Saturday, August 1, 2015

Life After Big Brother: The NSA is watching you!

Life After Big Brother: The NSA is watching you!

If you were paying any attention to the news a couple of years back, you may remember the whole NSA PRISM scandal, involving the infamous Edward Snowden and a few slides of a top secret PowerPoint that categorically explained how the U.S. government has been spying on everyone with reckless abandon for quite some time now.

The entire event was very shocking, but not necessarily unforeseen. While many people, including myself, were vehemently outraged that our privacy had been breached so callously, there were plenty of others who had always known it was going on. Remember that movie with Shia LaBouf, where the government made a massive computer that collected data from all sorts of places and used it to manipulate people? That came out in 2008, five years before PRISM was public knowledge. Luckily, PRISM hasn't become self-aware and plotted the destruction of the world or whatever (...has it?).

Well, let us turn to our fearless leader, President Obama, to see what he had to say about this egregious intrusion of privacy back in 2013, not long after learning that Snowden had totally spilled the beans:

"I think it's important to recognize that you can't have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We're going to have to make some choices as a  society." --Official White House statement

Wait, is that justification I'm hearing?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Is the Ocumetics Bionic Lens really the solution to impaired vision?

tl;dr: The Ocumetics Bionic Lens remains untested, even in animal trials, and will require much experimentation to become a safe and viable product for human use. Patents have already been filed, and the bionic lens will surely soon be in testing phase.

The Ocumetics Bionic Lens (sometimes misspelled Ocumetrics Bionic Lens) has raised a lot of questions since it news of its development of the bionic lens first surfaced in May of this year, thanks to a vague announcement by the company itself.

"Seeing clearly at all distances without glasses or contact lenses is a goal for many of us, and that goal is fast becoming a reality."

This is the very first claim made on the Ocumetics site for the Bionic Lens, just stopping short of promising virtually perfect vision. Many are hailing it as the future, as I did in a more recent post on the topic, but there are those who still wonder if it will be able to pass the rigorous tests of animal, or even human, testing.

Even those who have serious experience in the field are dubious of the claims Ocumetics makes about the Bionic Lens, citing not only the lack of animal trials, but also the lack of accounting for aberrations and accidents. We are not even convinced that this lens is safe for the eyeball!

So, the jury's out for now, until Ocumetics comes back with some evidence to back up their smooth talking.

Motorola unveils cheap Moto G and new, powerful Moto X series

Motorola unveils cheap Moto G and new, powerful Moto X series

tl;dr: Motorola has announced the specs for the cheap, waterproof smartphone Moto G, with no carrier requirements. A new series of Moto X has also been announced, with two versions: Style (regular) and Play (non-US, lighter).

Nexus fans rejoice, for your Motorola gods bring to you the next best line of smartphones!

Moto G is the cheap alternative to carrier-branded phones, because they understand that some of us are not in it to buy a new phone every season. The Moto G comes with waterproofing to save your phone from a very common form of damage, but even better is that you only have to pay a flat $180, no carrier subsidy. The Moto G will run on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop.

If you were hoping for something a little more high-end, then Motorola is also offering the Moto X Style and Moto X Play smartphone / phablet (I hate using that word). Built in Nexus 6, juiced up batteries, and more hardware power than you will probably ever really need on a smartphone will make your mouth water for the Moto X Style.

A cheaper, lighter version of the Style will be offered to non-U.S. residents as the "Play," and will probably make a lot of us Americans really, really jealous. Thanks Motorola! >:(

Monday, July 27, 2015

Google+ is being dismantled, essentially a failure

tl;dr: Google is unofficially giving up on the Google+ service, and removing key features such as Photos, account linking, and sitewide location sharing tools.

This may not be a surprise to many, but the Google+ social network platform is unofficially dead, and Google has begun the process of dismantling its features for salvage. The first service to go was Google Photos, unplugged from the social network this month amidst tons of Google-fanboy confusion.

Google is unofficially giving up on the Google+ service, and removing key features such as Photos, account linking, and sitewide location sharing tools.
See ya, Facebook clone!
Now, the company has made the decision to remove the account linking requirements across all Google sites. Today, one has to connect their YouTube account to a Google+ profile before the can interact with the community, but soon enough we will all be allowed to post anonymously again. Accounts already linked will be given the option to uncouple Google+ from YouTube.

Expect tools like location sharing to step down from sitewide status to Hangouts-specific, as Google responds to feedback from irate users.

Who can say we didn't see this coming, though?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Twitter begins removing jokes, claiming "copyright"

A cursory search shows the same joke, ripped off en masse
tl;dr: Twitter has deemed that 140-character jokes tweeted on their platform constitute copyright, and reposting of such copyright material will result in removal.

Quick, send out the censors! Nab the intellectual property before it gets lose!

That's essentially Twitter's sentiment on the matter of whether or not 140-character-or-less jokes fall under copyright. Certain users have been lifting jokes from other tweeps' feeds, and posted them to their own feed in an attempt to gain followers, retweets, and favs.

Well, the buck stops now, apparently, as Twitter forcibly removes these tweets, claiming that, "This Tweet from [user] has been withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder." The copyright holder referred to in the warning is the originator of the joke, and not some company as you might think.

What does this mean for the future of Twitter, a supposed platform for the flow of free speech? Co-founder Biz Stone wants to let the tweets free, but most employees just want to keep the status quo.

With so many threats from the government to businesses on the ground of intellectual property, it's no surprised Twitter is cowering in their boots.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Kepler Space Telescope discovers 'Earth 2.0' a.k.a. Kepler-452b

tl;dr: The Kepler telescope discovered an exoplanet 1,400 light years away orbiting a Sun-like star in its habitable zone; great new candidate in the search for life.

Earth 2.0 Kepler 452-b exoplanet earth-like alien life atmosphere
Artist's rendition.
Of course, let's not get too excited; there won't be any way to see if the planet even has an atmosphere until we can get the James Webb Telescope up in space, but it a moment for celebration. The Kepler Space Telescope has sent us data that leads astronomers to believe exoplanet Kepler-452b, orbiting a star 1,400 light years away, is a rocky planet with similar dimensions to Earth.

Better yet, it's in the system's habitable zone, the narrow band of space that is just close enough to the star to allow heat and energy, but just far enough away not to burn of any water forming. That means an atmosphere and watery clouds can possibly form, with any luck, and alien life can be given a chance to arise. This is all theoretical, but 'Earth 2.0,' as it's being called, may be an answer to that haunting question: are we alone in the universe?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Google Purchases will let you buy things straight from the ad

tl;dr: There will now be a "Buy" button placed directly into Google ads that will allow you to purchase items directly from the ad. The program is called Google Purchases.

Google is the leader in website advertisement and is relatively unmatched in its reach. The distribution of ads from the smallest, most niche of blogs, all the way up to big-name sites makes Google's advertising platform perhaps the strongest of them all.

Now, they are taking it a step further, with the Google Purchases program. Purchases will be a relatively straightforward addition to ads, simply introducing a "Buy" button inside the ad takes users straight to a purchase page for the advertised item.

This is by no means a new invention, having been pioneered in many different formats with companies like eBay and Amazon. However, this is the first step in a trend towards a more mercantile-friendly business platform, which is exactly what Google wants to achieve.