Bits and Bytes
02 Amazon: One of the key selling points of Amazon's new set top box is voice search. Unfortunately, said feature only searches videos offered by Amazon. That will change "this summer" with Hulu Plus, Crackle, and Showtime adding support. Netflix, however, is still missing.
03 Apple: Different car makers are implementing CarPlay in different ways. This two and a half minute video from The Verge shows several of those variations, including one that doesn't even use a touch screen.
04 Apple: They've finally started selling refurbished iPad mini Retina units. The 16 GB model is $339, which is $60 cheaper than a new device. A good friend of mine never buys new Apple equipment, only refurbished stock, and I've never heard him complain.
05 Dropbox: They bought two companies yesterday. The first is Loom. They have seven employees and make a photo management app for iOS and Mac users. The second is Hackpad, which TechCrunch calls "a lightweight, document-collaboration web and mobile application." No financial figures were disclosed.
06 Facebook: They launched a new feature for their Android and iOS apps that allows you to see if your friends are nearby. What's great about this news isn't the feature itself, but how it was presented. Facebook went out of their way to emphasize, repeatedly, that this is optional and fully opt-in.
07 Flickr: They've launched a completely redesigned app for Android and iOS. Spoiler: It looks like Instagram, but with a dark theme.
08 Google: They're now sending people dummy Google Glass units so they can try them on before forking over $1,500. When you order the dummy units, Google puts a $50 hold on your credit card, which is released once you return the glasses.
09 HTC: According to Bloomberg, HTC has "hired the former head of marketing at Samsung Electronics' U.S. mobile phone business as an adviser to Chairman Cher Wang." His name is Paul Golden, and on his LinkedIn profile, he says he "created and launched the highly successful Galaxy brand for Samsung." Marketing is one of HTC's biggest weaknesses, so this is rather exciting.
10 LINE: My favorite chat app has launched a sticker store that enables people to sell their own stickers. The company will take a 50% cut, and while the store only works in Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand at the moment, there are plans to expand.
11 Microsoft: Yesterday, Sony said they sold seven million PS4 consoles. Today, Microsoft is saying they've sold five million XBOX One units.
12 Netflix: According to Bloomberg, they're talking to Vodafone, the world's second largest wireless operator, about a bundling deal. This isn't exactly a new concept. For example, Vodafone UK will gladly offer you a mobile phone contract that includes "free" access to Spotify Premium.
13 Nokia: If you bought a Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet, what's wrong with you? No, but seriously, the company is issuing a recall over the charger. The plastic cap covering the metal contacts can fall off, and if you touch a piece of metal that's plugged into the wall, you know what happens next. Note this impacts roughly 30,000 chargers, so is that how many of these tablets were sold in total?
14 Samsung: In an effort to compete with (and piss off) TSMC, they're going to license their newest chip making technology to GlobalFoundries. More importantly, Samsung says they expect to begin "mass production of foundry chips using 14 nanometer FinFET technology in the fourth quarter." Today's top of the line smartphone chips use 28 nanometer technology. Qualcomm recently announced 20 nanometer chips, but they're not shipping until 2015.
15 Tencent: Fast Company has published what many people are calling the definitive article on Tencent, China's largest internet company. I haven't read the article yet because it's incredibly long, but I plan to during the weekend.
16 Twitter: According to Turkish Communications Minister Lütfi Elvan, Twitter has deleted over 200 tweets, per request of Turkish authorities.
17 Twitter: They've launched two ad products. The first, ads in the Twitter app that point to other apps. Some of you might have already seen them. And the second, a generic mobile ad network powered by last year's MoPub acquisition (allegedly for $350 million).
18 USA: Yesterday, AT&T threatened to not participate in the FCC's 2015 spectrum auction if there were rules in place limiting how much spectrum they could buy. Today, the Head of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, said he doesn't care.
19 Weibo: China's version of Twitter went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange yesterday. Their share price went up almost 20% by the end of the day.
The Real World
20 Belgium: The brains of 21 art students and 23 regular people were scanned and compared. Turns out artists have "significantly more grey matter in an area of the brain called the precuneus in the parietal lobe." Translation: Artists have better motor skills.
21 Brazil: Scientists have discovered insects with confusing genital characteristics. The women have "penises" called "gynosomes" that they stick into male "vaginas" which are said to hold sperm. But the most impressive discovery, to me at least, is that these insects have sex for 70 hours at a time.
22 India: A Delhi surgeon has just reported that he has successfully removed 12 bars of gold, weighing almost 400 grams total, from a man's stomach. That's certainly one way to hide it.
23 Iran: They agreed to cut their supply of enriched uranium by half earlier this year, and they've complied, so the United States is unfreezing Iranian funds worth roughly $450 million.
24 South Korea: The latest numbers on the ferry disaster: 26 people dead. 179 people rescued. 270 still missing.
25 Space: Kepler 186f is being described by scientists as the "most Earth-like planet yet". It's roughly 10% larger than our planet, it's 500 light years away, it has an orbit of roughly 130 days, and it's believed to be a rocky planet that may hold water.
26 UK: The King's College of London has been tracking 7,771 children since 1958 to study the effects of bullying. Their data shows those who were frequently bullied at a young age never really recover from the harassment. They often face depression, anxiety, and even have suicidal thoughts. Bullied children also end up turning into less educated adults, and thus earn less.
27 UK: Where's the best place to put all the CO2 that your coal burning power planet spits out? Under the ground, of course. The White Rose carbon capture and storage (CCS) project will be awarded $415 million in June by the European Union. Once complete, said plant will be able to power 630,000 homes, and 90% of the CO2 it outputs (two million tons a year!) will be stored in undersea rock formations.
28 Ukraine: The Atlantic has published 36 photos of the latest events in Ukraine. Some are quite graphic.
29 Ukraine: There are 11 cities in Ukraine that want to pull a Crimea. Not one, not two, but 11. This two and a half minute video features interviews with the locals, who are screaming from the top of their lungs that they want to be Russian.
30 Ukraine: You've probably read about the "successful" talks in Geneva regarding the Ukrainian situation. Well, the President of the United States just said "I don't think, given past performance, that we can count" on Russia to uphold their end of the bargain.
31 USA: Alfa Romeo will start selling cars in the United States again this year, after leaving the market in mid-90s. Before you get all excited, here's the sad quote: "The company says it expects to sell just under a thousand regular 4C models, at a base price of $54,000, by the end of this year."
32 USA: An unnamed man urinated in a water reservoir that serves the city of Portland, Oregon. What does Portland decide to do with said reservoir? Empty it. All 38 million gallons (143 million liters).
33 USA: Barack Obama has announced "more than eight million Americans have enrolled for health coverage, with 35% of those under age 35."
34 USA: Keith Seilhan, age 47, will have to pay a $224,118 fine for insider trading. He sold $1 million of BP shares after finding out just how bad the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was. Note that he was in charge of the "initial cleanup operations."
35 USA: Michaels, the arts and crafts store chain, says 2.6 million credit card numbers may have been stolen. This obviously isn't Target scale damage, but it's still a disturbing trend.
36 USA: North Dakota's ban on abortion has been overturned.
37 USA: Walmart is launching a competitor to Western Union called "Walmart-2-Walmart". It'll only work in the United States. I have just one question: Do people not know that the U.S. Postal Service offers extremely cheap money orders?
38 World: 420 is universally understood to be slang for marijuana. What's the origin story of that number? In 1971, a bunch of guys from Northern California would always smoke weed together after school at roughly 04:20 PM every day. They started to use that term amongst themselves, and the rest is history.