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Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar working on bill to legalize cell phone unlocking

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Mar 6, 2013 12:31 am

Amy Klobuchar, a US Senator from Minnesota, has come out in support of cell phone unlocking after the FCC and White House have supported it. Senator Klobuchar is planning on introducing a bill this week that will legalize cellphone unlocking.

 

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Consumers should be free to choose the phone and service that best fits their needs and their budgets. We need to make sure consumers are getting a fair deal and today's announcement is a welcome step towards implementing consumer-friendly policies in the wireless industry. That's why I'm introducing legislation this week to get rid of the ban on unlocking cell phones and I will continue to work to advance commonsense measures to protect consumers and promote competition.

 

With widening support for the legalization of cellphone unlocking, it's starting to look more and more like the US government will actually do something about it. We'll keep our eye on the progress of Senator Klobuchar's bill and let you know of any major events that happen.

FAA investigating pilot's report of seeing a 'drone' flying over Brooklyn

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Drones | Posted: Mar 6, 2013 12:03 am

The FAA has said that they are investigating a pilot's claim that he saw a drone flying over Brooklyn in New York. The pilot claims to have seen the drone while on final approach to John F Kennedy Airport. Over the radio, he can be heard saying, "We saw a drone, a drone aircraft."

 

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"The FAA is investigating a report...he saw a small, unmanned or remote-controlled aircraft while on final approach to Runway 31 Right. The sighting was approximately four to five miles west of the airport at an altitude of approximately 1,500 feet," FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said in a statement.

 

Other aircraft in the area was warned of the drone sighting, but two other pilots said that they did not see the drone. The FAA is working on new rules to allow unmanned aircraft to be flown in US airspace. Generally only governments and public entities, such as police departments, are allowed to operate them. Even they must apply for permission first.

 

It will be interesting to see if anything comes from this investigation. A drone doesn't really have any business being over a busy area like Brooklyn, so if the FAA confirms the claim, the most important aspect will be figuring out who was in control of the drone.

PoolLiveAid superimposes real-time predictions of billiard shots on table

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Virtual & Augmented Reality | Posted: Mar 5, 2013 11:32 pm

If you are a poor pool player, you're certainly not alone. A team of students from the University of the Algarve in Portugal have created an augmented reality system that projects a prediction of where the cue ball will go after being hit. While it won't make you the best pool player ever, it will certainly aid in some shots.

 

 

The system uses a camera to detect the cue ball's location and the direction the pool cue's direction. The projector then shines lines of light down on to the table to show the predicted path of the ball. The system isn't capable of predicting things such as spin and speed, but it will certainly help with simple shots.

 

It's akin to what you would likely get on a virtual game of pool. "We developed an algorithm that tracks and analyzes the ball's position. It detects lines that match up with the cue. The computer's connected to the projector too, so it updates right away." Right now, it's more of a research project than anything, but it's easy to see this becoming a stand-alone product that could be used to train billiard players.

Continue reading 'PoolLiveAid superimposes real-time predictions of billiard shots on table' (full post)

Google releases updated Google Maps for iPhone app, promises faster local search, other improvements

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Apps | Posted: Mar 5, 2013 11:02 pm

Google has released an update to its Google Maps for iPhone app. The new update brings with it several improvements, with the most important one probably being the improved local search. The new version of the app is promising faster local search through new search icons and integration with Google Contacts.

 

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For faster local search, you can tap one of the new icons for restaurants, coffee shops, bars and other types of places to quickly see nearby haunts. So if you're in a rush and need a quick coffee, just tap the search box, then the coffee cup icon, to see the cafes closest to you.

 

Other minor improvements include the addition of an English language version for Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE. As part of this globalization, the app now allows you to select between miles and kilometers in the settings menu. This way you can use the units most familiar to you.

 

Finally, as part of the better local search, if you search for a contact's name, the search will suggest your friend's address. It can do this thanks to its integration with Google Contacts. You can download the latest version of the app from the iOS App Store.

Apple considered other names for the iPhone including 'Telepod', 'Mobi', 'iPad', and 'Tripod'

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Mar 5, 2013 10:29 pm

We almost never had an "iPhone." According to former Apple advertising lead Ken Segall, the iPhone was just one of several names that they were considering for the device. 9to5Mac had one of their guys at the event at the University of Arizona's Department of Marketing and grabbed the following video:

 

 

According to the presentation, Apple considered "Telepod," "Mobi," "Tripod," and "iPad." Of course, we all know that the iPad name eventually got used to describe Apple's tablet. Steve Jobs has previously said that they worked on the tablet before the iPhone, but decided to focus on the iPhone first.

 

Check out the video above for more information on the different names considered for the iPhone.

Continue reading 'Apple considered other names for the iPhone including 'Telepod', 'Mobi', 'iPad', and 'Tripod'' (full post)

ReportTT: YouTube working on music streaming service

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Internet & Websites | Posted: Mar 5, 2013 10:03 pm

A new report by Fortune says that YouTube is working on a music streaming service that will compete directly with competitors such as Spotify. YouTube has long been a source of music, both legally and illegally, so a streaming service is not too far out of the norm for the site.

 

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The current model relies on advertising revenue generated from showing ads during music videos. A portion of this ad revenue is shared with the label or content owner. A new service would likely continue to rely on these advertisements to offer a free service, though a premium service would likely be offered with an ad-free experience.

 

Fortune cites sources in both the record industry and Google. YouTube's spokesperson said:

 

While we don't comment on rumor or speculation, there are some content creators that think they would benefit from a subscription revenue stream in addition to ads, so we're looking at that.

 

It's not clear what YouTube's service will offer over competing services. It's important that they come up with a unique feature, whether that be price, availability, or something else, that will set them apart from the competition. We'll see where this goes, though you might remain a bit skeptical until more information is known.

iMac shipping estimates continue to decrease, now 'Within 24 hours' in North America

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Mar 5, 2013 9:34 pm

Apple is continuing to catch up with demand when it comes to the new iMacs. Though Tim Cook warned that the iMac and iPad mini would see continued supply constraints, the iMac has finally made it to the point where supply and demand are almost even.

 

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It has taken three months for the iMac to reach this point. Other countries are still showing longer lead times, though those should improve in the coming days and weeks. It appears as though Apple has focused on building the stock configurations of the machines as doing a simple custom configuration, such as additional RAM, results in a longer lead time.

 

By being able to meet demand, Apple should be able to perform better during this quarter, hopefully pleasing investors who have been punishing the stock in recent months.

SimCity having launch day jitters despite betas designed to negate these problems

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Gaming | Posted: Mar 5, 2013 9:03 pm

Though SimCity launched just in North America, the game is already experiencing issues. EA unlocked the game in their digital distribution client Origin, after which reports of problems started coming in. Reports of download failures, connection issues, and the game not unlocking have all been sent in by users.

 

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We've started to get used to launch day jitters and problems with games that rely heavily on a server. For instance, we saw similar problems with Diablo III with users being unable to log in due to the server being down and the always-on DRM.

 

Users are having similar troubles, sometimes having to wait in excess of 30 minutes to get into the game, even when attempting to play on a private server. Further users are having troubles even downloading the game. After a small Origin download, the actual game downloads the required files, which is taking hours.

 

It's not clear why pre-loading of the game wasn't allowed. It likely would have saved at least some of the problems from happening. Even with launch day problems, SimCity is shaping up to be a good game.

Google Picasa Web Albums now redirects to Google+ Photos

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Internet & Websites | Posted: Mar 5, 2013 8:31 pm

Google is looking to push users of Picasa Web Albums over to Google+ Photos. The URL that used to take users to Picasa now redirects users to Google+ Photos. Clicking http://picasaweb.google.com will take you to Google+ Photos. However, not all hope is lost as there is a back door to get into Picasa.

 

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Heading over to this Google page will take you to Picasa and will set a cookie that allows you to return to using the URL listed above. Eventually, Google may shut down the Picasa product for good as they continue to shuffle users over to the Google+ product, much like they did with the Google Docs product.

 

I'll give Picasa a year before it is completely shut down. If you still use Picasa, what are your thoughts? Is Google+ Photos a good replacement for Picasa?

Seagate ships its first 3.5-inch hybrid drive 'SSHD', third-gen 2.5-inch hybrid drives also hit the market

By: Charles Gantt | More News: Storage | Posted: Mar 5, 2013 7:30 pm

Hybrid Hard Drives are nothing new, and certainly not something Seagate is a rookie at. The company has been shipping 2.5-inch hybrid drives for years now, which have been awesome for the laptop market, but desktop PC enthusiasts who demand high capacity as well as speed have been left out until now.

 

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This week Seagate has finally shipped a 3.5-inch version hybrid drive that features 2TB of spinning platters alongside 8GB of flash storage that help speed up disk intensive task without sacrificing precious storage or buying a dedicated SSD. Seagate says that the new SSHD should be as much as four times faster than traditional HDDs. That claim, of course, will depend on what you're doing on your system at the time.

 

The company also announced that it has updated its line of 2.5" hybrid drives and is now shipping 1TB regular height laptop drives as well as 500GB super slim versions that measure in at just 7mm thick. The new 2.5-inch hybrid drives are said to be as much as 40 percent faster than previous generations.

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