? All Tech Radio Episode 427
 all tech radio show
  • More than 70% of yahoo email users having an email outage causing millions to lose the ability to use email. Yahoo Mail's redesign-reportedly meant to be an attempt to clone Gmail-this past October and the technical failure immediately after has been causing problems for users for months. The head of Yahoo Mail, Jeff Bonforte, has been dealing with a massive outage and numerous related problems since at least November. An unknown number of users have since been reporting problems with sending and/or receiving mail, accessing certain folders or even the entire system and frequent outages.
  • The FCC is asking for comments on whether or not people should be allowed to make and receive phone calls while on a plane. There are no more technical issues with using cell phones on planes that could cause communications problems, but it's likely that people just don't want to listen to everyone next to them on the phone. Rules have been relaxed recently to allow the use of internet but only through an on plane internet service. The other new rule that allows people to use their electronics all through the flight, including the time the door is shut up to the 10k foot level, has been met with enthusiasm by passengers. Do you want to hear everyone's phone conversation on flight?
  • Google is scooping up robotics firms like nobody's business, buying eight in six months. The tech giant confirmed Friday its latest acquisition with Boston Dynamics, an engineering company known for developing battlefield bots for the U.S. military. It's unknown how much Google paid for Boston Dynamics or what exactly Google plans to do with all the robot knowledge, according to the New York Times. But it is part of a bigger push into the field of robotics led by Andy Rubin, the man who developed the Android platform for smartphones, according to CNN Money. The impressive robots made by Dynamics include one called the Cheetah, which holds the record for fastest legged robot in the world and another named Atlas, a humanoid robot that climbs using hands and feet.
  • Set to launch next year, Dell's new Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) product will provide enterprises with a unified mobile device and application platform. Instead of current piecemeal approaches to managing "bring your own device" (BYOD) environments, Dell EMM will enable customers to "take advantage of an integrated mobility solution for secure endpoint management of devices and workspaces," boasted the company in a statement. The solution enables one-stop access and configuration of the product's mobile device management (MDM), mobile device management (MDM) and mobile content management (MCM) capabilities, enabling quick MDM implementations. Dell EMM bundles "world class security technologies" along with "new digital workspace applications and a flexible deployment model with mobility services to help expedite time to value," said the company. Dell EMM also provides Secure Remote Access gateway functionality, courtesy of SonicWALL. Dell bought SonicWALL last year, a secure remote access and firewall specialist, in a deal reportedly worth between $1 and $1.5 billion.
  • Twitter is reportedly testing a feature that shows users tweets made by people near to them. The new Nearby timeline appears to have been added to the official Twitter mobile app for select users. To see the Nearby timeline users must have enabled their tweets to be stamped with their location, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Nearby screen is described as being split into two parts, a map highlighting the location of the user and of nearby tweets and below that a timeline of tweets made by people near to the user. Nearby tweets are apparently shown regardless of whether the user follows the tweeter.
  • In North America, it will go live on Tuesday, December 17 while Europe gets it a day later on Wednesday, December 18. "Minecraft: PlayStation 4 Edition and Minecraft: PS Vita Edition are also being developed," Hill reaffirmed, "but we don't have release dates yet. Expect them sometime next year." He added: "Minecraft: PS3 Edition comes with everything present in other console versions. They're pretty much identical to play, and will be developed in tandem from now on." Downloadable skins and texture packs will be available on PSN shortly after the game launches, and while Hill did not confirm that PlayStation-exclusive content would be coming he did say it "would be cool", adding: "Fingers crossed, eh?"
  • Amazon is making one last effort to sell more Kindle Fire HDX tablets this holiday shopping season by offering buyers an extended payment plan free of interest. The way it works is rather simple -- you pay 25 percent of the retail cost at checkout, and the remaining balance is billed in three equal installments every 90 days. There are no finance charges, hidden fees, credit check, or application process to go through. The final price is the same whether you pay the full cost upfront or spread it out over a year with a 25 percent initial payment, so you have that going for you. However, if you don't make one of the payments, Amazon goes into geek mafia mode and can deregister the device, blocking your ability to access Amazon content (partially bricking it, in other words). The e-tailer might also suspend or terminate your account. It's not clear what kind of grace periods, if any, exist but the consequences are something to be aware of.
  • The biggest threat to consoles isn't mobile, it could be Oculus VR's virtual reality headset. Oculus took a major step closer to getting their headset out to everyone recently. The company raised $75 million from venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz.Piercing the video game industry won't be easy, but Oculus has the tech, the gamers and now the money on their side. Oculus made waves last year when they kickstarted their headset, the Oculus Rift. In 30 days, the team raised $2.4 million and shipped out thousands of developer versions of the headset. Oculus won't have the trouble that some companies have when trying to get into the videogame industry. For one, their headset is a PC peripheral - not a piece of hardware such as a Playstation. Don't expect to see it anytime soon on consoles such as the Xbox One or PS4. The Oculus Rift has been praised almost universally. The only complaints some have revolve around latency and resolution. Two areas the company says it continues to improve upon. The biggest issue for Rift is going to be price point. There hasn't been any specifics about price, but most expect it to be around $300-$400.
  • For the last six days, app updates have not been showing up in iTunes on the Mac and on the PC for many people around the globe. I can confirm that app updates have stopped appearing in iTunes on my Mac (while those missing updates still appear in the App Stores on my iPhone and iPad). The problem seems to have started last Tuesday. Since then, no updates have appeared in iTunes. Not all of us at TUAW are experiencing the loss of functionality of app updates in iTunes, but there is currently a thread in Apple's discussion forums with more than 120 replies of people stating that app updates have stopped appearing in iTunes on both Macs and PCs. It's not clear why those affected are and others are not. Reports of missing updates are coming in from people in multiple locales and with various country-specific iTunes accounts (such as the US and the UK). Users who are afflicted can still get app updates on their iOS devices, but in order to get those updates on iTunes (or update apps they may have in iTunes, but not on their iOS devices) they must specifically seek out that app in the App Store and click the Update button to download it.
  • It has been said that three is a magic number, but U.S. regulators seems to think it takes four carriers to make a competitive wireless marketplace. That's the math that Sprint is going to run into if it goes forward with a bid for T-Mobile, which the Wall Street Journal recently reported the company to be considering. Sprint (S) and T-Mobile (TMUS) are the minor powers of the U.S. mobile industry. Combined, they would have 52 million post-paid customers, compared with AT&T's(T) 72 million and Verizon Wireless's 95 million. The argument for merging the companies would be that they could compete better as one operator than they can on their own. This argument, however, is unlikely to pass muster in Washington. While regulators don't want to see Sprint or T-Mobile fail, both companies have managed to pull themselves back from the brink in recent years. Sprint, which has long been bedeviled by a lack of capital, was acquired by SoftBank (9984:JP) in June. SoftBank, a Japanese telecom and Internet giant, said it would lay out $8 billion in capital expenditures in 2013 and 2014. In T-Mobile's case, a failed 2011 merger with AT&T ended up being a boon. As part of its $39 billion bid, AT&T promised to give T-Mobile $3 billion in cash as well as some spectrum in major American markets if the merger didn't go through. The breakup settlement became the foundation of T-Mobile's rejuvenation in the U.S.

email from listeners:

  • Sharon from Seattle asks "What last minute shopping advice do you have for a mother at her wits end for tech gifts for kids?"