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Archive for October, 2012

New from Google: Voice Search for iOs and Changes in Gmail Compose

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 6:44 PM on October 30, 2012

Google Google has been busy today with a couple of releases. The first is voice search for iOS and the second was an update to how compose works in Gmail.

Now you can use Google search by voice. I did a search for the date of the Battle of Bunker Hill using both Siri and Google Search. Siri came back with a series of text results including the date, while Google search by voice returned the date vocally, plus the Google search page results. According to Google the search is powered through their Knowledge Graph, which “’maps over 500 million people, places and things in the real world.” The new Google search uses naturally language so you can speak in full sentences. Like all voice search methods the results can less than perfect. However so far I have found that Google seems to understand me better than Siri does. Although Siri does have the advantage that it is available with a push of a button, while to use Google search by voice you have to bring up the app first. This iOs app was shown off in August, so there has been some question on why it took so long to get released. There has been speculation that Apple was blocking it because it competes against Siri, what ever the problem was it has clearly been resolved.

The second change that Google made was within their Gmail application.   Now when you go to compose an email it pops up like a chat window. You can then pull up another email to check something and the window remains.  No more having to save the draft pulling up the old email and then going back to the draft. You can unpin the window and move it around which I really appreciate. You can also open up multiple compose windows at once and hide the ones you are not working on. I probably will not use this but I can see how it could be valuable to some people. The change  to Gmail compose is being rolled out so if it is not available to you it will be soon.   I like the Gmail update from Google and I am glad that the new search by voice is now available on iOs.

Conan O’Brien Introduces the New iPad Mini Ad

Posted by Alan at 12:50 PM on October 30, 2012

Late night comedian Conan O’Brien has made Apple and Samsung regular targets with video spoofs regarding some of their product releases and news.  Last night he took on Apple’s newest product, the iPad Mini.  It’s all in good fun and not a serious hit against the Cupertino company, but it’s hilarious none-the-less.

I won’t give any spoilers her, but instead let you watch the video, which is posted below.  Pay special attention to the end, which is where they lend Apple some help with a new company slogan.  The video has been making the rounds today and it’s getting quite a bit of attention.

Google is no doubt  thrilled with this, given their release yesterday of the new versions of the Nexus tablet, which Apple seemed to fear and the fact that they actually took shots on the Android tablet during their show announcing their new iPad Mini.  That was an unprecedented move by the company, which has generally stuck to talking about their own product and been mum about the competition.

Pumpktris Combines Tetris and Pumpkin Carving

Posted by JenThorpe at 3:22 AM on October 30, 2012

Here is the most awesome pumpkin that I have seen this Halloween! Nathan at the HaHaBird blog has created Pumpktris.The result is a pumpkin that you can actually play a modified version of the classic video game Tetris on. It involves LED lights that are connected on a matrix, some soldering, lots of wire cutting, drilling holes for the LED lights, and a whole lot of dedication and skill.

Many people have played Tetris, but few have played it on an pumpkin that has been “upgraded” to become a unique form of video game console! The stem of the pumpkin functions as the controller. Move it around to maneuver the Tetris “blocks” as they fall. From a player standpoint, it appears to be as simple to play Pumpktris as it was to play the classic Tetris game. I am so impressed by the amount of planning and work that went into the creation of Pumpktris!

There is an excellent step-by-step tutorial on how to create your own Pumpktris on the HaHaBird blog. I’m not sure if you will have time to attempt this for Halloween this year, unless you have today and tomorrow off of work, and no specific plans for celebrating. If not, then you have a whole year’s worth of time to plan it out for next Halloween.

GNC-2012-10-29 #812 Where am I

Posted by geeknews at 1:08 AM on October 30, 2012

Feel like a ping pong ball. Lots to share tonight, along with my impressions on the new Windows 8 Surface. Heart goes out to all suffering the effects of the storm.

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The JLE Guys are at it Again with Banned iPad Mini Promo

Posted by Alan at 9:56 AM on October 29, 2012

Not long ago the comedians behind JLE created quite a stir with their “Banned iPhone 5 Promo” and now they are at it again with a new video honoring the recently announced iPad Mini.  These guys have perfected the art of spoofing big tech launches and they do a great job of looking very Apple employee-like.  This latest three minute video takes on the iPad Mini camera, connector and display to name just a few things.

Today was supposed to be the big Google Nexus event where we were going to see new products like the LG Nexus phone, the Nexus 10 and and the 32 GB Nexus 7.  The last of those devices apparently launched without the event, as it has shown up for sale at several retail locations this morning, including Wal-Mart.  With all of that news now postponed indefinitely it’s a perfect day to kick back and enjoy a good, quick comedy video.

8th Annual Podcast Awards Slate Announcement!

Posted by geeknews at 7:44 PM on October 28, 2012

I announce the slate of podcast that made the cut this year for the Podcast Awards. I also share my Podcast State of the Union.

Troubling Satellite Gap

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 6:25 PM on October 28, 2012

Whenever a major storm like Sandy develops, one of the tools that are used by scientist to follow and predict the storm’s path are the polar satellites. These satellites fly pole to pole, crossing the equator in the afternoon. The data that these satellites provide allow scientists to more accurately predict the path of the storm up to 5 days ahead. This can make it easier to prepare for disaster and get the relief to where it is needed.

There is a growing problem though these satellites are past their life expectancy and their replacements the J. P. S. S will not be ready until 2017. This will leave at least a year gap in coverage. This will make it more difficult to predict the path of a major storm. If the information coming from these satellites had not been available during the 2010 blizzard studies show that forecasters would have under estimated the storms power by half. The gap between the two system according to independent studies is a result of mismanagement, lack of funds and delays at NOAA ( National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association,)

Right now there is an army of utility trucks headed toward various locations on the East coast. Without these satellites and the information they provide it would have been more difficult for agencies to know where to send these trucks, possibly delaying the recovery by days. As the number of storms and their power seems to be increasing the data these satellites provide become more and more important.  We can not prevent natural disasters, but with the proper information we can limit their effect and get the relief where it is needed and that is where these satellites come in.

GameStop Kids Holiday Stores are Popping Up

Posted by JenThorpe at 3:38 PM on October 28, 2012

This November, there could be a GameStop Kids store popping up in a mall near you! GameStop is going to be opening around 80 of these stores, all across the United States, for a limited time. This isn’t too different from what Microsoft is doing this holiday season. Both companies are opening temporary stores for the holiday season that will disappear after the holidays are over.

One good thing about this is that these two companies will actually be hiring extra workers to help shoppers right before Christmas. Several years ago, it was standard practice for companies to hire seasonal workers at this time of year.

In the past few years, it seems as though most corporations haven’t felt the need to hire additional staff to help with the additional crowds. It’s nice to see that at least two companies are going to actually hire the college students who want to make a few bucks while they are in between semesters and home for the holidays. On a less than positive note, these newly hired workers are going to be unemployed in just a few weeks time, as the popup stores close after Christmas.

The interesting thing about GameStop Kids is that it is geared for kids. You will only find products that are kid-friendly and that are inspired by video games that are appropriate for kids to play. Things like a Minecraft Foam Pickaxe, a Star Wars Lightsaber flashlight, Angry Birds squeeze pillows, Star Wars plushies, Batman figures, and plenty of products inspired by Dr. Who will be available.

People who don’t know a thing about video games, but who need to buy a gift for a child who is avid gamer, should go to the GameStop Kids store instead of the regular GameStop. Everything offered there is kid-friendly. This avoids the potential problem of accidentally giving a nine year old a video game that is incredibly violent.

What if no GameStop Kids stores appear near where you live? You can go into the regular GameStop store and order products that would normally be sold in the GameStop Kids store (and get free shipping). Or, you can order the toys online and choose between having them shipped to you or having them shipped to your local GameStop store where you can pick them up in person.

Top 10 Worst Passwords of 2012

Posted by Alan at 2:37 PM on October 28, 2012

Top-Passwords-2012

It’s sad that, even today, lists like this exist.  Unfortunately, security continues to be a major issue for computer users around the world thanks to, not only malware and viruses, but also just plain old lack of understanding by many users.  The biggest problem can be insecure passwords, which account for many of the highest profile hacks that make the news.

Recently the web site Techie Buzz put together the top passwords of 2012 using data from Splash Data.  The results weren’t pretty, with “password” once again topping the list and going along with such favorites as “123456″ and many more easy to hack passwords that nobody should seriously consider using.

You can view the list below, but if you have family or friends who are less than sophisticated computer users then perhaps you should share this information with them.  These are the first passwords used in a basic dictionary attack which can brute force it’s way into an account in mere minutes.  If you are using anything on the list below then please change it now.  Add capital letters, numbers and symbols and, especially, more characters.

#              Password                Change from 2011
1               password                 Unchanged
2               123456                    Unchanged
3               12345678                Unchanged
4               abc123                     Up 1
5               qwerty                     Down 1
6               monkey                    Unchanged
7               letmein                     Up 1
8               dragon                     Up 2
9               111111                    Up 3
10             baseball                   Up 1
11             iloveyou                   Up 2
12             trustno1                   Down 3
13             1234567                  Down 6
14             sunshine                  Up 1
15             master                      Down 1
16             123123                    Up 4
17             welcome                  New
18             shadow                    Up 1
19             ashley                      Down 3
20             football                     Up 5
21             jesus                        New
22             michael                     Up 2
23             ninja                         New
24             mustang                   New

Powered Bodyboard

Posted by Andrew at 2:12 AM on October 28, 2012

Design Icon out of Kowloon, Hong Kong, has created this great concept for a powered bodyboard. Driven by three electrically-powered propellers, the board’s deck has embedded solar cells to extend the battery life, while adjustable buoyancy lets the board both ride the waves and go completely submerged. I want one.

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept Deck

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept Snorkeller

All images courtesy of Design Icon.