Microsoft Considering a Freebie?

For anyone who can remember Microsoft charging $495 or $795 for software, it’s a small victory…according to the verge.com, Redmond is experimenting with a free version of Windows 8.1. It’s being positioned as Windows 8.1 with Bing, and is focused on getting Windows 7 users to upgrade.

At 19 billion, WhatsApp has gotten a lot of notice since being bought by Facebook, and there are lots of messaging services around…some even shred your messages seconds after they’re read…but they travel through regular channels and can be intercepted by the likes of the NSA. Slasdot.org reports that the people that make TOR, the anonymous browser, are developing an anonymous instant messenger that will be rolled out at the TOR Winter Developers Meeting in Iceland.

Net tools get smarter and smarter, and big data marches one. Gigaom.com says Bloomberg now has sentiment analysis tools that tell traders about spikes in positive or negative chatter about companies…in other words, they gauge the collective mood on Twitter for a stock or company.

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Another Secret Spy Phone

We’ve reported about the Blackphone, which will be out in April. Now, Boeing is working on a secure Android Black phone…two words, in this case. This one goes the Blackphone one better. According to Geekwire.com, like the tape in Mission Impossible, Boeing claims “Any attempt to break open the casing of the device would trigger functions that would delete the data and software contained within the device and make the device inoperable.”

Those naughty chats with pictures you didn’t want anyone to see? You may be unsurprised that the British spy agency GCHQ…with help from the NSA of course, intercepted millions of Yahoo webcam chats. Arstechnica.com says the agency was surprised to find about 7% contained quote “undesirable nudity.”

Techcrunch.com reports that Google has just launched the Google Maps Gallery, extending the public data program in announced last October. Maps from the likes of National Geographic and the USGS are now discoverable.


Gentleman Jim Lange.

A friend to myself and many, many others has headed to that big radio morning show in the sky. This post is for those who didn’t know Jim Lange, but knew of his work hosting on the Dating Game, Name That Tune, and years on the radio in both San Francisco and L.A. I had the good fortune to be Jim’s alleged boss for several years at KABL in San Francisco.

Whenever I was out in the community, or on a cruise, or at a remote broadcast, the question that came up the most often was ‘what’s Jim Lange really like?’

For all of those who ever asked, or just wondered…he was no diva or prima donna. He was every bit as nice a man as you might have imagined…perhaps even more so. He truly was Gentleman Jim, everywhere he went, and to every soul he met. Passing on a piece of advice he signed off his radio shows with ‘…reminding you always to say please….and thank you!’


Google Fights Restrictions on Glass For Drivers

Google is lobbying in at least 3 states to stop proposed restrictions on drivers using Google Glass. Recode.net says there are 8 states looking at restrictions, but Google has lobbyists on the ground in Illinois, Delaware, and Missouri.

Samsung’s Galaxy S-5 and new wearables have gotten the spotlight the last couple of days, but another smartphone is flying under the radar…the makers hope literally. Thenextweb.com reports that the Blackphone is now available for preorder at $629. Made by Spanish smartphone maker Geeksphone and encrypted communications company Silent Circle, it’s supposed to offer better protection for your personal data. It ships in April.

There’s a lot being said about Facebook’s 19 billion dollar purchase of WhatsApp, but here’s something you may not have heard, that helps make it so valuable…techcrunch.com says it not only enables people to get around telecom companies’ SMS for messaging, but it will add voice services by the 2nd quarter of this year.


The Comcast Netflix Deal

Over the weekend, Comcast and Netflix cut a deal which basically does an end run around net neutrality. Netflix will essentially get its own pipe to Comcast, instead of going through a secondary backbone provider…in Netflix’ case that’s been Cogent. Comcast points to the fact that Netflix streaming now accounts for 30% of all internet traffic, but the deal means Comcast will be collecting on both ends…from Netflix and from you. Washingtonpost.com reports that Cogent has also been negotiating with Verizon, so expect what you’d think..higher prices for you.

Some good…and even surprising news…Mozilla says they’ve cut a chip deal with Spreadtrum that will allow them to make Firefox OS smartphones for as little as $25. Recode.net says they are in 15 markets already, and in China, expect to ship a million phones by the end of the year.

You’ve no doubt seen them in your Facebook feed…which character in such and such show are you? AP.org says these quizzes are blowing up traffic on Buzzfeed.com, generating more traffic there…and more Facebook comment threads…than anything they’ve ever done. Which state do you actually belong in has generated 41 million page views!


Take One Charger With You—Anker 40w Travel Charger Review

Anker 40W Travel Charger

If you end up taking a bagful of chargers for your mobile devices and accessories when you travel, like I do, you know what a nuisance it is. That’s especially true when you find you’ve left one crucial one at home, and have to fork over real money (particularly in the case of Apple device chargers) to buy another!

Anker has several chargers that charge multiple devices, but this one caught my interest because it has separate chips for each USB port…this means you can plug ANY device into ANY of the 5 ports, and it will automatically charge that device at the maximum speed without overheating or causing other damage.

They bill it as the Anker® 40W 5V / 8A 5-Port Family-Sized Desktop / Travel USB Charger with 5-Foot Power Cord for iPad, iPhone, Samsung Tab, Android Devices and Virtually all USB charged devices. That’s a mouthful, but it does matchAp ple’s esthetic with the white case, but works fine with Android and other devices.

I have tested it out for a couple nights, and can say it does what they say it does. Better yet, it was billed as being the size of a pack of cigarettes, but it’s actually somewhat smaller…about the size of a MacBook charger. It will not charge those, or other laptops, but if you travel with a tablet, phone, Bluetooth headset, and clip on camera as I do, you will fill up those 5 ports quickly.

A huge plus is the included 5 foot power cord…you only need to find one available outlet to charge your gadgets, and no getting up in the night to swap them out…just remember to grab the USB chord for each. It’s $25.99 on Amazon, and recommended.


Radiation Free Cancer Scans Coming?

Preliminary testing shows that an MRI with diagnostic dye may work as well as PET and CT scans for spotting cancer. This is particularly important for kids and young people, since their cells are still growing and dividing quickly. Cnet.com says some of the research is happening at Stanford. The new method uses an iron supplement, and found 158 tumors in 8 to 33 year olds, compared to 163 using the more common PET/CT scan combination.

The US keeps winning with data, and not in a good way…thenextweb.com picked up a report from OpenSignal that shows that the good ol’ USA is second slowest in 4G download speeds. Australia is the fastest, mate.

Computerworld.com says Microsoft has dropped a temporary fix for Internet Explorer 9 and 10 that patches a vulnerability a couple hacker groups found. It’s a one click ‘fix it’ solution patch. Do you actually know anyone that still uses Internet ‘Exploder?’