Amazon opened a 3D printing store last week that lets shoppers customize items ranging from cell phone cases to toys. Apple and IBM are teaming up to develop business apps that are as user-friendly as consumer apps. And a security expert warns that USB devices are the latest way hackers may be targeting your machines. The Computer Guys and Gal are here to explain.
Apps Of The Month
Thyme If you are a word famous chef like me, ya got five burners going! This timer should help you out. -John Gilroy
Air Stylus for iPad
If you have an iPad 3 or newer (and ideally a full size model) and a stylus (precise, pressure-sensitive model recommended) you can use this $20 app to turn your iPad into a pen display for your Mac. Photoshop, SketchBook Pro and Painter users may want to give it a serious look.-Bill Harlow
Gain Fitness This free iPhone app comes loaded with workout exercises- it costs a bit to add Yoga to it, but it can be done and helped by this app. Gives you a warm-up and exercise strengthening. Fun!-Allison Druin
Tech In The News
- The Next Big Thing In Hardware: Smart Garbage?
- When Free is Not Free (the difference between “free to download” and “free” to play).
- Bla Bla Bla ... no, that's not just Kojo talking. A startup called BlaBlaCar has raised $100 million to launch its free matching service for drivers.
- Time for consumers to get scared. Friend-of-the-show Brian Krebs writes about thin and mini ATM skimmers.
- Robot journalists . . . robot radio show hosts? . We could get one to be John’s replacement!
- Microsoft cuts jobs: Satya Nadella takes a PR hit.
- New wearables
- Technology news for the “foodie”: Custom toasters can now toast a selfie on bread, so now we can get Kojo on our toast!
- Show me the money: Twitter did
- Twitter making more news: back up to 173 million quarterly users, but questions about accounting practices
- Our Relationship With Physical Media Is About to Change: Patrick Klepek talks about buying physical media specifically for things that feel special to him. Digital and streaming are fine for most things, but every so often he wants something to take physical space and feel real. That's an honor bestowed upon worthy content.
- All Power to the Pack Rats:
Ian Svenonius argues against minimalism (and how minimal is it when you replace physical objects with digital hoarding?)
- Inside Citizen Lab: “When you think about hacking as a civic ethic—this idea of lifting the lid and seeing what's beneath the surface—this all comes together,” Deibert says. “The idea of hacking and hacktivism seemed to me a really powerful way of motivating people; not hacking and breaking the law, but hacking as the spirit of curiosity about technological systems.”
- Nefarious malware that can compromise the USB controllers in computers, devices: The key here is it's not simply data stored in a USB stick's memory, but in the firmware itself, which therefore can stay hidden and spread to other USB controllers.
Other big news this month:
Apple and IBM's seemingly unlikely partnership: Apple and IBM are partnering to sell iOS hardware and custom apps to enterprise customers.
Microsoft to lay off a Verizon Center's worth of employees: The majority are redundancies due to Microsoft's purchase of Nokia. It's the largest number of layoffs in Microsoft's history.
OS X Yosemite is now in public beta. Anyone using it yet?
AOL's Ryan Block recorded the very strange interaction he had when attempting to cancel his Comcast broadband internet: This isn't "customer retention". This is psychological warfare.
- The Physical World Goes Virtual: It used to be there was software and there was hardware— and it had little to do with the “real world.” Now our tech is creeping into everything! For example- the big news that Amazon is jumping into the 3D-Printing market. Amazon has gotten together a group of vendors who will dole out the “on-demand” requests for 3D printed objects. Users can customize their designs with software and then the vendor prints it out and sends it back via mail.
- Stanford Med students are learning how to use Google Glass to do operations. They will be streaming their views of the operation to instructors. This is not the first time tech has been a part of surgery— today many surgeons use robotic devices so that they can more accurately move devices inside people’s bodies.
- Tech is even coming to traditional instruments thanks to researchers in the UK. Researchers in the UK have created a unique guitar that can capture tell its own history. Its does this with hidden digital codes within a decorative pattern on the guitar. It’s sort of like QR codes where you can point a mobile phone or tablet at it and get access to more information. However these codes look like a traditional guitar decoration.
Decoupling ... software:
Google and Facebook are now making their products less dependent on other products.
1. You can now use Google Hangouts (similar to Skype) without having a Google+ account (Google’s answer to Facebook/twitter). You just need to have a Google Apps account.
2. Facebook is decoupling it’s messaging feature from the rest of Facebook so the company can expand the features and make it a better free-standing product.
3. The “Messaging App” will now have to be downloaded separately from the Facebook app— this will not be the case for the desktop versions, but for mobile versions.
So why are they doing this? Google and Facebook see dollar signs. They want to expand their customer base and to do this they need to expand their product lines and this is one way to do it.
Hacking For A Cause
It used to be when people thought about volunteering to help people in need or to help a cause— they would do it by building houses, serving food in soup kitchens, running races to collect money. But now it’s become common place to “hack” or code software for a cause. For example, this weekend, the hacking and scientific community are coming together for a weekend on the Chesapeake Bay to create software that can help the public learn more about the Bay or change their behavior towards helping the environment around the Bay.
The Maryland Department of the Environment, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Hack Baltimore and the Future of Information Alliance have come together to award prizes for the best software created by teams. DISCLAIMER- FIA is one of the organizers, so technically WAMU is involved, but not really.
Another example, is Code4Africa- a non-profit group that is developing an African technical community by teaching them the latest professional tools and given them infrastructure (server space) to code on. On Aug. 9 they will be hosting an African Coders Conference (Free Coders) in DC to show the variety of tech that Africans have been developing in new tech hubs in African countries.
Coming in a few months the 2014 #WIThack, a series of hackathons across the country that is looking for women entrepreneurs to lead teams of women and men in developing new tech. This will come Oct. 10 to the DC area as a Mobile App Hackathon for Women in Technology Other locations will be in Palo Alto, Seattle, Atlanta, Portland, and more.