#009 – Facebook Libra – June 25, 2019 [Video]

Facebook announces Libra, its entry into the cryptocurrency space. Niantic launches Wizards Unite, a Harry Potter game with augmented reality features similar to Pokemon Go. And Mobile World Congress kicks off this week, showcasing 5G technology.

Facebook announces Libra, its entry into the cryptocurrency space. Niantic launches Wizards Unite, a Harry Potter game with augmented reality features similar to Pokemon Go. And Mobile World Congress kicks off this week, showcasing 5G technology.

Q: It’s been a busy week in tech. Let’s start with Facebook getting into blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Are they creating their own money?

A: Alongside established cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, Facebook is proposing its own, called Libra. Some people are calling them Zuckerbucks. Right now, cryptocurrencies are pretty fringe, and some governments are openly hostile to monetary systems they can’t regulate or control. Libra has the advantage of the backing of the biggest human network on the planet, and they want to “reinvent money.” Partners include Visa and Mastercard. With a digital wallet that will be built into Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, Libra just might be able to make cryptocurrency mainstream.

Q: Let’s move from virtual currency to virtual worlds. There’s a new game out that puts people into the world of Harry Potter?

A: It’s called Wizards Unite, and it’s from Niantic, the same company that brought you Pokemon Go, and before that, Ingress. Like Pokemon Go, Wizards Unite turns the real world into the playground. But Wizards Unite is a more complicated game. You’re not just trying to catch different creatures, but gathering ingredients for potions and different kinds of locations, including inns and greenhouses and fortresses. There are little mini games, and battles that you can do with three other players. Over time, you level up, and get new abilities and features. Harry Potter is a huge brand, probably bigger than Pokemon Go, but the question is whether people are already tired of these augmented reality games, or if Wizards Unite is too complicated.

Q: Finally, this week all eyes are on Shanghai for the latest in mobile technology.

A: That’s right. Mobile World Congress is probably the biggest mobile phone convention in the world, and it kicks off Wednesday in China. More than 100,000 people from over 200 countries attend. This year, 5G technology is the biggest trend, as we’re finally starting to see both 5G networks and 5G devices in the real world. Samsung and Huawei are touting their new foldable phones. Artificial Intelligence is also a big theme this year, and the Chinese government has expressed its goal to be a world leader in both 5G and AI.

#008 – Apple WWDC 2019 [Video] – June 4, 2019

Q: What did Apple announce at its annual World-Wide Developers Conference (WWDC)?

A: Although WWDC is targeted at software developers, the keynote address that kicks off each conference is Apple’s chance to announce things to a global audience. This year, Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled new hardware in addition to the usual software updates for iPhones, iPads, and Macs.

Q: What new hardware was announced?

A: The big news this year is a new Mac Pro, designed to be Apple’s top-of-the-line, high performance machine. The previous Mac Pro, dubbed the trash can Mac, was a failure, with a fancy but restrictive design that was hard to upgrade. With the new Mac Pro, Apple has gone back to a classic tower design, which has lots of open slots for add-in upgrades. It starts with an eight-core processor and 32GB of RAM for $6,000. Almost everyone who buys one will be bumping up the specs, and you can expect a nicely configured machine to cost over $10,000.

Apple also announced a brand new 6K display, which has a higher resolution than today’s high-end 4K displays. The 32 inch screen will come in both glossy and matte versions, and will cost a hefty $5,000. A special stand will cost another $1,000.

Q: What about iPhones?

A: Apple previewed iOS 13, and as far as look and feel goes, the headline is dark mode. This is a version of the operating system where most of the design elements are black, and text is white. It’s said to be easier on the eyes and popular with coders, but it’s a popular aesthetic for regular people as well. Lots of other new things are coming with iOS 13, from upgraded Maps to a rewritten Reminders app.

But I’m most excited about “Sign in with Apple.” Today, lots of websites and apps encourage you to sign up using your Facebook or Google account. For that convenience, you’re giving Facebook and Google even more information about you. With “Sign in with Apple,” you’ll be able to sign up while giving up the barest minimum of information. Apple will even make up a random email address for you so you don’t have to give anyone your email address.

Q: And is there anything for Mac users?

A: Apple revealed the name of version 10.15 of its Mac operating system (which have all been landmarks and regions in California): MacOS Catalina. The big news here is the breaking up of iTunes. For over a decade, iTunes has been one program used to manage music, videos, movies, TV shows and podcasts. Now, those will all be separate, smaller apps.

Meanwhile, a lot is happening behind the scenes, as Apple brings mobile iOS apps and computer MacOS apps closer together. More and more apps designed for iPhones are going to be showing up on Mac computers this year. Screen Time on the Mac, for example, will join forces with Screen Time on your iPhone to allow you to track how much time you spend staring at all types of screens.

#007 – Honolulu Mini-Maker Faire – June 3, 2019

Are you or your kids crazy about science and tech? Check out the Honolulu Mini-Maker Faire.

Are you or your kids crazy about science and tech? Check out the Honolulu Mini-Maker Faire. Modeled after the flagship maker faire in San Francisco, the Mini-Maker Faire is like a showcase for makers. Makers means everyone from coders, to carpenters, to 3-D printers. If you make something, you’re a maker. And this event gives you an up-close look at the creative process. In addition to displays and hands-on activities, the Honolulu Mini-Maker Faire will feature drone racing. There’s also a workshop on building your own electronics. Some of my favorite groups will be there. The Puzzle Company will bring its great, big games to play. The LEGO club will bring a ton of bricks. Whether it’s arts and crafts or robotics, there’s something for everyone at the Honolulu Mini-Maker Faire. Best of all, it’s free. This sixth-annual event is coming up on Saturday, June 22. It runs from noon to 5 p.m. at Iolani School on Kamoku Street. I hope to see you there. I’m Ryan Ozawa, and this has been Techspotting.

#006 – Slack – May 27, 2019

Are you buried under email? Are your coworkers calling too many meetings? You should try Slack. Slack is a chat app for teams, and it’s described as an “email killer.”

Are you buried under email? Are your coworkers calling too many meetings? You should try Slack. Slack is a chat app for teams, and it’s described as an “email killer.” Whether for your company, club, or family, Slack makes it easy to chat with a group of people. And Slack organizes conversations into channels, so you can discuss different topics. There can be a channel for your marketing team, where they can discuss the next radio ad. And another channel to plan a potluck. Channels can be public, or private. Slack also supports sharing documents, photos, and other files. And for most features are free. Paid plans let you search every message ever posted to Slack, and connect other apps. So instead of playing phone tag, or copying everyone in an email thread, use Slack to get things done fast. Want to try Slack before telling your boss about it? Check out HawaiiSlack.com. I’m Ryan Ozawa, and this has been Techspotting.

#005 – Mastodon – May 20, 2019

Sick of the drama on Facebook, and the abuse on Twitter? You might want to try Mastodon.

Sick of the drama on Facebook, and the abuse on Twitter? You might want to try Mastodon. Mastodon, named after the rock band, is a federated, open-source social media platform. It’s federated like email, which means you can have hundreds of different servers that speak the same language. And it’s open source, meaning no company controls it, and anyone can run a Mastodon server. Mastodon looks like Twitter, except instead of tweets, posts are called toots. But Mastodon has features that Twitter doesn’t, like a content warning to hide spoilers or graphic content. Whereas Facebook is a giant monolith, the Mastodon community is very diverse. There are Mastodon servers for artists, programmers, academics, and activists. It’s part of a growing collection of apps and services that are part of the indie web. Want to give Mastodon a try? Learn more, and choose your first server, at joinmastodon.org. I’m Ryan Ozawa, and this has been Techspotting.

#004 – FollowUpThen – May 13, 2019

I’ve recently found a new tool that turns my email inbox into a powerful reminder and to-do list. It’s called FollowUpThen, and everything is done via email to followupthen.com.

Does your email inbox rule your life? Supercharge it with FollowUpThen. While my kids think email is old-fashioned, it’s still how a lot of work gets done. I’ve outsourced my brain to Gmail. It’s so easy to search, I email myself notes all the time. I’ve recently found a new tool that turns my email inbox into a powerful reminder and to-do list. It’s called FollowUpThen, and everything is done via email to followupthen.com. Here’s how it works. Let’s say I want to remember to renew my car registration in three months. I just send an email addressed to threemonths at followupthen.com. In three months, that email comes back to me. Dinner reservations on June 20th? Send a message to june twenty at followupthen.com. If you copy a FollowUpThen address in a message to a friend, you both will get the reminder. It’s great. And if FollowUpThen is too long to type, you’ll love the short version. Email tendays at F U T dot I O. I’m Ryan Ozawa, and this has been Techspotting.

#003 – Google I/O [Video] – May 10, 2019

At Google’s I/O developer conference, the company announced new hardware, updates to Android, and improvements to the Google Assistant.

Q: At Google’s annual developers’ conference, “Google I/O,” what new hardware was announced?

A: For the smart home, they’ve rebranded everything under the name ‘Google Nest,’ and the Nest Hub MAX is a $299 tabletop device to show videos, play music, and manage lights and home security. They also released a more affordable smartphone, the Pixel 3A and 3A XL, starting at $399.

Q: They also announced lots of updates to the Android operating system, the most used smartphone software out there, right?

A: Yes! For people who like “dark mode” on their devices, where everything is light on dark, Android Q will support it everywhere. Like Apple, they are adding features to reduce smartphone addiction, and “Focus Mode” lets you allow only certain apps at certain times of the day, for yourself or for your kids. Android Q will also add closed captioning instantly to any video you watch on your phone.

Q: What about their intelligent assistant?

A: Google is definitely running neck and neck with Amazon in its AI and ability to handle voice commands. Google Duplex is able to respond to your request for a restaurant reservation by actually calling the restaurant for you to make the request. It will now be able to do things on the web for you, like buy movie tickets or rent a car. And more commands can be chained together, so you don’t always have to keep saying “Hey, Google.” If an alarm goes off, you can just say, “Stop!”

Q: Any favorites of all the things they announced?

A: Google Lens is a camera app that can interpret things you point it at. You can point it at a restaurant menu, and it’ll recognize dishes, then pull up photos of that dish from the web. And when you’re traveling, you can point it at a sign you can’t read, and it’ll translate it for you.

#002 – Apple Hardware News [Video] – March 25, 2019

Apple announces its streaming television service, following new hardware including a new iPad Air, iPad mini, and Airpods.

Q: What is Apple expected to announce at 7 a.m. this morning?

A: Its own streaming video service, to compete with Netflix and Hulu. Original content (beyond Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps including shows starring Steve Carrell and Jennifer Anniston.

Q: Apple has been busy, with announcements throughout the past week, like updated iMacs?

A: Yes, they announced new hardware every day last week. The big one would be a new iPad Air and iPad mini, both with Apple Pencil support. The iPad Air has the same 10.5-inch screen but a much thinner body, and the faster A12 chip, for $499. iPad Mini is the same 7.9 inch screen, but the A12 chip, and starts at $399.

Q: What else?

A: I’m most excited about the new AirPods, Apple’s wireless ear buds that everyone said looks ridiculous, but ended up loving them. For $199, it now has a wireless charging case, so you can just set it down on a charging pad to recharge, and it has an upgraded H1 chip that gives you 50 percent more talk time and takes less than half the time to connect to or switch between devices. Finally, hands-free ‘Hey Siri,’ so you feel like you’re living in a Star Trek episode.

#001 – Facebook Outage [Video] – March 14, 2019

Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp all experienced an outage. Four services, but one company. It not only affected the Facebook service, but other services that rely on it.

Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp all experienced an outage. Four services, but one company. It not only affected the Facebook service, but other services that rely on it, as Facebook is often used as a ‘quick’ login for other apps. And WhatsApp is critical communications for many countries, with 1 billion users, 700 million in India alone.

Before yesterday’s Facebook outage, there were big outages for Verizon, Google’s Gmail, and Google’s YouTube.

Was it hackers? They’re an easy suspect, but usually not, for large tech institutions. Usually internal, usually sometimes simple. But it does serve as a wake-up call for how much we rely on these services.