#390 Dec 01, 2014 – Welcome to the Holiday Shopping Season

This week’s headline story: Welcome to the Holiday Shopping Season

blackfridayOnce again, shoppers were duking it out over deals and limited inventory this Thanksgiving in stores and online. Best Buy, HP and others suffered from overwhelmed servers that gave out under the burden. Black Friday wasn’t quite so black this year, as significantly more deals were moved to Thanksgiving Day. If you missed out on the deals, there’s still time! It’s cyber Monday, and there are a lot of online deals, especially on electronics. Online prices on Thanksgiving day were roughly 24 percent cheaper compared with 23 percent on Black Friday and 20 percent on Cyber Monday, according to Adobe, which tracks data on 4,500 retail web sites. Check the show notes to see Engadget’s picks for best Cyber Monday deals!

in other tech news…

  • FAA report shows spike in drone-related air traffic incidents [Engadget]

    According to a document that the FAA has just released, pilots and air traffic controllers have reported 175 incidents in which a drone was seen flying in restricted airspace since mid-2014. Out of those 175 incidents, 25 describe drones almost colliding with either a plane or a helicopter. The agency is working on a complete set of rules to be able to integrate drones safely into the country’s air traffic system, but that could take a few more years to finish. Pilots and others in the industry are hoping a solution can be found before a catastrophe occurs.

  • Hour of Code to feature ‘Frozen’ characters [The Washington Post]

    The second annual “Hour of Code” campaign is scheduled for Computer Science Education Week, Dec. 8 through Dec. 14. This year Code.org, the non-profit group that offers a free tutorial in computer programming to students as early as kindergarten, is preparing to unveil its second annual “Hour of Code” lesson, but with an assist from Disney designed to attract more girls to participate. Disney Interactive teamed with Code.org to create a free lesson that teaches students to write computer code that enables Anna and Elsa, the two female characters from Disney’s wildly popular “Frozen” movie, to draw snowflakes, snowmen and fractiles.

  • Silicon Valley turns prisoners into programmers at San Quentin [USA Today]

    Hack Reactor, a programming boot camp in San Francisco, is bringing coding skills to the prisoners at San Quentin. The project named Code.7370 is housed inside a converted printing shop where inmates used to churn out state forms and documents. Four days a week inmates come here to be taught the basics of computer coding by seasoned instructors. The goal: That in six months inmates will have the coding chops to land work as entry-level Web developers. The effort is believed to be the first of its kind in the country.


and in Information Security news this week..

  • Sony Pictures hack takes computers down studio-wide [Engadget]

    Sony Pictures is worried that North Korea hacked its computers [Engadget]

    Sony’s network has been hacked. Variety is reporting that the hack could take anywhere from one day to three weeks to recover from. Employees are being urged to not connect to any company networks or access their work inboxes. Reportedly, studio-wide, computers were breached by a group named “#GOP”- for “Guardians of Peace,” that threatened the following: “We already warned you, and this is just a beginning. We continue till our request be met. We’ve obtained all of your internal data including your secrets and top secrets. If you don’t obey us, we’ll release the data shown below to the world.” Sony suspects that the North Korean government is behind the hack.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Sony lifts veil off 2015 e-ink watch line, other e-ink wearables [Ars]

    Sony is working on an e-paper watch
    that uses e-ink in both the watch face and watch band to change the watches appearance. The company used a deceitful crowdfunding campaign creating a phantom company called Fashion Entertainments to test the concept on the public.

  • Google Fiber Comes to Austin for $70 Monthly [NewsFactor]

    Gigabit Internet speeds are coming to residential customers in Austin, Texas for $70 a month. The news comes courtesy of Google, which released pricing for its Google Fiber service for the city on its Google Plus page. Basic Internet will be offered free to Austin customers, after a one-time “construction fee” of $300, which can be prorated over a 12-month period. Gigabit Internet, the middle tier, will cost $70 per month, although the $300 construction fee will be waived. The highest service tier Google is offering, Gigabit Internet + 150 channels of TV, will run for $130 per month.

  • Apple at Core of Tablet Market Slow Down [NewsFactor]

    According to the latest forecast from IDC, the worldwide tablet market is expected to see massive deceleration in 2014. Specifically, year-over-year growth could slow to 7.2 percent. That’s down significantly from 52.5 percent in 2013. What’s causing the grinding halt? It turns out that iPad users are getting longer than expected life out of their tablets. Rather than buying the new models after a year or two – like smartphone owners often do, they are hanging onto their tablets for three or four years before considering a new one.

  • Lenovo Pranks Mall Shoppers for Yoga 3 Ad [NewsFactor]

    Lenovo hired the Upright Citizens Brigade, a comic troupe, to help drum up visibility for its new Yoga 3 Pro, an ultra slim convertible PC with a hinge design that makes it truly unique and flexible. The comedians pretended to be Lenovo “employees” and confronted shoppers inside malls. They demonstrated the Yoga computer’s ability to transition into a tablet, then tried to do the same thing with a MacBook, breaking it in front of customers. They then handed the broken macbook to the unwitting customer and fled the scene, making the shopper appear liable. After a few minutes a real Lenovo employee showed up to clue the shopper in on the prank. Apparently not everybody was amused.

and finally…

  • Lego car becomes an avatar for a worm [Engadget]

    Our bizarre story of the week. You may recall the OpenWorm project, in which researchers reproduced the genome of a nematode worm digitally and made it wiggle around on a screen? Now scientists have taken that artificial brain of the nemotode worm and are using it to direct a robotic car. Using a Lego Mindstorms EV3 bot, the nematode AI follows sound the way a nematode follows food. When the researcher whistles to “call” the bot, it heads toward him but stops and reverses if it detects an obstacle — even though it was programmed to do none of those things.

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