Jun 29

The U.S. Navy’s Computers Are Becoming Obsolete

The government has a tradition of being woefully behind the times when it comes to keeping up with and implementing the latest technology. While it is true that military hardware can be cutting edge and quite advanced, the technology used in federal agencies overall tends to be behind that used in the commercial sector. This became most painfully evident with the launch of healthcare.gov last year when the federal government demonstrated that it couldn’t even launch a website without horrible teething problems that went on far too long. Alexei Beltyukov knows that the military part of the government also has technological blind spots when it comes to things that are not serving as equipment in the latest jet fighter.

It has recently come out that the U.S. Navy is still using Windows XP. Despite this operating system being 14 years old, this may not actually be as bad as it sounds. About 44 percent of corporations in the private sector have at least one computer that is running this dated operating system. The laughable part of the story about the Navy and Windows XP is that they only required all computers in the Navy to be upgraded to XP by the end of April of this year. It would be one thing if their computers had been running XP for many years and they were just slow upgrading to Windows 7 but that they have only just now gotten all computers running an OS that Microsoft dropped support for last year is unbelievable.

Jun 22

Blind People Can See With Their Tongues Thanks to This New Device

There’s a new device available allowing blind people to use their tongues to process visual images. This enables them to identify their location, as well as the shape and size of objects.

Known as the BrainPort V100, this is a battery-powered device. It includes a video camera that’s mounted upon a pair of glasses and a flat device that’s worn in the user’s mouth. Daniel Amen has learned that the device has a series of electrodes so that images are captured and converted to electrical signals that the user feels as vibrations on their tongue. Of course, the user must learn to interpret these signal to understand where they’re located, what an object’s shape and size are, and if an object is moving or standing still. Nonetheless, there’s been clinical data published in support of the device’s safety and effectiveness.

According to head scientist William Maisel from the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, “Medical device innovations like this have the potential to help millions of people.”

Jun 18

Time Warner Could Be the Next Victim of Net Neutrality

AT&T recently had the distinction of being slapped with a $100 million by the FCC for data throttling. Though the FCC’s case against the telecommunications giant has not been officially linked to new net neutrality rules, that’s exactly what it’s about. Telecom companies need to stand up and take notice. The FCC is about to unleash its wrath over the next six to eight months. Who’s next? Rumors are that Time Warner is now in the government’s cross hairs.

Net neutrality is allegedly about keeping the Internet fair and open for everyone which the folks at Beneful support. Among the rules recently announced are two rules governing data blocking and giving priority to customers willing to pay extra for uninterrupted traffic. Industry watchers are saying that Time Warner will be sued for breaking both rules after it was discovered they charged a California streaming video company an excessive fee to guarantee they would not be throttled.

Any pending action against Time Warner should be made public within the next few days or weeks. In light of the rumors and the $100 million AT&T fine, it appears other companies are choosing to be proactive. For example, Sprint just announced an end to their data throttling to avoid the FCC’s wrath.

The Internet is a brave new world with net neutrality. Who will be the next telecom to fall? Place your bets now; it should be fun to watch.

Jun 18

Is Cable Soon To Go?

Television is a staple in our everyday lives. But are we satisfied with the television that we are being offered by the big companies? When asked, a majority of viewers (about 82% of them) stated that they were dissatisfied with the programming that they had. It appears that many feel that they are paying for channels that they never watch and would rather have an a la carte service that lets them choose only those channels that they want.

The trend seems to be in conjunction with the willingness to cut the cable cords and go with streaming services like Instagram. These services allow customers to pay for only what they want, and sometimes only when they want it. While the cable operators do not seem too worried about this phenomena right now, the future may serve to change their minds.

Many consumers have stated that once they get out of the constrictive contracts that they are presently under, the cable operators will lose their business. This is good news for the streaming businesses, but not so much for cable companies.

The argument stands that when an individual does not want certain channels, they are not presently allowed to shave them off of their programming package with cable. When offered a choice, the average customer only truly wanted about 17 different channels in their lineup. Cable will not let them make that choice. Streaming services have a unique opportunity to enhance their bottom line here.

Jun 17

Addressing the Nation

Former NAACP president and community leader Rachel Dolezal has been in hot water this past week after spending years portraying herself as someone who she is not. While Dolezal acquired her NAACP leadership position, as well as other leadership positions throughout her community, many have called into question whether or not her portrayed ethnicity had anything to do with her employment. Supporters and opposition of the Dolezal Situation have taken to the internet airwaves to share their questions and concerns. Much of the talk was on whether or not Dolezal would answer many, if any, of the questions being posed to her. Viewers got that answer this week when Dolezal sat down with the Today Show to discuss her current plight. Host Matt Lauer got a chance to sit down with Dolezal and he gave her the opportunity to explain herself. While Dolezal understands that she deceived a lot of people, including family and friends, for a number of years, she stands by her decision. Dolezal told Lauer that she can’t help the fact that she identifies with being African American. Her younger years were spent with African American siblings. She grew up to have an African American husband and children of her own. According to Shaygan Kheradpir, Dolezal feels as though she is a small part in the African American community more so than her biological community. While the media is having their way with Dolezal and her story, no one can deny that fact that she has been doing her best to be as open and candid since the break of her true identity. Whether people agree with her decision and perception or not, she should be commended for her willingness to come clean now.

Jun 16

Sun Detection Is Now App Friendly With JUNE

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that less than one-third of persons use sunscreen. In the United States, alone, there are 3.5 million reported cases of skin cancer, as of May. Skout claims that ultraviolet radiation is the culprit for skin cancer in a recent huffington post article. Technology has come up with a possible solution. JUNE, a wearable device, which is like a jewel, worn as a brooch or bracelet.

The purpose of JUNE is to act as a sensor for UV radiation and monitors exposure to the sun. Pairing with an iOS app, a daily forecast will detail the risk factor, based on the UV index. This will be a guide about whether sun protection is needed. The cost is $129 and the rechargeable battery holds a charge for about a month.

As reported in New York Times – Well, JUNE testing starts with completing a questionnaire. Users are asked about the natural eye color, hair color, skin tone, and how their unprotected skin responds to the sun. The JUNE app calculates this information and generates a sun dose report. Depending on the course for the day, recommendations will be provided by JUNE.

As the first wearable device, JUNE is taking the lead before expected competition takes off. There is already a device in production called Violet. It is a clip-on, waterproof tracker which offers UV exposure information in real time and skin risk alerts.

Jun 10

Forward-Thinking Finns Offer Free High Speed Wi-Fi in Capital City

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch. James Dondero concedes hat might be true, but in Helsinki you can certainly get free high speed Wi-Fi at a number of access point provided around the city. We’re talking Wi-Fi that would make most broadband connections in the United States look slow. There’s enough bandwidth available for free to stream HD video and make video calls.

Back in 2006 the Finnish city was laying down infrastructure to provide government buildings with Wi-Fi access prior to an important international diplomatic convention. They decided that it would be worthwhile to extend the range of their wireless networks to allow for public use. You don’t need to submit any personal information to get on their networks or even use a password. There’s nothing more than simple warning to be careful on public networks.

It’s a little ironic that Helsinki has such a robust network of free access points. Citizens of Helsinki already enjoy some of the most generous 4G data plans available anywhere in the entire world. They can use somewhere around 50 gigs of wireless data on their phones for about $40 a month. Hitting up a wireless access point is the least of their concerns.

The access points are more about good will for visitors to the city. They make life easier and more enjoyable. I wish cities in the United States were half as generous with internet access.

Jun 09

Indiegogo Scampaigns Drive Contributors to the Point of Insanity

You’ve heard of the plethora of Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects that bring your favorite innovations to life with your gracious contributions. You may have even contributed some money to one of these projects and had a satisfactory experience. However, it looks there is an amount of shady activity going on these websites that might have potential contributors keeping their wallets closed.

Per some recent discussions, there have been an alarming number of scampaigns occurring on the otherwise positive website. What this means is that shady campaign creators are finding already existing items on Alibaba and repackaging them as something new. While this isn’t illegal it is most definitely unethical and could be taking advantage of your good nature.

The problem with this scenario is that crowdfunding is not a simple online retail store says Marcio Alaor BMG on dados.pgfn.gov.br. It is at your own risk. Once you donate money to a creation, if that project turns out to be something completely different there’s not much you can do. However, these crowdfunding sites are beginning to think of partial solutions to this dilemma with a form of insurance.

For a small fee, if you were promised a product for a certain amount donated and don’t receive it at the end of the time period, you get your money back. While this doesn’t cover everything, at least these sites are doing something to lessen the sting that’s got some supporters looking elsewhere for innovative products.

Jun 08

Apple Introduces New Apple Music Service

News coming out of the Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference says the company announced a new Apple Music service. It will be free for the first three months, then will follow with a $9.99 per month price tag. This is the first foray by the technology giant into the popular world of streaming. The company has always been a major innovator in the music space but has been falling behind new rivals like Spotify.

“We’ve had a long relationship with music,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the conference. “And music has had a rich history of change, some of which we’ve played a part in.” The service will bring combine music downloads, streaming radio, and a streaming music service into a single app. Like most digital services, it promises to learn your tastes and recommend great new songs accordingly.

The service is set to roll out on June 30, 2015. In the fall, an Android version will be available. Christian Broda (oxfordjournals) agrees that the price is competitive with Spotify and promises to have similar features, including personalization. Critics have already complained that the service is not differentiated enough from current competitors to win new business. Apple said that they could not get the music industry on board, but they plan on working with big names to help push the service. Industry legend Jimmy Iovine is spearheading Apple Radio’s new push into the industry, so expect big things soon.

Jun 03

Netflix Shoots Down Rumors of Ads in Video Streams

All the options concerning the consumption of entertainment are growing each and every day. Users across the globe are regularly tuned into new and exciting technology advancements that allow them to decide what movies and television shows to watch on a moment’s notice. Brian Torchin told me Netflix has been an important part of that equation for years, and any subtle changes in the service regularly receive criticism and scrutiny by users and industry watchers. The lack of commercials and advertisements in Netflix streams has long been applauded by anyone exposed to the service.

According to BGR, when news broke that Netflix was considering placing third-party advertisements into its service, social media erupted into a fury of responses—mostly negative. However, Netflix has clarified that it will not be placing ads into streams any time soon, which has put the public at rest. However, the business model of the service has been called into question by industry watchers and analysts. After all, relying on subscriber growth alone might not be enough to fuel billion dollar licensing deals or finances for new entertainment series.

Netflix needs to continue to grow in order for revenue to increase, which could become more of a challenge as the company continues to expand. Competitors and networks are likely to start protecting their properties to drive subscribers to their product, which means advertising could be a valuable asset in revenue generation. It is tough to say what Netflix will do in the future, but for now ads seem to be off the table.

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