Pledge to reduce distracted driving! #ItCanWait ‘Drive 4 Pledges Day’ – September 19th!

it_can_wait_logoDistracted driving is becoming one of my primary technology “cause” issues. As tech becomes more fashionable, as we integrate data into more and more of our waking day, we’ve still yet to completely crack the user experience of interacting with technology while operating a motor vehicle. Some day we’ll have better solutions like heads up displays and eye pieces, probably used in conjunction with driver-less cars, but that day has not yet arrived.

Over 100,000 crashes a year involve distracted drivers. We can do better. We need to do better.

Backed by all four major carriers, the It Can Wait campaign will be sponsoring events all around the country on September 19th. During the Drive 4 Pledges Day, communities will be hosting pledges drives, encouraging their neighbors to sign the pledge to not text (or use your phone) while driving. I’ll be attending the Los Angeles pledge event to show my support.

For those of you who want to participate, but wont be able to attend community events, check out ItCanWait.com for other ways to support the cause. it only takes a moment’s indiscretion for someone’s life to be irrevocably changed.

If you haven’t yet, I would also recommend watching the documentary From One Second to the Next, directed by Werner Herzog. It’s available for free on Youtube, and I have it embedded after the break.

Continue reading “Pledge to reduce distracted driving! #ItCanWait ‘Drive 4 Pledges Day’ – September 19th!”

Netflix exec: Canada’s broadband caps “almost a human rights violation”

Yikes.
As data becomes more and more integral to our work and social activities, ISP’s are going to have to start working harder to justify their positions as middlemen, instead of treating internet access as a state run utility…

Tesla working towards self-driving cars by 2017

model-s-blue-front2_960x640Sign me up. I’m sold. I used to love hitting the open road, but after living in LA for a couple years I’m done. All the wasted time sitting in zombifying traffic I could be spending on ANYTHING ELSE. There’s no more romance for me. The car is no longer a gadget I cherish, but a necessary evil.

Unless of course I no longer had to drive it myself anymore.

The dream of science fiction robot taxis is getting closer and closer to becoming a reality, and geek sweetheart Tesla is getting into the game. Joining companies like Google, CEO Elon Musk is promising “auto-pilot” features on Tesla automobiles in 3-4 years. Color me stoked!

Four years is a tremendously fast time table to get functionality like this tested and refined for general use, but Musk has demonstrated a unique drive in getting ambitious projects off the ground, and we can always hope that at some point, rather than having multiple companies producing competing systems, they might at some point pool their resources to provide true standards to the public.

In addition to freeing me up to utilize my commute more effectively, this could also help to curb the problems we face with distracted driving. It’s a win-win all around.

(via Reuters)

Samsung’s Galaxy SIII Mini avaiable for pre-order on AT&T Sept. 19

galaxy s 3 mini att preorder size comparison somegadgetguy

Better late than never I suppose?

If you’ve been looking for a nice mid-range Android experience in a smaller form factor than the 4.5″ and larger screened premier handsets, the GS3 Mini could be one to check out. Happily, we know that Google is looking towards improving Android efficiency, and app developers will likely be supporting dual-core handsets for some time yet as phones like The Moto X offer a premier experience with lower power internals.

This 4″ screen is powered by a dual-core 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM. Expect all of the Samsung favorites like TouchWiz, S-Beam, S-Voice, Smart Stay eye tracking, a Super AMOLED screen, and a 5MP camera. All this in a form factor which should be easier to use one-handed.

And while the GS3 Mini is still a perfectly reasonable solution for a smaller form factor Android, it strikes me as more than a little odd that AT&T is making this play with a phone released last November. Especially as they currently sport the very nice HTC One Mini, which was released a little less than a month ago.

Thankfully, I think AT&T has absolutely nailed the pricing, as the GS3 Mini will come in at 99 cents with a two year contract. The slightly older hardware is a little easier to understand when you’ll get a mid-range experience for practically free on contract.

Check out all the deets on AT&T’s GS3 Mini site!

NVIDIA shows off new $199 Tegra Note, 7″ Android Tablet

nvidia tegra note tablet kai 199 somegadgetguyIt’s kind of exciting watching a company like NVIDIA take a little more control over their hardware destiny. First with the Shield gaming handheld which I really liked from this year’s E3, and now with Tegra Note.

Tegra Note is an evolution of their Kai reference design. Last year NVIDIA led the industry with a design to simplify and lower costs for producing smaller tablets. They’re proud to claim the original Nexus 7 as having been inspired by this groundwork. I’m sure NVIDIA learned a lot about tablets by putting Kai out there and seeing how other manufacturers adopted and changed it.

Now Kai is evolving into the Tegra Note, a 7″ tablet featuring NVIDIA’s Tegra 4 chipset. The list of features is formidable:

Processor Tegra 4 mobile processor with quad-core Cortex-A15 CPU and 72-core GeForce GPU
Display 7-inch HD IPS LCD display (1280 x 800)
Camera Rear 5MP and front VGA webcam
Storage 16GB storage with microSD expandable up to an additional 32GB
Audio Front-facing “HD Audio” stereo speakers with a unique bass-reflex port
Stylus Chisel and Brush tips for natural writing and broad strokes
Peripherals Micro HDMI connector to drive big screen TV videos and gaming
OS 100% Android with latest version of the OS
Software Updates Over-the-air software updates directly from NVIDIA
Battery Life 10 hours HD video playback

If it’s built anything like Shield it should be some quality hardware, and it’ll launch with a magnetic flip cover which can prop it up like a stand. Plus NVIDIA is promising timely OS updates, which is becoming an important selling point for Android customers.

Alongside this specific tablet, NVIDIA’s partners are also working on tablets which follow this reference model, so expect to see more competition around the $200 price point soon from HP, Asus, Toshiba, Xiaomi, and Kobo with Tegra 4 parts.

I find the name interesting however. The badge “Note” is a proper branding for Samsung phones and tablets. NVIDIA is also rocking a proper stylus, but I’m left wondering if they couldn’t find any other name to describe what this tablet could do. I dunno, maybe something like Tegra Style? Or Tegra Design? Yeah, both of those names suck… Nevermind…

(via NVIDIA blog)

Windows 8.1 brings back standalone full retail versions, but scraps upgrade licensing.

windows 8 laptop hybrid lenovo twist somegadgetguy touchscreenWindows 8 was sold in a “unique” way. Either you purchased an upgrade license, or you purchased a “System Builder” full version. There was no retail full version. Microsoft pretty much just assumed that most people already owned a PC anyway.

With the update to 8.1, MS is bringing back full retail packaging, and now we have a better sense of what that licensing will cost. Windows 8.1 will run $119.99. Windows .1 Pro will go for $199.99, and upgrading from Windows 8.1 to 8.1 Pro will set you back $99. The update from Windows 8.0 to 8.1 will be free.

This should reduce some of the confusion and frustration for people who want to build their own systems, and users looking into running virtual instances of Windows 8.1, but of course this is Microsoft, so improvement for some comes with new confusions for others.

See, in bringing back full retail versions of Windows, it looks like Microsoft will do away with upgrades now. Yes, you can buy a full version of Windows 8.1, and it will update your system while leaving all of your data and programs intact, but you won’t get a price break. If you’re already running a legit version of Windows 7, you’re probably better off buying an upgrade to Windows 8.0 Pro for $80 now, and then installing it when Windows 8.1 is released later this year.

Or pay more than twice as much later. Whatever floats your boat.

BBC & Hulu reach deal to stream Doctor Who, Sherlock, and more!

bbc logoI started with Pertwee, but Tom Baker is my all time favorite.

Heads up digital Anglophiles! A ton of BBC content is heading to Hulu. The online streaming services war is just getting heated up. Netflix has an early lead in producing original content, but Hulu should be delivering around 20 new original series by the end of next year. In the meantime, having a catalog of good content is key to enticing new consumers to sign up for the service.

This BBC deal will provide a wealth of high quality content, including Doctor Who, Luther, MI-5 (Spooks), Torchwood, Sherlock, and more. Personally I’m hoping to see some niche shows like Trigger Happy TV and expanding their line up of British reality cooking shows. I’m a sucker for Gordon Ramsey.

No word on how much this deal is going to cost Hulu. It is telling however that BBC productions are finding some strong audiences here in the states. People increasingly investing in quality content regardless of where it’s produced, subscribing to Hulu is probably going to be cheaper for most consumers than expanding their cable or satellite plans to include BBC America…

(via WSJ)

UPDATED: Is Verizon refusing to activate Nexus 7 LTE on their network?

google play nexus 7 lte att t mobileIt’s stuff like this which keeps consumer confidence low.

Author Jeff Jarvis is raising a bit of a stink on Google Plus. Apparently, after getting a Nexus 7 LTE, he tried to activate it on Verizon. During the Nexus 7 announcement it was stated that the New Nexus would be compatible on AT&T, T-Mo, and Verizon Wireless. That last one is proving to be a touch frustrating for Mr. Jarvis.

After reaching out to Verizon on Twitter he received the following cheeky reply:

Yeah, ya see VZW, that’s absolutely the wrong way to handle a customer with a problem. Sardonically patting them on the head with a “your bad”. This is made even funnier / more frustrating as their current line up of tablets is pretty uninspired. Well done VZW. You’ve managed to exacerbate a frustrating situation and highlight your own device line-up inadequacies all with one poorly thought out PR tweet.

It’s moves like this which just reinforce consumer desires to have less and less to do with their carriers. When they seemingly provide little value, and only stand as barriers to using the technology their customers want. The number of my personal friends who have expressed they wished their carrier was just a big dumb data pipe and to get out of the way. It doesn’t have to be that way VZW, but you have to offer a compelling reason or service.

Jeff Jarvis has been organizing his ordeal on Google Plus. At the time of this writing he was reaching out to Sundar Pichai, the Senior Vice President at Google in charge of Android and Chrome… So that’s probably not good…

As it stands now, Google is now advertising only AT&T and T-Mobile versions on Google Play. A little frustrating, as eventually you’d hope that we could get one version of the Nexus 7 which we could take to any carrier we want. It looks like Verizon doesn’t want to play ball…

***UPDATE***

Continue reading “UPDATED: Is Verizon refusing to activate Nexus 7 LTE on their network?”