Articles filed under Technology

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  • Solution to missing jets as elusive as Malaysia Air Flight 370 Feb 8, 2015 7:43 AM
    Almost a year after the jet disappeared, however, regulators, safety advocates and the airline industry still can’t agree on what to do. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has recommended tamper-proof devices to transmit the location of crashes, as well as beefed up flight data for investigators. An industry task force and the United Nations’ aviation arm plan to meet this week to consider proposed tracking options that, at least initially, don’t include that.

     
  • Review: 4 different ways to rate potential dates Feb 7, 2015 7:31 AM
    You may be tired of the old standbys such as Match, OKCupid or Tinder, but the popularity of those services makes it more likely to find a variety of people there. It can be daunting to weed through thousands of profiles on the big sites. But on smaller networks you may find the fish you threw back returning to you again and again. With that in mind, here are alternatives to the more popular dating apps — and their pros and cons.

     
  • 5 Questions About Amazon Prime That Jeff Bezos Still Won’t Answer Feb 7, 2015 7:44 AM
    Amazon has never bothered to supply simple answers to some basic questions that would make it possible to understand how well Prime is working. Here are a few of them.

     
  • Some of Amazon’s experiments didn’t quite work Feb 7, 2015 7:32 AM
    Amazon is expanding in every direction — and that has made some investors nervous. The company’s stock price skyrocketed after a strong holiday quarter last week. Yet while its shares are trading 11 percent up at a price of $354.53 Monday morning, its 52-week high was still, well, just about 52 weeks ago. Now, Amazon has the reputation of being a company more focused on the long-term game than any short-term profit. Investors in the company have to know that, said Motley Fool analyst Jason Moser, who himself owns some Amazon stock.

     
  • Audio tour app takes Groupon founder on new journey Feb 7, 2015 7:33 AM
    Two years after his ouster as Groupon’s CEO, Andrew Mason is embarking on a new entrepreneurial journey selling unconventional audio tours of major cities on a new iPhone app called Detour. The initial selection of seven different San Francisco expeditions released Tuesday meander from the city’s beatnik bars to the weathered docks of the bay while regaling listeners with colorful tales about local lore. Each excursion costs $5.

     
  • The political potential of Instagram Feb 7, 2015 7:35 AM
    Twitter and Facebook are old news; Instagram is where it’s at. And that matters, politically speaking. While much of the political world and official Washington converses on Twitter and the Obama campaign in 2012 revolutionized how Facebook is used in campaigns, neither is as ascendant as Instagram.

     
  • Virgin Galactic gets back on track toward space tourism Feb 7, 2015 7:34 AM
    Virgin Galactic had proclaimed 2015 was finally going to be the year. That was until the company’s rocket-powered spacecraft broke apart over California’s Mojave Desert during a test flight last fall, killing one pilot and igniting speculation about the future of commercial space tourism and Spaceport America.

     
  • There is no better illustration of smartphone addiction than this app Feb 7, 2015 7:43 AM
    Welp, so, this is what we’ve come to: We now need to use apps ... to control our app use. Pocket Points, a recent-ish invention by students at California’s Chico State, shot up Apple’s trending chart on Tuesday as millions of college students anointed it the hot new thing. The app’s premise is pretty simple: Just show up to class, lock your phone, and earn points redeemable at local businesses. Because if a lifetime of crushing student loan debt wasn’t reason enough to pay attention in class, Pocket Points provides another incentive: free snacks! “You guys rock!!” tweeted one student at Penn State, where the app launched two weeks ago. (Current in-state tuition: $34,000/year.) “Couldn’t imagine going to class without this app.” Pocket Points, which started at Chico State in September, has since expanded, per the company’s Twitter account, to the Universities of Michigan, Arizona and Colorado-Boulder, San Diego, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. While it’s unclear exactly how many students use the app, it already had 3,000 users at Chico State within weeks of launch. In fact, Twitter is now crowded with the cries of deprived students, begging the app to come to their campus next: What about Austin! What about high school! What incentives do we have to pay attention in class?! In all seriousness, though, this type of “productivity” app -- Silicon Valley speak for apps that address app addiction -- is really a booming field. Moment will track how much time you spend on your phone every day, even enforcing screen-free periods like a “family dinner time.” Pause invites users to “compete” over who can keep airplane mode on the longest. Checky logs how many times you unlock your phone, and then (oddly?) encourages you to tweet it. An app specifically for college classrooms -- where, by all accounts, smartphones have become a scourge -- is only the next logical step. “I find it ridiculous that it takes an app to get students paying attention in class,” wrote one college editorialist soon after the app launched. “(But) ‘Pocket Points’ is actually a really good idea and has the potential to be successful.” You heard it here first, you guys. Big in 2015: technology that makes you use technology less. • Dewey writes The Post’s The Intersect web channel covering digital and Internet culture.

     
  • App Reviews: 1+2=3, Producteev Feb 7, 2015 7:42 AM
    “1+2=3” is a math puzzle game that limits itself to asking players to solve equations that only involve those three numbers, against the clock. Producteev is a mobile and desktop program that lets you easily assign tasks, coordinate work and keep a top-level view of what’s going on with your project.

     
  • Google, Uber on collision course Feb 7, 2015 7:41 AM
    Racing to win the future of transportation, two companies appear to be heading for a pretty big collision: Google and Uber. Both firms appear to be crossing into each other’s territory. Uber on Monday announced a par tnership with Carnegie Mellon that could enable it to get into driverless cars — a major project in development at Google. And Bloomberg News reported this week that Google is preparing its own ride-hailing service. That bit of news raised eyebrows in Silicon Valley because Google is a big investor in Uber and one of its top executives sits on the ride-sharing company’s board of directors. But if the two tech companies are going to go at it in this space, it won’t exactly be a fair fight. Uber already depends on Google’s tech, using Google Maps to help drivers navigate. And Uber’s business model is much more easily replicated — as evidenced by the hoard of competitors, including Lyft and SideCar, which run essentially the same business. Creating a working driverless car is much harder. Google’s research into the development of self-driving cars also has the potential to upend Uber and its peers just as they upturned the taxi industry. The majority of an Uber riders’ fare currently goes to the driver — the company just takes a cut off the top. Imagine a world in which the company owned a fleet of self-driving vehicles instead — paying only for the vehicles and their maintenance. Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick certainly has. “The reason Uber could be expensive is because you’re not just paying for the car — you’re paying for the other dude in the car,” Kalanick said at the Code Conference last year. “When there’s no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle.” But Uber, which declined to comment for this article, is just starting to invest in that future. On Monday, the company announced that it is partnering with Carnegie Mellon University to create the “Uber Advanced Technologies Center,” which will “focus on the development of key long-term technologies that advance Uber’s mission.” Google, on the other hand, is years into researching driverless cars — first modifying a Toyota Prius and now creating its own prototypes. That gives it a healthy head start over competitors that are preparing to enter the autonomous vehicle race — not to mention its considerable advantage as one of the largest and well-heeled tech companies in the world. Google declined to comment for this story. Uber also may find it more difficult to navigate the legal headaches associated with getting self-driving cars on the road. The company has a notoriously tense relationship with many cities and state governments due to its tendency to launch services without asking permission first. Uber brought on former Obama campaign adviser David Plouffe to help wage a multi-front campaign for its services last year and has tried to curry goodwill by offering to share some of its rider data with cities to some success. But Uber’s lobbying efforts are no match for Google’s prowess in the policy space. The search giant is among the top lobbying spenders in the country and has a sophisticated approach to getting its way with those in power, at both the federal and the state levels. Four states and the District have regulatory approaches in place to support the testing of autonomous vehicles. Google and Uber have long been intertwined: The tech giant’s venture-capital arm, Google Ventures, invested more than $250 million in Uber in 2013, and Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond sits on Uber’s board of directors. Many observers assumed Google’s initial investment in Uber signaled that it might at some point acquire the company — much as Google Ventures investments in Nest previewed the company’s $3.2 billion purchase of the company. But Uber’s skyrocketing valuation, above $40 billion in December of last year, may have made it a less attractive candidate for a takeover. It was Drummond who alerted Uber to Google’s possible interest in starting up its own service, according to Bloomberg. Now, the board is reportedly weighing whether to remove Drummond — a situation that bears striking resemblance to when Google chief executive Eric Schmidt resigned from Apple’s board while the two companies waged a battle for control over the smartphone market. But Uber is no Apple. If Google takes on the ride-sharing space with its driverless car tech in tow, Uber may find itself spinning out.

     
  • Report: Silicon Valley tech economy booming Feb 7, 2015 7:36 AM
    A study released Tuesday shows Silicon Valley’s tech economy is continuing to boom, with 58,000 new jobs and 42,000 new residents last year and all indications the record growth will continue. The annual Silicon Valley Index released by Joint Venture Silicon Valley, representing businesses, government and the broader community, also shows record venture capital investment in technology.

     
  • Sources: Motorola Solutions exploring going up for sale Feb 6, 2015 9:39 PM
    The leaders of Motorola Solutions Inc., the longtime Schaumburg-based maker of two-way radios and other communications equipment, are exploring a possible sale of the company, sources said. But Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson said neither he nor his staff were made aware of the prospect, even after a Friday meeting. “You would think something like that would be something that they would want Schaumburg to be privy to.”

     
  • Schaumburg's Motorola Solutions tops 4Q forecasts Feb 4, 2015 9:58 AM
    Schaumburg-based Motorola Solutions Inc. (MSI) on Wednesday reported fourth-quarter net income of $201 million. The company said it had net income of 87 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to $1.25 per share. The results exceeded Wall Street expectations.

     
  • Faster 5G being developed in Arlington Heights for our next-gen devices Feb 5, 2015 6:10 PM
    Kukec's eBuzz column features the development of 5G, the next generation of wireless technology for your smartphone and other mobile devices. Nokia in Arlington Heights is among the world's groups now working on the new network.

     
  • How can Google snap its stock out of its stupor? Feb 1, 2015 7:44 AM
    Google has turned into a stock market laggard as the shift to mobile devices has lowered the Internet search leader’s digital ad prices and the company’s expensive investments in far-out technology has trimmed its profit margins. Those factors have left some investors wondering what Google might do to boost its stock price, especially after the company’s latest financial report. The earnings released late Thursday missed analyst targets, marking the fifth consecutive quarter that has happened. That discouraging trend is one reason Google’s stock price ended Thursday’s trading session 8 percent below where it stood 13 months ago. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index has climbed by 9 percent during the same stretch. Potential Catalysts One way to lift the stock would be to slash expenses to boost earnings, something that Google CEO Larry Page doesn’t seem particularly interested in doing. Page believes the company needs to continue taking risks and making big bets on ambitious ideas to open future moneymaking opportunities while striving to make the world a better place. Another way would be for Google to start paying a quarterly dividend for the first time in its 10-year history as a public company, or to pour money into buying back its own stock. That strategy has worked well for another technology leader, Apple Inc., whose own shares have surged by nearly 60 percent since the iPhone maker announced a higher dividend and increased stock buybacks nine months ago. Google certainly has an incentive to do something, if for no other reason than to keep its 53,600 workers happy. Company stock is part of their pay package, so employee morale could suffer if Google’s stock remains in a funk. “Share price does matter,” Patrick Pichette, Google’s chief financial officer, said in a Thursday conference call. “It matters to our board. It matters to all of us.” Lifting Spirits Pichette didn’t rule out the possibility of returning some of Google’s $64 billion in cash to shareholders when asked about it Thursday. He indicated Google would be more likely to do so if laws are changed to allow U.S. companies to bring back money held in overseas accounts at lower tax rates. About 60 percent, or $38 billion, of Google’s cash is held outside of the U.S., Pichette said. Although no commitments were made, those remarks seemed to be enough to reverse an initial sell-off in Google’s stock following the disappointing earnings report. After shedding 2 percent in the first hour of extended trading, the shares rebounded to post a 1 percent gain of $6.27 to $519.50. Controlling Expenses Investors also may have drawn hope from Pichette’s pledge to spend in a “prudent manner,” even after a year that saw Google pour billions into hiring nearly 10,000 more employees and a wide range of projects that include self-driving cars, Internet-connected eyewear, Internet-beaming balloons, robotics, satellites and biotechnology. “From an investment perspective, we’ll continue to seek a healthy balance between growth and discipline and the willingness to throttle back when we reach the limits of what we believe we can manageably absorb,” Pichette said. Reason For Skepticsm Edward Jones analyst Josh Olson doubts Google is going to start paying dividends or buying bushels of its own stock anytime soon. He interpreted Pichette’s comments as a “false signal.” Paying a dividend also is frequently done by companies that have run out of growth opportunities, Olson said, and that isn’t the case with Google. Even though shift from desktop computers to smartphones has curbed Google’s pricing power in the digital market, Olson believes the Mountain View, California, company is likely to regain some of the clout as the mobile market evolves. Although he didn’t participate in Thursday’s conference call, Page has made it clear through the years that he isn’t interesting in pursuing strategies designed to increase earnings from one quarter to next or provide a short-term lift to Google’s stock price. Page’s opinion matters even more than most CEOs because he and fellow co-founder Sergey Brin control enough Google stock to veto everyone else. “If opportunities arise that might cause us to sacrifice short-term results but are in the best long-term interest of our shareholders, we will take those opportunities,” Page wrote in a letter leading up to Google’s initial public offering in 2004. “We will have the fortitude to do this. We would request that our shareholders take the long term view.”

     
  • How U.K.’s queen of tech turned London into Europe’s Silicon Valley Jan 31, 2015 7:35 AM
    It’s a bit ironic, really, speaking to Baroness Joanna Shields at 1776 in Washington. The venue, an incubator for some of the area’s most innovative and rapidly growing businesses, takes its name from the year that the United States split from Great Britain. The United States would later take from the United Kingdom its long-held title of world’s largest economy.

     
  • App Reviews: Translate, Shadowmatic Jan 31, 2015 7:42 AM
    Google this month released a major update to its Translate app with a super-nifty function that lets you translate signs by simply pointing your phone camera at them. The feature works when translating basic text between English and Spanish, Portuguese, French, Russian, Italian and German.

     
  • Review: Hands-on with Microsoft’s hologram device Jan 31, 2015 7:32 AM
    Microsoft’s HoloLens was built by engineers who created the Kinect motion-sensing system for Xbox games. It projects a realistic image on a screen in front of your eyes, but the screen is transparent, so you can still see what’s in front of you. The holograms respond to gestures and spoken commands, detected by cameras and other sensors in the device.

     
  • Review: Good price, limited functions with online Sling TV Jan 31, 2015 7:31 AM
    Satellite TV provider Dish Network made a splash this month when it unveiled an online alternative with fewer channels and a lower price tag than its regular service. The Sling TV option is aimed at people who have dropped their cable or satellite packages or never had either. Based on a few days of viewing, Sling TV comes across as a good stopgap for those who don’t already pay for cable or satellite — but it’s not compelling enough for most people to cut the cord.

     
  • 2 weeks after ‘je suis Charlie,’ Facebook censoring images of Muhammad Jan 31, 2015 7:34 AM
    Only two weeks after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a strongly worded #JeSuisCharlie statement on the importance of free speech, Facebook has agreed to censor images of the prophet Muhammad in Turkey -- including the very type of image that precipitated the Charlie Hebdo attack.

     
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