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Microsoft: law enforcement faces ‘bleak future’ if US doesn’t scale back its spying

Microsoft Way sign at the company's Redmond campus

It’s patently clear by now that Microsoft is no fan of the US government’s surveillance strategy, but the company’s general counsel, Brad Smith, just took the war of words to a new level. He tells those at the Brookings Institution that the US’ aggressive data collection is only going to make things worse over time. According to the legal leader, concerns about spying will be “more important, not less” as seemingly every device goes online. He contends that the government needs to scale back its efforts and follow the spirit of the law — if it can’t, law enforcement (and by extension, the public) faces a “bleak future.”

To no one’s surprise, Smith has a simple solution to avoid this dystopia. He’s asking Congress and the White House to stop large-scale collection and reform the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court. That may be a tall order given how much protection the court gets. Even if Smith can’t spark political changes, though, there’s talk of offering you more power over your data. He has proposed a dashboard that would let you not only see and manage information about you, but find out how it’s being used. It’s not certain whether or not Microsoft plans to introduce that kind of control panel itself, but Smith’s ardent pro-privacy stance suggests that you shouldn’t rule it out.

[Image credit: Todd Bishop, Flickr]

Filed under: Internet, Microsoft


Source: CNET


Twitter’s latest experiment rethinks the retweet

Twitter already made the move to allow tweets inside tweets, but it appears the 140-character social stream is looking to revamp the way we all retweet, too. According to TechCrunch, a new feature being labeled as “retweet with comment” that enables users to better participate in the on-going convo by adding proper context could be on the way. Currently, in the company’s own app there are options for a straight retweet and quoting the musing to be recast. Rumor has it that the new method could replace that latter choice, and in the process allow for a proper comment where the ol’ RT text count doesn’t eat into your precious character allotment. That original tweet will likely appear in card form — much like the embeded option — but hopefully via a single button press rather than the current copy/paste method.

Filed under: Internet, Software, Mobile


Source: TechCrunch


Oculus VR to buy design team behind the Xbox 360 gamepad and Kinect, Carbon Design

Just six months ago, we were talking about the money Oculus VR was raising from investors to get its virtual reality headset to consumers. Now, after being purchased by Facebook earlier this year, Oculus VR is making full-on acquisitions of its own: the company behind the design of the Xbox 360 gamepad and the original Kinect, Carbon Design, is joining Oculus VR. The price of the purchase wasn’t given, though a few specifics were. First, Carbon “will officially become a key component of the product engineering group at Oculus,” which to us sounds like the end of the name “Carbon Design.” That doesn’t mean Carbon — a Seattle group — is moving to Oculus VR’s Irvine, CA. headquarters, though — the design team is set to stay in Seattle and work with Oculus’ R&D group in Redmond (headed up by ex-Valve VR man Michael Abrash).

Though the deal is fresh, Oculus says its collaboration with Carbon isn’t. “We’ve been working with Carbon for nearly a year,” the announcement says. Working on what, though? On “multiple unannounced projects,” apparently. Thus far, Oculus VR has only announced its Rift headset and, with that, there’s no release date (or even a window) in sight.

When we asked the company about other hardware projects at E3 2014, we were told that others exist but there’s nothing to talk about just yet. See the full interview for yourself below.

Filed under: Wearables, Microsoft


Source: Oculus VR


These ‘smart dumbbells’ log your lifting sessions, call you out on your bad form

These 'smart dumbbells' log your lifting sessions, call you out on your bad form

The “Internet of Things” basically now includes all the things: internet-connected slow cookers, tea kettles, baby onesies. And don’t you think that also includes athletic equipment? Bowflex, the company best known for its all-in-one home-exercise machines, is showing off a pair of “smart dumbbells,” which log your weight lifting sessions, and also use sensors to detect if you’re moving your arms too fast (bad form, dudes). The SmartTech 560 dumbbells, as they’re called, then send that data to an Android or iOS app over Bluetooth. Even then, there’s a display on the weights, so you can glance at some of this info right there. Once you’re in the app, you can view 70-plus video tutorials, courtesy of MyFitnessPal, as well as participate in a six-week training challenge.

Additionally, the dumbbells use Bowflex’s existing SelectTech technology to add or subtract weight, using the cradle you see in that photo above. All told, the weights can shift between two and 90 pounds of heft, so you can use the set of dumbbells for your squats, lunges and bicep curls. (Fun fact: The company’s technology is already used in gyms, where you can pick up a weight and not worry about whether all the 10-pound dumbbells are already taken.) No word on an exact release date, except that the company expects them to be on sale before Christmas.

The price isn’t final either, though a spokesperson said a set of two weights might fall in the $450 to $500 range. Yeah, we know: Insane. Unless, of course, you were otherwise planning on buying two-dozen individual dumbbells for your home gym. And if you have that kind of money, don’t you already have a fancy gym membership? So many questions, guys. So many questions. Hopefully some of them will be answered once we get the chance to get hands-on sometime this fall. Until then, here’s a demo video of the things in action.

Filed under: Misc, Household



Apple TV gets ABC News, PBS Kids and a brand new Flickr app

Apple TV with a few familiar apps

You’d think that the steady stream of new Apple TV content would have slowed to a trickle by now, but nope — far from it. Apple has just delivered a handful of fresh channels that include the free ABC News service (not to be confused with the authentication-based WatchABC), PBS Kids and the cricket-focused Willow TV. Flickr’s app has also received a long, long overdue revamp (shown below) with a densely packed Explore section, an elaborate personal page and improved search. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the new AOL On channel — yes, you can now watch Engadget videos and other clips from our corporate overlords. Whatever content tickles your fancy, you just have to wake up your Apple TV to check it out.

Flickr's redesigned Apple TV app

Filed under: Home Entertainment, HD, Apple


Source: 9to5 Mac


Safety zealot hid a phone jammer in his SUV to stop other drivers taking calls

Blue Toyota SUV that carried hidden phone jamming equipment

If you happen to notice a second-hand Toyota Highlander being offered for a quick sale in Seffner, Florida, you’ll know exactly who it belongs to. A local man, Jason Humphreys, has been given 30 days to pay a $48,000 fine after being caught radio-handed with a high-powered phone jammer hidden under his SUV’s front passenger seat. When he was pulled over by a squad of FCC agents and police officers, who had spent days tracking the source of the wideband interference emanating from his vehicle, he reportedly told them that he was “fed up with watching cell phone usage while people were driving.” Unfortunately for Humphreys, the state of Florida deems it legal for motorists to engage in phone conversations while they’re on the move, whereas it severely frowns on the use of unlicensed jamming equipment that can disrupt vital communications between emergency services. The only glimmer of hope for this grumpy vigilante is if he can write to the FCC and somehow stall the fine, but even then he’ll likely still face a separate case raised by an even grumpier Sheriff’s office.

[Image credit: ABC Action News]

Filed under: Cellphones, Misc, Transportation, Mobile


Via: The Daily Mail

Source: ABC Action News


Google will show off the new ‘L’ version of Android tomorrow

Key Speakers At The Google I/O Annual Developers Conference

You can move one more item into the confirmed list for tomorrow’s Google I/O keynote: a new version of Android. Your guess is as good as ours as to which L-word treat Google plans to name its next iteration of the mobile OS, but as part of a lengthy profile for Bloomberg, senior VP Sundar Pichai reveals he will offer a “preview” at the developer event. It’s a new approach for Google, in publicly revealing the new version (which may have momentarily surfaced on its issue tracker yesterday) well ahead of its planned release later this year, but similar to the way Apple, for example, is rolling out iOS 8. Also confirmed is Android Wear, complete with manufacturing partners and new devices, while the plans for Android TV are still shrouded in rumor.

[Image credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

Filed under: Cellphones, Home Entertainment, Software, HD, Mobile, Google


Source: Bloomberg


Apple Confirms ‘MLB at Bat’ Support on CarPlay Website [iOS Blog]

Apple today updated the CarPlay section of its website, adding MLB At Bat to the official list of apps supported by the service. While support for MLB At Bat was demoed during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, its inclusion has gone largely under the radar.

As described by PCMag, the MLB At Bat app allows users to listen to a variety of radio stations that broadcast local games, streaming live games from the iPhone through the car’s speakers. Access to MLB At Bat on CarPlay will require a subscription, which is priced at $19.99 for the 2014 season or $2.99 per month.

First announced in March, CarPlay connects the iPhone to a car’s built-in display, giving drivers a hands-free way to access Maps, make phone calls, send and receive messages, and listen to music while staying focused on the road. CarPlay works with Siri and integrates with the car’s built-in controls and in-dash touchscreen.

In addition to MLB at Bat, CarPlay also includes support for several other apps like Podcasts, Beats Music, iHeart Radio, Spotify, and Stitcher, with support for additional apps coming in the future.

CarPlay will be available later this year in select 2014 car models from manufacturers like Ferarri, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo. CarPlay will also be available on several aftermarket systems from Alpine and Pioneer.


PBS Kids Video, Daily Burn and Deezer gain Chromecast Support

The Google Chrome Twitter account pushed out a tweet this morning alerting us all that the Chromecast dongle has three new castable apps available. As of today you can find a the cast icon located inside PBS Kids Video, allowing you keep your little ones entertained with Curious George, SUPER WHY!, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and […]


Tune in to our liveblog of the Google I/O keynote tomorrow!

Key Speakers At The Google I/O Annual Developers Conference

Google’s developer conference is but an annual affair, and it’s kicking off in 24 hours with its traditional keynote. We’ll be liveblogging it as it happens, and if it’s anything like past years, expect it to be incredibly long (last year’s went on for 3.5 hours, and we’re hearing this one will be around 2 hours) and packed with plenty of news for developers and consumers alike. So if you’re into anything Google-related, you’d best virtually skydive into the Moscone Center with us as we cover all of the company’s crazy antics. Bookmark the link below and meet us there tomorrow!

Google I/O 2014 keynote liveblog

June 25, 2014 12:00:00 PM EDT

[Image credit: Getty Images]

Filed under: Announcements, Mobile, Google



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