I’m Going to Want a Car With Built-In LTE…Eventually

By  |  Posted at 2:07 am on Monday, July 21, 2014

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Buick 4G LTE

Buick owners enjoying their car’s built-in LTE in a photo provided by GM

Last week, General Motors invited me to a press event at which it showed off some new Buicks. Normally, such events involve driving new cars. But when we hit the road during this one, I willingly sat in the back seat and fooled around with my phone and tablet–because the primary purpose of the event was to demonstrate the 4G LTE broadband and Wi-Fi hotspot features built into the cars.

Across its brands, GM is being particularly aggressive about rolling out in-vehicle LTE connectivity. Most Buick models, for instance, are getting it now; all of them will have it by the 2016 model year. No other company has announced plans to put LTE into so many vehicles so soon.

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A Celebration of James Garner’s Polaroid Commercials

By  |  Posted at 11:52 am on Sunday, July 20, 2014

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James GarnerThey weren’t the best thing he ever did, or the one which we’ll cherish the most. But with the sad news of the passing of James Garner, it’s worth pausing to remember the commercials he did in the late 1970s and early 1980s for Polaroid. And–this being Technologizer–it’s how we’ll memorialize him here.

When it came to celebrity spokespeople, Polaroid wasn’t stingy: Laurence Olivier did the first ad for the SX-70 camera, and Danny Kaye touted the ill-fated Polavision instant movie system. Hiring James Garner was a similarly classy move, but the ads he appeared in weren’t like anything which Polaroid had done before. Or anyone else, really.

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How to Animate Your Dragon

By  |  Posted at 7:16 pm on Friday, July 18, 2014

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A DreamWorks artist works on How to Train Your Dragon 2 using Premo

A DreamWorks Animation artist works on How to Train Your Dragon 2 using Premo

Mr. Peabody and Sherman, the computer-animated movie which DreamWorks Animation released in March is–of course–the tale of a dog and a boy who go traveling back in time. So in a way, it’s appropriate that the proprietary software which the studio used to animate it, Emo, had a lot of history behind it.

Emo’s origins go back to the 1980s, an era in which computer graphics were very different than they are today, and DreamWorks didn’t even exist. It was created by Pacific Data Images, the company which, like Pixar, helped to pioneer the whole idea of digitally-generated entertainment. (PDI is now part of DreamWorks Animation.)

The next DreamWorks Animation feature after Peabody, How to Train Your Dragon 2, premiered last month. It’s the first movie which was produced using the studio’s new platform, Apollo, which includes a new animation system called Premo.

Apollo is one giant leap for DreamWorks; during a recent event at its studio in Redwood City, Calif., the company gave me and other journalists a behind-the-scenes show-and-tell.

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TechReads for July 17

By  |  Posted at 11:58 am on Thursday, July 17, 2014

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Microsoft to reorg, cut up to 18,000 jobs. (Satya Nadella/Microsoft)




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The New Features in Jawbone’s Up App Are All About Eating

By  |  Posted at 3:52 pm on Wednesday, July 16, 2014

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Jawbone
Thanks to wearable fitness gadgets such as Jawbone’s Up and Up24 wristbands, it’s now very easy to get some sense of how many calories you’re burning as you go about your everyday activities. But figuring out how many calories you’re consuming–and other aspects of your eating habits–is still work.

Jawbone’s smartphone apps, and the ones which work with other gizmos such as FitBit, include tools which let you log your meals. I frequently get excited about using them. And then, once I start keeping a food diary and remember how much fumbling around it requires, I slack off.

With a new update to its iOS app, Up 3.1–Android version in the works–Jawbone is trying to make tracking what you eat easier, and to help you use that information to lead a healthier lifestyle.

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TechReads for July 16, 2014

By  |  Posted at 10:02 am on Wednesday, July 16, 2014

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Technologizer TechReadsWhy that Comcast rep wouldn’t let Ryan and Veronica just cancel. (Adrianne Jeffries/The Verge)

Because doing so would cost him money.


Fox tried to buy Time Warner. (Andrew Ross Sorkin/Michael De La Merced/NYTimes)

Anyone who wants to buy Time Warner should read the original AOL Time Warner press release, which I annotated in 2009.


Apple-IBM deal is bad news for BlackBerry. (Ingrid Lundgren/TechCrunch)

Just what BlackBerry needed: more bad news.


Here are the sites Google is hiding under EU “Right to be Forgotten” law. (Jeff John Roberts/GigaOm)

Gone from the Google index, but not forgotten.




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One New Slingbox Caters to the Masses, the Other to High-End Users

By  |  Posted at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, July 15, 2014

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Slingbox M1

Slingbox M1

When it debuted back in 2005, the original Slingbox–which let you pipe your TV signal at home over the Internet to a distant computer or smartphone–helped invent the whole idea that you might be able to watch your favorite programs anywhere. After being bought by satellite-TV hardware company EchoStar, however, Slingbox went a long time without changing much–until two new models showed up in the fall of 2012.

Now Slingbox is changing again. The two new models–the Slingbox M1 and SlingTV–are close relatives of the low-end and high-end models from 2012, the Slingbox 350 and Slingbox 500, respectively. But the M1 aims to be even more of a mass-market gadget than the 350, and SlingTV adds more features to the already-fancy 500.

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At Comcast, You’re Not Just a Valued Customer–You’re Also an Indentured Servant

By  |  Posted at 6:39 pm on Monday, July 14, 2014

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My friends Ryan Block and Veronica Belmont decided to cancel their Comcast service and switch to Astound, a smaller cable company available here in the Bay Area. So they called Comcast–and talked to a rep whose job was clearly not to help them cancel but to prevent them from canceling.

Here’s audio of part of the conversation. If you’ve ever had to deal with a recalcitrant rep at a giant pseudo-monopoly, it’ll leave you speechless, but not surprised. (Ryan shares more details here.)

My blood boils just listening to this, but all through it, Ryan is remarkably calm. It’s all reminiscent of a famous 2006 encounter with AOL support which was remarkably similar, except that the customer was less serenely polite than Ryan.

Anyone want to make any guesses about how often encounters like this happen? Or whether they’ll be more or less common if Comcast’s merger with Time Warner Cable goes through?

As Dan Gillmor said on Twitter…



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TechReads for July 14, 2014

By  |  Posted at 9:52 am on Monday, July 14, 2014

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The password is dying. (Christopher Mims/WSJ)

And to prove it, Mims shares his own Twitter password (which is christophermims).


Technologizer TechReadsBringing back Prodigy. (Benj Edwards/The Atlantic)

One man wants to breathe new life into a very defunct online service.


Should Yahoo and AOL merge? Will They? (Kara Swisher/Re/code)

Maybe! Maybe not!


Does anyone want a smartwatch? (Kevin Roose/New York)

Still the most important question about the whole category.


Germany considers regulating Google like a utility. (Ingrid Lundgren/TechCrunch)

Um, fabulous idea.


Samsung figures out its smartphone future. (Brian X. Chen/NYTimes)

Squeezed by China on the low end, Apple on the high end.


Sapphire screens: both neat and impractical? (Brad Molen/Engadget)

The multiple challenges of a technology Apple is supposedly about to embrace.




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The Unbelievably Epic Quest to Restore Your Faith in Humanity

By  |  Posted at 3:33 am on Monday, July 14, 2014

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Restore Your Faith

First a disclaimer: I never lost my own personal faith in humanity, and therefore don’t need to have it restored. Generally speaking, it bumps along at about the same cautiously optimistic level, regardless of what I’ve recently read online.

I am, however, fascinated by the fact that so many articles published over the last couple of years have introduced themselves to prospective readers by declaring their power to restore lost faith in humanity.

Whether a site is offering up a tale about kids returning a lost iPhone or an ad for life insurance from Thailand or drawings of superheroes punching Hitler, it’s not the least bit startling when it declares that the item in question will restore your faith in humanity. Without trying very hard, I’ve collected dozens of examples at a Pinterest board, which–just to encourage people to click–I’m calling “This Pinterest Board Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity.”

Pinterest

Journalists, of course, have always written headlines which attempt to yank you by the lapels and shove you into their work, as Annalee Newitz of io9 points out in her recent history of clickbait. (She begins it in 1888, and rightly considers yellow journalism to have been an early instance of the form.) But the potential upside of that instinct grew far more powerful just a few years ago, when social networks such as Facebook and Twitter became major sources of traffic to online content sites.

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