Codebreaker - Most Commented
Someone made a washable keyboard! Yay for common sense!
And of course it was Logitech that made it. Not to praise that company unduly or anything, it’s just that it’s a logical thing to have done, right? Your keyboard gets your grubby fingers whacking on it all day, maybe you’ve had a muffin or some chips while typing, maybe a little bit of coffee spills. Because you’re a HUMAN BEING, you know?
Designed to stand up to the stresses that lay lesser keyboards low, the Logitech Washable Keyboard K310 can be submerged in up to 11 inches of water, washed with soap and water, and otherwise soaked and splashed. Though it is hand washable, you'll want to keep it out of the dishwasher, because while the keyboard can be safely submerged, the USB cable isn't waterproofed. The back of the keyboard has holes for draining off liquid and convenient air drying.
The keyboard is also dust resistant, and a brush attached to the keyboard lets you easily sweep off crumbs and dust. Beyond being easy to clean, the Washable Keyboard K310 should hold up under heavy use—each key is rated to last up to five million keystrokes.
It sells for $39.99 and now I can only hope that Logitech can make a laptop or a smartphone. Get on it, you heroes.
Google mapping the Arctic
We’ve heard a lot in recent years about Google Maps providing all sorts of details about Antarctica and the various South Pole expeditions that went down there. Presumably there was something about how people don’t fall off the end of the world from being upside down.
Now, Google is trying to get a grip on what’s going on in the far North. Google’s Street View team is in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada and they’re riding around on a tricycle on purpose.
From the CBC:
Karen Tuxen-Bettman, the project leader, said they will use a tricycle equipped with seven cameras pointing in different directions and pedal the hamlet’s dirt roads.
"As the biker pedals along it snaps images periodically and when taken together it forms a 360 degree panorama or a bubble," she said.
"This tricycle has never been above the 60th degree parallel. It's very unique bringing this equipment to the Arctic."
Residents aren’t super stressed about Google spying on their home internet connections:
This is the first time the service has come to Nunavut, where internet access is only available via satellite instead of a fibre optic link. There is no 3G or 4G service in the territory.
The territory's telecommunications infrastructure is also somewhat vulnerable.
Last year, a technical problem with Telesat's Anik F2 satellite cut off long-distance phone service and internet service to all of Nunavut and some communities in the Northwest Territories and Yukon for 12 hours. Planes were also grounded in Nunavut as weather information could not be communicated between communities.
Verizon will support a Nokia Windows 8 Phone
“Hooray!” say the 11 or so people who might buy one.
Yeah, it’s not exactly the ballyhoo we heard when Verizon announced it would support the iPhone but if you’re Microsoft and trying to get the Windows Phone in the game, you’ll take what you can get. Big Red says it will offer a Nokia phone running the mobile version of Windows 8 this year. The operating system is officially on the street starting in late October.
It’s a bit of back-to-the-drawing-board for Microsoft and Verizon, says Bloomberg:
Verizon released its only current Windows Phone, the Trophy from HTC Corp., more than a year ago, and it hasn’t been a top seller. Microsoft and Verizon also stumbled with the 2010 release of the Kin phone, which was scrapped after less than two months in Verizon stores. While that experience strained relations, the companies have made strides in improving the partnership since then, the person said.
Also, who is that person? Another “person with knowledge of the matter” who goes on and on about how this will all work. There’s going to be a Nokia-Microsoft press event on September 5th.
Here’s the part I love:
While Verizon isn’t expected to be part of that event, the carrier intends to roll out a Nokia phone later, said the person, who asked not to be named because the plans are private.
Not private ENOUGH, mind you, to stop person with knowledge of the matter from prattling on and on.
Google’s building a privacy “red team”
Whether you believe that Google’s privacy efforts are sincere or a ruse, you have to believe that “Red Team” is a pretty awesome distinction. Google has begun recruiting Red Team Squadron (I kind of embellished that name) with this advertisement:
Top candidates will have an intimate knowledge of the inner workings of modern web browsers and computer networks, enjoy analyzing software designs and implementations from both a privacy and security perspective, and will be recognized experts at discovering and prioritizing subtle, unusual, and emergent security flaws.
Google isn’t the first company to put together a department like this but it will be timely for Google since the company is always the target of investigations and various charges that it tramples privacy in the rush to index all world information. And any publicity about its efforts, even from the smart-alecky Marketplace Tech Report, is publicity it wants so that it can show it’s trying.
Personally, I just hope that all members of this team get red jumpsuits.
Test drive an iPad at the airport
Terminal D, and soon terminal C, at New York’s La Guardia Airport has recently been remodeled. How? Think iPads. Lots of iPads. OTG Management, the company that runs all the concessions at the airport sprung for the $15 million dollar facelift, which gives travelers access to what looks like rows of cozy library tables and chairs, each with its own iPad. Just punch in your flight number for access to a tablet. In addition to getting flight status updates, you can order food and drinks to be delivered to your seat (see where OTG comes in now?).
OTG Chief Executive Rick Blatstein says he saw boarding-gate areas as an untapped sea of potential customers—lots of people sitting around, unhappy, with money to spend. "You look at people in gate-hold areas and it looks like they are waiting for a root canal.''
When the remodeling project for terminal C finishes up, OTG says there will be 2,000 iPads in rotation. the company has plans for a similar projects in Minneapolis and Toronto, adding 2,500 tablets to each. Somebody needs to do a follow up story in a year, when all the iPads have seen the abuse of millions of greasy finger swipes.
Sussing facts via app
SuperPacApp is a new app for iPhone and Android phones that says it can help you tell whether a campaign ad is being truthful. The app comes out of the MIT Media lab and the folks at Knight Foundation and works similar to music identifying apps like Shazam or SoundHound. So, like those music apps, when you see or hear an ad, you hold your phone up and SuperPacApp “listens” then searches databases for honesty. Oh, I wish there was a database of honesty.
The app pulls in data from non-partisan watchdog groups, such as PolitiFact and FactCheck.org, which routinely rate the accuracy of ads and political statements. Since there’s no central database, the app team has to find all of the commercials manually. “We’re plugged in with those journalists and they’re feeding us ads on a one-off basis. And then, separately, on our own, we’re signed up for all the newsletters and press sheets that alert us to when new ad’s are put out there,” Siegel told CNN.
Cool but clunky, because unless you sit around with the app open waiting to hear a commercial, you’re probably going to miss out. I suppose people have DVRs now, though, so I guess you could not skip all the commercials and wait around to fact check political ads, if that’s your thing.
Fans will make your landspeeder dreams come true
Next to Tattooine, the best place to test out a flying bike that kinda looks like a Star Wars landspeeder is probably the Mojave Desert. That’s where Mark De Roche and his team at Aerofex tested theirs. The design uses two big fans, pointed towards the ground, to lift the bike up to 15 feet in the air and send it whizzing at speeds that tops out at 30 mph. Gizmodo points out that it doesn’t look like it takes much training or effort to hop on one of the bikes and go for a spin.
The human pilot just have to lean and balance in a natural way, much like you do while driving a bicycle or a motor bike. It's all instinctive, says De Roche: “since [the pilot's] balancing movements are instinctive and constant, it plays out quite effortlessly to him.”
Sadly the speeder bike isn’t for public consumption, at least not yet. Aerofex hopes they can sell a finished version to the military. Again from Gizmodo:
The company thinks that it can be used for heavy lifting in rough terrains, without having to care about wheels or caterpillar tracks. And, unlike helicopters and other flying devices, this one can go in between trees and canyons: “they have unique performance advantages [...] as they have demonstrated flight within trees, close to walls and under bridges.”
Dell cuts forecast as PC sales keep flopping
A few days ago, it was reported that Apple has become the valuable company in history. But the way the world sometimes works is that if one company is doing well then another company might be doing poorly. And that company is apparently Dell, which changed forecasts in profits, lowering them by 20 percent. Part of it, says the company, is just the plain old slow economy. Part of it is a gradual shift into being more of an enterprise company rather than a personal sales company. But it goes deeper than that and it points to a significant shift in what people want out of their computers.
Chief Executive Officer Michael Dell’s strategy of using acquisitions (DELL) to add software, storage and networking equipment has been slow to offset declining sales of desktops and laptops, which account for half (DELL) of revenue. Consumers and businesses increasingly favor the iPad and other tablet computers over traditional machines.
Twitter heat map shows rudest and nicest places
I’m still not sure that Twitter is the best barometer of who we are as a society. Rarely, for instance, do we shout “RT!” before quoting someone in real life. But the Ukrainian (?!) web development company Vertaline has made some interesting maps of the United States based on where people say “Good morning” and “F*ck you” the most.
You won’t believe it but New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago tend to come up a lot among the rudest areas of the country. Those bigger metropolises do pretty well for Good Morning as well but are trumped by the South. Not much seems to be happening in the Great Plains and places like Wyoming, which is probably because not much really ever happens in the Great Plains and places like Wyoming.
Take that Squarebucks
It was just a couple weeks ago, that Square announced a deal with Starbucks, which will give customers mobile payment options in all of the coffee king’s 7,000 + U.S. locations. Now, PayPal announced that it’s going to partner up with Discover to enable mobile all over the freaking place - 7,000,000 U.S. merchant locations. From AllThingsD:
Discover may not hold the same cache among consumers as Visa and MasterCard, but it reaches nearly as many merchants, roughly 95 percent of the two other payment networks combined. And when matched up with PayPal’s more than 50 million users in the U.S., the two could mark the first mobile payments network that spans both millions of users and millions of locations.
Mick (Visa) has the moves and Keith (MasterCard) has the licks, but the stones were nothing without Charlie Watts (Discover). You gotta have a back beat. Maybe Square can partner with Bill Wyman (Amex) and try to get back some satisfaction.
Expect to see the deal in action on the retail front next spring. The companies say that come April 2013, you will be able to use your PayPal card or phone number and a PIN (no card needed) anywhere Discover is taken.