Facebook, no Twitter, or YouTube for anyone to post eyewitness accounts.
Last night, much of the world learned of Osama bin Laden's death hours before President Barack Obama announced it in a televised news conference at roughly 11:35pm Eastern. Back in 2001, those sharing news about the airplane hitting one of the World Trade Center towers were simply repeating what they had seen on local television networks. Real news was rarely traded on the point-to-point instant messaging service. In fact, there was no concept of a viral network or participants simply sharing what they were experiencing to a wider group without thought of import or impact.
Sony's devastating security breach is not only a public relations nightmare and now, an identity-theft worry for its customers, but it's also a reminder (yet again) of the vulnerability of computer networks.
Sony's PlayStation Network is comprised of networked servers housing massive amounts of data including valued customer data. The parts making up Sony's network are not much different than the parts making up any other business' network, except most business networks are on a smaller scale.
While Sony is not releasing a lot of detail as to how the breach was carried out or what security mechanisms it had in place that failed, there are some good lessons learned for any business no matter what the size about protecting network infrastructure and the data residing on those networks.
One of the key ways any company owner can protect themselves is to forget the notion of, "Why would anyone want to hack into my network?" Why? Because they can. Whether you run a business making chocolate candies or handle financials for thousands of clients, taking an offensive approach against hackers, network intruders, or script kiddies looking to make a name for themselves, is fundamental to protecting your business network.
It's important to know that in the technology world, there is no such thing as 100 percent secure. You can lessen the chances of network or data compromise though, with a few tips:
Buried in Apple's statement on how the iPhone tracks a user's location data, the company admitted it was collecting anonymous location information to create a "crowd-sourced traffic database" that will be part of a future "improved traffic service."
The thing is, there's already a traffic service on the iPhone, provided by Google. If a user launches the Maps app and selects "Show Traffic," the map overlays colors on roads that show traffic congestion. Google gets the traffic data by—surprise!—crowd-sourcing it, aggregating information from Google Maps users who have approved the app for location services on their mobile devices.
Apple's statement reveals that the company is working on its own version of such a service. Whether that service will be something that Apple will use to improve traffic in Google Maps, or if Apple will launch a competing maps app, or something else entirely isn't known. Apple didn't respond to multiple requests for comment on the topic.
If you're just planning to turn on the telly and tune in the Royal Wedding, you'll be missing out. It's 2011, folks! There are a host of online destinations, social media tools and mobile apps that can truly help you experience the full scope of this 21st century event.
All of the major broadcasters will be airing the Royal Wedding on live TV Friday morning, but so will several online venues. YouTube will be streaming the entire event live at The Royal Channel, built specifically for Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding. Livestream is also streaming the AP Live feed of the day's events, plus more coverage from CBS News, ET and the UK Press Association. And you can watch full streaming BBC coverage at BBC News' dedicated wedding site.
You can also watch the event live on a smartphone or other Internet device on the Sprint TV ABC News Channel, which is part of the carrier's basic Sprint TV channel package. T-Mobile TV will only carry pre- and post-wedding coverage but start-to-finish coverage is available through Xfinity.tv, which has apps available on the Android Market and on iTunes.
In most cases, live-anchored coverage begins at 5 a.m. Eastern Time(2 a.m. Pacific) and live coverage of the ceremony starts at around 6 a.m. ET (3 a.m. PT). That's pretty early for most people, so what to do if you don't want to wake up hours before dawn?
Is Amazon preparing to launch an Android tablet? Peter Rojas of gdgt thinks so, and the time does seem right for a refresh to the company's Kindle e-reader; the last time the product got a major upgrade was two years ago. And, as Rojas points out, there's a wealth of circumstantial evidence that points toward Amazon readying a tablet.
Apple has thoroughly dominated the tablet market since the iPad first went on sale about a year ago. The company sold more than 14 million iPads last year, and analysts project that Apple will move as many as 60 million iPad 2s in 2011 (though first-quarter sales were down). Although there was buzz that the Motorola Xoom, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, or the BlackBerry PlayBook might present some competition for Apple's wildly popular tablet, no company has yet been able to produce a tablet worthy of taking on the mighty iPad. Amazon might be the most likely candidate.
Coverage of the iPhone tracking "feature" has ranged from concern to outrage. "I don't know about you, but the fact that this feature exists on an iPhone is a deal-killer," wrote PCMag Columnist John Dvorak, shortly after news broke. Editor Dan Costa drew a softer line, writing, "Apple may not be actively tracking you, but it did turn your phone into a tracking device without telling you."
I'm not about to give Apple a pass on disclosure or execution. Who combs through an Apple privacy statement when the latest iOS software awaits? And, to "collect" and "share" user data is one thing; to retain it in an unprotected file is quite another.
However, I think it's important that, with a few days' hindsight, we move beyond the bombast, pin down the facts, and see what's actually there. To do this, I've taken a close look at what's at risk and, in empirical spirit, borrowed fellow PCMag software analyst Jeff Wilson's iPhone 3GS to see what I could learn of the man and the travels using Pete Warden's iPhoneTracker app.
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