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EU Data Transfer Ruling Leaves Tech Companies in Quandary
October 6, 2015
Europe's highest court has ruled that a 15-year-old agreement regulating electronic data transfers with the U.S. was invalid, potentially striking a blow to thousands of U.S. technology companies that rely on a uniform legal standard do business overseas. The European Court of Justice ruled that the U.S. Safe Harbor agreement was inadequate to protect the privacy rights of ordinary citizens.
Adobe Lays Out a Feast at Its MAX Picnic
October 6, 2015
Adobe raised the curtain on two mobile apps and a basket of product upgrades at its MAX conference in Los Angeles. Both new apps -- Photoshop Fix and Capture CC -- are free, but they initially will be available only to users of Apple's mobile devices. Photoshop Fix includes some commonly used Photoshop features -- exposure, contrast and saturation control, as well as object and blemish removal.
Facebook, Eutelsat to Use Satellites to Spread Net Across Sub-Saharan Africa
October 5, 2015
Facebook and Eutelsat have entered a partnership to leverage satellite technology to provide Internet access to remote parts of sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative, which includes a multiyear agreement with Spacecom, will utilize the entire broadband payload on the future AMOS-6 satellite as the backbone of a dedicated system that will include satellite capacity, gateways and terminals.
Amazon Banishes Apple and Google Streamers
October 5, 2015
Amazon last week said it planned to stop selling streaming devices from rivals Apple and Google. A pillar of its Prime ecosystem, Prime Video, was incompatible with Apple TV and Google's Chromecast, the company suggested. It made the decision to "avoid customer confusion," according to a company statement. Other devices with streaming capabilities would continue to be available, the company said.
Gadget Ogling: Eyes on Google
October 3, 2015
Chromecast helps people easily stream whatever they want through their TV via a simple dongle. Now Google's adding a splash of color to the device, along with a string of new features. Instead of resembling a USB stick, Chromecast 2 is more like a colorful button, and Google says it is easier to plug into an HDMI slot. Also, it apparently can stream videos faster and with less buffering.
Nest Labs Opens Door to 3rd-Party Devs
October 2, 2015
Nest Labs on Thursday said it would open its communications platform to third-party developers for the first time, which will allow outside home device makers to set up products that communicate directly with Nest products. Nest announced an update to its Nest Weave communications protocol that will allow outside developers to link other home devices to its own.
Microsoft and Google End Hostilities, Partner Up
October 2, 2015
There's strong, scientifically verifiable evidence indicating Microsoft's move to join the rest of the tech world in open source and collaboration was propelled by a compelling force: the Nadella effect. Since taking the company's helm, CEO Satya Nadella's message has been one of collaboration, and meeting consumers on their terms. For example, Microsoft pushed Office 365 to all major platforms.
Logitech Adds Portability to Home Monitoring
October 1, 2015
Logitech on Wednesday announced a new monitoring system that links users to live feeds of their homes via an app. Called "Logi Circle," it picks up Nest's Dropcam model and expands it with mobility. On one end of the system is the app, available for both Android and iOS, which lets consumers view high-definition camera feeds live. On the other end is a portable camera, the size of a webcam.
TiVo Bolt Zaps Ads
October 1, 2015
TiVo on Wednesday urged users to give commercials the finger with its Bolt set-top box, which allows ad-skipping on some shows. The Bolt is available immediately online, and it will show up on store shelves this weekend. It comes in 500-GB and 1-TB versions, priced at $300 and $400, respectively, inclusive of one year of service. After that, users will pay $150 a year for the service.
New Sonos Speaker Costs $500 but New Smart Tuner Is Free
September 30, 2015
Sonos has unveiled a new version of its top-of-the-line Play:5 speaker, which includes three mid-woofers and three tweeters. It can be set up in three orientations: by itself, or paired with another speaker -- either vertically for tight sound, or horizontally for a more immersive experience. Sonos also introduced Trueplay, an iOS app for tuning its wireless speakers to a room's acoustic profile.
Google Lines Up a Batch of Marshmallow-Ready Hardware
September 30, 2015
Google on Tuesday introduced a pair of new phablets, a couple of Chromecasts and the first tablet it built by itself. The unveilings took place at its Nexus event in San Francisco. Months of leaks drew very accurate portraits of the $499 Huawei Nexus 6P and $379 LG Nexus 5X and other Android hardware, but Google filled in the details ahead of Android Marshmallow's expected Oct. 5 release.
Found on Mars: Cool, Clear Water?
September 29, 2015
Dark, narrow streaks going downhill at four locations on Mars are evidence of water flowing on the planet. Called "recurring slope lineae," the streaks are approximately the length of a football field, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. They are believed to have been formed by the seasonal flow of water. A report on the research was published Monday in Nature Geoscience.
Samsung Gear VR to Test Virtual Reality's Mass Appeal
September 28, 2015
Samsung last week unveiled a consumer version of a virtual reality headset adapter that converts Samsung smartphones into head-mounted displays. The move represents a first strike -- ready or not -- as top tech industry players begin to push virtual reality hardware into consumer markets. Samsung and partner Oculus VR have imparted several improvements to the consumer version of Gear VR.
Gadget Ogling: Pebble Goes Round, VR Hits Movies, and Smart Locks Lose Keypads
September 26, 2015
The latest Pebble looks a touch different from previous models of the smartwatch. Instead of a square screen with rounded edges, it bears a circular watch face. The Pebble Time Round also is thinner and lighter than its siblings, but it's not as water-resistant. More importantly, the battery doesn't last as long -- a couple of days rather than a week. That earns it a black mark.
OPM's Latest Bad News: 5.6 Million Fingerprints Lifted
September 25, 2015
The Office of Personnel Management on Wednesday revealed that the hackers who penetrated its records system stole 5.6 million fingerprints of federal employees -- five times the 1.1 million originally reported. The cyberattack, which came to light this spring, compromised the Social Security numbers and other sensitive information of 21.5 million people.
Apple Car Talk Starts Making Sense
September 23, 2015
The Apple car rumor gained some legs this week with a report that brings some interesting new insight. Though a bit shy on verifiable details -- it cites unnamed people familiar with Apple's plans and vaguely refers to people inside Apple -- the report suggests the company will triple its current 600-person team to 1,800 people as it ramps up its car development effort, code-named "Titan."
What Goes Around Comes Around: Russia Gets Hacked
September 23, 2015
Russia has been a prime suspect in recent cyberattacks against U.S. government targets. However, Russia has been poked with the other end of the hacker stick. For more than two months, hacker attacks originating in China have bedeviled Russia's military and telecom sectors, Proofpoint researchers have revealed. Russian-speaking analysts working at global financial firms also have been attacked.
Exploding Chip Could Thwart Cyberthieves
September 22, 2015
Researchers at Xerox PARC have developed a self-destructing mechanism for microchips embedded on a hardened glass surface. The glass can self-destruct upon command and could be used to secure personal data such as health and banking records. It also can be used to destroy encryption keys stored on memory chips in standard consumer, enterprise and government electronic devices.
GameStop Swims Against the Digital Download Tide
September 22, 2015
GameStop has signaled resistance to the trend of bundling game consoles with digital downloads rather than physical copies of games. The company ships more than half of all PlayStation 4 and Xbox One software. GameStop worked with its partners to sell the physical version of Madden 16 in its PlayStation 4 and Xbox One bundles, Chief Operating Officer Tony Bartel recently told investors.
Dreamforce and Then Some
September 21, 2015
What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago, the booths on the Dreamforce show floor were little more than outposts for widget-makers. Fast-forward to Dreamforce 2015, and one is struck by the number, variety, and size of the partner community. That's only part of the story, though. Often out of sight is the sizable display of talent that has consolidated around Salesforce.
Tests, Lies and Volkswagen
September 21, 2015
German automaker Volkswagen on Sunday admitted that it installed software that doctored the pollution tests for diesel vehicles sold in the United States. Volkswagen stock, which is listed in Europe, fell more than 20 percent Monday morning on the announcement. The company apparently was concerned that meeting the federal emissions standards would require it to degrade the vehicles' engines.
Amazon Fans Fire's Flames
September 21, 2015
Amazon last week confirmed and detailed the bare-bones Fire tablet, which will sell for just $49 -- and it announced five other Fire family additions while it was at it. Flanking the Fire tablet are the refreshed Fire HD, the Fire TV with 4K, the Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote and the updated Fire Kids Edition. Amazon announced two flavors of the revisited Fire HD.
DMV Meeting Revs Apple Car Rumors
September 21, 2015
Apple executives reportedly met with officials from California's Department of Motor Vehicles regarding the company's plans to test an autonomous vehicle. Mike Maletic, senior legal counsel for Apple, had an hour-long meeting in August with California's autonomous vehicle experts, including the cosponsors of the state's autonomous vehicle regulation project.
Gadget Ogling: Fresh Fires, Tablet Touches, and Underwater Drones
September 19, 2015
In case you didn't already know it, Amazon has designs on taking over your television, and Fire TV seems a strong competitor to the refreshed Apple TV. Fire TV's big advantage is that it can stream video in ultra high-def 4K, while Apple TV cannot. Nor can Roku or Chromecast. There already are some fine games available for Fire TV, and there's a gaming edition available with a controller.

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Do you want to live in an Internet-connected home?
Yes -- I have some smart things, and I want more.
Yes -- I'm looking forward to all the conveniences.
Not sure -- I have security and privacy concerns.
No -- the technology isn't good enough yet.
No -- it's a ridiculous waste of money.