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Amazon Dash Shopping Wand – Amazingly Convenient or A Little Creepy?

By: Monday April 7, 2014 5:23 pm

As part of Amazon’s new AmazonFresh grocery service, the online giant is introducing Amazon Dash, a wifi-enabled barcode scanner you can simply wave at items you want to replenish. You can also just say the name into a microphone on the device.

AmazonDash will generate a list on Amazon that can be used to order grocery items and schedule a delivery.

This device seems a bit more realistic than the drones Jeff Bezos recently claimed will be depositing deliveries on your doorstep in the future.

While I can see how such a device would be useful, and I admit I’d probably be a user, there’s something that feels a little invasive about it. As someone who is currently trying to purge Big Brother Google from my life, I’m starting to wonder about the amount of data Amazon is stockpiling on all of us, and whether I want them to have a device scanning everything in my home.

Game of Thrones Premiere Sets New Piracy Record

By: Monday April 7, 2014 2:10 pm

I was personally disappointed with last year’s Game of Thrones premiere, specifically because it didn’t catch us up with all the characters and we were left to wonder what happened to one of the show’s most dynamic sub-sagas, that of Arya and The Hound.

The show runners apparently learned their lesson, and without spoiling anything, last night’s Season 4 preimere contained a very satisfying installment in the Arya/Hound story (in our house, the most popular moment in the show went to The Hound and his un-PC commentary on people who name their swords).

Which many people no doubt missed, because HBO apparently didn’t learn their lesson. Less than a month after HBO GO crashed during the True Detective finale, it went down donce again due to subscriber demand for the Game of Thrones preimere. Which no doubt sent many people online on the search for unauthorized copies of the episode.

GOT peers

Source: Torrentfreak

According to TorrentFreak, as of this morning over a million people have uploaded a copy via a torrent site.

They note that unlike HBO GO, speeds via torrent actually benefit when more people are downloading, which usually means downloads finish faster.

Which may mean it’s time to explore the suggestion made by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings that content providers such as his be allowed to connect their subscribers with peer-to-peer streaming, and has encouraged the FCC to make it a core part of any net neutrality proposal.

Could Facebook End the Cable Companies’ Chokehold on Broadband Access with Its New Solar Powered Drones?

By: Friday March 28, 2014 12:51 pm

For years the big cable providers — Verizon, AT&T and others — have been justifying massive rate hikes with assurances that they need the money to wire the entire country with broadband.

But instead of using the money to bring wireless infrastructure to rural America, which they are legally obligated to do, they’ve spent it on lobbying lawmakers to quietly get them off the hook, saying it’s now too expensive.

Oh, and they want to keep the money anyway.

According to Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston, who has been one of the only people writing on the should-be-scandalous subject“This is just part of one of the biggest scams — crimes? — in the country as we paid as customers more than $300 billion — more than $1,000 per person — for something we are not going to get.”

So many will feel a great sense of schadenfreude to read today that Facebook announced its plans to bring wireless internet to rural communities with the acquisition of British-based aerospace company Ascenta.

Facebook created the video above to demonstrate its commitment “to make affordable internet access available to everyone on the planet.”  Which they hope to do with a fleet of solar-powered drones that fly above the level at which commercial airlines fly, beaming internet connectivity down in much the same way a sattelite would.

Facebook had also been in discussions to purchase Titan Aerospace, but no mention was made of that in yesterday’s announcement.

The idea of Facebook filling the air with a network of unmanned drones isn’t all beer and Skittles, however.  Aside from privacy concerns, does anyone really want to see Facebook — with its vast accumulation of private data on people around the world — any cozier with the Department of Defense and US spy agencies than they already are? And then, you know, drones.

Mark Zuckerberg attempted to deflect any queasiness people might feel at Facebook essentially buying a defense contractor that makes easily weaponizable solar-powered drones by focusing on the company’s goal of universal internet access, which could effectively end the cable providers’ monopoly.

But even if this is an unreasonably benign picture of the company’s future plans for the drones, it’s nice to think of the telecoms squirming uncomfortably today at the thought of their cushy, overpriced monopoly that is little more than a government-protected wealth extraction machine under serious threat.

14 Year-Old Finds Federal Government Can Save $400 Million Per Year By Changing Typeface

By: Friday March 28, 2014 11:41 am

File this under things I did not know: printer ink is is nearly twice as expensive as French perfume. Chanel No. 5 Eau de Parfum costs $38 per ounce, while the same amount of Hewlett-Packard printer ink can cost up to $75.

IBM Develops Algorithm to Predict Where You Live Based on Your Last 200 Tweets

By: Friday March 21, 2014 2:05 pm

IBM researchers have developed an algorithm they claim can determine your home location with 70% accuracy, based on your last 200 tweets. In a paper written by Jalal Mahmud, Jeffrey Nichols and Clemens Drews of the IBM Research Lab in Almaden (PDF), the researchers say their algorithm “uses an ensemble of statistical and heuristic classifiers [...]

New Ubuntu Phone Won’t Truly Be Open Source: Canonical Says Operating System Will Be Open, But Admits Baseband Will Be Closed

By: Friday March 21, 2014 12:11 pm

Many people hoped that the new Ubuntu phone would be truly open source, but according to Privacy International, it’s not to be. Ubuntu has told them that while the operating system will be open source, the baseband will be closed.

As FCC Net Neutrality Deadline Approaches, Netflix CEO Accuses Cable Providers of Degrading Services

By: Friday March 21, 2014 11:17 am

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings accuses the ISPs of allocating insufficient bandwidth to Netflix products, “subjecting consumers who pay a lot of money for high-speed Internet to high buffering rates, long wait times and poor video quality.” Once Netflix agrees to pay connection fees, however, he says “sufficient capacity is made available and high quality service for consumers is restored.”

Twitter Blocked in Turkey, But Activists Keep Tweeting Through Alternate DNS Servers

By: Thursday March 20, 2014 9:40 pm

With almost nightly leaks of new corruption files making his administration look worse than ever, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s vowed to wage war on social media. The battle took a new turn today — as Turkey blocked Twitter on all its major ISPs. But a panel on the #OccupyGezi movement at SXSW revealed that [...]

Bill Gates: In The Future, Tech-Bots Will Take Your Jobs and Ending Corporate Taxes Will Prevent Poverty and Social Unrest

By: Monday March 17, 2014 1:32 pm

Bill Gates, speaking at the American Enterprise Institute, predicted that in the near future technology will progress such that many workers will become superfluous.

NASA Announces First Direct Evidence of Cosmic Inflation After the Big Bang – Should Someone Win the Nobel Prize?

By: Monday March 17, 2014 12:13 pm

NASA announced today that scientists have discovered the strongest confirmation yet of the cosmic inflation theory, which posits that after the Big Bang, “the universe expanded by 100 trillion trillion times, in less than the blink of an eye.”

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