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In Brief

The choppy, laggy, and all-around unwatchable Netflix app for Android is finally being replaced, thanks to an update that is rolling out now. Spotted by Android Police, Netflix for Android 3.0 has a complete redesign a lot closer to the version available for Apple. It shows marked performance improvements, not only on the device but also when utilizing Chromecast to watch on the big screen. But it’s not totally up to date — most notably missing the app’s new profile feature. But if you have an Android device, you can finally watch Orange is the New Black lag-free.

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When bombarded by emails, messages, updates and notifications, it’s easy to fantasize going “off the grid” and leaving technology behind. In the wake of the NSA scandal, some see it as an absolute necessity. Sarah Kessler of Fast Company spoke with people who go to great lengths to not be tracked, from keeping toll passes in transmission proof envelopes to destroying RFID chips in tires, clothing, and just about everywhere else. In many ways, it shows that the devil isn’t in what you know — going online, having a phone — but in what you don’t.

In Brief

While Netflix has been met with strong resistance in the U.S. for its desire to bring an app directly to cable set-top boxes, there is one company solidly in its corner: TiVo. Bloomberg reports that regional providers that rely on set-top boxes from TiVo for its customers, like Cox Communications Inc., Suddenlink Communications, and RCN Telecom Services, are discussing an integration of Netflix through the TiVo platform. The arrangement would be an expansion of the partnership TiVo and Netflix have built (most recently expressed in TiVo’s latest model).

In Brief

Sending a direct message on Twitter has till now been possible only when two users follow each other — leading to awkward situations where one person wants to communicate private information to someone who hasn’t keen to hit the “Follow” button. But that’s changed, thanks to a new feature in Twitter’s account settings, according to the Verge. The feature, spotted on Twitter, gives users the power to accept DMs from anyone. It’s an optional feature — those who enjoy Twitter the way it is don’t have to switch.

On The Web

The New Yorker has published a long, languid look at the entrepreneurial talents of Twitter and Square creator Jack Dorsey, following him from an upstart college dropout in the ’90s to single-minded entrepreneur and now as a tailored veteran businessman and anticipated IPO beneficiary. While author D.T. Max presents Dorsey as a sort of restrained, introspective pseudo-Steve Jobs, there’s also plenty of talk surrounding the CEO’s “right place, right time” luck. But it establishes Dorsey as a figure in the pantheon of Silicon Valley greats, and remains optimistic for his next venture.

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In Brief

While Grand Theft Auto V has broken records in both sales and popularity, its online counterpart, GTA Online, has endured serious growing pains. Rockstar says that technical issues have caused users to lose their game progress, and glitches often left players stuck in missions or tutorials. In order to save its fan base, Rockstar has announced a $500,000 in-game currency “stimulus package” for every player, starting as early as next week. Players will receive the “GTA$” in two installments as long as they play the game at any point in October. Sim City, time to take note.

On The Web

There’s a battle going on in the UK, as the City of London’s newly formed Intellectual Property Crime Unit has begun to target some of the largest torrenting sites in the world. The group has already seized the domain names of ExtraTorrent, SumoTorrent, MisterTorrent and MP3 sites emp3world.com, full-albums.net and maxalbums.com in order to shut down their operations, but the websites are not going quietly. TorrentFreak spoke with ExtraTorrent, the fifth-largest torrenting site in the world, about the fight it plans to wage with the City of London to resist the takeover. This one will be a bumpy ride.

On The Web

Creating a reliable and well-cited knowledge source on the backs of an open and anonymous entry system is a challenge, but its to the dedicated credit of core editors on Wikipedia that the information gets (and stays) vetted for the education of the online community. The Daily Dot offers a glimpse into the tight-knit and methodical world of Wikipedia editors with this intriguing story about uncovering hundreds of “sockpuppets” — fake accounts manipulated by a single source. The drama and mystery surrounding the so-called “morning227 network” shows the lengths people will go to get their own Wikipedia presence.

On The Web

It’s been two months since secure email service Lavabit promptly shut down, citing ominous threats from the U.S. government. But now that some details of the company’s fight in the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals are public, creator Ladar Levison opened up to The New Yorker about the case. While many suspect Levison was ordered by the FBI to divulge information related to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, that detail remains sealed. But the article gives a look into the months of pressure Levison faced, which ultimately drove him to shut Lavabit down.

On The Web

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A long weekend piece by Wired contributing editor Fred Vogelstein in the New York Times chronicles the unveiling of the very first iPhone during the keynote of MacWorld 2007. Despite a smooth performance day-of, the dirty little secret was that the smartphone really didn’t work. Prone to freezing, dropped calls, and losing internet, the iPhone needed every minute up until its June release date for tinkering, but Steve Jobs required a flawless demo. That seamless, 90-minute presentation has turned into a seminal moment for the smartphone, but the really intriguing story is the tightrope walk to getting there.

In Brief

In September, Japanese telecom company NTT DoCoMo finally joined its competitor companies, KDDI Corp and SoftBank Corp, in stocking the iPhone. However, according to Reuters, the company still reported a net loss of subscribers — down 66,800 for the month. The loss is a record monthly drop for DoCoMo, which puts blame squarely on  not having enough quantities of the new iPhone available compared to its rivals. While it’s unclear whether the Apple product will be the panacea for DoCoMo’s woes, one thing is clear: telecom companies are confident that the iPhone is a deal-maker for cellular subscribers.

In Brief

Do you remember those “Bing it On” ads? Microsoft ran advertisements that claimed a pool of 1,000 users “preferred Bing 2 to 1,” and allowed users to try it themselves with BingItOn.com. Yale professor Ian Ayers decided to duplicate the study, with BingItOn.com and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Detailing his study on the Freakonomics blog, Ayers said that Google’s results actually outranked Bing’s 53 percent to 41 percent, on average, but became more equal (48 percent preferring Google to 47 percent Bing) when Bing-suggested terms were involved.

On The Web

As it turns out, one of the biggest “scares” of NSA’s power over our electronic data — targeting people through cell phone locations — was already launched and scrapped. The New York Times reported that a pilot project to track cell phone locations was enacted in 2010 and 2011 to test the group’s ability to handle data, but officials say no information gathered was used for intelligence purposes. The government is no longer tracking locations under the Patriot Act, but the mere existence of this project shows yet again just how much the NSA was hiding from the public.

In Brief

The long-buzzed about iPad Mini with retina display didn’t make an appearance at the latest Apple event in September, and it’s likely that the world won’t see it until the new year. Reuters reports that delays on display manufacturing in China have crippled production, making it near impossible to do a full roll-out for the holiday season. If the iPad Mini retina does appear, expect limited quantities, long lines, and a bit of heartbreak.

In Brief

Verizon has been slowly phasing out its unlimited data plan for the last year, but a few lucky customers will continue to reap its benefits for another contract cycle. A glitch in the company’s system this past weekend allowed Verizon customers to upgrade their phones without dropping the unlimited data plan. And, the company told DroidLife that it will honor those plans in spite of the glitch. So, some survivors will continue reaping the benefits of free-flowing data — until the next contract.

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