Talks About Tech Weekly 104: E3 2014

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e3primer6E3 2014, one of the biggest gaming events of the year took place last week in the Las Vegas convention centre. Although last year was the year of the next generation consoles there have been some interesting new announcements this year too.

Microsoft at E3
Microsoft took a different approach this year. Last years Microsoft presentation completely focused on the Xbox One hardware. This year they dedicated their presentation to games. These games include the Halo Master Chief Edition for all of you Halo fans, Sunset Overdrive, Forza Horizon 2 and Halo 5 coming next year. People who order the Halo Master Chief Edition will also get early beta access to the Halo 5 game.

Sony at E3
Sony decided that they were going to put out some new hardware this year and it looks quite impressive. The Playstation TV is a serious competitor to the Roku, Apple TV and the newly released Amazon Fire TV but it has something else to offer. Gaming. You can play PS Vita games and PS1 games, stream PS2 and PS3 games using Playstation Now and stream PS4 games using remote play. At $99 you can’t go wrong and if you pair that with a PS4 it could be a really useful device.

Sony also released a somewhat limited edition White Playstation 4. Games included in the Playstation presentation include Entwined, InFamous First Light, Little Big Planet 3, Bloodborne, Dead Island 2, Magicka 2, Uncharted 4 and more.

Sony’s project Morpheus also made a debut at E3 this year. Project Morpheus is a competitor to the critically acclaimed Oculus Rift. Virtual Reality is looking very promising. It looks like it isn’t quite ready yet but it’s nearly there. I’m just afraid that it will turn into another gimmick like the kinect.

Nintendo at E3
Nintendo has been known in recent years to have somewhat gone out of fashion. Their latest attempt at the living room console, the WiiU, hasn’t had much success. However, this year they tried to gain back some of the old school Nintendo fans. They launched new titles such as Yoshi’s Woolly World, Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker, Super Smash Bros on the 3DS and the WiiU and Mario Maker.

 

Talks About Tech Weekly 103: Three and O2 Merger

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Telefonica-O2-logoOn this episode we talk about uber, three and o2 merger and more.

Uber Raises $1.2 Billion Funding
Uber originally started as a way to get a premium taxi from one place to another. Today Uber is the go to for low-cost black taxi services with UberX as well as premium taxi’s. You can simply find the closest taxi to you and hail it directly from the iPhone or Android app.

On Friday Uber confirmed that they have raised over $1.2 billion funding from a number of sources including Fidelity Investments, Wellington Management, BlackRock Inc, Summit Partners, Kleiner Perkins, Google Ventures and Menlo Ventures. This obviously shows how many people and companies value this service.The company has also recently been valued, pre funding, at $17 billion.

This is a perfect example of how technology can be used to make services that have been around since the beginning of time more convenient and cost effective.

Three Buys O2
Talk of this deal started at this time last year but it’s only now that the acquisition has somewhat become officially official now that 02 has put up a notice on their website.

The EU Commission has now approved the acquisition which means that Three will now control 37% of of the market with over 2 million subscribers just below Vodafone with 39% and above Meteor with 20%. The EU Commission previously had issues with the acquisition due to the lack of competition but it seems like these problems have been solved.

The €850 million deal means that 02 Ireland will no longer exist and will merge with Three. Eircom has insisted that it also gets something from the deal. The EU commission gave them a permanent network-share between Meteor and Eircom’s E-mobile. Vodafone is taking Three to court to try to make the case of monopolising. They want something out of it too. As part of the deal, Three has to give some of its newly acquired spectrum to Eircom and allow 2 new virtual networks to be set up on their network.

For us this means that there will now be one less major carrier in Ireland. This means that there will be less competition and therefore potentially higher mobile services prices. I do think however, that the EU commission are doing everything they can to make sure that it doesn’t effect us negatively but only time can tell.

UPC Report on Internet in Ireland
This week UPC and Amárach Research released an interesting although slightly biased report on the internet in Ireland. Here are some of the highlights of the report:

Life Online

  • In just two years since the first UPC Report, 30% of Irish adults are now subscribing to broadband speeds of 30 Mbps or higher – compared to just 10% in 2012 – which places Ireland ahead of the EU-28 average of 18.2% for these higher speeds. 44% of Irish homes can access speeds of up to 200 Mbps.
  • Consumer spending online which currently stands at just under €6bn a year in 2014 is set to rise to almost €13bn by 2020.
  • People said that if their Internet connection was to disappear tomorrow, they would want €130 a month or up to €1,500 a year to replace this loss for them, an indication of the consumer surplus and value that people place on their Internet service.
  • 60% of parents have installed parental control software which blocks or filters certain website types.

Enterprise and Innovation

  • Irish businesses anticipate higher levels of growth through digital productivity and expect 21% of their sales to be online in 2014.
  • Ireland is far ahead of the EU average for business social media adoption and 53% of Irish firms say they are influenced by online feedback from consumers and customers.
  • 75% of Irish enterprises have websites but as many as 47,000 SMEs / SOHOs are missing out on the digital opportunity.
  • Encouragingly, 59% of businesses surveyed intend to recruit in the next 18-24 months with a strong emphasis on digital skills including analytics, programming social media and digital marketing. Over half of Irish businesses said they plan to sell to more customers outside of Ireland by using the internet over the next two years.
  • 75% of Irish enterprises have websites but as many as 47,000 SMEs / SOHOs are missing out on the digital opportunity.
  • Encouragingly, 59% of businesses surveyed intend to recruit in the next 18-24 months with a strong emphasis on digital skills including analytics, programming social media and digital marketing. Over half of Irish businesses said they plan to sell to more customers outside of Ireland by using the internet over the next two years.

The Digital Future

  • The internet economy in Ireland directly employed the full-time equivalent of 49,000 people in 2012.
  • 79,000 extra new jobs will be directly employed through the internet economy by 2020.
  • As many as 150,000 direct and indirect new jobs are forecasted from continuing digitisation by 2020.

Talks About Tech Special: WWDC 2014

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On this special we talk about the opening keynote announcments at WWDC 2014.

WWDC 2014
For technology geeks and Apple fans alike this is one of the highlights of every year. WWDC has become the biggest event for developers. At this years opening keynote Apple have made some very interesting new releases.

promo_yosemiteMac OS X
As usual Apple started with the stats explaining a 12% increase in Mac Sales in a decreasing market, 80 million Macs worldwide and 40 million installations of Mavericks with an adoption rate of 51% in comparison to Windows 8 with 14% adoption rate after two years.

Craig Federighi came on stage to talk about the next generation of Mac OS X, Yosemite. This continues on the new naming method. The biggest new feature of Yosemite is the new design. This makes sense for Apple to continue the same new design language that they introduced on iOS 7 last year. The new design is really beautiful. They use the same kind of transparency as iOS 7 with a beautiful colour palette. They have also added a dark mode and a redesigned dock.

Other features in Yosemite include an iOS 7 like notification centre with customisable widgets, a new spotlight search that not only searches for local files but for conversations, news, web searches, movies, map results and more, iCloud Drive which is Apples’ version of Google Drive, new Mail features, Safari features and continuity accross iOS and Mac devices.

Yosemite is available to developers today and will come as a free download this Autumn. Apple will also be putting out a public beta later this Summer for anyone to try out. This seems to be a new approach for Apple and one that I love.

iOS
promo_ios8Tim Cook came back on stage to introduce the newest version of iOS with some amazing statistics: over 100 million iPod Touch sales, over 200 million iPad sales and over 500 million iPhone sales. Craig Federighi came on stage again to go into detail about iOS 8.

Apple admitted that iOS 8 is based on the design of iOS 7 with some new evolutionary improvements. Interactive notifications, widgets in notification centre, new mail interface improvements, new smart spotlight search and quick type predictive keyboard add to the feature list in iOS 8. Some of the most interesting new features are now you can read all text message conversations on iMessage, not just iMessages with other Apple devices. You can now accept phone calls on your Mac and use it as a speaker phone even if your iPhone is at another part of the house. You can also make phone calls directly from your Mac syncing with your iPhone.

New enterprise features include the device enrolment program which allows business users to put all the necessary enterprise apps on their new devices easily, VIP threads in the iOS mail app and auto reply for out of the office.

Health kit is a new API along with the Health app which tries to group all health information together to create one place to get all information about your health. One cool feature of health kit is the ability for a Doctor to check a patients vital signs and if they are above the safety will alert the Doctor.

Family sharing allows families of up to six with the same credit card share calenders, reminders, movies, apps and music with the whole family. It also solves the problem with kids buying in app purchases having to ask a parent for permission to buy first.

Minor changes to the photos app with a new advanced search and image editing features. Siri changes include Shazam song recognition.

For Developers
App Store changes for developers include the new smart search that Apple has been rolling out across platforms, short video previews of key features in an app for customer previews, the ability to bundle a group of applications and test flight which allows devs to invite users to beta test their apps.

Apple also talked about the behind-the-scenes features coming out in iOS 8 as this is a developer conference. There are over 4000 new developer API’s including third party extensions for apps such as the Bing Translator for Safari, Touch ID for third party developers, manual camera control, HomeKit API which allows developers of gadgets for the connected home to create one united app to control all aspects of the home and create scenes such as a bed scene to turn off all light in a house and close the garage as an example.

CloudKit opens iCloud for developers and Metal provides a more efficient solution to OpenGL which will greatly increase the gaming experience on iOS devices. SceneKit provides 3D support for the relatively new SpriteKit API for casual gaming.

A huge announcement for developers is Apples’ new programming language called Swift. Swift is fast, modern and safe and simplifies many lengthy strings and code blocks in Objective-C. It also has a visual debugger that shows you in a visual way what your code is going to do. It works with C and Objective-C to allow developers to create apps in the most efficient way possible.

iOS 8 will be available this Autumn. It is available to developers now. I have been very impressed with the keynote overall. I think it was really well executed and Apple did everything right!

Talks About Tech Weekly 102: Excited Conference

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On this episode we talk about the Excited technology and education conference 2014.

Excited Conference 2014

excited-about-logo1The Excited Conference was a collaboration between the Department of Education & Skills, the Galway Education Centre and the Athlone Education Centre. The conference addressed education and technology; how teachers can use technology to teach and how teachers can teach technology.

Day 1
Day 1 of the Excited was full of very interesting events and discussion panels. Ciaran Cannon, Minister for Training & Skills at the Department of Education & Skills introduced the conference. Lord David Puttnam then talked about computers and creativity and how important combining the two is.

Teachers Versus Techies
An interesting conversation was one that turned out to be teachers versus techies. Many of the teachers argued that the engineers who are making new online learning methods for students don’t understand how to teach. They don’t have experience in teaching and as a result they cannot create effective products.

Mike Feerick
Mike Feerick, the founder and CEO of ALISON talked about how websites such as his own will change the way people learn and with the collaboration of teachers, will make the education system more effective. ALISON is the third largest organisation in online education with over three million users world wide. They offer free courses in subjects such as Business & Enterprise, Languages, Digital Literacy & IT Skills and more!

Excited-Sat-1132

Day 2
Young scientist winners Ciara Judge, Emer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow represented young people at the conference. They talked about winning the BT Young Scientist and about how hearing the student voice is critical to our success.

Lego Education
René Tristan Lydiksen, MD of LEGO Education in Europe spoke about creative construction, playful learning and the importance of play. He talked about how children learn and enhance their creativity through play.

Microsoft
Also speaking about creative construction was Stephen Howell, Academic Engagement Manager at Microsoft. He talked about the free game, project spark which allows you to create your own world and everything in it. Project Spark teaches the basics of game mechanics in an easy to use, visual way.

Marty Cooper
Marty Cooper was the leader of the team at Motorola that made the first Mobile Phone. At Excited he talked about the history of the GSM phone as well as the future of education.

Sal Khan
Sal Khan, Founder of Khan Academy finished the conference with a Questions & Answers session with Minister Ciaran Cannon and Sean O’Sullivan, Managing Director at SOSventures. Khan Academy is a non-profit that provides free education for anyone, anywhere. Students have access to the whole library of educational content and can use quizzes and exams online to help practice what they have learned.

Overall we thoroughly enjoyed the Excited 2014 conference. There were some really interesting speakers and the conference was really well run.

Talks About Tech Weekly 101: In Spain

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On this episode we talk about the Ebay hack, google buying twitch and more.

ebay-logo-in-chicago-fontEbay Hacked
This week Ebay made their customers aware that over 145 million passwords, names and addresses were hacked. However, Ebay have been highly criticised for not letting their customers know sooner. The hacks actually occurred in February and March 2014 but Ebay only made the public announcement this week. Ebay have also been heavily criticised for not giving enough information about the breach or what precautionary measures you should put in place. The US and EU are now doing independent investigations into why Ebay didn’t notify customers earlier and why they did not provide adequate information.

Google Plans To Buy Twitch
Google is looking to buy the live streaming giant Twitch for $1 billion. Twitch was set up in 2011 as a spin off of justin.tv, a live streaming provider. Twitch is dedicated to live streaming video games. It has become the place to go if you want to stream anything to do with video games. They are now the official streamers of E3 and you can live stream form the PS4 and Xbox One as well as games like Minecraft directly.

Many people are saying that this could be one of the best acquisitions Google makes. Why? At the moment Google are trying to push users to use YouTube live to live stream their events. It’s a slow process because it is a highly saturated market. However, if Google combine Twitch with YouTube live they could get a huge number of gamers using their service as well as other live streamers and would help to boost the growth of YouTube live.

If Google decide to combine Twitch with YouTube live it could leave a lot of gamers unhappy. The very thing that has made Twitch so popular is the fact that it is strictly for gaming only. Another thing that Google could do is combine it with Google + like what they did with YouTube, however, this seems unlikely.

What about competition? By buying Twitch, Google will own the entire video game live streaming market which is a huge segment of the entire live streaming market. Do we really want one company to control online video on-demand and live?

Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Last week Microsoft announced the Surface Pro 3, the third in the line of Microsoft’s pro tablets. The Pro 3 boasts some nice improvements over its predecessors. It now has a beautiful 12-inch display with a resolution of 2160×1440. This makes it a 3:2 aspect ratio which seems to be the sweet spot for tablets.

It also boasts a Mini Display port for external monitors, a headset jack, a microSD card slot and a single USB 3 port.

Microsoft have also redesigned the kickstand. Previous models were pretty much unusable anywhere else other than on a desk because they were heavy and the kickstand was clumsy. Now Microsoft have added a setting on the kickstand for lap use. They have also made improvements to the backlit type cover and added a larger trackpad.

Prices start at €819 for the Core i3 64GB model and go all the up to a Core i7 model with a 512GB hard drive for €1989. You can preorder them from the microsoft store here.

Apple Buying Dr. Dre Beats
A few weeks ago rumours started of Apple being interested in buying the headphone manufacturer Dr. Dre Beats. This isn’t the first time Apple have been interested in buying the company but Dr. Dre officially unofficially confirmed the acquisition. This would make it Apple’s largest acquisition although it won’t make Dre. Dre hip-hop’s first billionaire like many have been saying.

So the question is what are Apple going to do with a designer headphone and speaker manufacturer. There have been many different speculations about what Apple are going to do with Beats. They could use the Beats branding to boost the sales of Apple products and make them more desirable. This doesn’t quite make sense because Apple is in many ways a more desirable brand than Beats. If Apple wanted to do this they could just sign a contract like HTC did for their BoomSound speakers.

The most popular reason seems to be that Apple have ran out of great ideas. They are interested in Beats for their recently launched premium music service. Apple have dominated the online music industry since its inception and now streaming services such as Spotify are taking over. Apple wants a slice of that pie.

Talks About Tech Weekly 099: May The 4th Be With You

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may 4thOn this episode we talk about the F8 conference, Call of Duty Advanced Warfare and more.

Facebook F8 Conference

F8 is held every second year for Facebook developers to give them a sneak peak at upcoming new features for Facebook. There are loads of dev’s who rely on Facebook to make their income so this conference is very important to them. From the conference we learned a number of new and interesting things:

1. No More Experiments
Facebook have said that they won’t be moving fast and breaking things like in the past. They are focusing on making a more stable platform for developers and users alike.

2. App Links
A while back Facebook bought a company called Parse. From this acquisition Facebook have now created App Links, a solution for app-to-app linking for mobile devices. While this service is very much for developers it’s still interesting to see how it works and how it may benefit consumers.

Currently if you click on a link in Facebook you are redirected to your mobile web browser where you have to log in again before you are sent to the original link. Facebook’s solution is an open source and cross platform standard for app-to-app linking. The idea is that you can add some simple code into your web content or mobile app to allow other developers to link directly to it.

This is currently possible without App Links but you have to rely on other developers to enable this feature is their app and it is complicated to do. App Links is an easy solution and is a standard that everyone can use.

3. Use Facebook to Anonymously Log Into Websites
You can already use your Facebook account to use many other applications and services. Now you can log into these apps anonymously first with the idea of trying out the service first and then deciding later if you want to give the app your personal details. You can also choose what personal information is shared with the app when you use it. For example if you didn’t want the app to know your date of birth you could just block it. The feature will be coming out soon but there is no exact time yet.

4. New Ad Network
Pretty much all of Facebook’s revenue is from online advertisement and monitisation. Now Facebook is launching their own ad network called the Facebook Audience Network (or FAN for short). This solution allows developers to use FAN ads just like iAds or Google’s AdMob in their apps.

Although very similar to iAds or AdMob Facebook is differentiating it from its rivals by ensuring that their ads will be of higher quality. They are limiting to one ad per page and they want to make sure that the ad isn’t blocking any buttons or limiting the functionality of the app.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare

Just a few days ago Activision released the first trailer for the up and coming Advanced Warfare game from the Call of Duty franchise. This came after a portion of the game was leaked previously to the release. The trailer features Kevin Spacey as a ruthless militant leader hell bent on taking down democracy. Hiring a multi award winning actor as a main character for a video game sounds very interesting and could add a really interesting story line to the campaign. This has certainly got me very interested once again in Call of Duty. If you want to watch the trailer you can click the link here.

Talks About Tech Weekly 098: The Future of The Blokia

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On this episode we talk about the leaked iPhone 6 case, Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia and more!

iphone6_caseOpen Beta Seed Program for OS X Mavericks
This week for the first time, Apple released an open beta for the next update for OS X Mavericks. You can go to appleseed.apple.com/sp/betaprogram to sign up for a free, open beta of their upcoming OS X 10.9.3. This is an interesting move for Apple and I certainly welcome it. Previously, beta releases of iOS and Mac OS X were only available to paying developers. Although 10.9.3 is a somewhat minor update I live in hope that Apple will do this for larger releases to come in the future.

Leaked iPhone 6 Design
An iPhone case manufacturer seems to have leaked what appears to be a case for the new iPhone 6. UnboxTherapy covered the case in their latest video.

The first thing that was apparent from the video is the larger size overall with a 4.7 inch display. The leaked phone is similar size and shape to the Google Nexus 5. The power switch is now located on the side of the device, ideal for a phone of its size. The case also shows that the phone is much thinner than the iPhone 5S. There is no way to tell if this leak is real but many of the main technology blogs have picked up on the story.

I would personally love to see the introduction of 4k on the iPhone 6 but we’ll have to wait until later this year to find out.

Microsoft Becomes Hardware Company
Eight months ago Microsoft announced that they were buying Nokia. This week the deal was finalised. Microsoft is to pay €3.79 billion for Nokia’s hardware business. In addition they are to pay €1.65 billion to license Nokia’s patents. In total it will cost Microsoft €5.44 billion (approximately $7.2 billion).

So what are Microsoft getting from the deal? Microsoft are now acquiring all Nokia Windows Phones, Asha phones, Android X phones and feature phones. Microsoft will become a huge mobile device manufacturer that ships over 200 million devices a year. Along with the purchase of Nokia’s hardware devision 25,000 employees will be moving to Microsoft. They are planning to rebrand the newly acquired business ‘Microsoft Mobile’ and Microsoft plan on running it separately to the rest of Microsoft for the time being.

Nokia will still exist and focus on NSN (Nokia’s Network Infrastructure), HERE maps and Advanced Technologies. Nokia have already paid for a four year license of HERE maps.

The question now is how Microsoft will begin to integrate this new hardware devision with their current business. As part of the acquisition, Microsoft now own Nokia’s beloved Blokia’s. So what’s going to happen to these famous phones near and dear to our hearts? Another question is about Nokia’s X phones. These phones run android with a Windows Phone skin. Will Microsoft continue to produce these handsets? Nokia recently released their Windows RT Lumia tablet. Are Microsoft going to hold the Surface brand or decide to take on the Lumia?

Talks About Tech Weekly 097: NAB 2014

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nab-show-logoOn this episode we talk about Nike discontinuing the Nike+ FuelBand and the highlights from NAB 2014.

 

 

Nike+ FuelBand
A few days ago rumours started about Nike possibly killing the FuelBand. Now it is sort of official. Nike have publicly said that the majority of the 70 person FuelBand team have been let go. The FuelBand was one of my favourite wearable devices because it didn’t just rehash information on your phone. The FuelBand actually added valuable extra functionality. It’s a shame that it’s gone.

Highlights from NAB 2014
I love NAB because it gives insight to what products consumers might be seeing 5 years down the road. This year was full of some really interesting new gear as always. What was most prevalent was 4K. Blackmagic upgraded all of its SDI products to support 4k and made huge improvements to their multi-camera switchers. They also released some new 4k cameras. Skype also announced a new product specially for broadcasters. Although there is no information of pricing or availability yet this is also very exciting.

Talks About Tech Weekly 096: Heartbleed

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On this episode we talk about everything you need to know about the SSL bug, ‘Heartbleed’ and Google’s project Ara.

Heartbleed
At the beginning of the week the people at OpenSSL made an announcement about an open bug called ‘Heartbleed’. An emergency patch was immediately put out. OpenSSL is very widely used by many major service providers such as Amazon, Yahoo, Facebook and more. Many of these services were affected by the bug.

It was discovered by a Google researcher, Neel Mehta. The bug allows an attacker to pull 64k of data randomly from the servers working memory. That may not sound like a major issue but the attacker can continue to request the data as many times as they like.

Very important information such as the servers encryption keys are stored in the working memory and if an attacker got access to this information they could potentially access any data going through the server. Although the patch is already out there it takes time to implement it across all servers and if any of the encryption keys were compromised a hacker could still have access to the server traffic for months after. The solution is to reset the encryption keys but this is a slow and expensive process.

You can check if your website is affected by using: filippo.io/Heartbleed/, however it does show up some false negatives.

Google Project Ara
Google is one of many companies who have been working on modular smartphones. This week they released their MDK (Module Developer Kit) for people who are interested in making their own modular phone based on Google’s designs.

The MDK highlights a number of different screen layouts, module layouts as well as what could be added in different modules. The idea is that it will use a metal endoskeleton and all of the modules will slide in and be held in place by special EMP (electro-permanent magnets) which have a low powered and a high powered state. Power is only required to change them from one state to another.

The big question about this radical new idea is if consumers will take an interest. Most average consumers don’t want to have to think about what processor they want or how much RAM they want. However, they might be interested in certain aspects such as the type of camera and how much storage there is. The first Project Ara phones are said to be coming next year and it will be very interesting to see. You can find out more information at: projectara.com