Sorting Out the Disney+ Movie Release Schedule

The MCU movie Eternals has finally arrived to Disney+ as part of the app’s standard catalog (no extra cost to subscribers).

It has been difficult to get a grip on Disney’s release schedule for new movies. Some have been released exclusively to theaters, some have been released to theaters and streaming on the same day, meanwhile others have been released long after their theatrical release.

Like the Marvel movie Shang-Chi, Eternals arrived very late in the release cycle, unlike how Disney films had been released in the last year. Eternals came out about 68 days after worldwide release in theaters.

Pre-pandemic a film took between 5 to 8 months after its theatrical release to become part of the standard catalog on Disney+. The theatrical exclusive period pre-pandemic was typical 75-90 days.

Previously online rental, Blu-ray and DVD would be the first home watching options after the theatrical exclusive period. Now Disney has skipped Disney+ to the front of the line over these other home viewing mediums where previously Disney+ would follow digital rentals and physical copies.

Also, keep in mind that subscribing to a month of Disney+ cost less than half the amount a 24-48 rental does. For example, a digital rental or download of Eternals cost about $20 while a month of Disney+ is only $8 (just remember to cancel if you don’t want to continue subscription!).

 

Change Your Default Mail and Browser App, iOS 15

While many love Apple’s iOS mobile devices one frustration has been the inability to use your preferred mail or web browsing app. Now in iOS 15 Apple has released its grip, somewhat, on these items and will now allow you to set a different default mail or web browsing app.

For one to use another app for web browsing or email, the developer has to have updated their app to support the new feature on iOS. Users should make sure to check the App Store for an update to your favorite email or web app. After one knows the app will support it this is what one needs to do.

Open the Settings on your iPhone or iPad. When one finds the app they want to set to default, Google Chrome or Microsoft Outlook for example, select the appropriate option: Default Browser or Default Email App. Select the correct option Default Browser App or Default Email App. Then one should pick from the list of available apps on the next screen. After this, back out of settings.

Now if one clicks a link or email app their preferred app will handle the job instead of the iOS default.

 

Google Maps Help Capture Mafia Fugitive

The Italian police have caught a high-profile mafia fugitive. The fugitive has been on the lamb for almost two decades until, with the help of Goolge Maps, investigators apprehended him.

After two years of investigation, 61 year old Gioacchino Gammino was tracked to Galapagar, Spain. He lived in Galapagar under a false identity. The town is just outside the nation’s capital, Madrid.

A simple photo in the street view option offered by Google Maps pictured a man who looked suspiciously like Gammino out front of a fruit shop. This photo was instigated a deeper investigation.

According to Nicola Altiero, deputy director of Italy’s anti-mafia police unit, confirmed that the photo helped confirm what the unit believed to be true about Gammino’s whereabouts through traditional investigation methods.

Gammino is a member of the Sicilian mafia group called Stidda. He escaped Rome’s Rebibbia jail in 2002. In 2003 he was sentenced to life in prison for a murder committed some years earlier.

Altiero stated that Gammino is currently in custody in Spain and they hope to return him to Italy by the end of February.

 

 

Little Tikes Released “Pellican” Stationary Bike for Kids, Childhood Development Experts Not Impressed

The new indoor cycling craze (a la’ Peloton bikes) has now become available for young children; however, child development experts aren’t excited about it.

Well known toymaker Little Tikes attempted to mimic Peloton’s recent stationary bike success by building versions for children to enjoy alongside their parents, according to a statement by the toymaker.

Little Tikes’ Pelican stationary bike for kids 3-7 was released this summer. Like Pelotons it has a screen attached for watching videos. Pelotons come standard with a screen that displays exercise classes, intended to add a touch of socialization to home exercise. Pelotons cost $1,495 and then there is a monthly fee of $39 to view video classes.

Little Tikes stated they saw a way for kids to have fun with their parents and want to inspire an active and imagination filled lifestyle among kids.

Similar products have been tried before. Fisher-Price released a stationary bike for kids in 2017. It was available on Amazon, originally costing $150, it was later lowered to a $100 price tag and eventually discontinued. Neither company commented on why.

But child development experts aren’t having it. They say a stationary bicycle, especially one with a screen attached, is a step backward for what a bicycle can mean to child development. Kids riding a stationary bike lose the learning experiences that come from roaming their neighborhood on foot or on bike.

Basically, childhood development experts say that a stationary bike for kids cannot replace the social experiences they will have exploring their neighborhood with friends on a real bike. They claim kids need to interact in the real world to learn how to socialize and work out problems in real life.

 

 

 

 

China Increases Restrictions on Online Gaming for Minors

Recently China has banned gamers under 18 years of age from playing online games during the weekdays and is limiting them to just three hours of game play on weekends. This is a considerable increase on the country’s huge gaming industry.

The specifics state that minors will be allowed only an hour of online gaming time between 8 pm and 9 pm on Friday, weekends and public holidays according to statement released by Chinese media watch dog, the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA). It was posted by state news agency Xinhua.

Previously in 2019 the agency had set relatively lighter limits on online gaming for minors to 90 minutes on weekdays and three hours on weekends for minors. Authorities have stated in both cases the restrictions are intended to protect children from becoming video game addicts.

The NPPA stated that the rules were being put in place “at the beginning of the new [school] semester, putting specific requirements for preventing the addiction to online games, and protecting the healthy growth of minors.”

 

Twitter Announces New Protective Feature

Twitter is increasing efforts to provide user-side tools for those users who are experiencing harassment to help themselves.

The social media platform announced that it will be testing a new feature called “Safety Mode.” This new feature is intended to protect users from being overwhelmed by harmful tweets or unwanted replies or mentions. The feature will block, temporarily, accounts from interacting with users to whom the harasser has sent harmful speech and repeated or uninvited replies and mentions.

Over the years Twitter has often bored criticism for the recurrent use of hateful or abusive content submitted to its platform by users. There are even rare and unfortunate cases where the harmful content has extended to the real world, most often when the target of the content is a marginalized group.

Twitter hasn’t spoken of any major protective features since 2017 when it released, among other features, its “safe search” function along with the user’s ability to block potentially abusive or “low-quality” tweets to appear in their conversations.

 

The Famous Analog Computer Toy

While most may not think of the Rubik cube as a computer, the famous toy is a very basic analog computer.

The Rubik’s Cube has been around since the 70s. Invented by a Hungarian professor named Erno Rubik, his first prototype was made in 1974. When he had built his first cube, it took him a month to solve it. He got his patent in 1975 for his “Magic Cube”. In 1979, it was presented to toy fairs in various countries.

Tom Kremer, a toy specialist with a passion, convinced the Ideal Toy Company to pick this up as a product. The first thing they did was change the name from Magic Cube to Rubik’s Cube and launched it in 1980. By 1981 it was a world-wide craze. Through the years it has been reworked and made even faster. In 2017 they released the Rubik’s Speedcube.

The First Programmable, General Purpose Computer

ENIAC or Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was the first programmable, electronic, general-purpose digital computer. It was Turing-complete and able to solve “a large class of numerical problems” through reprogramming.

Although ENIAC was designed and primarily used to calculate artillery firing tables for the United States Army’s Ballistic Research Laboratory (which later became a part of the Army Research Laboratory), its first program was a study of the feasibility of the thermonuclear weapon.

ENIAC was completed in 1945 and first put to work for practical purposes on December 10, 1945.

ENIAC was formally dedicated at the University of Pennsylvania on February 15, 1946, and was heralded as a “Giant Brain” by the press. It had a speed on the order of one thousand times faster than that of electro-mechanical machines; this computational power, coupled with general-purpose programmability, excited scientists and industrialists alike. The combination of speed and programmability allowed for thousands more calculations for problems, as ENIAC calculated a trajectory in 30 seconds that took a human 20 hours (allowing one ENIAC to displace 2,400 humans).

The completed machine was announced to the public the evening of February 14, 1946, and formally dedicated the next day at the University of Pennsylvania, having cost almost $500,000 (approximately equivalent to $7,283,000 in 2020). It was formally accepted by the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps in July 1946. ENIAC was shut down on November 9, 1946, for a refurbishment and a memory upgrade, and was transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland in 1947. There, on July 29, 1947, it was turned on and was in continuous operation until 11:45 p.m. on October 2, 1955.

uSky Testing Autonomous Public Transportation

Around the world traffic congestion is a problem for cities. Some tech-based solutions have included electric scooter systems or AI powered traffic lights. Another company thinks their solution to build a network of autonomous, high speed pods that would ride around a city suspended from a steel track might be a solution.

Belarus company uSky Transport has opened a 400-meter test line in Sharjah, located near Dubai.

Outside the electric power pods look are a promised-future glossy white. Inside they look more like a first-class airplane experience. This includes mood lighting, music, and windows. There are two padded armchairs and two folding seats, each pod being rated to carry four people.

uSky claims a fully executed whole city network could support 10k passengers an hour. The pods have a top speed of 93 miles an hour. However, due to safety concerns the test pods are not using their top speed.

uSky says it has a goal to free up roads and ground space that could be used for greenery, walkways and public spaces like parks.

 

Microsoft to End Support for Infamous Web Browser Internet Explorer

To say, without hyperbole, that Microsoft Internet Explorer is Microsoft’s most unpopular (see also: reviled, despised, etc.) product is no understatement. You’ve probably heard the joke that the only time a computer user employs Internet Explorer is to download another browser.

Well, the time has finally come, and Internet Explorer is going the way of the Dodo (but will be much less missed).

Microsoft announced it will end support of Internet Explorer 11 on 15 June 2022. In August 2020 Microsoft eschewed IE from working with Teams. And 365 Apps, Office included, will no longer work with IE by the middle of summer 2021.

While it was once one of the most used browsers, its use has been on a heavy downward spiral for twenty years. 2010 it fell below the 50% threshold for usage and now sits at a measly 5% (according to browser usage tracker NetMarketShare). Meanwhile Google Chrome sits above the rest at 69%.

It its obituary Microsoft admitted that IE is too slow, not secure enough and simply incompatible with many common, modern web tasks.

 

Samsung Announces New Galaxy Laptops

Samsung announced that it is bringing the power of its flagship Galaxy smartphones to its notebook line with four “mobile-first” PCs that bring the power of a laptop with the features of Galaxy smartphones.

The Galaxy Book, Galaxy Book Pro, Galaxy Book Pro 360 and Galaxy Book Odyssey will run on Windows 10 and an Intel chip.

The new laptops will be featherweight and razor thin. The Pro and Pro 360 come in at a very slim 11.2 millimeters and 11.9 millimeters. Both will be available in 13 or 15 inch displays with 1920 x 1080 resolution. They will also feature intelligent color that adjusts the screen based on what app or task the user is performing.

The Galaxy Book 360, as one might imagine, can be transformed into a tablet via a hinge. The Galaxy Book, a 15.6 inch laptop, can be flattened to 180 degrees if desired. The Odyssey, touts Nvida powered graphics and is aimed at gamers.

All of the line feature longer lasting batteries, new S Pen, noise cancelling microphones and deeper integration with the user’s smartphone.

 

 

 

New “e-skin” Will Transmit Real-Time Health Data Over the Cloud

Doctors and scientists are probably just a few years from tracking information about your health and body through an electronic skin (or other such small device) worn on the body.

A super-thin, featherweight “e-skin” is being developed by researchers in Japan. It can be worn for about a week without replacing and is applied using a simple water spray.

University of Tokyo professor Takao Someya, from the Graduate School of Engineering, is the lead on the project. Takao’s invention has yet to be tested in clinical trials, but partners have been selected and they are in the midst of creating a manufacturing process.

The material is called polyvinyl alcohol is very flexible. It includes a layer of gold, which is transmits electricity very easily. The e-skin is a basically a wearable sensor that can detect vital signs like heartbeat or other electrical signals from muscle movement.

This data is then transmitted to a near-by device—smart phone, laptop, tablet—and then the information is sent to a cloud where it can be accessed remotely by medical staff and doctors.

Constant, remote monitoring of individual health data could change the face of medicine as it is only now possible with expensive equipment at home or through a hospital stay.

Slow Down Data Mining

Google services on Android or iPhones can store your location data, even when you try to prevent it through your device settings.

Google Maps can make a timeline of your movements, for example. It works so well that last year a warrant was served by police in North Carolina to Google to find devices near a murder scene. You can turn off your location history so the places you go will not be stored.

If you are logged into Google, go to https://www.google.com/maps/timeline?pb to see your timeline or whether it is even on. You can turn the tracking of your history on or off here: https://myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols/location?hl=en&gl=US

This may not keep Google from tracking your movements through nearby towers but it is something more you can do to make it a little more difficult for them.

Google Adds Expanded Feature: Indoor Live View

Google has announced a new feature called Indoor Live View. The feature uses your phones camera and overlays relevant graphics and icons on top of what the phone’s camera sees. This would help the user find a particular store in a mall or perhaps a bathroom in a train station.

Google stated that the feature is more interactive than the existing Google Maps’ existing indoor maps and is the evolution of the city-street navigation feather that launched two years ago. It is currently available on both iOS and Android. For now it use is limited to some malls in Newark, New Jersey, Los Angeles, San Fransisco, Long Island and Seattle. In the coming months Tokyo and Zurich will be added to the list.

This is just one of a bunch of features Google has added to Maps in the last few years which has long ago moved beyond just giving drivers turn-by-turn directions.

 

 

 

 

Laptop Buying Guide for Graduating Seniors

Many graduating seniors will be receiving laptops as graduation gifts before going off to college. Here are some “myths” about laptops and some other items to consider before selecting the best laptop in your price range.

Myth: More RAM will always speed up your PC.

Facts: It doesn’t hurt but it doesn’t always help. For basic usage (Microsoft Office, web browsing, streaming, social media and email) 8 to 16 gigs of RAM will likely be plenty. Special applications for graphic design, video or audio editing may require more.

Myth: A CPU with more cores is always faster.

Facts: Each “core” in a multicore processor allows the computer to better allocate its processing power to multiple applications or processes running at once. If one is only running one program at a time more “cores” won’t increase the power or speed of the computer. For basic usage, a faster CPU with less cores is probably preferable.

Myth: You always want the fastest CPU and graphics card you can afford.

Facts: Fast CPUs and power graphics cards will run hotter and run down a laptop battery faster. For many students, longer battery life will probably be more important than having the fastest computer. Unless the student is a gamer or using specialty software that requires more resources like a graphics card or a powerful CPU, buying a laptop with the most powerful components may be a waste of money that could be spent on an extended warranty or other necessities.

Mac (Apple) vs. PC (Windows)

The average student probably doesn’t need an expensive Mac Book Pro or other Mac laptop. Those going into graphic design, audio or video fields may want to invest in one however. Consumers should also know that much of the popular software in these fields now runs on PC (Windows) and there are many fine high-end PCs that compete with Mac laptops for power and speed. Students with special computing needs should consult with an advisor in their program before buying a computer.

Tablets/iPads

These days a table or hybrid is a real option that many students may prefer for portability and cost. Google tools like Google Docs as well as Microsoft 365 both run on iOS, Android and Windows tablets and hybrids. These tablets will also run all your student’s social media and streaming apps. Bluetooth keyboards and keyboard cases are available to make the devices easier to use for schoolwork.

 

 

Secure Passwords and Your Online Accounts

We’ve talked about passwords before and yet it is such an important thing because of all the security breaches we see. Some people say they don’t have anything that important protected behind a password, so it doesn’t matter. Or they say they need to use the same password for everything.

This is an unsafe practice and a dangerous attitude to have about passwords and your personal data.

Think about all your accounts where you have purchased items, or your banking or credit card accounts. Do you really want to use the same password for everything? Once they breach one account, say your email, they can look through that to find what other accounts you are subscribed to and have a field day. This is even how identities are stolen.

Using the service LastPass is one of the best ways to secure your accounts. Once you download LastPass, set it up with a hard to hack easy to remember password. An unusual set of simple words and an attached string of numbers that is also easy to remember is a good place to start. You can then import all the passwords saved to your browsers. Once you have LastPass you can also run a kind of audit check for recommendations on which passwords to change – it will show you duplicates or not so secure passwords you already have.

Microsoft Edge Dev Updates

In an update to Microsoft Edge Dev, version 90, will not allow users to set their own keyboard shortcuts. Specifically, the ability is limited to the DevTools menu of the browser. Also, the context menus for PDFs and some stability issues have been fixed.

Microsoft Edge, following Google Chrome, is now based on Chromium and the functionality of the developer tools are very similar.

The newest MS Edge Dev build is no becoming available on the Dev channel and within the DevTools menu. Here users will be able to customize the browser’s keyboard shortcuts. To reach this area of the browser’s options user will have to navigate to open DevTools and then find “settings” in the top left of the window.

The feature is expected to matriculate to a stable version of Microsoft Edge soon, although all Edge users are encouraged to try out the new feature by downloading the latest Microsoft Edge Dev build.

YouTube Claims They’ve Paid Content Creators $30 Billion in Ad Revenue

The online streaming video company YouTube announced that they have paid artists, musicians, creators and media companies more than $30 billion in the just the last three years.

In the letter they sent, YouTube pointed to the Oxford Economics analysis which stated that the video hosting service and put some $16 billion dollars in to the U.S. GDP in 2019 and that YouTube supported the jobs numbering at about 345,000.

The company, owned by Google, stated that they still have some improvements to make when making sure their newest guidelines and policies are understood, especially when it came to “strikes” that would affect advertising dollars for users.

Because of the scale of the video hosting service many creators are not able to keep up easily with new policies. Recently, users have been given “strikes” because old videos don’t adhere to new policies.

YouTube said that it takes this issue serious and wants to help creators navigate their policies as the company itself navigates the political waters of different nations around the world and their laws.

 

Apple Cautions Pacemaker and Defibrillators About iPhone 12 Use

Apple announced recently that all iPhone 12 phones, any model, should be kept away from persons with pacemakers or defibrillators. This was posted as a support document on the Apple website.

Apple explained that its iPhones and MagSafe accessories have radios and magnets inside the technology that create electromagnetic fields that could possible interfere with different medical devices like pacemakers and defibrillators.

The company was quoted as saying, “Though all iPhone 12 models contain more magnets than prior iPhone models, they’re not expected to pose a greater risk of magnetic interference to medical devices than prior iPhone models.” They added, “Medical devices such as implanted pacemakers and defibrillators might contain sensors that respond to magnets and radios when in close contact.”

Apple is suggesting that users keep iPhones and their MagSafe devices at six inches away from implanted devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators during normal, daily use. They said that 12 inches of distance was recommended when wirelessly charging.

Users should confer with their doctors about their medical devices and those devices specific guidelines.

Google Maps Will Soon Start Displaying Covid-19 Information

To help increase awareness of the virus Google Maps will soon display information about Covid-19 including vaccination locations and notifications intended to help users avoid exposure to the virus.

The new feature will be rolled out in coming weeks beginning with four states Louisiana, Arizona, Texas and Mississippi.

Google has reported that searches like “vaccines near me” have come in at an increase of five times since the beginning of the year. Google is bringing this new feature to maps by giving users “locally relevant answers.”

Designated search result modules will display information in addition to regular search returns which will both include details about whether appointments are required, if the vaccine is available only to particular demographics and other things like if there is a drive-thru option.

Google stated that it is working with “authoritative sources to gather relevant information, sources like local governments or retail pharmacies. More counties and states will be added to Google maps in coming months.

 

Airbag Infused, Rip Resistant Jeans for Motorcyclists Coming Soon?

Riding on just two wheels without any kind of protective shell, motorcycles are far more dangerous than driving a passenger vehicle. In the US one riding a motorcycle is 28 times more likely to die in an accident.

Believe it or not innovations in airbags for motorcyclists are coming.

16 years ago and in collaboration with Harley-Davidson Sweden Moses Shahrivar designed a pair of motorcycle jeans that included a protective leather lining. Now Shahrivar is advancing things further—his company Airbag Inside Sweden AB has come out with a prototype pair of anti-rip jeans that have airbags inside the legs!

The riding connects the jeans to their bike and if they fall from their motorbike the airbags will be triggered. Then they will fill with compressed air which will take part of the impact away from the lower body.

Shahrivar says that the air bags can be deflated, re assembled and filled with more compressed air.

KFC Makes Good on Gaming Console Tease

Kentucky Fried Chicken, known lately as much for the Colonel’s Secret Recipe as for their off-the-wall marketing, has seemingly made good on some previous marketing that suggested they may create a special edition video game console.

The fast-food chain will now be offering a Intel-based gaming console that has a special “chicken chamber” to keep your snacks warm.

The “KFConsole” is part of a duo that includes computer hardware manufacturer Cooler Master. “The Bargain Bucket-shaped machine features the world’s first built in chicken chamber, which is kitted out to keep its contents hot, ready for consumption during intense gaming sessions,” said KFC.

Your chicken or other hot snacks will be kept warm by means of a cooling system—the chicken chamber will use the redirected heat of the computer components to keep your snacks at a yummy temperature.

The specs include an Intel Nuc 9 Extreme Comptue Element and for storage two two Seagate® BarraCuda® 1TB SSD drives. The console will handle virtual reality games and should offer smooth imagery at 240 frames per second and 4k compatibility. All of this according to Cooler Master.

The console can handle virtual reality games and offers smooth gameplay thanks to 240 frames per second frame rate and 4K display compatibility, according to details published by Cooler Master.

 

In-line with their new marketing tact, KFC also made the statement that, “If Sony or Microsoft want any tips on how to engineer a chicken chamber for their efforts next time, they’d be welcome to get in touch.”

 

Sony Pulls Cyberpunk 2077 From PlayStation Digital Store, Offers Refunds

The most anticipated multi-platform game in 2020, Cyberpunk 2077, has been pulled by Sony from its PlayStation store and is offering refunds to customers.

In a tweet by Sony Interactive Entertainment they explained, “strives to ensure a high level of customer satisfaction, and we will begin to offer full refund for all gamers who have purchased Cyberpunk 2077 via PlayStation Store and want a refund.

Cyberpunk 2077 turned out to be incredibly and unplayable for some PlayStation users.  Created by Polish developer CD Projekt Red, has been widely criticized with many users reporting both bugs and crashes, especially on older gaming consoles. CD Projekt Red has also offered refunds.

The companies decided to continue sales of physical copies of the game and made it clear anyone who decides to keep the game will continue to receive support software updates.

The game had already experienced delays as it was meant to be released in April. Gamers can explore the vast Night City as one of three character classes.

How to Keep Amazon Gifts a Surprise

Many of us will be doing even more online shopping for Christmas this year and a lot of that will be through Amazon. So, with linked and shared accounts and packages coming to the door in just days how do you keep Santa’s secrets when ordering from Amazon.

The online shopping giant as several solutions to this holiday problem. They suggest tracking your packages enroute to your home. Try consolidating deliveries so can plan to be home when all the Christmas gifts arrive.

Users can also archive orders online so the order details won’t be obvious to other account users. They also recommend deleting search history if you have some serious holiday gift snoopers in your home.

Amazon now gives users the ability to track the delivery live, in real time on the way to their home so they can send friends or family members to get packages just as they are delivered. Additionally, Amazon is giving delivery estimates down to 2- or 4-hour windows. Users also now receive photos to confirm their packages have safely been delivered.

Finally, users can use Amazon Key to allow packages to be safely placed in their garage.

 

Zoom Announces Lifting of 40 Minute Limit for Thanksgiving

As the holidays near now-household known tech/communication company Zoom is already feeling the giving spirit as they announced they are doing away with the meeting time limit of its free meetings for Thanksgiving so virtual family gatherings won’t be interrupted.

On Thanksgiving day, Nov. 26 2020, the 40-minute limit on its free minutes will be lifted globally.

Without the pandemic Zoom probably would remain in the realm of business-only instead of being not only a household name, but a tool that everyday people are using to connect with friends and family.

The platform wasn’t being particularly stingy with it’s 40 minute limit on free meetings as users could simply and quickly just start up another meeting at no cost. Between this and ease of use Zoom is the popular choice among students, teachers and families for group video conferencing.

Paid annual plans are in the $150-$200 range for unlimited meeting minutes making it even more affordable than many cellphone plans (assuming on already has an internet connection and a Zoom capable device).

Without speculating on the duration of the pandemic, many believe that Zoom style education, family interaction and business will remain in the popular domain even after life gets back to normal.